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Bob K
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125 posted 12-20-2008 02:40 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Scientific method as I understand it is supposed to follow where the data leads, not follow where the data leads except when it may challenge the pre-suppositions of the investigators, whatever those should happen to be.  By itself, scientific method should be neutral on religious issues.  They should be grist for the mill, open to exploration as might be any other subject and let the chips fall where they may.

     It seems that much of the discussion here suggests that the answers to such investigations should be known before the investigations are undertaken.  As far as I understand, there have been no such experiments designed or undertaken to either prove or disprove any question about the existence of God because the subject seems difficult to frame in experimental terms.

     I do not claim to know everything, so if anybody knows more about this than I do, I'd be pleased to hear from you.

     Short of finding a way to frame the question of the existence of God in experimental terms, I don't know that we can actually hope to find a scientifically acceptable answer to this particular question using the scientific method — which is what most folks mean when they talk about science these days.

     I believe for either faction, that of science or religion — if indeed one can talk about them as separate and not as simply two competitive religious points of view — to claim scientific authority for its point of view ion the nature and existence of God is probably shall we say premature at this point.  We can't even formulate the problem effectively in terms everybody will agree upon.

     If we actually want to resolve the issue in a scientific way by using the scientific method (as opposed to by using observation, for example, or data gathering, or reasoning, or logic or any of the other methods that have historically been considered "scientific") we'll need to break the problem down into bite-sized pieces, and test them out one by one, or gain operational agreement on definitions that we have so far been too contentious to achieve.

     Otherwise, we'll still be chucking ill-defined abstractions at each other until the quarks come home to roost.
Stephanos
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126 posted 12-20-2008 08:54 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Religion and Science overlap, but are not the same.


Religion cannot be tested by "science", if by it you mean the scientific method.  However, if a religion makes particular claims, a inferential method at least similar to science can be used to ask whether those claims are tenable.  


In the same way that religion cannot be tested by science, science itself cannot be tested by religion ... since science goes on working regardless of one's metaphysical views or spiritual beliefs.  However, it can ask whether the nature of science is compatible with non-religious views of reality.  Does the law-likeness and orderliness found in nature and humanity, which makes science possible, make any sense in an atheistic universe?


They are not embittered enemies
To prove each other fiction
Though they've often clawed each other
They have different jurisdiction
But neither as self-contained
Seperate independent spheres
They overlap and help reform
In a way, they're more like peers.  


Stephen
Bob K
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127 posted 12-20-2008 09:30 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Nice piece of verse, Stephen.  Thank you.

Bob.
Stephanos
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128 posted 12-21-2008 12:01 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I don't want to give the idea that God's revelation and human science are "equals".  But rather that Theology and science, from the human side of things, are akin, but not competing traditions after the same goal (except in their perverted forms).  One is the study of God's word, the other of God's world.  And in spite of their differences, there is a lot of overlap.  

Bob, thanks for the compliment.


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-21-2008 12:38 AM).]

Dirt Roads Scholar
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129 posted 12-21-2008 10:00 AM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

It may be simply a shortcoming in my education, upbringing, or intellect, but I've asked the following of many folks and still search in vain for understanding:

When empiricists stray from the realm of 'science' and wander into the philosophy and theology departments, leaving muddy Birkenstock tracks all over the place, can they still call it scientific 'theory' or 'hypothesis', while excluding all but materialistic presuppositions?

Is it, or is it not, scientific that 'something cannot come from nothing', the neo-alchemy of "abiogenesis" notwithstanding? When it's pontificated, in oversized words swaddled in rhetorical lab coats, that all that IS simply appeared, out of nothing, for no reason at all...an uncaused cause; is that "science" and thereby a neutral (as in the 'establishment clause') intrusion into the religious / philosophical realm? When it's by law, exclusively taught to children in State schools that they are nothing more than accidentally animated pieces of meat, is that also neutral? Do the observable (unintended?) consequences of that teaching bear the evidence of neutrality?

