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[P]
Why Religion Doesn't Matter

By coljac in Culture
Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:21:02 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The latest issue of Wired magazine featured a cluster of articles on the subject of science and religion. I read them with interest, then alarm, since the message was the same old harmful myths that have been circulating for ages. Science doesn't have all the answers; science is against lame without religion; only religion leads to morality and an appreciation of beauty in the world. Here, in the context of examining Huston Smith's Why Religion Matters, I argue that these notions are not only wrong but dangerous.


A recent newspaper article alerted me to Why Religion Matters, a book by the well-known religious historian Huston Smith. Apart from its very existence, the article drew my attention because of the familiarity of the charges it leveled against science and skepticism. I bought a copy, and while it was difficult to struggle through the whole thing, it was a valuable exercise. It served as an excellent window into the mainstream religious mind - many of the arguments in the book had a familiar ring to them. In fact, the book was quite a nice summary of the prejudices and fallacies about Freethought that are taken for granted in society at large.

This central premise of the book is that we are in the midst of a moral and spiritual crisis, a claim that is becoming ever more familiar. Religious commentators, most especially the very conservative/fundamentalist, love to portray the USA as a spiritual battleground. The godly are in constant battle against moral decay and contempt for religion. Their foes are academia, the media and the government. If you believed everything that they wrote along these lines, you couldn't help but conjure up an image of a Christian family barricaded inside their home while drunken atheists loot and burn their neighborhood. A little research shows, however, that crime is at historic lows and the traditional bellwether of the nation's moral fiber, teenage pregnancy, is also at a record low and still declining. So what evidence do Smith and his perhaps unwitting allies in the religious right offer to back up their assertion that we are in a moral crisis? None. As far as I can tell, it's almost always taken for granted, as it is in Why Religion Matters.

The "tunnel" we are in, Smith says, is built on a slavish devotion to science, particularly in higher education, the media, and the law. Our universities are indoctrinating their students with "the atheism of apathy, indifference and unconcern." Smith contends that because the university system began its existence as a sectarian institution, it has somehow betrayed itself (and us) by becoming largely secular. (Smith says nothing about the popularity of religious universities.) Assuming for a moment that one accepts the statement that universities have become purveyors of atheism - a controversial assertion to say the least - it begs the question, why? To Smith, it's a moral failure by society, but this ignores the obvious difficulties involved in bringing God into a science or history lecture.

The same, apparently, is true of the media. One of the religious right's favorite pastimes seems to be to look for profanity and immorality in the media. They see violence, licentiousness, anti-religious bias and sometimes quite literally the hand of Satan all around us. According to Smith, the "secularism and anti-clericalism of the universities have spread to blanket our cultural life." Yet no evidence is offered for this claim, in fact, the majority of the chapter is spent on an irrelevant critique of the play and film Inherit the Wind, an unabashedly skeptical (but highly entertaining) dramatization of the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial". Not only is this assertion about media bias untrue, it seems to be the exact opposite of the real trend. As Wendy Kaminer remarks in Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials, "What's striking about journalists and intellectuals today, liberals and conservative alike, is not their mythic Voltairian skepticism but their deference to belief and utter failure to criticize, much less satirize, America's romance with God."

Most worrying of all is Smith's contention that the law is unfairly skeptical when it comes to religious matters. Smith contends that the First Amendment was not to erect a wall between church and state - because "there is no way to keep church and state separate", but to simply turn religious issues over to the states. He decries use of the Establishment Clause as a "guarantor of public secularism". If only! Of course, he ignores the constant struggles between organizations like the FFRF or ACLU and a defiantly pious judiciary. In fact, Smith contends that in those facets of public life where church/state separation is routinely violated, such as "In God We Trust" on the currency, real religion isn't being served - it's a shallow attempt to "domesticate" real faith. One supposes this means it doesn't go far enough. Even to relatively liberal commentators like Smith, any policy that does not actively embrace, or at least acknowledge religion, is hostile to it. He sees the value of the constitution as imposing "neutrality" in religious matters, which to him means that publicly expressed religion should be abundant, without overtly favoring any particular sect. How this impossible situation would be realized, he does not say. Basically, the theme of Smith's message is the same as the Falwells of this country - we need more religion, in our schools, in the media, and in our laws.

Smith places the blame for this supposed crisis firmly on what he calls scientism, which can be translated as "science gone too far". He sees Scientism and Religion as the two worldviews that are competing for the human mind in the 21st century. Only one of them can represent the true nature of reality, and that, he maintains, is religion; science is oblivious to the big picture, to the "out there". Smith makes his point in three ways: Firstly, by accusing science of an overreaching arrogance; secondly, by assuming the existence of a metaphysical realm and pointing at science's inability to describe it; and thirdly, by claiming religion's success at fulfilling a deep and universal human need.

Science goes too far, Smith says, by claiming that what's known to science is all there is. He laments that "When Carl Sagan opened his television series, Cosmos, by announcing that `the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,' he presented that unargued assumption as if it were a scientific fact." This succinctly demonstrates the confusion about science that Smith shares with many people in society. Of course the Cosmos is all there is - it is, by definition, all we've seen and all we can, even in theory, see (or sense, detect, infer, etc). Not only is it a scientific fact, it's perhaps the most fundamental scientific fact of all. To Smith this is an "unargued assumption", yet he goes on to discuss various flavors of metaphysics without a hint of shame.

The misconceptions about science displayed in this work are too many to list, but they all boil down to the assumption that there's an "outside" to the universe. We gain knowledge of it through some blurry process of faith and intuition. However, because this realm is (by definition) outside the scope of science, that is to say, the five human senses, there is no way to distinguish between the "facts" the religious offer about this realm. The great contradiction in this line of thought is the assumption that there is a genuine supernatural reality - Smith speaks several times about the "objective facts" - while stressing the wholly subjective means of gaining access to this world. It's intuition that brings "direct knowledge", Smith claims. Although the conventional scientific wisdom discounts the invisible, "that wisdom cannot prevent us from having experiences that feel as if they come from a different world." This is perhaps the most revealing and dangerous sentence in the book. The conviction that subjective experience gives you a truth that you should teach, publish and legislate leads directly to the bloody conflicts that a secular constitution is designed to avoid. He even has the audacity to claim of religion that "nothing has been more stable in our history... Religion does not shift or waver."

One area in which Smith's prejudices really shine through is on the subject of evolution. Although he's probably not a biblical literalist, the amount of space devoted to the subject in the book belies his discomfort with the theory. Perhaps for good reason, since he's trying to defend all religions, and evolution is certainly a challenge to many. With a voice indistinguishable from the fundamentalist's, Smith dismisses evolution as shaky and incomplete. He goes on to suggest that it received "scant attention on its own merits,", and only achieved its current status on an ideological basis. It remains in place only because of a fearful conspiracy. These criticisms definitely put the spotlight on his prejudices towards science and the dangerous attitudes he has towards scientific education. Flushed with success from having the words "unsupervised, impersonal" dropped from the National Association of Biology Teachers' definition of evolution, Smith, as others have tried (with some success), proposed a disclaimer be given to students at the start of every biology class pointing out that science is only doing its unreliable best to uncover the mystery of life. It concludes, "There is so much that we still do not know that plenty of room remains for you to fill in the gaps with your own philosophic or religious convictions." Fill in the gaps! That may be an appropriate method in comparative religion, but in a science class? Smith declares God beyond science and then encourages its students to conjure up the deity of their choice whenever there appears to be a hole in the scientific curriculum. This is a dangerous but typical double-think. Naturally, the NABT ignored this proposal; but imagine how warmly it might be received by school boards in many states.

An interesting theme of the book, and one worth commenting on given the current climate, is Smith's treatment of Religion as a single concept. In general he makes little distinction between the beliefs of a Catholic archbishop and those of a tribal animist. He reduces all religion to the fevered chanting of the world's most wretched and superstitious tribe and still holds it all to be a valuable source of knowledge about humanity and the universe. It seems obvious that taken together, the world's religions present an entirely contradictory and incoherent worldview. Yet this is conveniently ignored in the book just as it is by the new breed of ecumenical politicians (who always manage to forget the faithless in their inclusiveness). Smith himself doesn't even draw a meaningful distinction between superstition and religion - several times in the book he remarks on coincidences and ascribes them to God, "be that superstition or not". Perhaps this merging of superstition and religion is one point, at least, on which we can agree.

Smith often ascribes to us a "basic longing that lies in the depths of the human heart", a "fundamental dis-ease", a "spiritual hollow". Perhaps this cannot be easily denied; but it is a mistake to conclude that because a human being desires meaning, the universe must provide one. Furthermore, it is false to assume that such a desire for meaning and wonder cannot be satisfied by observing the universe around us. Most freethinkers know that there is an ample supply of the mysterious and awesome without the need for an ad hoc godly explanation. Still, the myth persists among others that meaning and value are impossible without faith. "The atheist's world contains very little value," Smith says. Science is "an artificial language that cannot accommodate the human spirit" and "belittles art, religion, love and the bulk of the life we directly live." How could Freethought appear a viable outlook if these statements are not refuted?

When religionists like Smith speak of science being blind to the otherworldly, heads nod in agreement. When they speak of morality as religion's domain, they find a receptive audience. And perhaps most alarmingly, when they speak of the scientific mindset as devoid of love, beauty and all the human values, there are few to contradict them. As long as the myth persists that the rational worldview is somehow lacking in humanity, the efforts of Freethought will only be rewarded with marginal success. It is these fictions that grant religion all of its respect and legitimacy. Freethought may be literally soulless, but its ethical, life-affirming qualities must be emphasized. The fact that one can live a life where morality is solely a human affair; where the natural world offers beauty in abundance; and where life is even more precious for being finite is one all freethinkers know, and that's why religion doesn't matter.

A shorter version of this article appeared in Freethought Today in September 2002.

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Why Religion Doesn't Matter | 745 comments (728 topical, 17 editorial, 1 hidden)
If only it didn't matter (4.00 / 16) (#2)
by Edgy Loner on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:13:59 AM EST

It does matter, simply because enough humans believe it does matter, and in so beliveing, will religion into importance. The percieved will of God, Allah, Yahweh or whatever, guides and shapes human action, not because these beings exist in some objective, external sense, but because they exist in our minds.
It's a trap of our own creation.
The most danerous kind.

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.
Of course you're right (2.00 / 2) (#119)
by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:04:20 PM EST

Religion is a very, very important subject; religious affairs have some frighteningly real consequences for almost all of us. The stupidly rhetorical title of the article was really to convey that religion is not necessary for a happy, moral existence for individuals and society (or at least that the arguments presented in "Why Religion Matters" were not convincing).

coljac



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

I liked your comment.. (5.00 / 2) (#177)
by Wah on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:33:16 PM EST

..until this part.

It's a trap of our own creation.

How about, "it can be" instead of "it is"?  

It might very well be "danerous" but it is also a positive influence for many.  The ideas that maybe it's a good idea to help out people who are less fortunate, or donate your excess, or not try and bang your neighbor's ho, or just to not kill people, all seem pretty good and useful for building a peaceful and prosperous society.  The idea that they may have arisen socially or from supernatural experience is immaterial, as they are encoded in this thing called religion.  I think to discount that positive aspect weakens any argument against religion.  Yea, read that sentence again. It weakens the argument even further when arguing with religious folks.  Point out the good and then the bad.  It's very hard to talk to people who stopped listening a few paragraphs back.  $.02.
--
The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
[ Parent ]

Reminds me of the lyrics of a Song...... (none / 0) (#737)
by Kaos on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 03:31:57 PM EST

This comment reminds me of the lyrics of a song, the song I'm thinking of is called "Domingo" by Yello, in particular where it says in the song

We are here
In this holy cave today
To celebrate
The reincarnation
Of Domingo de Santa Clara
The man who convinced us
That there is no Lord
For His name is Buddha, Allah, Shiva, Yahweh
Outside our bodies

We are God
'Cause only we can create the idea
Of His existence in our holy brains

Interesting idea isn't it ?


Be wary of strong drink, it can make you shoot at tax collectors and miss.
[ Parent ]

Give it a rest. (3.63 / 11) (#3)
by bjlhct on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:14:02 AM EST

You let them be religious, they let you not be. Progress comes from intellectual discord.

I refuse to outright condemn overly religious people except in two cases: when they bother me and won't leave me alone (Johavah's Witnesses at the door, oh boy) and when someone says "as long as it's taught as only a theory." AUGH! At leaset you can throw AOL CDs or something at the former.
*

kur0(or)5hin - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

What? (3.77 / 9) (#8)
by traphicone on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:17:43 AM EST

Nowhere in this article did he condemn anyone.

You let them be religious, they let you not be.

This entire article was a refutation of the ideas presented by a man who would argue that people not let others be without religion, and in that they are valid. In fact, this very article is the intellectual discord you promote.

"Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium
[ Parent ]

don't! (4.33 / 3) (#27)
by nex on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:46:34 AM EST

> Progress comes from intellectual discord.
This is only true for people with different explanations for a phenomenon that work and discuss together in order to find out the truth. It is not true for people that run away from each other and pout, as you suggest.

[ Parent ]
it does matter to some people (none / 0) (#532)
by animal on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 06:42:21 PM EST

"You let them be religious, they let you not be"
if only this was true!
I have had to put up with people suddenly changing their attitude towards me and thinking i'm some kind of monster when talking about religion and I mention I'm an atheist.
" how can I have any morals when I do not believe in some higher force judging me?" ... because I judge my on actions by the idea that if I did not want someone to treat me in a certain way then I should not trat anyone else that way.

[ Parent ]
Smith isn't neccessarily their champ (3.88 / 9) (#10)
by carbon on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:33:03 AM EST

Huston Smith has crappy, horrible arguments, or at least coljac's description of them made them seem that way. I'm not arguing that coljac is wrong; I'm not sure, as I haven't seen Smith's aguments myself. Coljac makes several references stating that religious arguments in general are all similar to Smith's.

So what evidence do Smith and his perhaps unwitting allies in the religious right offer to back up their assertion that we are in a moral crisis?

When religionists like Smith speak of science being blind to the otherworldly, heads nod in agreement.

Just because Smith doesn't have any good arguments doesn't mean that no theist does, and it doesn't mean that all theists agree with Smith. You're not neccessarily refuting all theism, then, just one man, but you state otherwise in several places.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
Sort of (3.00 / 2) (#116)
by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:59:07 PM EST

In a way I'm just asserting that some or most religious arguments are like Smith's. To really back up this claim would be beyond the scope of the article, so perhaps I could have been more circumspect. I certainly don't directly equate all religious apologists with Smith. Nevertheless, I stand by the gist of my remarks that it is a tactic of the religious movement in general to imply that we are in a moral crisis, and that these arguments are generally accepted in society. My evidence for this, as space permits, is "I live in society and have observed these things." Not worth much but there you go.

Anyway, at least I had some "peer review" thanks to K5 :)

coljac



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

We're not in a moral crisis? (3.75 / 8) (#12)
by pyramid termite on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:05:39 AM EST

Let's see, there is war, terrorism, mass tyranny, starvation, poverty, hatred, addiction, ecological problems, brute exploitation and genocide going on in the world today. The US is not on another planet - it's on the Earth, where these things are going on and we are involved, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad, in these problems.

We are most certainly in a moral crisis.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
By that reasoning... (3.57 / 7) (#13)
by Barly on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:30:04 AM EST

we've been in a moral crises for most, if not all, of recorded history.

[ Parent ]
Well duh! (2.33 / 3) (#20)
by netphilter on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:36:00 AM EST

Hmm....I've read this before somewhere...oh,yeah...THE BIBLE!

[ Parent ]
religion and crisis (3.50 / 4) (#54)
by dachshund on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:01:01 PM EST

Let's see, there is war, terrorism, mass tyranny, starvation, poverty, hatred... We are most certainly in a moral crisis.

We're always in some kind of crisis. And there's an argument to be made that at least a few of our current problems would be eased if the world had a little less religion in it (*cough* terrorism). Which is exactly the opposite of Mr. Smith's conclusion.

Any way you want to cut it, it doesn't seem like the athiests of the world deserve much credit for our current woes.

[ Parent ]

I seriously beg to differ (4.50 / 2) (#173)
by RyoCokey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:26:49 PM EST

A coherent argument can be made that much of Islamist movement draws it roots from the struggle with the Soviets and a fight against the forces of militant Atheism. As the original "godless invaders of Arabia" they first solidified the fighters of Afghanistan, as well as the activists that operate in Chinese (See surpression of religion there) territory.

While I won't make some non sequiter argument that "atheism caused terrorism" I wonder if the religious supression that Asia has seen hasn't strengthened those who preach a very reactionary version of their religion.



"There is no reason why we should not have peaceful relations with the rest of the world if we cease playing the role of Meddlesome Mattie." - Sen. Art
[ Parent ]
Atheism (5.00 / 2) (#180)
by Boronx on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:34:59 PM EST

Of course, when you talk about militant Atheism, you are describing an Atheism that has itself become a religion of sorts.
Subspace
[ Parent ]
Atheism? (3.00 / 2) (#188)
by Boronx on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:43:31 PM EST

Islam in the middle east has been suppressed more for political reasons than theological. Especially in Egypt, Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Jordan, where leaders or great powers found their influence threatened by Islamic movements.
Subspace
[ Parent ]
Does science have all the answers? (3.72 / 11) (#15)
by mdevney on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:22:23 AM EST

"...the message was the same old harmful myths that have been circulating for ages. Science doesn't have all the answers; science is against lame without religion; only religion leads to morality and an appreciation of beauty in the world."

It seems hubris to me to say, "One day mankind will know all that there is to know."  

Science is based on observation and theory: We measure, we theorize, we test, we conclude, and then we move on to the next question.  Assuming all things can be accurately measured, and assuming all things can be repeatably tested, and assuming the cosmos is internally consistent, then yes, science will one day reveal all the secrets of the universe for us.  Three untestable assumptions is three more than I'm comfortable with, as well as three things we can't test -- hence immediately disproving one of them.  

I'll take an example here: Who here has heard of spontaneous human combustion?  Apparently sometimes people just burst into flames for no reason.  The phenomena flies in the face of laws of thermodynamics, conservation of energy, and the general idea of cause and effect.  Yet it happens. A quick google will turn up a hundred-odd cases; a traipse through your local bookstore will turn up more.  There are eyewitness reports, professional investigations; hundreds of them, over the span of centuries.  

Science has no explanation currently.  From all appearances, science won't have any explanation for it until we rewrite it from scratch, since spontaneous combustion and the foundations of modern science are mutually exclusive.  So what's a man to think?

Science is a good system; the scientific method has revealed many of the secrets of the universe.  "All" is a lot, though.  "All" is far more than I think we can ever hope for.  The safe money says that there are some things science will never be able to explain.  We're all geeks here, bust out the calculator and do the math: Given a finite number of secrets discovered per year, times a finite number of years (whether you expect the heat death of the universe or a gradual implosion is irrelevant), will we ever reach infinity?  There are infinite questions to be asked.

Now, as to whether religion has any answers... That's a different debate.

SHC (4.37 / 8) (#18)
by Lacero on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:32:08 AM EST

So what's a man to think?
Dunno what a man would think but Google has it sussed.

CsiCop
Another CsiCop

and to show both sides:

Alternativ Science

All the evidence in the third link comes from the book that the first links are disproving.

[ Parent ]

Consider: (2.66 / 3) (#19)
by MTremodian on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:35:07 AM EST

There are an infinite number of questions that can be asked about RLC circuits. However, science has provided us with answers to all of them at the same time in the form of the differential equations which govern. IF we ever find some sort of an implicit description of the universe that is so complete that it can be explicitly applied in any situation to answer any actual question, then science will have answered "all" the questions there are, albeit implicitly. This is admittedly a rather big if, but it is not an inconceivable if and your naive (in the mathematical sense) analysis does not prove its falsity.


...speed overcomes the fear of death.
[ Parent ]

So, (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by kraant on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:45:38 AM EST

Ummm, what happens to the RLC circuit when I toss it into a black hole.

On another note

And now for something... somewhat different
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

Nothing has all the answers (3.00 / 5) (#38)
by Trencher on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:10:12 PM EST

Science, however, attempts to find answers. Religion, on the other hand, says that all of the important answers got written down a long, long time ago and that we must all accept those answers without question.
I think that generates much more dangerous assumptions: the prophet or author didn't just lie out their ass regarding their divine inspiration, hundreds of people didn't acidentally forget or radically change vital elements of the story during the decades before anyone wrote it down, and the uncountable translations and revisions in the following centuries didn't horribly mangle the message.

I believe you would have a very hard time finding a scientist who would tell you that science can ever have all of the answers, or even all of the important ones. I believe you would have a harder time, however, finding a religionist who doesn't think they already have all the answers. I'll take science any day.

BTW, I saw a really good special months ago explaining how a small fire can burn an entire human body without spreading to the flammable surroundings. It seems that given some amount of accelerant, clothing will act as a wick for body fat generating a fire hot enough to destroy bone completely over many hours. The theory was demonstrated with a pig carcass. This explains the most perplexing part of "spontaneous human combustion", the complete destruction of a human body by fire, something that crematoriums don't achieve (they pulverize the bones after hours of burning).


"Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
[ Parent ]
Bzzzt... Wrong (4.00 / 3) (#94)
by leviramsey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:51:20 PM EST

Religion, on the other hand, says that all of the important answers got written down a long, long time ago and that we must all accept those answers without question.

Some religious traditions (those of a fundamentalist bent, mainly) say that. But drawing a conclusion from a tiny non-representative subset of the data is nowhere near scientifically valid. There are many religious traditions (well, at least one, mine) which do not hold that the important answers were written down long ago and must be accepted unquestioningly.



[ Parent ]
So where are the truths from (3.00 / 3) (#211)
by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:23:22 PM EST

We would be sincerely interested, then, if you could briefly detail the mechanism by which your religion did obtain its truths.

Coljac



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

As it's a self-created "tradition" (4.50 / 4) (#232)
by leviramsey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:15:45 AM EST

I will elaborate.

I have a very minimalist conception of the divine; essentially, I am a deist on the grounds that something, call him God, Allah, coljac, the Grand Architect of the Universe, Sebastian Janikowski, or whatnot, had to set the ball rolling before the Big Bang (setting down the laws of physics and so forth). As everything in the universe traces its existence to this deity, everything in the universe can provide some quantity of insight into the nature of things. Observation and contemplation of observations allows one to see the glimpses afforded by those observations. Reading anything (the Bible, the Koran, Darwin, Slashdot, Stick's "Damn you! Now I must wank!" posts, the letters to Penthouse) can and has provided insight.



[ Parent ]
Not a religion... (none / 0) (#574)
by Trencher on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 09:46:59 AM EST

but a philosophy. The problems start when someone takes the philosophy and turns it into a religion.

A religion, at least by my definition, requires many people agreeing, as an organization, on what they believe. This has lots of social power, but it also requires that the beliefs, the spirituality, of the many be subjegated to the will of one or few. It also requires that the group, or some subset of it, define their beliefs, their truths, in written form, or accept someone else's writings as their truth. Changing those beliefs becomes very hard, because everyone must agree on the change.
This approach can work in other forms, government the obvious example, but approaching personal belief in this fashion undermines the basis of personal belief.

As for your philosophy, it sounds a lot like mine. Cheers!


"Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
[ Parent ]
It Happens? (2.50 / 2) (#92)
by Lagged2Death on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:43:07 PM EST

I'll take an example here: Who here has heard of spontaneous human combustion? Apparently sometimes people just burst into flames for no reason. The phenomena flies in the face of laws of thermodynamics, conservation of energy, and the general idea of cause and effect. Yet it happens.

That's a terrible example for the shortcomings of science. Why not pick something sensible, like alien abductions or apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the mildew stains on the back of an old shower curtain? How about bigfoot, the abominable snowman, or that face thing on Mars?

Even if we were to irresponsibly assume that SHC is real (and there is a terrific pile of evidence to the contrary) there would be big problems with your assertion:

  • Which law of thermodynamics would SHC break? How would it break it? What data exists to back this up?

  • How would SHC violate the conservation of energy principle? Data?

  • Just because you do not know or understand the cause of a thing, does not mean that there is no cause.

    Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
    [ Parent ]
  • On conservation of energy. (3.00 / 2) (#171)
    by mdevney on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:21:18 PM EST

    <i>How would SHC violate the conservation of energy principle? Data?</i>

    It's called spontaneous because there is no ignition.  Many reported cases have been blamed on cigarettes, or nearby heaters.  Sure, a cigarette can cause a person to roast.  Sorry, no. It's hard to light a candle with a cigarette, let alone a human.  Many other reported cases have no source of ignition anywhere around.  If someone is sitting reading a newspaper, then catches into flames, you have to ask: Where does the heat to start the fire come from?  

    Well, as far as we know, you need heat to start a fire.  Yet here we have fire with no heat.  So, heat came from nowhere -- energy was created.  That directly and explicitly violates the conservation of energy principle.  


    [ Parent ]

    Not the first law but the second (3.00 / 3) (#242)
    by magney on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:29:24 AM EST

    There's plenty of thermal energy in your average human. More than enough to start a fire if it were all concentrated in a small area. This occurrence is prohibited not by the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy), but the second (heat does not spontaneously flow from a cold body to a hot body).

    The real question is, how are you so sure there's no mundane ignition source?

    Do I look like I speak for my employer?
    [ Parent ]

    Well nuts. (3.20 / 5) (#289)
    by Lagged2Death on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:04:48 AM EST

    It's called spontaneous because there is no ignition.

    Because there's no obvious source of ignition, perhaps. Just because you don't know what it is doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    It's hard to light a candle with a cigarette, let alone a human.

    The difficulty might explain why there are so few supposed cases. In any case, it's all too easy to set a sofa, easy chair, or mattress on fire with a smoldering cigarette butt or a stray spark from a fireplace. Once the furniture is ablaze, you've got plenty of heat to light up some human fat.

    Many other reported cases have no source of ignition anywhere around. If someone is sitting reading a newspaper, then catches into flames, you have to ask: Where does the heat to start the fire come from?

    Reading a newspaper? More like asleep with the newspaper, passed-out drunk on the sofa, or dead of a heart attack in the easy chair. One thing you'll note about most of the supposed SHC cases is that the victims were physically impaired in some way (terribly overweight, old and feeble, drunk, high, or recently deceased) and alone. That's the perfect setup for a small accidental fire to not only get out of control, but to hide it's own origins in the process.

    So naturally, there are reports that don't include a definitive ignition source. Obviously, those reports are incomplete. Once again, ignorance of the source does not imply that no source exists. You're asking the right question: Where does the heat to start the fire come from? But you're reaching an absurd and insupportable answer: Nowhere! If that was the case, then no fire would have started.

    Yet here we have fire with no heat. So, heat came from nowhere -- energy was created. That directly and explicitly violates the conservation of energy principle.

    Aw, man, listen to yourself. There is no heat. But there must be heat. So wait, on second thought, there is heat. You're adamant that there is no ignition heat and that there is ignition heat, and you've decided we have to throw out our understanding of physics to make this possible. Why not throw out our understanding of "is" instead? It would be equally disruptive and equally sensible.

    Just off the top of my head, I can think of one source of ignition that would be unlikely to be mentioned in an official report: a marijuana cigarette. Say Granny tokes up now and again at bedtime, because she finds it helps her sleep. Her friends and relatives don't know. So one night, Granny gets high and falls asleep in front of the Late Show, and poof, she's incinerated in her easy-chair. Authorities suspect smoking, but friends and relatives truthfully assert that they never knew Granny to smoke. Aha, it must be SHC. When her kids go through the old homestead and find her stash, what are the odds that they inform the authorities?

    OK, OK, no one wants this to continue, so I'll stop now.

    Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
    [ Parent ]

    Absolutely correct. (none / 0) (#443)
    by mdevney on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:46:54 AM EST

    We are not disagreeing in any meaningful way here.  Your belief in absolute laws tells you that there must be an ignition source.  What if there isn't?  Call it a thought experiment.  Assume for a moment that there is one well-documented, exhaustively investigated case where multitudes of professionals, plus you yourself, definitively conclude that there is no ignition source?

    "But that will never happen," you say, and you're probably right.  I'm a pretty strong believer in science too.  The only difference here is that I assert: Maybe there are things that no amount of studying, theorizing etc. can explain.  

    I chose the example of spontaneous human combustion because it adequately represents this point of view, but other phenomena would work as well, and receive identical responses.  Every response has centered around one of two claims: Either (a) it doesn't happen, or (b) dozens or hundreds of professional investigators have been delinquent in their duty, and missed obvious clues -- like the burning joint in granny's hand, for example.

    Either or both of those are possibilities.  I won't waste time speculating on probability percentage.  I will merely add two more possibilities:

    (c) The laws of physics do not work like we expect.  Maybe sometimes energy does spontaneously pop into existence.

    (d) There are exceptions to the laws of physics that we don't know about.  

    Again, I'll not speculate on probability.  I merely assert the possibility.  

    The original topic was, "Does religion matter?"  Religion is a series of beliefs that people share, usually centering around beings stronger than man.  I assert that cause and effect is a belief, and that universally unbreakable rules are stronger than man -- hence science is a religion.  One of the better ones, to be sure, but at heart, it is all predicated on your belief.  Belief in things like repeatable measurements, cause and effect, and internal consistency.  These are beliefs, and just because you are sure of them doesn't mean they are true.  After all, plenty people believe in God.

    [ Parent ]

    Are you actually saying... (none / 0) (#345)
    by Dephex Twin on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:36:52 PM EST

    ...that you believe there is no cause for spontaneous human combustion that science can/will be able to explain?

    Maybe it just hasn't been extensively studied because it is so rare that its very existence is debatable?


    Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
    [ Parent ]

    The problem with the SHC argument... (3.00 / 3) (#107)
    by meman2000 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:30:40 PM EST

    The entire idea behind science is that of experimentation, trial and error-- thus the scientific method, different ways of reasoning and drawing valid conclusions from good data. The problem with arguments on SHC is that SHC is an extremely rare occurence-- I've seen articles that quote numbers like "200 SHC cases in the last 300 years", but when it comes down to statistics they can provide only four or five examples at most, the same examples used by other reports. If there were more cases exhibiting similar tendencies, then perhaps scientific observers could provide a more informed and logical explanation for this occurance.

    [ Parent ]
    "Spontaneous" Human Combustion (3.25 / 4) (#124)
    by phliar on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:15:11 PM EST

    Yet it happens.
    No, it doesn't.

    More accurately, maybe it happens; however all reported cases of "spontaneous" human combustion have had external factors -- like falling asleep in an armchair while smoking.

    In any case, the human body is a large collection of flammable substances. Why does spontaneous combustion "fly in the face of laws of thermodynamics, conservation of energy, and the general idea of cause and effect"? The universe is stochastic. We don't gaze upwards with our jaws agape when it "spontaneously" starts raining.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Consistency (3.33 / 3) (#148)
    by chulbert on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:20:08 PM EST

    If you don't have an explanation for spontaneous human combustion then how can you claim it is mutually exclusive with the foundations of modern science (which itself seems wrong given that randomness is at the very foundation of modern science)?

    Additionally, have you done any research into SHC?   It's reported almost exclusively in the USA and England, and mostly in the former.  Kinda challenges the credibility, I think.

    "I weep for the species."
    [ Parent ]

    Two cents (3.75 / 16) (#17)
    by SanSeveroPrince on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:41:33 AM EST

    Nice article, well argued, even though your beef with Smith's arguments shows through once or twice :).

    My two cents on the issue are simple, and something that is hardly ever addressed in these discussions.

    Science does not have all the answers. You'd be an idiot to believe it does.

    Religion does not have all the answers. You'd be an idiot to believe it does.

    (I love cut and paste).

    To totally put your faith in either is hiding from the truth of existence.
    It's the very same act of making ourselves blind in the face of what we cannot accept, what we cannot yet explain.

    We can block off the void of space with a god who benevolently created it, or we can ignore the same void for scientific reasons. We are still just turning our back on huge, scary questions.

    We are a bunch of organic molecules stuck together by mysteries we cannot delve into (cellular cohesion baffles scientists - it can be copied but never created), held on this dustball by forces that we do not fully understand (gravity folks.. still not satisfactorily explained), flung across the universe at scary speeds by the same forces, orbiting a fireball several time the size of our planet, the sad lot of us rushing across space to an unknown destination.

    Now, I bet science and religion suddenly don't seem so exhaustive anymore, do they?

    Worship Satan.

    ----

    Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


    The religious strawman (4.50 / 8) (#23)
    by dachshund on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:05:48 AM EST

    Science does not have all the answers. You'd be an idiot to believe it does. Religion does not have all the answers. You'd be an idiot to believe it does. (I love cut and paste). To totally put your faith in either is hiding from the truth of existence. It's the very same act of making ourselves blind in the face of what we cannot accept, what we cannot yet explain. We can block off the void of space with a god who benevolently created it, or we can ignore the same void for scientific reasons. We are still just turning our back on huge, scary questions.

    Presented that way, you can hardly argue with religion-- or more accurately, spiritualism, because there's a big difference between most religions and the natural open-mindedness that the holes in our knowledge should demand of us.

    That's why I'm an agnostic (or as some say, an Athiest without a spine.) I accept, because I don't have any reason not to, that there may be a higher intelligence that created the universe, and is perhaps still out there. The only meaningful observation I can make about this intelligence, however, is that it really seems to want us to figure things out on our own-- at least, given the number of consistent rules by which our universe appears to be governed, and the fact that we're intelligent enough to find them. And furthermore, whatever intelligence created us could likely be so remote from us (in distance, time or mere comprehension) that it might never be a factor in our existence. Given that all evidence points to our potential creator's hands-off policy, should I devote more thought to it than I devote to, say, the possibility that I'll be attacked by swarms of ravenous starlings?

    Now here's the religious strawman: that my views are somehow an insult to religion. The problem with the strawman lies in its demand that I translate the mere possibility of a higher-intelligence into some sort of specific religious belief. I don't find anything that compels me to go from believing that maybe there are things we can't explain (eg, how can light function as both a particle and a wave) to believing that there's a beneficient/vengeful/greedy/loving god served by a host of prophets and angels. I don't find anything specific that compels me to believe that the Bible/Torah/Koran is anything more than storytelling and a code of conduct mixed with a healthy dash of desert-induced hallucination.

    But that, consistently, is what I find myself called to task over... Not the refusal to believe in the remote possibility of the existence of a spiritual world. And mind you, I have a hard time being swayed by any argument that insists the only way to experience this world is to shut off my critical faculties, the logic of this being somewhat questionable to me.

    [ Parent ]

    You are a slave to logic. (3.50 / 6) (#60)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:14:30 PM EST

    And you will never know everything because of it. Prove there is God? Of course I can't. It may be one of those things that Godel and Turing say we can never prove. Knowing that out form of logic is so inherently flawed, why would you bow down to it.

    And furthermore, whatever intelligence created us could likely be so remote from us (in distance, time or mere comprehension) that it might never be a factor in our existence. Given that all evidence points to our potential creator's hands-off policy,
    Why would you say this? If God created us as his children, why would he not be involved in our daily lives? There are miracles reports almost daily of cancers healing up mysteriously or diseases spontaneously abating. The fact that praryer works has been known for thousands of years in the Christian and Jewish communities.

    And mind you, I have a hard time being swayed by any argument that insists the only way to experience this world is to shut off my critical faculties, the logic of this being somewhat questionable to me.
    Making logic replace God, again. You don't have to turn it off, just realize that it is not perfect and you could never know everything using logic alone.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    What's the alternative to logic? (2.00 / 2) (#87)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:23:00 PM EST

    "We could never know anything with logic alone." What's the alternative? Faith, where I believe something without or despite evidence? How do I decide between two contradictory articles of faith? Logic and reason do not by themselves as concepts, cure cancer and bring peace to the world. Human beings, including scientists, are not always very logical. But it's totally impossible to create an argument for one belief or worldview over another without using logic and reason. They may not be perfect, as you say, but they are the only reliable tools we have for understanding the world.



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    You misquoted me. (4.50 / 2) (#129)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:27:25 PM EST

    "We could never know anything with logic alone." What's the alternative? Faith, where I believe something without or despite evidence? How do I decide between two contradictory articles of faith?
    I never said that we can't know anything. I said that we can't know everything. My post was not about throwing out all of logic, but about recognizing the limits. Just as anything else in life, if there is a contradiction, then we need to go back and review our findings. We will be led in the right direction in faith, as a wholy body of people, but we will get things wrong from time to time. That shouldn't ever be the problem though. Logic and science explain the how of the world. Religion and God explain the why.

    They mThey may not be perfect, as you say, but they are the only reliable tools we have for understanding the world.
    What is so difficult about understanding the concept of coexstence. We don't ignore logic, we learn about its flaws and inadequacies and learn when to defer to the spirit for matters that cannot be deduced by logic.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Sorry (2.00 / 2) (#213)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:28:48 PM EST

    Didn't mean to misquote you. But my question stands, if logic isn't perfect (well, I'll grant that the human application of logic to actual problems is not perfect), what else do we use? How do you justify the use of the alternative (faith?).

    coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    You still don't get it. (5.00 / 1) (#224)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:28:09 PM EST

    For about the tenth time in this article. I have never said you replace logic; you are to recognize that logic can not prove all that is true. God may exist, just as the Reimann conjecture may be true, but we may never be able to logically prove either.

    After that fact is established, then people should be more willing to admit that personal proof should be sufficient for belief.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Don't conflate logic and rationality (4.00 / 1) (#305)
    by Homburg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:26:55 PM EST

    He didn't say you said we should replace logic. But you are clearly claiming that we should supplement logic with something else. What is this other thing, and what good reasons can you give for trusting it's guidance?

    In particular, why do you jump from the claim that formal logic cannot prove everything to the claim that some things should be entirely removed from the sphere of rational, public debate into some sphere of 'personal proof' (which sounds like a contradiction in terms to me, like the idea of a private language)?

    [ Parent ]

    Note on ratings (Hired Goons) (4.00 / 1) (#322)
    by phliar on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:46:59 PM EST

    Hey, Hired Goons and others -- if your comment ratings are all 5s or 1s based on whether or not you agree with the content of the message, that's a good indication you don't get it. Please read the K5 FAQ. Brief summary: rate based on how well the message is written, and whether or not it argues in good faith and fosters discussion -- not whether or not you agree. Save that for your messages.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    My problem with your philosophy of ratings (none / 0) (#330)
    by gzt on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:13:18 PM EST

    Why must I argue in "good faith", whatever that means?  Does it mean I must not, like Socrates, dissemble?

    And what's wrong with an insightful comment that is decisive, ie, puts an end to all conversation on the issue?  

    [ Parent ]

    Good faith (none / 0) (#411)
    by phliar on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:25:08 PM EST

    Since I'm not yet the supreme dictator, I can't make anyone do anything. (I don't want to, either.) I'm pointing out the customs of this population, as described in the FAQ and practiced by most of the readers.

    By "arguing in good faith" I meant "not trolling" -- whether or not dissembling is ok (by me, of course -- not that I expect anyone to keep my opinions in mind!), that depends on its kind. A devil's advocate may certainly argue in good faith; after all, on the 'net no one knows your real opinion.

    As for an insightful comment that ends all conversation -- not sure what you mean, seems to me that you can always carry on a conversation. At least, that's how it is when I'm hanging out with my friends.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Yes, but what is trolling? (none / 0) (#537)
    by gzt on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 07:34:03 PM EST

    I don't think you can sensibly define it in a way that excludes Socrates and devil's advocates.

    This talk of trolls is mostly nonsense.

    re: insightful comments: Whatever.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmm. (none / 0) (#444)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 03:16:58 AM EST

    I place almost no importance in the ratings system. Therefore, if I choose to rate a particular comment, it's going to be a 5. More often than not, those 5s are dedicated to comments that, whether insightful or not, made me giggle like I have fairies in my shorts (if I run into more recent postings by eSolutions, for example, it's 5s all around). In other circumstances, I will rate a comment a 5 if I feel that it has been unfairly given a one (call it karmic balancing), or if non-spam/non-idiotic (take xMicrodot's shit, for what I would consider "idiotic") content has been zeroed out. Also, I'll rate intelligent comments that dares to oppose the rather liberal viewpoint of K5 5s as well - these people should be encouraged.

    As can be expected, I really don't rate comments that often.

    But otherwise, don't you think that this whole comment ratings thing is a little bit silly? The terms set by K5 are so nebulous, at best, that any way a user decides to rate can be considered valid (except for abusive zero-raters). I mean, would you take me to task because I rate nothing but 5s? Personally, whether I approve of the "level of discourse" or not, whether I agree with the poster or not, I would much rather post and discuss the issue with him/her rathern than rate anything at all.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Just a question- (1.00 / 1) (#191)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:57:27 PM EST

    But it's totally impossible to create an argument for one belief or worldview over another without using logic and reason.

    Why do we have to impose a hierarchy on belief?



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Do we just pick one at random, then? [n/t] (1.00 / 1) (#212)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:27:26 PM EST



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]
    Why only one? (5.00 / 1) (#229)
    by Pseudonym on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 11:45:23 PM EST

    The post-modernist in me says: Why do you have to narrow yourself to only one kind of thinking anyway?

    "Faith" is an excellent example. Faith, in the etymological sense (and in most of the dictionary senses, too), means "trust" or "loyalty". So, for example, I have faith in my family, and in my friends, because I have an active emotional investment that relies on them. True faith is not based on logic, and certainly not based on anything as crude as dogma, but almost purely on emotion and experience. I love my family and friends, and they have not let me down so far.

    To paraphrase P.J. Plauger, what humans do that passes for thinking is, for better or worse, some combination of the rational and the irrational (which is not the same as "anti-rational"). We need to be better at both.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Faith is not magic. (2.50 / 2) (#272)
    by tekue on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:02:04 AM EST

    "Faith" is an excellent example. Faith, in the etymological sense (and in most of the dictionary senses, too), means "trust" or "loyalty". So, for example, I have faith in my family, and in my friends, because I have an active emotional investment that relies on them. True faith is not based on logic, and certainly not based on anything as crude as dogma, but almost purely on emotion and experience. I love my family and friends, and they have not let me down so far.
    Theoretically, I could provide you with a algorythm for estimating how probable are your friends and family to let you down. Using it you could calculate how much "fate" you should have in each of them.

    You believe your family won't hurt you, because there's a huge set of precedences. You know that they could — as you say, it's not sureness, it's only faith — but the no-hurt precedences are in mayority, so you assume it's so in your case.

    Faith is no more than believe in something that wasn't proved, nor disproved, based on your current knowledge (experience) and logical thinking. It's no magic.
    --
    Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
    [ Parent ]

    It ain't magic, but it is important (none / 0) (#381)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:23:39 PM EST

    Theoretically, I could provide you with a algorythm for estimating how probable are your friends and family to let you down. Using it you could calculate how much "fate" you should have in each of them.

    Could you really? Or is this one of those situations where theory and practice are similar in theory, but very different in practice? Dealing with the actions of an individual is the "poster child" situation where reductionist science is a very poor fit.

    Besides, were I to actually use your algorithm, I predict that my friends and family would very quickly lose their faith in me.

