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 actually said that "Science is not out to prove/disprove god", meaning that Science isn't a conscious entity with a specific objective. Some creationists I have debated with, and seen others debate, seem to dismiss Science, I do not know why, but probably because they perceive it as an enemy to their belief.

    I would never suggest that all creationists deny Science. I should have been more specific, but that was me trying to understand the reasoning behind such statements as "Well, you can't prove that god doesn't exist." Just because God may, or may not exist does not mean the chance is 50/50. It doesn't automatically mean that it is rational for one to believe in God.

    I think you could be right on this point, a lot of the debating I have participated in has been online, so the creationists involved could be twelve years old, for all I know. I haven't debated many religious creationists in "real life", but I have had a fair few debates with spiritualists. They tend to make similar statements, and present similar arguments. "You can't prove that inanimate objects aren't conscious", for instance.

    True, I usually only engage when they attack Science, and/or atheists directly.
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Well of course it is. One of the cornerstones of the scientific method is the Rule of Laplace (or "Sagan's Law" as the American TV audience learned it): "Extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before we are obliged to treat them with respect."

    There is not even any ordinary evidence to support the preposterous assertion that an invisible, illogical supernatural universe exists, where dwell gods, angels and other fantastic creatures, who transport into the natural universe at random times, apparently for the sole purpose of perturbing its operation. The best the religionists have ever presented is a tortilla, out of billions fried every year, with a scorch mark that is said to be the likeness of a person mentioned in the Bible, of whom no portraits are available against which to compare it.

    There is no assertion more extraordinary than that of the religionists, and it has absolutely zero supporting evidence. Therefore we are permitted (although of course not required) to treat it with the utmost disrespect. It's a childish fairytale on the order of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Adults who claim to believe it should be ashamed of themselves.

    And if you ask me, those who attempt to indoctrinate others in it, especially impressionable young children, should be locked up.
     
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  5. milkweed Valued Senior Member

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    If your talking to a believer, when you make statements [paraphrased] "science doesnt have an objective", its being interpreted 'scientists'. Most scientists have a specific objective when they set out. What they find maybe very different than the objective sought. And right there the believer is going to think your trying to mislead them. science = scientists.

    If your talking to someone who believes (for whatever reason), when you use the phrase "Its not rational" its often interpreted by a believer that you are calling them insane (irrational) when they are not.

    And you (and I) cannot prove god doesnt exist, we just dont believe god exists. I cant prove the moon isnt made of green cheese but it has been proven (to me) by others. I can parrot the science just as a believer parrots the bible but I havent proven anything about the moon.

    It is 50/50 in the eyes of the believer (assuming monotheism). And that is the believer giving you some slack. In their eyes its more like 90-100%. They dont believe the others (such as vishnu) are correct so there isnt a chance for other ideas, well maybe to be non-judgmental they would give others a 1-25% chance.

    If your goal is to get someone to accept science, then you have to show them how their beliefs are not compromised by what science says.
     
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  7. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    Extraordinary assertions have been made*; the extraordinary evidence is forthcoming--as is your respect.


    * "...For all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written** (In Isaiah 45:23), "As certainly as I live, declares the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will praise God." (Paul the Jewish Pharisee in Romans 14:11)

    ** "By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance.

    Also written by Paul linking Jesus to YHWH of the Isaiah passage originally referenced in the Romans passage:
    "at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

    This is an extraordinary assertion: every knee will bow, every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. As I said, the extraordinary evidence is forthcoming and you will be a participant in the fulfillment of all of it!

    Why not appear before Him willingly instead of by compulsion?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    When?
    Your next post?
     
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    4,623
    In real life, there are dozens of theistic arguments and justifications. They include the cosmological arguments, the perplexing ontological arguments, and arguments from religious experience. There are moral arguments, aesthetic arguments, arguments from consciousness, Pascal's game-theoretical argument, the evidence of miracles... no end of them.

    I don't think that any of them are tremendously persuasive. But to make that point, an intelligent atheist will have to engage with the theistic arguments, not ignore them while stubbornly insisting that they don't even exist. Reducing them to a single media caricature certainly won't suffice.

    In my opinion, the strongest arguments in favor of some kind of religious conclusions are probably the arguments from religious experience and the anthropic fine-tuning arguments (the latest eruption of the traditional design arguments).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religious-experience/

    It helps to have some knowledge of the things that one is disrespecting and some sound justification for the disrespect. Too many atheists seem to me to be profoundly ignorant of the phenomenon of religion while mouthing off like rude assholes.

    Seeing as how some sort of religiosity seems to be something of a human cultural universal, and even in our modern world the majority of people are religious in some sense, the smart thing might be to try to understand why that is, instead of closing one's mind against it.

    Religion deserves to be a subject of scholarly curiosity, not an occasion for knee-jerk ideological denunciations.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
  10. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Evidently you weren't impressed with a previous discussion of absolutes vs reality.

    So, why would anyone wish to make the existence or non-existence of a deity into an absolute?