"What is a big deal - the biggest of all - is how you get
something out of nothing... Don't let the cosmologists try to kid you on
this one. They have not got a clue either - despite the fact that they
are doing a pretty good job of convincing themselves and others that this
is really not a problem.  'In the beginning', they will say, 'there was
nothing - no time, space, matter or energy.  Then there was a quantum
fluctuation from which...'  Whoa: Stop right there.  You see what I mean.
First there is nothing, then there is something.  And the cosmologists
try to bridge the two with quantum flutter, a tremor of uncertainty that
sparks it all off.  Then they are away and before you know it, they have
pulled a hundred billion galaxies out of the quantum hats." - David
Darling  British astronomer and science writer
Grinch
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130 posted 12-21-2008 10:33 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
When it's pontificated, in oversized words swaddled in rhetorical lab coats, that all that IS simply appeared, out of nothing, for no reason at all...an uncaused cause; is that "science"


No, that would be theology, remember, the bit where the big guy with the beard creates everything out of thin air.

I’ve never heard of any reasonable or proven scientific theory that suggested that anything came from nothing. Even the often quoted spontaneous appearance of sub-atomic particles, a verified event sometimes used as an example of “something from nothing“, is in reality a conversion of energy into matter.

I may be wrong of course - can you give me some examples of scientific theory regarding something from nothing?

Bob K
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131 posted 12-21-2008 11:33 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Grinch,

          You ask poets about Physics and Chemistry and hope to walk away with a comprehensive answer?

     I couldn't even begin to give you details.  But isn't this why such events are called "singularities?"  Unless I have my terms mixed up.

     And besides, this goes back to my comments about "Black Box" above.  Any unknown process in which you know there is an input and an output but where you don't know the details of the process that happens inside is open to being called a "Black Box" process.  You can theorize about the processes that happen within the "black box," but this doesn't substitute for a level of understanding that allows you to duplicate that process in detail on your own.

     In our case we have labeled one theoretical set of contents for that box "God."  Another we have labeled "physics." The Taoists talk about an initial state of wuji that led to taiji — related but not, I believe, the same as the martial art.  There must be further theoretical possibilities I can't recall or don't know about.  They may or may not be mutually exclusive.  I say this because they are, by definition, "Black Boxes," and their exact content is unknown or we would be able to duplicate it ourselves, wouldn't we?

     I think we are at the stage of expressing faith in one or another of these solutions.  Having faith is a fine thing.  In religion it may, some feel, be an end in itself, yet say they hold a position of reason.  In science, many deny it is desirable, yet still act as if they were motivated by it.  We are, I believe, creatures of contradiction; that is part of our logical structure.  We have yet to come to grips with this in ourselves.

     In neither case, that of religion nor that of science, have we found a way to duplicate the primal act of creation.  It is still inside the Black Box, and it seems that it is likely to remain there for at least the remainder of the year.  Perhaps a week to two longer.  I would hold off on victory celebrations on either side for at least that long.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven

P.S.  I will be pleased to send you a small noisemaker when the the contents of this particular black box are understood, provided the two of us are still able to remember the promise and you send me an address when the happy (or unhappy) event occurs.  Cheers!  BK  
Grinch
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132 posted 12-21-2008 12:20 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
You ask poets about Physics and Chemistry and hope to walk away with a comprehensive answer?


Nope.

I hope they’ll either present some evidence of a scientific theory that substantiates their assertion or they’ll realise that the assertion is actually incorrect. Call me old fashioned but when I read this:

When it's pontificated, in oversized words swaddled in rhetorical lab coats, that all that IS simply appeared, out of nothing

I want a evidence to substantiate that the scientists in rhetorical lab coats actually exist and evidence of their alleged pontificating regarding the creation of something from nothing.

Stephanos
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133 posted 12-21-2008 06:00 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch you're right,

Atheistic scientists tend to believe in things like abiogenesis, multiverse theory, or panspermia, and so end up advocating a nature that is eternal ... or either eternally putting off the question.  