    I never claimed faith was magic, but I do claim that it is far more than mere belief in something that is not proven nor disproven, and it's rarely based on logical thinking. It's mostly based on irrational (as opposed to anti-rational) thinking; in particular, it's largely based on emotion. Emotion is important. It's older than logic and more deeply embedded in our brains. We need it, and we need to be better at it.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    That's not what I mean - (5.00 / 1) (#233)
    by discoflamingo13 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:16:08 AM EST

    I think there is a far cry from a hierarchy of "right and wrong" to "better or worse." And hierarchy almost always dismisses the equality of ideas.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    lol (2.33 / 3) (#89)
    by deadplant on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:33:43 PM EST

    Ok, I guess you're probably trolling, but what the hell.

    And you will never know everything because of it. Prove there is God? Of course I can't. It may be one of those things that Godel and Turing say we can never prove. Knowing that out form of logic is so inherently flawed, why would you bow down to it.

    Are you thinking of the cat-in-the-box arguments? if so then you should consider that logic only fails to prove the existence of the cat so long as the cat doesn't do anything. If the cat starts performing miracles or affecting anything outside the box in any way then it CAN be proven to exist with logic.
    The cat-in-the-box argument only holds for the existence of god question so long as the god has zero interaction (directly or indirectly) with the world we can percieve.

    As for bowing down before logic... uh, I think you're the only one here who feels a need to bow down before something. The rest of us use tools like logic and emotion to make decisions for ourselves.

    Why would you say this? If God created us as his children, why would he not be involved in our daily lives?

    Uh... why WOULD he/she/it be involved in your daily life?

    There are miracles reports almost daily of cancers healing up mysteriously or diseases spontaneously abating. The fact that praryer works has been known for thousands of years in the Christian and Jewish communities.

    snicker, snicker... I don't know what to say about that apart from laugh. All I can think is that someone who rejects logical reasoning entirely must be able to believe anything they hear.
    BTW, I've got some real-estate in antarctica for sale... it's real cold but god told me it's the new promised land and I've got lots of folks praying it'll warm up soon...



    [ Parent ]

    Incompleteness theorem and other ideas (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by aphrael on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:03:47 PM EST

    First off, i'm as distrustful of christianity as you are, or more so; my religious background is more rooted in taoism and buddhism.

    That said, you completely miss jjayson's point about not being able to prove things. He's referring not to Schroedinger's cat-in-the-box experiment, but rather to the implications of the works of Kurt Goedel, who demonstrated that in any theoretical system, there will exist some set of propositions which cannot be proven or disproven using the rules that govern the system (a notion referred to commonly as Goedel's incompleteness theorem).

    This is an important theoretical point that underscores almost all modern information theory.

    [ Parent ]

    Relevance? (2.00 / 2) (#136)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:43:27 PM EST

    Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem is a staggeringly interesting and important thing. What does it have to do with the topic at hand? The argument that I see, is

    1. According to Goedel's incompletemess theorm, in any formal system there are axioms that cannot be proved with the rules of that system.
    2. Some formal systems are useful and valid.
    3. God cannot be proved.
    ---
    4. We should believe in God; belief in God is useful and valid.

    Um, no, this is not good reasoning. Because obviously, we can replace "God" with "Santa Claus", "Invisible Scary Skeletons", "Baby-eating dingoes" or anything else you cared to name.

    coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    i didn't make that leap (5.00 / 2) (#139)
    by aphrael on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:49:51 PM EST

    i'm not endorsing the leap between item 3 and item 4 in your syllogism. and i'm not convinced that jjayson would, either, although you'd have to ask him. my point was that, when jjayson said "[God] may be one of those things that Goedel and Turing say we can never prove", and deadplant responded with "Are you thinking of the cat-in-the-box arguments", deadplant was completely missing the point and misunderstanding what was being said.

    To point out that misunderstanding does not, or at the very least should not, automatically imply endorsement of the argument jjayson was making.

    [ Parent ]

    uh oh (1.00 / 1) (#162)
    by deadplant on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:02:08 PM EST

    rating and posting in the same thread?!
    I'm being a bad boy today!

    [ Parent ]
    The argument that I make, (5.00 / 1) (#187)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:42:41 PM EST

    elsewhere is about the limitations of logic and the necessity f faith in something. Call it God, intuition, or what have you, there is a part of thinking apart from reasoning.

    I'm with you that the jump from 3 to 4 is not valid reasoning - but I think there is always some aspect of knowing or believing that is based on faith.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    No (5.00 / 1) (#221)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:15:11 PM EST

    Godel is used in response to the idea that people will only accept God if He can be logically proven to exist.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    base assumptions (3.25 / 4) (#160)
    by deadplant on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:58:27 PM EST

    Ah I see, my mistake.
    I understood jjayson to be saying that since we cannot REALLY prove anything that we shouldn't try and should rather accept a fully faith-based system.

    His reply clarifies that he only meant that we should be aware of the limitations of logic.

    I agree with that but I think it has little or no bearing on real-life decisions. I'm still reading his post as "because logic isn't perfect you may as well go with this other system (religion)".
    Logic can prove things in so far as anything can be said to prove anything. The fact that nothing can really be 'proven' by any means doesn't mean that we should ignore what can be proven within the framework of our perceptions. (sure you can't "prove" that 1+1=2 but if I put one beer next to another I can see+feel two beers. for me it is effectively a fact until my perceptions change.)

    For example, I accept that noone can prove whether there is or is not a can of coke on my desk. However, I am thirsty and I want to drink coke. I think my best chance of getting a drink is to gather data via my senses and apply logical reasoning to the results. Sure I can't know the Truth about what just happened but I think I made some decisions, activated some neurons and now I'm resonably sure my thirst has been quenched.

    I accept that I cannot know the Truth and that any system of thought that I come up with probably cannot change that. Never the less I think I am alive and I think I want to make what I percieve to be productive use of my life. Therefore I must make some assumptions and then use a thought process to make decisions for my life. Perception+logic+scientific method seems to be an effective way of making these decisions. I look at the decisions made by people who choose the religious edict+obedience method and I see pain suffering and death.

    The Goedel theorem is fascinating and makes sense, but I'm still going to make my decisions based on the idea that in an equilateral triangle a squared + b squared = c squared because it is True as far as I can percieve anything to be true and most importantly it is effective.

    [ Parent ]

    Gцdel doesn't matter (none / 0) (#422)
    by hymie on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:53:28 PM EST

    The incompleteness theorem and all the other undecidability and unprovability theorems require one thing that that the actual universe does not have - a potentially infinite playing field.

    [ Parent ]
    How does that impact the argument? (none / 0) (#425)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:33:44 PM EST

    If anything it brings down the bounds of things we can prove. Godel puts an upper limit on decidability, you have just brought it ever lower. I hope that was your implication.
    _______
    Smile =)
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    [ Parent ]
    sure, go ahead and laugh. (4.00 / 2) (#127)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:20:51 PM EST

    Ok, I guess you're probably trolling, but what the hell.
    No I am not trolling. We are is a sad state when someone can expouse a religious view and get called a troll.

    Are you thinking of the cat-in-the-box arguments?
    No, you are thinking of the wrong thing. That is Heissenburg. Godel (and Turning) said that in any system of logic sufficiently complex there will be truths that cannot be proven. Basically, it can be true, you can know internally that it can be true, but you can never prove that it is true without contradiction arising.

    Uh... why WOULD he/she/it be involved in your daily life?
    Are not all loving parents involed in the lives of their children. Now, you will backstep and ask why is he loving. This is always the reponse of the disbeliever, to take steps backwards until you run out of room.

    snicker, snicker... I don't know what to say about that apart from laugh. All I can think is that someone who rejects logical reasoning entirely must be able to believe anything they hear.
    Who said anything about rejecting logical entirely? I said that people need to recogize that there are boundries to logic.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    I should stay out of these discussions (2.00 / 4) (#90)
    by leviramsey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:34:30 PM EST

    As I inevitably get a storm of 1's and 0's, but what the fuck...

    If one were to base their entire body of knowledge you would have zero knowledge, for the simple that you can't use logic to justify the laws under which logic operates (non-contradiction, etc.)

    jjayson, you are a slave to God. ;o)

    Don't take the last paragraph the wrong way. There is nothing wrong with that; it's as justifiable as being a slave to logic (which is to say not in any way justifiable; but does it need to be justified?).

    As I see it, the big mistake that a lot of people make is believing that belief or disbelief in God has to be justified or proven, and that there even could be a justification or that any is needed.



    [ Parent ]
    come join the fun (4.00 / 3) (#130)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:28:58 PM EST

    As I inevitably get a storm of 1's and 0's, but what the fuck...
    You get used to then, don't worry ;)

    jjayson, you are a slave to God. ;o)
    Thanks!
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    You say that like it's a bad thing! (3.00 / 3) (#101)
    by pdrap on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:13:13 PM EST

    Is it bad to be a slave to logic? How about a slave to love? You say it like it's a bad thing. It reminds me of how children will pick on the smart kid by calling him a bookworm or a nerd. They just don't understand that being a bookworm implies so many positive things about a person. How did we get into the situation where a good thing can be presented as a bad thing? Isn't that situation the very definition of evil?

    It is not necessary to know everything. In fact as you point out, Goedel and others have shown that we cannot know everything. So you offer faith as the solution to this? Faith offers no progress to knowing anything at all. In fact, faith is predicated on the lack of knowlege; hardly a desirable situation.

    It's interesting to me that you refer to humanity as God's children. But that implies some information that you have about our relationship with this god you talk about. If you have that information, then it must be based on something that you can present. If you don't have anything, then there's no reason to believe that you're making things up, or you're just mistaken about the whole thing.


    [ Parent ]

    Look (2.00 / 2) (#128)
    by Noam Chompsky on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:24:50 PM EST

    Logic is not an object. Logic does not mean anything. We mean things, and logic is the device we use to communicate what we mean. When we communicate in this fashion we retrofit explanations onto the world. Do you understand this? All logical explanations are *necessarily* rationalizations. Belief in these explanations is just that: belief. That's all that people do; they tell each other stories, and believe in these stories, the same way that birds believe in their songs. You believe that you will fall down if you jump off a cliff, but your explanation for "fall down"--your story--is pure invention.

    There is nothing special about logic. It is important for you to understand that formal logic doesn't say anything (it is literally meaningless forms) until you use it to model something else. That something else is knowledge or, to be more precise, narrative. The only thing you can say for sure about knowledge is that it is a form of behavior, because it presumes its communication. Communication is latent in the meaning of knowledge.

    In naturalistic terms, there is nothing special about human behavior. It is incredibly useful to humans, yes, but bird behavior is incredibly useful to birds, and we do not think that birds have insight into objects qua objects.

    If you dont believe in that last paragraph, then you must be some sort of religionist. Don't feel bad, everyone is.

    ---
    "They are in love. Fuck the war."
    [ Parent ]

    Pardon me? (3.25 / 4) (#117)
    by kitten on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:00:04 PM EST


    On the one hand you claim: Prove there is God? Of course I can't.

    Yet you then state: There are miracles reports almost daily of cancers healing up mysteriously or diseases spontaneously abating. The fact that praryer works has been known for thousands of years

    Sounds like, if we accept that statement, then this is proof of God.

    Of course, since you pulled that out of nowhere anyway, it doesn't matter. The idea of prayer has been around for thousands of years, but there is not one single objectively documented case in which the physical world has been altered by petitioning God with prayer in all that time.

    It wouldn't take many public demonstrations of physical change from prayer to utterly convert the heathens and make them beg forgiveness.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
    prayer working and proof of god (3.00 / 2) (#120)
    by aphrael on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:06:23 PM EST

    "Prayer" working does not per se constitute proof of the existence of God. Prayer may "work" through some variation of the placebo effect, for example, or by allowing the person placing the prayer to tap into some metaphysical force which is not related to the existence or non-existence of a deity.

    Not that i'm saying either of these potential explanations are correct, just that they are as plausible an explanation absent other data as the existence of God, and that therefore the statement does not necessarily yield the stated result.

    [ Parent ]

    Observable vs. the spiritual (5.00 / 5) (#121)
    by dachshund on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:06:53 PM EST

    Prove there is God? Of course I can't. It may be one of those things that Godel and Turing say we can never prove. Knowing that out form of logic is so inherently flawed, why would you bow down to it.

    Hence my point. I don't know if there's any way to prove the existence of God, and I don't think that there's anyway to disprove it. It doesn't matter: there's no need to do so.

    One of the most important developments of the last few centuries is the religious has begun to remove itself from the domain of the logical and observable, and to stake out a place for itself that is entirely separate from the domain occupied by science. In that manner, religion and faith need never be in conflict with "logic" and science. You can believe in the existence of God without necessarily believing that he created the world 6000 years ago; if that seems straightforward, then understand that it wasn't so simple even a few decades ago (and it's still not that simple for many people alive today.)

    I've found that with the exception of a minority of strident intellectuals (read, non-religious intellectuals), the intellectual community more or less accepts that concept and is content to leave the world of faith alone. For example, many scientists are, in fact, quite religious and have found ways to adapt their spiritual beliefs so that they can coexist with their scientific understanding.

    And if that were then end of it, this conversation would be over. But of course, it's not, because people will always be looking for ways to bring the religious and the logical/observable back into conflict. You do it yourself when you mention miracles; it's not enough to accept the existence of God on faith, there has to be an observable side. And that's where the trouble starts: being human and curious, "logical" people want to know if such things really do occur and if they can be explained in some other way. If they do debunk such a miracle, it's an attack on religion (all religion) and it inspires books like the one mentioned in the article. If no explanation can be found, it's proof that the supernatural exists in the spiritual world, and science must therefore be bunk.

    Neither of these explanations is fair, but you see them again and again, and unfortunately it's a war that nobody can win-- it just generates a lot of noise and friction and pushes people to take intolerant stances.

    [ Parent ]

    Logic and Religion (2.75 / 4) (#131)
    by phliar on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:31:04 PM EST

    There is no point in using logic when talking about supernatural deities. Religions are self-contradictory when the rules of logic are applied to them. (For instance, omnipotence leads to the chestnut "Can Deity X make a rock so large that s/he can't move it?") I find logic much more useful to me in my everyday life; therefore I quit religion and other superstitions and refuse to argue with theists. They can believe whatever they want as long as they leave me free to not believe.
    There are miracles reports...
    Yes. There are also reports of humans being abducted by aliens and returned to earth, and some people in Utah still believe that Pons and Fleishman demonstrated nuclear fusion.

    I just ran a program that prints out a random number, and it printed 1677505395. The probability of that happening is 1 in four billion!!!


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Oh, come on (2.66 / 3) (#206)
    by gbd on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:26:43 PM EST

    And you will never know everything because of it. Prove there is God? Of course I can't.

    Most religions (and Christianity is no exception) give their god(s) specific qualities. Such a god, particularly if it is said to have unlimited powers, would be more than able to effectively establish its existence. Now, you can always say "Well, God chooses not to reveal Himself to you because he would prefer that you find Him" or something like that, but even the religious people I've talked to have admitted that this is a bit ... well, convenient.

    The fact that praryer [sic] works has been known for thousands of years in the Christian and Jewish communities.

    Oh, that's rich. Of course, you completely ignore the fact that for every sick person who gets prayed over and "miraculously" heals, there are thousands more who die anyway. (Trust me, I know about this.) If the Christian god actually existed, he would have the slackest job in the world; he gets all of the credit for everything good that happens in the world, and takes none of the blame for anything bad! It is this same mentality that causes people to thank God for sparing their lives, despite the fact that He sent a tornado that wiped out their home and everything that they own.

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
    [ Parent ]

    heh (4.00 / 2) (#253)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:03:31 AM EST

    Such a god, particularly if it is said to have unlimited powers, would be more than able to effectively establish its existence.

    I would say that the existence of a natural world suffused with the supernatural (eg, free will) is pretty damned compelling.

    What do you want, anyway? We know that our days are numbered; that we yearn for something beyond ourselves; that we can't make the world; that our minds are neither machines nor are they arbitrary. Perhaps these are just the meaningless emotions of biological robots. After all, if the world works like a giant, miniscule machine, everything is either determined or random, and the concept of inner freedom is meaningless.

    Anyway, I find your criticism of prayer is awfully facile. If prayer could effect magical cures, prayer would no longer be an aspect of religion, but a branch of medicine. Prayer is a request for an intercession, not an effective formula.

    While I can't offer laboratory proof of the magic powers of the Hail Mary, I'm sure you're aware of the rigorous vetting process for saints in the Catholic Church. There are documented miraculous cures - cancers disappearing overnight, for instance - that cannot be explained by conventional medical knowledge. Perhaps this ought to be taken as circumstantial evidence supporting the concept that intercessions are sometimes granted.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Rigorous vetting? (none / 0) (#371)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:19:03 PM EST

    I would say that the existence of a natural world suffused with the supernatural (eg, free will) is pretty damned compelling.

    Claiming that free will is supernatural is sort of begging the question, isn't it? And even if free will were supernatural, how does that imply the existence of an omnipotent god?

    I'm sure you're aware of the rigorous vetting process for saints in the Catholic Church.

    That's really more of a political process than an investigative one. They recently approved a person who may not have existed. If there is doubt about his existence, there could not have been a rigorous comparison of his feats against conventional explanations.
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    [ Parent ]
    I couldn't disagree more (4.00 / 1) (#388)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:44:22 PM EST

    Claiming that free will is supernatural is sort of begging the question, isn't it?

    Not really. Claiming that it is natural, despite there being no evidence of any such freedom in the mechanical world of cause and effect, is claiming on faith that the natural world is the sum of all being. If a phenomenon is utterly unknown in nature, it would seem reasonable to look outside of nature for an explanation.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Well (none / 0) (#376)
    by gbd on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:02:37 PM EST

    I would say that the existence of a natural world suffused with the supernatural (eg, free will) is pretty damned compelling. What do you want, anyway?

    Well, let's take the Old Testament as an example. This is a set of texts that is chock full of instances of God doing some very tangible and powerful things, such as wiping out whole nations and flooding the entire planet. If these stories are true (and I'm not suggesting that I believe that they are), it seems to me that it would be a relatively straightforward manner for such a deity to provide a sceptical world with proof of its existence. It would certainly be far more dramatic than people on a weblog discussing whether or not "free will" (whatever that is) is supernatural or not.

    Anyway, I find your criticism of prayer is awfully facile.

    Well, speaking as a former theist, I struggle to recall any instance in that 18-year period where prayer did work for anything of consequence. That, in my mind, makes my criticism of it far from facile. Now, don't get the wrong idea; I'm not one of these "really does believe in God but is just mad at Him" types. My rejection of religion and the supernatural is the result of an intellectual journey, not an emotional one. But I've not seen anything, aside from a few isolated stories, which would lead me to believe that prayer accomplishes much of anything at all. Which brings us to:

    There are documented miraculous cures - cancers disappearing overnight, for instance - that cannot be explained by conventional medical knowledge.

    I have no doubt that there are, and this should come as no surprise. The human body is quite a complicated thing, as are the various diseases and conditions that afflict it. The question is: why should these instances be considered evidence of a deity, as opposed to a reminder that we still have much to learn about medical science?

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
    [ Parent ]

    ahem (none / 0) (#389)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:52:25 PM EST

    Dear Mr gbd Sir,

    I notice that you conveniently overlooked my point about free will.

    You'll also note that thus far I have forborne from invoking the Bible as a source of historical information. It's transparently obviously a mythopoeic work. Apart from those who have a vested emotional or political interest in believing it accurate, no one takes it as an attempt at objective, scientific history. I don't find myself obligated to answer your question about where Yahweh's smites are these days.

    I struggle to recall any instance in that 18-year period where prayer did work for anything of consequence.

    As Kierkegaard said, "Prayer does not so much change the God to whom we pray as it changes the one who prays." (Purity of Heart.) You can't seriously be complaining because your wavering faith wasn't vindicated by a miracle.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    What about "free will" ? (2.00 / 1) (#397)
    by gbd on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:28:15 PM EST

    I place the words "free will" in quotes because I've never seen a theist adequately (heh) explain what, exactly, they mean by this mystery-shrouded concept. It would seem obvious (to me) that anybody who rejects the existence of a deity would also, by extension, reject the idea that said deity has, out of the goodness of his heart, given the tenants the full run of the apartment with No Questions Asked.

    You'll also note that thus far I have forborne from invoking the Bible as a source of historical information. It's transparently obviously a mythopoeic work.

    I'm glad that you recognize it as such, but this is really irrelevant. It was only an example. In more general terms, people who believe in deities tend to give these deities certain characteristics, the most common of which is omnipotence. So let's forget about Yahweh's wacky and crazy stunts in the Old Testament and look towards omnipotent deities in general. You would agree, I hope, that such a deity would be more than able to unambiguously prove its existence so that all but the most willfully ignorant of disbelievers would accept it, right?

    I mean, why not write messages in the sky with clouds? Or better yet, by rearranging the stars? Why not broadcast a message or a decree over the radio and television waves simultaneously all over the Earth? Hell, maybe even make N*Sync sound good? All of this would be child's play to an omnipotent deity. Now, I know, I know .. God is not a trained monkey who does parlor tricks. But come on .. believers of various stripes have been telling lots of people for a very long time that it is very important that people believe in their god, and that it is very important to their god that they believe in it.

    Not too important, I guess.

    You can't seriously be complaining because your wavering faith wasn't vindicated by a miracle.

    Ahh, yes, the old "it's your fault" gambit. "Maybe if you had believed just a little bit more and prayed just a little bit harder." I must confess that I have seen more effective methods of evangelism.

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
    [ Parent ]

    dear sir (none / 0) (#589)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 03:40:25 PM EST

    Your first sentence is kind of incoherent, much in the way that adequacy is kind of dead.

    Our free will is the ability of the autonomous human being to make decisions that are not contingent on cause and effect. If you decide to undertake an action, someone who believes in free will would claim you to be responsible for that action and would claim that it is meaningful to judge that action as morally good or evil or a mixture.

    If you don't believe in free will, the concept of a human being is arbitrary, all actions ultimately originate outside of ourselves (and, in a sense, nowhere; they just arise out of the natural conditions of the universe, of which we happen to be part.) Nothing means anything, in the sense that there is only a personal viewpoint with no referents from which to construct meaning - not that we'd have any choice in how we constructed it, anyhow.

    As for your preposterous question about God announcing His existence through skywriting; while you might believe in God, you wouldn't be any more inclined to love by that belief. God would just be another fact of the natural world, like comets and weeds; He might affect your life and you'd have to deal with Him, but you wouldn't be able to have a relationship with Him that hadn't been corrupted by your attempts to manipulate a gross power differential between the two of you. So, God doesn't do skywriting because to do so would be to abuse our freedom and to impose Himself intolerably in our lives.

    My 2 cents.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Mechanical constraints on free will. (none / 0) (#619)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 07:50:42 PM EST

    Though I accept that an element of "free will" is an inevitable consequence of consciousness I do not accept that it is neither constrained, nor driven by, the bio-chemical mechanism which we are. As a species it is our ability to analyse and act upon available data which has brought us to a state of (localised) (near) dominion. "Free will" is, at least in part, a mechanism to allow us to optimise (or at least de-pessimise) outcome.

    Whether there is any external meaning to my exercise of what I experience as free will is largely unimportant; I will still experience the emotional concequences of my "choice".

    It might be more comfortable to feel you are excercising your will bathed in the love of a benevolent creator but is it more true?

    Or more free?


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    [ Parent ]

    shout at the wall (5.00 / 1) (#624)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 08:14:32 PM EST

    Though I accept that an element of "free will" is an inevitable consequence of consciousness I do not accept that it is neither constrained, nor driven by, the bio-chemical mechanism which we are...

    Shockingly enough, neither do I. I'm perfectly willing to accept that our will is constrained. I can't will myself to fly to Andromeda. And please try to avoid double negatives, as they are hard to parse in English.

    It might be more comfortable to feel you are excercising your will bathed in the love of a benevolent creator but is it more true?

    Well, if there's no free will, then your life has no meaning and your decisions are just processes like fermentation or the freezing of water. (That is, they don't essentially arise from an entity known as 'you' because they don't essentially arise from anything except the general condition of the universe.) If you really believe this, you must be wretchedly unhappy, but I don't see how you can believe it. You're literally trying to believe that belief is impossible because invalid.

    You might be able to say, "Free will can't be proven to exist, because cogito ergo sum only proves that something exists, not that the mind is in any way independent of mechanical processes." I am uninterested in proof. I am proposing that the free condition of the human will is axiomatic, meaning necessary for any discussion to be conceivable. In my opinion, speaking otherwise is to speak of square circles and five-sided triangles.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Fine (5.00 / 1) (#631)
    by hstink on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 09:53:52 PM EST

    Well, if there's no free will, then your life has no meaning and your decisions are just processes like fermentation or the freezing of water. (That is, they don't essentially arise from an entity known as 'you' because they don't essentially arise from anything except the general condition of the universe.)

    This is how I view the free will question.  To me, "meaning" implies that I was created with a predefined purpose, and I have no reason for believing that.  It would actually be quite disheartening to believe that I am just a pawn in someone else's game, or "plan".

    If you really believe this, you must be wretchedly unhappy, but I don't see how you can believe it. You're literally trying to believe that belief is impossible because invalid.

    I'm actually a very happy person.  It's not a terribly hard concept to grasp, I'm sure you've read more than enough on the matter to be familiar with it.

    -h

    [ Parent ]

    But we are having a discussion (5.00 / 1) (#648)
    by teeth on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 09:52:11 AM EST

    I am sorry if you find it difficult to parse my English in places but as my non acceptance of an absence is not the same as the acceptance of a presence I'll stick with it.

    While I prefer to think that I retain an element of choice I cannot entirely dismiss the possibility that I am just a mechanistic process.

    This does not make me unhappy, just curious.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    you are confused (none / 0) (#655)
    by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 11:26:42 AM EST

    While I prefer to think that I retain an element of choice I cannot entirely dismiss the possibility that I am just a mechanistic process.

    Much in the same way that I can't dismiss the possibility that I'm God and the entire world is just something that I imagined. But such a speculation is philosophically useless.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    A hands-on God is worse than a hands-off one. (4.00 / 2) (#306)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:30:05 PM EST

    There are miracles reports almost daily of cancers healing up mysteriously or diseases spontaneously abating.

    There are orders of magnitude more reports of cancers appearing mysteriously, and diseases spontaneously manifesting*. Are those anti-miracles?

    * As in the parent post, "mysteriously" and "spontaneously" mean that the cause is currently undiscovered.
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    [ Parent ]
    Of course not (none / 0) (#335)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:35:29 PM EST

    For people that purport to follow logic, you show they don't do a good job of it.
    _______
    Smile =)
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    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Why not? (none / 0) (#338)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:08:21 PM EST

    You used beneficial unexplained phenomena an example of miracles, and evidence of God being involved in our daily lives. You then say that harmful unexplained phenomena are "of course not" examples of anti-miracles (or direct harm caused by God). Why "of course not"? They may not be anti-miracles necessarily, but you chose to dismiss the possibility and accuse me of being illogical.

    Why are unexplained phenomena miracles when they are good, and bad luck when they are not?
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    [ Parent ]
    haven't you ver heard (none / 0) (#339)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:12:40 PM EST

    if A -> B does not mean ~A -> ~B
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
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    [ Parent ]
    And ..? (none / 0) (#355)
    by arjan de lumens on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:18:50 PM EST

    what does A and B denote in this case? If A is "miracles happen" and B is "God exists", then ~A is "miracles do not happen" (as opposed to "unexplained harmful phenomena happen") and ~B is "God does not exist". Which would say exactly nothing at all about whether there is any connection between God and unexplained harmful phenomena (there could easily be a God that does both miracles and evil stuff).

    [ Parent ]
    no (none / 0) (#359)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:27:24 PM EST

    He's not arguing about miracles occuring or not. He is arguing about the "goodness" of miracles, so it is given that miracles occur. A would be that the miracle is good, therefor ~A would be that the miracle is bad. B would follow similarly.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Not quite (4.00 / 1) (#367)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:06:27 PM EST

    I was bringing up the fact that you were picking a subset of unexplained phenomena, and claiming them as evidence of the paranormal. The harmful unexplained phenomena are just as valid* evidence of a hostile deity as the "miracles" are evidence of a good one. Why did you dismiss the latter possibility out of hand, when you were willing to accept the former? I posit that the reason you dismiss the theory of "bad luck implies gremlins" is the same reason I reject the "good luck implies God" claim.

    * not valid at all
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    you say it best yourself (5.00 / 1) (#382)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:32:42 PM EST

    First, I can't reword the truth table any better than you did. A is the proposition that a miracle is good, not A would be that a miracle is not good. B would be that God is good, so not B would be that God is not Good. I said A -> B. you want to turn around and say that ~A -> ~B is just as valid. Determine the truth table for it yourself.

    Second, I will concede that miraculous deaths may be the work of some evil entity. The story of Job details that. So I really don't get your point there. I am being consistent in my belief, you just don't agree with the a priori claim of miracles being possible, but you never argue that. Instead you try to trip me up in a contradiction that you think I fall into.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Meh? (4.00 / 2) (#30)
    by jmzero on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:41:03 AM EST

    We are a bunch of organic molecules stuck together by mysteries we cannot delve into (cellular cohesion baffles scientists - it can be copied but never created)...

    If you wrote this 100 years ago, you might be talking about the mysterious, impenetrable atom.  Much better to focus on questions that are a little further out of the current purview of science or religion like:

    "Why is there stuff instead of nothing?"

    .
    "Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
    [ Parent ]

    There was nothing... (3.00 / 1) (#156)
    by Wah on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:48:47 PM EST

    ...for a really long time.  You just didn't notice it.

    :)
    --
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
    [ Parent ]

    nope (3.66 / 3) (#44)
    by NKcell on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:44:07 PM EST

    cellular cohesion baffles scientists

    Incorrect. I'm presuming you're talking about one of two things:

    1. The ability of a cell to maintain a cytoplasm with proteins, RNA and DNA: this is mediated by a phospholipid bilayer.

    2. The ability of cells to stick to one another: this is mediated by adhesion molecules, such as cadherins, integrins, and selectins.

    Please read up on biology before stating what confuses biologists.

    [ Parent ]

    feel free... (4.00 / 3) (#59)
    by Run4YourLives on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:05:47 PM EST

    to take some cells, stick them together, and then have an intelligent conversation with your new creation...

    I got the point... arguing about the little things and neglecting the fact that science has yet to create life from non-life is rather immature.


    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    I didn't say anything (3.00 / 2) (#61)
    by NKcell on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:16:24 PM EST

    else with his argument was incorrect. I was just correcting his statement about cellular cohesion.

    But if you want something interesting to consider about the creation of life, then here's two possible examples. The scientists took RNA, which though organic, is not alive- and they created self-replicating organic molecules. Some would argue that self-replicating RNA would classify as life.

    However, that's a whole different conversation....

    [ Parent ]

    I stand corrected (3.00 / 1) (#250)
    by SanSeveroPrince on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:55:38 AM EST

    You know some very easily confused biologists, my elitist neighbour.

    ----

    Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


    [ Parent ]
    Yet another posture. (2.75 / 4) (#141)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:55:30 PM EST

    Science does not have all the answers, but it provides most of them.

    Religion does not have all the answers. Actually religion provides no useful answers. Unless you are uncritical (who criticizes his or her own religion dogma? Precious few. Who brakes conciously with it? Even fewer).

    A rational person does not put faith in science, faith understood as blindly accepting all what scientists have to say. A rational person questions and criticizes figures of authority that claim something without probe.

    Faith and science are like oil and water.

    European? Say no to software patents.
    [ Parent ]

    Your bias is showing (4.33 / 3) (#166)
    by Pseudonym on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:08:19 PM EST

    Science does not have all the answers, but it provides most of them.

    Hardly. Science is limited to certain areas of human endeavour. It cannot, for example, answer some of the most important questions about society, politics, culture and economics. Science may be able to explain where society comes from, and it may be able to provide input on where it can go, but it cannot and should not attempt to answer questions about where it should go. Scientists, like any other humans, may of course wish to express opinions on the matter, but if they do, they are not practising science at that particular moment.

    Religion does not have all the answers. Actually religion provides no useful answers.

    Religion, when practiced properly, is just another kind of philosophy. Philosophy, including religious philosophy, provides quite a few good answers which are, like all philosophical reasoning, open for debate.

    The problem with this so-called debate is that the extreme views that are heard. There are indeed "scientists" whose life philosophy is a kind of anti-religion religion, but they are rare. Naturally it's these people who get the most airplay when it comes to a science vs religion "debate". On the other side, there are "religionists" whose life philosophy is one big persecution complex. Of course it's these extreme views which get the airplay on the other side.

    Faith and science are indeed like oil and water: Both necessary for the smooth running of the machinery, but best kept in separate compartments.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    This is the statement that gets me ... (3.20 / 5) (#287)
    by ceallach on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:30:20 AM EST

    Both necessary for the smooth running of the machinery

    So very many religious people say this, with no supporting data. You can learn right & wrong, morals, ethics, appreciation for beauty, sympathy, empathy, compassion, etc. and a variety of of other human traits that make for a nice upstanding person without believing in any particular religion.

    Quite personally, I believe that religious belief is generally passed on by the brainwashing of children being told "This is the TRUTH, do NOT question it!" by elders they respect and trust.

    --
    More smoke! The mirrors aren't working!!!
    [ Parent ]

    I didn't say that (none / 0) (#378)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:20:08 PM EST

    I didn't say religion was necessary. I said faith was necessary. Go back and re-read what I wrote.

    Faith is necessary because we have evolved to live in community. At the very least, we need to have faith in our "tribe" (e.g. friends, family) to live as social creatures.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Oops (none / 0) (#384)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:34:17 PM EST

    It turns out I didn't deliberately distinguish between faith in the etymological/dictionary sense and religion in that post, it was in a different one. Sorry about that. I now understand why you got the impression that I was confusing the two.

    See here for details.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    The limits of Science (4.25 / 8) (#21)
    by daragh on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:45:22 AM EST

    This article implicitly raises the issue of the limits of science and religion.

    John Barrow has written an intruiging exploration of the limits of Science in particular, it's called Impossibility and is well worth a read. He gives a lucid description of what it is and is not possible to know in a scientific context. He demonstrates how knowledge of what is not possible often drives science forward.

    Very interesting.


    No work.

    alternative sources of morality (3.33 / 6) (#22)
    by 6mute on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:02:05 AM EST

    there is a very thought provoking book named "the origins of virtue" by matt ridley which looks at how and why virtue may have evolved as a human behaviour.

    otherwise a well written and interesting article. +1

    hurf burf (2.50 / 6) (#46)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:46:14 PM EST

    <jerkcity>
    Here I am deriving morality from behaviour!!!!!!!!! Honk bonk

    Here I am forgetting that this defines free will out of existence!!!!!!!!!!! Urf ugh

    Here I am being pummelled by your dong and balls!!!!!!!!!!!! HLAGHALGUHLAUGHLH

    Please reset

    HAGULHAB AGHLULAGHLAUBHAUGH
    </jerkcity>

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    What gives Nathan? (3.00 / 2) (#48)
    by cr8dle2grave on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:53:25 PM EST

    Time was when you made intelligent and reasonable contributions here, but recently you seem to have regressed into posting cryptic trolls and modstorming.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    hmm (3.00 / 2) (#56)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:01:29 PM EST

    I'm assuming you haven't actually read most of my recent comments.

    Look, "to troll" means that you incite controversy on purpose. If anyone's a troll here, it isn't me. The superparent post offers a long-refuted position and is therefore of zero interest. How to respond to a smug, naпve post? The best thing I can come up with is jerkcity, a response which says "I consider your post trollish and a waste of time."

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Fair Enough (3.00 / 2) (#64)
    by cr8dle2grave on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:21:09 PM EST

    I don't intentionally track all of your comments so I may well have missed many or even most of your more recent contributions. It was just relaying an impression based upon those recent comments of your's that I have happened upon. I apologize if it is an unfair characterization, but it's been a while since I've seen a compelling and thoughtful contribution from you, which is unfortunate because you have made many such posts in the past.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    here's a neat thread (3.00 / 2) (#102)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:13:48 PM EST

    Health care

    Check out parents and children.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    but still based on arbitrary standard (3.50 / 2) (#52)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:59:34 PM EST

    Without appealing to God, morality, no matter how derived, untilmately relies on an artibrary standard, such as human life is important or the continuation of the human species is is paramount. However, once you get into these ends-based morality system, the very idea of morality falls apart. Almost anything can be proven or disproven to be immoral by looking in whatever direction you want to.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Arbitrary standards for everyone! (2.66 / 3) (#79)
    by Trencher on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:04:15 PM EST

    Maybe if everyone agreed on a God to whom we should attribute morality, then everyone would use the same arbitrary system. Until then, we all go on calling whatever we want moral and immoral, just pointing to different arbitrary standards. Just because someone points to a set of morals arbitrarily defined thousands of years ago makes them no less arbitrary.

    Each society has different morals. Fact. No one can ever find an exact, universal set of morals, because our moral systems cannot exist outside of human consciousness. Even if someone did manage to find a single moral concept that every human on earth shared, that would remain an arbitrarily chosen moral, although arbitrarily chosen by us as a species instead of us as individuals.


    "Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
    [ Parent ]
    But of course (2.33 / 3) (#203)
    by edwin on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:42:04 PM EST

    Morality does not exist "in the world", we have to invent it. Though many theologians would disagree, I see appealing to God as equally arbitrary. You've merely defined moral behavior as "do what God says". This is the only way to avoid the possibility that God might tell you to do something evil, but at root it's no more satisfactory than any other definition.

    [ Parent ]
    I have some problems with this book (4.00 / 2) (#62)
    by wumpus on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:18:57 PM EST

    After being highly impressed with The Red Queen I bought this book on sight.

    The central conclusion is that collective property should usually be privatized. I later noted that the author is British and is likely writing to a similar audience. In the US, privatization means wholesale confiscation and handing over to corporations.

    The catch is that corporations completely fail to follow Ridley's injection of ownership. The latest stock scandals show that corporate control is fundamentally divorced from the ownership (which is likely further abdicated through a mutual fund).

    This system of privatization fails to create a system where 1. economies of scale are created (a current fab costs billions IIRC), and 2. control is maintained by individual ownership.

    I will have to read the book again (the author insists it needs to be read at least twice). I doubt how any conclusion can be reached other than handing all wealth over to the Queen and making her subjects into serfs.

    Wumpus

    [ Parent ]

    So you have literally fed the troll (3.78 / 14) (#25)
    by Pac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:45:03 AM EST

    By buying his book, I mean. And you are feeding him again, less literally now.

    And after all these years I am still confused by encompassing way Americans use the word "liberal". As in "Even to relatively liberal commentators like Smith". If this kind of religious freak is "relatively liberal", my grandmother relatively supports the free distribution of marijuana to teenagers. It makes me fear the day I will meet a "conservative commentator" in a dark alley of a big city.

    Evolution doesn't take prisoners


    In a way you're right (2.75 / 4) (#88)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:28:29 PM EST

    Naturally I didn't like the idea of contributing to the success of the book, but it would be nice to think that in the net I've added more than a couple of dollars of value to the rationalist side. :)

    Note that I said relatively liberal. Perhaps you do not live in the United States, where people who believe that the bible is the literal word of God and the ultimate and only source of real truth about the universe basically run the country. Next to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and even John Ashcroft (shudder) Smith is a liberal man. But really that's my point, that even the liberal side of the religionist camp is not without its dangers.



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Religion, Science, and Ethics (3.81 / 11) (#31)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:50:04 AM EST

    You've really missed the point. I've read that issue, and none of the articles seems to indicate that only religion is a source of morality.

    All the articles state is the cold, simple fact, that Science will not give you morality, that you cannot find ethics in the cold light of reason alone. For you to apply logical reasoning to ethics, you need arbitrary values to base your ethics on-- and religion is one of many sources of these arbitrary moral values.


    --
    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'

    Immanuel Kant (3.00 / 4) (#35)
    by William Surgeon Perth on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 11:57:39 AM EST

    Does make a case for ethics born of nothing more than "the cold light of reason." Whether you buy his approach is another matter entirely...

    [ Parent ]
    No, he doesn't. (4.80 / 5) (#45)
    by paine in the ass on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:45:16 PM EST

    While we can deduce the nature and particulars of morality by the use of reason, Kant argues that we inherently know the moral law, and quite clearly argues in a few places that this can come from God, and such an interpretation seems likely to be correct.


    I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
    [ Parent ]

    True, (5.00 / 3) (#65)
    by William Surgeon Perth on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:23:55 PM EST

    Kant does argue that we have inherent knowledge of the moral law, and maybe this does come from God. However, his ethics can be deduced with reason and do not need any other belief system (beyond a sort of intense optimism) to support themselves/be compelling. Herein lies their relevance to the above above.

    Personally his statement of our innate Godlinesses strikes me as a little meaningless (perhaps this natural knowledge of moral law comes simply from God's imparting reason to us?). Maybe he did not want to look too radical. I know I don't.

    [ Parent ]
    Ethics and atheism (3.66 / 3) (#78)
    by Jman1 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:04:01 PM EST

    There is a ton of writing about ethics in the absence of religion, so I'll not go into that. But you should do some research if you're interested. I did want to comment on the following:

    "For you to apply logical reasoning to ethics, you need arbitrary values to base your ethics on"

    That is incorrect. You need no arbitrary values. Without religion or anything Absolute, you admit that ethics don't actually *exist* in the real world, but that they are a code of behavior we choose to live by. Ethics vary from society to society, and from group to group as well as person to person within a society. There are many rational approaches to ethics, beginning with the most obvious: "If everybody is unethical, this place is gonna suck to live in. Therefore, I will start by being ethical and trying to convince others to do the same." "Ethical" can be defined as "Love thy neighbor," as "harm none," as "most good for most people," or as anything you want.

    [ Parent ]

    Arbitrariness (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:12:22 PM EST

     You're proving my point. All of those specific codes of ethics are arbitrary. Why is any one of those superior to another? What makes them superior to a code of ethics, for instance, that says "Might makes right" or "anything is ethical, if you don't get caught"?

    Nothing, except your own preferences.

    For that matter, religious codes of morality are likewise arbitrary-- whether the religion is factually true or not, the rules were handed down by some authority figure. Either the priest or the god handed those rules down-- they're not based on logic or reason.

    --
    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
    [ Parent ]

    Hmm (2.33 / 3) (#86)
    by Jman1 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:22:34 PM EST

    In a sense I'm agreeing with you. To some extent they are arbitrary. But they aren't *completely* arbitrary. Some forms of ethics have a rational basis. For example, ethics based on creating a more pleasant place to live are based on that rationale. Truly arbitrary ethics would be based on random choices with no basis whatsoever.

    [ Parent ]
    Pleasantry (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:34:58 PM EST

     What's objectively logical about making the world more pleasant?

     Sure, a code of ethics can be based around making the world more pleasant-- but that core value, that idea that making the world more pleasant is a desirable end-goal of ethical behavior, is arbitrary.

     Any ethical system can be perfectly rational, as long as it follows rationally from the core values it's based on. But those core values are by necessity arbitrary, since there is no logical or rational basis for making any such judgement. The "proper" core values are entirely a matter of opinion, with strong cultural influence.

    Arbitrary.

    --
    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
    [ Parent ]

    No (2.00 / 2) (#99)
    by Jman1 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:09:39 PM EST

    "Sure, a code of ethics can be based around making the world more pleasant-- but that core value, that idea that making the world more pleasant is a desirable end-goal of ethical behavior, is arbitrary." Wanting to live in a pleasant environment isn't arbitrary, it's human (and probably animal in general) nature. Your argument is comparable to claiming that wanting to eat food is arbitrary.

