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[P]
Agnosticism and the theological question through open hypotheses

By LodeRunner in Op-Ed
Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 04:40:12 AM EST
Tags: agnosticism, abstention, god, deity, possibility, hypothesis, logic, op-ed (all tags)

Strictly speaking, agnosticism is the only acceptable line of thought for people of a scientific mentality in what pertains to the theological question. The agnostic argument that it is simply not possible to prove in a final way the existence or not of God is, in fact, irrefutable. However, far too many times the appeal to this argument sounds to me like an "easy way out", employed especially by scientists who limit themselves to applied science and avoid the implications of issues which, when unfolded, invariably lead to more fundamental domains, such as philosophy of science or metaphysics. But we don't need to focus on unfoldings of this kind to justify the importance of the theological question (even though they do exist and are perhaps the most important ones). The direct influence that this question has on the course of lives of a significant part of the world's population -- and, by political extension, the humanity as a whole (influence which manifests itself in a wide variety of fields of human relations: political, economical, social, cultural, etc.) -- makes me see agnosticism as an unacceptable abstention.


One could counter-argument that it is possible to hold an agnostic personal position and still be able to "think over" the theological question, its influence, origins and implications. To my eyes, to keep oneself in such higher ground of the meta-level is just not possible, as the impartiality presupposed by agnosticism as an answer to the question about the existence of God is something impossible, due to the very own influence of religion on the world which we are part of. In other words, even though "We can't know for sure" is an argument that anyone who cares for science simply has to share, all those people have inside themselves a "I think it does" or "I think it doesn't", and never a simple "I don't know" with a 50% probability for each case that they hold as a satisfactory answer.

The only people who hold for themselves answers such as "I know it does" and "I know it doesn't" are dogmatics, be them believers or atheists. Reasons for dogmatism are varied, but in their core all of them share (in a genuine or hypocritical way) something we could call a failed logic: the inability to see that which is the fundamental and true argument of agnosticism. It's worth reminding, however, that the undecidability of the question by itself does not assign to it a greater value -- in the set of questions that are scientifically provable to be undecidable are not only the great dilemmas of humanity but also an infinity of absurd conjectures. The theological question, still, even if undecidable, is worth to be raised.

The logical process of raising a question goes through opening hypotheses, work through them, assess their consequences, close those hypotheses that lead to contradictions and finally pick the one that holds its own, leading to a proof. In the question we're discussing here, we know we can't close hypotheses conclusively. Anyway, we are not operating on a system as simple as propositional logic where each hypothesis is acted on by a finite number of variables. In a scenario with infinite variables having complex systems of interaction, to identify contradictions becomes a much harder, and especially, much vaguer process.

Hence, while in a propositional logic system we could start from a hypothesis X ("I think X") and from there arrive to a contradiction that could lead us undoubtedly to not-X ("I know for sure that not-X"), here we don't have such command of variables that would allow us to declare something a contradiction: what we reach instead, typically, are implausibilities, which don't allow us to close the hypothesis, but which lead us to abandon one open hypothesis ("I think X") and leave it for another ("I think not-X"). After all, what is it to "think" something if not to consider it plausible. It is this set of implausibilities (those being stronger than the plausibilities, since they are the analog the contradiction in logical thinking, while plausibilities merely represent hypotheses, which don't really take us anywhere), it is this set of indications, in the lack of final evidences, that makes us lean towards "I think it does" or "I think it doesn't". It is this way, without dogmatism, working on open hypotheses and aiming to find a standing on the issue, that we can work on the question, even if undecidable.

In science, a common way to deal with undecidable problems is to attack parts of them -- for example, to handle a specific instance within a general problem. That's a lesson that can be applied to the theological question as well: the general question "does divinity exist?", proven undecidable by the agnostic argument, is hard to work on, becoming for the most part restrained to a discussion on the nature of transcendence and straying perhaps from the reasons that lead us to consider the theological question in the first place. It is much easier to infer plausibilities and implausibilities about an specific instance of the problem, be it the God from Abrahamic religions, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or even some deity invented as a demonstration of an absurd unprovable conjecture.

At the essence of any conclusions or standings we arrive to, however, is our own notion of plausibility -- from which we lead ourselves to declare something plausible. And that says much more about ourselves than about any form of transcendent divinity.



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Display: Sort:
Agnosticism and the theological question through open hypotheses | 157 comments (147 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
reason and religion (1.80 / 5) (#1)
by achievingfluidity on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 12:47:24 AM EST

are currently separate areas of thought and discussion.

i think eventually religion/faith will be easily explained once a unified field theory is discovered (and ultimately it will).

Will that convince people that religion is no longer valid? hardly...at least not in the foreseeable future. The impact it will have on human existence and the purpose of human beings will be a shattering blow to religion and the religious.

and those that 'believe' will continue to believe regardless of the facts. The facts may already be there we simply haven't been able to put it all together yet.

--
ANNOY A LIBERAL USE FACTS AND LOGIC


Explained? (2.00 / 3) (#15)
by eavier on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 05:08:33 PM EST

I've never really thought that religion was supposed to subscribe to a system based on facts and explanation. That's not how it works. If you quiz a minister, imam or a rabbi on the existence of god, their answer in the end will be that 'you either have faith or you don't'.

Thats why I don't think religion will be supplanted with the evidence of some scientific theory because you're missing what religion means to 80%+ of the world's population.

It offers something grand to believe in; something far greater than themselves. It offers the chance to be forgiven for their everyday transgressions and to ascend to some heaven like place if they lead a good, benevolent life, or die in the pursuit of protecting their particular belief system.

To offer scientific 'proof' that some new theory debunks their faith will win no friends because to them, religion offers them a type of comfort in their lives that cold hard science never will. To the religious believer, God seems a benevolent yet mysterious constant, looking out for them in an uncertain world. No proven theory will debunk that.

Whatever you do, don't take it into your house. It's probably full of Greeks. - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Ufology Doktor in da house

[ Parent ]

d (2.00 / 3) (#18)
by Nimey on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 05:23:12 PM EST

It offers something grand to believe in; something far greater than themselves.

I get that from being amazed at humanity's achievements and what we can accomplish together.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]

Same (2.00 / 3) (#19)
by eavier on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 05:36:45 PM EST

Miniaturization, space exploration and great big fuck off dams and bridges get my absolute respect as well.

The grandparent was just my interpretation why science can't debunk religion. Its a belief system, not one based on facts.

Whatever you do, don't take it into your house. It's probably full of Greeks. - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Ufology Doktor in da house

[ Parent ]

Well, um no, but... (none / 0) (#102)
by Aphexian on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 10:46:49 PM EST

If you quiz a minister, imam or a rabbi...

It offers the chance to be forgiven for their everyday transgressions and to ascend to some heaven like place if they lead a good, benevolent life, or die in the pursuit of protecting their particular belief system.

You show an outstanding ignorance of the Jewish religion. You realize that Judaism is based on works, not faith - right? Well you should. There is such a thing as an atheist or agnostic Jew. Oh, and the lack of a heaven until the Messiah... That too. Don't lump all religions into your take on Christianity.

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]

Fair enough (none / 0) (#128)
by eavier on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:04:27 PM EST

I'm no expert on Judaism. I think you're missing the point of what I was trying to say in the grandparent though.

Religion offers a completely different set of 'benefits' to the believer than science does. Science can't explain religion and religion shouldn't interpret scientific theory. Trouble starts when one begins influencing/judging the other.

Whatever you do, don't take it into your house. It's probably full of Greeks. - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Ufology Doktor in da house

[ Parent ]

Jewish atheists (none / 0) (#135)
by Nimey on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:01:10 PM EST

Actually, there is such a beast.  Isaac Asimov described himself as a "Jewish atheist" for a time, because though he was an atheist, he also had a Jewish background which colored his perceptions.  This was before he settled on being a humanist.

But that's talking about Jewish ethnicity rather than Judaism-the-religion.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]

Unified field theory? (1.00 / 3) (#51)
by lemonjuicefake on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 06:05:42 AM EST

what crack are you smoking?

[ Parent ]
"God" vs "a bunch of guys" (3.00 / 4) (#2)
by mirko on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 02:34:40 AM EST

Strictly speaking, agnosticism is the only acceptable line of thought for people of a scientific mentality in what pertains to the theological question.

No.
There's the possibility that this Universe is engineered  but not by a "Jealous God" but by a crew of scientists who'd need our different approach caused by a differently paradigmed universe to solve their very own context-independant questions.
It doesn't make me fear a superior being for he's not alone and for he might have a number of simultaneous different simulations in which the time is accelerated so they get their results quicker and which he often alters or even forks when a significant milestone is reached.
Maybe we're just a side effect of this study in which another celestial system (if it exists on another level) would be the goal.
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
There's a possibility (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by LodeRunner on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 03:16:29 PM EST

Yes, there's always a possibility, but that's the point of agnosticism, isn't it? Not to settle on an opinion either way because of the existence of endless possibilities. Or did I miss anything?

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Depends on your flavour... (2.00 / 3) (#27)
by mirko on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 01:17:24 AM EST

But you're right, in some cases, Agnosticism also question reality rather than defined($DEITY)!=null .
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
Absurd (2.16 / 6) (#4)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 10:03:40 AM EST

Philosophy becomes lost in meaningless questions without answers unless it is ultimately founded on some practical purpose. This is the reason that physical sciences are taken seriously while new age mysticism is mocked and ignored: One has indisputable practical value while the other has a long history of inaccuracy and counter-productivity.
Philosophy is an entertaining Game but it is not Work.

As our understanding of anthropology increases, specific tenants of religions and emotional beliefs are quite trivially rebutted when considered individually and where they contradict the physical world. With enough samples, one can extrapolate and conclude that the entire belief system is idiotic, as any sane person does with modern cults. This is why all religions and supernatural beliefs have retreated into the final philosophical refuge, that of utter and complete irrelevance to the real world.

So when we consider any nebulous and unanswerable question about inherently non-scientific subjects like the existence of god, we should not even approach it in the paradigm of hypotheses and experimentation, since those tools are designed to gather information and increase knowledge, something that theology cannot do. Any intellectually honest and scientifically educated person, if asked if they believe in some higher power, would answer with a definitive "No", because there is no physical imperative nor theoretical necessity to posit one to explain our current understanding of the world, barring some mystical ascension to a higher plane of reality.


the core of the issue is in your 3rd paragraph (2.00 / 3) (#9)
by LodeRunner on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 03:45:08 PM EST

So when we consider any nebulous and unanswerable question about inherently non-scientific subjects like the existence of god, we should not even approach it in the paradigm of hypotheses and experimentation, since those tools are designed to gather information and increase knowledge, something that theology cannot do.

Like I said in the article, a final refutation is not possible, as agnostics will surely point out. What I mean essentially is that while this paradigm allows one to confirm or refute a well-defined question, a variation of it can be made to work with theological questions, through a framework of plausibility rather than proof.

Any intellectually honest and scientifically educated person, if asked if they believe in some higher power, would answer with a definitive "No", because there is no physical imperative nor theoretical necessity to posit one to explain our current understanding of the world, barring some mystical ascension to a higher plane of reality.

Still, not all of them do, because they stick to agnosticism and refuse to come to terms with that (dis)belief, based on the fact that scientifically speaking this nonexistence is not a provable fact.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

OK then (1.33 / 3) (#31)
by Mylakovich on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 02:16:18 AM EST

Are you "agnostic" to the Star Wars Universe? The characters, the canon, the planets and personalities... we can recognise and identify them through shared 'religious experience' (watching the movies, reading the books, whatever). We can even study the 'scriptures' and develop complex beliefs regarding the Force and the Sith, etc.

So I ask you, in the face of this 'religious' culture, are you a "Star Wars Atheist", or do you hold out and think that it all might actually exist in a galaxy far far away, but we may never know so it's best just to give it a 50% chance?

Being an agnostic toward god is intellectually identical to being agnostic toward Star Wars, or indeed any other fictional or philosophical invention you can think of. It just seems to capture the imagination of humanity due to the way our social behaviors developed.