I think DRS's point is that they are willing to embrace much that is not scientific ... and are not slow to speak of their own favored metaphysics.


Stephen
Grinch
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134 posted 12-21-2008 07:19 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
I think DRS's point is that they are willing to embrace much that is not scientific ... and are not slow to speak of their own favored metaphysics.


How can a hypothesis that’s still being tested as part of the scientific process NOT be scientific?

You’re mistaking the process of scientific method for an unproven claim represented as truth - something akin to the biblical genesis story for instance. Abiogenisis isn’t embraced, it’s investigated and tested and if it’s found to be false it’ll be rejected, that’s how the process works Stephen. Scientists don’t stand at a pulpit rhyming off the same old diatribe without questioning the rhyme or reason, they’re allowed to think, they’re allowed to test their theories and when proved correct they’re allowed to replace the outmoded truth with their own.

More power to their elbow is all I can say.

  
Dirt Roads Scholar
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135 posted 12-21-2008 10:08 PM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

Grinch,

So... Just how might you suppose that all this STUFF got here, and incidentally, a self-conscious you, to contemplate it?

Scientific something from nothing:

faerie tales

"Abiogenesis"

"Punctuated Equilibrium”  

“Quantum Speciation”

“Panspermia”

"Pangenesis"

"Gemmules"

"Lamarkism"

"Zoogenesis"

"Hopeful Monster Mechanism"

"Blind Watchmaker"

"Anagenesis"

"phyletic evolution"

"Cladogenesis"

"Chronocline"

"String Theory"

"[T]he current pantheon of scientists has become more than willing to believe in practically anything: that our universe evolved from an emptier, four-dimensional, mini-universe where space and time as we know it didn't exist; that a universe prior to ours "tunnelled through" to become our universe; that achieving ultimate knowledge of our world is best attempted by atomizing elementary particles into their smallest discoverable parts; that life sprang up "on the backs of crystals"; that Earthly beings may have been "seeded" by an alien race from another planet." Eyre/Berlinski

and my personal favorite: the un-caused cosmic identity crisis universe that 'created' us to solve its low self-esteem issues.


Psuedo-scientific alchemists, digging for fools gold in the pliant language of post-modern relativism.

************************************************
Esse quam videri     To be, rather than to appear


"[A] great many men and women take the universe in stride, and if they
are disposed to ask why it is there, they are easily pleased with the
answer that the physicist (and Nobel laureate) Frank Wilczek insouciantly
offered: "The universe," he wrote, "appears to be just one of those
things." A willingness to let the matter rest in this way is a
characteristic of individuals that William James described as "healthy
minded" - another way of describing them as thick."
David Berlinski, "The Devil's Delusion"
Bob K
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136 posted 12-22-2008 02:57 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Dirt Roads Scholar,

                              Clumping theories with various degrees of acceptability into one group and inviting me to reject them all wholesale does not respect even my own limited understanding of science.  I have a particular fondness for the Greek pantheon, myself; I find it embodies a lot of psychological insight into the nature of people.  Clumping Hermes with the Hebrew God in an effort to dismiss the overall notion of Gods in general would, I suspect, raise some eyebrows around here.  If not eyebrows, potentially blood pressures.  James Hillman makes an interesting case for polytheism, if you're ever moved to have a look, by the way.  I would feel odd trying to convince anybody, myself, of the validity of the position, though I am fond of it.

     Lamarck was pretty much disposed of almost two hundred years ago; you're beating a dead horse, at least in the minds of most people.  String theory is not in a position to be proved or disproved at this point.  If you didn't know that before, you know that now.  This doesn't mean it's less interesting or even true than much religious thinking.  

     The metaphysics of science and religion have often seemed to me to bear an uncanny similarity to each other.  This I have often thought, may account for much of the unwarranted hostility the two bear each other.  Bright, friendly, well-meaning people will often cross the street to insult each other on the subject.