    [ Parent ]
    Primal Urges (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:44:55 PM EST

    Your desire to eat food is attached to your basic instinct of self-preservation.

    You have an instinct of self-preservation because, of all the random permutations of genetics, those that encourage survival are the most likely to be preserved. As this random progression continues, those combinations which do not encourage survival, such as weak/nonexistent survival instincts, are likely to be factored out.

    Genetics is the pinnacle of arbitrary dictates.

    --
    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
    [ Parent ]

    Well (1.50 / 2) (#114)
    by Jman1 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:53:17 PM EST

    Sure, everything is *ultimately* arbitrary, but basing ethics on what genetics has given us isn't itself arbitrary.

    [ Parent ]
    morality and reason (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by deadplant on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:30:47 PM EST

    I would suggest that logical reasoning can create a usefull moral framework so long as you seed it with something like "I want to live long and prosper", or "I want to perpetuate my DNA". (I guess that is the "arbitrary" part)

    Basically, logic cannot tell you the purpose of your life; all it can do is tell you how to live your life if you decide on a purpose.

    That brings to mind the group of people I like to think of as the "rational religous". These are people who decide to believe that there is a god and that their purpose in life is to be "Good". Then they make use of logical reasoning to make decisions in their life.
    These are the people that read the bible to learn valuable lessons but don't actually think the world was created in 7 days and adam and eve ate a fruit offered by an evil snake...

    That's an important distincion, I beleive that some religions do a good job of answering the "purpose of life" question. However almost none of them do a good job of showing people how to actually go about living. That's where logical reasoning can help a reasonably smart person live well.
    Thousands of years ago some people took that "purpose in life" and made a rule-book for how to behave so that the ignorant masses could live well (most of which is quite logical). Now we have alot of mixed up people trying to somehow live by the rules made for an illiterate sheep-herder instead of pursuing the "purpose of their life". Modern religion has lost sight of the "purpose", the base assumtions. It's followers are cought up in preserving an outmoded "method".
    There is madness in their method! The major organized religions are broken. It's their deeply flawed "method" systems that are harnessing the good intentions of billions of people and channeling them to do Evil. ("evil" defined as the anti-thesis of the religion's own stated "purpose")

    [ Parent ]

    Bias (3.25 / 4) (#32)
    by anaesthetica on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:52:53 AM EST

    From the summary I gather that most of the book critiques certain Christians and the church order. That seems rather narrow, when the claim is that religion as a whole isn't necessary. Let's keep in mind that there are many types of Christians, and many types of non-Christian religions, all with differing views toward the role of science and empiricism.


    —I'm the little engine that didn't.
    k5: our trolls go to eleven
    [A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


    Not about Christianity (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:56:13 PM EST

    The article is a criticism of a theologian's criticism of the scientific worldview, and his assertion that happiness and meaning can only be found in religion. Did you say you just read the summary? A quick read of the article might clear up some questions...



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Religion and Science hijacked by Apologists... (4.38 / 18) (#39)
    by israfil on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:15:56 PM EST

    Well, I appreciate the criticism of the above article. The thing that really annoys me is that both the author, and the author of the book under review use language that is familiar to me, but in a sense hijack it.  Huston Smith seems, if this article is accurate, to be the larger culprit.  I agree with the premise that religion matters.  I happen to believe the premise that science AS IT IS PRESENTED by many scientists is soulless.  Certainly the media presents it as such.

    What I take from Coljak is not that science is soulful, but that you can apply humanistic principles to Science.  But Humanism is a religious perspective.  It may be framed in athistic terms, but religion doesn't require a deity - just look at some forms of Buddhism.  In a certain sense, religion DOES matter, for the very reason that reason without those humanistic qualities of love, compassion, justice, must be applied to reason for it to not go to logical extremes.  Pure Voltairian reason does tend to excess if not tempered with other qualities, much like Justice without Compassion tends to cruelty, and the inverse tends to social breakdown and lawlessness.

    I argue balance.  My own view is religious, in the common sense - theistic.   While I disagree with the atheism of many of my Secularly Humanist friends, I believe that they have a belief system, with certain a-priori principles that they uphold, and that these principles, when applied improve their lives and those around them.  To me, that is the purpose of Religion.
    However, I take exception to the view that Science and Religion are and need be in opposition at all.  To me, religion (theistic or not) AND science together form two essential viewpoints which can be used to better investigate the world, understand it's hidden depths and treasures, and benefit therefrom.  

    To my mind, I vehemently disagree with the subjugation of Religion to Science, or of Science to Religion, because they are the same thing.  They are tools to investigate truth.  I believe that Truth is unique, singular, and that therefore, if Science and Religion disagree, then they must re-examine their positions and attempt to find the disconnect and resolve it.  

    Where the problem often comes in is that one is assumed to be correct, and so the easy road of deference, one to the other, is chosen, rather than the complex struggle to perceive a deeper truth.  The other problem that often occurs is that each attempts to make claims that are more appropriately made by the other.  

    For example, I don't see religion as having much to say about the nature of the formation of the material (ie, n-dimentions lined with time/space) universe.  Science is better equipped.  But to contextualize that formation, that is more appropriate to religion.  So if science says 6-day literal biblical creation doesn't fit the evidence at hand, religion should be fiddling with that.  However, if religion says that a Universal  and Divine Essence brought about that formation (big-bang, steady-state, whatever), then that should be respected, inasmuch as there can be no direct evidence of something that purportedly is outside of the material universe, having generated it.

    If you're scientifically minded and the above assertion bugs you, then I put it to you that you have a religious belief (in no pre-existent divine creating thingy) that differs from mine, not that your position is rational or scientific.  That, in my view, is OK!  We can disagree, but enthusiastically discuss our religious differences, seeking points of unity, but having said the above, I'm not going to go and fabricate science to prove my assertion.

    Anyway, I've rattled on now.  I just wish that the author of this article had not taken the book on it's own terms, and allowed it to define the discussion.  I often find that Humanists and Atheists or even those who do not follow a fundamentalist religious agenda allow the discussion to be had in terms defined by religous fundamentalists, or they take the conversation into a mode that religious folks simply cannot work with.  It's all about balance.  That's how we teach and learn from each other.

    i.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.

    I disagree (4.00 / 6) (#72)
    by Jman1 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:56:12 PM EST

    "However, if religion says that a Universal and Divine Essence brought about that formation (big-bang, steady-state, whatever), then that should be respected, inasmuch as there can be no direct evidence of something that purportedly is outside of the material universe, having generated it.

    "If you're scientifically minded and the above assertion bugs you, then I put it to you that you have a religious belief (in no pre-existent divine creating thingy) that differs from mine, not that your position is rational or scientific."

    Assuming the non-existence of something whose existence which we have no reason to suspect is rational. Assuming the existence of something which does not explain any observed phenomena better than the non-existence of same is less rational. Not provably false, but irrational.

    Think about it this way. If you had never heard of a God but had access to all scientific knowledge, you would most likely not formulate a belief in God, simply because the evidence does not call for it. The only reason (non-hallucinating) people believe in God is because they were taught that there was a God. Later, when they learn more about the Universe, they look to try to fit God into their revised worldview, and find that they can stick Him wherever scientific knowledge about a subject is lacking -- "before" the Big Bang, for example.

    Science is skepticism, which is emphatically not faith-based. Religion is faith-based, which is emphatically not skeptical. That's how they're different.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: I disagree (2.00 / 2) (#343)
    by Caranguejeira on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:29:28 PM EST

    The only reason (non-hallucinating) people believe in God is because they were taught that there was a God. Later, when they learn more about the Universe, they look to try to fit God into their revised worldview, and find that they can stick Him wherever scientific knowledge about a subject is lacking -- "before" the Big Bang, for example.

    Oh dear. This assertion is devoid of any critical thought whatsoever! Shame on you, rational "free thinker" that you are!

    If the only reason that people believe in God is that they are taught to believe, who is it that teaches them? And who taught the first believer?

    How can you know this applies so universally? How can it be proven? I must admit that I am skeptical of your claim!

    Certainly we observe that the human is so prone to unreflective thought, as you have so aptly demonstrated yourself, that we must suppose many of our beliefs are never questioned.

    However, it is also true that some people claim to believe because it gives them hope and purpose. Still other people claim to believe because the belief has demonstrated evidence of value after a fashion. Other people claim to believe because of something tangible to the senses that they have experienced.

    We can't validate these claims, but we can choose to accept them on their own merits, much as we accept other things we are told are true (whether it be by science or religion). At least the acknowledgement of such claims should be sufficient to eliminate any certainty of why someone believes in God.

    Science is skepticism, which is emphatically not faith-based. Religion is faith-based, which is emphatically not skeptical. That's how they're different.

    Alas! Such inert information! What does it mean: "Science is skepticism"? What do you mean by "faith-based"? What is your purpose in writing such nonsense?

    I must infer from your babblings that you refer to the methods by which science and religion reach conclusions with respect to the "truth".

    I suppose you believe that science obtains its truth through skeptical analysis, i.e. the scientific methods, while religion obtains its truth through ad-hoc assertions from who-knows-where, which are accepted without question; and this absurdity you call "faith."

    Perhaps you understand the workings of science, but you sadly misunderstand the methods of religion, which are diverse.

    From erudite interpretations of ancient religious texts to the arguings of theistic counsils; from the frenzied minds of monks to the direct revelations of God to his prophets and saints. These are some of the methods claimed to bring us religious truth.

    Surely the faith to believe in the declarations of science is the same as that needed to believe in those of religion. For, unless I have myself applied the scientific method and seen the evidence that declares a thing a scientific fact, I must accept the word of the scientist in good faith.

    In my opinion, this is where both the common theist and the common atheist fail. Both see the merits in the methods of their chosen system, and both fail to perform experiments for their own discovery. Such vain faith. After all, what good is faith that can't be validated? What a pity that theists and atheists alike seem to think that there can be no proof for faith. If something is true, certainly it has been proven, or will be in the future.

    Let us consider evolution. I was not there to see this process happen, nor have I examined more than the briefest of evidences for its continuing occurence. However, I am willing to trust that such fine scientific minds are more or less correct on the subject, therefore I accept their conclusions in good faith. If this were of importance to me, I might do my own scientific research and come to my own conclusions about it that would confirm or refute my faith in it.

    This could also apply to the teachings of my particular religion. If I believe in the things I hear at church, and if they are important to me, then I can try them out or perhaps pray and ask God about them. In this way, I might confirm or refute my faith in them. Here I must admit that my religion must provide means for me to validate its claims, or it is of little use to me!

    In closing, I must say that I can't accept the so-called "Freethought" mantra of "doubt everything." This is too exclusionary; there are many more ways for an open minded, reflective thinker to consider the universe. Questioning is certainly not the same as doubting; for me, skepticism is not the answer. The propaganda of skepticism appears only to be a tool used by fundamentalist Free-thinkers to help "recovering" theists to think the same way they do.

    [ Parent ]
    recursive base case... (none / 0) (#373)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:43:45 PM EST

    The only reason (non-hallucinating) people believe in God is because they were taught that there was a God.
    Oh dear. This assertion is devoid of any critical thought whatsoever! Shame on you, rational "free thinker" that you are!

    If the only reason that people believe in God is that they are taught to believe, who is it that teaches them? And who taught the first believer?


    Well, in the context of the first statement, that would be a hallucinating person. Other possibilities are con-men, well-meaning liars, schizophrenics, misunderstood people, and tellers of parables and fables who were taken literally.
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    [ Parent ]
    Base case (none / 0) (#392)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:01:00 PM EST

    Well, in the context of the first statement, that would be a hallucinating person. Other possibilities are con-men, well-meaning liars, schizophrenics, misunderstood people, and tellers of parables and fables who were taken literally.
    The original apostles, the ones that whos beliefs later went on to for the Christian Church were brutally tortured and killed for what they believed to be the literal truth. This was not done in a group or when they were within physical proximity to one another. Yet, not a single one recanted for his beliefs. These stories of being hung on a cross upside-down, imprisoned, and tortured were well documented by impartial (and even hostile) third parties. I take that as fairly compelling evidence that they believed the stories they wrote down were literal truth.

    So if they were telling the truth, you have to take the step further back and see who they were writing about. C.S. Lewis has coverd this topic well in his cliam that Jesus could only be a luntaic, liar, or lord.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Indeed (none / 0) (#396)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:24:12 PM EST

    Indeed, my post seems to be a more wordy version of C.S. Lewis' more alliterative phrase, and I agree with Lewis completely. However, I wouldn't necessarily put a bad light on liar, which is why I separated con-men and well-meaning liars. For example, claiming to be God could give Jesus more impact when trying to improve people's behavior. Also, the apostles were not the only original sources for Christian teaching. In the millennia since Jesus' life, Christianity and the Bible have passed through many hands.

    About the apostles' fanatical devotion, that is a fairly common reaction to a cult of personality, and torture is not the most effective method of deprogramming cult victims, since it usually reinforces the teachings. I would, however, say that Judas recanted, even though he regretted it once he saw the repercussions on the man he used to love.
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    [ Parent ]
    Late reply (none / 0) (#494)
    by Jman1 on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:22:31 PM EST

    "However, it is also true that some people claim to believe because it gives them hope and purpose. Still other people claim to believe because the belief has demonstrated evidence of value after a fashion. Other people claim to believe because of something tangible to the senses that they have experienced."

    Of these three, only the third can say something as to the validity of the belief. Whether having a belief gives you hope, purpose, or value does not affect its validity one iota. As for the "something tangible," why is it never testable or repeatable? How come noboby can walk on water or turn sticks into snakes today when people have the ability to test such "miracles?" Maybe I haven't personally tested some scientific theories, but except for those for which I'd require a particle accelerator or something, I could if I wanted to. That's the difference.

    As for your comments regarding my ignorance of the methods of religion, I'll just say that I grew up in a very learned religion, and I understand how it works. There is much scholarly work of very high caliber, certainly. Certainly there are minds greater than mind who are religious. But it always seems that ultimately, people either don't question certain assumptions they have or they choose to "believe" something. I submit that choosing to believe anything is bogus. You believe what you believe. You may study evidence to your heart's content, but you can't consciously just change your belief. That's just called denial.

    [ Parent ]

    the mixing of apples and oranges (4.00 / 5) (#77)
    by mech9t8 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:03:55 PM EST

    While I disagree with the atheism of many of my Secularly Humanist friends, I believe that they have a belief system, with certain a-priori principles that they uphold, and that these principles, when applied improve their lives and those around them.  To me, that is the purpose of Religion.

    And the non-religious person would argue that religion isn't necessary for moral/ethical believes - basic human concepts such as compassion, reducing harm to others, etc.  (Saying those ideas constitute a "religion" is a semantic argument, nothing more... thinking that "people getting hurt is bad" is miles away, conceptually, from any sort of mystical/spiritual concepts.)

    However, if religion says that a Universal  and Divine Essence brought about that formation (big-bang, steady-state, whatever), then that should be respected, inasmuch as there can be no direct evidence of something that purportedly is outside of the material universe, having generated it.... If you're scientifically minded and the above assertion bugs you, then I put it to you that you have a religious belief (in no pre-existent divine creating thingy) that differs from mine, not that your position is rational or scientific.

    The correct scientific answer, of course, is "we don't know, and there isn't any evidence to be remotely sure of any theory."  However, even so, a belief in no god is more scientifically reasonable than a belief in a god, simply because of Occam's razor... we're still figuring out the details of gravity and evolution, but the scientific mind doesn't make up intelligent Gravity Spirits and Evolution Pixies to fill in the gaps until we figure it out... and he certainly doesn't extrapolate moral beliefs from what he thinks the Spirits and Pixies are telling him.  The beginning of the universe is no different from any other scientific mystery... just because we can't see or figure out what came before doesn't mean we might not be able to some day.  In the meantime, there's no need to make stuff up.

    There are plenty of ways to debate morality and ethics (which are held up as the pervue of religion) without discussing religion. Religion is one of the concepts brought in to support moral arguments that can't be supported any other way - ie. as a extreme example, you just need to have basic human compassion to agree that rape is bad, but you need to have some of sort of religion to morally support the divine right of feudal lords to do just that...

    There are objective ways to measure morality - pain, crying, happiness, suffering. Religion is a way of having an arbitrary belief system so such things can be ignored - either due to wickedness: "sure, I'm causing pain, but it's OK because God told me to" or lazyness: "That problem's too difficult to evaluate, but look, God says it's wrong, so I don't have to think about it."

    So that type of thinking offends the non-religious person, especially when it leads to even more horrendous (il)logical leaps: "I believe 'x' is wrong... because I was raised to belief that this book written 2000 years ago is correct, and this book says so... and this book also says 'y', which we know scientifically to be wrong... but we don't know 'z' scientifically for sure, and if we interpret 'y' a certain way it can maybe explain 'z'.... thus justifying my belief is 'x'.  Whew!  Good thing I thought of that.  My whole belief system almost collapsed for a minute there."

    Whereas the belief system of the non-religious person is a lot less fragile.  You'd have to convince him that hurting people is a-ok, or that the observable universe is completely inconsistent.  And there's precious little evidence for either of those.

    --
    IMHO
    [ Parent ]

    What Religion Isn't (4.00 / 3) (#194)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:11:18 PM EST

    There are objective ways to measure morality - pain, crying, happiness, suffering. Religion is a way of having an arbitrary belief system so such things can be ignored - either due to wickedness: "sure, I'm causing pain, but it's OK because God told me to" or lazyness: "That problem's too difficult to evaluate, but look, God says it's wrong, so I don't have to think about it."

    Religion is not an end to thinking - and neither is faith. If faith is a revelation from God (or your intuition, or whatnot), every believer would be right to question their faith before accepting it. And religion is remarkably vague in establishing hard and fast rules to live your life by automatically - but I think your issue is not with the system of thought itself, but with any sort of person who can just wander through life taking every belief they have as a given.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    The same thing? (3.33 / 3) (#81)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:09:29 PM EST

    Thanks for the thoughtful posting. There's a lot there that is intersting. Let me touch on one aspect. You wrote:

    To my mind, I vehemently disagree with the subjugation of Religion to Science, or of Science to Religion, because they are the same thing. They are tools to investigate truth. I believe that Truth is unique, singular, and that therefore, if Science and Religion disagree, then they must re-examine their positions and attempt to find the disconnect and resolve it.

    Here we disagree. I don't think religion and science are the same thing at all. Particularly, I disagree with the statement that Religion is a tool to investigate truth. To find if something is true, you must have a way to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Science provides this way: empirical data, repeatable experiments, theoretical predictions, and the other tools of the scientific method. The use of reason, in short.

    Faith, on the other hand, is touted at a way to arrive at the truth of unverifiable metaphysical claims - but as they're unverifiable, the true and the false are thus indistinguishable. Is this not the case? And doesn't this thus make religion useless as a tool for truth? If Rekigion or a religion happens to make claims that can be examined, then great, let's examine them. That's not incompatible with science. But these kind of claims aren't what we usually mean when we use the word "religion".

    Your last remark about taking the book on its own terms is well said. However, a lot of the article was about the fact that in this society, it is the norm to let folks like this define the terms of debate, including in the sphere of public policy. And I think that's a little dangerous.

    -Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm (4.00 / 2) (#93)
    by leviramsey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:44:37 PM EST

    To find if something is true, you must have a way to distinguish between truth and falsehood.

    You do realize that you have just set forth a definition (more a requirement, but the basic principle is the same) of truth that ipso facto confers higher status to science (because you've just essentially stated the scientific method). This is bordering on begging the question, which in philosophical matters is among the biggest mistakes which can be made.

    Personally, I think that all Ph.D's currently extant should be suspended until their holders demonstrate an actual understanding of philosophy (which deals with these sorts of questions)...



    [ Parent ]
    Meaning of 'truth'? (3.00 / 2) (#103)
    by arjan de lumens on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:23:21 PM EST

    It would appear to me that if you take away the distinction between truth and falsehood, then you take away any meaning that the word 'truth' has in the first place ..? Am I failing to understand something here?

    [ Parent ]
    The word truth has no meaning. (5.00 / 1) (#190)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:55:05 PM EST

    Neither does anything related to languages or symbols - just ask Wittgenstein.Sometimes I think human beings are too focused on the idea that the world can be easily divided into dualistic opposites - right and wrong, black and white, light and dark, etc.

    Sometimes the universe just is.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    No meaning? (none / 0) (#344)
    by arjan de lumens on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:29:55 PM EST

    If no word has a meaning, (as opposed to having, say, a context-dependent meaning) how do you communicate?

    And for dualism: could you give an example of a statement (within a specific context) that isn't exactly one of {true, false, undecidable} ?

    [ Parent ]

    Begging the question (3.00 / 2) (#113)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:50:04 PM EST

    You're right here, the remark as stated does have some problems. Here's another hasty attempt.

    1. Something that is "true" is something that is the case in the world.
    2. For something to be a meaningful claim about the world it must either be the case or not the case.
    3. If you cannot determine whether or not something is the case, then you cannot say whether it is true or not; that is, it cannot be true or false.
    4. A claim requiring faith to be believed does not yield to investigation on whether it is the case or not.
    ---
    5. Claims of faith cannot be true or false.

    My point was that faith alone (where faith is the basis of all religious claims) can't yield truly meaningful or useful facts about the world.

    -Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    You make a number of interesting assumptions (5.00 / 1) (#132)
    by leviramsey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:33:38 PM EST

    First, you assume that every meaningful claim about the world must either be the case or not the case. This is a rather large assumption, and should be justified.

    You also make a large assumption that something has to be investigated to determine whether or not it is true.

    Another interesting thing to note is that your conclusion directly implies that science cannot yield truly meaningful or useful facts about the world. Why?

    As has been argued by a number of other posts, science itself ultimately all comes down to a matter of faith, specifically faith in induction.



    [ Parent ]
    You make a number of interesting assumptions (3.33 / 3) (#161)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:00:18 PM EST

    Hi.

    First, you assume that every meaningful claim about the world must either be the case or not the case. This is a rather large assumption, and should be justified.

    Is this really such a large assumption, that a statement about the way the world is must be true or false? If it can't be true, then it can't tell us anything about the universe as it is. A claim is either analytically true or false, or conditionally true or false. Otherwise it's just an opinion "Jellybeans are nice", or mere nonsense, "Blargs unf." (I didn't say every sentence must be true or false.)

    You also make a large assumption that something has to be investigated to determine whether or not it is true.

    I didn't say that; analytic truths (2 + 2 = 4) don't need to be investigated to know if they are true. But if a claim is not analytically true (e.g. "Jesus is the son of God") and cannot be investigated (proved or falsified) in any way, then on what grounds can we say it is true? I'm not a logical positivist but I think my claims are not out of the philosophical mainstream.

    Another interesting thing to note is that your conclusion directly implies that science cannot yield truly meaningful or useful facts about the world. Why?

    I don't follow, how do you get to this statement from my conclusion? Science only investigates claims that can be investigated. "The universe is 15 billion years old." "Photons have mass." These are claims that we can investigate and obtain evidence that has a bearing on whether we hold them to be true or false.

    As has been argued by a number of other posts, science itself ultimately all comes down to a matter of faith, specifically faith in induction.

    "Faith" is a misleading word here. Induction is a tool that works, and that meshes with the causitive universe we seem to live in. So for the time being at least, we use induction. It's not an arbitrary manipulation of symbols, nor a recipe that is followed blindly. It's a logical process.



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    However (4.00 / 2) (#207)
    by leviramsey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:33:27 PM EST

    "Faith" is a misleading word here. Induction is a tool that works, and that meshes with the causitive universe we seem to live in. So for the time being at least, we use induction. It's not an arbitrary manipulation of symbols, nor a recipe that is followed blindly. It's a logical process.

    A question:

    How do you know that induction "works"? You can't point to the fact that it always has because you'd have to use induction to make the leap from that to say that it works always. (see Hume)

    Further, experimental science is dependent on the assumption that our senses are not deceiving us; that the information relayed into the brain is not faulty. I readily admit that this is not a likely possibility, but it can't be determined experimentally to be false (as any such experiment would depend on one's senses).

    Experimental science rests on two (among others) ideas which have to be accepted on the basis of faith. They may be useful to consider true, but that doesn't make them true.



    [ Parent ]
    Faith (3.00 / 2) (#209)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:20:02 PM EST

    Hmm, interesting points.

    I don't have the time or the expertise to tackle the problem of induction properly; maybe Hume's right. Perhaps all I can say for now is that the concept of causation and the use of induction are not arbitrary; they can be distinguished from other thought patterns in their effectiveness and application. This is not true of most articles of faith.

    I agree with your second paragraph, we have to assume ("have faith") our senses are not deceiving us. It's a fine assumption - although it's about the only one you're entitled to a priori - because you don't have any choice. If you discard everything you see and hear as unreliable, you won't be able to participate in the universe. And, it doesn't really matter if your senses *are* deceiving you; the pattern of information they give you seems coherent and it's the only reality you can live in, so you can only try and make sense of the world built from your sense-experiences, reliable or no.

    So in a sense you are right; however, I hope you'll grant me that these two assumptions are not at all the same in kind as most religious articles of faith. You have raised important problems in philosophy, but even though they remain problems, it doesn't mean that it's sensible to have faith in just any old thing.

    Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    confusion on faith (4.33 / 3) (#223)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:23:54 PM EST

    You take faith to mean blinding believing anything. By definition you prove your point. Theology is logic applied to faith. See the Orthodox church to see an example of how doctrine remains virtually unchanged despite having no leader.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    the faith of science (4.33 / 3) (#104)
    by heng on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:25:12 PM EST

    Doesn't taking science as the best way of finding the truth, necessarily imply faith in science?

    I think it does. And I often say that I have faith in science, because (I believe) my consciousness is based on my perceptions, which are based on a logically consistent interpretation of the real world.

    At the level of our perceptions, science breaks down, and relies on faith. I've now fallen into a philosophical discussion.

    [ Parent ]
    In a completely different way (3.00 / 3) (#181)
    by Happy Monkey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:35:05 PM EST

    Belief in science implies a faith in the way that one has faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. This is a completely different sort of faith than the belief that we have an immortal soul, and will be judged by an omnipotent creator. The two 'faith's may have the same sound and spelling, but their meanings are only similar, not the same. If it turns out that the "real world" is completely different from our perceptions, that would not invalidate science. It would merely add a new layer. Since science works inside the framework we perceive, a new field of science would arise in relating our current observations with the "real world".
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    [ Parent ]
    Or as some Muslims say: (1.66 / 3) (#150)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:26:05 PM EST

    We are all born Muslim. But all non-Muslims have gotten out of the "True Faith"(tm).

    My belief system is not religious. There is no god and I am his prophet as they say.

    Logic and common sense is enough to build a moral system that anywy is not absolute.

    The problem with religion is that it tries to impose as absolute a frame that is evidently relative. And most worringly, completely irrational.

    European? Say no to software patents.
    [ Parent ]

    "evidently relative"? (4.00 / 3) (#218)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:04:02 PM EST

    prove it.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Have you read any? (3.00 / 3) (#192)
    by epepke on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:02:04 PM EST

    I happen to believe the premise that science AS IT IS PRESENTED by many scientists is soulless. Certainly the media presents it as such.

    Have you actually read any representations of science by real scientists? I'm not talking about popular representations attempting to explain certain theories (which is mostly what the late Stephen Jay Gould did), and I'm not talking about philosophers of science (Kuhn and Feyerabend and similar drivelers), and I'm certainly not talking about the incompetent media, which most scientists widely hate. I'm talking about people like Loren Eisley and, to a lesser extent, Richard Feynman. I find it incredibly hard to believe that anybody could get through an Eisley essay without getting a feel for the numenous beauty and emotions involved in actually doing science.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    souless vs. emotionless (none / 0) (#730)
    by mberteig on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:24:16 PM EST

    They are completely different. Yes much of science is filled with emotion: joy, wonder, envy, anger, frustration, pride, etc. But that doesn't make it soulful.




    Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
    [ Parent ]
    What a completely idiotic topic. (2.84 / 13) (#40)
    by jd on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:19:26 PM EST

    #include "universe.h"

    #if HATE_TERM_RELIGION
    #undef RELIGION
    #undef SPIRITUALTY
    #define MORALITY ETHICS(PERSONAL) & ETHICS(NON_PERSONAL)
    #else
    #undef PERSONAL
    #undef NON_PERSONAL
    #define MORALITY ETHICS(SPIRITUALITY) & ETHICS(RELIGION)
    #endif
    #define SCIENCE REASONING(OBSERVATION, LOGICAL, LATERAL) & REASONING(DEDUCTION, LOGICAL, LATERAL) & EXPERIMENTATION(OBSERVATION)

    The entire article can now be abbrevated to:

    #define HATE_TERM_RELIGION 1

    There. Much more readable, and puts the views in context.

    much more readable? (2.00 / 4) (#41)
    by crazycanuck on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:32:35 PM EST

    ya, if you're on crack or a 30 year old virgin still living in his parets' basement

    [ Parent ]
    hardly. (2.75 / 4) (#47)
    by ph0rk on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:46:45 PM EST

    He spent 2197 words discussing the failures of the arguments presented in the book, if you want to be an ass, at least try and be a little more clever about it.

    .
    [ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]
    [ Parent ]

    You... (3.00 / 2) (#115)
    by derek3000 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:56:43 PM EST

    are really fucking sick. Seriously.

    -----------
    Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
    [ Parent ]

    sick, real sick (4.00 / 1) (#595)
    by khallow on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 04:38:13 PM EST

    are really fucking sick. Seriously.

    Yea! Ethical processing is done via XML messages these days! W3C is still figuring out how religion XML will interact with hateReligion XML. Nobody uses C anymore for this high level processing!

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    sources of morality (2.66 / 9) (#42)
    by crazycanuck on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:39:35 PM EST

    assuming morality comes from religion:

    religion was created by man, therefore morality comes from man and is a product of reason not some supernatural force.

    you don't really want to discuss, do you? (4.00 / 6) (#49)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:57:57 PM EST

    You just want everyone to say that you're right.

    Feh. Ever consider the possibility that religion comes from God? "Ah," you'll say, "but there is no God." Ah, well, that's a rather contentious statement and should not be presented as a fact.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    what's the matter? (3.00 / 6) (#58)
    by crazycanuck on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:04:34 PM EST

    you don't like it when the same kind of logic is used against you?

    [ Parent ]
    free clue: (3.00 / 2) (#100)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:12:18 PM EST

    I don't assume what I'm trying to prove when I defend the existence of God. Cite evidence in contradiction or shut up.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    very well (2.75 / 4) (#137)
    by crazycanuck on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:49:09 PM EST

    prove god exists and the bible is his/her/its word, without using circular logic

    [ Parent ]
    Flip it. (3.00 / 2) (#217)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:02:56 PM EST

    Prove He doesn't exist. Prove that you have free-will. Prove that you love. Prove that... get the point?
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    why should I? (3.60 / 5) (#220)
    by crazycanuck on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:11:43 PM EST

    do you ask children to prove that the tooth fairy or the easter bunny don't exist?

    why should I prove this mythical adult-fairy doesn't exist? I'm not the one who came up with this mass-hallucination crap called religion. I hink the burden of proof lies with the author of the claim.

    you claim there's a magical voyeuristic being in the sky who likes to watch whenever I scratch my ass, and one day he'll make me burn for all eternity because he doesn't like the way my fingers smell (but he loves me!), well, prove it!

    the way I feel about religion and god is summarised by a wonderful story called "kissing hank's ass". read it, it's quite fun.

    [ Parent ]

    *shakes head* (3.00 / 2) (#222)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:20:27 PM EST

    The point is that there are many things are logic will not let you prove or disprove.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    re: kissing hank's ass (none / 0) (#391)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:00:34 PM EST

    Just so you know, that story has a lot more to say about people who hate Christianity than about the lives and experiences of Christians in the real world.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    whatever (3.00 / 2) (#231)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:08:11 AM EST

    and the bible is his/her/its word...

    Whatever that means. Are you sure you haven't confused Christianity with chick.com?

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    That is contentious. (2.33 / 3) (#111)
    by reflective recursion on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:39:45 PM EST

    There is no hint in the previous poster's statement that he is religious or not religious.  Now you imply that he is religious by using the phrase "same kind of logic is used against you" and you take the stance that you are atheist/agnostic (by your seemingly non-religious implications) and are _against_ his (religious) point of view.  He never gave his opinions on religion.  He just presented another viewpoint of your one-sided argument.  He is saying you basically want to fight without giving equal opportunity to other sides of the issue of morality.  Hence, his usage of the word "contentious."

    Now, back on subject.  If you want a _real_ discussion, perhaps you should explain what that "same kind of logic" is, instead of just giving vague inflammatory generalizations.  

    The viewpoint that God created _his_ religion has no more proof than man creating _all_ religions.  It could be that God created his religion and then man took that religion and created clones of it.  There is no proof of this, but is yet another possibility.  There could be as many opinions on the origin of morality as there are humans in the world.  In the end, it is pointless to bicker about "what-ifs."  The religious is no more in the right than the non-religious.  Enough with the "us-versus-them."

    The real beauty of religion and science should be the thought that you can look at either from an infinite number of viewpoints, and at the same time be correct as the next person.  Call it theory in science, or faith in religion.  Einstein probably said it best:  "Imagination is more important than knowledge."  Just keep in mind that you are not arguing about whether it is raining outside, but what color the rings are of a planet 400 light years away.

    [ Parent ]

    Just raises more questions (3.00 / 3) (#95)
    by Rand Race on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:52:10 PM EST

    Ever consider the possibility that religion comes from God?

    Which one?

    Which Religion?

    Which God?

    Talk about a contentious statement...


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Hello, retard: (3.00 / 4) (#96)
    by tkatchev on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:00:31 PM EST

    The way the concept of "God" (with a capital "G", this is important!) is defined leaves no room to debate these questions.

    "God" is defined in such a way as to be unique. Since "God" is unique, then by necessity, "Religion" must also be unique.

    Now, that doesn't mean that our personal interpretations of "God" and "Religion" will match; rather, it means that the possibility of there being two distinct "Gods" is a contradition in terms. (Much like the oft-vaunted four-sided triangle.)

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Drink Drano (2.33 / 3) (#123)
    by Rand Race on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:11:48 PM EST

    Here's a little clue for you: Your definition of "God" is a personal interpretation, dipshit.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    you don't get it (3.00 / 4) (#236)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:23:21 AM EST

    We can know certain attributes of the omniscient, omnipotent Creator of the Universe, from necessity.
  • We know that, as we have free will, the universe is not a mechanistic system, and therefore something brought it into being (it is not self-generating.)
  • We know that, therefore, something exists which does exist non-contingently. Philosophy calls this God.

    To be sure, this doesn't solve every philosophical problem. But it does elevate the non-contingency of God above a mere speculation.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

  • Nor do you (3.00 / 3) (#277)
    by Rand Race on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:05:18 AM EST

    Man, I'm not even arguing the existence of God here (although I could, starting with your blithe acceptance of free will...), I'm questioning the absolutely hubristic notion that you, and more so tkatchev, comprehend God's nature and His moral system. The fact is, that there are many, many religiously inspired moral systems (and notions of the nature of God) that are in no way whatsoever compatible. Incest was acceptable to Egyptians and hellenistic Greeks, child sacrifice was acceptable to Carthaginians and Phoenicians, the Cathari heretics were as nihilistic as they come, etc., etc.

    Which one of these myriad religions is this supposed basis of morality delivered to (or derived from)? Without that piece of information, you are just jerking off... in a metaphysical sense of course. Platonic ideals are a nice sop to the imagination, but you have to bring your argument into reality at some point.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Huh? (3.00 / 1) (#294)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:20:35 AM EST

    Sorry for the tangent, but how do figure that the Cathars were nihilists? I don't think you can say that Manichaeism is nihilistic belief system.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Their view of the world (none / 0) (#309)
    by Rand Race on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:53:39 PM EST

    The perfecti of the Cathari viewed the world and all things in it as inherently evil (created by the demi-urge rather than God). Not only were they prohibited from breeding, but starving oneself to death was seen as a great act. Perhaps nihilism isn't the best word for it, it's only the first part of Nietzsche's definition - the belief that everything deserves to perish - that it fits in with. Catharis did not usually meet the "...actually puts one's shoulder to the plough; one destroys" part of the philosophy.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Ahhh... (none / 0) (#315)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:18:30 PM EST

    ...I see, you intended nihilism in a Nietzschean sense, as in a sickly manifestation of will aligned against life. Agreed, Manichaeism, including the Cathars, embodies, more so than does orthodox Christianity, the sickness of the spirit that Nietzsche railed against, but keep in mind Nietzsche had a rather idiosyncratic understanding of Nihilism.    

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    I beg your pardon (none / 0) (#390)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:59:09 PM EST

    I'm questioning the absolutely hubristic notion that you, and more so tkatchev, comprehend God's nature and His moral system.

    I didn't say any such thing. I said that, in my opinion, there exist irrefutable arguments demonstrating the necessity of the existence of God and a few subsidiary properties. And I have yet to propose moral theories of any sort in this thread.

    Note that for the purposes of this discussion, it's not beneficial to use the Egyptian or Greek gods as examples of 'Gods.' They are not omniscient or omnipotent, and (most crucially) they are contingent. Ra gets old and sick, Osiris dies and is castrated, and so forth; the Egyptian gods are not conceived of being the creators of Existence even if they are the creators of the world. Their existence is not a necessary quality underlying the existence of everything. For the purposes of Christian and pseudo-Christian philosophy, it's better to think of them as limited demiurges and demons.

    Why don't you try arguing with me as I am, rather than with some image of 'the Christian' you've conjured to half-life out of your imagination?

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Give me a valid point to argue (none / 0) (#471)
    by Rand Race on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:57:13 AM EST

    And I have yet to propose moral theories of any sort in this thread.

    Exactly. No one has answered my original question, so I'll restate it:

    Assuming your nebulous and ill-defined creator is the wellspring of morality, which of the legion of religiously inspired moral systems that exist is the one inspired by God?

    Without that piece of information, your contention that morality is based on religion as passed down by God is meaningless drivel. Like the common insight into the question of Determinism (no matter the answer, we must act as if we have free will (Pascal? Sartre? James?)), I contend that no matter if morality is based on religion as given by God, we must use our reason to determine our morality anyways.

    As for the ancient Gods, your understanding of their mythology is obviously quite sketchy. Yes Ra gets old and sick, but Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus is an incarnation or aspect of Yahweh - eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent (we'll ignore his impotence against iron chariots for the moment). The Egyptians, however, revered Amun - "an invisible creative power which was the source of all life in heaven, and on the earth, and in the great deep, and in the Underworld, and which made itself manifest under the form of Ra." - in much the same way. The Greeks, BTW, had Eurynome, the goddess of all things, in a similar vein as well as later being the originators of the idea of a Demiurge (defined as "the creator or fabricator of reality" by Plato but distinct from "Ktistes", the one from whom all things originate). Both peoples viewed these beings in a deistic way; no use worshiping them as we were far beneath their notice.

    They were not as primitive as you seem to believe. But of course I am dealing with "Christian and pseudo-Christian philosophy" which is renowned for its simplistic notions of what other religions represent... even though the very basis of such philosophy (and western morality for that matter) is derived from pagan Greek thinkers.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    oddly enough (none / 0) (#556)
    by adequate nathan on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 11:06:51 PM EST

    I contend that no matter if morality is based on religion as given by God, we must use our reason to determine our morality anyways.

    Any theologian would agree. Are you aware of the enormous corpus of Catholic writing on the subject?

    Yes Ra gets old and sick, but Jesus dies on the cross.

    You don't understand this issue correctly. Jesus didn't die naturalistically or out of weakness. Jesus chose to die in order to make complete God's divine condescension of sharing our humanity. They have very little in common.

    Both [the Greeks and the Egyptians] viewed these beings in a deistic way; no use worshiping them as we were far beneath their notice.

    The Greek world-view has no room for human dignity, then. Christianity claims man's right to fellowship with God. As I said, '[the Egyptian gods'] existence is not a necessary quality underlying the existence of everything.' Worshipping some creative power inherent in the universe is really no different from worshipping the universe in its unknowable immensity and is just as nihilistic, from the human perspective, which (I presume) is the only one that matters to us.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#573)
    by Rand Race on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 09:24:38 AM EST

    Any theologian would agree.

    No, no 'any' would not. Many do, especially catholics, but most protestant theologians would not.

    As for Jesus. I do understand the issue. It is the same, exact myth in different clothing. The reborn God, the corn-king, the pierced one, any of a multitude of seasonal aspects of divinity. Even the whole taking on our sins was directly lifted from the Orphic and Dionysian mystery religions of Greece.

    As for dignity, I beg to differ. Slavish devotion to a cruel and unjust master who may "condescend" to offer us a confusing and incomplete path to salvation (not to mention no evidence of his existence) is no more dignified than being a rat in a maze. Some of us don't need to be told we are the crown of creation, superior to everything but God, to feel dignity. Those Greeks were actually too dignified to bend knee to either man or the capricious will of the universe.

    And, as I said, they didn't worship the creator. The revered it certainly, but they were not arrogant enough to think such a being would pay special attention to them. This isn't nihilism, it's realism.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    note (5.00 / 1) (#586)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 03:16:09 PM EST

    Fundamentalists don't have theologians. They have exigetes.

    As for the rest, it's obvious that your mind is made up, and that you only accept sources that confirm your prejudices. For instance, while the corn-king myth does vaguely resemble the story of Jesus, you'll note that the claims made about Jesus and the corn-kings are quite different. Jesus is claimed to be the God of Nature, as opposed to a god within nature; and Jesus is claimed to have been a historical personage. While some cults did identify their corn-kings as real figures, many others never did.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Perhaps so (5.00 / 1) (#596)
    by Rand Race on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 04:46:37 PM EST

    Of course there are differences, but to my eye they are simply the obvious result of the mishmash of theologies - from the Mysteries to Mithraism to proto-gnosticism to Buddhism - Paul of Tarsus and the early church fathers synchretized into primitive Christianity.

    There's simply a leap of faith involved in religious belief I am unwilling to make perhaps because, to me, religion is transparently based on the acts of man rather than the supernatural. I don't doubt Jesus of Nazareth existed, just as I do not doubt Zoroaster or Siddhartha existed, but no matter how wise the man nor how large the myth surrounding him, I see no evidence for the touch of the divine nor much of a possibility of such outside the first few nanoseconds following the Big-Bang.

    Fundamentalists don't have theologians. They have exigetes.

    I couldn't have said it better. I was talking to an associate's daughter who attends a non-catholic Christian school and she told me she was taking an apologetics course. Apparently it consists entirely of attacking other religions because the school doesn't want to raise the questions that must be raised to actually defend the faith.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    that's rather hard to prove (5.00 / 1) (#599)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 05:02:38 PM EST

    Of course there are differences [between Christ and the pagan "corn-kings"], but to my eye they are simply the obvious result of the mishmash of theologies - from the Mysteries to Mithraism to proto-gnosticism to Buddhism - Paul of Tarsus and the early church fathers synchretized into primitive Christianity.

    I hope you realise that this conclusion is not entirely free from speculation. While it is certainly true that the Middle East and Rome were in theological ferment at the time of Christ, Christianity makes a radical break - in praxis, demonstrating its subtle break in principle - with the mystery cults and the gnostics.