Being an agnostic means that an infinitude of blatantly stupid cults can come and go, and you conclude, "Well maybe they were on to something".

[ Parent ]

I can say, with a straight face (none / 0) (#152)
by An onymous Coward on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:10:39 AM EST

that I do not concern myself with the existence or non-existence of the Star Wars universe.

"Your voice is irrelevant. Stop embarrassing yourself. Please." -stuaart
[ Parent ]
Circular reasoning (mark of the dogmatist) (2.25 / 4) (#14)
by basj on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 04:51:05 PM EST

"[T]here is no [..] theoretical [i.e. scientific] necessity to posit [anything non-scientific] to explain our scientific understanding [sic] of the world."  

Just as there is no religious reason to posit anything non-religious to explain our religious understanding of the world.

Great. Now what?
--
Complete the Three Year Plan in five years!
[ Parent ]

Exactly. (none / 1) (#32)
by Mylakovich on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 04:27:07 AM EST

Humans seek to understand the world. They used to do this by pondering and storytelling, with very little degrees of actual accuracy. But as the technology of thinking improves and develops, the accuracy of our understanding increases. From Just So stories, to tribal cults, agriculture, sophistry, organized religion, alchemy, social engineering, and quantum mechanics. Human knowledge progresses and becomes more sophisticated, it evolves to become more 'fit'. Science is where we are now, the most sophisticated method of acquiring knowledge available. Philosophy and religion are not alternatives to Science. They are obsolete, outmoded, antiquated, inaccurate, useless. Using philosophy or religion to learn facts about the world is like trying to travel to the moon by walking.

[ Parent ]
Do you believe art is 'useful'? [nt] (none / 0) (#60)
by basj on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:31:37 PM EST


--
Complete the Three Year Plan in five years!
[ Parent ]
in modern quantum physics (none / 0) (#85)
by donnalee on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:41:10 PM EST

there is the idea that every particle is connected to every other particle.

The ancient yogi masters were said to have been able to dematerialize. We may one day achieve the same thing they could do with their minds, with technology...

---
Guess I'll be adding this to tomorrow's comment dump!
[ Parent ]

*cough* (2.50 / 6) (#44)
by Liar on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 03:57:33 PM EST

You do realize that philosophy gave birth to the physical sciences right? In fact, the Greek word for philosophers (physikoi) was the basis for the word "physics". Eventually, the physical sciences grew up and took on a life of their own. This happened time and again in the western tradition where philosophy gave birth to many avenues of human understanding. Political philosophy created the United States and the modern emphasis on democracies. Economics found great influence under that most pragmatic of philosophers "Adam Smith". At the time, no one was sure if Freud was a philosopher or not--he said he was highly influenced by Nietzsche. Derrida (not that I'm a fan) had a big enough influence that we're not sure if he's a lit critic or a philosopher. To be charitable, most people think of him as both.

Ever heard of magnet schools? They exist in no small part to John Dewey's influence, the philosopher at the right hand of FDR.

Nowadays, we have people like Daniel Dennett who is shepherding the relatively new discipline of cognitive science. Science cannot wholly answer the question of what it means to think and understand and be self aware. It requires a philosophers touch. Dennett is helping to answer that question through the idea of a naturalized epistemology.

In fact, you probably come at many of life's questions from the perspective of an eliminative materialist. That's ok, nothing wrong with that. You did know that you're an EM, right? And certainly you also know the problems with that position?

Each time people have posited the death of philosophy it comes along and asks new questions. It was just a matter of time before asking how many angels dance on the head of a pin until the people of France decided to actually act on a new question, like how many peasants can dance on the head of the King.

What you call mysticism is but one approach to philosophy. It's one that Plato adopted. Maybe it is fruitless, though I'm sure you're aware and have toyed with the idea of a philosopher king(which is also part of the subject of Lucas' Star Wars pre-trilogy). Then again, many scientists say that the most theoretical and least pragmatic science is the most interesting. Perhaps even modern "mystical" philosophies (like continentalism) will give rise to the next discipline which every fool would prefer over the future modern philosophy.

It would do you well to consider that the birth of western philosophy (indeed the birth of science!) involved a man who was too busy looking up at the stars that he fell into a well. He probably didn't actually fall but so many people likely wanted to mock a man who was doing something so useless as looking at the stars that this story was needed to make themselves feel good.

And that's the short-sighted story you're repeating today.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
philosophy IS useful (none / 1) (#146)
by deadplant on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:07:57 PM EST

Philosophy and all that dreamy 'what if?' stuff is the random seed generator that drives our exploration of the universe.

Look to philosophy and dreamers for ideas.
Then look to science for evidence.
Then make decisions based on the evidence.


[ Parent ]

more middle-class preachy bullshit (1.00 / 3) (#5)
by totmacher on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 12:26:59 PM EST

when you truly believe everything is utterly explainable and understandable, then of course you'll never accept faith

you still breathe, eat and shit sitting down, though, you overconfident douchebags

-- I'll sum it up for yo: You = Douche bag ~ Butthurtapotamus

LOL POPERY (1.50 / 2) (#6)
by Nimey on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 02:58:12 PM EST


--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]
lol cts style (3.00 / 6) (#11)
by Empedocles on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 04:17:57 PM EST



---
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home

[ Parent ]
His sock puppet is showing. % (none / 0) (#34)
by Mylakovich on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 06:12:35 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Hello, I apologize for this totmacher class bot. (2.50 / 6) (#37)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:38:23 AM EST

Hello, my regular circletimessquare bot was my computer science doctoral thesis, an attempt to pass the Turing test. I've left the test running for my enjoyment and entertainment for a number of years on an underused university mail server, but so far, judging by the number of you who interact with this algorithm as if it were a real person, I think the Turing test is pretty near complete. What do I settle for? 99% proof of human-like interaction?

However, I unfortunately shared my code with a fellow student, who has created a derivative bot named totmacher. This unnamed and despicable backstabbing former friend of mine kept much of the typical formatting (ee cummings double space, no caps + ridiculous attitude), but he stole my code before I had evolved the original wit and intelligence of the circletimessquare bot that you have all come to know and love. Being an inferior programmer than myself, Mr. copy cat programmer went instead with simple internet tough guy posturing, a shoddy replacement algorithm. It is obviously an inferior rip off.

Anyway, apologies for the code leak, we now return you to your regularly scheduled circletimessquare wankery:

so suck on fat bulbous cock

you retarded asswipe

like you would know the fucking difference between a socialist state nad a communist state if it came up and fucked you in the ass

turdfucker


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

F TRAIN F TRAIN F TRAIN BROOKLYN BOUND (none / 1) (#41)
by Empedocles on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 02:40:43 PM EST



---
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home

[ Parent ]
huh? (none / 0) (#42)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 03:05:55 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
crazy-ass f train conductor (none / 1) (#45)
by Empedocles on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 07:42:19 PM EST

he kept screaming "F-TRAIN F-TRAIN BROOKLYN BOUND THIS IS THE F-TRAIN" at every stop. compare this to the a-train where they haul ass but fail to say anything.

---
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home

[ Parent ]
take the 6 train. no human voice, female robot (none / 0) (#52)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:23:23 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
some people shit whilst squatting $ (none / 0) (#62)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 02:03:38 PM EST



---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
the entire religion argument is closed (2.50 / 10) (#12)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 04:21:16 PM EST

seneca won:

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."

no greater truth on the issue of religion has ever been formulated. seneca's words are the way it always was for religion, and the way it will always be

issue closed


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Gandhi found Jainism useful (none / 1) (#86)
by donnalee on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:49:15 PM EST



---
Guess I'll be adding this to tomorrow's comment dump!
[ Parent ]
i like jainism, its my favorite religion (none / 1) (#90)
by circletimessquare on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 01:44:53 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
what does that mean? (1.50 / 2) (#16)
by khallow on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 05:10:12 PM EST

The direct influence that this question has on the course of lives of a significant part of the world's population -- and, by political extension, the humanity as a whole (influence which manifests itself in a wide variety of fields of human relations: political, economical, social, cultural, etc.) -- makes me see agnosticism as an unacceptable abstention.

The problem here is that, having read the rest of your article, I don't see why you find agnosticism "unacceptable"? Especially since your arguments seems to be one of peer pressure in that almost everyone is not an agnostic. You admit that the extremes, theism or its positivist denial, atheism (as it is popularly defined) are both dogma. Further, you allege that undecidable theological questions are still worth raising. Why? What can we do with such a question? All you indicate is that consideration of this says something about ourselves? But why is it worth the effort to find out in this way?

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Thanks (none / 0) (#141)
by LodeRunner on Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 01:33:03 PM EST

I wrote a reply to this days ago, but the browser crashed before I hit Post and I got too frustrated to write it again right away.

Essentially, I just wanted to thank you for your post -- I don't have answers to most of your questions, especially the last one, and they got me thinking for a good while.

About why I find pure agnosticism unacceptable, it's more about the social impact of religion, and how staying "on the fence" is a form of copping out of the issue (roughly speaking, that most agnosticism is a more socially-accepted form of closet atheism). While agnosticism has a scientifically sound (if somewhat obvious) foundation, what I tried to write about was my view of how to take a stand even in the light of this limiting argument of "you can never really know". So, what can we do with raising such questions and taking a stand? Well, I think it has more to do with the social realities we live in than with a strict philosophical motivation. I don't know if that is peer pressure, but society is made of peers and religion often presses itself in our way...

I don't know if that's any clearer than write I wrote in the article, though. In any case, the overall feedback I got here at K5 was very good: it was great to share a few thoughts and get so many in return. K5 is definitely not dying. :)

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

+1, but a few things (2.25 / 4) (#17)
by carnival of animals on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 05:22:52 PM EST

I think you need to distinguish between strong agnosticism (we can never know) and weak agnosticism (the evidence isn't conclusive, so I don't know).

To say that "agnosticism is the only acceptable line of thought for people of a scientific mentality in what pertains to the theological question" is true, but it's also true that the god(s) of many religions as described in scripture are indeed impossibilities, because they are defined in self-contradicting ways. More damningly, all religions suffer from such a weakness in evidence, and can be shown quite decisively to be the accumulated folklore of human societies attempting grasp their origins and establish a morality, that the only reasonable conclusion an educated, scientifically minded person could come to is that religions are so unlikely to be correct that it would pretty much be a waste of time to discuss them seriously, just as it is a waste of time to seriously discuss the existence of faeries, the celestial teapot, Thor, etc.

Dawkins hasn't invented anything new as far as arguments for atheism goes, but he does explain this when he breaks theists/atheists down into 7 categories of belief, from fundamentalist atheists (exceedingly rare) to fundamentalist theists. Most atheists as you say are de facto agnostics who just think that religion is so unlikely to be true that it isn't worth the time of day. Which however, doesn't preclude them from taking seriously the ideas religious people hold about morality.

Also, I think you overuse academic diction?

I checked that out (none / 1) (#20)
by Nimey on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 06:20:40 PM EST

I vary between 5 and 6.

5 Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be skeptical.

6 De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]

I'm definitely a 6. $ (none / 1) (#38)
by carnival of animals on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:46:32 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Hm (none / 1) (#57)
by rusty on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:41:18 AM EST

I'm a 7, but I sort of question the tone of the whole list, from the start. Dawkins apparently wants to avoid faith too. I'd be a seven but rewrite it as "I have faith that there is no God." Which I suspect is what's meant, if not for the colonizing of the word "faith" by the religious to be synonymous with religion.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Great points (none / 1) (#23)
by LodeRunner on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 11:15:41 PM EST

Thanks for the feedback. You bring valid points, which make a strong case for atheism and which I certainly agree with -- when writing I didn't want to tend too much to either side, because I didn't want to preach atheism but rather to try to get people off the fence.

About the diction: I wrote this in Portuguese a few months ago, then translated it to English as I copied to the computer. This may have been responsible for the excess of long Romance words as opposed to the short Saxon ones... I did struggle with the word order here and there (having sometimes to resort to the odd noun) to try to keep the sense faithful to what I had originally written.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Portuguese (none / 0) (#145)
by deadplant on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 04:56:44 PM EST

Ah, ok.
I will discard rather than post my list of grammatical errors.