     Why not separate out the subjects of your scorn a bit more finely, unless you actually are lumping all these examples together with an equal level of dismissal:  A mistake, I suspect, that makes your point somewhat less cogent than it might otherwise seem.  For example, your scorn for Alchemy suggests that you accept the 19th century view of the field, and that you may not be familiar with the amount of work Newton put in on the subject, nor with some of Jung's work relating Alchemical transformations to the stages of transference development.  He has an interesting volume in his collected Works called Alchemical Studies which, while difficult, has at least a significant philosophical interest and — for me at least — a psychological interest as well.

     As for string theory, you may express scorn if you will, but the work on 'Branes and higher dimensions is quite interesting, and offers an interesting bridge between the findings of those interested in quantum physics and those interested in the world of the Einsteinian Universe, the worlds governed by probability and geometry as I think of them, probably mistakenly.  I believe it was in Robert Greene that I came across some speculations about the shape of the universe (most likely saddle shaped) and at the nature of  what was outside the universe (apparently the theory that was being considered was that there was nothing outside the universe, in somewhat the same way that there is only a single side to a mobius strip; you go as far as you can in one direction and find yourself back at the beginning.

     When you read some of these science folks who are any good at writing in English and translating the concepts from math — which I do not speak — you find yourself having to consider a whole new range of beautiful and charming ideas.  Sometimes they seem to slip away like a handful of sand gripped under water.  Sometimes, you are able to retain them or parts of them.

     I can't say that any of these ideas are as beautiful as salvation or love, to offer two examples, but they are different and have a startling otherworldly beauty that is captivating as well.  It's a pleasure that should be indulged as far as one is capable of doing so.  I believe it's another way of of understanding many of the great religious ideas, and if you can get some understanding of both approaches to the world, it feels like acquiring stereoscopic vision instead of looking at the world with one eye closed all the time.  At least for me, and at least in my own limited understanding.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven  

Yours, Bob Kaven
Grinch
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137 posted 12-22-2008 01:20 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
So... Just how might you suppose that all this STUFF got here, and incidentally, a self-conscious you, to contemplate it?


I don’t know, but more to the point nor do you, fortunately science offers us a way to get closer to the truth. Scientists suggest that we make a stab at a guess and then we test the hypothesis, any knowledge gleaned in the process is kept, anything disproved is discarded, theologists on the other hand say god did it and leave it at that.

quote:
Psuedo-scientific alchemists, digging for fools gold in the pliant language of post-modern relativism.


Nice words, here’s one in return - TWADDLE!

You seem to be labouring under the false impression that scientists are somehow wedded to their theories, that they are the be all and end all of the scientific method rather than a target to be proved or disproved. Scientifically proven truth and increased knowledge is what scientists embrace, they’re as likely to jump for joy disproving a previously held scientific fact as they are establishing a new one.

You’re dismissing theories without evidence to support your dismissal - they’re dismissing or confirming theories by searching for evidence.

I know who I’m more likely to believe.

Bob K
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138 posted 12-22-2008 03:18 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Thank you, Grinch!
Dirt Roads Scholar
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139 posted 12-22-2008 03:18 PM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

Dear Bob,

I don't necessarily believe that there's an unbreachable gulf 'twixt us here, but there seems to be hints of a familiar 'talking past each other' occurring. I recently read an article by a multiple degree holding academic who was bemused that his prodigious education had contributed greatly to his being unable to initiate or hold a conversation with the plumber he had hired. And they say homeschoolers are socially deprived (a scurrilous myth).

I am a non-degree holding contractor, supporting a large family, and therefore forced to deal more exclusively in the concrete rather than the theoretical. I do read alot, but will be unlikely to find openings in my seemingly endless list for your suggestions. A man's got to know his limitations, and I haven't the head for quantum physics. It's a possibility you might have a few difficulties in realms I take for granted, I don't know (how well do you shoot?). As an example, when friends of mine wax eloquent on theology, which I have a passing interest in, I usually ask, "Yes, but how does that work itself out here on the ground, where I walk out my faith?"