    For one thing, Christianity proposed that the meek shall inherit the earth, something contrary to official Roman religion (which, contrariwise, declared the Emperor to be a god, and thus to deserve his position of power and his right to judge others in life and death.) More generally, Christianity totally reshaped the face of European society, in a way that no other religion seems to have been able to do. Maybe you could argue that the Gnostics would have done it if only Constantine had picked them; but I don't buy it.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Blessed be the cheesemakers (none / 0) (#647)
    by Rand Race on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 09:18:31 AM EST

    I'd vote for Mithraism to make the same impact were it chosen. In Mithraism the themes of humility ("we await his coming amidst the meek and lowly"), resurrection after three days, miraculous birth, a last supper of bread and wine, and a millennialist world view are found. In fact, many Mithraists became psuedo-Christian as they viewed Jesus as the final incarnation of Mithra, "the final blood sacrifice", that presaged the coming apocalypse.

    I would present the entire period, an age really when considered from a theological standpoint, from the Buddha to Mohamed (encompassing the rise of western philosophy, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jewish mysticism, and a multitude of beliefs that didn't survive) as representing a fundamental change in the established practice of religion. Perhaps even, as Julian Jaynes would maintain, the time represents the evolution of man and thought from a pre-conscious state to a modern, fully conscious state.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Spock eyebrow (none / 0) (#653)
    by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 11:20:03 AM EST

    Socrates, Pericles, Lysander, Heraclitus, and Archimedes weren't fully conscious?

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Not quite (none / 0) (#662)
    by Rand Race on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 01:12:37 PM EST

    From the Buddha (ca. 550 BCE) to Mohamed (d. 639 CE) fully encompasses the lives of Socrates (d. 399 BCE), Pericles (d. 429 BCE), Lysander (d. 395 BCE), Heraclitus (ca. 500 BCE), and Archimedes (d. 212 BCE). And it is, of course, an approximation based on "finished" systems of thought and belief. Thales (d. 546 BCE) was fully conscious and predates - or was contemporary with - the Buddha for instance.

    What Jaynes says is that Homer (or at least those whose stories he relates) was not fully conscious. The heroes of the Illiad talk to, and argue with, their Gods in a personal way that is not seen outside of severe schitzophrenics in modern times.

    I don't fully agree with the bicameral theory of consciousness, but it's fairly obvious something changed the way man thought some two or three thousand years ago.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    hang on (5.00 / 1) (#668)
    by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 04:39:38 PM EST

    Does this mean that New Guineans and Australian Aborigines only acheived consciousness once they'd been invaded, raped, enslaved, and dispossessed by Europeans?

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Could be (none / 0) (#714)
    by Rand Race on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 08:50:58 AM EST

    Jaynes would argue that they may have been preconscious if there had been no contact with these peoples and conscious peoples before the coming of the Europeans. With the mobility of the Polynesians, it is quite possible there was contact with conscious people long before the Europeans came. He does maintain that the pre-columbian Americans were not fully conscious however.

    Dig up a copy of The Origin Of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and give it a read. As someone said above, his weakness is in explaining the physiological mechanism of the change (something I don't really have anything like the expertise to fully critique) and philosophers love to argue with his materialistic monism, but his historical analysis is quite fascinating.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    The heroes of the Iliad. (none / 0) (#669)
    by jvance on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 04:56:06 PM EST

    Their behavior says more about the evolution of literature than the evolution of human consciousness.

    Consider instead the evolution of trolling. Read Plato's Republic, especially the chapters concerning storytellers and artists. Is there anything today that even comes close? A better argument for the devolution of Man since his fall from Grace cannot be made.

    TRoLLaXoR, egg troll, PhysicsGenius, Archemedes Plutonium, Geoff Miller, you're all - quite literally - a bunch of degenerates.

    ---

    This is taking too much of my time. I've gone away. You can reach me at john_a_vance atsign hotmail dot com if you wish.
    [ Parent ]

    Get laid, buddy. (5.00 / 2) (#674)
    by Trollaxor on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 05:51:58 PM EST

    There's nothing wrong with being a degenerate. You seem to have a problem with other people being degenerates.

    Perhaps sex is in order?

    [ Parent ]

    Dream on. (1.00 / 1) (#675)
    by jvance on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 06:09:57 PM EST

    The closest you'll ever come to me can be described by the arc of a well-swung 8 lb sledgehammer.

    Now put that thing away. It's disgusting.

    ---

    This is taking too much of my time. I've gone away. You can reach me at john_a_vance atsign hotmail dot com if you wish.
    [ Parent ]

    Jaynes (5.00 / 1) (#671)
    by cr8dle2grave on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 05:13:17 PM EST

    There is much of interest in Jaynes, but the weakness of his theory is that it is physiologically based and, as such, he requires some physical explanation for the seeming shift. If I recall correctly, and it has about a decade since I read The Evolution of Consciousness, he seemed to be leaning toward a metabolic shift as the causative agent, but that fails to explain how such a physiological change occurred across the whole of the human population at around the same time. Unless, of course, it only happened in the Mediterranean region, in which case, we should expect to see evidence of such a bicameral pre-consciousness in current populations that we don't.

    I think that the shift noted by Jaynes can be better accounted for by recourse to purely cultural forces, such as the introduction of written language.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    YOU don't get it (3.60 / 5) (#290)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:06:37 AM EST

    "We know that, as we have free will, the universe is not a mechanistic system, and therefore something brought it into being (it is not self-generating.)"

    We assume that we have free will, which may allows us to influence aspects of the universe. We have no knowlege of being without conciousness and our freedom of will, nor how conciousness and freedom of will came to be. There is no need for $DEITY; it is at least as likely that conciousness and apparent freedom of will will spontainiously occur in a mechanistic product of the universe (such as ourselves) as in some arbitrary omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe.

    "We know that, therefore, something exists which does exist non-contingently. Philosophy calls this God."

    No we don't.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    oh good. argument from uninformed sketpicism (none / 0) (#354)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:07:27 PM EST

    We assume that we have free will...

    In fact, if we don't assume that, mentation is literally not privileged above falling off a log. If the will results from mechanistic processes, there is no such thing as a person except as a localized series of phenomena (an idea even more meaningless inside itself because there could not conceivably be an observer to assess these phenomena.)

    [I]t is at least as likely that conciousness and apparent freedom of will will spontainiously occur in a mechanistic product of the universe (such as ourselves) as in some arbitrary omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe...

    Man, I'd love to see how you calculated that probability.

    Anyway, if we're arguing that the will only appears to be free, but is in reality governed by phenomena, we're arguing for our own nonexistence as persons, and thus our incapacity to understand this issue in the first place.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    It's a death fetish, nothing more. (none / 0) (#460)
    by tkatchev on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:44:16 AM EST

    It's a common psychological disorder -- a craving for death. It happens very frequently, especially among "free-thinking" liberals.

    What's worse is that these sorts of people believe that their own self-destructive tendency is shared by everyone, which sometimes drives these people to belive in horrible things like communism and social darwinism.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Life affirming atheism (none / 0) (#605)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 05:32:14 PM EST

    I have no expectation of an afterlife. I have no expectation of reward after death.

    I have one life which I intentd to enjoy as fully as possible for as long as possible.

    It is you who subscribe to a superstitious death cult, not me.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    good heavens (none / 0) (#625)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 08:17:05 PM EST

    I know it's hard to hear this over the furious light-speed monkey-spanking, but try:

    "If we all die anyway, there's no point in anything."

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    I know (none / 0) (#632)
    by hstink on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 10:00:39 PM EST

    That you would really love for there to be a big cosmic point to everything, and can't fathom that others don't feel the same way.

    But I don't think there's any point whatsoever to my existence.  I "happened" (or more appropriately, some abstract process convinced itself that it exists, dubbing itself "me"), and eventually "I" will cease to be.

    -h

    [ Parent ]

    It might not matter (none / 0) (#651)
    by teeth on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 09:58:13 AM EST

    Whether anything we do ultimately matters or not is fairly unknowable. And fairly unimportant.

    Whatever. Since I am here anyway, equipped with a cognative facility which, thanks to the efforts of my predecessors, is no longer occupied by the necessities of base survival I might as well do something interesting which makes me happy until such time as I cease to be.

    I seem to manage to be mostly happy by being mostly nice. It probably doesn't matter but it's fine by me.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Awwww... (none / 0) (#695)
    by DeepOmega on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 09:12:14 PM EST

    You stopped using my sig.... =( Peace and much love...

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Reasonable assumptions (none / 0) (#483)
    by teeth on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 01:00:57 PM EST

    I assume that I have a degree of free will and expect that you do too. It is still an assumption.

    Your assertion that the existence of free will shows that we must have been given it by a creator, as it could not occur spontainiously, is unsustainable.

    Let us assume that $DEITY creates the universe and places therein $MAN who is uniquely endowed with free will (my cat is somewhat insulted by this).

    $DEITY, as an omnipotent, omniscient being does this as an act of free will.

    If free will cannot occur spontainiously who or what gave $DEITY free will?


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    spontaneously occuring freewill (none / 0) (#504)
    by jjayson on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:52:40 PM EST

    If free will cannot occur spontainiously who or what gave $DEITY free will?
    Nobody. Nobody gives or creates God. He has always been, always will be, and is unchanging. Having the omnipotent God also allows for creation, something that a person cannot do.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Still spontainious (none / 0) (#601)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 05:29:30 PM EST

    "Nobody. Nobody gives or creates God. He has always been, always will be, and is unchanging. Having the omnipotent God also allows for creation, something that a person cannot do."

    That's one spontainious occurrence of free will, why not some more?


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    definition (none / 0) (#612)
    by jjayson on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 06:43:20 PM EST

    Spontaneous: 1. Happening or arising without apparent external cause; self-generated.

    The definiion has two implications. The first is that the word "arising" divides time into two frames, before the spontaneous generation and after. With God that has always existed, including before time existed, that means it is not possible for him to arrise. The second implication is taht God would have to have generated himself. But God was not created, not ever by himself. Once against that would have to divide time again. So Christian theology is sound here.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    I do not accept your assertion (none / 0) (#623)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 08:11:05 PM EST

    "But God was not created, not ever by himself. Once against that would have to divide time again. So Christian theology is sound here."
    • If god has always existed then christian theology is sound.
    • If christian theology is sound then god has always existed.

    Spot the problem?


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    You are taking it the wrong way. (none / 0) (#629)
    by jjayson on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 08:53:58 PM EST

    This was not a proof of correctness. It was a proof that the theology was sound. There is a difference. I didn't use the one to prove the other. I said taken the Christian God's existence as axiomatic, everything else follows clearly.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Big, big if (none / 0) (#649)
    by teeth on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 09:53:41 AM EST

    I do not accept the existence of any god or gods as axiomatic, indeed I consider it highly unlikely.

    I am however genuinely curious as to why you do.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    I didn't (none / 0) (#666)
    by jjayson on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 02:06:52 PM EST

    I didn't accept it as axiomatic. The Bible draws its authority from the Apostles, its authors, and The Church that has keep those documents untainted. About Jesus himself, the story fits too perfectly, with all the prophesies he fulfills and how he completes the law. From reading early accounts of the Apostles after the death of Jesus, I find it highly unlikely that they were lying. Even in a cult of personality you would expect at least one of them to recant while being tortured. From reading about early manuscripts of the Bible, I have good confidence that very few errors have been introduced and that it is mostly correct, with the exception os maybe translation errors and minor transscription errors over time. Now, believing the authority of the New Testament I can look to see how the original Apostles and messianic Jews took the Old Testament books. That is a more confusing picture as to what is literal truth and what it a story, however, it was still taken by them to the the word fo God and final.

    As for physical evidence, there isn't too much I go on, but I find it necessary for God to exist for the universe to exist. I also see our consciousness and free-will as signs of Him.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Why? (none / 0) (#688)
    by teeth on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 12:26:56 PM EST

    Even if I accept that the bible was written by authors of honest intent and sincere belief and that it has has survived time, translation and editorial interference without significant degradation (which I am not sure that I do) how does this demonstrate the existence of god as more than an enduring literary device?

    If I accept the bible as "the word fo God and final" how can I differentiate those parts which are not (literal) truth? How can I presume so to do?

    I am happy that the universe provides evidence for its own existence and structure and nothing else. Why do you find the existence of a far more incredible god a prerequisite?

    Enlighten me.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Why not? (none / 0) (#696)
    by jjayson on Sun Nov 24, 2002 at 12:22:05 AM EST

    Even if I accept that the bible was written by authors of honest intent and sincere belief and that it has has survived time, translation and editorial interference without significant degradation (which I am not sure that I do) how does this demonstrate the existence of god as more than an enduring literary device?
    Because if you believe the text of the New Testament Gospel, then this man walking around was claiming to be God and performing miracles. I don't know how else you could take it.

    If I accept the bible as "the word fo God and final" how can I differentiate those parts which are not (literal) truth? How can I presume so to do?
    I don't know and people will debating this until the second coming. Certainly some believe that science has answered some of these questions for us. I try to look to Apostles and the messianic Jews at that time to see how they viewed the Old Testament stories.

    I am happy that the universe provides evidence for its own existence and structure and nothing else. Why do you find the existence of a far more incredible god a prerequisite?
    The universe is a big cause and effect chain. There had to be an initial cause to set the Big Bang off. Freewill requires that part of me exist outside this physical universe, a soul so to speak. Something had to create the initial cause and create that soul part of me. The only way to get out of this who created what cycle seems to be a being that has always existed and is unchanging. I can think of no simplier answer that doesn't have some flaw.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Ahhh, we might be getting somewhere (none / 0) (#703)
    by teeth on Sun Nov 24, 2002 at 12:50:50 PM EST

    I see the bible no differently to other mythologies of indeed modern "magic realist" literature; a goad to philisophical consideration.

    I still have a problem with received truth having a revision hitory.

    But here we might be getting somewhere, we have differing understandings of some basic terms:

    "The universe is a big cause and effect chain. There had to be an initial cause to set the Big Bang off. Freewill requires that part of me exist outside this physical universe, a soul so to speak. Something had to create the initial cause and create that soul part of me. The only way to get out of this who created what cycle seems to be a being that has always existed and is unchanging. I can think of no simplier answer that doesn't have some flaw."

    I see the universe as an ongoing event in not less than four dimentions - no universe, no time - which, by definition cannot interact with anything external. We diverge a lot on the idea of free will. To my mind "Free will" is a function of the physical brain - wetware if you like - which requires nothing more than that conciousness bootstaps itself as a baby develops the concepts of "me" and "not me" and begins to gain autonomy. I see no need for a soul.

    The unwhere and unwhen preceding the big bang, and therefore time, is intrinsically unknowable.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    one more time through the mill (none / 0) (#563)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:26:08 AM EST

    I assume that I have a degree of free will and expect that you do too. It is still an assumption.

    I prefer to call that assumption 'a fundamental, universal axiom of philosophy.'

    The whole point of Christian speculative philosophy is that God is uncaused and non-contingent. Either you believe that the universe* itself is uncaused or you believe it is caused to exist by something superior to itself.

    * All conceivable phenomena included, such as 'other universes.'

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Not universal (none / 0) (#618)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 07:48:58 PM EST

    Free will is a common philisophical axiom but not universal.

    It will come as no surprise that I consider it most likely that the universe is a spontainious occurance.

    Since, by definition, I can no knowlege of nor interaction with anything external to the universe any idle speculation I might have regarding external entities/events is just that, idle speculation.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Assumtions (3.66 / 3) (#291)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:07:35 AM EST

    Your argument depends on the existence of "God" to prove the existence of "God".

    Wrong.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    And all things that come from man are rational? (4.00 / 4) (#55)
    by israfil on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:01:17 PM EST

    Heh.  I would venture to say not.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]
    not necessarily reason (2.66 / 3) (#82)
    by Arthur Treacher on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:11:00 PM EST

    Morality, that is, acting towards others of ones species in a helpful rather than harmful manner, is a survival trait.  Humans are moral because is feels right to us; religons are created to propagate morality, not the other way around.

    "Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
    [ Parent ]
    Religion and morality (3.33 / 3) (#178)
    by Roman on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:33:27 PM EST

    I noticed your question after I posted something that deals with the same problem in a different thread. Hope this is rellevant. http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/11/18/05434/162/170#170

    [ Parent ]
    which religion? (3.25 / 4) (#43)
    by crazycanuck on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:41:31 PM EST

    which religion matters? which one is the source of all the world's morality?

    I'd really like to know, because there are many religions on this planet and not all of them preach the same things.

    re:which religion? (3.00 / 2) (#80)
    by Arthur Treacher on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:06:17 PM EST

    None of them matter, unless people that believe in them are trying to kill you because you don't believe. :D

    "Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
    [ Parent ]
    Origins of morality (4.00 / 1) (#175)
    by Roman on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:31:15 PM EST

    I noticed your question after I posted something that deals with the same problem in a different thread. Hope this is rellevant. http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/11/18/05434/162/170#170

    [ Parent ]
    Baptist of course, you heathen swine! :) (n/t) (none / 0) (#567)
    by tuxedo-steve on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 06:40:44 AM EST



    - SMJ - (It's not just a name - it's a bad aftertaste.)
    [ Parent ]
    hmm (3.00 / 7) (#50)
    by biggs on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:59:15 PM EST

    It seems obvious that taken together, the world's religions present an entirely contradictory and incoherent worldview.

    I havn't read this book but I think you missed the point. After all, religion isn't science. And if he is embracing all faiths in his book, that's a highly refreshing topic. Too often religious advocates are really encouraging a single faith. I just may have to read it. I might argue though that humans are incapable of even getting by day today without some level of faith. Whether it's a personal philosophy they may or may not have examined - or a highly organized religion. In that sense the book is kind of moot unless he is indeed encouring an organized faith over all types of faith.

    --
    "Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox

    Religion versus religions (4.20 / 5) (#67)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:32:32 PM EST

    Dr. Smith is definitely arguing for the value in "religion" as a concept rather than any particular religion (although, I was left with a distinctly Christian impression after finishing the book). But to me, this was unsatisfying. The book's overarching topic was that of a world-view, a framework for living in and understanding the universe.

    Now, on one hand I was left unconvinced by his arguments against a scientifically-based worldview. Naturally it is my view that, imperfect as it may be, science and reason are our best tools for understanding the world, and a worldview thus constructed is not at all at odds with meaning, morality and beauty. This is one thrust of my argument in the article.

    On the other hand, I found the concept of "religion" in general to be too nebulous to be useful. No-one can be religious without adhering to some kind of religion; surely this is obvious. And so my point in the line you quoted is that while "religion" as class might be fun to theorize about, it's actual instances of religion that form people's world-views, and you can't deny that these worldviews differ radically. They're not consistent. So how do I go about refining a consistent world-view for myself if I want to follow Smith's advice and reject scientism? I must make a choice, and I either choose randomly or use reason to decide between them. And then you run into problems.

    So, while the inclusiveness and ecumenicism of Smith is nice in its way, I failed to find anything of value in his concept of "religion" in general.

    Thanks for the insightful comment.

    -Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    I think you are confused. (3.66 / 9) (#51)
    by Dr Wily on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 12:59:32 PM EST

    Religion is not the same as the various religions of the world.

    And it is preposterous that you accept willingly the risible notion that religion and science cannot coexist.  It may be that all current religions are too encumbered by tradition and culture to properly account for the universe alongside science; in that case, however, religion will not be overcome by science, but rather new religion will be forged alongside science, or, more likely, from within science.

    Science, after all, is a faith too, only more tangible than those that have come before.  The search for truth is an asymptote, for to know truth we would have to know all, and to know all is an impossibility, as there is no beginning and no end.

    Religion is the tool with which we accept this aspect of our existence and allow our minds to turn to more pragmatic concerns.  It will always exist, regardless of its name.

    What is religion? (4.20 / 5) (#71)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:47:57 PM EST

    I think I understand where you are coming from. I can see the appeal, and feel it on a deep level, of the notion you describe. In a way, science does seem soulless. But one of the thrusts of my article was that no, wait a minute - let's challenge the assumption that a scientific worldview is devoid of meaning and beauty. That's just not true. Furthermore, I would argue that the beauty and profunditity to be found in science far eclipses that of religion. Just consider this fact: I am some atoms that know about atoms. To me, the "truths" of modern religion seem quite banal in comparison to this most trivial of scientific observations.

    As for future religions that might arise to be compatible with science, that's an interesting question. If such a religion does arise in future, how would it differ from science itself? If all its claims are about the actual universe and are thus testable and observable, why, then it's science. If they are not, it's not science and I would argue not at all compatible with science. Science is about observing and explaining the universe. There seems little point in tacking esentially arbitrary metaphysical claims onto it, don't you agree?

    I agree that we will probably never know "the whole truth". If this acceptance is religion, then call me religious. But it doesn't seem like a concept that needs such a label.

    Interesting point though!

    -Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    its all a matter of what you believe (3.00 / 2) (#279)
    by wrax on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:18:53 AM EST

    science and religion can exist together, as you said, science is just another belief system, although it is one that is tangible rather than ephemeral. the real problem is fundamentalists of any belief. these people seem to have blinders on when it comes to other faiths, rather than try to see the similarities they see differences. take the film that is mentioned in the article, "Inherit the wind" is an excellent example of the ways that fundamentalists in the southern united states acted during that time in history, and i wouldn't doubt today as well. This kind of behevior (while i understand that it was dramatized for film) is unaccetpable to most rational people and would make members of that faith ashamed (i know i was, being catholic) to be a part of it. It is an example of the kind of blind faith that is damaging to us as a species, but just as blind religious faith is dangerous so is blind faith in science. who is to say that this world isn't some giant experiment that some supreme being is running in his lab? perhaps our universe was created so that god could see what would happen if a very large explosion took place and he is recording the events? questions like these cannot be explained by science, perhaps by philosophy, but not by science. This is where your own particular beliefs come in. Religous beliefs properly tempered by scientific observation will produce a belief structure that is both rigid and supple, rigid in the fact that most of your beliefs are right and supple in the fact that they can change with the input of new data gathered in a particular manner. so yes you can combine religion and science into a very powerful belief structure that is capable of standing in the face of the most serious scrutiny and questions because it is founded on solid observations of the universe with an understanding that there is much more out there that is not known but that some being/force/god has made it to be discovered and observed.
    --------------------

    I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
    [ Parent ]

    re-read the articles (3.50 / 8) (#53)
    by ryochiji on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:00:35 PM EST

    You should re-read the articles on Wired; I don't see why anyone should feel threatened by them. In fact, I thought it was an excellent series of articles in that they showed how science and religion might finally grow up and co-exist. As a deist, I'm no more inclined to protect religion than you are. On the other hand, I also don't understand why people consider science and religion to be incompatible.

    One quote I found interesting was in the story about the Pope's scientific advisor doing astronomical research, where the Church acknowledges that evolution and the Big Bang are no longer considered myths. That was striking to me since, for once, I got the impression that the Church was finally ready to catch up with science in some respects.

    The way I see it, to put it in over simplistic terms, science seeks to explain the explainable, while religion explains the unexplainable. It's kind of like the lottery. Mathematics will show why you won't win the lottery, but it doesn't explain why the people who win actually win. In the articles, scientists are quoted as saying that the Big Bang was a miracle. That doesn't mean we should stop studying or theorizing over it, but until it's explained, I don't see why we can't just call it a "miracle", "act of God" or whatever people want to call it.

    To summarize, the Wired articles showed the Church saying "Okay, we accept evolution and the Big Bang" and also a scientist saying "The Big Bang was a miracle". To me, it sounds a lot like a truce, and one that's long over due.

    ---
    IlohaMail: Webmail that works.

    There are some weird assumptions in there (4.20 / 5) (#63)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:19:37 PM EST

    Others can probably tackle the subject more eloquently than I; but the view you express (and that of the Wired articles) troubles me a bit. It appears to be the conventional wisdom that wherever there is a hole in scientific knowledge, and indeed, whenever there is an issue that cannot be scientifically addressed, that theologians are somehow called for. But why is it OK to just invent something pleasing to cover our ignorance? That seems to me to be unhelpful.

    "The Big Bang was a miracle." What does this phrase mean? If it means simply, our current state of science cannot explain origin of the Big Bang, then fine, but the word "miracle" seems in this case to be a rather empty one, and its use just clouds the issue. The alternative meaning, that it's an act of God, is no better; an act of God in this sense is outside of science, so you're removing the discussion from the scientific realm. Plus you're introducing the concept of God into the debate which is, at the very least, an unnecessary complication. If God is to be a meaningful concept, you must have some claims about his properties - probably unverifiable (and thus arbitrary) claims. Thus, you've left the realm of science far behind.

    So I'm left asking: Where is this supposed intersection of science and religion? The impression I get from these articles is that an appeal to theology seems to be an act of throwing up your hands and giving up on science. That's not encouraging to me, nor does it befit the search for truth.

    -Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Re: assumptions (3.00 / 2) (#189)
    by ryochiji on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:51:26 PM EST

    >But why is it OK to just invent something pleasing to cover our ignorance?

    Then you're saying all those SciFi novels and TV shows are not OK? How 'bout common myths seen in any culture. Inventing stories is a part of our nature. The difference between "making up explanations" and religion is that religions have, historically, made up stories that spread them as the truth.
    There's a difference between making stories and acknolwedging them as stories, and making lies.

    >"The Big Bang was a miracle." What does this phrase mean?

    I don't have the exact quote, but the word "miracle" was in there. But you have a point there.

    >an appeal to theology seems to be an act of throwing up your hands and giving up

    I think that's very scary indeed. But I think it's possible to say "As far as we know, it's a miracle and it's quite amazing...but we'd like to figure out how it all works." In other words, I think it's possible for science and theology to not be mutually exclusive.

    ---
    IlohaMail: Webmail that works.
    [ Parent ]

    We mostly agree (3.00 / 2) (#208)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:10:08 PM EST

    Hi,

    There's a difference between making stories and acknolwedging them as stories, and making lies.

    No argument here. Of course I have nothing against imagination, unless unbridled imagination is passed of as truth, especially in a scientific context!

    But I think it's possible to say "As far as we know, it's a miracle and it's quite amazing...but we'd like to figure out how it all works." In other words, I think it's possible for science and theology to not be mutually exclusive.

    My previous comments still stands; if we can in fact figure out how it all works, I don't think it's miraculous except in a figurative sense. If by "miracle" you mean a seemingly opaque, singular physical event, then it seems like the big bang is a miracle. But when you say it's an act of God, you're adding stuff to the story that is not scientific, and I personally don't think you should be allowed to get away with it. :)

    I suppose in a sense science and theology can be made compatible, but in that case the theology wouldn't have anything to say about the real world...

    Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    I don't think the Wired article is very accurate (3.00 / 2) (#126)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:20:48 PM EST

    I read in Scientific American that a poll showed that 40% of scientists believe in God. That's a lot lower than the rest of the population. Biologists believe in God the least, followed by chemists, then physicists. As you get into the more respected scientists, they believe in God less and less in all branches.

    The Wired article provides little evidence for the view that it argues.

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    [ Parent ]

    Science and religion are incompatable. (3.00 / 2) (#133)
    by Zara2 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:35:54 PM EST

    I also don't understand why people consider science and religion to be incompatible.

    Science and religion were obviously incompatable since the days of Galileo. As soon as the religious authorities said that "this is not true" when scientific evidence proved that it was the incompatability of the two was assured. Considering that science has now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that humans were formed from evolutionary processes in direct conflict with the immediate creation that is espouced in the bible there is a definate conflict there. Science and religion are very incompatable. Anyone who says otherwise is not looking at the whole picture of each.

    This is not too say that science and spirituality are incompatable. Its dogmatic religion that creates this sort of issue.

    [ Parent ]

    Please use correct terminology. (4.20 / 5) (#145)
    by paine in the ass on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:15:14 PM EST

    Science and *fundamentalist, Biblical-literalist Christianity* are incompatible. Believe it or not, there are other types of religion out there (and no, they're not "spirituality"). There are even (gasp) other types of Christianity which have no problem accepting evolution as a fact. When you make a blanket statement that assumes all religion is one narrow brand of Protestant Christianity, I wonder if you aren't as ignorant as they are...


    I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
    [ Parent ]
    No its a problem with most (3.00 / 2) (#296)
    by Zara2 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:25:56 AM EST

    No, its a problem with most organized religions. The only religion in existance that I know of that does not have a problem with modern cosmology would be buddhism, possibly taoism. Any religion based upon the bible or koran runs afoul of science as soon as science proved that there was no more room for a place called heaven. Particuliarly now that we are getting down to the brass tacks of how the universe was created and there is no more room for a being called God. That sorta eliminates any form of christianity as by definition you must believe that Jesus was the son of this self same god. Koran based faiths have the same problem as thier creation myths do not fall in line with observeable fact.

    See, the basic incompatability comes in when science discovers something new about the world around us. Many times that area used to be in the providence of religion (i.e. the creation of life, cosmology.) Every single time that we really find how something works (how our solar system came to be) god just isn't there. So science and religion clash at that point. Science has so far seemed to be the best way to predict how things are going to work. SO I gottta go on that side over any theist philosophy (religion) any day. As the knowledge of our universe (science) overtakes old superstitions and beliefs not based on any type of first hand observation religion will find less and less of a place in our lives. Personally I think the death knell will be when we finally make a working A.I. Then, the last real area of religion (the origin of conciousness and free will) will be in the balliwick of science.

    [ Parent ]

    You don't know much about religion beliefs do you? (none / 0) (#301)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:18:52 PM EST

    The only religion in existance that I know of that does not have a problem with modern cosmology would be buddhism, possibly taoism. Any religion based upon the bible or koran runs afoul of science as soon as science proved that there was no more room for a place called heaven.

    Uhmm, I am not sure what you're thinking here, but, as far as I aware, most mainstream Christian faiths do not believe heaven to be located within the physical universe. I'm not sure about Islam, but I don't see any reason why they would be compelled to believe that paradise be located within the physical universe.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Even an external heaven... (none / 0) (#318)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:39:04 PM EST

    ...does not make biblical cosmology consistent with evidence.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Biblical??? (none / 0) (#325)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:58:20 PM EST

    I suspect that you mean, cosmologically speaking, biblical literalism is incompatible with current astronomical science. I completely agree, but the overwhelming majority of mainstream Christian churches are not biblical literalists. Or were you thinking of something else?

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Even more tenuous (none / 0) (#348)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:54:57 PM EST

    I thought that the bible was the definitive source text for christianity. Surely if parts of the cannonical "word of god" are wrong none of it can be trusted?

    I get back under the bridge now...


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    I understand that you may not be a literalist... (none / 0) (#681)
    by Zara2 on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 12:49:22 AM EST

    I understand that you may not be a literalist that believes that the bible is pure history. Personally I find the philosophy of Christ to be one worth following. However, the religion of Christianity (whether catholic, protestant, quaker ect.) at the very least presumes that you believe in a actual being called God. Even if you say that god exists as all things, or something apart from things or what have you God must still exist in or as some sort of media. Going out on a logical limb here, given the continueation of the gathering of knowledge by sentient species in this universe eventually we will have observed everything. Then one must ask where is God.

    This is all I meant. At some point any dogmatic belief of any belief system not entirely based on observation of all evidence (even that not available) will be wrong. This is true for modern science. But an ideal "science" where all is observed and tracked wouldn't have this problem and at this point God would either be proven true or not. So far he hasn't shown up so I am not hoping all toooo much.

    And please do not misunderstand my belief in the usefulness of religion and philosophy. Personally I like to consider myself a Buddhist and visit a local temple at least once a month for zazen and teaching. I have also been a regular church goer for years and have studied different types of belief systems (my Mom was a unitarian.) Its just that in the past a godless and magicless universe has always proven to be the best predictor of future events. I personally see it being so for far into the future.

    [ Parent ]

    I see. (5.00 / 1) (#327)
    by paine in the ass on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:02:59 PM EST

    So you don't know the first thing about religion and you don't know the first thing about cosmology. On the other hand, I'm a professional philosopher and I read cosmology and other physics for fun. So let me clear some things up for you...

    First of all, we're nowhere near figuring out "the brass tacks of how the universe was created". Even the ultra-dumbed-down stuff like Stephen Hawking's books can tell you this, as can a little bit of logical thinking; figuring out how the universe was created would require a perspective outside the universe to be available to science. By definition, no such perspective can be available to science, so science is powerless to answer the question of how the universe came to be. At best, science can say that the universe came into being at a point in the past and use various techniques to pinpoint the time at which that occurred.

    And religion doesn't have too many problems with science, in my experience. Sure, there are idiots who take the Bible literally and fight with all their strength to avoid finding out anything that contradicts their beliefs, but there were also plenty of respected scientists who used to say low-pressure diamond synthesis couldn't be possible, dogmatically citing (and misinterpreting) the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In other words, in every group, not just religious ones, there will be people who resist new worldviews and information. Thankfully, they are few and spread out enough over various groups that their influence is small.

    Third, I'd recommend you actually read some "theist philosophy". I'll even help you out; I'm working on an article which I will most certainly post to my own website and which I may also submit here; when it's done I'll give you a link, so you can start educating yourself. In the meantime, go read some of David Hume (the skeptic's skeptic) and find out whether your bias for science is really so rationally justified...


    I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
    [ Parent ]

    Chill (none / 0) (#680)
    by Zara2 on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 12:38:16 AM EST

    I've read Hume. Actually I have read a lot of both philosophy and religion and cosmology. I went to college too as I am sure most people here on Kuro5hin have. My point is simply that dogmatic theist religion as defined by an appeal of authority to a divine book or series of scriptures to explain the universe will eventually come into conflict with science at some time. Science, defined as a outlook of explaining the universe through observation and re-produceable experiments has always been the more accurate predictor of reality in all cases in the past. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that it will work as a better guide to predicting the patterns of the universe in the future.

    Also, please don't try to rely on Hume. While his thought is great in and of itself it depends on the presupposition of a belief in a christian diety. A "profesional philosopher" (I presume you either have published books or are a teacher, if the latter please point me to them) should understand the logical fallacy of this. Anybody can prove something with logic that they already know is true.

    [ Parent ]

    No room? (none / 0) (#475)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 11:29:31 AM EST

    Seems to me that there's plenty of room for heaven; it's just out a lot farther than was previously thought. And while scientists have all those ideas about HOW the universe came into being, there's nothing that invalidates the existance of God. Maybe He wanted to start things with a (Big) Bang!
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    but if religions budge (3.00 / 2) (#185)
    by ryochiji on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:42:05 PM EST

    >As soon as the religious authorities said that "this is not true" when scientific evidence proved that it was the incompatability of the two was assured

    But the Wired articles showed the Church acknowledging some of the fundamental scientific theories. When religions stop automatically denying science, I believe that's a step forward.

    ---
    IlohaMail: Webmail that works.
    [ Parent ]

    not my point. (3.00 / 2) (#297)
    by Zara2 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:31:41 AM EST

    My point is that science and religion are two fundamental ways of looking at the universe. Religion is usually concerned with interpreting ancient texts and spiritual revalations. Science is concerned with making observations of the world around the scientist and coming to conclusions based purely on those self same observations. This is the conflict. It does not matter if religion aknowledges sciences advances of 10-50 years ago. It is a fundamental difference in a personas outlook on life.

    [ Parent ]
    problem (3.00 / 2) (#149)
    by kstop on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:20:24 PM EST

    What happens when a cosmology that modifies or does away with the Big Bang comes along? Do the other scientists join the religious in burning the heretic who came up with it?

    Actually that wouldn't be that bad, I don't understand a bit of string theory.

    [ Parent ]

    Lottery (3.00 / 3) (#174)
    by Boronx on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:27:19 PM EST

    "It's kind of like the lottery. Mathematics will show why you won't win the lottery, but it doesn't explain why the people who win actually win. "

    Math does have an explanation. They win because their number came up. I am not being facetious. Either it came up using the pseudo-random methods, or someone cheated. All quite explainable, there is no miracle involved.
    Subspace
    [ Parent ]

    but _why_ (3.00 / 2) (#179)
    by ryochiji on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:33:47 PM EST

    >They win because their number came up

    That explains why some people win, but not why the specific winners win, when coutnless others who also buy tickets and have equal or better chances lose.

    I have yet to see a good explanation. Hell, if they can explain it, they should be able to predict exactly who's going to win. But there are simply too many random factors to fully explain it.

    ---
    IlohaMail: Webmail that works.
    [ Parent ]

    Why people win the lottery (none / 0) (#337)
    by hatshepsut on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:08:00 PM EST

    Assuming you are talking about the type of lottery where a specific number of numbers is "selected" at random, the whole point is that you cannot predict which numbers will come up. Those random factors you blame are there on purpose because you aren't supposed to be able to predict the results.

    When you buy your ticket (and, for the record, as long as you follow the rules of the lottery, no one has a better or worse chance of winning, all changes are exactly equal), you select your numbers. Perhaps you select them because you think they are "lucky" (lots of people seem to like number 7) or perhaps you don't select a given number because you think it is "unlucky" (ask how many people choose 13). On the day of the draw, 6 numbers are drawn (the only draws I have seen use a large machine that tosses balls with numbers around, they are certainly not selected by a person). If someone has selected (using whatever "lucky" or "unlucky" system they use) the same numbers, they win, if no one selected those numbers, there is no winner.

    Trying to predict who, among millions of potential winners (potential winners because they have bought tickets and selected numbers based on the game rules) is going to win is not possible because the number selection made by each "player" is based on a personal choice for each person ("I always play these numbers" or "these numbers feel lucky"). The winning numbers are selected via a process that (in theory anyway) eliminates a human agency (i.e. there is no choice, per se, numbers "come up" via a random physical process).

    The whole point of the lottery is that everyone has an exactly equal chance to win. But, there doesn't HAVE to be a winner at all.

    [ Parent ]

    What I Am (2.80 / 5) (#57)
    by n8f8 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:03:28 PM EST

    I'm not aware of too many things,
    I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box.
    Religion is the smile on a dog.

    I'm not aware of too many things,
    I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Choke me in the shallow water
    Before I get too deep.

    What I am is what I am.
    Are you what you are - or what?

    I'm not aware of too many things,
    I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks.
    Religion is a light in the fog.

    I'm not aware of too many things,
    I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Choke me in the shallow water
    Before I get too deep.

    What I am is what I am.
    Are you what you are - or what?
    Don't let me get too deep.

    Edie Brickell And The New Bohemians

    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

    Ugh. (3.00 / 2) (#74)
    by nowan on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:58:29 PM EST

    What is this but a celebration of ignorance? Am I missing the point of this poem entirely? Is it ironic, and I'm just too dull to notice?

    [ Parent ]
    "The smile on a dog" (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:16:03 PM EST

    Religion is the smile on a dog. Like, whoa, profound, man. If that line doesn't move your being, then I can't help you, you soulless blockhead.

    (Yes, this post is irony. :)



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    The smile on a dog (5.00 / 1) (#106)
    by jck2000 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:27:33 PM EST

    1. Dogs (like dolphins) don't really smile, so it means "Religion is a hopeful projection of beneficence on an unmeaning universe." Not completely unprofound.

    2. Backwards, an affirmation of Christianity -- "God, a Noel [as in "The First Noel"], I'm se[h]t."

    3. The song was good enough to make Edie queen of the universe (she became Paul Simon's wife after he and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) got divorced).

    [ Parent ]

    dog (none / 0) (#552)
    by anonymous cowerd on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 09:41:57 PM EST

    "Religion is a hopeful projection of beneficence on an unmeaning universe."

    "A smile on a dog" clearly means "optimism backed up by literally sub-human stupidity," which is quite cruel, even if deserved.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

    A drowning man asks for pears from the willow tree.
    [ Parent ]

    Well ... (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by pyramid termite on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:10:52 PM EST

    1. I think it was meant ironically in a self depreciating sense.

    2. The guitar solo's a pretty decent imitation of mid 70s Garcia.

    3. The drums are classic - I'd never heard that beat played quite like that against the rest of the band. He was on a different "one" than the rest of them, but it worked.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    The Would-Be Quaker Throws in Two Cents (4.00 / 15) (#66)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:26:31 PM EST

    It is my firm belief that rational thought processes are not the answer to every question. For some questions, there is only the irrational answer. While some people believe that referencing Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem (any logical system powerful enough to encompass arithmetic is either inconsistent or incomplete)is a cop-out, I believe it is entirely valid.

    Many critics of religion decry the fundamentalists - as they should. Fundamentalists of every religion ignore the basic precepts of love and understanding that all religions share in common. If your beef is with the fundamentalists, I can sympathize.

    One of the fundamental beliefs of the Society of Friends (Or Quakers, as most people know them) is that no single religion holds the keys on the truth. How this meshes logically with the fact that Quakers are fundamentally Christian is hard to describe - and I'm still working no that myself. Quakers attempt to see the presence of God in all people, and are not so much interested in evangelism as they are a mutual understanding of faith, culture, and respect between those with differing views. No matter who you are, I think this is a worthwhile goal.

    There is a lot in this universe that we don't know - and, perhaps, will never be able to know. But we're all stuck with each other until the Big Finish. And I'm all for the exchange of useful ideas between those of differing viewpoints. What the world needs know, I think, is pluralism.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    err (3.00 / 3) (#143)
    by kstop on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:11:14 PM EST

    Why do you believe it is valid, or has any relevance whatsoever? Are you trying to imply that religion is necessary for a consistent and complete system of logic? I don't get it.

    [ Parent ]
    Explaining my use of the Incompleteness Theorem (3.25 / 4) (#167)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:08:43 PM EST

    I don't think religion (or spirituality, if you prefer that term) has anything to do with logic. Theology is all about logic, but is ultimately less useful. In trying to answer questions about our world, and our purpose in it, sometimes we have to rely on our intuition in conjunction with reason. Sometimes we put too much emphasis on examining everything in a completely rational way.

    I'm a firm believer in using the right tool for the right job - and there are some jobs that a perfectly rational, logical system of thought simply can't handle. My use of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem is simply as an example of a logical system that has reached its limits of usefulness - the Halting Problem is another example.

    Human beings can often perceive the difference between a Turing machine that will run forever and one that will terminate, but only because we possess intuition - which is to say that a process of strictly rational thought can break down completely in certain cases.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Halting problem and human intuition (4.00 / 5) (#226)
    by ecarter on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:44:08 PM EST

    Say I build a Turing machine that does this:
    1. Find the next nontrivial root of the Riemann Zeta Function.
    2. If that root is a counterexample to the Riemann Hypothesis, halt.  Otherwise, go back to step 1.
    Does that machine halt?  Do you even have any intuition on whether it would halt?

    You're probably thinking of the intuition you have in examining loop structures, figuring out the reasoning behind them, and then telling whether or not they halt, with the last step being the easiest.  If the halting problem were restricted to cases where that sort of thought process applies, a Turing machine would probably be able to solve it.

    [ Parent ]

    shake shake shake (3.33 / 3) (#292)
    by speek on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:08:23 AM EST

    "Signs point to yes"

    The religion of the magic eight ball seems up to this challenge.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Well... (5.00 / 1) (#364)
    by ecarter on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:43:01 PM EST

    A Turing machine can easily solve the halting problem if we don't insist on trivial things like correctness.

    [ Parent ]
    I should add... (none / 0) (#374)
    by artsygeek on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:48:35 PM EST

    That the Quakers you refer to are Liberal or Hicksite Quakers....as a Quaker of the Liberal tradition (Baltimore Yearly Meeting), I thought I'd make that clear. Conservative and Evangelical Friends tend to lean more towards an absolute truth.