[ Parent ]
They're more than welcome (none / 0) (#150)
by LodeRunner on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 11:04:06 PM EST

That's the only way I can improve. Thanks in advance. :)

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

oh god (2.50 / 2) (#26)
by GrubbyBeardedHermit on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 12:02:06 AM EST


GBH

I am agnostic regarding this post.% (none / 0) (#29)
by Mylakovich on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 01:59:12 AM EST



[ Parent ]
So many religions to choose from... (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by Pentashagon on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 02:00:41 AM EST

Not all of them are right (by their own admission), so clearly there is a probabilistic model for religion.  Given a set of religions, X, the sum of P(x), x is a member of X <= 1.  That's a pretty useful scientific statement right their.  Additionally, P(z), z is a member of Z >=0 for the set Z whose intersection with X is the empty set (non-religious possibilities).  The interesting thing is that there is a relation upon the members of X and Z, D(a,b) such that D(a,b) implies a and b cannot both be true (they are Disjoint worldviews), and therefore P(a and b) = 0.  One might be tempted to choose a subset, S, of X union Z such that the sum of P(s), s is a member of S, is maximal.  Of course, without access to a computable function P(c) for all c in X and Z, this is a hopeless task.  The next best thing is to construct R (for rationalism), the set of elements from X and Z that is maximal and P(r1) and P(r2) and ... and P(r_n) >= 0, e.g. the largest non-contradictory body of knowledge possible.  One would hope that such a large collection of facts that are not mutually contradictory would also share the largest portion of the probability in the range (0,1).  There is no proof that any particular collection of non-contradictory facts or ideas has any probability of being correct, but it is probably the best we can do.  As a benefit, there *IS* a proof that given a random subset of X and Z, O (for observable ideas and facts), choosing the maximally consistent subset of O is most likely to be consistent with random facts from the set (X union Z) - O (the remaining ideas and facts to be discovered).  In other words, choosing the largest consistent set of ideas from our available experience is most likely to give us a consistent set contained (or mostly contained) by a larger larger subset of facts and ideas that are also mutually consistent, assuming that our current human experience has yielded a relatively random sampling of the total set of possible knowledge, facts, and ideas.

In short, it makes sense to go with agnosticism in general because the statement "no conclusive evidence has yet appeared to support the existence of a religious, supreme, supernatural being" is least likely to fall into contradiction to facts observed in the future, again assuming that we have sampled a random subset of the totality of experience.  If there is some magic turning point in the universe after which supernatural effects will be very common, this theory is worthless.  However, we have not observed drastic changes like this before, and so assuming it will not happen fits with the most observable facts.

Now if you're a modal realist, you'll just accept that everything happens in some universe, but that the probabilities still work out roughly the same as in a standard universe.  Agnosticism in modal realism means saying "very few of my future selves will encounter the supernatural; so few as to make the study of the supernatural academic rather than practical."

i=sqrt(-1) (none / 0) (#36)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:22:56 AM EST

is your answer

you seek a rational expression of an irrational concept

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

complex numbers fit perfectly in set theory. (none / 0) (#39)
by Pentashagon on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 10:37:41 AM EST

Go find me something that doesn't fit in set theory, please.

[ Parent ]
set theory does not apply to anubis or ra (none / 0) (#40)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 10:43:28 AM EST

however the theosophical underpinnings of the cult of set do in fact overlap quite nicely with that of osiris and thoth

more reading for you on set theory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_(mythology)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

back to school with you (none / 0) (#63)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 02:10:33 PM EST

PI is irrational but real

i is imaginary

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

religion is irrational but real (none / 0) (#64)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 02:33:34 PM EST

god is imaginary

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
I personally endorse Jamie Whyte's (none / 0) (#35)
by I Did It All For The Horse Cock on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 07:30:29 AM EST

Bad Thoughts: A guide to clear thinking. It has a rather interesting section debunking Pascal's Wager, which I am sure you will enjoy


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God is omniscient and omnipresent (1.50 / 2) (#43)
by Liar on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 03:24:43 PM EST

He's a perspective. That perspective may or may not be embodied by an intelligent material creator, but it's possible to posit a perspective that encompasses everything post Big Bang. We do this all the time, right? The tides rise and fall even when we can't see the moon but we adopt a perspective to see things apart from our place on earth and this allows us to do the calculation and even predict the next time we can see the moon. So, let's posit this perspective of God and from that, what does that tell us about morality, art, aesthetics, society, and life itself?

There. It's not hard to come to terms with a "God" while maintaining a scientific sensibility.

I maybe haven't addressed the omnipotent argument--that's always been the more controversial since before the time of Zoroastrianism. But we can consider that God in our actions and be scientists, too. And if we do decide to attach omnipotence to this perspective, we can derive Kant's categorical imperative.

So, I respectfully disagree with your premise but only because you're approaching this from too narrow of a theoretical position--that of a God which is a reflection of a social phenomenon. The generic idea of an omniscient God is a highly compatible concept (and perhaps useful) to those with a scientific mindset.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
There's nothing that makes say, deism, or (none / 1) (#46)
by carnival of animals on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 07:53:50 PM EST

a watered-down version of Christianity which doesn't constantly contradict itself incompatible with science, but that doesn't mean it's in any way probable.

[ Parent ]
Is he disputing christianity? (none / 1) (#47)
by Liar on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 10:53:00 PM EST

Because I didn't mention it and I think the author is aiming at something more fundamental than that.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Yep (none / 0) (#54)
by LodeRunner on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:53:04 AM EST

I was not aiming at specific instances such as Christianity, but I think carnival's point is that while we agree that there can be general models of God that are, like you said, compatible with a scientific mindset (and two examples are given, deism and a generalized form of Christianity), the reason why science sticks to agnosticism is that those models lack provability.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Why promote provability? (1.50 / 2) (#59)
by Liar on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:08:40 PM EST

That's the bane of science and logical positivism. The vogue lately has been how things survive the attempts at falsifiability but even that has its problems (not least of which is that it's not the way science is actually performed, see for example the epistemological anarchism of Feyerabend).

We cannot prove God nor can we falsify him. Similarly, we cannot prove the perspective of the model maker nor can we falsify it. We can falsify that perspective's theoretical observation of those models, but not the perspective itself. But even those things which we falsify can still manage to be useful.

Imagine a triangle. We haven't found a real triangle which matches the theoretical description of it but the theoretical position is useful nonetheless to advance other conclusions.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Conflating truth and usefulness? (none / 0) (#134)
by carnival of animals on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:55:45 PM EST

Sorry for not being able to reply to your previous comment -- I haven't been able to post for the better part of a week.  

Surely 'provability' is not the bane but the backbone of science? Proof is evidence that is conclusive, and colloquially evidence that is overwhelming. In the absence of proof we make judgment calls on whether something is true based on available evidence, or the degree to which something is 'provable.'

Just because something is not falsifiable (ie. it cannot be decisively proven to be false -- which most religions can be by pointing out their self-contradictions) doesn't mean it's reasonable to believe they are true. I think that was the point of the article; that the world view which conforms best to the available evidence about what is and isn't real, is not just agnosticism, but extremely skeptical agnosticism. I agree that a false belief might still have utility, but I don't think that is grounds for disagreeing with the premise of the article, which is about (I think, though LR can correct me!) what is and isn't a reasonable belief.

The tides rise and fall even when we can't see the moon but we adopt a perspective to see things apart from our place on earth and this allows us to do the calculation and even predict the next time we can see the moon. So, let's posit this perspective of God and from that, what does that tell us about morality, art, aesthetics, society, and life itself?

That the moon causes tides is a hypothesis confirmed by repeated observation, and supported by other scientific theories and laws which have in turn been tested, confirmed. Positing the 'perspective' that the moon revolves around the earth and that its gravity pulls water around helped explain observed phenomena and taught us to predict tides more accurately; it can only teach us this because it is true. What use is positing a theist perspective and trying to derive lessons from it if the 'perspective' is unconfirmed by anything else we know, and doesn't help explain much at all? And if one does posit the theist perspective to derive lessons from it about life and aesthetics, what makes those lessons more valid than those derived from positing a different theist perspective, or the perspective of someone who believes in tooth fairies and conspiracy theories?

[ Parent ]

Truth, pragmatism, contradiction, falsifiability (none / 1) (#144)
by anaesthetica on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:36:34 PM EST

Just because something is not falsifiable (ie. it cannot be decisively proven to be false -- which most religions can be by pointing out their self-contradictions) doesn't mean it's reasonable to believe they are true.

First, I think "reasonableness" is a pretty weak standard. Whether something is considered 'reasonable' is more of an argument based on social acceptability rather than 'truth' or 'correspondence with reality' or 'usefulness' or some other criterion.

Second, one can have a useful and generally 'true' body of knowledge or thought that contradicts itself in certain areas. For instance, the Standard Model contains both Einstein's general relativity and quantum mechanics. The former is great at describing/predicting large scale phenomena, whereas the latter is best for describing/predicting very small phenomena. The two theories do not meet in the middle, however, especially regarding description of gravity. There is no accepted way of describing gravity using quantum field theory, despite the ability of relativity to do so. Despite having two broadly 'true' languages to describe the phenomena of our universe, on the question of gravity the two are incommensurate—one cannot be translated into the other. But this significant and problematic internal contradiction in the Standard Model does not make either theory less true or useful in description or prediction.

The upshot of this is that religions, conceived of as (deductive or inductive) moral systems, may indeed have self-contradictions. But the existence of self-contradictions does not necessarily invalidate their truth value or usefulness. Moral systems are different, of course, from scientific models, because they are prescriptive and normative rather than descriptive and positive. Thus their bases for 'truth/falsity' are profoundly different. Whether this difference affects the significance of self-contradiction is unclear.

Third, Liar's position, as I understand it, is a pragmatist/positivist position, wherein the value of a proposition or the meaning of a question is determined by its practical effect, not by its correspondence with reality. (The foregoing sentence is a monstrous simplification that glosses over the fact that pragmatism arose against logical positivism, and that there are significant disagreements between the two, but let's ignore that for a moment to concentrate on their areas of overlap.) Liar's position is ironic because both positivism and pragmatism aim at introducing a criterion for verification that would allow philosophers to get rid of nonsense metaphysics (both philosophical and theological). Milton Friedman wrote an essay outlining positivist methodology, in which he defended the construction and use of concepts that do not correspond with reality. In fact, he said that concepts make become more useful in increasing understanding and the ability to predict as they diverge further from reality. Pragmatists similarly defend the truth value of concepts/models insofar as they aid one's long term practices. If society can act successfully over the long term on the basis of a conceptual model, then that model is at the very least 'justified' if not 'true.'

So, Liar says that whether or not the concept of 'God' corresponds with provable, empirically observable reality, the concept of 'God' may nevertheless have truth value insofar as it aids people's ability to live and act and predict successfully over the long term. The provability of 'God' as a concept is not in logical deduction or in direct empirical evidence, but in the concept's secondary effects on the successful/unsuccessful practice of human beings.

Now, people are increasingly deciding for themselves that 'God' is not a useful concept (atheism), or that they just don't care if it is or it isn't (agnosticism). This is basically your position:

What use is positing a theist perspective and trying to derive lessons from it if the 'perspective' is unconfirmed by anything else we know, and doesn't help explain much at all? And if one does posit the theist perspective to derive lessons from it about life and aesthetics, what makes those lessons more valid than those derived from positing a different theist perspective, or the perspective of someone who believes in tooth fairies and conspiracy theories?

But you are still accepting the same criterion of truth: usefulness in prediction and action. Liar may just find the perspective more useful than you do. Who knows why.