My purpose in "clumping theories" together was merely to illustrate what seems fairly obvious to those of us paying attention and, in turn, bemused by ivory tower folk - that a great many in the faith community of scientism (or science fetishists as I've heard them referred to), will believe in virtually anything at all... as long as it isn't God. Not only 'not God', but specifically the Christian God, who seems to pose the same terrifying threat to them that the bogeyman does to a three year old. The concept of 'intelligent design' plays the part of the monster in the closet, I suppose. But all that is no more than the inarticulate prattling of superstitious peasants, while the concept of a multi-verse (a large number of nursery rhymes?) is the epitome of sensibility, reason and logic. I didn't see a defense of Mr. Berlinski's list of esoteric science fiction held by some of the various sects. Is he qualified to mock scientism's pretensions? Even if not, he still has an exquisite knack for it.

Thank you for the heads up. I will henceforth include alchemy on my list as certified. I realize my viewpoint is compromised by unfamiliarity with the lofty realms of lab-coated high priests, but in my own proletarian way I wonder if any of these theories are any more or less provable than the presupposition of an un-caused Cause that we call God. Is it really science, to 'theorize' on meta-physical and mystery of life subjects, following where the evidence leads and, a priori, excluding all but materialistic answers? There's an entire ballet of dances that are normally made at this point, and you may display a few new steps - but to us here on the ground it looks like nothing so much as the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, in a frenzied, self-mutilating, dervish to wake the dead deity.

In the midst of this veritable cornucopia of possibilities, one will end up being right, and the others wrong - any longing for endless subtle nuance notwithstanding. You can stick with the relativistic position if it's more comfortable. I have as close to zero respect for relativism as I do doctrinaire materialism, mainly because of the inherent bald-faced lie in positing a viewpoint the advocate of which hasn't, doesn't, and will never actually practice. So, again, for those of us mired down here in the mud of reality, some things make sense, and others do not... some things work, and others have proven a waste of time (e,g. - Communism isn't an abject lethal failure because it 'hasn't been done right' yet). Not the most intellectual titillating of perspectives, but it keeps us from standing oblivious in the rain, and walking off cliffs unawares.

I appreciate your cordiality, and trust your indulgence of my acerbic demeanor. I've long ago tired of intellectual morons, and smarmy condescending elitist poseurs, and am pleasantly surprised to find an exception in you. It's a rare treat. I'll have to try and recall my naive attitude from back when I was tilting at windmills, before they morphed into windbags. There might be something to gain, or even give.

"What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity
which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and
incoherent?"   James Joyce

Dirt Roads Scholar
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140 posted 12-22-2008 04:12 PM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

Grinch'

That I believe in an 'unprovable' myth is "more to the point" than your belief in an 'unprovable' myth? This where I get the overwhelming sense of pretentiousness from.
"[The world] has been built for us by the Best and Most Orderly Workman of all." Copernicus
"God is known ... by Nature in His works and by doctrine in His revealed word." Galileo
"The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator." Pasteur
"When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper

amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance." Newton

A very short list. Am I to take it on your word that these men and their many peers ceased their work after these statements?

A very illuminating, and definitive word, "twaddle". No doubt a new cutting edge term of empirical apologetics in religious scientism's war with the heresies of other religions.  In general, whether religiously, or in fear for their positions, grant money,  favorable peer reviews, or invitations to faculty cocktail parties, a majority of 'scientists' are wedded to any materialist proposition at all. They would be just as happy with "quantum flutter", as they would be with the un-caused self-existent universe for whom we play the part of cosmic security blanket. It doesn't matter what IT is, as long as it's not God.

You're dismissing a theory without evidence to support your dismissal.

"With the possibility of inexistence staring it in the face, why does the
universe exist? To say that the universe just is, as Stephen Hawking has
said, is to reject out of hand any further questions. We know that it is.
It is right there in plain sight. What philosophers such as ourselves
wish to know is why it is. It may be that at the end of our inquiries we
will answer our own question by saying that the universe exists for no
reason whatsoever. At the end of these inquiries, and not the beginning.