    I should probably also add that some Liberal Quakers say that "every religion has a 'Quaker' branch...it's the kinda mystical, kinda contemplative wing"...and perhaps so *shrug*.

    But you do get the point pretty on-target that there is a belief that nobody has a monopoly on the truth, and everybody at least has some inkling of the truth...and some element of the Divine in them.

    [ Parent ]

    Very correct - and thank you for pointing that out (5.00 / 1) (#437)
    by discoflamingo13 on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:01:06 AM EST

    Living in St Paul, MN, I forget that the world has conservative people in it.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Religion does matter.. (4.26 / 15) (#68)
    by r00t on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:33:37 PM EST

    Not because it matters, but because so many people think it matters.

    -It's not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it's what you have to unlearn. - Isaac Asimov

    Indeed (3.66 / 3) (#69)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:37:10 PM EST

    Unquestionably, religion matters. Otherwise, I would have to agree my article is a waste of time. (Well, it may be still, let's hope not. :)

    I really regret the title of my story now. It's too sensational; I just wanted to put it in contrast to Smith's book.



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    From that perspective (none / 0) (#544)
    by I Robot on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:52:19 PM EST

    The exact same can be said for science.

    If you ignore science, you will fare poorly in the short run. Many, myself included, feel the same about religion and the long run.

    The same author who identified the water cycle at a time when "science" thought there were 4 elements also promised that this place would be turned back into the paradise it was originally intended to be.

    Since I am still waiting for science to make good on its 1954 promise to create single-celled life by the end of the decade, I have turned my attention to this other promise which appears to be getting close to fulfillment. When science keeps its promises, I'll listen a little more closely.

    [ Parent ]

    Ah, Good Ol' Religion (3.62 / 8) (#70)
    by mmuskratt on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:39:42 PM EST

    Don't let your Religion get in the way of my Spirituality. Karl Marx was pretty close when he said Religion is the opiate of the masses. People kill each other over this stuff...still. Some of the important things to consider when discussing our society and the whole religion thing: 1) Our population has grown so greatly that religion cannot keep up. Morality, doctrine, rules and beliefs are all based on ancient principles that do not scale to meet up with the demands of larger populations. This is mostly related to the descendants and followers of Abraham. Buddhism does not appear to be affected as much as Islam or Christianity, for instance. Technology related to population control is considered bad, for instance, but killing people in retaliation for their alleged religious fanaticism is good. 2) Religious fanaticism is merely an excuse to behave barbarically. Or perhaps, religious fanatics are merely barbarians. The problem with this is that barbarians wind up fighting barbarians. All in the name of "God/Allah/Yahweh/Bob." 3) Technology has expanded greatly in some parts of the world, at the expense of others. People still live in tents, caves and shacks, while others shop at huge department stores so they can purchase a new video game for their entertainment center. It is all related, and money is at the root. 4) Prayer and meditation are good for humans. Prayer is, in fact, closely related to meditation. It works. Sort of like sleeping is good for you, so is prayer. Combining the positive benefits of prayer with a moral imperative can be a fairly powerful behavior control device. Adding a nice little tithe at the end of a service isn't so bad either. Religion does matter. Too many people are bound to it. The problem, as I see it, is Religious CHANGE. Religion is the structure for ancient rules, and the concepts of those rules and tradition go back to eras when technology and population did not grow as fast as they do now. It matters, so much in fact that we are going to see more people die because of it.

    same old strawmen (1.57 / 7) (#85)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:22:14 PM EST

    Your claims that relogion is more responsible for brutality that the non-relidious is laughable and not even worst responding too. You silly people cling to old debunked ideas for too long, then try to blame the religious for not having the ability to pregress forwards.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    You don't make any sense (3.00 / 3) (#202)
    by mmuskratt on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:40:37 PM EST

    I'm sorry, but you are correct about one thing, you shouldn't bother responding to something when you can't make a coherent comment. There is no claim in my comments that, "relogion is more responsible for brutality that the non-relidious is..." I merely point out the fact that people kill each other because of their beliefs. Religious fanaticism is barbarism (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=barbarism), and your comments are so crudely crafted as to make me wonder if you're actually a fanatic yourself. I also do not "blame" the religious for anything in my comments. You are arguing that I am clinging to old debunked ideas for too long, when I wonder how old the religious doctrines you follow have been around. "Pregress" is better served by people who educate themselves, and the interesting thing is that the more educated people become, the more intricate their arguments about religion become. And even more interesting is their spelling and grammar.

    [ Parent ]
    Fanaticism is the Opiate of the Masses. (3.00 / 2) (#193)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:06:08 PM EST

    If, when you say "religion," you mean a social structure within a society that willfully manipulates human beings away from their inherent state of freedom - if that should change, you're damn right. If you mean we should put an end to fanaticism and encurage pluralism, I agree. Most of your post seems to tie memetics in with all of this, which is always good.

    But the problem with saying that this ain't no ancient culture is that sometimes it is. Technology is not good in and of itself - but society needs to take a more pro-active role in examining the role of technology in society.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Ancient culture clash (none / 0) (#204)
    by mmuskratt on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:55:00 PM EST

    From a US point of view, our culture is not ancient at all. The US has been around for a few centuries (in its current state, of course), and through technology, we're able to do things that were unheard of even 100 years ago, including travelling to other countries via airplane and visiting *real* Ancient Cultures. Your points are well taken, and I wasn't trying to say that this isn't an ancient culture, I'm saying that our culture needs to grow up a lot faster than it has been...before we spawn the last of our children into an overtaxed world that could easily control population growth through, say, birth control. The technology is there, the culture isn't...

    [ Parent ]
    Agreed (3.00 / 2) (#205)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 08:23:14 PM EST

    The line about ancient cultures is actually from Ghost Dog. I guess I say it a lot. :)



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    opiate (none / 0) (#553)
    by anonymous cowerd on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:07:00 PM EST

    Karl Marx was pretty close when he said Religion is the opiate of the masses.

    You want to keep in mind that at the moment Uncle Karl wrote that famous phrase, an "opiate" was considered by European people as a wondrously good thing. Opium-based medicines, shipped as precious treasure halfway around the vast globe and then sold to you over the counter, genuinely relieved your terrible pain of aching, chronically unhealthy humankind, through your consumptions, gangrenes, gouts, childbirths and cancers, in a miraculous fashion previous generations could only helplessly dream of.

    It's only seven generations later, after all our discourse has been so befouled by gross trashy politics that "liberal" becomes an insult and "welfare" an object of contempt, that "opiate" as well has come to reek of a vile type of vice, so that famous phrase gets misinterpreted as a rude and callous slap at the genius of religion; when all Karl meant was, "as the world is today, the crushed proletariat would literally be unable to bear capitalism, would perish of despair, if they lacked religion to alleviate the pain of it."

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

    A drowning man asks for pears from the willow tree.
    [ Parent ]

    Not really (none / 0) (#578)
    by Happy Monkey on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 10:43:30 AM EST

    You want to keep in mind that at the moment Uncle Karl wrote that famous phrase, an "opiate" was considered by European people as a wondrously good thing.

    They may not have known of all the dangers associated with opiates in the time of Marx, but they knew that opiates only alleviated the symptoms without providing a real cure. And they knew that someone who devoted their life to opiates was not healthy.

    "as the world is today, the crushed proletariat would literally be unable to bear capitalism, would perish of despair, if they lacked religion to alleviate the pain of it."

    Indeed, he viewed capitalism and worker oppression as the disease. Religion was an opiate provided by authority figures to alleviate the pain of oppression, diminishing the likelihood of revolt. Communism was supposed to be the cure, removing the need for the opiate.
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    Symptomatic relief (none / 0) (#603)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 05:30:50 PM EST

    Opiates are still rightly valued as powerful analgesics however they have never done more than treat symptoms.
    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]
    Opium references (none / 0) (#676)
    by mmuskratt on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 07:40:52 PM EST

    http://www.opioids.com/ for your opium history. I have a ton of opinions about the demonization of drugs...but that might be a post for later. As with any metaphor, meaning is subjective to the Zeitgeist. You can argue your point, and still not debunk my insertion of the phrase, because even in its intended sense, it validates my points. People turned to religion to free themselves from the bonds of the bourgeoisie, a class war ensued, and religion eventually became the reason for killing more people. The irony of anti-religious people killing religious people illustrates further the fact that people are still killing each other over this stuff, even if they cling to NO religion. Fanaticism is an excuse for barbarism...religious fanaticism justifies it. I need to hash this out further...you've got me thinking, thanks.

    [ Parent ]
    Well, it's a bit of a tautology... (4.25 / 8) (#75)
    by seebs on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 01:59:18 PM EST

    Science is, by definition, somewhat inclined to reject the untestable.  This isn't a problem, it's just a quality of science.  But it's still there, even if we don't have any reason to object to it.


    RE: Well, it's a bit of a tautology... (4.00 / 1) (#140)
    by adrizk on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:51:31 PM EST

    Well, you could argue that anything that's observable, is testable (at least in principle, which is what I think we're talking about). So then we could rephrase as "Science is, by definition, somewhat inclined to reject the unobservable".

    Anyway, more to the point, how can we know something is there if it isn't observable?

    (I don't mean to sound biased.. I can think of a couple of interesting ways to answer this, I'm just interested in getting opinions)



    [ Parent ]
    To answer your question... (3.66 / 3) (#159)
    by Pseudonym on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:56:52 PM EST

    ...I think you need to be a bit more careful with your terminology.

    First example: Whether a particular individual will go out with me or not under certain conditions is observable, but it is untestable because it is not a repeatable experiment. Once I've tested the hypothesis under the conditions where I don't change my clothes or brush my teeth for a month, I certainly won't have a chance to try again under different conditions, for example.

    Second, slightly less facetious example: Politics is knowable (in that we know it exists), it's observable, and it's even testable, to some degree. We know, for example, that in coalitions, the largest party generally gets the worst deal. That's a rule which has been observed time and time again, and is fairly well established. Anthropologists may even be able to tell us where politics comes from. However, can science usefully tell us anything about who to vote for?



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Good examples. (3.00 / 2) (#228)
    by seebs on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:44:51 PM EST

    Basically, science isn't well-tooled for testing things involving thinking beings - we have to have HUGE sample spaces, and controls.  Most religions simply don't allow for that kind of testing.  How do you "test for" a God who doesn't want to be tested for?  He always knows, presumably, whether or not testers are involved...


    [ Parent ]
    lots of stuff is untestable (3.00 / 2) (#288)
    by speek on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:59:35 AM EST

    Anything that happened in the past, is untestable. Anything for which we are unwilling to experiment on is untestable (until we become willing). Any historical "science" is thus not a true science, which is not to say it can't be based on rational methods, and many areas of inquiry about humans are not open to the scientific method.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Sure the past can be tested (none / 0) (#358)
    by michaelp on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:25:22 PM EST

    One can say for instance: if my hypothesis is correct, DNA evidence should show a relationship between neanderthals and homo sapiens.

    Then one can test whether that is correct or not, even though neanderthals don't live in the present, one can test whether they were closely related to h. sapiens, and even how closely.


    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    not really (none / 0) (#405)
    by speek on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:04:13 PM EST

    You could, but what happens when someone else suggests a different explanation for the data? You'd have a hard time setting up an experiment to test which explanation is correct. The past happened only once. If your experiment didn't occur naturally, you may be shit out of luck, thus, like I said, the past is untestable. This says nothing, in my opinion, about what is knowable.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    A handful of "maybes" doesn't = 1 " (none / 0) (#413)
    by michaelp on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:47:10 PM EST

    You'd have a hard time...you may be shit out of luck...thus, like I said, the past is...
    Unless you are using some clintonian "is", you don't get certainty by stating a few "maybes". Like with any scientific hypothesis, if multiple explanations for experimental results exist, then neither hypothesis is elevated to a theory until more evidence is found that supports one or the other or yet another.

    This hardly means that "the past is untestable" since we have already tested it, even if multiple explanations for the test results exist.

    For another example, someone noticed that the Atlanic bordering continents looked like they fit togher. Numerous tests based on this hypothesis (do the rocks show evidence of being joined? the species related at the predicted time when the continents were joined? the Atlantic still widening at a rate consistent with the above evidence? the Pacific narrowing?, etc.) resulted in the theory of continental drift.

    There were competing explanations, some folks may still believe competing explanations, (heck some folks beleive in competing explanations for why the sun rises), but the test results all show that continental drift is the theory that best fits the evidence.

    Thus, many things in the past are completly testable, while many may not be (what someone said at a particular time before the advent of recording devices, for instance).


    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    1 != a handful (none / 0) (#415)
    by speek on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:11:11 PM EST

    I may be making too big a deal out the difference between being able to design and run experiments in the present vs being dependent on what has happened in the past and the evidence that can be found for it. Maybe that's what you were trying to say so undiplomatically?

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    I think I was saying it quite diplomatically (none / 0) (#416)
    by michaelp on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:28:24 PM EST

    actually :-).

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    this does not surprise me (none / 0) (#417)
    by speek on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:43:58 PM EST


    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Believe what you want.. (3.75 / 8) (#76)
    by Hoo00 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 02:02:29 PM EST

    Humans like to believe. It is how the five senses work. You usually trust what you see until someone you trust show you otherwise, such as an illusion or hallucination. Science is based on humans' senses and observations and thus depends on humans' ability to believe in science. To believe in science is religion-like.

    The idea that the universe is consistent itself is a scientific assumption. This assumption questions humans' ability to think rationally. Most humans believe they think logically, but yet some still believe in religions. However, to believe that we think rationally is also religion-like.

    Theory cannot be completely right. There is no completely correct science or religion and so revisions is fine and the right thing to do.

    Do you believe that everything has a meaning?

    The answer is in our mind. As long as it satisfied us, we continue to believe what we want. I cannot prove that religion is science, but to me, religion is science-like. Scary.

    Nice! (4.00 / 4) (#195)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:15:13 PM EST

    One of my profs always said it this way - "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they never are."



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    foolishness (3.60 / 5) (#295)
    by Wolf Keeper on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:22:17 AM EST

    Consistent behavior can only be judged against standards, through contrast.

    What do we have to contrast the universe with?  Nothing.  By definition, it is everything that exists, so it cannot be inconsistent with itself.  It is axiomatically true.

    Every time we encounter something in the universe that we don't understand, it only means we don't know enough.

    If the laws of thermodynamics reversed for 19.9237492364923749 seconds every ninth Tuesday, we'd consider that to be normal and adjust our theories accordingly (assuming we all didn't die).  If the speed of light changed at random times to random speeds with no discernable patterns, we'd likewise have built our theories on that premise, and not our present ones.  

    There cannot be an irrational universe, by definition.  Whatever the rules are, whatever chaos they seem to contain, can be learned.  The ultimate example of this is quantum mechanics. To grossly oversimplify, the behavior of quantum particles is non-deterministic.  If you know it's location, energy, and direction, you still cannot predict it's future location, energy, and direction.  Our quantum physicists have just taken this into account and worked accordingly.

    Two people walk in a thunderstorm and one gets zapped.  Inconsistent universe?  No, we just don't know everything about lightning yet.  Two people get sick and only one recovers.  Inconsistent universe?  No, we just don't know everything about disease and the human body yet.  

    Anything that happens that seems to point to an irrational universe is only from a lack of understanding.

    [ Parent ]

    Interesting (none / 0) (#654)
    by Hoo00 on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 11:20:22 AM EST

    You seems to assume that we can rationalize everything, that there is an answer or meaning to every phenomenon out there. We just haven't found it yet. But that is just your religion. By the same token, I can say there is no rational universe, by definition. Every prove you found I should be able to counter prove it, somehow (since we haven't even defined what is rational or how logic works). Then, I claim that it hasn't been found yet.

    [ Parent ]
    my 2 cents (4.38 / 13) (#97)
    by loktaer on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:00:32 PM EST

    These are just a couple thoughts I've had.

    There are some things that we (humans) don't know, that we cannot know at this point. In general, I think there are two ways to respond to this. The first is to fabricate something to put in this void, i.e. when humanity did not understand evolution, to say that god created man. The second way to respond is to say "we don't know", and to accept that.

    I think that saying "we don't know" is a good thing. It describes the world we live in better than fabricating something. This is because when we "know" things, we base our lives on those things. Thus, when we claim to "know" things that we really don't know, we can make mistakes (sometimes big ones). In the extreme case, some groups kill others because they "know" that if they do, they will go to heaven in the end. But more practically, we can make smaller mistakes and try to hold on to false beliefs for longer than they are worth because we're attached to them (i.e. those that still don't accept evolution, or refusal by some to accept that the world is round). One last thing is that I know that many religious figures/believers do accept promptly novel scientific concepts, and don't wish to undermine them at all. What I mean is that by having the belief as a large group, there will be some large minority who refuse it for far too long, and others that listen to these few for too long as well. This is what hampers progress.

    That's my belief about categorizing things that we know and don't know. I believe this irrelevant of whether things are "scientific" or "religious". However, I believe that science is much better at requiring proof for something's existence before it is believed, as well as changing when new proof disprooves the old concept. Religion as it is today does not do this, although I believe religion is capable of doing it.

    Finally, a completely tangent and minor point that just gets under my skin. Morality does not come from religion. Morality comes from society and its need to establish behavior patterns in its constituents so that the greater good is maintained. Religion just inherited these values, and in some cases strengthened them. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that back in 5000 BC humans living in a small community understand that it was not acceptable for them to steal their neighbor's work animals or to attempt to sleep with their neighbor's wife. But then again I could be wrong.

    Exactly the crux of the matter (4.33 / 6) (#110)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:35:06 PM EST

    I think you're right on the money. The reason the articles in Wired bugged me was precisely what you touched on here, namely that saying "I don't know" is part of science, but that should not be (and is not) an invitation for theologians to come over and invent something. That's such a crucial understanding! It seems obvious, yet I feel now more than ever that it really represents a huge paradigm shift for our culture. Perhaps it's the last great hurdle for the rational society. (Personally I suspect there are many more hurdles behind it).

    Your comments on morality are of course correct. To suggest that the wrongness of murder is not apparent to those unfamiliar with the ten commandments is silly. And where's the commandment against slavery? The bible actually endorses it, but most of us today realize that it is very wrong. Morality must have a basis in making life livable and happy as possible for the society. Where you go from there is up to you and your local ethicist.

    -Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    learn before you speak (1.57 / 7) (#134)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:39:20 PM EST

    Let me paraphrase you: "blablabla, logic is king. blablabla, Biblical falacy, blablabla, incoehere argument."

    Perhaps it's the last great hurdle for the rational society.
    Logic cannot prove everything. It gets you decision calculuses like Hiroshima. Rationality will not bring about your Utopia.

    Your comments on morality are of course correct. To suggest that the wrongness of murder is not apparent to those unfamiliar with the ten commandments is silly.
    Kant covers this very well (as does the Bible). We know that murder is wrong because the laws of God have been planted inside us.

    And where's the commandment against slavery? The bible actually endorses it, but most of us today realize that it is very wrong.
    No, the Bible puts limits on slavery. Just like the Bible doesn't endorse divorce. God allows divoce because "our hearts are hard." Many of the Levitacal laws where there to put upper limits on current human practices, not to endorse the act.

    Morality must have a basis in making life livable and happy as possible for the society.
    Why? That seems quite arbitraty.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Religion and Logic (3.50 / 4) (#142)
    by The Solitaire on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:09:19 PM EST

    Logic cannot prove everything. It gets you decision calculuses like Hiroshima. Rationality will not bring about your Utopia.
    Saying this is exactly like an atheist saying "Religion gets you events like the crusades and 9/11". This is a gross oversimplification. Plus, I'd like to see some evidence that those that participated in Hiroshima were not religious.

    And as far as the "logic cannot prove everything" bit, it's obvious that you don't have a clue what you're talking about. Science isn't bound nearly as tightly to (formal) logic as one might have you believe, first of all. Second, I have yet to see anyone produce any credible argument for this claim. Care to present some?

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    read more and you will know (2.66 / 3) (#216)
    by jjayson on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:49:41 PM EST

    Saying this is exactly like an atheist saying "Religion gets you events like the crusades and 9/11". This is a gross oversimplification. Plus, I'd like to see some evidence that those that participated in Hiroshima were not religious.
    I didn't make that claim. People are going to be bad regardless. Religion will not bring about the Utopian society in this life, either. My claim was that moving toward this society of logic and reasoning doesn't mean people will act more ethical.

    And as far as the "logic cannot prove everything" bit, it's obvious that you don't have a clue what you're talking about. Science isn't bound nearly as tightly to (formal) logic as one might have you believe, first of all. Second, I have yet to see anyone produce any credible argument for this claim. Care to present some?
    You are saying that I have no clue what I am talking about when you don't even know that both Godel and Turing proved this independantly?! Go look for Godel's Incompleteness Theorem.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Goedel and Turing (3.66 / 3) (#234)
    by The Solitaire on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:16:58 AM EST

    I'm very familiar with the work of both Godel and Turing (btw, you left out Alonzo Church, creator of the lambda calculus). What Godel actually proved was that any formal system (powerful enough to represent the natural numbers) must be either unsound or incomplete. That is not the same thing as "logic can't prove everything" - actually, an unsound logic can do this just fine. Now, maybe we don't want to work with an unsound logic - but its going to take a hell of a lot more work to show that something like "faith" should fill the gap. (As an aside, I think that there may in fact be a lot of very useful unsound logics out there...)

    The other thing is that science has precious little to do with formal logic. In reality, human rationality is quite unsound - we tolerate all kinds of contradictions. Whether it is complete or not is open to speculation. Perhaps when you stated "logic can't prove everything" you were talking about formal logic - well, in that case you're wrong, since a whole slew of unsound logics will do the trick. However, if you weren't then you've still got a whole lot more evidence to present. And there is no way it'll be as easy a job as Godel's was (not to say that he had it easy or anything).

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    contradiction (3.00 / 3) (#247)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:08:52 AM EST

    Allowing contradiction does get you out of the bind, but then people say you are contradicting yourself as a bad thing. When a human reasons with unsound logic they are laughed at. I can't even believe that you have now flipped it and said that contradiction is permissable, given the fact that they originial comment was talking about moral contradiction.

    You claim that science doesn't follow formal logic is laughable.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    contradiction (3.00 / 2) (#280)
    by Mr Dyqik on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:21:07 AM EST

    I'd say that science at best followed a fuzzy logic.

    You may argue that this is defined within a formal logic, but it isn't the standard mathematical formal logic.

    Witness the debate between the Steady State and Big Bang theories.  Both were believed (not by the same people) at the same time, and as more evidence has come in, it is generally accepted that the Big Bang theory (plus inflation etc.) is the most probable, given the data.  This decision is mainly made on the back of Occam's razor, as the Steady State theory has been extended to include the CMB etc.  Another example is given by the many interpretations of quantum theory.

    I personally don't think science is completely at odds with religious thought, although it is at odds with religious orthodoxy (c.f. Iranian academic sentenced to death for saying that people should think for themselves)

    [ Parent ]

    That is not contradiction (none / 0) (#333)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:16:33 PM EST

    Two groups of people believing different ideas is not contradiction in the body of science. It is inconclusiveness. When contradiction arrises something is assumed to be wrong and something has to fall. For example, nobody would assume a Steady State and Big Bang theory at the same time without reconciling the contradictions.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    That was my intended point (none / 0) (#463)
    by Mr Dyqik on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:09:04 AM EST

    given that a scientific theory cannot be proved in the same way as a mathematical theorem, then it is always possible to come up with an alternative explanation that fits the data.  That explanation may well involve all of the hallmarks of a religion, and if it makes testable predictions, then it is also science.

    I think that it is possible to discuss religion within science, and only fundamentalists think that it isn't possible to discuss science within a religion.

    Hmm.  I've forgotten the original topic now.

    [ Parent ]

    This irrelevant (none / 0) (#503)
    by jjayson on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:48:19 PM EST

    The Solitaire said that science was not bound tightly to formal logic and that contradiction was permissable and accepted in science. I said he has lost his marbles. You said something that seems to beg the topic.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    And now to put it a better way (none / 0) (#465)
    by Mr Dyqik on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:15:19 AM EST

    All accepted scientific theories are merely the simplest or most likely explantion given the data.  In determining scientific "truth", Bayes theorem is king, handily including Occam's razor directly.  

    I think there is scope for confusion between science and a theory here.  To calculate within a theory you assume that theory, and others, are correct, but at the end of the day, science is the process for testing that theory.

    [ Parent ]

    think before you speak (3.66 / 3) (#144)
    by Happy Monkey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:14:24 PM EST

    Let me paraphrase you: "blablabla, logic is king. blablabla, Biblical falacy, blablabla, incoehere argument."

    whee!

    Kant covers this very well (as does the Bible). We know that murder is wrong because the laws of God have been planted inside us.

    Then the Ten Commandments and the Bible contain addenda to the implanted laws?
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    So (3.00 / 2) (#266)
    by fhotg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:16:16 AM EST

    No, the Bible puts limits on slavery

    Is then a certain amount of slavery ethically correct for the moden Christian ?

    Or is there some sort of ethics update for "upper limits" valid for biblical times ?
    ~~~
    Gitarren fьr die Mдdchen -- Champagner fьr die Jungs

    [ Parent ]

    Leviticus was for the Levites (3.66 / 3) (#285)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:26:00 AM EST

    Couple of things, first, Leviticus was written for the Levites specifically, it is addressed to them and regards their actions. Go discuss it with some biblical scholars.
    Secondly if the "Laws of God" were implanted in our hearts at birth then little kids wouldn't be such vicious, evil, little shits, would they? Evil is the natural state of humanity (Well, selfishness to the point of being regarded as evil by everyone else) and civilized polite behaviour is learned.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    yes, so? (none / 0) (#331)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:13:24 PM EST

    first, Leviticus was written for the Levites specifically, it is addressed to them and regards their actions. Go discuss it with some biblical scholars.
    The poster was referring to the section of Leviticus where it gives laws for slavery. Regardless of who is was written to, the points that many of the laws in the Pentateuch were upper limits on behaviour, such as "an eye for an eye." They were not intenteded to form approval. The original poster wan not concerned with the audience of the laws. Telling him who was the audience would not have responded to his argument properly.

    Secondly if the "Laws of God" were implanted in our hearts at birth then little kids wouldn't be such vicious, evil, little shits, would they? Evil is the natural state of humanity (Well, selfishness to the point of being regarded as evil by everyone else) and civilized polite behaviour is learned.
    This was Kant's philosophy and also reinforced in the Bible (I can find the verse if you want). Our spirit knows what is good, but our body is too often in control. We fight this struggle between the two. Watchman Nee, a notable scholar, has written a series of books entitled The Spiritual Man where he coves this same topic.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Remorse (none / 0) (#334)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:16:38 PM EST

    If that were true, then wouldn't children show remorse after performing an action that was "obviously" immoral? I've never witnessed that behavior. And all of the studies I've had access to (Child psychology text boot which I don't have handy right now) have claimed just the opposite. Children show no remorse after perfoming a "wrong" deed unless they were previously taught that the deed was wrong. There is no inherited value of right and wrong within humanity. It is learned.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    Testing theology (none / 0) (#466)
    by Mr Dyqik on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:20:19 AM EST

    I have no trouble with theologians coming over and proposing a new theory in an attempt to fill a gap within currently accepted theories, as long as they are quite prepared to have their theories tested, and/or ignored by scientists if they don't make any testable predictions to distingiush them from a non-religious theory (should such a thing exist).

    In other words, if they want to do science, then the scientific method should be followed.

    [ Parent ]

    Home court advantage (3.66 / 6) (#153)
    by Wah on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:32:43 PM EST

    However, I believe that science is much better at requiring proof for something's existence before it is believed, as well as changing when new proof disprooves the old concept. Religion as it is today does not do this, although I believe religion is capable of doing it.

    It is part of science's definition to require proof before some part of it is believed.   Religion does not focus on this provability to be believed and often uses it's power to cover those areas that cannot be proved one way or another.   Religion as a whole concept (from animism to Catholic Archbishops) can certainly change, although I don't know how much individual religions can change without alienating the faithful.

    A quick example of this from my own experience.  In the Mormon church it used to be "wrong" for people of color to hold what is called the "priesthood".  The explanation for this racism was based on the idea that Cain was marked by dark skin and all his descendants must bear the burden of his sin through their skin.  This was changed through "ongoing revelation" in 1978.  

    Now, this could be seen as a small change in the overall doctine of a single religion.  It most certainly seems to be brought about by social pressure (and perhaps the stunning revalation that at 700 million possible tithe payers are black) but it is definitely a move in a positive direction. Which is to say, toward God.  And since that seems to be the whole point of most religions, this small bit of evidence would seem to say that they can be improved over time.

    And many religion are capable of doing things like this.  They are not, however, capable of making much larger fundamental changes and staying the same religion.  One must also concede that new religions can incorporate other changes.  Thus allowing the entire concept of religion to adjust and adapt to new discoveries and understandings.  There is also evidence for this on a larger scale, as one looks at the evolution of religion throughout the ages.

    Science can do this to, and major changes in the understanding of the world have happened in most of our lifetimes.   But while this is a basic precept of science, it is often very difficult for scientists to simply put aside a model they've been using for their entire lives and start anew.  There's a great quote from Max Planck about this phenomenon, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents, but rather because its opponents die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Although I'm not sure if it's somewhat tongue-in-cheek or not, I think this ability of science to adapt more quickly has been a large part of its growth as a system for building a useful worldview over the last few centuries.

    So my point would be two-fold.  The first fold is that science and religion usually answer different questions.  Religion shoots for all of them and science limits itself to ones it can speak upon with some physical proof.  This gives religion an advantage in that it doesn't ever have to say, "I can't answer that question."  Many people like to know, regardless of whether they could logically or rationally express that knowledge to another person.  It resolves the question, and that is enough for many people (especaily when they have to get back to work and don't have the time to ponder these things endlessly).

    The second fold is that religion is very against the idea of skepticism in regards to the religion, while science is built upon this foundation.   This allows science to change and stay the same as a general body of knowledge.  Religion cannot adapt as quickly, since it usually requires some sort of divine intervention to make major leaps.  And since many popular religions don't think divine intervention happens all that often any more, it a very slow creeping progress, but it quite obviously happens.

    Religion has a great advantage over science largely because of the "skepticism bias."  Religion answers, directly and to the point, impossible questions.  The degree to which one agrees with those answers is often the degree to which one is considered religious.  When you have a simple, straightforward answer to an impossible question, you have a very powerful meme.   Which is a long way of saying, believing in science is hard as one always fights against that belief.  Belief in religion is easy, since you have to believe for it to be a religion.

    BTW, this is also generally why "science" isn't really a worldview at all and why many scientists are religious.  There are still gaps, and gaps don't make very good religion, especially when one of those gaps is a total rejection of addressing the "Why?" of so many of the facts that science produces.  And when a scientist does cross that "Why?" threshhold, she is quite likely to be attacked by her peers for "not practicing science."
    --
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
    [ Parent ]

    Great Point (3.00 / 2) (#155)
    by CENGEL3 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:41:59 PM EST

    I think you really hit the nail right on the head with that.

    Unfortunately I think science can be as guilty of dismissing "I don't know" as a valid response as religion does.

    I didn't read the book the author is commenting on, but I have witnessed almost as much "scientific arrogance" as I have "religous narrow mindedness".

    It's one thing to state "I can't proove this, evidence would suggest that it is improbable therefore I won't consider it as part of what I view as reality."  It's another thing to state "I can't proove this therefore it cannot exist."

    I've seen far too much of the later from people who would describe themselves as good scientists.

    I've also seen scientists put far too much "faith" in the infallibility of currently accepted scientific beliefs. Remember science is also just another human construct. Just because we BELIEVE we know how something works and BELIEVE we have the correct explanation for why it works that way doesn't mean we can't be mistaken .... either as to the explanation of why something works...or about the accuracy of our observations in descrbing that something in the first place.

    History has proven time and again that science is fallible. Yet science as an institution seems riddled with overconfidence about the accuracy of it's currently accepted beliefs.

    [ Parent ]

    examples (none / 0) (#186)
    by JetJaguar on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:42:19 PM EST

    It's another thing to state "I can't prove this therefore it cannot exist."

    I'm not doubting you here, but I am curious about the circumstances under which this sort of statement would be made. I know a lot of scientists, and it really is a very rare case to hear someone say something like that. More often than not it is people being misquoted or misunderstood when statements like this get out.

    But again, it depends on the subject and circumstances, and that is what I am curious about.

    [ Parent ]

    Origins of morality (2.83 / 6) (#170)
    by Roman on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:17:54 PM EST

    There is a science named ethology, it studies the patterns of human behaviour and tries to provide answers to some basic questions like - the reasons behind having two distinct sexes, positioning of individuals within a group based on genetic and visible ranks and other.
    They would say that morality is measured by willingness to kill a representative of your own species. Two snakes fighting each other will try to stand taller against each other on their tales and they are not afraid to turn the backs of their heads to each other even though it could be deadly - in this sence the snakes are very moral. The fight ends when one snake losing some height, so the other snake is much taller. The loser goes away - the incident is not deadly. Of-course if pressed to survive the snakes could kill each other but normally they would not kill one of their species. They have high morals due to their strength. If they did not do this, their species could be destroyed. The humans do not have good defence mechanisms. We are not very strong or fast, we cannot fly and we do not have huge strong teeth and claws. We develop weapons of mass destruction and kill our own species without even being endangered, so our morals are quite low.
    Ethology also defines notion of rank. We are not born equal. Some of us have higher rank than the others and rank is either genetic or visual. If one does not have high genetic rank he still may be able to achieve a high visual rank. People with low genetic rank really cannot go against the high-ranked ones - it is simply dangerous. But those who achieve high visual rank, often enough come from lower levels of rank. These people used to be repressed by the higher ranked ones. Rank manipulation can be of different kinds, if you make lots of money your visual rank may go up for example, or if you try to look bigger in everyone's eyes through body building. Acquiring a high visual rank does not mean that the genetics of this individual have changed. In his mind he is still a low ranked creature. How can he impress everybody to think that he is high rank so that they listen to him? Religion became an irreplacible tool that provides such means. Religion tries to embed higher morals into creatures that originally did not have such standards. The rules set up by religion are a substitute for the basic instincts of other animals. Religion assumes a creature whose rank is so high it can never be questioned and/or challenged and the ones who try to challenge it will definetely be punished by this highly ranked creature. In fact the religios fanatics are absolutely correct - by creating a creature that is so powerful that the rest of us have to fear it so much, we gave ourselves the ultimate weapon - the fear of eternal punishment, and this weapon is used to ensure higher standards, morals within the primitive society.
    So religion is a tool for the weak to rule the crowd. The notion of 'greater good' is just a side-effect from the notion of self-preservation of the weak.

    [ Parent ]
    You sir, are an idiot. (5.00 / 3) (#435)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 01:31:16 AM EST

    And a fascist, to boot. Your absolutely moronic definition of ethology would lead me to give this branch of thought no more credence than phrenology.

    I am, fortunately, more intelligent than that.

    You have made no distinction between animal ethology and human ethology, lumping it all into the same category so you can have a prettier strawman to burn. Nor have you brought up the inherent link between various sociological/ psychological fields and ethology (arguably the bastard offspring of both) in general. You really can't explain or be a scholar in one without the others.

    Furthermore, your crass simplification of the ethologist's definition of "rank" is an insult to the more serious acadamecians in the field. No respected human ethologist would even begin to suspect that rank had anything but the most minor of roles to play in the origins of morality or religion in relation to the human condition.

    Go back to your sandbox, junior, and don't bother trying to parlay your pseudo-science gibberings here. While it might work for the high school crowd, I can assure you that a higher class of intellectuals roam the halls here.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Mr. Dirty Liberal Scumbag (2.66 / 3) (#478)
    by Roman on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 11:53:45 AM EST

    Since I am not a scholar only a listener in this field I am entitled to my own opinions as well as my own interpretations.
    So, fuck off you, wanker.

    [ Parent ]
    Ahem. (5.00 / 3) (#562)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:12:29 AM EST

    I completely agree that you are entitled to your own opinons and interpretations of Ethology to share freely on a public forum.

    However, when those opinions and interpretations are not well thought out, expect someone else here to call you on your bluff, junior.

    Furthermore, when those opinions and interpretations are outright mis-fucking-representations of an entire branch of scientific thought, and almost outright insulting to those that would take said branch quite seriously, expect to get belittled. Horribly, horribly belittled. Especially when you have the nerve to rattle off these "opinions" as either facts or the general theory held by ethologists (using "they," for example, or never once mentioning that these are your interpretations, and solely your interpretations - semantics are important, son). I mean, Jesus Christ on a shiny pole, you didn't even provide some semblance of evidence!

    Adequacy used to have a little quote at the bottom of their submission page that read "Writing is not a substitute for critical thought. Think before you type," or something to that measure. I would advise heeding that statement well. Don't expect to get away with bullshit and not have it flung back in your face.

    You're still an idiot. Or perhaps young. Either way, learn the rules of intelligent discourse, junior. It will serve you well, believe me.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    You're still a wanker (2.33 / 3) (#582)
    by Roman on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:46:08 PM EST

    No matter how patternizing you want to sound, no matter how old I am no matter what I wrote no matter if you know anything about ethology (but you obviously do not, since you are a lower ranked scum bag) you still are a wanker!
    You are trolling and I know it, since you have not given any evidence to otherwise, I assume (and so should everyone else) that you are trolling. BTW. if you believe you are older and smarter than I, send me a note with your name and address and I will personally come to you and pay you to teach me to be better and wiser.

    [ Parent ]
    patternizing!:) (5.00 / 1) (#583)
    by Roman on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:47:45 PM EST

    Patronizing, I meant patronizing of-course

    [ Parent ]
    Of course I'm a wanker. (4.50 / 2) (#608)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 05:46:28 PM EST

    I am, quite obviously, whatever you wish me to be to excuse your own inadequacy. I would have thought that would have been pretty clear by now.

    But "trolling?" How am I trolling? Because I pointed out the fallacies of your arguments and (correctly) called you an idiot because of it? No, that's not trolling my friend. It's called "putting that pimply adolescent in his place." I (well, almost) never troll. If there is anything I am guilty of, it is of being redundant, as your atrocious grammar is doing a much better job than I ever could of pointing out exactly how juvenile you actually are.

    Look junior, let's use logic here for a minute - if I didn't know anything about Ethology, would I have commented on it, after berating you for the same? Furthermore, if I knew nothing about the subject, would I care to point out the link between ethology, sociology, and psychology, or the differences between human and animal ethology (which you obviously do not understand)? Of course I wouldn't. Think before you write, son, and just consider these free lessons on basic rational discourse.

    Nevertheless, your offer intrigues me. My tutoring services don't come cheaply, especially when I have to deal with such a... "special" student. However, as your parents obviously can't afford a decent education for you, I'm afraid that my prices would be above your family's spending range. If I could be so humble as to recommend an alternative?
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    I will pay of-course (2.33 / 3) (#614)
    by Roman on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 06:55:16 PM EST

    To receive the privilege of your precious time I will pay. As to my adolescense and me being more juniour than you, well there you are again, concluding on something without having any facts. Just like in your pretentious postings where you site every word of your vocabulary - ethology, sociology, psychology, the meanings of which have completely escaped you.

    Your inadequate attempts to logic statements baffle me. You mention sociology on one hand and on the other you use the fact that you mentioned it while trying to prove that you know something, anything at all about a seperate field of study? Your poor attempts to belittle me by addressing me as 'son' :) I guess it is just too catchy, I used it for a while, I am over that one now. By this (and using your definition of a logical implication) I conclude that you are a wanker and a person who is actually below me in his mental development. You have a long way to go before your puny attempts to undermine myself in my own eyes even start to attract my attention.

    As to grammatical errors that I make, well noone is perfect. I am happy enough to be able to use this language the way I do right now, you know, after learning your seventh language the strain starts showing. I constantly use French idioms while speaking German, and I think it affects my English (my fourth language) in some strange way. Also reading and posting on /. for the past 4 years did not help.

    So, mr Dirty Little Scumbag, or whatever it is you call yourself - be gone or comply with my request; and don't worry about the funds, I can raise sufficient amount in a millisecond (or whatever it takes to do a simple click of a mouse.)



    Completely despising you,
    but eternally yours,

    I.

    PS.: Nice troll though, nice troll. You need to work on gathering facts before your post, it is to easy to take your arguments apart one by one. Then again, this is the Internet, who needs facts

    [ Parent ]
    Whoa ho ho! A slashdotter! (4.00 / 4) (#630)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 09:00:38 PM EST

    So you are 16! And I was just being facetious and somewhat patternizing... er, patronizing at first. Tell me, how's puberty going, son? I understand that it's a particularly trying time for kids suffering from your condition. Let me tell you something, champ - that funny feeling you get in your pants whenever a pretty girl walks by? It's called an erection. It's perfectly normal.

    I must take you to task about one thing, though. Can your linguistic kung-fu possibly compare to mine? I am an acknowledged scholar in over several dozen languages, and the world's only fluent speaker of ancient Sumerian. Furthermore, I have single-handedly saved the world from a dastardly alien invasion, directed several award-winning films, and came up with a way to contain and control a fusion reaction.

    I can also make a mean egg salad sandwich. Get the point I'm trying to make here?

    But I digress. It's funny how children tend to toss out facts that are inconvenient in order to prove whatever tenuous point they might be trying to make. At the very least, you seem to have acknowledged that there is indeed a significant difference between human ethology and animal ethology. As such, can we (finally) conclude that your original thesis was incorrect, and just plain stupid?

    And your continued ignorance of the inherent relationship between sociology, psychology, and ethology continues to astound me. Even the most casual glance through a common dictionary (or Google) would confirm that you cannot study one field without inevitably running afoul of the other. On the other hand, this would require a bit of thinking on your part, and I am now utterly convinced that this is something that you are not capable of. Let's make a deal - ask me nicely, and I'll tell you outright of the connection between these various fields, alright champ?

    You know, as much as I am enjoying this, I really should stop. I hear it's in bad taste to continue to mock and ridicule kids suffering from Down Syndrome. I'm probably going to hell for this one.

    Heh. I have to thank you, junior. I'm not missing Adequacy nearly as much as I used to. It's good to know that there's a degree of abject stupidity here that I can mock relentlessly.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Rules of engagement (1.00 / 1) (#661)
    by Roman on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 12:29:05 PM EST

    So, here we are - I, feeding your ridiculous trolls and you, the one who cannot seem to know when to give up producing them. I guess you know the rules of engagement:

    Look around you, you will without any doubt hear someone having a conversation - this is your chance of trolling, isn't this the only reason you hang-out around any forums?
    • In an argument never try to win by presenting facts.
    • Right away make sure to make the argument more personal by instantly insulting the other party.
    • Do not forget to undermine the opponent's position by introducing such convincing techniques as patronization, name calling, don't forget to call the opponent an idiot or a moron, it makes the argument so much stronger and again does not require any factual prove of anything.
    • The main point is to win the audience by producing a number of convincingly sounding paragraphs that have the minimum number of words that seem to have something to do with the argument's subject and display the undeniable depth of your body of knowledge. Of-course the paragraphs themselves do not actually have to make any sense at all, as long as they sound like something that cannot be argued by a layman (on the other hand none of your points will stand to a professional, but this is not what winning an argument is all about.)
    • It is unfortunate if the language you use does not distinguish between formal pronouns that allow a polite conversation and informal pronouns that are normally used among friends and relatives or used by superiors to talk down to their inferiors. If you were speaking Russian, French or German for example you could use this to your advantage. In English as early as the thirteenth century, "you" was used as a singular pronoun of address denoting respect, one analogous to the French "vous". Today noone uses "thou" any longer, but wouldn't it be nice to use it? From the beginning the conversation could easily take a form where your dominance could be established by such simple twist of speach. -Acknowledge what thou art, a wretch, a worm, a nothing.
    • Among others, one more thing, do not forget to mention close relatives of the opponent into the argument. Remind him of his origins (son of a bitch,) or be more specific (your mama.)
    • The last but not least - the 'f' word. This works well in combination with other meaningful parts of the speech but should be used as the last resource. At the point when nothing else seems to do it just right, a simple phrase, something like 'mind your own f..ng business', could be a life-saver. Of-course, English not being a language rich enough for such expressions, switch to some other language that is naturally more suited for carrying out conversations in this manner (пидорас недоебаный, отсоси самый кончик, сука блядская, залупа пиздоносная хуедолбоебанная, сученок недоношенный, умственно-отсталый говноед.) use Cyrillic KOI8-R

    So, now, that we both are clear on the rules of engagement (I only had a small part to play in this, I only was inferring what was clearly comming out of your comments,) let's rock.

