Comparing faith to the Scientific Method.

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Vance Elwood, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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    I am a little frustrated by the amount of people that don't seem to understand that not believing in something is not a belief (sounds straight forward, right?). God of the Gaps, and argument from ignorance, have to be two of the most annoying fallacies there are. I am genuinely shocked at the amount of people (in my experience) that try to pass the burden of proof onto someone who doesn't believe. They can't seem to comprehend that:

    1) Science isn't out to prove, or disprove god
    2) Science not having an answer, does not validate the answer they think they have
    3) Thinking that "believing" in evidence, is the same as believing in God/spirituality

    What is their thought process?
    "Either God exists, or he does not exist. Science can't prove God doesn't exist, therefore God exists?"

    Or is it something like:

    "Either God exist, or he does not exist. Therefore it is a 50/50 chance that he does exist."

    I am not trying to straw-man anyone's arguments here, I legitimately want to know HOW they come to those conclusions, and what their reasoning is for denying Science. AGH.

    Does anyone have tips on how to deal with this? What are your thoughts?
     
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yes it can be irritating. I suppose the problem comes when someone says "I do not believe in God", when what they really mean is "There is definitely no such thing as God". Because that is a belief statement, given that science cannot and does not attempt to prove matters either way. As for denying science, I think that is what comes of people foolishly trying to prove, or assert, on supposedly objective grounds, that God definitely exists, because when they try, they rapidly come up against science telling them it is an impossible task. Or, if they idiotically subscribe to the notion of a strictly literal reading of the bible, then they will come up against a clash with science of course (not to mention ordinary common sense).

    God of the Gaps has been recognised as a dead end for sensible Christian believers since the time of Cardinal Newman, who pointed out such a strategy was bound to end up destroying people's faith, due to the progressive march of scientific explanation. (Obvious, when you think about it.) And strict biblical literalism went out of the window at the time of Augustine of Hippo in about AD 400, who was already pointing out the bible is self-contradictory in places and thus requires interpretation. Strict literalism was only resurrected by a few crazy Protestant sects in the c. 19th and 20th.

    I believe the reason such daft ideas are the subject of heated debate today, in 2015 - God help us! - is the rise of what Auberon Waugh prophetically called the "Stupid Society". Mass media and the internet have greatly democratised knowledge and information,which is generally good, but one side effect is to give far more prominence and implicit respectability, than in previous eras, to silly ideas.
     
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  5. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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    That was incredibly well explained, and I agree with you. The idea of a stupid society is very disturbing, and it is observable within our media. I am astonished by the amount of people that eat up pseudo-science, learn some buzz words, and become an arm chair cosmologist. One thing that is really concerning me at the moment, is Russell Brands substantial following, he seems to think that he has the answers.
     
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Sure, but believing that something doesn't exist is a belief.

    Few (if any) atheists have no views of any kind concerning the god-questions. (If that were true, would they self-identify as atheists?) They will typically insist that there's no good justification for belief in the existence of God, which is very much a belief. (One that I certainly agree with, but a belief nevertheless.) Oftentimes they will insist that it's better for people to be non-religious than religious, which is again a belief (one that I'm more skeptical about). And atheists often believe that science is somehow opposed to 'religion'.

    That annoys me too. I think that Exchemist's remarks on that are very good.

    Rhetorically speaking, the burden of proof is going to lie with anyone who is asserting something that they want skeptical listeners to accept. The one making the assertion is going to have to give those listeners some reason to believe what he/she is saying.

    I'm put off by the atheist argument that atheism requires no argument or justification because atheism isn't a belief, but rather the lack of belief. I think that's intellectually lazy and disingenuous. At best, it's an admission of defeat, since an atheist is unlikely to convince anyone who isn't already an atheist by refusing to produce any argument for his or her position.

    As you say, that's a terrible argument that God must exist. But it could become much more plausible if the theist attached a different conclusion to it, such as: 'Science can't prove God doesn't exist, therefore science doesn't necessarily have to be incompatible with belief in God'.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  8. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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    I can't speak for everyone, but when I say "I don't believe in god", what I really mean is "I don't know either way, and until evidence for either side is irrefutable, my position will remain."