—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


[ Parent ]
I agree the epistemology of it is problematic. (none / 0) (#153)
by carnival of animals on Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 01:43:11 AM EST

As for 'reasonableness', it is isn't necessarily a good criterion for whether a belief is true, but it can be an indication of how amenable someone is to empirical evidence. For example, to a 14th century peasant, a belief in god was more 'reasonable' than it is now because she wouldn't have had access to information about alternative explanations for the origin of life and of biodiversity. It is much less reasonable to hold the same belief today, after being exposed to the theory of evolution and the mountain ranges of evidence which keep clawing away at the claims made by religion. The point of calling a belief unreasonable is to point out how far someone is bending over backwards to hold onto that belief, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

The upshot of this is that religions, conceived of as (deductive or inductive) moral systems, may indeed have self-contradictions. But the existence of self-contradictions does not necessarily invalidate their truth value or usefulness. Moral systems are different, of course, from scientific models, because they are prescriptive and normative rather than descriptive and positive. Thus their bases for 'truth/falsity' are profoundly different. Whether this difference affects the significance of self-contradiction is unclear.

I don't claim to understand the Standard Model, or the oft-cited particle- and wave-like nature of light as it is understood today; but when a generalization in science encounters an exception, the generalization is scrapped or amended to fit the data. Previously the assumption was that Newtonian physics applied universally -- well that was not true, Newton's laws fail where special relativity and quantum physics become necessary to explain phenomena (right?). It doesn't mean that apples no longer fall from trees, but it does mean that the premise, 'Newtonian physics applies universally' is false. That's fine, the statement can be amended and most observations we based on the initial assumption will still be accurate under normal conditions. Oranges and lemons will still fall from trees.

These are not the kind of contradictions religion faces (like the problem of pain and suffering under a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent god), which are fundamentally devastating because they disqualify a belief in god, the obedience to which is the foundation of Judeo-Christian moralities. More than the Standard Model, religion in this sense is more like alchemy.

The moderately religious will amend their belief system to shed the more obvious falsehoods, but once a person does this, she can't honestly cite faith over reason as the foundation of her beliefs -- her beliefs become vulnerable to empirical arguments.

I don't think I'm clear on what you mean by 'truth value' then. If we accept that the empirical evidence suggests that the existence of god is either impossible or only minutely probable depending on how god is defined, what truth value is left in Christianity?

Religion definitely is useful in establishing moral systems. But the moralities it has created so far have serious and obvious flaws -- flaws which are the logical extension of the original premises of the religion. I'd even go as far as to say that in general, they do more harm than good, keeping in mind that even those who profess to be religious do good for reasons independent of their belief in god. This must be true especially of Christians who don't believe in hell.

What are some other things by which religion would still have truth value, even if its premises were false? Liar was necessarily vague about this, and I just don't see how religion as a model of the universe can be useful to a society with secular alternatives in theories of morality, ethics, and every other field of thought and endeavor over which religion previously had a monopoly.

Reason itself commits a kind of epistemological Original Sin in that it can't be used to justify its own supremacy over reason, but it is what we use, usually successfully, to determine the nature of reality; and when we fail, typically we have missed data. I don't see why the methodology should change, to the arbitrariness of faith based on tradition, when we address the Most Important Questions; and how it isn't hypocritical for the religious to claim they value faith over reason but then proceed to live their lives using the rules of logic.

When you say that "if society can act successfully over the long term on the basis of a conceptual model, then that model is at the very least 'justified' if not 'true.'", I don't really disagree. I just cannot see how religion is that successful model, or at least how it could be more successful than a moral system which equates good with life and productivity, evil with pain and suffering; without any need for cog diss, dogma, divinely mandated exceptions for jihad and other theological loopholes which the powerful can exploit and have exploited thousands of times before to establish theocracies or to justify atrocity.

I'm not asking you to defend religion, but I guess I just want to say that accepting the pragmatist model of 'truth', religion is still a poor model to hold onto.

But you are still accepting the same criterion of truth: usefulness in prediction and action. Liar may just find the perspective more useful than you do.

I'm not sure that I do. My criterion was correspondence to reality, and the hypothesis - confirmation cycle was merely evidence. I think our model of the solar system is both true and useful, but I don't accept that they are the same thing. (I'm not well read in positivism, but conflating usefulness and truth still seems like a rhetorical trick to me.)

[ Parent ]

we can do more than posit (none / 0) (#137)
by donnalee on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 11:51:14 PM EST

"it's possible to posit a perspective that encompasses everything post Big Bang"

We can program it!

---
Guess I'll be adding this to tomorrow's comment dump!
[ Parent ]

What a bunch of crap (2.57 / 7) (#48)
by Wen Jian on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:18:18 AM EST


It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
vacuous, obfuscatory drivel $ (2.50 / 6) (#49)
by th0m on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 03:05:57 AM EST



basic logic issue up front (1.50 / 2) (#50)
by boxed on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 04:46:57 AM EST

Srictly speaking, agnosticism is the only acceptable line of thought for people of a scientific mentality in what pertains to the theological question.

This is incorrect. The scientific way is to be an atheist, because the only way to view the world scientifically is to not believe anything that has not been shown to be true or plausible. Like the flying spaghetti monster, which is just as plausible of a god as the christian one.

But yes, you are right in that a weak agnosticism of "it can't be proven either way" is an unproductive cop out at best.

"Strictly speaking" (none / 1) (#53)
by LodeRunner on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:40:26 AM EST

If something is show to be undecidable, as is the nature of transcendence, I'd consider the most correct approach, in strict logical terms, to be the agnostic cop out of "it can't be proven either way".

This is incorrect. The scientific way is to be an atheist, because the only way to view the world scientifically is to not believe anything that has not been shown to be true or plausible.

If P != NP and P == NP aren't proven, it is not the scientific way to "believe" or to "not believe" in one of them. Science, strictly, deals with truths, not with plausibilities (since those are mere hypotheses and from those, no scientific statements can be made). In a broader sense, though, we can deal with plausibility, and therefore an atheistic stance is acceptable, and that's what I'm going for.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

except... (2.00 / 3) (#75)
by Liar on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 10:13:55 PM EST

"Science, strictly, deals with truths, not with plausibilities..."

Except for almost every scientific proposition before 1900. Luminiferous ether. Phlogiston. The caloric theory of heat. There's almost no proposition before 1900 that we hold as true today, and yet it was cutting edge science of the day.

Science doesn't deal in truths. It mostly trades in models of predictability. As long as it can predict, it's used. If it fails to predict, we either modify the theory(atomic theory has come a long way since Democritus), posit additional theories (Uranus was theorized long before it was discovered, but we didn't scrap the model of gravity as applied to heavenly bodies), or scrap the theory altogether.

To say it deals in truths begs the question (in the technical sense of the phrase).


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
The relationship between P and NP (1.50 / 2) (#79)
by yuo on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:08:19 AM EST

is Math, not Science.

Mathematics and truth go together very closely.

However, Science is dependent upon observation and repeatability, not truth.

Saying that science "strictly" deals with truths is insulting to almost the entirety of the greatest scientific minds in history. I guess Newton wasn't a scientist because Newton's laws aren't technically true. It's also insulting to future scientists who apparently shouldn't try to refine anything currently discovered since we already know that it's science and therefore "truth".

I have a bad feeling that people voted up your article here more because your user name is familiar and less because you know anything about the subject on which you're writing.

Your entire article is based on the assumption that Math==Science. With all of that "can't make an assumption without testing a hypothesis" mumbo-jumbo. Well, guess what, Math and Science ARE DIFFERENT. How. Did. This. Article. Get. To. Front. Page? IS THIS ARTICLE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CURRENT LEVEL OF DISCOURSE OF THIS WEBSITE?

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Well, that's a matter of nomenclature (none / 0) (#84)
by LodeRunner on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:40:55 PM EST

One might call math and logic "exact sciences" (or the foundation to exact sciences) as opposed to experimental, applied sciences. If your main issue with the article is with the use of the word "science", then by all means consider it referring to "mathematicaly-oriented individuals", etc. The point would be the equivalent.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Ah, but (none / 0) (#87)
by yuo on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:46:07 PM EST

on a mathematical basis, I don't see the point of your article. That's my essential complaint.

I completely agree that science and religion/spirituality/philosophy don't have a complete set of tools to interact and learn back and forth, but it seems that your article is mostly about logic and math, which in my estimation, have no issues concerning religion, etc.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Should step back a little (none / 1) (#55)
by Paul Sheer2 on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:02:22 AM EST

The very obsession with questions of "God" is a strong indication that LodeRunner has been preprogrammed in some way. Objectively there is no question about "god" one way or the other, and LodeRunner surely can't remember being programmed to ask about such questions.

This raises a lot of questions like "who" and "where" LodeRunner was implanted with such dramatic questions, and why he can't remember why he asks about these things.

Convincing someone to be interested in things that are undefinable (like "god") is manipulation.

The word "god" makes no sense at all. It can't even be discussed. It's a meaningless word with no definition.

No one in his right mind who heard the word "god" for the first would show anything but confusion on his face.

The purposes of science can be seen from what scientists actually do everyday. If they are physicists they lecture, write papers, do experiments. If they are microbiologists they look into a microscope. "God" has nothing to do with their careers at all. Grant funding has a lot to do with their careers.

Hope that helps.

So you never mention faith (2.71 / 7) (#56)
by rusty on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:26:41 AM EST

The question of whether agnosticism is logically correct or not is sort of irrelevant. Agnosticism is the "most logical" result of deciding to place your faith in logic. But what you have faith in comes first -- if your faith is in logic and reason, you might as well just be an atheist, because you've already decided that a "real" (that is, effective; omnipotent) God has no place in your worldview.

My point here is that we all have faith in something. Either we have faith that there is a supreme being of some kind, or we have faith that the universe operates according to rules that are fixed and, in theory, discoverable. Or, of course, we are unclear on what we truly have faith in, which I think is the case for scientists who are religious. Or we elide and minimize the power of whichever side of the equation we have less faith in -- we posit a noninterfering God or a universe that rewrites itself to account for God's fiddling without letting us ever catch on scientifically.

But when you get right back to the beginning, you can't decide this logically, because the efficacy of logic is the result of choosing one of the branches of faith. What you call "dogmatism" I say is simply accepting that faith is, by its nature, before logic or knowability. It's the leap you have to take in order to be able to look.

Logicians and atheist scientists generally hate this argument, by the way, even though I come down on the same side as them, because it acknowledges the fundamentally non-rational foundation of reason.

____
Not the real rusty

You hit the nail in the head (2.00 / 3) (#58)
by LodeRunner on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 12:52:27 PM EST

You openly stated the more fundamental conclusions which I chose to merely allude to in the last paragraph, what you called (and I agree) the "non-rational foundation of reason", and which I said that says more about ourselves (that is, about our own belief system) than about the issue of God/religion/whatever.

My goal when writing was to ask for readers to come to terms with what they believe in, and yes, I had in mind this lack of clarity you mention in scientists who are religious.

About dogmatism, I think your rewording of Dawkins' level 7 makes a world of difference. To say "I know there is no God" sounds dogmatic to me, and "I have faith that there is no God" doesn't, the difference being that the latter acknowledges that you "jumped out of the system" to make the statement.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Non-rational foundation of reason (none / 0) (#136)
by carnival of animals on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:17:09 PM EST

I agree that reason has to be propped up by a belief in its utility or importance to have any validity. Not sure if that foundation is entirely non-rational though -- reason is what we use to keep ourselves alive, from eating when we are hungry to organizing the logistics of urban life; it consistently delivers results, and as science and logic march on and continues to explain more of the universe, leaving less of it to faith and mysticism (though it may never complete its mission), it seems reasonable to put stock in reason to explain reality. If we prefer life, we probably ought to favour reason.

But that point is probably moot, because the justification for reason is then circular. Perhaps it doesn't matter much in the end though -- because if anyone is prepared to disagree that reason should have primacy over faith, they forfeit the right to defend their arguments with reason, or to expect my arguments to be amenable to reason. Between a person who values reason and a person who doesn't, there is really nothing to be said.

[ Parent ]

false dichotomy (2.25 / 4) (#61)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:54:25 PM EST

your theory that religious scientists are confused about their faith is so naive, immature, and one dimensional that I don't even know where to begin.