    [ Parent ]

    actually use Cyrillic (Windows) (none / 0) (#665)
    by Roman on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 01:55:03 PM EST

    пидорас недоебаный, отсоси самый кончик, сука блядская, залупа пиздоносная хуедолбоебанная, сученок недоношенный, умственно-отсталый говноед.) actually use Cyrillic (Windows)

    [ Parent ]
    This thread has gone on long enough... (5.00 / 2) (#682)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 01:10:18 AM EST

    ...and my amusement has no longer exceeded my feelings of guilt. I was hoping for a somewhat more conclusive answer as to the dilemma I was having, but a majority in a 14 vote poll in a community of 35,000 does not give me enough justification to continue this any longer. But before I end this, a few cogent points to make:

    1. This was never an argument. This was flame bait with a bit of honest criticism mixed in. If you want to persist in calling this an argument, then I won in my first reply, since you have not as of yet satisfactorily refuted the claims that I made in my first post. If you believe that I have not shown enough evidence, than I point you to this response. Of particular note is the 3rd paragraph.

    2. The point of an argument is never to "win," since there's a slim chance that you'll change the opposing party's viewpoint. It's for two parties to share their opposing viewpoints, and maybe leave a little bit more knowledgeable (ergo this was not an argument). To the audience, it is about expanding the amount of information available on whatever particular topic the debate happens to be about. I am reminded of a particular quote that seems quite apropos: "Winning an argument on the internet is like winning in the Special Olympics - either way you're still retarded."

    3. I can assure you that any points that I have made would stand quite well under professional criticism, since they do not require one to be a professional to understand them. I'm telling you, once I finish explaining them to you, you're going to slap yourself silly over how amazingly simple they are.

    4. I don't remember insulting your family or telling you to fuck off. I believe that this confirms the suspicions that I have had that you have actually been arguing with someone else throughout this thread. I admit to insulting you regularly. But dude, you were asking for it. I mean, really.

    With that out of the way, I'll explain why your original thesis was incorrect. For the record (since I did not mention this before) I have received my BA in sociology from UC Berkeley, and am in my third year of the MA/PhD program in U. of Chicago.

    To begin with, the concept of "rank" plays only the most insignificant of roles in modern human ethology, while one can argue that the entire science of animal ethology is almost based off of this concept alone. When the science was young (er... younger) ethologists tried to apply the notion of rank (genetic and visual) to various societies, and found that it failed miserably, as it did not take into account cultural and generational differences, along with the freedom from genetic constraints (for lack of a better phrase) that being a sentient human being allowed. The notion of visual rank, however, still plays a somewhat larger role in human ethology. This is a topic that commonly crosses over with sociology and psychology, as to fully explain the notion of visual rank, one must be familiar with what ranks are prominent and how they got to be prominent in any given culture (sociology) and one must understand why these ranks are so attractive in the first place (again sociology, and psychology to a lesser extent).

    But I digress. To get back on topic, religion (and by extension, God(s)) were not invented to impress morality on the culture. The earliest gods and religions were created to explain natural phenomena. However, mankind has always been embedded with morals, reaching back even before the rise of homo-sapiens. Although it is near impossible to pinpoint when man was actively separated from his instincts, most anthropologists and paleontologists will agree that mankind did indeed have a crude moral code before the rise of any widespread religion. It was only 'til recently (comparatively) that morals were embedded into the structure of any given religion. But it was not for the "weak to rule the crowd," for the "fear of eternal punishment" was actually only made prominent by the rise of Christianity. It is my observation that popular religions, being a philosophy of life in and of itself, adopted various moral codes as a reflection of its continued growth and importance in society, as both an institution of critical thought and a general source of leadership. If anything, it was to promote the general health of the community and attached society, not as a "notion of self-preservation for the weak" nor as a "tool for the weak to rule the crowd."

    Also, I refer you to these common definitions of psychology, ethology, and sociology. Do you see the connection? All three fields deal with human behaviour. When an ethologist deals with the ethos of a group, he crosses into areas more commonly studied by sociologists, with a lot of research and observations that are interchangeable. When an ethologist deals with the ethos of a particular individual, he crosses into the field of psychology, with once again, a lot of interchangeable research and connections. Simple, right? Like I said, one doesn't need to be a scholar in any of these fields, more than one does need to know what they are about and be able to make some fairly rudimentary connections. Don't you feel like kicking yourself in the head now?

    Hmm. Looking back, while I realized that your original thesis was faulty, until I started dissecting it piece by piece, I didn't see just how indefensible it was. I hope you see why, if you were just a little more knowledgeable about ethology, my first post in this thread was more than enough to refute you.

    Anyway, the point is, don't make assumptions like they were facts. These are your observations, and nobody else's. Semantics are deathly important, friend, and like I've stated before, anyone that had a significant amount of knowledge about ethology would have been infuriated by your crass theories. Secondly, if you're going to toss out a theory based on a specific field of study that you know almost nothing about, please state that you know almost nothing about it before the fact. Misleading people is not nice, especially when you use a presumptuous title like the "Origins of Morality." And finally, learn to take an insult like a man, instead of whining, bitching, and just generally focusing on them instead of the topic at hand. There was no reason why we couldn't argue reasonably while tossing barbs back and forth. This is not a formal debate forum. Trading jibes is a good way to keep the resident peanut gallery here entertained. I mean, wasn't this post just fucking dry and uninteresting?

    I do hope that you understand why I kept on calling you "junior." The poor research, the presumptuousness to assume that you were correct (in a field you admitted you were only an observer to!), your refusal to argue with me on my terms, your pathetic attempts to buoy your self confidence ("I can speak seven languages!" Do I look like I'd be impressed or give a fuck? It would have been more than adequate to just say "English is my second language. I'm French," and you wouldn't have looked like such a tosser in the process.), the overwhelmingly arrogant thesis itself - it all smacked of the mindset of a high school intellectual, at best. Don't take it personally.

    Well, it's been entertaining, and I have to say thanks, friend. Just remember, the entire internet is at your disposal here! Research your topics well and be prepared to support them before posting them on a public discussion forum, or you'll find yourself quickly cut down.

    Cheers
    DLS
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Loop... invariants... Next (1.00 / 1) (#685)
    by Roman on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 03:49:58 AM EST

    I understand that it is absolutely necessary for you to have a diary entry like this one in order to collect support of the lower ranked creatures who, no doubt, cannot even begin to understand what a logic argument is. Your laughable attempts to show that you won some sort of an argument in your first reply only indicate one thing - you are a stranger in the field of logic, which is supported by your own claim - BA in sociology with an attempt to a PhD, great, why am I not surprised. You see, I am long done with my BS in computer science (UofToronto.)

    Nowhere in your first post do you actually prove anything. You only mentioned that I am a fascist (Poisonning the Well fallacy,) you said that you were more intelligent and that is supposed to make your arguments right (Appeal to Authority fallacy,) 'Go back to your sandbox, junior', 'bother trying to parlay your pseudo-science gibberings here' (Ad Hominem fallacy, Appeal to Ridicule fallacy), 'While it might work for the high school crowd, I can assure you that a higher class of intellectuals roam the halls here' (Appeal to Flattery fallacy (I guess the real reasons behind your arguments is winning the approval of the crowd, you don't really care about the argument per-se,)) 'Furthermore, your crass simplification of the ethologist's definition of "rank" is an insult to the more serious acadamecians in the field. No respected human ethologist would even begin to suspect that rank had anything but the most minor of roles to play in the origins of morality or religion in relation to the human condition. ' - (Appeal to Authority fallacy).

    In fact, the only sentence in your entire post that did not contain an instantly notable fallacy was this: 'You have made no distinction between animal ethology and human ethology, lumping it all into the same category so you can have a prettier strawman to burn.' - but this statement definetely does not constitute any sort of proof, it is a comment more than anything.
    Judging by the number of fallacies presented in your first post, how can you possibly assert that you have won anything in your first reply? I believe that you have not shown anything of any value except for flaming value, of which there is plenty. You pointed me to the third paragraph of this post, well here it is: 'Agreed. You are neither old enough nor academic enough to understand the subtlety of my arguments, as you fail to see where I actually dispute any of Roman's claims. ' - what is that, is that a proof of some sort? Thank god I had to produce enough different types of mathematical proofs in my life, none of them looked like your third paragraph.

    'I don't remember insulting your family or telling you to fuck off. I believe that this confirms the suspicions that I have had that you have actually been arguing with someone else throughout this thread. I admit to insulting you regularly. But dude, you were asking for it. I mean, really.'- you are mistaken as to the origin of these rules of engagement. Under conditions of our conversation these were the next logical steps, one would expect these to follow. By posting them I might have changed the next steps you could have taken. Some rules can be bent, others can be broken (Matrix.)

    Misleading people would be wrong but reposting your own comment more than once under the same article under different threads is redundant, a simple link to it would suffice. Do you assume everyone around you own pompous person is a cretin who cannot figure out the name of a comment poster?

    My first language is Russian of-course, not French.

    After your first post no other arguments of yours mattered, so this: 'I do hope that you understand why I kept on calling you "junior." The poor research, the presumptuousness to assume that you were correct (in a field you admitted you were only an observer to!), your refusal to argue with me on my terms' is totally irrelevant.

    Your latest statements: "To begin with, the concept of "rank" plays only the most insignificant of roles in modern human ethology, while one can argue that the entire science of animal ethology is almost based off of this concept alone. When the science was young (er... younger) ethologists tried to apply the notion of rank (genetic and visual) to various societies, and found that it failed miserably" - are irrelevant as well, since it is nothing more than an empty statement, no more supported by facts than my first post. You may be right you may be wrong, your own comments about being a high school intellectual do not mean much on the internet. Didn't you say - 'still a retard'?

    [ Parent ]

    Dude, I'm done flame-baiting you. (5.00 / 1) (#686)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 05:26:46 AM EST

    I thought I made that pretty clear. After my first two responses I was just insulting you out of boredom and amusement.

    So just a few cogent points:

    1. Quotes generally do not count as paragraphs. You are quoting the 2nd paragraph, not the third.

    2. This is not a logic argument. Repeat, this is not a logic argument. I have no idea what led you to believe as such.

    3. Your continual incorrect usage of rank is insulting. Genetic rank means nothing in the civilized world, and anyone who believes it does is... well... a fascist.

    4. I like how I can tell how much time you spend with a post according to your grammar. Your previous one was much better. Please re-edit and re-submit.

    5. Russian is your first language but you continue to use French idioms when you speak. Interesting.

    6. If I was to continue this charade, I would have insulted your nationality, which I have decided is French. Whether you are or not is irrelevant to me.

    7. Why do you continue to take this so personally? It's not like we know each other. C'mon! Learn to take an insult like a man!

    8. Still waiting for you to refute any of the points I have made not concerning your own person or worth. This is worthless as long as you continue to insult my debating style (which, as I've already admitted, was just flame-baiting you).

    9. You're taking this awful seriously. Lighten up before you suffer a stroke or something.

    Back to my paper I go. Thanks for the giggles though.

    Cheers
    DLS
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Point form (none / 0) (#691)
    by Roman on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 01:46:05 PM EST

    Since this thread is still going on, you are obviously not done yet.

    How do you define your paragraphs? You are using double breaks between so many statements and not a single paragraph tag, be clear on what you type others may understand you better.

    If an argument is not a logic argument, then you cannot claim any victory by producing any statement, since only logical statements can be refuted. Any arguments based on intuition, for example, require empirical observations and construction of a theory that produces repeatable and testable results.

    You are insulted by my usage of rank? Well I am sorry you feel that way. However produce a testable theory that proves otherwise or continue been insulted, since I believe that even education is nothing more than advancement in rank - visible rank that is. Labeling someone a fascist will not help your argument because it is a fallacy and an insult.

    You don't like my grammar again? Tough, why are you such a grammar fascist? (in this case fascist is used as a metaphor, so it does not constitute either fallacy nor insult I believe.) If you only talk to people whose grammar is always perfect then why are you wasting your time with me here?

    Yes, imagine that, learning to speak 2 languages at the same time will force you to mix them up sometimes, especially if you get more practice in one of them than another. This has nothing to do with your mother-tongue.

    Yes, of-course, every nationality except for USian must be insulted. Why was I a fascist?

    Non-logical arguments will most likely be personal, or am I wrong? I wonder what it is that a real man does when insulted on the Internet? I believe this is the first time in the last 9 years that I actually participated in a flame war in a web based forum. Interesting observation - self righteous, pompous, pretentious characters make best flame-war opponents.

    Now you will fall down - I admit, I played the crowd, invited a flame-war you appeared on the horizon - perfect target. Someone who actually is familiar with the field. I second you on this one - today sociologists do believe that earliest religions were surrogate explanations for natural phenomena. Ancient Greeks for example had many gods responsible for many natural occurring events such as floods, rains, whatever. I should have been more precise in my post, I believe that modern religions (Christianity for example) have different purpose than the early religions. Early religions were more honest (if I can say so) the modern religions are used to rule. Christianity gives us a nice fairy tale, where God creates men from dirt, where there are special people who are the only ones who can talk to God. I do not know you, so I am not going to assume that you did not think of this on your own, religions served different purposes at different evolution steps of our species. How can you refute this? Oh, and you are welcome to use my own observations in your work, glad to advance science I always am.

    Why, don't worry about me getting stroke, for all you know I could be a chat bot incapable of any human conditions.

    I don't know what you are doing there, but I wonder if this thread will somehow affect what-ever craziness that you are writing (I hope you meant to say you were writing something, I could be mistaken, who knows, you might have been rolling papers.)

    Au revoir



    [ Parent ]
    This is all immensely entertaining. (5.00 / 2) (#693)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 05:29:43 PM EST

    I especially enjoyed how you say that you were purposefully looking for a "flame war." Next time you are looking for one, a bit of advice: don't start dwelling on the insults themselves, forgetting the topic at hand. Every single one of your posts thus far have been in response to nothing but my insulting, without focusing on the actual subject matter. Perhaps we have different definitions of flaming: my definition is, "pointlessly insulting the parent poster." Your definition seems to consist of "defending oneself from (apparently) invited insults, constantly whining about it in the process." Yeeaah. Good one.

    Furthermore, just who are you arguing with? I thought I said in the super-parent post that this was not an argument, and that only you persisted in calling it as such. This still isn't an argument, because you have yet to refute my points on why your horrible understanding of human ethology does not support your view on "modern religions." While that shiny new theory (which conveniently forgets your indefensible old one) of yours suffers from broad assumptions and poorly thought out generalizations, let's first take care of old business first. One thing at a time, junior.

    But keep in mind: your statement that "religions served different purposes at different evolution steps of our species" is fairly correct (awful grammar aside), except you want to replace species with society. I said as much when I stated that "popular religions, being a philosophy of life in and of itself, adopted various moral codes as a reflection of its continued growth and importance in society, as both an institution of critical thought and a general source of leadership." Also, that was not the point you were trying to make in either of your two theories. Please tell me that you can at least understand what you yourself wrote, and see how this quote is fairly irrelevant to the ideas that you are trying to support.

    I really did mean to stop. I really did. But I'm fascinated as to what you'll type up next. I eagerly anticipate your response. Just one question, though: for the record, how old are you? Now I'm just genuinely curious.

    Ooh, look, a shiny thing!

    Cheers
    DLS
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Hands off, it's my shiny thing. (n/t) (5.00 / 2) (#705)
    by gzt on Sun Nov 24, 2002 at 01:52:44 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    But my shiny thing is so much more interesting... (3.00 / 1) (#710)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Sun Nov 24, 2002 at 11:07:43 PM EST

    ...than your shiny thing.

    By the way, how's the food hunt going?
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Went all the way to UIUC to find an IHOP (n/t) (1.00 / 1) (#713)
    by gzt on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 12:18:30 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    For Chrissakes why? (nt) (1.00 / 1) (#720)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 10:26:34 PM EST


    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Your thin veil of maturity is slipping... (none / 0) (#667)
    by Wislem on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 02:29:05 PM EST

    Okay, first: Ad Hominem Fallacy I have read and re-read your post Dirty Liberal Scumbag and I still fail to see where you actually dispute any of Roman's claims. Perhaps I'm "not old enough" or maybe not "academic enough" to understand the subtlety of your arguments, but most debates require evidence to dispute claims. Simply saying "you have no idea what you're talking about" and then throwing terms randomly does not ACTUALLY count as evidence supporting or refuting an argument. Dismissing a person's claims by way of speaking down to him, drawing illogical conclusions about his age, background and level of education simply shows a level of maturity far below that which you purport to have. Tooting your horn and parading your education amounts to nothing more than self-glorification and lends no more real weight to your "arguments" (I use this term very loosely). For all of your supposed education, I believe you have left behind the essential skill of "getting to the fucking point" upon graduation.

    [ Parent ]
    Since this is the only form of debate... (none / 0) (#679)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 10:41:50 PM EST

    ...that you young 'uns seem to understand, I will now engage in the most immature of replies - a PBPR.

    Perhaps I'm not "old enough" or maybe not "academic enough" to understand the subtlety of your arguments...

    Agreed. You are neither old enough nor academic enough to understand the subtlety of my arguments, as you fail to see where I actually dispute any of Roman's claims.

    ...but most debates require evidence to dispute claims. Simply saying "you have no idea what you're talking about" and then throwing terms randomly does not ACTUALLY count as evidence supporting or refuting an argument.

    Then you obviously do not know the definitions of sociology, psychology, and ethology, nor the differences between animal and human ethology. The connections and criticisms are simple to make once you know the common definitions and distinctions of each (which can be gleaned by flipping through any general reference book, or for the web inclined, Google). I am not a fucking dictionary, and I do not do research for others. This kind of stuff should be easy to deduce for somebody who has even the most basic of a liberal arts education. We are not talking quantum physics here, junior. This is pretty simple stuff. If Roman does not know the definitions behind the terms that I choose to use, it is a failing on his part, and not mine.

    Dismissing a person's claims by way of speaking down to him, drawing illogical conclusions about his age, background and level of education simply shows a level of maturity far below that which you purport to have.

    Well, yes. I never said that I was particularly mature now, did I? I was merely implying that Roman, due to his lack of higher cognitive abilities, was quite obviously a juvenile, and quite possibly suffering from Down Syndrome. The Slashdot thing just confirmed it.

    Tooting your horn and parading your education amounts to nothing more than self-glorification and lends no more real weight to your "arguments".

    When did I ever toot my horn and "parade my education?" Please, link me to that particular comment. All I said was that I (and most of the population) was significantly more intelligent than Roman. I, for example, never said that I could speak seven different languages (I said I could speak several dozen different languages, along with other accomplishments. However, if the subtlety of this comment within the context of this thread escapes you, than I cannot help you with this).

    For all of your supposed education, I believe you have left behind the essential skill of "getting to the fucking point" upon graduation.

    Ahem. I'm pretty sure that everyone will agree when I say that my point was made pretty clear here. And here. Can't get more succinct than those comments. Next time I'll use smaller words for you, okay? I do this out of love, sweetbuns.

    Well, that was fun. Although you might try raising your reading comprehension level before we tangle again, okay champ?
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Some added thoughts (none / 0) (#368)
    by tid242 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:09:11 PM EST

    I just wanted to post a couple of thoughts about your ideas here. I would like to state that my religious affiliation, if any, is irrelevant here, I just want to make a few points. First, religion is based on faith, not fact. To compare it to science saying one is fact bound and the other is not, does not work. The point of religion is not to be sure that a God wholly and truly exists, but that there is the possibility that said God exists. From which point, a person starts his "spiritual journey" and as life progresses, decides if he will believe or not. So, the point is not to know, but to beleive. I do agree with you however, that morality is not the child of religion, merely a beneficiary. I do beleive that the Bible, whether truth or fiction, can be a great tool to learning the ways of living a good and morale life. But, I do not think it is absolutely necessary. Morality is an inherent being in all of us, guiding our actions and crafting us in our own ways. A good, atheist friend of mine argued that same point, and like you, I agreed with him, but I still hold to the thought that the Bible, and Jesus as a man, are great teachers. I just wanted to share my ideas as I love arguing religion, there is nothing more fun than arguing a case which will never be won.
    information wants free beer.
    [ Parent ]
    link? (3.66 / 3) (#98)
    by MactireDearg on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:05:33 PM EST

    You mention that Freethought Today, yet dont provide a link? It might be helpful for anyone curious enough to follow up...

    If you must make mistakes, it is more to your credit to make a new one each time. - Unknown

    Here it is - but... (4.00 / 2) (#105)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:26:41 PM EST

    Here's a link to Freethought Today. Unfortunately, it's not an online publication - they have selected articles for past issues (but it hasn't been updated for the issue my much shorter article was in). Despite it's hardcopy-only form, it's a great newspaper though for those interested in church-state issues.



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Religion Will Help Us All (3.27 / 11) (#109)
    by Jason_Z28 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 03:33:34 PM EST

    I just wish that those people who flew those planes into the WTC were religious. That way, they would have had morals and ethics.....

    Don't we have a Law for this crap yet? (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#135)
    by DarkZero on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:40:12 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    They did have morals and ethics - (3.33 / 3) (#196)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:18:27 PM EST

    They just weren't the right ones.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    begs the question (3.57 / 7) (#125)
    by bungle on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:17:01 PM EST

    The phrase means a logic error. It does not mean "raises the question". People misuse this too much.

    Evolution of language? (3.00 / 2) (#214)
    by ozjimbob on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:33:33 PM EST

    Bringing the religion/science debate to bear on your comment; how is language created? Is isn't static and fixed, is it? Surely it evolves over time. If we assume that the vast majority of people do not use this phrase to mean "a logic error", but instead use it to mean "raises the question" (a use which I find quite poetic), then surely that's just as legitimate?

    I mean, lets take those three words apart.

    begs
    the
    question


    There is nothing in the phrase that forces us to use the definition of "begs" provided in your link. I can substitute the common meaning of "begs" and, guess that, the phrase still makes sense! It isn't wrong, its evolution.
    I still believe in revolution, I just don't capitalize it anymore.
    [ Parent ]
    evolution? (3.00 / 2) (#293)
    by bungle on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 11:15:52 AM EST

    There are a lot of phrases in English that, when broken down into words, don't really mean what they seem they should or sometimes don't even make sense. The most annoying thing about this is that is shows how little logic education people have received. Also, this isn't new jargon or slang or a new creative phrase. It's taking over so the proper usage won't be as effective. I admit that the correct meaning will probably lose out to common (mis)usage and join the pool with "alot" and putting needless commas everywhere. Oh well.

    [ Parent ]
    Begs the question (none / 0) (#461)
    by nappes on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 09:13:05 AM EST

    Here is the 3rd definition of beg from dictionary.com:
    3: To evade; dodge: a speech that begged the real issues. To take for granted without proof: beg the point in a dispute,
    I guess they should delete that definition of beg. But I wonder how we are to say "begs the question" in it's original meaning. Maybe nobody cares about logic anymore. It doesn't seem to have any meaning on Kuro5hin.org or anywhere on the web for that matter. Seems obvious but ... Gak! MaYbE It BegS ThE QueStioN. COmMoN UsAGe RoXXoRs. (OK I suk at leetspeak)

    [ Parent ]
    Blind devotion on both sides... (2.80 / 10) (#138)
    by curunir on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 04:49:29 PM EST

    science is oblivious to the big picture

    Let me preface this by saying that I am an atheist. I don't believe in the existance of god and I agree with most of the conclusions that the scientific community puts forth.

    That said, there is something that religion provides besides the answers to the questions science seeks to answer. Religion provides a morality that science lacks. There are far too many scientists who only ask "how?" without also asking "why?"

    Take for example computers. Engineers only looked for the "how?" (how do I make the fastest possible computer?) There was no thought as to whether their solutions would be environmentally sound. There was no thought as to whether their solutions would widen the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" of the world. There was no thought as to what impact their creations might have on society in general (never being "unreachable" from coworkers, internet addiction, depression associated with sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, etc).

    Take for example atomic energy. Again Engineers only really looked for the "how?" They didn't look beyond the science or perhaps the immediate use of the weapons created by that scientific advancement. They didn't think about the effect on global politics (cold war). They didn't think about the effect on the psyche's of people who had to grow up in fear of those weapons.

    Take for example nanotechnology. Scientists will no doubt figure out the how. But will they think about whether or not they are paving the way for someone to create a virus which only attacks members of a certain race. Will they think about whether or not they are paving the way for a society in which privacy does not exist. Unfortunately, probably not.

    Now, many of the people involved with these scientific developments probably were/are/will be religious people as well. But science does have the tendency to be short-sighted when it comes to the effects of its progress. I guess if there's a point to this rambling its that blind devotion to science as a religion can be just as damaging as blind devotion to religion. People in blogs like this are ever capable of identifying the latter, but how many times do recognize the former?

    Science != Scientists (4.00 / 2) (#151)
    by The Solitaire on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:29:24 PM EST

    I agree with you - there are a lot of scientists that work as if there were no moral consequences to their actions. But that does not bar science writ-large from tackling moral questions. It may be that science can't (as a matter of fact) examine these sorts of questions, but I don't think you've given any good evidence for that claim.

    Furthermore, even if this is something that science cannot cover, that does not mean that religion is the only way to do so. There are a lot of atheistic (or agnostic, if you like) philosophers out there which look at ethics from a non-religion point of view.

    On this, however, we agree - blind devotion to anything is bad. It's the "blind" part wherein the problem lies. There is nothing wrong with believing something, even if what you believe turns out to be factually wrong. There is something wrong with believing something so dogmatically that you cannot be proved wrong. And that is why I have a problem with religion - too many religious groups teach this kind of blind obedience. On the other hand, science teaches the exact opposite - so in a sense, if you are understanding science appropriately, it is impossible to be blindly devoted to it. If you are - whatever it is you are devoted to, it ain't science.

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    You missed my point... (3.00 / 2) (#164)
    by curunir on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:06:25 PM EST

    if you are understanding science appropriately, it is impossible to be blindly devoted to it.

    Science isn't at all immune to the "blind faith" syndrome. Scientifically speaking, something can be proven or disproven. But once something is proven, science treats it like it was divinely meant to be without thinking of the consequences of its being. In short, many science, as an entity, has a blind devotion to the concept that whatever can be, should be.

    You're quite right to mention the existance of philosophers in putting scientific advancement into the correct context. However, simply because the two are decoupled, there will inevitably arise cases where philosophy is shunned in favor of science.

    Like I said in my initial post, I'm an atheist. I think most of what religion teaches is quackery. But it is hypocritical for scientists to label religios people as being "blindly faithful" without also noticing their own blind faith.

    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps, (3.00 / 2) (#240)
    by The Solitaire on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:49:58 AM EST

    but I think it is more important for scientists (and everyone else) to avoid blind faith in the first place. My personal feeling is that the very first tenet of science education should be "question everything".

    As for science and philosophy being decoupled, unfortunately it has over the last while been that way. But the rift is closing - philosophers are realizing that science has a lot of answers, and scientists are starting to butt up against the questions philosophers have been trying to contend with for millennia. I think this change is for the better, and as such, I am trying myself to bridge the gap in my own studies (I'm a compSci PhD with an epistemologist for a supervisor.. and my supervisor is cross appointed to three different departments himself!)

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    Lacking Perspective (4.00 / 5) (#158)
    by virg on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:54:30 PM EST

    > That said, there is something that religion provides besides the answers to the questions science seeks to answer. Religion provides a morality that science lacks. There are far too many scientists who only ask "how?" without also asking "why?"

    I find this very limited, and very inaccurate. See below for a point-by-point review.

    > Take for example computers. Engineers only looked for the "how?" (how do I make the fastest possible computer?) There was no thought as to whether their solutions would be environmentally sound.

    I'm not sure where you're going here. Environmentally sound? Despite the fact that manufacturing computers is a lot cleaner these days than when they were using vacuum tubes for memory, by your argument no computers should be built at all. Also, the single fastest computer on Earth is being used to model the Earth, so that experiments in environmental impact of various agendas can be tested without risking the real Earth as a test bed.

    > There was no thought as to whether their solutions would widen the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" of the world. There was no thought as to what impact their creations might have on society in general (never being "unreachable" from coworkers, internet addiction, depression associated with sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, etc).

    How convenient to blame engineers for not following social concerns. I hate to point it out to you, because your view of the world seems comfortable, but it's very skewed. I noticed that you mentioned not a single one of the benefits of computers on quality of life, and your assumption that no engineer thinks about or cares about the negatives you mentioned is myopic.

    > Take for example atomic energy. Again Engineers only really looked for the "how?" They didn't look beyond the science or perhaps the immediate use of the weapons created by that scientific advancement. They didn't think about the effect on global politics (cold war). They didn't think about the effect on the psyche's of people who had to grow up in fear of those weapons.

    This is the paragraph that pointed out to me that you have no clue what you're talking about. You need to read some of the things Albert Einstein wrote about how his theories opened up the nuclear age. When you're done with that, go find some of the writings of J. Robert Oppenheimer (y'know, the fellow who led the Manhattan Project?) and see if you can make this statement after you read the words of those who did this science. Oppenheimer was deathly afraid of nuclear power, and said that it was very possible that he was handing the human race the means of its own destruction. Do your research before you make such wild and sweeping statements. It's this sort of trash that the author of this article wants to reveal.

    > Take for example nanotechnology. Scientists will no doubt figure out the how. But will they think about whether or not they are paving the way for someone to create a virus which only attacks members of a certain race.

    Oops, that's not nanotech, that's biogenetics. Anyway, continue...

    > Will they think about whether or not they are paving the way for a society in which privacy does not exist. Unfortunately, probably not.

    Again, go get a book or check the 'Net. If you'd expend even a little time and effort on it, you'll find that large numbers of scientists are very concerned about how nanotechnology will affect humanity. The same is true of biogenetics. The ones who are shouting about the need to avoid Brave New World the loudest are the scientists who have the know-how to create it.

    > Now, many of the people involved with these scientific developments probably were/are/will be religious people as well.

    So? This doesn't prove your point, it refutes it by saying that even religious scientists don't think about the "why" issues. If religion isn't sufficient to get them to ask, how do you conclude that science should?

    > But science does have the tendency to be short-sighted when it comes to the effects of its progress.

    Incorrect, and overarching. There is not, to my best knowledge, any way to predict the future, so saying that scientists are short-sighted because they can't do that is misleading. Did cavemen who figured out how to use fire predict that burning wood was going to cause large-scale environmental change in the world over the next thousand years? Could Babbage have predicted the Internet? You view with hindsight and deplore the people who couldn't see what's all around you, without being able to peer into the future yourself.

    > I guess if there's a point to this rambling its that blind devotion to science as a religion can be just as damaging as blind devotion to religion. People in blogs like this are ever capable of identifying the latter, but how many times do recognize the former?

    You point is well taken, and absolutely correct. The part that irritates me is that you ascribe anyone atheistic to the camp of blind science devotees, without making any effort to find out if that's accurate or appropriate. Your implication that scientists have trouble spotting blind devotion to science simply indicates that you're not much of a scientist yourself. Science is skepticism, and being skeptical of science is part of that.

    Virg
    "Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
    [ Parent ]
    I don't buy it (4.25 / 8) (#163)
    by Edgy Loner on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:06:16 PM EST

    You are correct in that blind dogmatism of any form is rarely beneficial. I don't buy into the rest of it.
    First technology != science.
    E = mc2 is science. Science is createing some kind of model of the universe via a set of methods.
    Using that model to create working things is technology. The two are quite seperate. Much of science has no practical application, and is unlikely to ever have any. Many working technolgies are based on effects not completely understood by science. Humans made high quality steel swords for many years without understanding the underlying physics of metalurgy.
    The engineers (assisted by scientists) who created the first nuclear weapons didn't do so because they thought they were neat, they were told to do so by their leaders. The questions that were being asked about the long term consequences of them were being asked by the scientists, not the non scientists in charge. The decison to create and use these devices were not scientific decisons, they were political and military decisons. Guided by the 'morality' embraced by the political and military leaders. The imputus for that decision came from political and cultural forces, not science. Einstein, Oppenhimer et al didn't incerate anyone at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, Presidents, Generals, Emperors, pilots and bombadiers did.

    Second, religion != morality.
    Religon cannot claim any superior position for guiding moral or correct human behavior. Religous leaders have presided over and encourgaed some of the most immoral and incorrect actions performed by humans.

    Third, religion is not required to create moral frameworks.
    You don't need supernatural beings for the golden rule. Enlightened self interest doesn't depend on some reward or punishment in the afterlife. It can be empircally demostrated here on Earth.



    This is not my beautiful house.
    This is not my beautiful knife.
    [ Parent ]
    thats not a problem with science (3.00 / 2) (#215)
    by nodsmasher on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:34:46 PM EST

    but one with capitalism. science doesn't deal with who gets what, market forces do
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
    -Tatarigami
    [ Parent ]
    Feynman on atomic ethics (4.00 / 4) (#230)
    by izogi on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:07:50 AM EST

    Take for example atomic energy. Again Engineers only really looked for the "how?" They didn't look beyond the science or perhaps the immediate use of the weapons created by that scientific advancement.

    One of the most fantastic and best produced documentaries I've ever seen was a 1981 BBC Horizon documentary titled "Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out", where Richard Feynman basically talked about his life.

    In it, he talked about being on Oppenheimer's team to develop the nuclear bomb. Prior to joining the team he'd thought through the ethics about why he wanted to help, and basically justified that it needed to be developed or Germany would have found it first, and all of the allied countries would be doomed, or at least lose the war.

    When Germany was overrun, of course, the reason became obsolete. Looking back in hindsight, one of the parts of his life that he was most ashamed of was that he didn't stop to re-evaluate his reasons when that happened. Instead they just kept on going, wanting to finish what they'd started.

    Then once the first bomb was finally dropped on Hiroshima, he was out with everyone else on the team beating drums and celebrating that it'd worked, and they'd won. It wasn't until afterwards that he stepped back, and looked at the perspective of what he'd helped to accomplish even after his original justification had become obsolete... and then he felt terrible.

    I'd reccommend the documentary to anyone who hasn't seen it. In a continuous 50 minute program, there's one two-second interjection by the interviewer. No music, no fancy graphics, no commentry or overvoice. The rest is just entirely Feynman sitting in a chair at his home, talking about his life, his philosophy, and his ideals.


    - izogi


    [ Parent ]
    Yeah Feynman's great (4.50 / 2) (#458)
    by Kalani on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:25:21 AM EST

    The quotes from that discussion with Feynman really stuck with me when I heard them the first time, so I've actually had them sitting on my computer just waiting for an opportunity like this. Here are his actual words (not much different from izogi's paraphrasing):

    With regard to moral questions, I do have something I would like to say about it. The original reason to start the project, which was that the Germans were a danger, started me off on a process of action which was to try to develop this first system at Princeton and then at Los Alamos, to try to make the bomb work. All kinds of attempts were made to redesign it to make it a worse bomb and so on. But what I did, - immorally I would say - was to not remember the reason that I said I was doing it, so that when the reason changed, because Germany was defeated, not the singlest thought came to my mind at all about that, that that, meant now I would have to reconsider why I am continuing to do this. I simply didn't think, okay?

    ...

    The only reaction that I remember - perhaps I was blinded by my own reaction - was a very considerable elation and excitement, and there were parties and people got drunk and it would make a tremendously interesting contrast, what was going on in Los Alamos at the same time as what was going on in Hiroshima. I was involved with this happy thing and also drinking and drunk and playing drums sitting on the hood of -the bonnet of-a Jeep and playing drums with excitement running all over Los Alamos at the same time as people were dying and struggling in Hiroshima.

    I had a very strong reaction after the war of a peculiar nature-it may be just from the bomb itself and it may be for other psychological reasons, I'd just lost my wife or something, but I remember being in New York with my mother in a restaurant, immediately after Hiroshima and thinking about New York, and I knew how big the bomb in Hiroshima was, how big an area it covered and so on, and I realized from where we were-I don't know, 59th Street-that to drop one on 34th Street, it would spread all the way out here and all these people would be killed and all the things would be killed and there wasn't only one bomb available, but it was easy to continue to make them, and therefore that things were sort of doomed because already it happened to me-very early, earlier than to others who were more optimistic-that international relations and the way people were behaving were no different than they had ever been before and that it was just going to go the same way as any other thing and I was sure that it was going, therefore, to be used very soon. So I felt very uncomfortable and thought, really believed, that it was silly: I would see people building a bridge and I would say 'they don't understand'.


    I think that maybe the people to watch out for in all of this aren't the scientists or engineers really but the politicians. The people who made the bomb knew what kind of an effect it would have down to the smallest detail, and they knew that it would be inevitable that other people would figure out how to do it also. I think that where we (as societies) get into trouble is when we've got people who don't understand everything involved with some issue making decisions about the issue regardless. Personally, I don't think the answer to that problem is to make scientists and engineers into politicians and philosophers to the degree that they will halt themselves from making something if they think that "the people" aren't ready for it. I don't think that it makes any sense to insulate people in that way because it's eventually going to be inevitable that non-scientists will have to come up to speed to understand the world that we live in for a number of other reasons anyway. I think that's probably one of our most important responsibilities as members of our respective societies.

    -----
    "Images containing sufficiently large skin-colored groups of possible limbs are reported as potentially containing naked people."
    -- [ Parent ]
    "Today I am become death" (4.00 / 4) (#271)
    by zakalwe on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:38:19 AM EST

    Religion provides a morality that science lacks.
    But this statement is similar to critisising, for example, painting because it provides no morality. Just because art is not a moral source doesn't mean artists will kill thousands of people to get that battle scene just right. Similarly scientists do not leave their morality at the door when they open their books. They will draw their morality from many sources - society, upbringing, and maybe even religion. To blame science because it doesn't offer it all in a package deal seems silly.
    Take for example atomic energy. Again Engineers only really looked for the "how?"
    Why do you say that? I'm sure that many of the scientists and engineers behind it did deeply consider the morality of it. Look at some of the writings by Einstein or Oppenheimer on the subject - they were deeply aware of the moral issues raised by their work. Painting their decisions as black and white, no regard to the morality is a grave injustice. It isn't a black and white issue, unless you believe in extreme pacifism, even for self-defence.
    Take for example nanotechnology. Scientists will no doubt figure out the how. But will they think about whether or not they are paving the way for someone to create a virus which only attacks members of a certain race.
    Err - yes, they will. They are now. And they have to balance that against the fact that it could also provide cures for diseases, vast improvements in quality of life, and numerous other things.
    But science does have the tendency to be short-sighted.
    And this is the core misconception. You're anthromorphising science, and then applying the results to scientists. "Science" could seem like that, because work done by someone who didn't care, or predict the moral aspects is just as much done as that done by one who did - you can't put the Genie back in the bottle. Unless you're proposing actively stopping everyone in the whole world from studying science though, you can't make the claim that science itself should be considered immoral.

    [ Parent ]
    Nobody to beg forgiveness from, so get responsible (3.25 / 4) (#273)
    by slaida1 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:12:35 AM EST

    It's ironic that while religous ppl think they own morality, they feel it's ok to have something or somebody that'll always forgive'em no matter what they do. As long as they feel remorse afterwards..

    I can imagine the relief when you've done something wrong and can confess it without fear of judgements or punishments. No wonder why ppl who haven't done anything wrong still go to church confess even the most ridiculous things. No wonder the high crime rates when bad guys can just belive, confess their crimes to the god, feel sorry even when "it had to be done", beg forgiveness, get it and go after their next victim. Just like it was in the middle ages and thoroughout the history. Kill, rape, pillage but feel sorry for it and it's okay, and even we normal people can get it because there's these nice everyday death sins we'll commit every now and then.

    What if there's nobody listening to us mortals, no forgiveness, no miracles, no divine interventions. Just you realizing what being alone means and how we all are that way, struggling to fool ourselves think otherwise in every turn. Well, enter atheism: You'll have this nice clean table inside your head on which you can build your own view of world, it's history and unseen things. Wipe clean every unquestioned belief and think it over again using your own capacity.

    [ Parent ]

    I Think The Main Problem Is ... (5.00 / 1) (#353)
    by icastel on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:05:27 PM EST

    ... that religion, as you point out, provides a "built-in" morality, but this morality is tremendously biased by whatever any particular religion happens to support.

    You seem to imply that by following science and logic, one cannot achieve any sort of morality stage. Wrong. It might be harder, but it is possible.

    It's all about people and what they choose to do/follow whether it is tied to religion or not.




    -- I like my land flat --
    [ Parent ]
    Combining morality with science (none / 0) (#386)
    by curunir on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:40:54 PM EST

    You seem to imply that by following science and logic, one cannot achieve any sort of morality stage.

    That's not quite what I was saying. I was saying more that science, in practice, has a higher tendency to forsake morality than religion. What that morality is isn't really relevant. Different groups will come up with different moral values. So religious groups will have morals consistent with their religion. But much of the scientific community doesn't seem to have a unified morality that is consistent with science in general. There is a void that is left up to the individual beliefs of the individual scientist. So that a scientist who is also a Christian is supposed to have a Christian morality. A Muslim scientist is supposed to have a Muslim morality. That shouldn't necessarily be the case.

    For example, the only reason that the ethics of human cloning are being discussed is because various religious people have raised the issue with respect to stem cell research. I personally believe there is nothing wrong with stem cell research, but the simple fact that there is a discussion about the morality of the science involved is a positive thing. It's something that should have been brought up by the scientific community long before the religious community had a chance to champion it. There is a good chance that, absent the participation of religious groups, the scientific community would have ignored the issue entirely and just worked on figuring out the scientific aspects of the problem.

    The scientific community isn't entirely devoid of institutionalized ethics. For example, doctors take the hypocratic oath...they are ethically bound to help people. Is it adhered to 100% of the time, obviously not. But it's still a guideline put in place by the medical community to help guide the actions of doctors. However there is no such guideline in place for most scientific disciplines. There's no reason why chemists, physicists or any other scientific discipline couldn't come up with some sort of institutionalized morality that is consistent with the overall goals of their field of study.

    [ Parent ]
    "How" versus "Why" (4.00 / 1) (#380)
    by Persistence of Penguins on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:23:11 PM EST

    Perhaps I'm being a little simplistic here, but surely this distinction between "how" and "why" is important. Science is good at describing how things work. It attempts to quantify observed phenomenon and communicates that to the student.