    Just another reason I pitched philosophy. I did not, however, pitch out any deity along with it.
     
  11. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    No, I'm not the one on 'trial', but you can be sure He will clear His Name.
     
  12. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Oh, does that mean that your claim that "the extraordinary evidence is forthcoming" is nothing more than a claim?
    One with no support?
     
  13. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    It has the best support you could hope for: His Word, plus, a Promise:

    "By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance."
     
  14. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    In other words nothing with any evidence.
    Just (your) faith in an unsupported claim.

    Blah blah blah ...
     
  15. Vance Elwood Registered Member

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    19
    To try and find some kind of structure, because at the moment, my mind is a marshmallow.
     
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  16. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    Evidence is not under time constraints...it doesn't necessarily appear right away, but... it will appear; you have His Word on it.
     
  17. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Um, didn't I cover this?
    In other words nothing with any evidence.
    Just (your) faith in an unsupported claim.
     
  18. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    No, you haven't even scratched the surface.
     
  19. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Oh look, another faith-based claim.
     
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Interestingly I find them among possibly the weakest arguments: religious experience in my view can only be rationally applied to the one experiencing it, and as such is no rational argument at all when applied to another person; the argument from fine-tuning is simply a case of the perversity of how some people look at statistics/odds. The example I trot out to counter that argument is to shuffle and deal out a deck of cards, and then to exclaim at the wonder of the order we dealt them out in... a mere 1 in 10^68 or so chance that that specific order would appear. Yet it did.
    It would be amazing if you named the order before dealing out the deck, and then achieved it.
    But in the grand scheme of the universe, how many times are the metaphorical decks being shuffled and dealt, and how many times are the "results" of the shuffle exclaiming how fine-tuned the universe is just for them.
    The other thing I trot out is Douglas Adams' wonderful notion of the puddle:
    “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
     
  21. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    I'll believe it then, because I'm not a gullible fool. He would appreciate that.
     
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    When I called them 'strongest', I meant 'strongest of a rather unpersuasive lot'. My point in citing them was to reply to Fraggle's aggressively ignorant contention that the only evidence for the truth of religion is a tortilla with scorch marks on it.

    I largely agree and have often made that argument myself. Nevertheless, religious experiences do occur and they can sometimes be totally convincing to the individual having them. It's foolish to deny their existence.

    They might even sometimes be repeatable and verifiable. I'm thinking here of yogic and Buddhist mindfulness meditation exercises. There's a large and growing psychological literature on meditation, though from the Buddhist and Hindu point of view the Western psychologists are only addressing the most elementary and superficial aspects of the practices.

    I think that they are making a much stronger claim than that. They are insisting that if any of the physical constants were even slightly different than their current values, it would be impossible for a universe to form in which sentient life could evolve.

    I know of a very prominent physicist at nearby Stanford who endorses that conclusion. I'd say it's much better evidence for Intelligent Design than Fraggle's tortilla.

    Neverthless, I'm extremely skeptical. The fine-tuning arguments seem to me to take a too restrictive view of what 'fertile universe' and 'life' mean. (SETI and exobiology seem to suffer from the same lack of imagination.)

    I don't see life as being a particular highly contingent set of chemical reactions. Instead, life is the abstract set of functions that those chemical reactions enable. In a nutshell, life is self-reproducing structure capable of exploiting its environment and evolving by natural selection. There's no requirement that those functions be embodied the same way everywhere.

    So what the fine-tuning arguments seem to boil down to is the argument that if any of the physical constants were even slightly different, self reproducing structure capable of evolving would be impossible in principle, no matter how unexpectedly alien those living structures might conceivably be.

    I don't know how physicists could possibly know that. Physics doesn't even completely understand our universe, so how can it possibly speak with such seeming authority about what is and isn't possible in what might be an infinite set of hypothetical counter-factual alternate universes? Especially when they can't even specify with any precision what it is that they believe isn't possible.

    In practice, the fine-tuners will say something like, 'If constant x were even slightly different, then nuclear fusion wouldn't work and stars wouldn't light up'. Leaving stars something like large brown dwarfs. It's possible to imagine a very fragile form of evolving life appearing on a planet of such a star, life that exploits some other alternate source of energy, and imagine their ID proponents insisting that if constant x were just slightly different, the gas-ball in the center of their system would be consumed by a hellacious nuclear fire and life as they know it would be incinerated. (Douglas Adams' puddle.)

    Bottom line is that I often get uncomfortable when physicists play at being metaphysicians. Unfortunately, much of the popular science that laypeople are exposed to these days is exactly that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    What they also don't address is whether there are an infinite other universes with all manner of variables, most of which might be lifeless, most of which might only exist for long enough to realise it can't exist, and thus collapse.
    The entire argument looks at things solely through the perspective of the end of the chain, and looks at how marvellous and perfect that chain must be, but with no idea at all of whether there are other chains, with other conclusions.

    But perhaps this is diverting the thread!

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