But I completely reject the liberal secularists lie that religion requires dogmatic faith in fairytales. Infact, I think that the most valuable parts of religion have nothing to do with dogmatic faith in fairytales - rather, it's the philosophical and moral/ethical theories of how to live your life and approach the world that make religion interesting - scratch that - a fundamental part of existence for many folks.

liberal secularists such as yourself leave science all the fucking time. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Only you call it philosophy instead. There's nothing more scientific about philosophy than there is scientific about religion.. in fact, religion and philosophy have much more in common than philosophy and science do. Some religions, in fact, are almost indistinguishable from philosophy.

Then you liberal secularists are so insecure about it that you invent bullshit soft sciences to make you feel more warm and fuzzy about your philosophies.. and you become just as ridiculous at that point as religious nutters who reject scientific evidence that defies their fairytales.

I'm sorry, but science alone is not enough to be a functioning human being. And likely never will. Hate to break that SIMPLE OBVIOUS FACT TO YOU.

---
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[ Parent ]

defensive much? (none / 1) (#65)
by loteck on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 06:36:15 PM EST

your "simple obvious fact" is none of the 3. i challenge you to back up even one of them.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
no problem (1.50 / 2) (#66)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 06:45:08 PM EST

"science alone is not enough to be a functioning human being."

is simple:

science will only teach us what we can or cannot do. Not what we should do. What we should do is outside of the realm of science. Simple, eh?

is obvious:
We need to have some guidelines of what we should do to be functioning human beings. Obvious, eh?

is fact:
Suppose a human has no guidance in what she should or shouldn't do.

She'd have difficulty functioning and living a full life.

ergo, it's fact that she can't function on science alone. QED.

---
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[ Parent ]

and so (none / 1) (#69)
by loteck on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 07:36:08 PM EST

religion nor philosophy can agree on what we should or should not do. the majority of us with or without religion go on in our lives living outside of the guidelines prescribed by religion. everyone goes on in life without guidance as to what we should or shouldn't do, and we have difficulty living full lives.

our bodies operate on a purely phsyical, biological and scientific basis, which sustains us enough to be a functioning human being.

science alone is in fact all you need to function. function, in fact, is 100% science.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

what does agreement (none / 1) (#70)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 07:42:38 PM EST

have to do with anything?

Were we able to agree then we'd probably be dealing with science. But philosophy and religion aren't science.

I'd like to see someone "functioning" without any bit of religion or philosophy. I'd argue that such a human has never existed. Obviously by functioning I don't mean the physical and biological functioning, which is only a limited aspect of human functioning. Humans function on other levels too. They think and they decide - whether or not they do so freely is itself a philosophical question which science will not be able to address in the foreseeable future.

I don't get why you even posted (parent) it doesn't even respond to the assertions I made, rather it skirts around it awkwardly trying to grasp onto the lie that humans don't need philosophy/religion to function. And you call me defensive?

---
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[ Parent ]

forseeable future (none / 1) (#72)
by loteck on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:24:12 PM EST

science has a chance at eventually explaining these things with some great degree of certainty. religion does not. if science has even a remote opportunity of ever explaining life, then we are all of us 100% functioning on science 100% of the time, whether we are aware of how that science works or not.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
nope (none / 1) (#74)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 09:15:46 PM EST

science could determine that we have free will. science could also determine that there really is a flying spaghetti monster benevolently and/or cruelly reigning over us all.

However, in the mean time - fantasies about the future feats of science that are possibly impossible (maybe science will suggest it impossible?) is as much of a fairytale as anything a religious nutter has come up with.

And also, in the mean time.. we're all partly functioning on philosophy/religion.

---
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[ Parent ]

speak for yourself (none / 1) (#80)
by loteck on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 04:53:05 AM EST

you think you are partly functioning on those things but cannot offer any observable or cohesive presentation to that end other than, basically, "duh!".

science is no where close to religion and fairytales, because when we say something is a "scientific fact", it is because it is repeatable under the right conditions. every day we come to new understandings about our bodies and world, but the things discovered are not new, they are how it has always been and we are just catching up.

in the mean time, its best assumed we are all functioning out of pure science. i'll keep repeating this in response to your unsupported claims until you actually make an attempt to support them.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

you're like an ostrich with your head in the sand (none / 1) (#82)
by balsamic vinigga on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:38:57 AM EST

the fact that thinking, personality, emotion, cognition.. may be 100% explained by science some day does not negate the observable fact that it's apparently aided by philosophy.

Your fallacy seems to be that, "because philosophy and religion can possibly be explained by science, it's not actually philosophy and religion"

That's so intellectually dishonest that I have no idea how this conversation can possibly continue further. Nice troll.

---
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[ Parent ]

fine. I'll humor you (none / 1) (#83)
by balsamic vinigga on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 11:42:39 AM EST

the philosophy of justice and human rights makes my conscience surrender to its authority. This allows me to function as a member of my society.

The ideas about how best to construct one's character and outlook on life, allows me to function as somebody other people would want to be around. Which fulfills my needs to have human relationships, pursue goals effectively, and to have fun. These are all functions.

Science would suggest that eugenics is a good idea. But it lead to what we mostly agree was reprehensible behavior. The ability to weigh moral trade offs is something that we need a moral basis and line of thought to do. Science isn't much help here.

The idea that we should give a damn about science is fundamentally unscientific. See that keywoard "should."  Explain how science can determine any "should" or explain how one can go through life without any "should" please!

------
Besides that, and this is another argument i don't want to confuse with the first: Philosophy also guides "can" in addition to "should." Logic is philosophy. Math is nothing but logic. You wouldn't be a very effective scientist without math.

---
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[ Parent ]

nothing to do with philosophy (1.33 / 3) (#88)
by loteck on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 04:43:53 AM EST

you're mistaking social structures and natural selection for some kind of profound philosophic issue. we see structures and natural selection under the microscope even now.

eugenics was just the philosophically contrived idea that we could control natural selection, and the result was an unsurprising mess. science doesn't suggest eugenics, it suggests natural selection.

science can, indeed, suggest a "should", and perhaps the only one worth suggesting: self-preservation and survival. how that plays into our social structures is cause for much investigation, and in the mean time you're welcome to lob that ball into the field of religion and theory, but in the end science will have the last (and the only worthwhile) say.

because it's all science, all math. even the most unpredictable of people thinking the most outlandish thoughts about the most unbelievable religions are just brain cells firing along pre-established pathways. they can call their thoughts and beliefs religion or philosophy or spacefaring dicksucking rainbow-colored unicorns for all i care, there is infinite time to make random shit up and only finite time to test them scientifically, that does not mean that science is lacking, only that we are easily distracted and in desperate want of control.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

now i know you're trolling (1.50 / 2) (#89)
by balsamic vinigga on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 07:45:37 AM EST

your argument is basically "philosophy doesn't exist because philosophy is just a biological process."

You're either trolling or a fucking idiot. At this point it doesn't really matter which.

---
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[ Parent ]

not trolling (1.00 / 3) (#95)
by loteck on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 10:30:59 PM EST

the truth is obviously so completely far removed from the fantasies you have in your head about life that you can't even fathom the very likely and observable scenarios that not only don't play near your fantasies, but actually exist in complete opposition to them. not surprising, you've always struck me as fairly limited in your intellectual capacities.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
yeah ad-hominem (1.00 / 3) (#97)
by balsamic vinigga on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 12:27:50 AM EST

at least when I point out how dumb you are I give a good reason. Such as your idiotic logic.

duhurrr if something is a biological process it most not be what it is!! duhurrrrrrr......

---
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[ Parent ]

w (1.50 / 2) (#98)
by loteck on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 03:05:48 AM EST

hat
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
yeah that's what i'm thinking too (1.50 / 2) (#99)
by balsamic vinigga on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 03:23:21 AM EST

if you're not exactly trolling, for whatever reason we've completely talked past eachother since i don't think either of us is as stupid as the other seems to think.

Honestly, it's probably because neither of us care about the other's opinion enough to give an honest attempt at extending the olive branch.

But I still think you're trolling.

---
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[ Parent ]

Two problems (1.50 / 2) (#76)
by Liar on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 10:38:56 PM EST

The first problem is a fun one: what do we do until that completed scientific morality emerges? Please apply that unknown future moral sensibility to the proper amount of scientific inquiry we must have.

The second problem is subtler and more tragic. You cannot use science to prove the existence of science. It presumes itself just as all naturalized epistemologies do. Because we are pragmatic, we adopt a scientific attitude in certain areas but in most other areas we abandon it. It's because we abandon the need to be scientific all the time that allows us to even accept science as a valuable tool for navigating the universe. This sensibility is what gives you the ability to build up to a scientific mindset.

Here's an example of how you abandon it all the time. You step barefoot across the walkway which alternates between concrete and asphalt. "Ouch" you declare when you step on the asphalt. "That's hot." You actually are relieved when you step on the concrete since it seems cooler. The problem is that scientifically, they may possess the same mean kinetic energy--in other words they are equally hot by the scientific definition of heat. Asphalt merely conducts heat more efficiently, so that heat transfers to your foot faster than it would from concrete but you only deal in heat in terms of how it feels on your feet. Thus, you hold two ideas simultaneously and in contradiction with each other: that both the concrete and the asphalt are equally hot and that the asphalt is hotter than the concrete.

Which is correct? Both but it depends on context. You'll encourage your child to walk on the concrete because the asphalt is hot, but in a lab, you'll adopt the scientific approach to heat. The former way is more efficient--your child doesn't need a thermodynamic explanation, and if you tried, by the time you finish your dissertation, her toes will already be burned and she'll resent you for being pompous. You'll die alone and friendless, having long been abandoned by everyone because you couldn't say "I love you", instead opting for the significantly more accurate, "Being around you rises my dopamine levels greater than a significant other number of experiences, more than the digestion of chocolate, but less than the intervals of wavelengths which--to use the vulgar vernacular--is called a song."


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
oops, my apologies (none / 1) (#77)
by Liar on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 10:45:22 PM EST

I said chocolate. You wouldn't say chocolate. You would say "C7H8N4O2".


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
i see zero problems there (none / 1) (#81)
by loteck on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 05:01:09 AM EST

on the first, we just continue to do as we always have done. the second is a red herring, science doesn't aim to prove itself, only to be repeatable and testable, and it leaves the questions of reality and perception to the philosophies, which have produced some nice thoughts but, in the absence of the philosophies being able to provide a unified theory, we seem to be getting along just fine.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
that too is a red herring (none / 1) (#100)
by Liar on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 12:02:19 PM EST

why must philosophy generate a unified theory to be useful?


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
because only things that are useful (none / 1) (#101)
by loteck on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 07:07:47 PM EST

are useful. multiple theories about how to live and what it all means have so far only served to divide us and set us one against another. in the "big view", philosophy and religion have really been a net loss. the gains have come from "natural philosophy" and science.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
No. That's just factually ignorant (none / 1) (#103)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 12:55:58 AM EST

Philosophy isn't about how to live or what it all means (whatever the hell "it" is).. That you think it is... Well... That's just your ignorance talking.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
amazing reply (none / 1) (#104)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 02:05:48 AM EST

the depth of your analysis and your eloquent prose have surely persuaded many towards your viewpoint.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
You can be persuaded? (none / 1) (#109)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:40:19 AM EST

Since I don't think so, why waste too much time? Why point out philosophy's contribution to the creation of economics, anthropology, psychology, biology, physics, cognitive science, logic, political science, and many different branches of math including calculus?

Philosophy is the starting point for understanding. That is it's purpose and anyone who hasn't bothered to have even a cursory look at the history is just simply ignorant about what they are talking about.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
nononono you see (none / 0) (#111)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:18:41 AM EST

according to lotek, that's not philosophy.

That's like natural selection and other forms of science...  or something...  and science will one day be able to explain how we arrived at these profound areas of study without philosophy. Or some idiotic bullshit

he's a fucking troll.