Two arguments are now at work. The first is due to [Thomas] Aquinas.

Its first premise: If the universe is contingent [*], then at some time
it did not exist.

It's second: At that time it emerged from nothing.

Its conclusion: This is crazy.

And the second argument, derived from a mixed salad of philosophical
greens of my own devising:

Its first premise: If the universe is contingent, there is no saying
whether it existed forever. Maybe. Maybe not.

Its second: If anything might not exist, then it's reasonable to ask why
it does exist.

Its conclusion: Well, why does it exist? No, I mean really?"

[contingent: dependant upon or conditioned by something else. not
logically necessary]

"The Devil's Delusion, Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions",  David
Berlinski (interviewed in the excellent documentary "Expelled")

Don't know about y'all, but I enjoy the occasional obscure synapse brain
tickle. Mr. Berlinski is an oddity I've never before encountered; a funny, agnostic philosopher.
Grinch
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141 posted 12-22-2008 05:58 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
A very short list. Am I to take it on your word that these men and their many peers ceased their work after these statements?


And those people were famous for their theological advancements or their scientific discoveries?

quote:
It doesn't matter what IT is, as long as it's not God.


If god is, or can ever be, proved to be anything more than a myth it’s highly likely that the evidence that will come from science, granted it’s not likely that the scientist that makes the discovery will actually be looking for it. That’s got more to do with the bit I mentioned earlier, they take a stab at there best guess and most scientist  don’t really think “god did it” is a very good theory to test.

quote:
To say that the universe just is, as Stephen Hawking has said, is to reject out of hand any further questions.


I suppose you could say that Stephen Hawking rejects further questions, unfortunately nobody is likely to believe you though largely due to the fact that he’s continually posing them and doing his best to answer them. That’s an odd type of rejection if you ask me.

quote:
Its first premise: If the universe is contingent [*], then at some time
it did not exist.

It's second: At that time it emerged from nothing.

Its conclusion: This is crazy.


Has god always existed?

You want me to accept that something I know exists can’t have existed forever while insisting that an entity I’ve never seen has always existed - snake oil anyone?

This goes back to your insistence that science presumes that something came from nothing, as I’ve pointed out that simply isn’t correct.

quote:
Its second: If anything might not exist, then it's reasonable to ask why
it does exist.


Why it exists?

Why presume a why? Why does a pebble exist? Why does the universe exist? There’s no necessity to impose or presume a why, as a well known physicist might say “it just is” - the question he’s trying to answer is HOW not why.

  
Bob K
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142 posted 12-22-2008 08:02 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Mr. Scholar,

                "Relativity" is a name that Einstein was as unhappy with as you are, and for many of the same reasons.  He was especially unhappy because it sounded like "relativism," which made people unhappy even in the teens and twenties of the last century.  Einstein thought "relativity" was emphatically not "relativism."  And you, sir, are emphatically, not stupid, nor will you get me to dumb myself down and pretend that you are.  If you are insecure about your knowledge base, expand it with your reading.
You invited people to speak with you about science and the value of it.  Don't switch topics and attempt to defend the value of a religious devotion that is admirable in itself and produces some fine people, but does not require you make accusations you find it difficult to support.

     As it happens, I believe your religious position is as fine and valid a position as any atheist's or that of any scientist, atheist or not.

     Stephanos, unless I mistake his current thinking, thinks intelligent design is a useful position to hold, and Stephanos is a fine man indeed.  About this I happen to disagree with him, and with you.  By far the bulk of the research and evidence seems to disagree with you as well, and the convention in science is that what is taught in a science course, at least in public school, is what the scientific consensus agrees is the mostly well substantiated theory accepted by the widest range of people in the field.

     The reason for this convention is that there really isn't much time devoted to science in public schools.  In college, if you major in science, you can specialize and take special topics.  Around evolution and geology and fields of this sort, I'm not certain how new people in the field would be able to do research that most folks would consider cutting edge from a Biblical perspective, but perhaps there might be some way it could be done.

