Should science replace religion?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, May 7, 2019.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Religion. It's not science, and it's not at all accurate, but it's a process that creates knowledge.

    Experience. You can watch a thunderstorm and decide that Thor is throwing lightning bolts. (See "religion" above.) Again, faulty knowledge, but knowledge nonetheless.

    Imagination. You can dream about purple elephants. That's new knowledge.

    You can easily claim that all that knowledge is bad, useless, incorrect etc which is fine. It's still knowledge, and it's how humanity gained knowledge for millennia.
     
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  3. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    Isn't knowledge a collection of facts? Has religion and imagination produced facts? Iv'e already acknowledged experience because that can be the same as observation.
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Sure. Go to any trivia night; note the large number of facts they base their questions on that come from religion and popular fiction.
     
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  7. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Here's the actual definition of the word knowledge:

    1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
      "a thirst for knowledge"

    2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
      "the program had been developed without his knowledge"
      synonyms:awareness, consciousness, realization, recognition, cognition, apprehension, perception, appreciation;
      formalcognizance
      "he slipped away without my knowledge
    It seems that some wish to restrict the definition to objective facts or information. It takes in a bit more than that.
     
  8. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    It would appear it's not more than that.
     
  9. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    Lol. Good one.
     
  10. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    There is a part 2, there lol
     
  11. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    But, it's not relevant to the discussion.
     
  12. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    True ^ but this latest discussion is actually a derailment from the OP.
     
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    It really depends on how you define knowledge.

    If knowledge is justified true belief, for instance, then arguably religious dogma is not knowledge, on the grounds that it's not justified or even necessarily true.

    Again, applying the test. Do you believe that Thor throws lightning bolts? Yes; tick.

    Is it a justified belief that Thor causes lightning? Well, it depends on what you count as good justification. The fact that there's a tradition of myths about Thor doesn't necessarily justify the belief that real lightning is caused by Thor.

    Is it true that Thor causes lightning? That's even harder to determine that to try to justify the belief that Thor causes lightning. Put it this way: there are plausible explanations for lightning that don't appear to require the presence of Thor. Of course, it's possible that Thor is still involved. But then again, if we can't be sure that Thor's involved, then I don't think we can really claim to know that Thor is involved.

    I have my doubts. What is your dream giving you that was not knowledge that you had before your dream?
     
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Welcome to the rabbit hole of “knowledge”...

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you for the compliment.

    I don't want to put words into their mouths. But yes, I sense that's exactly what some of them are saying. And I think that they are wrong.

    For one thing, I don't believe that there even is a single "scientific process". (We've had several previous threads about that.) For another, I don't think that we learn most of what we know by practicing any sort of science.

    Even most of the content of science isn't typically learned by "the scientific process". With the exception of the topic of their own research, most scientists learn whatever science they know through taking university classes, reading textbooks, reading papers and in conversation with other scientists.

    With laypeople, that's pretty much all there is. No experiments, no laboratories, no hypothesis testing. Just authorities.

    I'm sure that there will be a reasonable objection from some direction at this point that the scientific knowledge was originally obtained by use of some scientific process. Which might indeed be true (in some cases at least).

    But not always and not entirely. Physics makes great use of mathematics, to the point where the mathematics and the physics become indistinguishable and inseparable. ('Manifolds', 'Hermitians', 'Eigenvalues'... how were these originally obtained? Not in laboratories.) Mathematics doesn't justify itself by employing experimental confirmation, it makes use of proofs and derivations. (Those pages full of incomprehensible hieroglyphs.) The strength of proofs is that they are a succession of simple logical steps. So how are the logical steps justified? They are just obvious! How could they not be correct? (Truth tables might be produced here to try to show that there's no logical possibility of them being wrong.) But ultimately, it's an appeal to intuition.

    (Most of the explanations in a university classroom are the professor trying to lead students to a point where the students' own intuition kicks in: "Oh right, now I see it!" But those of a more philosophical bent aren't always going to be satisfied with that, so that we get epistemological problems.)

    And as the history of science shows, the details of how scientific ideas were originally arrived at in the first place is often very complex, historically contingent and messy. Just look at all the fits, starts and controversies that went into arriving at the account of photosynthesis that we find in our textbooks today (it took 100 years):

    https://www.amazon.com/Explaining-P...t_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1579708850

    Having said that, my point is the rather different one that the vast majority of people who claim to know the ostensible truths of science had nothing to do with initially producing that knowledge themselves and didn't learn it the stereotypical "scientific method" way. Yet they are still said to 'know' these things.