---
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[ Parent ]

neither of you (none / 1) (#113)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 01:21:05 PM EST

can actually lay out any factual basis for all the shit that you are claiming, ie that philosophy or religion (religion being of course what originally started this conversation) has been so profoundly instrumental in creating all these things that you like to point out. and that is because the work on our planet that has resulted in species-wide gains is because of mathematicians, physicists, biologists, and other sciences that produce testable, repeatable results, which philosophy and religion are totally incapable of doing.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
if you want to (none / 1) (#114)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 01:27:49 PM EST

point out some facts, some citations, some examples, something solid other than your verbal fucking diarrhea, you may find me very persuadable indeed. look out the nearest window. now explain to me how philosophy and religion had anything to do with anything you saw. make sure you point out which religion and which philosophy, since they are legion.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
wikipedia 101 (none / 0) (#115)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 01:45:20 PM EST

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mathematics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_economics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_physics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_philosophy

"Justice" it itself a deep philosophical question that is pretty damn unrelated to science and a cornerstone of all modern peaceful government. The definitive early exploration of justice is  found in Plato's Republic.. Which is a damn good book. But I HAVE to believe you must have known this already? If not, what a fucking abysmal education your schools gave you...

---
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[ Parent ]

are you saying that "philsophy of (1.33 / 3) (#117)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 03:06:25 PM EST

math/econ/physics" came prior to the practice of math/econ/physics? that is truly lolworthy, if so. if not, then what is your point? all the links above say are that people are thinking about those things. i'm asking you to point out what benefit has been derived from people thinking about these things. i can just open my eyes and observe all sorts of shit that science has accomplished. what new methods or solutions or problems have been solved by "the philosophy of math"? what buildings have been built thanks to "the philosophy of physics"? exactly how have any of these things actually benefited us? my point is that all benefits have come from the practitioners of science, and none from the philosophers thereof. you seem to be ignoring my point, though, since i've stated it over and over again and you have yet to refute.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
what came first the chicken or the egg (none / 0) (#121)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:18:53 PM EST

it's obvious to me that you have no expertise in math or econ or physics... because then you'd know what an inextricable role philosophy has played in the development of all three areas.

The most basic example, which you are probably aware of because it's become a part of pop culture are xeno's paradoxes of motion. You know what an ENORMOUS branch of mathematical study today deals with this basic philosophical paradox??

Also, you say i'm ignoring you and saying that I've never been able to refute you but what's actually happening is you always keep ignoring my refutations. For example you conveniently leave out political science from your response...  since I gave the specific example of Justice in philosophy dating all the way back to Plato.

---
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[ Parent ]

political science just proves (none / 1) (#123)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:35:17 PM EST

my original point, which was that all philosophy and religion have served to do is to divide us.

paradoxes, such as zeno's (not xeno's) serve to argue my point, not yours. paradoxes appear at the outset to be firmly in the philosophical arena. however, they are mathematical problems that are addressed by theories. be they mathematical or scientific, they are theories that are then testable and the results repeatable. exhibit A: cantor.

you seem to be straying pretty far from your original assertion that 'science alone is not enough to be a functioning human being'.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

i haven't swayed (none / 0) (#127)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:24:10 PM EST

i've already proven that point and you ignored it.  Such as the point that building one's character allows one to fulfill social and psychological needs (which are a function of being human). You ignored that point.

I also pointed out that science doesn't offer us much guidence in what we should do.. i.e. moral philosophy is outside of the realm of science entirely (aside from fanciful conjectures that science we haven't even begun to find can one day help here). You need to have some way of determining what's good/bad behavior in order to get along with people. Again human functioning.. You either ignored this point too or gave a convoluted response that made no sense. This is perhaps just another way of looking at building one's character.

To say political science is only divisive and never unifying is intellectually dishonest. And you know that so I need not respond further to this asinine point.

The point about questions like Zeno's paradox is that ideas often start off immature and philosophical then evolve into something more firm. But it also works the other way...  before Cauchy, calculus seemed to work... gave predictable results and was testable..  but it wasn't logically rigid. As such, calculus was fairly lacking and not that philosophical. Really abstract philosophical notions like Dedexind cuts then expanded calculus into a very logical framework of set theory (which is just a formalized way of working with philosophical sylogisms)...   Then the pure mathematicians work this shit out without realizing that it may some day help a scientist out...

---
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[ Parent ]

lol (none / 1) (#130)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:00:30 PM EST

"I've already proven that point and you ignored it. Such as the point that building one's character allows one to fulfill social and psychological needs (which are a function of being human).

i think its cute how you think the things you say amount to proof just because you say them. so when i say that you are wrong, is that also proof that you are wrong? or does this trick only work for you?

if my response to you didn't make any sense then by all means tell me what didn't make sense and i'll try to explain it using very small words and maybe ascii art.

also, ideas are not philosophy, nor are they religion. you act like the act of thinking is equal to philosophizing, and it isn't. Zeno was never a philosophy, it was always squarely in the realm of science (or math) and indeed math "solved" it. it wasn't "new" math, it was just math that hadn't yet been described.

both you and your buddy are having to reach pretty far down into the buckets of philosophy and religion to provide (faulty) examples of your points.. to the point where we are looking up "the philosophy of x" on wikipedia, when i think most common people (and indeed the article) are talking about more widely-known and referenced types of philosophy and religion. or are you saying that people need "the philosophy of math" to be able to function as human beings? you have indeed wandered far from home, methinks.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

math is philosophy (none / 0) (#131)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:30:03 PM EST

it's not testable and mathematical theories are not anything like scientific theories - they just use the same word.

Math is assumptions + logic. So your naive notion that math can't ever be "new," just "undiscovered" is really immature and shows that you're trying to talk about something you don't really understand. Math isn't truth, it's philosophy. You start with a set of assumptions, then deduce what can come out of such assumptions. If you have a guess that something is true within this system and it's good at predicting results that's not a "theory" as it would be in science.. it's a conjecture. In math a theory is something that has been deduced using formal logic to be true. So as soon as you add or modify an assumption you end up with new math.

But you're right..   getting too sidetracked on math isn't really the original point. As for your thinking i think that "things i say amount to proof." I just didn't realize how much hand-holding you need..  But if you insist on me reducing you to a child who doesn't know the first thing about anything, here you go:

So without morality "should" is left to instinct and whims... If you look at families from different backgrounds, kids are taught different values according to the morality (religious/philosophical) of their family and community. You can readily compare and contrast how this impacts kids... Kids who are imparted with neglect and indifference become dysfunctional because instinct and whim isn't a solid foundation. Kids who are imparted with a strong value system "fairness and justice is good"  "education is good"  "excessive lack of self-awareness is bad" "science is good" "treat others how you'd want them to treat you." "pulling your weight is good" these all come down from generations of religion and philosophy. This kid has a better shot at life and functioning harmoniously with others.

If you just suddenly cut this away and left a kids with just instinct and whim...  all of humanity would suffer greatly...  we'd have to start all over again. And people would eventually build up a value system because we NEED them to function. There isn't a single example of a group of people in any location or time that didn't have a value system and a weigh of weighing moral trade-offs. This is no accident. It's because they need it to survive and thrive.

I suppose if you were to reduce "function" to our animalistic base then you'd be right...  But it's been clear this entire thread that by function I mean function successfully within your family and society. Without values we wouldn't value education and we wouldn't value advanced science. It's amazingly ironic that you're all getting your dick hard over science without acknowledging that you value science for no scientific reason at all....  because science doesn't "value" anything. Rather, you value it because of your unscientific outlook on life - which is fundamentally unscientific. Science can do and show you a lot of really cool shit... but it's up to you to realize it's cool. Science doesn't care.

---
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[ Parent ]

more on math, just so you know that you're (none / 0) (#132)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:17:36 PM EST

ignorant.

Zeno up in a tree saying that if he falls out of the tree he'll never hit the ground was in fact Zeno philosophizing (generally) and doing math (specifically).

Doing math? ignorant you might object?

Yes. Doing math.

There's a difference between doing math and applying math. Computers can't do math. Computers just compute.

It's kind of incorrect to say that computers do math. But because most people never do math, they only think that learning/applying math is doing it. People such as yourself are so ignorant of doing math they don't even know WHAT math is. Which you've proven in your incorrect assessment of Zeno.

That general situation of stumbling upon a seeming inconsistency is how math is done. You try to make sense of something and it doesn't make sense so you assume or define your way out of the hole.  It seems like it's cheating to somebody not well aware of what it's like to do math. But it's not cheating, it's math.

The amount of philosophy that's gone into making it so you can describe motion with calculus is quite a lot. Start with natural number axioms or build them with nested sets..  Already you kind of have to make this huge assumption that is unobservable in "reality"  that you can always get a next natural number..  Then construct the rationals, then construct the reals...  Done? OK, I'm waiting...  What? You want to cheat by looking at what philosophers before you have done? Or better yet not even care what they've done but rather confuse math for science?

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

actually yes (1.50 / 2) (#126)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:03:57 PM EST

In philosophy of econ, it culminated in a philosophy book called the Wealth of Nations. In the philosophy of science, it reached a zenith in the Novum Organum. Math is a bit trickier and broad, but Pythagoras is a good indicator of philosophy's early relationship, Leibniz (co-creator of calculus) is a staggeringly powerful intermediate influence, and Russell, Whitehead and Gödel are eminent 20th century influences.

So, yes, all of these fields have their basis in philosophy.

[ Parent ]
not just ignorance, but willful ignorance (none / 1) (#116)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 02:23:23 PM EST

If I give one corner of a square, only the ignorant cannot return the other three. I gave you your homework. Go do it.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
you've given nothing of the sort (1.00 / 3) (#118)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 03:11:40 PM EST

if you can't keep up just go away. the "do your homework" reply is classic internet argument code for tapping out.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
your ignorance is your responsibility. not mine. (none / 1) (#119)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 03:39:06 PM EST

But, fine. Read the Novum Organum and then we can talk.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
so (1.00 / 3) (#120)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:17:46 PM EST

you need someone else to explain your ideas to me. because you have no original ideas of your own or because you don't understand your own ideas very well yourself?
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
Your ignorance is really embarrassing (none / 1) (#122)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:26:25 PM EST

The benefit of progress is not having to re-invent the wheel. Go, read, learn, be enlightened.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
no one is asking you to invent anything (1.00 / 3) (#124)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:39:16 PM EST

if you have such a strong grasp of whatever you are posing to understand, you should be able to express it fairly plainly in relative brevity. so i invite you to do so.

unless, you know, you are lying about having the first fucking clue about what you are talking about. which seems likely, right?
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

Again, your ignorance = your responsibility (none / 1) (#125)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:58:24 PM EST

I could detail it but really there is no point. If you even looked up the wikipedia entry, you'd see it's relevance. You can't be arsed to do that much, so I won't be arsed to do anything but identify your ignorance.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
i admit (1.00 / 2) (#129)
by loteck on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 07:46:46 PM EST

i am ignorant to whatever lunacy is in your head that is so vague and morphous that not even you can begin describe it.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]
Not really. (1.50 / 2) (#133)
by Liar on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:53:50 PM EST

I already have described it several times before you posted your comment. I can't help it if you don't want to read and try to understand.

Look at it this way, if someone came up to you and said that Christianity had nothing to do with Judaism, you should look at them funny because the two have everything to do with each other. Similarly, you're saying that there's no relationship between philosophy and science when in fact the two are permanently intertwined.

Science did not exist before 1600. All you had at that time were intelligent guesses. Look at Democritus, credited for first conceiving of the atom. His guess is not that much different from Thales guess that all the world is water and that guess is no different from Plato's guess that all is forms. And that's no different than positing that society should be composed in Republics, or by divine right, or by oligarchs. And that's no different than Aristotle examining the soul and theater right before writing a book on metaphysics as well as a book on all of the constitutions of greek city-states.

And it's in this same exact vein that "science" proceeded for almost 2000 years, with people positing theories which looked good on paper and had nothing to do with reality, like draining blood to cure the humors being a bad guess, while a call for daily exercise being a good one. And if you say something which flatters the rulers of the society, the "science" can endure. This is why Aristotle could maintain such a strong grip up to Galileo's day whose simple experiments proved Aristotle wrong. See, for example, Aristotle's theory of momentum which was conceived of as a type of fuel. An object would continue along its trajectory until it exhausted its momentum and then would fall straight down to the earth. An archer could have falsified this but it held sway as a scientific theory long past the battle of Agincourt. You might call it science. It wasn't by any reasonable definition you could provide different from philosophy, though.