     I have a fine motor tremor in my hands, probably from years of asthma medications.  So yeah, I can shoot, but you wouldn't want to be standing in front of me if I had a firearm of any sort in my hand.  I can probably be reasonably certain of hitting someplace within a thirty degree arc of a target at fifty feet with a .22 rifle.  I'm better with a bow, though quite out of practice.

     As for dealing with everyday folks, I spent an awful long time as a psychiatric aid in state and private hospitals when I was younger, and I collected more than my fair share of lumps and injuries.

     I have next to no education in science myself, but I try to find decently written books in the field and do try to read them.  Most of them, the ones that don't have pages of formulas, usually make sense if I think about them a little bit.  I also think about religion and theology and loads of other things.  I know enough about enough things to know how dumb I am, and I have enough pride that I tend to run away with myself sometimes and forget it.

     Mr. Scholar, all I ask is that you read some of the stuff that you're being caustic about, or people talking about.  I seriously doubt that anybody will actually challenge your faith, which sounds solid, but they should give you additional miracles to contemplate that won't settle for easy answers.  You will also run across a fair number of numbskulls, as you would anyplace, and they will validate your impression that just because a guy is smart doesn't make him wise.  It can make him rigid and idiotic and smug as well as smart, which is a rotten combination.

     Every now and again, though, you run across people who really make the effort worth while.  God didn't simply invest you with common sense, you know; he gave you a brain to expand or have it wither away on you.  As you get older, it's important to keep making new neural connections in your brain.  It helps you stay healthy.

Nice Chatting, Yours, Mr. Potato Head

                
Dirt Roads Scholar
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143 posted 12-22-2008 08:58 PM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

Grinch,

"And those people were famous for their theological advancements or their scientific discoveries?"

The two are not exclusive, nor incompatible. I would venture to say that those men, and a precious few today viewed science, I've heard it said,as 'thinking God's thoughts after Him'. I read an article by a theoretical mathematician, who also happened to be an atheist, who was perplexed by the fact that there was even such a thing as mathematics, when in and un-caused undesigned universe there shouldn't be.

"If god is, or can ever be, proved to be anything more than a myth..."

If the multi-verse can ever be proved to be more than a glorified, peyote inspired grasp at a desperate straw....

"You want me to accept that something I know exists can’t have existed forever while insisting that an entity I’ve never seen has always existed - snake oil anyone?"

"Existed forever"? Do you hear yourself? In Valhalla perhaps? We really just choose our 'myths' don't we? We get to decide which ones make the most sense. Something from nothing, or eternal un-caused existence, order from chaos, undesigned design, life from non-life, etc., appeals to you for personal subjective reasons having nothing to do with the cloak of science. Those concepts have no appeal to me at all, and strike me as particularly counter-intuitive, and psychologically suspect.

"The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because
we didn't want God to interfere with our sexual mores."  Julian Huxley

"I was more than happy to latch onto Darwinism as an excuse to
jettison the idea of God so I could unabashedly pursue my own agenda in
life without moral constraints."  Lee Strobel

Darwinism, atheism, and scientism are interchangeable in those statements.

"This goes back to your insistence that science presumes that something came from nothing, as I’ve pointed out that simply isn’t correct."

And the notion that the universe is just one of those things, that was always just there, is an improvement over the erroneous conclusion that scientists would like us to believe the universe just poofed into being out of nowhere and nothing, for no reason?

"Why presume a why? Why does a pebble exist? Why does the universe exist? There’s no necessity to impose or presume a why, as a well known physicist might say “it just is” - the question he’s trying to answer is HOW not why."

Just one of those things. Right. God help us if y'all ever acquire the reins of power. The "Borg" looks attractive in comparison.

"Finite, changing things exist. For example, me. I would have to exist to deny that I exist; so either way, I must really exist.

Every finite, changing thing must be caused by something else. If it is limited and it changes, then it cannot be something that exists independently. If it existed independently, or necessarily, then it would have always existed without any kind of change.