    My sample of creationists isn't very large, I will admit that, but within the last week or so, I have witness a large sum of creationists making such arguments. Maybe I need to stop reading articles, and watching videos on the internet. My problem is also within my own social group, in regards to spirituality. Beliefs do not bother me, until people start presenting their hypotheses as theories, or of course, if people are trying to convert me to their belief system without good reason. I 100% agree that Science is not necessarily incompatible with a belief in god, as long as they don't combine their belief with scientific practice.
     
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah we get a few around here, as you may have noticed.

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    I'm ambivalent about this: on the one hand it is good that people take an interest, even if they do not have a full understanding, but on the other, one gets nutcases who delude themselves they have a unique insight and are impervious to reason.

    I do not follow what that clown Brand is up to - he seems to confuse comedy with political insight. Nothing is easier than to ridicule politicians, but I actually think most of them are in it because of their beliefs about society and try to do a good job, most of the time, like the rest of us. I hope Brand has not started pontificating on science or religion, though. Or has he?
     
  10. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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    Oh yes, he has. He is pretty much trying to combine metaphysics with science. From collective consciousness, to Illuminati, to proving god. He pedals a hate for science, because apparently it is too materialistic.
     
  11. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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  12. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Victor Stenger, the physicist, would have disagreed with you that science is not out to prove or disprove God. Some concepts of God which include God's effects on the material world as a necessary component can indeed be empirically tested.
     
  13. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Is the belief in God or some magical supernatural deity, just a requirement of a still backward, less advanced society/civilisation?
    When we first climbed down out of the trees, as a society we invoked God in the Sun, Moon, mountains, seas, and whatever else we could not adequately explain.
    As we advanced/matured, the need to invoke deities to all we couldn't understand lessened more and more. Science was developing and explanations were forthcoming to explain things in more realistic frames.
    We are now at a stage where even the Catholic church has seen the need to accept the BB and Evolution, and we seem to be pushing the need for any deity further and further back.
    Still why we are unable to explain how or why the BB banged, or how or why Evolution evolved, we will still have some that will fall back to claiming a God did it.
    I believe science will continue to push the need for a deity of any sort further back into oblivion as we discover more, and progress further away from Mother earth.
    I see astronomy, cosmology, Astrobiology, Space travel, as the sciences that will lead the way to a totally realistic society.
     
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    It's a reasonable point of view. But you (rightly) say "I believe" when you make such observations.

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  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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  16. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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    How so? Would that require a specific definition of god? Say, a pantheist-like definition?
     
  17. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Exactly. He uses the example of the Christian/ Islamic/ Judaic God, which is defined. If the attributes assigned to that God can't be found through empirical methods, his conclusion is that the premise can be dismissed the same way any scientific theory could be dismissed as unlikely to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.
     
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I haven't read Stenger's God, The Failed Hypothesis, but I gather that his argument is basically that the observable universe is explainable scientifically without any need for (or evidence of) divine interventions. So hypothesizing the existence of God is unnecessary for understanding the universe we inhabit.

    I'm inclined to agree with that. Of course it isn't really a disproof of the existence of God, which I gather Stenger himself acknowledged. He seems to have concluded that the existence of God is possible, but unlikely. That's my own view as well.
     
  19. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, proof is a tricky thing in science, and it's often limited to the realm of math. The standards of evidence for something that is considered true within reason are lower.
     
  20. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    Moment prease...God of Jews and Christians different from so called god of Muslims. Not that you care, I just needed to point that out.
     
  21. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    It's not. Allah is just the Arabic word for the Judaic God. Only Christians add a new twist, that of Jesus being variously a demi-God or God himself. There are differences in theology, but for the purposes of this argument they are identical in nature. He is a personal God that listens to prayer and is involved in daily life. He created life, performs miracles and gives messages to prophets.
     
  22. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    I understand that. The god of islam is not the God of Christians and Jews.
     
  23. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Of course, because there is no such God at all, so it's kind of silly to compare imaginary things. But conceptually and historically, they are the same God worshiped in slightly different ways. It's been that way from the beginning, it says so in the holy texts, and both concepts of God have practically identical attributes.
     

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