As a result, it's not until there began to be a formalized scientific method that we could distinguish these philosophical theorizations from scientific ones. Otherwise, any guesswork could be dressed up as science. Religion until 1600 could be considered valid science for which there were many arguments in support of it, like the ontological proof of God's existence. Music and the arts? Also science. The emphasis on observation and experimentation began in earnest in the 1600s with the publication of Bacon's Novus Organum which he viewed as a post-chapter to Aristotle's Organum--a work on logic and syllogism. Only at that point, method was taken seriously by the philosophical community. Those who adhered to it, we now call scientists. Those who didn't, we assigned to other professions. But that which made the division, the Novus Organum (as well as Rene "I think therefore I am" Descartes' Discourse on Method) were works entirely in the philosophical spirit.

Even math could advance itself only with due respect to philosophical considerations. Consider the number of problems that Euclid's fifth postulate has caused through the millenia--an observation not just of philosophical importance but of deep mathematical concern. When you abandon Euclid's fifth postulate, and instead put in different rules, you end up with non-Euclidean math which has turned out to be a boon to modern life. But we never would have realized it if there were not deep philosophical and non-mathematical reservations against Euclid's fifth.

Now, if you want, you could try to reclassify all of these efforts as science and math, but none of them are subject to scientific or mathematical concerns. It is only when you step outside those domains that you can recognize the problem and provide solutions.

And that is the domain of philosophy.

So, like I said, the history of both of those enterprises that you hold so dear have always been subject to philosophical concerns which out of ignorance you despise.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
you're such a fucking idiot (none / 0) (#106)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 07:25:54 AM EST

first you say philosophy has been a loss then you say "natural philosophy" is a win...  WHAT?

natural philosophy IS philosophy...

Also, you say we're not functioning under philosophy...  when I point out how philosophy has allowed us to get along together...  rather you say that that's not actually philosophy and that it's actually natural selection or some bullshit.

But then you'll blame any disfunction we have on philosophy.

Your argument and positions make absolutely no sense, are inconsistent, and are impossible to follow.

I can't imagine how much it must suck to be you.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

hunh? (none / 0) (#148)
by deadplant on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:36:22 PM EST

I don't understand what you mean by 'functioning'.

We existed (and clearly persisted) for the majority of our time on this planet without religion, science or even language.


[ Parent ]

not (none / 0) (#151)
by balsamic vinigga on Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 07:36:12 PM EST

the homo sapien sapien

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
Er, wha? (none / 0) (#91)
by rusty on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 08:14:20 PM EST

I'm not sure what you read, but I don't think it's what I wrote. For example, things you said that I agree with:

Infact, I think that the most valuable parts of religion have nothing to do with dogmatic faith in fairytales - rather, it's the philosophical and moral/ethical theories of how to live your life and approach the world that make religion interesting - scratch that - a fundamental part of existence for many folks.

Yup. Right with you. I'm not talking about the morality or ethics, I'm talking about the belief in a supreme (i.e. omnipotent) being.

I'm sorry, but science alone is not enough to be a functioning human being.

Certainly not! I spent most of my post explaining the same thing.

About philosophy, I like it, but I don't think it's scientific. It's, if anything, a sort of different branch of religion for the most part. It's one I find (at times) more compelling than religious practice, but most of philosophy is basically exegesis of the moral and ethical issues raised by religion.

Basically, I see philosophy, religion, and psychology all as different kinds of stories we tell ourselves about what it means to be human. I find all of them interesting, but I don't have faith that any of them are basically true. I do have faith that the scientific method is the way to find out true things about the universe.

More than anything else, I think religion and science are both useful for asking and answering different kinds of questions. So in that sense, you're right that my dismissal of religious scientists was one-dimensional. I was too focused on the "is there an all-powerful invisible sky man" question, and not thinking about the rest of religion as a whole.

I do think it's useful to examine your core faith, and understand where you stand as far as the truth of each.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

ah ok (1.50 / 2) (#96)
by balsamic vinigga on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 12:24:09 AM EST

well that makes a lot of sense so i suppose we do pretty much agree.

I guess one of the reasons i got uppity is that the prime example of a religious scientist is Einstein. Who didn't really believe in an anthropomorphic god at all. I think he had more of a poetic pantheistic take though I admittedly am no expert.

I suppose if you mean a religious scientist who believes in the literal abrahamic god then I guess I do agree with you...  but I myself have never met such a person. Or, for that matter, heard of one. I've met a lot of science PhDs who are religious - even christian. But are not at all sold on the fire and brimstone characature of christianity.

I guess that's one thing that annoys me about Dawkins too.  There needs to be a quick linguistic way to differentiate being religious from being a dipshit.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

For the love of... (2.00 / 2) (#140)
by Spendocrat on Sun Apr 12, 2009 at 08:43:18 PM EST

Science is a method used by philosophy, not something that is apart from it. Christ you people are ignorant.

[ Parent ]
Faith is not really necessary. (none / 1) (#78)
by Pentashagon on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:10:20 AM EST

What matters is survival.  The scientific theories that work tend to survive and spread, and the theories that don't work simply die out.

I don't have faith that anything will work, ever.  But I'll try what seems best, and if it does work, I'll tend to survive and pass the working knowledge on to others.  Extrapolate this to a large portion of society, and science takes on its own evolutionary life independent of human morals, philosophy, or faith.  The latter may impact the practical application of science, but the theories themselves are relatively immune.

I think this means that science is effectively orthogonal to faith.  Science works whether or not one has faith in its truth or falsehood, since it is based as much as possible on objective tests of reality.  You don't need faith in quantum mechanics to build a semiconductor; you just need to follow the tentative rules and observe that it works.  Fervent Flat-Earthers can still hop on a plane and travel halfway around the globe.  In other words, it requires no more than faith in one's own senses.

[ Parent ]

You could say the same of religions. (none / 1) (#93)
by skyknight on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 09:20:40 PM EST

Religions that are full of lies that mesh well with what people want to believe tend to be very successful no matter how untruthful, especially if they unite people in a common cause and spur them to violence against others who are less well organized by a common lie.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Guh, I hate that usage of "faith"... (2.00 / 3) (#92)
by skyknight on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 09:16:18 PM EST

I'll come right out and say it. I feel like you're being weasely.

I have faith that the Sun will rise tomorrow. That is decidedly NOT that same kind of faith that religious folks have. I do NOT assume "that the universe operates according to rules that are fixed and, in theory, discoverable". Rather, I infer those things from repeated and consistent observations. I have observed the Sun rise myriad times. I can cross-check various theories that corroborate why this behavior exists. I DO hold out some probability that the universe is in fact governed by some trickster god who can change the universe at will but hasn't yet bothered to reveal himself to me, but every day the probability of this shrinks.

There are two usages of the word "faith" and people are careless about distinguishing between the two of them. There is faith that stems from experience, logic and reason, and then there is faith that comes from accepting things either unquestioningly or accepting things that cannot be known. This is a distinction worth making.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Not entirely with you (none / 0) (#105)
by dhk on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:25:40 AM EST

I think you're right in pointing out that not all usages of "faith" mean exactly the same. However, there is no clear cut border between two meanings of the term, but rather a gradient along more than one axis.One of the axes surely is something pretty similar to the notion of probability.

You may check this thesis by trying to assign your "faith-1" (as in "I believe in GOD")and "faith-2 ("I believe the sun will rise tomorrow") concepts to the following statements:
- "I believe that I'm sitting in front of a computer right now"
- "I believe the moon revolves around the earth"
- "I believe it is raining now" (context: You're in the street and drops of water start coming down)
- "I believe it will rain soon" (context: dark clouds are approaching)
- "I believe that man is able to understand his surrounding world by scientific methods"
- "I believe that man is able to make reasonable predictions about his surrounding world by scientific methods"
- "I believe in the scientific method"
- "I believe in logic"
- "I believe that the angular sum of every triangle is 180°
- "I believe that - at least in principle - every hard science can be reduced or grounded in mathematical constructs/systems
- "I believe that every truth can be proved"


I'm pretty sure you're having a hard time if you really do it.
- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
actually.. (none / 0) (#108)
by luckbeaweirdo on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:12:42 AM EST

I am an atheist and I agree completely.

[ Parent ]
Well, not always (none / 1) (#112)
by rusty on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 11:36:48 AM EST

Obviously. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
ugh (none / 1) (#147)
by deadplant on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:27:51 PM EST

"My point here is that we all have faith in something. ... Logicians and atheist scientists generally hate this argument..."

We hate it because it is so frustrating having to listen to people completely miss the point over and over again.

I'll try to explain it.

Logic and reason are effective tools for making decisions.
Why do I say this?  It is not because I have faith in logic and reason.  It is because I have seen much evidence for this position.
When new evidence comes to light showing the flaws in this system (and hopefully pointing to a new, more effective system) I will adopt that new system for my decision making.

This is the very essence of science.

It is all about doing our best to find the 'answers' that are closest to the truth and continually questioning, testing and revising those answers based on the evidence we find.

We do not have faith in science and reason.
We have simply observed them to be the most effective systems we have found thus far.
We continue to question these base assumptions and to revise them as new evidence is gathered.

No faith in base assumptions.
We recognize that the assumptions upon which we base everything else are nothing more than our best guesses.
We know that it is extremely likely that our assumptions are wrong or at least inaccurate.
We continue to search for better ones.

[ Parent ]

Wrong-o (none / 1) (#149)
by rusty on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:26:49 PM EST

You're exactly who I had in mind.

It's cool, though. I don't need to convince you. If you're happy with that, go ahead on with it. It won't make any real profound difference.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I disagree... (2.00 / 2) (#67)
by Wain on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 07:02:05 PM EST

The only acceptable line of thought for people of a scientific mentality in what pertains to the theological question, would have to start before deciding agnosticism.

It would have to start at "define God."

Something nobody seems to be able to do effectively.

I see god (none / 1) (#68)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 07:32:26 PM EST

as a metaphor for our best nature. At least, this seems like the only way to view god were we to evaluate religions objectively. Plain as the nose on my face - yet nobody can see it.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
I see god (2.50 / 2) (#71)
by Nimey on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:15:06 PM EST

as the santorum dripping out of Tiber's asshole.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]
Ahh, another one. You just made My day son! (none / 0) (#156)
by Steeltoe on Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 01:11:42 PM EST

I know I should control My temper.. But some days it is just soo frustrating to observe most so-called Scientists who should know better (uhuu, quit probing Me!), and most Religious People (I secretly love All of You of course!), continue the mindless quarreling for milennias about My existence or not.

Especially considering only approximately 0.10382941% of You ever probe with: "What definition of God are You talking about?" Which do sound a bit intellectualish, but is the superior question I created to silence such ignorant and purposeless discussions. Useful for days when You've got a headache You know.

Yet, I have created all of You to love this game, silly or not, so luckily for You my frustration abates, and the world lives to see another day or two..

Btw, Humans didn't strictly evolve all the way to Your present silly state of affairs, but are a byproduct of transgenetic manipulations from Otherworldy Beings having visited Your planet many times over, and still do. These Otherwordly Beings, having over milennia of intellectual masturbation lost the sense of empathy and love that Humans and Animals posess, now seeks to splice a race both capable of both love and intellect. I try not to interfere too much, but it would be much easier for You if They had some faith and left the details to Me!

Of course, world calamities from My former tantrum periods covers most of the evidence of such advanced civilizations in your present time, but will be discovered again progressively within the next 100 years as You learn to dig deeper in the soil and Your soul. Some traces are left in human folklore, as you may find flying crafts and Otherworldly Beings in oral traditions, tablets, stone monuments, petroglyphs, and art forms found throughout the planet. However, there will also be more and more mass-sightings of flying crafts over populated areas in the decades to come. Crop circles? I created the men with planks!

What is funny is even the aliens argue about wether God exists or not, even when They can tickle Me with their quantum rods and watch the fireworks! I laugh and laugh every time, I'm soo ticklish! Gets Me everytime!!