    Religion (well, we all have some kind of religion, whether we like labels or not) ought to be more focused on the reason for existence. It's not so much how the universe came into being but why it did so in the first place.

    Nicky Gumble, an excellent apologist, once said of the Creation account in Genesis that the point of it being included in the document is not so much "how" but "why" and "who."

    The pursuit of scientific knowledge and the pursuit of spiritual experience need not work against each other. Rather, they ought to work in tandem. One can exist without the other.

    That's just reasoning. I'm inclined to think, however, that one pursuit will point to the other. That's not to say that one is worthless without the other but highlights the existence of the other.

    For example, the pursuit of gods led many to pursue an understanding of the stars. The pursuit of the stars has also led many to pursue and understanding of God.



    "Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
    [ Parent ]

    Science, Logic, and Religion (3.75 / 8) (#146)
    by The Solitaire on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:17:08 PM EST

    An insightful look at a topic that often causes me great irritation. People are quick to say that "science can't prove everything" or "logic can't prove everything", or the like. Well, you know what? It's true - science doesn't have all the answers. Neither does logic. But, together, they give all the answers there are to be had. There is only one alternative - irrational, dogmatic belief (aka faith... and yes, I think faith is a bad thing). I'm sorry, but quite frankly, I've seen this kind of thing be wrong WAY too many times to trust it, even a little.

    I can't disprove God... well, wait a second, I can't disprove the most liberal conceptions of a deity is more like it. I take the Christian conception of god to have been disproved time and time again (and other religions as well). But to say that wherever science has a gap we can stick religion, is flat out ridiculous. To me, this seems a way for wishy-washy theists to have their cake and eat it too. It seems to go something like this: "Well, we understand this phenomena pretty well, and it doesn't seem to need God... oh well, there are lots of other places God could be, I'll just keep right on believing!" What is worse, for the someone who accepts the "God of the gaps". is that the gaps keep shrinking - it seems probable that at some point, there will be no more gaps. Or, at least, that the gaps will be so small that God will have a very small role to play indeed.

    I need a new sig.

    Grrr... (3.33 / 3) (#172)
    by Pseudonym on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:23:33 PM EST

    This topic also causes me great irritation, mostly because of this kind of dismissive argument.

    Science and logic, even taken together, do not have all the answers. As I pointed out in another thread, they don't give me any indication who to vote for, for example. Most kinds of knowledge which it cannot address are philosophical knowledge. Neither logic nor science address, for example, moral philosophy.

    Of course, it is fallacious to suggest that only "religion" can motivate moral philosophy. Just about any reasonable philosophy (say, secular humanism) will do. And, of course, you don't need to have a fully worked-out moral philosophy to have your own personal morals.

    BTW, there's nothing wrong with "irrational" thinking. (I agree with you on "dogmatic" thinking, though.) What we humans do that passes for thinking is a combination of both logical and irrational. We need to be better at both.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Not trying to be dismissive (3.00 / 3) (#237)
    by The Solitaire on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:25:22 AM EST

    First off, I think that you'll find that the main tool used by philosophers, be they moral philosophers or otherwise, is logic. I understand that not only religion can lead to a moral outlook (I hope so, or I'm a moral lost cause), and I certainly never denied that. I also never stated that science and logic have all the answers - I just don't think that there is any other route to knowledge. If it is outside the scope of those two, it is unknowable, period. (Note - this is a contingent statement; I am willing to be proved wrong).

    As for the stuff about irrational thinking - I know all too well the interactions between "reasonable" and "unreasonable" thinking in humans. It's shaping up to be the subject of my PhD Thesis (remarkably enough in computer science, though my supervisor is a philosopher).

    Anyways, in short, I don't think our viewpoints are all that far apart. My apologies, by the way, for sounding dismissive... Its more a factor of how little time I have to post on K5. :)

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    You raise a good point, but I disagree- (3.33 / 3) (#197)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:19:51 PM EST

    But, together, they give all the answers there are to be had.

    I think that logic and reason give us all of the answers that we can prove - I don't think they give us all of the answers that can be had. I can't prove the Goldbach Conjecture, or the Riemann Hypothesis, but I believe that they're true. Hell, I even think that P != NP.

    There is only one alternative - irrational, dogmatic belief (aka faith... and yes, I think faith is a bad thing).

    I don't liken faith to being dogmatic - your conception of faith seems more like brain-washing or an assumed state of ignorance. For myself, faith is believing that which we cannot see - it is more intuition than a willful ignorance.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Intuition and Rationality (3.00 / 3) (#238)
    by The Solitaire on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:29:48 AM EST

    I have but one question - what is intuition? It seems that it can't be logic, nor can it be rational. On what is an intuition based, then? If it is reasoning, based on inadequate knowledge, as some say, then I am quite willing to lump it in with science. But if it is neither - then how can it not be ignorant?

    I'm not trying here to engage in the Socratic method or something... I do not mean these questions to be rhetorical. I am honestly interested in what you have to say.

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    an ineloquent rendition (3.33 / 3) (#246)
    by Josh A on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:51:44 AM EST

    One possible definition is the (possibly subconscious) use of the whole (gestalt) of our sensory input combined with our past knowledge to quickly arrive at a conclusion without going through the intermediate steps of conscious thought to get to that conclusion.

    ---
    Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


    [ Parent ]
    That IS the Socratic method, silly. (n/t) (1.00 / 1) (#733)
    by gzt on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 02:22:10 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Then you never get anywhere. (4.33 / 6) (#201)
    by paine in the ass on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:36:56 PM EST

    If I take you literally, then it means you never get to find out everything that can be known. William James, in his essay The Will To Believe, famously pointed out that there is a dichotomy lurking here - you can either seek in all cases to avoid error, a the exclusion of truths you might have had otherwise, or you can seek truth and open yourself to the possibility of error. You seem to side with the "avoid error at all costs" (James was blasting William Clifford's famous statement that "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence") crowd, meaning simply that you can never get all the answers there are to be had...


    I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
    [ Parent ]
    Radical misunderstanding (3.00 / 3) (#239)
    by The Solitaire on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:41:30 AM EST

    Believe me when I say this - I do not take this view in any way! I am perfectly willing to be wrong. If I wasn't, do you really think that I would have posted such a strong statement about science and logic? Science is filled with missteps, and whatever logic we use in day to day life is sure as hell not sound.

    But, on the other hand, this doesn't mean I can go and believe any old thing I like (well, I can, physically and perhaps morally, but I am not justified in doing so). If I were to have faith in a god or something similar, it would be because I came to that belief though my interactions with the world, and through the process of reason.

    The thing I find interesting about Clifford's statement is that it is entirely unclear what he means by "insufficient" - Clifford's statement, if we interpret insufficient in the right way collapses into a pointless tautology. My point of view is a little less vacuous, I think, and also somewhat weaker (than your interpretation of Clifford, not the tautological interpretation) - "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon no evidence".

    Of course, we could go on at length about what constitutes "evidence" here, but alas, it is late, and I am tired, so we will have to leave that to another day. :)

    I need a new sig.
    [ Parent ]

    Something to kil over (3.20 / 5) (#147)
    by CrazyJub on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:19:27 PM EST

    I've never heard of one person killing another over a mathematical theory, or a chemical composition, or spatial geometry.

    Over religious differences, sure....ahem...EVERY WAR IN RECORDED HISTORY*. Sure sure sure, country A wanted to invade country B to acquire land/power/resources but how do you think they got the people to fight in the first place?

    * Note, Vietnam, Korean and the Gulf 'War' were police actions, not wars.

    Hehe (3.00 / 2) (#157)
    by Wah on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:52:49 PM EST

    I've never heard of one person killing another over a mathematical theory, or a chemical composition, or spatial geometry.

    That's funny, because I've heard of one person killing thousands by applying mathematical theory, chemical composition, and spatial geometry.  

    /devils advocate.
    --
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
    [ Parent ]

    Means is not the same as motive (3.33 / 3) (#168)
    by Edgy Loner on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:12:50 PM EST

    That's funny, because I've heard of one person killing thousands by applying mathematical theory, chemical composition, and spatial geometry.

    Those were the means, not the reason for doing it. People are killed by the sword, not for the sword.



    This is not my beautiful house.
    This is not my beautiful knife.
    [ Parent ]
    Very true (3.66 / 3) (#182)
    by Wah on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:39:18 PM EST

    I wasn't trying to say otherwise.  But when someone mentions religion as a "why" for violence, it helps no one to forget that science is often the "how".  Science  has increased the ability of our species to do violence by a billion-fold, and this is not a point to be taken lightly when arguing the merits and meanings of both words.
    --
    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
    [ Parent ]
    To be fair... (3.00 / 2) (#165)
    by coljac on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:07:41 PM EST

    Nearly every war was fought over an ideology. I don't think WW2 was a religious war but it was certainly an ideological one. It just so happens that the ideology behind most wars (in history) is religious, but ostensibly secular societies have fought their fair share, isn't that right Mr. Hitler?

    Taking anything in faith, whether it be Jesus' divinity or the infallibilty of the Bolshevik party, has to the potential to be awfully dangerous. Atheistic fascists are as dangerous as crusaders. But I don't think democratic freethinkers would start too many wars.

    coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    To be fairer (3.00 / 2) (#263)
    by fhotg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:57:31 AM EST

    All wars are fought about money and power.

    Ideology (i.e. Religion, Racism) are only used to make the mass of people behave so irrational that they are able to willingly kill and get killed without personal need to do so.
    ~~~
    Gitarren fьr die Mдdchen -- Champagner fьr die Jungs

    [ Parent ]

    Hitler's Religion (none / 0) (#419)
    by michaelp on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:46:52 PM EST

    "The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. For God's will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities."

    Mein Kampf

    You can throw Stalin at folks who say atheism is the answer, but don't throw Mr. Hitler, the life long god fearing Catholic at 'em.


    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    Not true (5.00 / 2) (#176)
    by Pseudonym on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:32:50 PM EST

    If you believe the stories, Pythagoras killed one of his students for proving the existence of irrational numbers.

    On the topic of wars, and speaking as a religious person, this fallacy that wars are fought over religion is precisely why I advocate a good separation of church and state. Without such a separation, religion tends to be (not entirely unfairly) blamed for the actions of states.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    And If I Don't Believe ... (5.00 / 1) (#346)
    by icastel on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:51:49 PM EST

    ... the stories, did he still kill his student?


    -- I like my land flat --
    [ Parent ]
    Another example (none / 0) (#379)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:22:36 PM EST

    If you don't believe the Pythagoras story, then there's the story of how Tycho Brahe lost his nose in a duel over a mathematical problem. It's not death, but at least it's violence.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Actually Pseudo brings up a good point. (none / 0) (#438)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:02:57 AM EST

    History is littered with rather amusing tales of people killing each other and engaging in other violent acts over mathematical equations and the like (the vast recorded majority being isolated in Western Europe throughout the 15th-18th centuries). While I can't remember any off the top of my head, I do recall there's a few books out there dealing exclusively with such quarrels (I've just recently finished a rather delightful French text that dealt with the role and importance of beatings - as in beating the hell out of the author - in literary history). Good for a laugh if you can find one.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Uh? (none / 0) (#455)
    by Kalani on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 07:52:53 AM EST

    If you believe the stories, Pythagoras killed one of his students for proving the existence of irrational numbers.

    I don't think that any such story exists. There are stories that Pythagoras tried to keep sqrt(2) secret for a while, but look -- we're talking about a guy who refused to eat beans because they smelled like human blood when pounded and put in the afternoon sun. He went to great lengths to sanctify human life even if they were sometimes kind of weird irrational lengths.

    Anyway, I'm not religious and I think that the poster above you got it all wrong too. Murder and war comes from an ambition to power, and appeals to religion are just a way to try to get more people on your side. I don't think that anybody seriously starts a war to try to get in good with their god(s). I'm sure that if an all-powerful being wanted a country taken out that badly, he/she/it would just do it him/her/itself.

    -----
    "Images containing sufficiently large skin-colored groups of possible limbs are reported as potentially containing naked people."
    -- [ Parent ]
    Here's a reference (none / 0) (#519)
    by Pseudonym on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 05:14:48 PM EST

    MathWorld has a short biography of Hippasus of Metapontum which notes:

    Legend has it that Hippasus made his discovery at sea and was thrown overboard by fanatic Pythagoreans.

    Admittedly this isn't the story that Pythagoras drowned Hippasus himself, but it just goes to show that, at least in legend, people did kill over science.



    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Idealogy is but one step away from religion (none / 0) (#421)
    by tassach on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:47:43 PM EST

    Vietnam, Korea, and the Gulf War were all rooted in idealogical, if not strictly "religious", differences. Democracy versus [Communism|Authoritarianism].

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" -- Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    One thing theists often forget... (3.44 / 9) (#152)
    by MSBob on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:30:42 PM EST

    One thing that I often hear from religious folk is the statement that atheism is as immoral and dangerous as religious fanaticsm which was exemplified by stalinist repressions.

    I totally disagree. Communist USSR was not an atheist state although it branded itself that way. They did have a very strong dogma and cult and even the saints of their cult that all had to be believed in and obeyed at all costs. That flies in the face of atheism and free thinking. Quoting stalinist times as an example of a failure of a secular state is a big logical fallacy because it assumes that Soviet Union was secular. It wasn't. Not in the true sense of the word.

    I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

    You're mashing definitions (3.25 / 4) (#169)
    by RyoCokey on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:15:34 PM EST

    Secular in the context of government merely implies the government itself isn't based off religious precepts. Really, one could describe the Stalinist USSR as a atheist theocracy (Well, atheism really IS a religion.)

    However, it is still an example of the end result of a militantly atheist state. Just as moderate Islam and Christianity can produce peaceful secular governments, atheism could most likely do so as well.

    The point that militant atheism was even worse (Well, equivalent, other religions would have murdered more if they had the chance) is quite valid, however. The imposed absence of religion is hardly an improvement.



    "There is no reason why we should not have peaceful relations with the rest of the world if we cease playing the role of Meddlesome Mattie." - Sen. Art
    [ Parent ]
    atheism is religion? (none / 0) (#366)
    by dirtmerchant on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:05:03 PM EST

    if you're going to make a statement like that back it up with at least a poorly worded rant with caps lock on throughout thematically summed up in the phrase, "the bible says . seriously, you need to back up a statement like that with at the very least, your opinion as to why that is, or preferably a cohesive argument for your statement. the linquistic roots of atheism are a -no, non; theism - belief in god. how is lack of belief a religion? religion is both the belief and the structure given to that belief.
    -- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
    [ Parent ]
    I didn't think anyone would honestly argue this (none / 0) (#377)
    by RyoCokey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:10:00 PM EST

    But as you apparently don't think it is:

    Note: Religion, as distinguished from theology, is subjective, designating the feelings and acts of men which relate to God; while theology is objective, and denotes those ideas which man entertains respecting the God whom he worships, especially his systematized views of God.

    Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

    Therefore, as Atheism is a disbelief in God and dictates relations to him as such (I.e. none since he doesn't exist.) it certainly is a religion. Although some particularly deluded atheists try to argue it isn't, even Ann Rand, as a recall, conceded that it was.



    "There is no reason why we should not have peaceful relations with the rest of the world if we cease playing the role of Meddlesome Mattie." - Sen. Art
    [ Parent ]
    Well... (none / 0) (#387)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:42:52 PM EST

    ...speaking as someone with a bit of formal training in cultural anthropology, I can assure you that atheism, in and of itself, would certainly not qualify as a religion under any of the common definitions employed by anthropologists.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    While I don't disagree... (none / 0) (#436)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 01:56:51 AM EST

    ...I believe that it's worthy to note the reactions of some atheists (those that clutch at their pink unicorns and rain-producing elves as gods in and of themselves) don't stray too far from those of the typical religious fundamentalist when challenged. It would even be somewhat valid to claim them as "weak theists," their non-belief in a material God making them just as dependent and dogmatic as those who would believe in God.

    I realize that you're a bit older, and I'm not sure if the stylings of the late Adequacy.org would be to your liking, but there was actually a rather well-reasoned article done by none other than (the seemingly hated) RobotSlave himself arguing for the existence of God (as a unique sociological phenomenon) that touched on this particular topic quite well.

    As of late, I have taken to labeling "atheists" (in the context I just spoke of) just as religious as anyone else. I hold that the true atheist, as per the definition, is an apathetic agnostic, i.e. I don't know and I don't care. While a bit tongue-in-cheek, I think that in that sense, they give God no credence at all, completely disavowing his existence through both their actions and thoughts. While I borrowed the term from a website that seems to be wholly run by people that actually do care a little too much, I thought that term seemed rather appropriate to borrow as such.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Can't say as... (none / 0) (#485)
    by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 01:49:56 PM EST

    ...I ever really read Adequacy.org, so I never saw the article you mention. And what's this to do about being older ;). I mean, is thirty really all that old?

    Basically, I'd agree with you that there are a lot of loose similarities between the shrill and dogmatic atheists and their theistic counterparts, but, in the interest of precision and specificity, I must maintain that atheism is not, properly speaking, a religion. On the hand, if one is speaking colloquially intending "religious" to mean only "devotional belief," then I've no great complaint.

    By the way, on a somewhat related note, I noticed in your profile that you attend UChicago. As you are probably aware, Chicago has among the absolute finest Religious Studies programs in the world. Do you know if Paul Ricoeur is still an Emeritus faculty there?

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Dude, you're thirty?!?!?! (none / 0) (#561)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 12:50:09 AM EST

    Man, and I was thinking 25 was over the hill. How are the social security benefits adding up? Can you still "raise the flag and salute the captain," as they say? ;)

    All kidding aside, however, I am happy to say that monsieur Ricoeur is still a professor Emeritus in the Divinity School, among other departments. One of the turning points of my life was actually reading and studying Thinking Biblically (ironically enough recommended as a book to "watch out for" by several juvenile atheist newsletters I was subscribing to at the time).

    There was a time, while studying for my BA in Sociology at Berkeley, that I was a... "unicorn idolizer," loud and bratty and generally annoying (well, more so than I am now). However, after reading Ricoeur's and LaCocque's enlightening views on the Old Testament, I began to reconsider my immature views on theology, and began serious study on such luminaries as Aquinas and Kierkegaard. As time passed, I've noticed my writing drawing more and more from the conclusions and questions that these, and other Christian and Judaeic theologians have raised. While I am still a literal atheist (nobody's converted me as of yet), I have found that I am now too seeking God - or, to be more exact, that singular, absolute moral code that God would represent. And in that search, I have found that I hold nothing but the utmost respect for most theologic teachings, where, in my personal opinoin, have made leaps and bounds about the study of morality over more contemporary "philosophies" like, say, the Randists (yuck). Funny how the world works, eh?

    In fact, I probably wouldn't be in Chicago if it wasn't for Ricoeur. Back in '99 or so, the students here had organized an international symposium titled Ethics and Meaning in Public Life: A Conference on Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought. I immediately booked tickets to attend the event (pulling a few strings here and there), as I held the man in such high regard. And let me tell you, friend, that I have never been witness to such an intellectually stimulating event in my life. It was then and there, in the presence of some of the greatest philosophical minds in the world, that I decided that I wanted to be a part of this. I jumped ship almost immediately from Berkeley to Chicago for my MA/PhD in sociology, with a distinct focus on social ethics in relation to religious moral codes in general society.

    Man, I just previewed that. Sorry for boring you. It's just that Ricoeur is among a few modern thinkers that I hold in the highest regard. So, long story short, yes, Ricoeur is still an Emeritus faculty here.

    Also, just a thought - while atheism by its literal definition is not a religion (which, once again, I totally agree with you on), can it not be argued that a large number of atheists (I would daresay the majority) have an almost institutionalized set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that are common amongst its "members?" Furthermore, can it not be said that science has taken the place of God as these "atheists" ultimate reality and/or deity?

    Or perhaps I am being unintentionally obtuse about the whole matter. I have no empirical data or objective observations relating to such, more than I have my own personal experiences and my subjective interpretation of them. As such, I believe I'll quietly drop this topic and scurry back into my hole.

    Cheers
    DLS
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    Atheism vs religion (none / 0) (#577)
    by Happy Monkey on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 10:35:23 AM EST

    Also, just a thought - while atheism by its literal definition is not a religion (which, once again, I totally agree with you on), can it not be argued that a large number of atheists (I would daresay the majority) have an almost institutionalized set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that are common amongst its "members?"

    In what way? Very few belong to any sort of organization which would provide such a framework. Where would these come from?

    Furthermore, can it not be said that science has taken the place of God as these "atheists" ultimate reality and/or deity?

    In what way? As Creator? Science didn't create the universe. It may attempt to discover how the universe was created, but science isn't provided as the explanation itself. As an object of worship? Only in the most liberal meaning of worship, if at all. As an object of faith? Only in that there is a feeling that science will continue to find more answers and more questions, as it has in the past. Just as one may have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, based on the fact that it has done so for so long. But you never know, we could have misunderstood the internal processes of stars, and the sun could supernova tonight.
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    Ahem. (none / 0) (#594)
    by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 04:28:07 PM EST

    Not to quote myself, but:

    Or perhaps I am being unintentionally obtuse about the whole matter. I have no empirical data or objective observations relating to such, more than I have my own personal experiences and my subjective interpretation of them.

    I am hoping that you read the rest of my comment. Just in case you haven't, I still consider myself "atheist" (but if anybody asked, I would tell them I was an apathetic agnostic - it's good for shits and giggles). However, I've noticed in dealing with other so-called atheists, the immature ones that don't clearly think out their line of reasoning, that they have adopted atheism in and of itself as a type of odd religion. I say "almost institutionalized" because these types of "atheists" (or "weak theists," a term that I borrow from RobotSlave) share a similar methodology - in attitudes, beliefs, and practices - when it comes to analyzing and denouncing various religions, particularly Christianity (if we want to get really bitchy, I can also say that these types of atheists will more often than not share a similar worldview as well, to the point where you can guess at what their political and ethical leanings were). And these atheists almost always share a reverential worship of science as the "final answer" just as much as fundamentalist Christians do with God.

    If you have never had to deal with these weak theists, than you are a luckier individual than I. I am still in university, and while I found the U of C has a generally more intellectual crowd when dealing with religion, I was swamped by these fools at Berkeley. They have left a bad taste in my mouth, and a red flag immediately arises (perhaps unfairly) when anyone mentions that they are an atheist.
    ---

    I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
    [ Parent ]

    What are the common definitions? (none / 0) (#592)
    by khallow on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 04:12:24 PM EST

    I just spent a bit of time looking for anthropological definitions of religion on the web. The best I could do was this definition:

    OK, from Clifford Geertz, Religion is: "A system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men [sic] by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

    Given the above definition, atheism isn't a religion in itself, but is an attribute of several things that would be religious. For example, Marxism, Communism as practiced in the USSR and China, Objectivism, Secular Humanism (and variants like the Transhumanists), and some anti-theist groups.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    Defining Religion (none / 0) (#617)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 07:25:54 PM EST

    Well, if you had choose one definition of religion to represent the anthropological view, the definition you found would probably be one the better choices and would most certainly be included on the shortlist of nearly all anthropologists. Geertz has been enormously influential in both cultural anthropology and in religious studies departments and his basic approach to the study of religion and the general practice of ethnography remains pervasive, or at least it does within the english speaking world.

    Basically, there are three primary schools of thought in cultural anthropology (of course most real practicioners are not purists), instrumentalist, psychological, and interpretive. Instrumentalism (or functionalism) originates in the work of Durkheim and Marx and views cultural phenomenon in terms of the role or function that it plays in society. The psychological approach, beginning with Freud, understands cultural phenomenon to be manifestations of deeper psychological forces. The interpretive school, related to some of Weber's work and closely associated with Geertz, is concerned primarily with understanding culture in terms of meaning and systems of symbols and symbolic behaviors (also known as the semiotic approach).

    In none of these views would the non-belief in a deity, in and of itself, represent a religion, but you are correct in noting that atheism could be an element of broader social phenomena that would possibly qualify as religious or which, perhaps more precisely, couldn't be rigorously excluded from the category of religion.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Geertz addendum (none / 0) (#633)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 10:12:50 PM EST

    Unfortunately, the essay containing Geertz's definition of religion, Religion as a Cultural System, is not available online, but if you are interested in getting a feel for his general approach there are a few of his essays available:

    Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture: Essential reading for understanding Geertz's approach and the interpretive method in general. Here Geertz defines culture and establishes the basic foundation for an interpretive ethnography derived from Gilbert Ryle's concept of thick description.

    Art as a Cultural System: In this essay Geertz suggests how his anthroplogical method might be utilized for the purpose of art criticism.

    Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight: This essay is among the contenders for the title of most famous and widely read ethnography of all time. Unlike the other two essays, both of which are theoretical in nature, this one demonstrates the application of Geertz's method. If you only read one, read this one.


    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Not only theists (3.75 / 4) (#184)
    by kaeru on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:41:20 PM EST

    Atheists use that sort of argument with alarming frequency as well.  How many times have the Sept 11th hijackers been used to show that religion is "immoral and dangerous"?  Obviously it's not an argument at all, whether made by theists or atheists.  (Of course, theism/atheism might in fact be evil and dangerous, but you need more to prove it than a few Bad Guys)

    On another note, as far as I am aware, the only qualification for atheism is non-belief in God(s).  On this basis it would seem to me that the USSR qualifies as an atheist state, regardless of whether or not we like the other trappings of the government.

    [ Parent ]

    Communism was just a red herring. (3.50 / 4) (#198)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:26:49 PM EST

    In the USSR's case, as in the case most people have with religion in general (if religion is "what people put their faith in"), the problem was having a religion of authority. Any kind of blind adherance to authority is tantamount to a willful ignorance, and necessarily allows people to relinquish whatever will they had to whatever cause the authority desires.



    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Absolutely right (3.66 / 3) (#219)
    by The Timelord on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:07:30 PM EST

    The repression and problems in the USSR really had nothing to do with their people's non-beleif in a religion or with their governments failure to run the country according to any particular religion.

    Present day Western countries have a large proportion of their people who are either non-religious or who 'belong' to a religion in a nominal sense only. They also have a fairly strict seperation between church and state. Yet we don't suffer Stalinist oppression.

    If anything the former USSR shows how dangerous it is to run a country strictly on the dogma of a particular religion or ideaology, wether it be catholicism, Islam or Communism, without any kind of Democracy or freedom.

    [ Parent ]

    add (5.00 / 2) (#262)
    by fhotg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:53:14 AM EST

    If anything the former USSR shows how dangerous it is to run a country strictly on the dogma of a particular religion or ideaology, wether it be catholicism, Islam or Communism, or capitalism without any kind of Democracy or freedom.

    for completness.
    ~~~
    Gitarren fьr die Mдdchen -- Champagner fьr die Jungs

    [ Parent ]

    capitalism (3.00 / 2) (#274)
    by The Timelord on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:21:15 AM EST

    It could be argued that capitalism is just another kind of freedom (economic freedom, free markets, freedom from state interference). Although I suppose taking freedom to the dogmatic level and being fundamentalist about it would be a bad thing too. That's probably why democracy works so well, it leads to compromise, which is the opposite of strict adherence to dogma.

    [ Parent ]
    Silly mortal (none / 0) (#324)
    by gzt on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:58:15 PM EST

    And the socialists say socialism is just another kind of freedom.

    But my main gripe is that you say, "That's probably why democracy works so well...".  I don't know what leftivist Shangri La-di-da land you're living in, but you can't simply say "democracy works so well". Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn't, but it's not so apparent that you can say it and think we all know what you're talking about.

    Also: you're a dogmatist berating dogmatists.  

    [ Parent ]

    democracy (none / 0) (#403)
    by The Timelord on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:55:03 PM EST

    I mean that Democracy works so well because it naturally forces people with different ideaologies or dogmas to compromise. A dogmatic or fundamentalist government is one that rules based strictly on a particular ideaology, be it the bible, the communist manifesto, whatever. Often that ideaology has been invented hundreds or thousands of years ago in another part of the world. When problems come up that might require a compromise the dogmatic government will not and the problem will get worse.

    A Democracy is a natural protection from all of this because it follows no strict ideaology, it reflects the will of the people and it inevitably involves compromises between parties of different ideaologies. That is why I said that democracy works so well.

    [ Parent ]

    Democracy... (none / 0) (#406)
    by Eater on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:17:05 PM EST

    ...allows people to willfully (and sometimes not all that willfully) force an ideology onto themselves. A little Hitler, anyone?
    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    Hitler (none / 0) (#418)
    by The Timelord on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 10:44:31 PM EST

    How do you force an ideaology onto yourself?

    As evil as Hitler was remember that he was elected- ie. the German people chose his ideaology, it wasn't imposed.

    Of course he soon suspended democracy and began murdering any conceivable political opposition. But that's hardly a failure of democracy, it happened because democracy was removed, not because Hitler managed to get elected.

    [ Parent ]

    Not quite (none / 0) (#434)
    by Eater on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 01:12:48 AM EST

    The German people didn't chose an ideology that involved a second world war and murder of millions of innocent people. At least most of them didn't. That's the trouble with representative democracy - you don't really know exactly what you're going to get until you get it. Democracy only stands a chance of working if it's protected by a very complex system of laws that prevent something like Nazi Germany from happening, but the more complex the laws the more unstable and confusing the whole system becomes (and you can never really legislate every possibility). Democracy probably is the best system we have to date, but it's still prone to flaws like any other, and is, without a doubt, an ideology - it just happens to be the ideology of whoever is in office, plus the laws that limit their power.
    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    Not really... (none / 0) (#450)
    by The Timelord on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 04:38:09 AM EST

    The German people didn't chose an ideology that involved a second world war

    As I said in the last post Hitler suspended Democracy well before he started World War 2.

    That's the trouble with representative democracy - you don't really know exactly what you're going to get until you get it

    True. But you can always vote it out again, a choice that the Germans weren't given so the German example really doesn't apply.

    it just happens to be the ideology of whoever is in office

    Not quite. My original point was that democracy is the only way to prevent strict, rigid, interpretations of a particular ideaology being imposed. It does this in 2 ways: 1) A government has to be elected, not imposed. 2) To get anywhere most political parties will have to compromise with other parties to get their legislation through. It is reasonably rare that one party has a huge majority and even if they do rule 1 still applies - they're still answerable to the people at some point.

    without a doubt, an ideology

    An ideaology which says that you can't impose an ideaology on people.

    [ Parent ]

    Well, maybe the ideal democracy... (none / 0) (#529)
    by Eater on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 06:24:08 PM EST

    The thing is that in the ideal democracy where you have elections every second and the entire population participates, and there is always at least one honest candidate, this may well be true. However, in most democracies, elections occur every few years, and a few years is a long time. The process to remove a leader or a member of the legislative body is long and tedious, and requires the support of a large portion of the government (in case of the US, a large part of Congress). In addition to this, many democracies have laws for suspending the "democratic" part of democracy during a war (so as to allow the government to actually get on with the work of fighting the war), and with total control of the government a party can, in theory, convert a democracy to dictatorship quite easily. Also, "democracy" doesn't really imply freedom of speech and religion. Iran is a democracy, after all (although that's really not that great an example, since the really nasty religious leaders there are not, I believe, elected). You can also take a look at the persecution of blacks in the US (in the past) - the US was a democracy, but its government imposed an ideology of white superiority because the black minority simply didn't hold enough votes to oppose it (and while some blacks were prevented from voting, even if they all voted it would probably not have made that big of a difference).
    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    democracy (none / 0) (#542)
    by The Timelord on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:29:49 PM EST

    addition to this, many democracies have laws for suspending the "democratic" part of democracy during a war (so as to allow the government to actually get on with the work of fighting the war), and with total control of the government a party can, in theory, convert a democracy to dictatorship quite easily.

    Exactly, that's what happens when u suspend democracy.

    Iran is a democracy, after all

    No the religious leaders (unelected) still seem to hold the power to veto decisions of the elected government and enforce their power with the military/police. The elected governmnet is still oppressed by them so it doesnt really count as a functioning democracy.

    the US was a democracy, but its government imposed an ideology of white superiority

    As you said the blacks weren't really given the chance to vote. You are right though, the imposition of the will of the majority on the minority is a major problem in a democracy. But having it the other way around would make you the same as the rigidly ideaological governments which were the topic of the original post . Unfortunately there's no other way it can work, and anyway in a democracy it will inevitably change (as it did in the US), in a state with a rigid ideaology there can be no change short of a revolution, which often leads to an equally rigid ideaology being imposed. Eg. Russia-> revolution from the Tsars to Stalin.

    [ Parent ]

    I call Godwin's Law. This thread is closed. (1.00 / 1) (#512)
    by Dr. Zowie on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 04:02:26 PM EST

    Godwin's Law has been satisfied. Let's go home.

    [ Parent ]
    Well, that's really nice of you... (none / 0) (#526)
    by Eater on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 06:09:38 PM EST

    ...but shouldn't my post get the Godwin's Law thing, as it was the first mention of Hitler? Anyway, it only applies to Hitler or the Nazis being used as an insult or comparison. I used it as evidence in support of my point.
    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    Why should I compromise? (none / 0) (#539)
    by gzt on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 07:44:35 PM EST

    And why should my fate be in the hands of popular sentiment?

    Look: Democracy does have some implied ideological assumptions, pilgrim.  I mean, "will of the people"? C'mon.  Compromise. Bah. Humbug.

    [ Parent ]

    Religion as <i>Psychological</i> Pract (3.20 / 5) (#154)
    by wytcld on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 05:39:49 PM EST

    We in the (post)Christian West tend to view religions as, if not all one, all agreed on One God. This is of course not just historically and anthropologically but currently wrong. Hindus have many gods. Buddhists, if they have any gods (many don't) have multiple gods. Taoists have many gods.

    The Alchemists famously held, "As above, so below." So Christians may believe they have a soul as a reflection of the One God, that man is in God's image, and so on. "In Heaven, as it is on Earth."

    Well, however it is (or just plain isn't) in Heaven, religious belief, because it is used to reflect the self, informs the psychological structure of the individual. This has real consequences. Polytheists may end up with a different psychology than monotheists. And athiesm is, psychologically, usually no more than an alienated monotheism - you still have the one self, just in this case with an egotism that doesn't depend on the supposed resemblence to the One God. But polytheism is different.

    Of course, one may look at India and wonder if a lack of unity in personal psychology - reflective of the many gods - has led to the degree of dysfunctional anarchy in society. But one may also look on ancient Athens and question whether the high proportion of brilliant citizens compared to any modern town of similar size (there really is no comparison, even if your town is Oxford or Princeton) reflects the active, highly developed polytheism of the inhabitants.

    It should also be a commendation for polytheism that it's the reason bin Laden wants to kill us. That is, he views the West as polytheistic. Might he be, in a way, right? Is our very strength a return to psychological polytheism? Read Shakespeare for his positive attitudes towards the ancient gods, and his total disrespect for Christians; read Milton for a more guarded version of same. We may choose to do without religion, but to the extent we mix up our lives with it, is monotheism the inferior way? Again, consider bin Laden, consider Bush and Ashcroft, consider the Pope. Should we model the self after a single idealized spirit, or should we aim for an ecological blend, a new Olympus, a respectful diversity which can truly reflect and inform the psychology of the modery polyvidual?

    Of many, one? Of one, many! (4.50 / 2) (#227)
    by Hobbes2100 on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:44:12 PM EST

    all agreed on One God.

    The funniest thing is, in the Middle Ages, the enlightened Arabs refered to Christians as polytheists -- worshippers of a Father, Son, and a Holy Ghost (and maybe several Saints and a Virgin in a pear tree).

    Regards,
    Mark
    Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
    But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal
    [ Parent ]

    Imagination unifies religion and science (3.00 / 5) (#183)
    by Perpetual Coming on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 06:40:32 PM EST

    Most of you will recognize "Imagination is more important than knowledge", by Albert Einstein. The Bible is to the knowledge of religion as Newton is to the knowledge of science. As long as we recognize our current understanding as imperfect and subject to the introduction of new information which will bring only a fuller understanding, I think we'll be all right.

    I'm a believer, well, that's not strictly true, I'm a more of a make believer, but it sort of adds up to the same thing. -Timo Maas

    Religion matters not, here's why science does (2.80 / 5) (#199)
    by omghax on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:27:47 PM EST

    I have a fairly large amount of commentary, as religion and philosophy are two of the most prominent subjects of my study and thinking, so you've all been warned. The thing about religion, religious fundamentalism in particular, is that it is impossible to disprove. It seems to me sometimes that religion almost expected to encounter resistance, so it made itself as convulted and self-contradictory as possible as a kind of preemptive self-defense. Science deals with the natural world, and methodological naturalism is massively prevalent in the scientific community - and increasingly in the world at large. Science and methodological naturalism don't say anything about a supernatural because they can't. You can't say anything definitively about a supernatural force, entity, or whatever when the usual laws of logic and induction don't apply, and, outside the natural world, they don't. Since man's only consistent, reliable, universal way of understanding the world is reason, which is basically understanding and use of logical systems, it's clear why science works solely on the principles of logic. These happen to be the only consistent, reliable, and universal laws governing nature, as we have observed for thousands of years and come to utilize in the instutition called science. Although science and scientists follow methodological naturalism, just because they don't say anything about a supernatural, this doesn't mean that there isn't one. But there is a great deal of beauty and universal truth in our world even without a god, and it appeals to a great number of people, myself included, who have progressed a step further into philosophical naturalism, who believe that the universe is a self-governing entity that neither needs nor is acted upon by a god/creator/whatever. Empiricism probably provided the basis for modern science, and while some modern-day theories, especially in physics, may not seem to be testable, they usually are in at least some indirect way. And anyway, until they are directly or indirectly testable they usually remain out of the mainstream. So empiricm, for the most part, survives, and neither god nor any other supernatural things exist empirically. And, there's no scientific/logical theory for such things because, by definition, they can't be so described. Unfortunately for religious fundamentalists who try and "prove" the existence of god, and so forth, and unfortunately for the rest of us who have to sit through the rantings, god is outside all of the usual mechanisms for "proving" things, so religion realy boils down to personal belief, not any kind of certainty or even probability. We can't even really make the case that god is possible (although neither can we make one that he is impossible). Science is something that is difficult to deny, given the enormous amount of evidence for it - and unless the universe is a lot weirder than it's turned out to be so far, or it's some giant dream/trick/whatever, science is philosophically sound too. That doesn't mean that there aren't competing philosophies, but most of those won't gain prominence on their own because of their remoteness from what we observe in our everday lives. It is in my experience that most philisophical arguments for religion or spirituality were tacked on long after the religious or spiritual beliefs first came about, and that they all essentially set out to confirm those beliefs instead of make a fair attempt at explaining the world. Science, however, was founded, as I said, upon empiricism, so it has a solid, robust, ancient philosophical basis. Such arguments against religion and spirituality don't deter a good many adherents to those beliefs. Most of those that I've talked to simply retreat intellectually and conversationally, saying "you just have to believe" or some such. I, like many others, have a mind that is a bit more questioning than that, so such a thing is unacceptable. Others claim that they can actually feel god in their lives, influencing things. But this is long after they've been raised with the concept that god does these things. Since, as I've said, there's really no way to displace religion and spirituality, it's been able to pass on and spread. It adopted currently existing traditions, beliefs, and moral codes, and while not too many people in history have been DEVOUTLY faithful, an enormous number have professed it. Like many others, I think that this is a serious problem today, as religion becomes less and less important in politics, international affairs, and so forth. The prominent successes of science are, I think, a large part of why that singular instutition is so frequently targeted by denials. The end of the world, the second comings... none of these have come, and the hardliners among the religious see their beliefs and their way of life threatened by diversity. As much as 15% percent or so of the United States population may be nonbelievers of some kind. The "just wait, they'll see the light and convert" thing didn't work out, and now churches are I think losing followers, not gaining them. Religion can't really adapt, so it's attempting to force itself upon others. The notion by some fundamentalists in the United States that children should be taught creationism and other religious beliefs, even to the exclusion of more reasonable scientific theories, is in itself laughably absurd and childish, and demonstrates I think just how desperate the religious right are becoming. So, I believe the only choice we have is to abandon religion and attempt to begin living our lives on the kind of morality that existed before religion and will survive long after it, on the kind of universal and natural ethics that were the foundation for the law of the Rome, one of the greatest and most influential states in the history of the world. Accepting science, and the concepts of universal truth in the universe, is a big step toward freeing us to pursue universal truth in our own affairs - our behaviours and our laws. Doing just that is a subject on which wise men can differ. Enough said.

    I put the "LOL" in phiLOLigcal leadership - vote for OMGHAX for CMF president!
    HOLY PARAGRAPH -- sorry, ill fix =/ (3.75 / 8) (#200)
    by omghax on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 07:33:41 PM EST

    Ugh, my paragraphs got gayed, here it is again:

    I have a fairly large amount of commentary, as religion and philosophy are two of the most prominent subjects of my study and thinking, so you've all been warned.

    The thing about religion, religious fundamentalism in particular, is that it is impossible to disprove. It seems to me sometimes that religion almost expected to encounter resistance, so it made itself as convulted and self-contradictory as possible as a kind of preemptive self-defense.

    Science deals with the natural world, and methodological naturalism is massively prevalent in the scientific community - and increasingly in the world at large. Science and methodological naturalism don't say anything about a supernatural because they can't. You can't say anything definitively about a supernatural force, entity, or whatever when the usual laws of logic and induction don't apply, and, outside the natural world, they don't. Since man's only consistent, reliable, universal way of understanding the world is reason, which is basically understanding and use of logical systems, it's clear why science works solely on the principles of logic. These happen to be the only consistent, reliable, and universal laws governing nature, as we have observed for thousands of years and come to utilize in the instutition called science.

    Although science and scientists follow methodological naturalism, just because they don't say anything about a supernatural, this doesn't mean that there isn't one. But there is a great deal of beauty and universal truth in our world even without a god, and it appeals to a great number of people, myself included, who have progressed a step further into philosophical naturalism, who believe that the universe is a self-governing entity that neither needs nor is acted upon by a god/creator/whatever.

    Empiricism probably provided the basis for modern science, and while some modern-day theories, especially in physics, may not seem to be testable, they usually are in at least some indirect way. And anyway, until they are directly or indirectly testable they usually remain out of the mainstream. So empiricm, for the most part, survives, and neither god nor any other supernatural things exist empirically. And, there's no scientific/logical theory for such things because, by definition, they can't be so described.

    Unfortunately for religious fundamentalists who try and "prove" the existence of god, and so forth, and unfortunately for the rest of us who have to sit through the rantings, god is outside all of the usual mechanisms for "proving" things, so religion realy boils down to personal belief, not any kind of certainty or even probability. We can't even really make the case that god is possible (although neither can we make one that he is impossible). Science is something that is difficult to deny, given the enormous amount of evidence for it - and unless the universe is a lot weirder than it's turned out to be so far, or it's some giant dream/trick/whatever, science is philosophically sound too.

    That doesn't mean that there aren't competing philosophies, but most of those won't gain prominence on their own because of their remoteness from what we observe in our everday lives. It is in my experience that most philisophical arguments for religion or spirituality were tacked on long after the religious or spiritual beliefs first came about, and that they all essentially set out to confirm those beliefs instead of make a fair attempt at explaining the world. Science, however, was founded, as I said, upon empiricism, so it has a solid, robust, ancient philosophical basis.