    Seen from that perspective, religion and science aren't all that dissimilar.

    Perhaps some monastics practiced very assiduous samatha meditation and achieved some of the higher jhanas. Regardless of what we think of the jhanas, we can still say that they learned that particular meditation techniques lead to particular subjective results and that this was indeed confirmed by successive generations of monastics. (Similar examples can probably be taken from contemplative Christianity, Muslim sufism and certainly from Hindu yoga.)

    But today most Buddhists don't practice these disciplines (they were always kind of the province of monastics, though Zen tried to democratize them I guess) and they accept them on authority, believe in them and claim to know about them merely because their tradition speaks of them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Agreed, but I suggest the basic underlying foundation on which that process is built, is still the scientific methodology.
    Again agreed...Putting it more succulently , we all are standing on the shoulders of giants when offering our knowledge and opinions. I have many times been supposedly derided with the argument from authority. I find nothing wrong with that and will continue doing it, as long as that authority is an authority and expert within the discipline being discussed.
    Except of course, [as I mentioned to another] that one is entirely based on faith, while the other needs empirical evidence and the basis of the scientific method.
     
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Purple elephants. The combination of those two things into something new. (Or maybe it's a snake eating its tail. Or Igor Sikorsky's dream of a flying salon.)

    I mean, Shakespeare's plays are just words strung together. But he put them together in new ways, and created something new.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    So you are saying some knowledge does not meet your standards for quality. No argument there. But that just makes it suspect knowledge; it does not make it non-knowledge.

    I mean, for a long time people believed in 100% Newtonian mechanics. Turns out that's not right - although it's good enough for most terrestrial tasks. That realization did not make a knowledge of Newtonian mechanics not knowledge.
     
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    No, it makes it non-knowledge, according to the definition I quoted.

    Somebody using the definition of knowledge as "justified true belief" would beg to differ.

    Under that definition, Newtonian mechanics can only ever be "knowledge" to the extent that it is true. Merely believing that it is true is not sufficient reason to call it knowledge.

    Does it make sense to claim to know that F=ma, while at the same time the experts are aware that it is not true? If somebody says he knows that F=ma, maybe all he's saying is that he believes that to be true. And he is wrong in that belief, technically speaking.

    We can also consider the matter of justification. Believing that F=ma requires that one first believe in a number of assumptions that underlie that conclusion (if it is a conclusion). Given only those assumptions, one may well be able to justify the belief, but that still doesn't make it true that F=ma. It is possible to demonstrate the F=ma is false using a modified set of assumptions. Moreover, it turns out that F=ma being false is more consistent with real-world observations than it being true.

    As Sarkus said, this "knowledge" business is a big philosophical can of worms.

    I'm not even saying that I think the definition of "justified true belief" is the best one. I'm just pointing out that the idea of what counts as "knowledge" is very much up for debate.
     
  20. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

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    Hopefully - Thor throws lightning bolts - is in the "Nice story but I know it is not factually correct" tray

    Hopefully you also have a tray
    in your brain with - I know what lightning is and how it comes down from the clouds - label

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Using such a definition, there is almost no knowledge - since we know there are problems with almost every existing scientific theory, and bits of knowledge like "the US is a republic" or "smoking is bad for you" are trivial to prove unjustified. But that seems like a pretty unusual (and ultimately pretty useless) definition.
    Yes, it does. Because for a very wide range of problems, F=ma is both valid and useful knowledge. As an example, I regularly use Maxwell's Equations in my job. They are only approximations, and are not valid when any two objects are moving relative to each other. But they are valid _enough_ to make testable predictions - that when tested are correct.
    Exactly. It's not the right explanation for that phenomenon, but it is absolutely knowledge. Indeed, if you taught ancient history, it would be knowledge that was quite pertinent to your job.
     
  22. Benson Registered Senior Member

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    Science and religion are two different things, you might as well replace swimming pools with tennis courts.
     
  23. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, we had discussed that earlier in the thread. The better question is should religion be banned and only science be relied on for answers.
     

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