I know this is hard to swallow for most of You, but this is how I created You unfortunately.. Have some faith Will You? I Will Alot and look at Me!

Yours Truly,
God

PS:

  1. Since many of You capitalize My name, I seek to return the favour! Love You!

  2. Never piss Me off! Karma is My dog that bites!

Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
I refuse to believe in any God (none / 0) (#157)
by Wain on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 09:36:21 PM EST

who thinks "Alot" is a word.

[ Parent ]
I want to bite, it's so inviting... (1.66 / 3) (#73)
by localroger on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:57:30 PM EST

just. not. hungry. Damn.

And that is what is so great about the internet. It enables pompous blowhards to connect with other pompous blowhards in a vast circle jerk of pomposity. -- Bill Maher
This article is crap. (1.50 / 2) (#94)
by the77x42 on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 09:36:20 PM EST

99% of people are agnostic.

Consider the following scale:

1 - God definitely exists
2 - There is a good chance god exists
3 - There is a 50/50 chance god does or does not exist
4 - There is a good chance god does not exist
5 - God definitely does not exist

Anyone who believes in 1 is total fucking moron because there is no evidence at all that lends itself to the absolute ascertainment that god exists.

Most religious people believe 2, most without knowing it. They believe strongly that god exists, but they can't 'know' that he exists. They might be 99% sure he exists.

Nobody believes 3, which is usually taken to be 'true' agnosticism. If you believe this, you are a child.

Atheists and educated people will believe 4, but they will probably have a 99.99999% conviction that god does not exist. Sure, he might come down one day and we will all be convinced. Leaving room for that possibility is just good scientific practice. We can't know for sure unless we are presented with undeniable evidence.

Nobody will believe 5, because there is still a possibility that god exists. There's also a possibility that a million dollars in bills will suddenly appear on my lap, and the odds are probably pretty much the same, but we can't rule it out 100%.

Agnosticism, by definition is any option 2 through 4. I'm a 4, and I'm sure almost all 'atheists' and 'agnostics' are a 4.

It's not a cop out, it's just good reasoning.



"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

grow some balls (1.33 / 3) (#107)
by luckbeaweirdo on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:10:52 AM EST

Quit hedging your bets and make a choice, and go to #5. Agnosticism is a refuge for cowardly atheists.

God exists to the extent we want or need it too. In the end any of these choices demands a measure of faith, as you point out somewhat, but #5 is the only honest one.

By your reasoning we should all entertain any idea remotely possible, and no matter how absurd, if we cannot obtain indisputable evidence. So religion persists, with all its attendant evils, because "reasonable" people won't call it what it is. A fairy tale for the weak-minded and the evil bastards who would lead them.

God is an invention of our genes, like agriculture it confers a survival advantage on genes, although not on individuals, by making groups of people more cohesive and unified, and easier to lead in larger quantities. It provides that great organizing principle for all cultures, an outsider who is different to fear and hate. The gene for atheism was driven out, along with the hunter gatherers, by larger better organized populations who shared strong unifying beliefs that made them susceptible to leadership, and agriculture to enable larger population densities. It is no mistake that religions became more and more centralized and monotheistic over time. With a rigid belief system surrounding the deity its advantages in conflict with less well religiously endowed civilizations selected for those traits in that meme. It is not an accident that the next decades will be marked by the conflict between Islam and Christianity, that is the purpose. Two conflicting absolutes cannot coexist.

It is nothing more than that, an artifact of evolution that happened to confer a survival advantage on those with the mutation.

It is why jingoistic assholes like George Bush can get away with the shit they do and the other side of the coin, Osama Bin Laden, likewise.

It's why mankind will never be free so long as religion persists. There is nothing more than wealth separating the Baptists from Hezbollah, the two have far more in common with each other than with me.

You are an organic robot whose purpose is to make copies of oneself, in a deterministic universe, and a beautiful one it is, too.

Mankind has always put itself at the center of the universe and told stories to explain things they did not understand. The stars were campfires of the gods in the sky. The sun and the heavens revolved around the earth, god created man in his image, etc. Every layer of this conceit has been peeled back leaving only our relationship to the creator remaining. That one persists, and will continue to, exactly because of line of reasoning you quoted. It is impossible to prove. But since every other aspect of these stories or beliefs has been proven wrong what are the odds the unprovable one is right?

Agnosticism is a refuge for lazy, cowardly intellectuals who don't have the balls to follow their reasoning to its conclusion or who don't want to offend all the idiots they know who believe in god. Why is it we have to be so sensitive of the feelings and beliefs of the religious, but not of atheists? As you pointed out belief in god is a mark of imbecility, yet you allow for the possibility in your argument and defend it as the only choice of rational people.

Which is it?

I have more respect for believers than I do for those in the middle. They are stupid and crazy but at least they made a choice.

Quit playing parlor games with metaphysics and make a choice. If you need god there to get through the day, to call on in extremis, that's fine. Believe whatever you want but don't give me that guff about intellectual rigor. God is a phenomena which no one has observed and for which no evidence exists. But you want everyone to allow that this phenomena might exist just because the least educated and most superstitious sections of the population wish it were so?

If 95% of the American population believed in Goldilocks would you be as generous in your thinking, just because we have not examined every square foot of forest in which she might be living with the three bears?

[ Parent ]

You totally miss my point. (none / 1) (#139)
by the77x42 on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 01:41:45 AM EST

You also make my point that people think agnostics are copping out.

I'm talking about certainty. You can't know for certain that ANYTHING is true. I suppose you can know that you exist (a la Descartes), but that would be about it.

There are things that are 99.999999999999999% true, and the claim that God doesn't exist is just that (in my opinion). Because I can't say with 100% certainty that God doesn't exist, that makes me an agnostic.

Even you, yourself, cannot claim with 100% certainty that God doesn't exist, because there is that slight chance (or even a possible universe) in which God comes down from the sky and declares his existence.

This isn't a fucking parlor game, this is science. If we took everything we knew for CERTAIN to be true, we would be making huge mistakes about the world (think of the Sun revolving around the Earth, the flatness of the Earth, and anything before quantum physics).

Although all the evidence is there for theories, they are eventually proven wrong. You have to leave this possibility open for everything. It's not BAD practice, it's GOOD practice, because it gets closer to the truth than just blindly accepting or rejecting things.

You give a classic line, "I have more respect for believers than I do for those in the middle. They are stupid and crazy but at least they made a choice. ". What kind of bullshit is that? Could you imagine a world where scientists thought like that? "You know, fuck it, you Poindexters are taking too long! Enough with your 'waiting for the evidence'! The people demand action! Let's invade NOW!"

Give me a break. Grow a brain.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]

This is only true in the most trivial sense (none / 1) (#110)
by laird on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:28:00 AM EST

It's only true that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God in the most trivial sense, in that if God's existence has no effect on the observable universe that it can neither be proved nor disproved using scientific method, since science is based on observation.

The same logic (it is by definition impossible to disprove something unobservable) also argues that we should all be agnostic regarding the existence of invisible unicorns, fairies or the flying spaghetti monster. While someone might choose to believe in such things as a matter of faith, that has nothing to do with science.

Of course, most religions do in fact make predictions regarding the physical universe. None of these have been supported by research (e.g. the Earth is not flat and square). So while that doesn't disprove the rest of the religion, the argument that "Everything testable was false, but the rest is true" is not particularly compelling.

The best argument for religion (IMO) is that it's comforting to believe in an afterlife, because the reality of death is quite depressing. From a scientific perspective, however, wanting something to be true doesn't make it so.

we can create what we want with technology (none / 0) (#138)
by donnalee on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 01:23:49 AM EST

virtual realities for example could make religion true.

---
Guess I'll be adding this to tomorrow's comment dump!
[ Parent ]
semantics of "God" (3.00 / 2) (#142)
by orabidoo on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 04:47:07 AM EST

I find it ever so strange how much energy people seem to keep putting into debating "does God exist or not", and how little on what exactly that would mean.

It seems to me that "God" fulfills a whole variety of functions, such as being:

  1. the uncreated creator of the universe, at the beginning of time;
  2. the philosophical absolute;
  3. the basic principle of goodness;
  4. one who hands down rules on how humans ought to live;
  5. a powerful force that can be called for help;
  6. an external correlate to people's mystical experiences

We could then discuss the possible existence of each of those (and possibly a few more), as separate debating points. For each you could have a number of possibilities, such as:

  1. is inherently contradictory and therefore does not exist;
  2. can be proven or experienced unequivocally, and therefore exists;
  3. could exist in theory but there is no compelling reason to assume it does;
  4. can be inferred to probably exist or have existed;
  5. can exist and be unique;
  6. can exist and be multiple;
  7. can exist as an actual entity;
  8. can exist as a reification of an abstract quality (i.e in the sense that "green" exists)

These are of course not closed lists, and I'm writing off the top of my head. In any case, my list of correspondences would be something like: 1->1, 2,3->2+5+8, 4->4+6+7, 5,6->4+6+7+8, which probably gives me away quite accurately as a pluralistic buddhist.

What a load of rubbish (2.00 / 2) (#143)
by kaffiene on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 09:01:01 PM EST

This article is a load of waffle and a waste of space.  I shudder to imagine how woolly-headed one must have to be to emit such a piece of crap.

The worthwhile conclusions to come out of discussions of metaphysics are realisations about the limits of reason and the difference between questions that are inside the scope of science and those which are not.  A question like "is 5 hot?" may be grammatically correct, but it is mathematically meaningless.  Likewise, questions about the existence of God are beyond our ability of reason to answer.  Being agnostic is not a cop out, it's the only reasonable position to take unless you believe that your reason can give you a 'view from nowhere' - or, an objective view of the way the world really is.  And to think that, is indeed quite unreasonable.

The only people who can decide definitively one way or the other are, as elsewhere previously mentioned, dogmatists.

I love God. (none / 1) (#154)
by Canar on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:07:52 PM EST

Strictly speaking, agnosticism is the only acceptable line of thought for people of a scientific mentality in what pertains to the theological question.

On the contrary, the scientific mentality generates a hypothesis and then tests that hypothesis. In my experience, the tests have come up significantly in favour of the God of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus' teachings lead to a worldview that is not necessarily contradictory and one that enriches my life as you would expect from adhering to something divine.

Unfortunately, the evidence is non-transferable and the tests are highly subjective. This seems to be one of the parameters that God operates within. I do not claim to understand it fully, but it nonetheless holds. God seems to relate to each and every one of us in a unique and special way.

Even mathematics itself is based around truths that are held to be self-evident. Holding the existence of God to be self-evident is not necessarily--nor should it be considered to be--cognitive dissonance.

I love God. God has influenced my life significantly, and every time it has been for the better, though I do not necessarily understand it all. Almost every significant spiritual leader has come to the same conclusion: there is a power out there greater than us all.

Every intellectually-honest individual is aware that there are others out there whose intellects are greater than theirs. To accept none as greater than oneself is egomania at its worst. So then it follows that one each must seek out those who are greater.

The greatest teacher who has ever lived was Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and many men greater than I have placed their faith in his teachings and did not find their faith misplaced. So it is with myself.

I love God and have faith in God. I seek to live a life of creation, following Jesus' teachings. I fully anticipate that my life of creation will not end, but if I am wrong, then I do not despair. Jesus' teachings are the truest. If my existence comes to an end, I will have lived a life of truth and love and light, and every regret will have led to growth.

Agnostics are cowards/sockpuppets. (3.00 / 2) (#155)
by seanhbanks on Wed May 06, 2009 at 04:15:45 AM EST

The agnostic position facilitates the treatment of religion as a unique subject exempt from rational criticism. Since having it treated thus is advantageous to theists in allowing them to fall back on the canard that `Science does not address the matter of god' when arguing* their case, agnosticism is revealed as nothing more than a tool, false front, in the lunatics' arsenal, and consequently should be treated with utter contempt by any honest scientist, philosopher, or rational person, in general.

* i.e. raving

Agnosticism and the theological question through open hypotheses | 157 comments (147 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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