    Such arguments against religion and spirituality don't deter a good many adherents to those beliefs. Most of those that I've talked to simply retreat intellectually and conversationally, saying "you just have to believe" or some such. I, like many others, have a mind that is a bit more questioning than that, so such a thing is unacceptable.

    Others claim that they can actually feel god in their lives, influencing things. But this is long after they've been raised with the concept that god does these things. Since, as I've said, there's really no way to displace religion and spirituality, it's been able to pass on and spread. It adopted currently existing traditions, beliefs, and moral codes, and while not too many people in history have been DEVOUTLY faithful, an enormous number have professed it.

    Like many others, I think that this is a serious problem today, as religion becomes less and less important in politics, international affairs, and so forth. The prominent successes of science are, I think, a large part of why that singular instutition is so frequently targeted by denials. The end of the world, the second comings... none of these have come, and the hardliners among the religious see their beliefs and their way of life threatened by diversity. As much as 15% percent or so of the United States population may be nonbelievers of some kind.

    The "just wait, they'll see the light and convert" thing didn't work out, and now churches are I think losing followers, not gaining them. Religion can't really adapt, so it's attempting to force itself upon others. The notion by some fundamentalists in the United States that children should be taught creationism and other religious beliefs, even to the exclusion of more reasonable scientific theories, is in itself laughably absurd and childish, and demonstrates I think just how desperate the religious right are becoming.

    So, I believe the only choice we have is to abandon religion and attempt to begin living our lives on the kind of morality that existed before religion and will survive long after it, on the kind of universal and natural ethics that were the foundation for the law of the Rome, one of the greatest and most influential states in the history of the world. Doing just that is a subject on which wise men can differ, so I will avoid it here. But, to all you religious people out there, it's worth a thought.



    I put the "LOL" in phiLOLigcal leadership - vote for OMGHAX for CMF president!
    [ Parent ]
    A chemical reaction (3.00 / 2) (#255)
    by Quila on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:16:03 AM EST

    "just wait, they'll see the light and convert"

    Wasn't there recent research suggesting that religious experiences are simply chemical reactions in the brain? Found it. here

    So we're supposed to wait until we have a spontaneous cousin of an acid trip, and then we'll understand. Leary said that too.

    [ Parent ]

    Acid trips (none / 0) (#459)
    by nappes on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:35:28 AM EST

    You said, "wasn't there recent research suggesting that religious experiences are simply checmical reactions in the brain?" The problem with this question is is that nobody understands the human brain. So saying that religion is just a function of some unknown process is meaningless. BTW, your post was just a spontaneous chemical reaction in the synapses of your brain. By your reasoning, I should pay no attention it.

    [ Parent ]
    Read the story (none / 0) (#472)
    by Quila on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 11:00:57 AM EST

    Some people apparently understand it better than either of us.

    [ Parent ]
    Read the story (none / 0) (#545)
    by nappes on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:58:25 PM EST

    I am familiar with the story and argument. Just because you experience something when a certain part of the brain is stimulated says nothing about the experience when they are not screwing around in your brain. For instance, they might stimulate an area that makes you experience the taste of salt. Does that mean that when you taste something salty in your everyday life that it is just an illusion? It is an interesting question. Phenomenology. And religious expereince maybe like that taste of salt. Also, I have heard these experiments used to argue both sides of the question of the validity of religious experience. The experiment actually only says that our brains come prewired for it. We are prewired for lots of things.

    [ Parent ]
    Universal and natural ethics (none / 0) (#441)
    by chrylis on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:20:05 AM EST

    So, I believe the only choice we have is to abandon religion and attempt to begin living our lives on the kind of morality that existed before religion and will survive long after it, on the kind of universal and natural ethics that were the foundation for the law of the Rome, one of the greatest and most influential states in the history of the world. Doing just that is a subject on which wise men can differ, so I will avoid it here. But, to all you religious people out there, it's worth a thought.

    Not to be contradictory, but what do you consider the source of universal and natural ethics?

    [ Parent ]

    Ironic (3.00 / 1) (#210)
    by enthalpyX on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 09:21:24 PM EST

    that Smith's book takes a literalist interpretation of Inherit the Wind, when it's really just a commentary on the dangers of McCarthyism. Regardless, a fine movie.

    Making assumptions (4.25 / 12) (#225)
    by The Timelord on Mon Nov 18, 2002 at 10:35:09 PM EST

    A lot of the debate supporting the religious explanation of the universe seems to centre around "science can't explain that so it proves that there are supernatural (ie. God, Allah whatever) beings in the universe, otherwise how did it come about/how does it work?". To put it simply science is the truth but not the whole truth. There are many things which have been proven indisputably true by real-world experiments, from relativity to the laws of motion to evolution and so on.

    The problem is of course that it will take time for science to be able to explain many of the things currently 'explained' by religions. If you went back to, say, the 16th century, and asked a scientist why the sky was blue he would have no idea. However today we know the reason. Similarly today we don't know how quantum gravity fits in with relativity and quantum mechanics but in 500 or 600 years (hopefully sooner!) we may well know.

    It is possible that the 'scientific' answers to the big questions such as how the universe began will appear to agree with some of the teachings of a religion(s), it is even possible that in exploring the universe we might discover something that's considered to be a 'god'.

    However it is illogical to say that because something cannot be explained by science yet that it must be proof of a god. The fact that science cannot explain exactly how life began is no more proof of the existence of god than science not being able to explain the blue sky to the people of the 16th century.

    Finally it should also be noted that the contents of religious scriptures and 'holy' books were written by ordinary human beings, like you and me, and so naturally a lot of it was simply made up or distorted by the biases and political beleifs/interests of those who wrote it.

    speculation (3.25 / 4) (#245)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:51:26 AM EST

    Finally it should also be noted that the contents of religious scriptures and 'holy' books were written by ordinary human beings, like you and me, and so naturally a lot of it was simply made up or distorted by the biases and political beleifs/interests of those who wrote it.
    This is pure speculation. What is so hard to believe that people who devoted their life towards truth in God actually spoke the truth.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps it is because of people like (3.33 / 3) (#257)
    by Greyshade on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:33:40 AM EST

    this

    [ Parent ]
    Much more speculative... (3.50 / 2) (#319)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:39:41 PM EST

    ...to believe that the authors received the text by devine revelation rather than making it up / plagerising it.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Newton (3.33 / 3) (#254)
    by Quila on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:09:02 AM EST

    IIRC, Newton thought divine power was the reason for planetary motions for which we now know the cause scientific cause. In fact, for most of scientific knowledge there was a previous mystic explanation ("god did it") that is no longer believed.

    One by one the mystic explanations fall.

    [ Parent ]

    a modern equivalent (3.50 / 4) (#264)
    by The Timelord on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:02:10 AM EST

    Exactly. Just as Newton saw the planets being moved around by angels cause no one of that time could offer an alternative explanation people in the present day see 'God' being the cause of evolution or the Dark Matter phenomenon or whatever.

    This is also the fundamental difference between scientific and religious/mystic explanations of things. While the scientific explanation has to wait until a theory can be formed and proven through empirical observation or experimentation u can make any old BS up off the top of your head and say it explains that which science currently cannot.

    So unlike what many say science is not just a matter of faith like any religion, but something based on entirely different principles.

    [ Parent ]

    Counter Point (none / 0) (#314)
    by CENGEL3 on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:11:38 PM EST

    I'd say that science was just a different sort of faith.

    Faith that the mechanisms which you are using to observe and test a phenomenom are accurate.

    Faith that the scope on which you are addressing a phenominom is actualy relavent to that phenominom.

    Faith that there is something that you are not failing to consider.

    Faith that because something has been repeated 2000 times that the 2001st time will yield a similar result.

    Faith that the universe IS entirely consistant.

    While on the whole I would say that science is generaly a more perferable and practical form of faith.....I'd still argue that science very much involves it's own particular brand of faith.

    [ Parent ]

    No, look up faith (none / 0) (#317)
    by michaelp on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:35:43 PM EST

    "firm belief in something for which there is no proof"

    The points you make above involve assumptions for which there is some proof.

    In fact, to get pure about it, a Xian who says they believe in God because of the evidence presented in the Bible is not showing true faith.

    This is why there are a large number of fundamentalists who don't have a problem with teaching evolution in schools. It is more the Falwellian branch of Xianism that seeks to organize Xians into a unified political force that is pushing this "Science is a religion/We are in a culture war" creed.


    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    Newton and Descartes (5.00 / 1) (#300)
    by Homburg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:15:27 PM EST

    Newton's case is pretty interesting here, I think. The reason Newton believed God had to be involved in pushing the planets round was because he accepted Descartes' mechanical model of the universe, where the only way objects could interact was by colliding. Gravity, as it affects objects at a distance, seemed to be some sort of occult force, so Newton had to invoke God.

    The interesting thing is that Descartes' mechanism was a key moment in the establishment of the modern scientific worldview (Descartes used it to ridicule Aristotelian science). Yet, adherence to Descartes' metaphysical picture meant that Newton's theory of gravity, a great piece of science if ever there was one, had to be propped up by religion. Getting gravity on a proper scientific footing meant rejecting something that had previously been considered a vital part of avoiding 'mystic explanations'.

    What I think this shows is that it is not quite as simple as a constant destruction of mystic explanations. We do the best we can to rationally understand the world with the conceptual apparatus we have to hand, and we do indeed come to understand things more accurately and in more detail. But this isn't some irreversible march of progress (I'm not saying you're claiming that it is, mind), it's quite a contingent and fragile process. So it's vitally important to defend rationality and critical thinking against mysticism and irrationalism (which, since the reformation, has been the refuge of religious dogmatists).

    (It's also worth noting that Newton was a neo-Platonist and an alchemist. Newton's conception of science - natural philosophy - includes a lot of stuff we'd agree with, but a lot of crazy mysticism too, and it's not clear we can separate the two out).

    [ Parent ]

    the bible (3.00 / 2) (#281)
    by wrax on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:31:53 AM EST

    you have to remember that the bible was written at a time when education was fairly low in the world. people at that time understood things in story form better than actual historic accounts. over time things get added, errors in translation or whole events happening but not getting written down, all of this is in effect in the bible, so before you judge any historic work please make an effort to understand the time in history it was written and the people responsible for promoting it.
    --------------------

    I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
    [ Parent ]

    Bible (5.00 / 1) (#341)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:20:32 PM EST

    The problems arise when the Bible is considered to be the unvarnished Word of God, precluding the possibility of additions, omissions, or errors.
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    but it isn't (none / 0) (#468)
    by wrax on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:42:37 AM EST

    the bible is a book like any other, it has been used (incorrectly) as the TRUE WORD OF GOD in the past and is probably still being used as such in the present. your right that problems arise when it is used in this manner, but then again this holds when any human (and thus fallible) work is used to describe the actions of a supposedly perfect being. I think that religion can be a good thing in people's lives and i don't look down on people who practice a religion, the benifits of having religion are well documented, but people who refuse to believe anything else can also be a valid belief are what ticks me off. These people are what bring religion down in my opinion.
    --------------------

    I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
    [ Parent ]

    Word of God (none / 0) (#469)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 10:49:58 AM EST

    Even if God dictated the Bible word for word, the human writers would get it wrong. Maybe from too much ear wax, or maybe attitude ("He can't have meant this, I'm sure He really meant that").
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    Indeed. (none / 0) (#481)
    by Happy Monkey on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 12:42:10 PM EST

    That should be obvious. But, for some, it isn't. There was, and is, a school of thought that holds that since God dictated the Bible, it is impossible to introduce errors into it. There is even a myth that a number of translators all independently translated the Bible, and all came up with identical translations.
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    [ Parent ]
    Faith (2.09 / 11) (#235)
    by DeepOmega on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:21:53 AM EST

    Science is a form of faith. After all, the beliefs of the fundamentalists relgions are based on just as much as any scientists' theorems and laws.How many of you have used a partical accelerator, or actually seen a superstring or a black hole? (I know, black holes can't be seen.... you know what I mean) My point is, any time you simply accept what those before you have "proved," you are taking something on faith. I won't even get into what an experiment can possibly prove... Everyone takes those discrepancies betwen theory and experiment for granted. But really, no theory has ever been proven. They all simply appear reeeeeeally likely.

    I motion to have science declared a faith.

    "We believe in one TOE, the theory the almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen..."

    Peace and much love...

    Faith in physical law? (4.00 / 3) (#241)
    by magney on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:03:16 AM EST

    The faith of science is really just a faith that the universe operates according to fixed rules. I'm willing to stipulate that this does require faith of a sort - to the ancients who believed that the gods did everything, it's one hell of a step. But despite what some of the 19th century philosophers thought, belief in physical law does not necessarily require belief in a Lawgiver.

    Do I look like I speak for my employer?
    [ Parent ]

    It's not faith (3.33 / 3) (#251)
    by nictamer on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:18:38 AM EST

    It's just the only useful and practical assumption: if we don't assume that the universe operates according to some fixed rules and that we, humans, are able to find out about them, then any intellectual endeavour is worthless. We make this assumption, and it's worked very well so far, this computer I'm using is quite a proof.
    --
    Religion is for sheep.
    [ Parent ]
    Laws... (2.75 / 4) (#260)
    by DeepOmega on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:47:49 AM EST

    And who are you to say your "laws" are any better than the laws of a religious doctrine? Any truly religious man will tell you that if you pray, God/whatever higher entity will help you out of your problems. Ask him for proof, and he'll tell you that when he prays, there is often some result which kinda-sorta helps him out. Any true believer in science will tell you that yeah, stuff falls when you drop it with an acceleration of about 9.8 meters per second. Ask him for proof, and he'll no doubt have whole rack of experiments wherein the results kinda-sorta involve falling objects with an acceleration of 9.8 meters per second.

    Yeah, I know what you're gonna say. Science isn't that simple, many interlocking laws, etc. etc. Well, then answer me this. How is the current theory of the creation of the universe any better than one of the theories posited by major religions.

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Big bang theory (3.25 / 4) (#265)
    by The Timelord on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:15:36 AM EST

    In a lot of ways it's not, however there is a fair bit of empirical evidence for it (expansion and structure of the universe observed through telescopes, radio telescopes etc.) whereas there is no verifiable evidence for the creation theory espoused by such religions as christianity. In fact there is quite a lot of evidence that the world/universe was not made 6-10 thousand years ago in 7 days and with all animals effectively already evolved etc.

    Anyway science doesn't claim to know how the universe began, that's why the Big Bang Theory is called just that - a theory. However the difference between the scientific 'theory' and the 'theories' of most of the religions of the world is that the scientific one has some evidence backing it up (although not enough to be considered proven) while the religious ones have a lot of evidence disproving them and non backing them up except people's beleifs.

    [ Parent ]

    Don't feed the troll [n/t] (1.00 / 1) (#313)
    by coljac on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:08:54 PM EST



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]
    *Raises Eyebrow* (none / 0) (#408)
    by DeepOmega on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:21:11 PM EST

    Are you talking to The Timelord, or me? Either way, I think you're incorrect.... I, for one, have held this belief for years. I've selected science as my faith of choice, but I realize that it's just that: a faith.

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Evidence (none / 0) (#365)
    by DeepOmega on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:02:07 PM EST

    Hm. Tell me, then, what this evidence is that you have seen with your own eyes. Or to put it another way: if I haven't seen it, how do I know it's happened? All these facts and experiments your speaking of... you take for granted that they happened, let alone whether the data is real. Is this any different frim taking the word of a priest (or some holy scripture) as law?

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Primary evidence (none / 0) (#399)
    by The Timelord on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:35:30 PM EST

    Have you ever been to China? no? well then how do you know it exists? I've never been to the United States, for all I know it doesn't exist and all the web sites, TV images, people etc. that claim to come from it are a vast fabrication.

    You're using a similar argument with science, that because I haven't experienced experiment x with my own senses that for all I know it could be a fabrication, therefore science is a matter of faith.

    In fact how do I (or you) know that what I'm experiencing now is real? It could all be a vast computer simulation (a la The Matrix). It's an interesting thought that is usually only meditated upon by philosophy students and kids in the school playground. It has no bearing on the real world though because at some point you have to draw the line between what's real or verifiably real and what's not. Otherwise you'll just be living in a fantasy world of your own making.

    For example I could hop on a plane to China and verify that it's really there, same with the US. How do I know I can really do this? well I've flown to Singapore, Thailand and Britain in those planes so I can safely assume that they would also take me to the US or China and that when I get to those places I'll discover that they are real (just like I did with Britain, Singapore and Thailand).

    I have done various science experiments in high school and they've turned out as science predicted they would. Everyday I see further verification of science - from light's turning on to aeroplanes staying in the sky etc. etc. It is therefore safe to assume that science can be trusted.

    However I can't go back to the time of christ and see with my own eyes what happened there, I can't summon up Jesus to turn water into wine. In fact I have seen no first hand evidence of a higher power. That is the difference between science and religion. I can verify science with my own senses but not so with religion.

    [ Parent ]

    It's the unsubtleness that's key here... (none / 0) (#395)
    by Dr. Zowie on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:22:56 PM EST

    The results of the religious man't prayer are subtle and hard to find. The results of Newton's law of gravitation are far reaching and (duh) as obvious as a rock falling on your head. Newton's laws are what hold up the weather satellites that tell you when to expect hurricanes. You don't have to believe in anything to be injured by a bullet or sunburned by the X-rays coming from a nuclear blast.

    [ Parent ]
    science=subtle (none / 0) (#509)
    by DavidTC on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 03:32:29 PM EST

    Science does subtle measurements all the time, where it predicts, and scientists make up eperiments that prove, something that is overpowered by a dozens of orders of magnitude by something else. That's like measuring a spaceship an extra millimeter over a trip of 35 thousand lightyears. Science can do subtle effects very well.

    What you mean is that religion isn't consistent. You can't pray that something will move six microns to the left, which certainly would be a very subtle effect, but measurable by science. These effects of religion supposedly only alter probablity, under circumstances that occur only once and cannot be tested. That's not subtle, that's inconsistent.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Erroneous Assumption (3.25 / 4) (#283)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 09:57:59 AM EST

    Why does everyone keep assuming that the existence of God and a logical, consistent universe are mutually exclusive?
    What kind of piss poor deity makes a universe with bigass holes in the physics? The existence of God is one of those things that can never be proven or disproven because it does not rely on the existence of anything else, or any particular state of the universe. We don't even need to bother ourselves trying to prove the existence of God (Or disprove it) it's a waste of effort. We should instead devote ourselves to understanding our universe and the laws that govern it. Because whether you believe in God or not, the Laws of the Universe are what govern our everyday existence and believing one way or another isn't going to change that. But for all of you hardcore anti-religious zealots remember this, the validity of science does not necessitate the absence of God.
    And for all of you religious nutballs remember this, it is a poor deity which creates an inconsistent universe. Everything we see around us will be explainable WITHOUT resorting to God as an explanation, from creation to completion. IF it weren't then there would be Proof of God, which the Bible states specifically that there will never be until the very end. So learn to live with science.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    No assumption (none / 0) (#303)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:23:59 PM EST

    "Why does everyone keep assuming that the existence of God and a logical, consistent universe are mutually exclusive?"

    I do not deny the possibility of the existence of a "god" (or gods), I just have no evidence to support the existence of such an entity.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Of course. (none / 0) (#310)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:58:59 PM EST

    Of course, but lack of evidence does not mean lack of existence. Europeans had no evidence for the existence of the America's, but that made them no less real. You can not claim certainty of the nonexistence of a thing simply through lack of evidence. There must be evidence that the thing does not exist. Which can never be found for God, regardless of the truth of the matter. At least not until you die...

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    I bought sweets with evidence of the tooth fairy (none / 0) (#328)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:07:39 PM EST

    While European explorers had (little or) no evidence of the existence of the Americas they did have the tenable scientific theory that the world was spherical to motivate sailing West.

    Not only have I met no compelling evidence for the existence of $DEITY I know of no tenable theory which requires $DEITY.

    Pascal's wager does not worry me for much the same reason as I don't buy lottery tickets.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Evidence (none / 0) (#332)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:13:30 PM EST

    The earth being spherical doesn't require the existance of the Americas. My point is simply that though you find no compelling reason to believe in a deity if any kind, others do. And you should respect their decision and encourage them to respect yours WITHOUT being dismissive and derisive of their position.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    Discovering stuff (none / 0) (#352)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:01:24 PM EST

    Whilst the earth being spherical doesn't require the existance of the Americas it does make it much, much easier to recruit participants and financiers for an expedition sailing West than a flat earth would.

    The discovery of the Americas illustrates the scientific method quite well in that in testing a theory it produced evidence which required the theory to be revised.

    I do not mean to disparage people who engage me in debate, I may well disparrage their argument if they give me an opening, it is only the argument that I attack (I hope!).


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Certainly (none / 0) (#361)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:34:11 PM EST

    And you should be quick to destroy the arguments of anyone who attempts to argue christianity or any other religion from a scientific perspective. It simply shouldn't be done because it's not science. It is unprovable by definition. Certain aspects may be proveable (The existence of peopel spoken about in religious texts, the occurence of some of the events) but there is certainly no way of proving the truthfullness of a religion and you shouldn't let other people propose poor arguments. If they aren't accepting their belief simply on the value of the belief then they should re-evaluate their position and think about what they really want out of their belief. I'm content to believe that God created a complete universe which is internally consistent and can be explained within the framework where it exists. I am happy with a God that does not interfere with our existence because to do so would contaminate some great experiment which He is performing. That is a comfortable notion for me to hold, it gives the existence of humanity a greater purpose without clouding my reasoning in regards to scientific advancement. It's comforting without being intrusive. Perhaps the bad do go to hell when they die and the good go to heaven, perhaps it is arbitrary, I don't know. But I choose to believe that it has a purpose. I also choose to believe that we may some day understand that purpose if we learn enough about the universe. For me, the pursuit of knowledge is the purest goal of the human race.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    Well said seeker (none / 0) (#602)
    by teeth on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 05:30:15 PM EST

    I almost envy your (deist?) faith!

    I (can) have no argument against an external, unknowable god. Your faith conforts you in the sometimes frightning journey toward knowlege and gives you strenghth to press forward. Good.

    Thank you for bringing my to greater understanding.

    Perhaps my (distant) Calvinist roots deny me such ephemeral luxury (but fortunately not excessively powerful motor vehicles ;) )

    The type of faith which troubles me is that wich claims an exclusive, imutable received truth (or worse, an interpreted revision thereof!) for it is threatened by the seeking for knowlege lest it contradict "the Truth". Such faith, in its promotion of ignorance, is perhaps the greatest brake on the advancement of the human condition.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Why bother? (none / 0) (#312)
    by coljac on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:02:10 PM EST

    Why does everyone keep assuming that the existence of God and a logical, consistent universe are mutually exclusive?

    They may not be mutually exclusive, depending on what you define "God" to be, and what you call "existence". But such a god (enjoying such an existence) doesn't have any interesting properties - that is, any properties that can have any bearing on the physical universe - since you can make no claims about him testable by science. So what's the point? How does my understanding improve by admitting the possibility of an invisible, ethereal metaphysical entity? It's the same old tired story - why should I believe in God, any god, and not the Magical Dimension of the Invisible Scary Skeletons? You can add an infinite amount of metaphysical baggage to your cosmology but all it will give you is unnecesary complexity.

    Coljac



    ---
    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Not the point (none / 0) (#329)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:11:03 PM EST

    The point is not whether YOU should believe, but whether you should hold in contempt those who do believe. People who mock the religious are doing themselves and everyone else a disservice. If you don't believe, don't worry about it. Your belief or disbelief won't change what is, and neither will theirs. So just let it go. Respond with tolerance and a plea for reciprical tolerance.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    An aside (none / 0) (#340)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:14:29 PM EST

    Would it be possible for someone to construct for themselves a belief system that is so ridiculous that you would hold it in contempt? This is not a rhetorical question where I am assuming you will answer one way or another. I am just curious.
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    [ Parent ]
    Hrmmm... (4.00 / 1) (#357)
    by Kintanon on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:24:50 PM EST

    I don't know of anyone who has. But I won't rule out the possibility that someone could. After a few minutes of contemplation can not think of one. Even were someone to tell me they believed the sky to be green I would have to assume that to them, the sky WAS green since I have no way of knowing whether we both see color the same way.
    Many other such situations as this one could arrise as well... Maybe if someone professed to believe something which was patently and observably false like "There is no Sun, all of that heat and light is an illusion" I would think they were a bit loopy... Of course, how can I prove it's NOT an illusion? Whether it is or not is immaterial since we have to function as if it were not an illusion simply because so much of our life depends upon it. Much as I believe we must function as if God does not exist, regardless of whether he does or not, because we must live without his intervention either way.
    Honestly I don't think that someone could form a belief system which I would hold in contempt. I certainly hold members of certain beliefs in contempt, and I'm not that fond of Scientology or Urantia. But I can not say with certainty that they hold no truth at all. So I choose to live and let live. Only if they attempt to force their views on me will I retaliate.

    Kintanon

    [ Parent ]

    Faith (3.50 / 4) (#243)
    by jefflar on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:40:33 AM EST

    The problem with your idea - is the fact that science actually works. That is, it predicts something.

    [ Parent ]
    Why is that needed? (2.16 / 6) (#244)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:46:29 AM EST

    Why does a belief need to make predictions about our future that you can test for it to be true? If you believe Hawking and the other science priests, then why do you not believe the religious priest? The Christian Church extends from people that actually saw and spoke to Jesus. They wrote about it and other wrote about them. This seems just as valid as any scientific publication.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    It's not (3.33 / 3) (#259)
    by fhotg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:37:25 AM EST

    If you can test something, you are able to know. You don't need to believe then.

    Believing the existence of Jesus doesn't have to involve much faith, one can be convinced of this based on historical, archeological etc. evidence. That doesn't make you a believer in any religion.
    ~~~
    Gitarren fьr die Mдdchen -- Champagner fьr die Jungs

    [ Parent ]

    Serious miscomprehension (3.33 / 3) (#267)
    by synaesthesia on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:19:29 AM EST

    The Christian Church extends from people that actually saw and spoke to Jesus. They wrote about it and other wrote about them. This seems just as valid as any scientific publication.

    No, science does not seek to tell us about what happened. It seeks to tell us about what happens. That is the fundamental difference. There is not amount of experimentation that I can perform to verify that Jesus was the Son of God, wheras scientific theories can be tested, right here, right now.


    Sausages or cheese?
    [ Parent ]

    Just like the rest of historical research. (5.00 / 1) (#326)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:58:48 PM EST

    We still refer to archeologists as scientists, yet they don't make predictions about the future. We accept what they say as truth. The closest you get is when an archeologists predicts where a new city will be found or what pottery pieces will look like. Quite amazingly, the Bible has been used to predict the exact same thing; digs have been started based on locatations and information given in the Bible.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    They most certainly do make predictions (none / 0) (#351)
    by michaelp on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 04:01:16 PM EST

    They make predictions all the time, based on evolutionary theory.

    For instance, they predicted that fossil organisms that appear very similar will also be shown to be similar by DNA testing, and such predictions have often been proven true.


    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    wrong science (none / 0) (#385)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 06:38:23 PM EST

    I said archeology, you are talking about paleontology.

    From PBS:

    archeology: The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of physical remains, such as graves, tools, pottery, and other artifacts.

    paleontology: The scientific study of fossils.

    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Reinforcement (none / 0) (#304)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 12:25:07 PM EST

    "Why does a belief need to make predictions about our future that you can test for it to be true?"

    One can apply scientific theories to predict outcomes. Should such predictions be consistantly correct, it strongly suggests that the theory provides a valid model of reality. Conversely, errors in prediction suggest that the theory is either mistaken or, like Newtonian mechanics, of limited scope.

    Science is however not a belief, it is a systematic questioning of beleif.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Why? (none / 0) (#323)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:55:57 PM EST

    Why does a theory neeed to predict something to be considered true? When talking about historical fact that can't be the case. We accept documents such as the Declaration of Independance as fact, yet it doesn't predict anything.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    'cos (none / 0) (#350)
    by teeth on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:56:37 PM EST

    "Why does a theory neeed to predict something to be considered true?

    It dosen't, it merely needs to posit an explanation of something consistent with evidence. If a theory allows predictions to be made it both reinforces its own potential validity and becomes a potentially useful tool for further investigation.

    "When talking about historical fact that can't be the case. We accept documents such as the Declaration of Independance as fact, yet it doesn't predict anything."

    Artifacts are not theories.


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    Telephone (none / 0) (#336)
    by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 02:53:20 PM EST

    The Christian Church extends from people that actually saw and spoke to Jesus. They wrote about it and other wrote about them. This seems just as valid as any scientific publication.

    The tale of Jesus is a 2000 year old game of telephone, with the printing press providing a bit more stability in the past several centuries. People today can't go back to the source and verify the accounts written in the New Testament, much less the Old Testament. On the other hand, students can duplicate Newton's experiments in grade school, and see the exact same results that he saw. Likewise, people can duplicate the experiments in any scientific publication, and make sure they are verifiable.
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    [ Parent ]
    It's needed in order to have meaning. (none / 0) (#393)
    by Dr. Zowie on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 07:04:21 PM EST

    Statements without meaning are just masturbation.

    What makes science interesting is a rather rigorous interpretation of "meaning": science acts on the subset of propositions whose truth can be at least weakly tested, independently of the belief structure of the person doing the probing.

    So when a scientist tells you that electrons all have a particular charge and magnetic moment, those phrases ("electrons", "charge", and "magnetic moment") are all shorthand for large, very rigorously defined complexes of behavior. In this case, the "electron" is the thing being (partially) defined, "charge" is shorthand for the constant of proportionality in an (empirically discovered) inverse-square law involving forces ("force" is itself a shorthand for something else!) on balls of pith that have been rubbed with silk or rubber, and "magnetic moment" is shorthand for a different constant of proportionality involving the forces between pieces of loadstone.

    Every well-conceived scientific sentence can be picked apart by exegesis into a finite collection of specific, unsubtle observations that you can make using appropriate equipment.

    The same is not true of statements made within Christian dogma. For example, the existence of God is explicitly said to be not verifieable (despite the works of Thomas Aquinas and others): it's an object of faith. Ourobouros-like, the argument requires that you have to believe in God to verify his existence, so it's impossible to convince a sufficiently skeptical unbeliever that God exists. In fact, over the centuries various people who believe fervently in one God or another have made great sport from trying to convince one another that He exists.

    There's a story in the old testament about Daniel (I seem to recall -- no bible handy) dancing around a wet altar for a couple of days and having it burst into flame. By this miracle he convinces some heathens that Yahweh not only exists but can beat the crap out of whomever they are worshipping. That story, to me, summarizes the power of the scientific method: what counts is the unsubtle results. Scientific miracles are all around us (you're experiencing one right now, reading my words potentially just moments after I hit "Submit"). We take clairvoyance (television), clairaudience (telephones), miraculous light, and even human flight for granted. These miracles seldom if ever occured during Biblical times. Why not? By Daniel's measure, science is beating the crap out of Yahweh -- and we still have all the ailments of human nature to deal with.

    Not that religion is completely worthless. It's just that it holds to a weaker definition of "meaning" and hence can't compete with science for developing understanding of the world around us.

    See my other article at the top about the difference between religious teaching and science teaching.

    [ Parent ]

    History is not the same as experimental science. (none / 0) (#407)
    by jjayson on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 08:19:07 PM EST

    What makes science interesting is a rather rigorous interpretation of "meaning": science acts on the subset of propositions whose truth can be at least weakly tested, independently of the belief structure of the person doing the probing.
    Not always. We call archeologists scientists, yet they do not make heavily testable predictions about the future. The closest they get is predicing where a city may exist, what pottery may be like, or how somebody lived a thousand years ago. Well, they have used to Bible for the exact same predictions. This should put the Bible on the same level as the science of archeology.

    The same is not true of statements made within Christian dogma. For example, the existence of God is explicitly said to be not verifieable (despite the works of Thomas Aquinas and others): it's an object of faith.
    It is only non-verifieable because you see the evidence differntly than many do. The mere existance of the universe, consciousness, and freewill are all direct proof of God. I have yet to hear convincing evidence aginst those three things, too.

    it's impossible to convince a sufficiently skeptical unbeliever that God exists.
    I don't claim that I can create air-tight proof of God. I can try to make the gap that requires faith smaller, though.

    There's a story in the old testament about Daniel (I seem to recall -- no bible handy) dancing around a wet altar for a couple of days and having it burst into flame. By this miracle he convinces some heathens that Yahweh not only exists but can beat the crap out of whomever they are worshipping. That story, to me, summarizes the power of the scientific method: what counts is the unsubtle results.
    The story is about a challenge that was

    It's just that it holds to a weaker definition of "meaning" and hence can't compete with science for developing understanding of the world around us.
    Religion doesn't try to describe the world around us. Science is the how. Religion and God is the why and who.

    See my other article at the top about the difference between religious teaching and science teaching.
    They all have the faulty connection between experimental science and history, like archeology.

    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Predictions (none / 0) (#473)
    by Happy Monkey on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 11:08:03 AM EST

    Not always. We call archeologists scientists, yet they do not make heavily testable predictions about the future.

    Well, duh. They make predictions about the past, which may be supported or refuted in the future.

    The mere existance of the universe, consciousness, and freewill are all direct proof of God.

    No, they are evidence which can be explained by the God theory, not proof. But
    spontaneous natural generation of consciousness and free will is no less likely than the
    spontaneous magical generation of a superpowerful being which can give
    consciousness and free will to others.
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    [ Parent ]
    standards (none / 0) (#500)
    by jjayson on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:40:18 PM EST

    Well, duh. They make predictions about the past, which may be supported or refuted in the future.
    That isn't the point. The point is what the evidenciary stadard is. The Bible is an artifact of history, just as artifacts found at an excavation. The Bible's truth comes from the worthiness of its authors. Go ahead and argue that. However, asking the Bible to make testable predictions is not what it is there for.

    No, they are evidence which can be explained by the God theory, not proof. But
    spontaneous natural generation of consciousness and free will is no less likely than the
    spontaneous magical generation of a superpowerful being which can give
    consciousness and free will to others.
    There was no spontaneous magical generation of God. He was never created. He has always been and always will be, unchanging. He provides that way out of the cause-effect cycle and eliminates a need for anything to be created. He also provides a way for the universe to be created by being omnipotent.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    OK (none / 0) (#513)
    by Happy Monkey on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 04:11:23 PM EST

    However, asking the Bible to make testable predictions is not what it is there for.

    Just as with other historical artifacts, it can be used to predict future archeeological discoveries. When these discoveries are made, they provide support for biblical historical accounts, and the Bible provides possible historical context for the discoveries.

    There was no spontaneous magical generation of God. He was never created. He has always been and always will be, unchanging.

    Here are the possibilities:
    a) Eternal God creates universe
    b) God creates Himself, then creates universe
    c) Universe is eternal
    d) Universe spontaneously appears

    Why would a) be more likely than c)? c) is simpler.
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    [ Parent ]
    Sigh (none / 0) (#476)
    by hstink on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 11:39:19 AM EST

    I don't know why you keep dragging this up.

    Not always. We call archeologists scientists, yet they do not make heavily testable predictions about the future.

    I regard a scientist as someone who employs the scientific method to a given field.  I assume you have a conflicting definition, since the scientific method has nothing to do with predicting the future, only testing a hypothesis derived from observed phenomena.  It just so happens that many a hypothesis posited by archaeologists can be tested by digging holes.

    It is only non-verifieable because you see the evidence differntly than many do. The mere existance of the universe, consciousness, and freewill are all direct proof of God. I have yet to hear convincing evidence aginst those three things, too.

    Consciousness and free will?  I can not think of a reason (besides just wanting fervently to believe so) that one would assume these are mystical qualities that transcend the observable universe.

    -h

    [ Parent ]

    ecidenciary standard (none / 0) (#498)
    by jjayson on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:36:53 PM EST

    I regard a scientist as someone who employs the scientific method to a given field.  I assume you have a conflicting definition, since the scientific method has nothing to do with predicting the future, only testing a hypothesis derived from observed phenomena.  It just so happens that many a hypothesis posited by archaeologists can be tested by digging holes.
    That isn't the point. The point is what the evidenciary stadard is. The Bible is an artifact of history, just as artifacts found at an excavation. The Bible's truth comes from the worthiness of its authors. Go ahead and argue that. However, asking the Bible to make testable predictions is not what it is there for.

    Consciousness and free will?  I can not think of a reason (besides just wanting fervently to believe so) that one would assume these are mystical qualities that transcend the observable universe.
    Freewill requires influence from outside this physical realm. If freewill originated from inside the physical, then it would be bound by cause-and-effect and hence not be freewill. Just go read any philosophy of the mind books and they will adequately explain it. There are also other posts (by adequate natathan, I think) that explain it a little better, too.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Yes (none / 0) (#535)
    by hstink on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 07:17:48 PM EST

    That isn't the point. The point is what the evidenciary stadard is. The Bible is an artifact of history, just as artifacts found at an excavation. The Bible's truth comes from the worthiness of its authors. Go ahead and argue that. However, asking the Bible to make testable predictions is not what it is there for.

    Perhaps you know who authored the first five books of the Old Testament, but I sure don't.  I certainly can't comment on their worthiness in any case, as a critical evaluation of the Bible shows that it was most likely written far later than the events it describes, by a number of people, and subsequently altered.

    Freewill requires influence from outside this physical realm. If freewill originated from inside the physical, then it would be bound by cause-and-effect and hence not be freewill. Just go read any philosophy of the mind books and they will adequately explain it. There are also other posts (by adequate natathan, I think) that explain it a little better, too.

    I am familiar with the concept.  I just don't believe that, out of all the matter and energy we have access to, the soup of chemicals and electricity comprising each human mind is unbound by the physical laws that all other matter appears bound by.

    I don't know what your defence of this arrangement is.  I posit that the entirety of our body is governed by the same physical laws as everything we have observed outside our body.  Evidence seems to suggest this is likely (for example directly influencing thoughts, memories, feelings and revelations via electrical stimuli).  This would infer that any freedom of will we feel is illusory.  I certainly have no issue with that.

    -h

    [ Parent ]

    You are off a little. (none / 0) (#543)
    by jjayson on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 08:41:30 PM EST

    Perhaps you know who authored the first five books of the Old Testament, but I sure don't.  I certainly can't comment on their worthiness in any case, as a critical evaluation of the Bible shows that it was most likely written far later than the events it describes, by a number of people, and subsequently altered.
    Take Matthew for example. We do not know the precise author, but most scholars agree that it was written before 50AD.  It is thought to draw quotes another previous source and to draw form Mark. That means that much of the Gospels were written down less than 20 years after the death of Jesus. Judging from old manuscipts, the text has remained true to its original writing.

    I am familiar with the concept.  I just don't believe that, out of all the matter and energy we have access to, the soup of chemicals and electricity comprising each human mind is unbound by the physical laws that all other matter appears bound by.
    This is arguing that we don't have freewill. However, your orignial statements was you could think of a reason free-will requireed help from outside the physical universe. I won't take on the question of free-will here.

    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    A bit ahead of myself (5.00 / 1) (#546)
    by hstink on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 09:03:10 PM EST

    Take Matthew for example. We do not know the precise author, but most scholars agree that it was written before 50AD.  It is thought to draw quotes another previous source and to draw form Mark. That means that much of the Gospels were written down less than 20 years after the death of Jesus. Judging from old manuscipts, the text has remained true to its original writing.

    Indeed it would seem to have been written before the fall of Jerusalem.  (Todo: rant about the gospel manuscripts being judged harshly compared to similarly aged and older manuscripts due to fantastic claims which remain uncorroborated).  I'm quite exhausted from a long day getting a car repaired, I apologise.

    This is arguing that we don't have freewill. However, your orignial statements was you could think of a reason free-will requireed help from outside the physical universe. I won't take on the question of free-will here.

    Yes, I went about removing free will and consciousness from the proof-of-God list as I view them as almost completely deterministic and natural processes.  Free will in the sense you are espousing does indeed require a reprieve from the natural laws governing our bodies, creating a need for a supernatural solution.

    -h

    [ Parent ]

    'the Bible' is not a science (none / 0) (#508)
    by DavidTC on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 03:21:01 PM EST

    Not always. We call archeologists scientists, yet they do not make heavily testable predictions about the future. The closest they get is predicing where a city may exist, what pottery may be like, or how somebody lived a thousand years ago. Well, they have used to Bible for the exact same predictions. This should put the Bible on the same level as the science of archeology.

    No, 'the Bible' is not a science, anymore than 'the Odyssey' is a science. The Bible should, however, be treated the same as the Odyssey, which is is. The city of Troy was treated as a myth, until it was found. And the wall of Jerico have, apparently, been rebuilt at least once, make of that what you will.

    Archeologists don't go around reading random books and saying 'this is fact'. There's a general accepted history of the world, which archeologists continually refine, just like all other sciences.

    Sometimes they make a random discovery, or find out that something isn't where it's supposed to be, and, yes, sometimes it's refined by treating a legend seriously and going out and searching for evidence, but that doesn't mean they treat all of them as true. They only become 'true' after there's some evidence, you can't just claim Troy exists and get treated seriously, archeologists, like all scientists, want some evidence.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Archaeologists do predict the future... (none / 0) (#511)
    by Dr. Zowie on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 03:59:31 PM EST

    As Happy Monkey pointed out, archaeologists are indeed in the business of predicting the future. Their statements about life in the past can (and should) be interepreted as hypothetical statements about future digs, and/or as statements about the observed patterns in observed artifacts.

    Archaologists' theories are testable in the sense that they can be (and frequently are) refuted and abandoned.

    You've pointed out a couple of times that the Bible is itself a piece of historical evidence. And indeed it is. But it's only one such piece.

    [ Parent ]

    umm.. Faith (3.75 / 4) (#248)
    by sightlessone on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:13:05 AM EST

    whoah there buddy.. I'm not sure about everyone else but i see science as more of a faith in the "methods", not the actual outcomes. So I'm not really taking it on faith that there are black holes, but I'm having faith in the methods used to "prove" that there are black holes, which are the same methods that have used to "prove" everything else.

    Whereas religion on the other hand is an actual faith. There's nothing substantial, there are no methods for ascertaining faith, it just is.

    I also think if there were some way to "prove" a religion, it wouldn't really be much of a religion.. because i think the existence of that faith is important.. but that's a different story..

    [ Parent ]

    Faith vs. Trust (3.80 / 5) (#249)
    by cameldrv on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 03:46:26 AM EST

    I don't have faith in science, I trust it. I have seen many examples of scientific prinicples which hold up. I take asprin and my headache goes away. I flip the switch, and the light lights up, I let go of the book and it falls. Science has demonstrated its ability to explain physical phenomena. On the other hand, you ask me to have faith in your god, which I have absolutely zero evidence for. You point me to the bible, and assert its truth, but give me no reason to believe that book over any other book. You do not have faith in the Koran, even though a billion people would tell you to. Nothing can be proved completely, but you have to provide evidence. Religion does not provide evidence.

    [ Parent ]
    You don't trust in science (2.50 / 4) (#256)
    by fhotg on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 05:26:56 AM EST

    Your examples are more like engineering. Aspirin, electricity and gravity were used successfully long before they were understood / explained scientifically. One could even argue that the cases of electricity and gravity aren't closed yet.

    Believing the scientific explanaition is not relevant for their use.
    ~~~
    Gitarren fьr die Mдdchen -- Champagner fьr die Jungs

    [ Parent ]