What are the conflicts between atheism and science?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Mind Over Matter, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    ... and part of this burden of proof rests on the person who is demanding the proof.


    The Buddha advised the Kalamas:

    "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness" — then you should enter & remain in them.'

    The Buddha gave them quite a bit of work that they would have to do on their own before they would attain to certainty.



    Note that in reply to Dyw I have provided a link to a thread I have posted earlier. That thread puts that statement into context.


    As I have noted a few times already, I do not consider myself a theist, nor a proponent of a particular religious tradition.



    I am well-familiar with all that. After much struggle with this line of inquiry, I have come to more and more focus on the meta-aspects of this inquiry, so I shall borrow two more suttas to reply with:


    Ven. Sariputta said: "All those who ask questions of another do so from any one of five motivations. Which five?

    "One asks a question of another through stupidity & bewilderment.
    One asks a question of another through evil desires & overwhelmed with greed.
    One asks a question of another through contempt.
    One asks a question of another when desiring knowledge.
    Or one asks a question with this thought,[1] 'If, when asked, he answers correctly, well & good. If not, then I will answer correctly [for him].'

    *


    "There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four?
    There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that].
    There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms].
    There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question.
    There are questions that should be put aside.
    These are the four ways of answering questions."

    *


    So which is it that drives one's questions and the answers one gives?
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Isn't everyone like that?
     
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  5. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

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    I suggest you read this book: From Atheism to Catholicism, How Scientists and Philosophers Led Me to the Truth. http://www.amazon.com/Atheism-Catholicism-Scientists-Philosophers-Truth/dp/1592766382 It is written by a man with a PsyD, is a member of Mensa, and in fact has sat on Mensa's committee on intelligence (or whatever its official title is). He is, objectively speaking by modern measurement, and extremely bright man - and a former atheist - and yet he has come to recognize the Truth. You should see why this former atheist rejected atheism.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you read this book, you'll be convinced. Be careful what you read, you might find out you're not correct!

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  7. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    Clever people just come up with more convoluted reasons to believe in the inane, that's all.
     
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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  9. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Funny. I thought the Bible itself was supposed to be the single most compelling testament to God's existence. But now you're saying that Vost can succeed where God failed?

    You only find the book compelling because it reinforces what you already believe. I seriously doubt that Vost makes any arguments that well-read atheists haven't heard before. If you think I'm wrong feel free to bring a couple of them to bear on the current discussion.
     
  10. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    You would appear to be correct:
    From one of the reviews on Amazon.
    I wonder if Mind Over Matter has actually read the book or just happened to stumble across the Amazon page while flailing wildly for back up and decided that it must make his point.
     
  11. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It's just elementary rhetoric: If A hopes to persuade B to believe something that B finds unlikely and doubtful on its face, then A is going to have to put some effort into convincing B. It's unrealistic for A to assume that B is somehow obligated to believe whatever A tells him. Things don't work that way.

    That challenges the idea that the non-theists among us are somehow obligated to credulously accept theistic tradition, its scriptures, its authorities, or the personal religious testimony of the Sciforums theists.

    It might go a bit further than I would in challenging the value of philosophical reasoning. But that's in keeping with ancient Indian thinking, in which a visual metaphor for knowledge had a central place and where knowledge by inference was considered a lower attainment than knowledge by direct experience.

    Of course the Buddha's dhamma was kind of an empirical spiritual psychology. He was subtly redirecting religious emphasis away from transcendental metaphysics towards lived experience. The summum bonum in Buddhism is nibbana, which early Buddhism seems to have been defined in largely negative terms as the absence of suffering. So in effect, what the Buddha is saying here is that you won't know the end of suffering until you know the end of suffering. Hearing about it or talking about it isn't the same thing.

    What he wasn't doing was directing his listeners to accept all kinds of cosmological and metaphysical beliefs. When he was questioned about those kind of matters, he seems to have tried to redirect his questioners' attention back to dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the subsiding of dukkha, and the path to the subsiding of dukkha, which he sometimes says is really all that he teaches. For an example of the Buddha doing that, see the famous Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.063.than.html

    Since we're talking about Buddhism, I'll use it to make another point that's relevant to an issue that Dynyddyr made earlier and you opposed.

    Christianity is basically an orthodoxy, meaning that it emphasizes right belief. Buddhism, in contrast, is an orthopraxy. That translates to right practice.

    In Buddhism, it's entirely possible to set out on the Buddhist path without having formed any conclusions about the truth or falsity of Buddhist doctrines. What Buddhism offers its new practitioners are things to do, whether they are moral precepts to follow (in the manner of rules of training) or contemplative techniques of mindfulness and meditation. These practices in turn lead (or perhaps not) to experiences. These probably won't fully corroborate all the doctrines, but at least they will suggest to the practitioner that there's something to the practice and motivate him/her to keep on with it. And that in turn will lead to new and more subtle experiences, and so on.

    Christianity and religions like it emphase belief as opposed to practice. And that puts these religions into a much more difficult position: Religious experience supposedly verifies a person's belief. But the person won't enjoy the experience until he/she accepts the belief. So the whole thing threatens to contract down into a tight little circle. For those able to make such a strange inner movement, doubt would indeed seem to be well and truly banished.

    Of course, such a self-justifying psychological move could probably be performed with any belief whatsoever. It appears to my eye to approach perilously close to madness.

    I don't know you personally, so I can't say.

    What I can say is that you often seem to defend what appears to be a traditional view of theism. A few other things have caught my attention as well. For example, your interest in virtue epistemology parallels a number of contemporary evangelical Christian philosophers. Your points in this thread (and your use of the Kalama Sutta) seem to parallel reformed epistemology and the kind of arguments that I've often seen educated evangelicals making on other boards.

    That's perfectly fine with me. Not only is it often interesting, it's a lot more intelligent than most of what happens here on Sciforums. But it does make me wonder where you're coming from and what motivates you.
     
  12. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    Every theist is a former atheist, as nobody was born believing the credo they end up with, it was adopted.

    Therefore it simply seems you yourself think it's incredulous that someone clever got faith.

    What does that tell you?
     
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Leaving atheism for theism is a practical refutation of atheism, mind you.
     
  14. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Rav,


    My dear sir, the Bible may well be one of the most compelling testaments to God, but there is always scope for better understanding.



    Quite a heavy accusation don't you think?
    Did it ever occurr to you that he finds the book compelling because it aids his understanding of what he believes?

    When you say "well read atheists" what exactly do you mean?
    Anybody can defend. In fact defending could well be described as a mechanism within most, if not all living beings.

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    jan.
     
  15. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    So you accept that atheism = no knowledge or understanding of God.


    jan.
     
  16. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Absolutely! (And well spotted, I missed that).
    But it doesn't, in and of itself, provide an argument either way for others who question.
     
  17. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    That's actually pretty similar to what I said.

    An example would be someone like myself who in addition to being exposed to a quite a lot of discussion about the concept of God by numerous philosophers, has studied the Bible quite extensively as well as the writings of many well known Christian apologists.

    A better example might be Yazata himself who I can easily tell knows a hell of a lot more about philosophy than I do.
     
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Essentially, yes.
    After all, how can one have either knowledge OR understanding of something that cannot be shown to exist?
     
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    We need to ask ourselves where, in what circumstance a "refutation of theism" or a "refutation of atheism" take place, where they apply.

    And the reality is that they apply only to a particular person, at a particular point in time and place, in a particular state of consciousness.

    On their own, a sequence of arguments does nothing.

    Books sit in the library. Even if someone reads them, they are dead, unless someone actually lives what they say.

    Anselm's proof, for example, is dead to me. Anselm, in that specific time and place, in that particular state of consciounsess that he was in, found his proof convincing.
    But I am not Anselm, nor are many others, we are not in his time or place, and chances are our consciousness is not the same as his. So we are not convinced by his proof.

    A "refutation of theism" or a "refutation of atheism" take place, apply only to a particular person, at a particular point in time and place, in a particular state of consciousness.
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Someone needs to formalize the fallacy of appealing to omniscience!
     
  21. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    i would argue knowledge is different from understanding..

    i can understand all about pink unicorns.
    its the knowing part that will get argued with.
     
  22. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

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  23. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    By gaining knowledge and understanding of how it can be shown to exist.

    jan.
     

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