There cannot be an infinite regress of these causes. In other words, you can’t go on explaining how this finite thing causes this finite thing, which causes this other finite thing, and on and on, because that really just puts off the explanation indefinitely.

Therefore, there must be a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists."


Norman Giesler
Dirt Roads Scholar
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144 posted 12-22-2008 09:21 PM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

Hey Bob,

Funny, I didn't feel insecure before. Should I?

You can be however dumb or smart you want to be with me. Don't wait for me to ask.

Regardless of the dodge, "given enough time" to come up with proof, do you believe that "science" is making unverifiable philosophical statements when it makes bold, spectacular proclamations about origins, whether they are dressed up as "theory" or not?

Again, it's just my worldview, but that stuff sure looks no different than any other profession of faith to me. Religion used to be integral to science, and I think the reason it isn't now is because of competing faith claims. Unlike the new congregants of scientism, I don't believe that science has an answer for everything. Empirically test love.....  
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


145 posted 12-22-2008 11:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Don't suppose anybody wants to start another thread?
Bob K
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since 11-03-2007
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146 posted 12-23-2008 01:22 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear N.G.,

           If you're not feeling insecure, you're probably not looking is my take on the matter.  I tend to be very worried by people who profess to have answers for me or for anybody else.  So, yes, from where I sit, you probably should be insecure.  Not specifically you, mind you, simply anybody who's paying attention.  Last I looked, everybody dies, you know, and mostly nobody says when.

     Everybody wants to go to Heaven, nobody wants to die.
I owe that to a Steven Segal movie, much cherished.

     Sadly, I find I'm unable to be smarter than I am, and the depths of my foolishness constantly amaze me by revealing new depths.  Would that I could provide them with some sort of floor.  The more I talk, the more stupid I get.  You'd think I'd have learned to shut up by now.  But no.

     I think that we must be reading different folks if you feel that science is making bold proclamations.  The scientific literature hardly has it within itself to suggest "further research should be conducted" about topics on which they reached some fairly interesting conclusions.  The press will often make exaggerated claims for the meaning of research results.  Scientists often joke about this.  Such claims are less frequently made by scientists themselves.  Check out an issue or two of Science or Nature, two of the big science journals and you'll see what I mean.

     Beyond that, "Philosophical Statements" are by their very nature different than "scientific statements."  "Scientific statements" or statements of scientific theory should be testable, or should be in some condition where they are being worked into condition for being tested by collection of data that will confirm or deny the hypothesis being tested.  Ideally, scientific statements should be concrete as a brick, or their tests should be.

     Philosophical statements may contain elements which are untestable by their very nature.  Science is generally a version of one sort of philosophy — materialism — and it generally abides by the rules of that particular philosophical viewpoint.  Philosophical Statements in general may be about any form of philosophy, some of which are antithetical to the materialistic (not in the sense of money, but in the sense of concentration on concrete things) viewpoint.

     It is less likely that science will make an unverifiable assertion about a subject of study, I believe, than most other philosophies, simply because it is a point of view that specializes in the study of concrete things and how they behave.  It has developed techniques for making things that would seem abstract — the energies in atoms, for example — into more material objects of measurement and study.  I find it, at time, almost annoying, the amount of ingenuity  science has shown.  I also admire it.

     Once the subject has changed from the concrete objects of the world, I believe, and looks at things that actually are abstract and philosophical, I believe that science is not such a useful instrument.  I believe that it is essentially, on those subjects, no different that any other system of beliefs, and its prejudices are on display as unattractively as the prejudices of any other philosophy (or religious system, for that matter) can show themselves under conditions when the tenets of the philosophy itself are stressed.

     Scientific theories about origins seem to have as much validity as any other story about origins as far as I'm concerned.  All of them show the persistence of man's need to tell the story of his origins.  It's an archetype that man seems to construct for himself in every culture.  Science, being as active a religious culture (I think) as any other on the planet, certainly has a right to its own creation story.  Because it is a materialistic philosophy, it must insist that the story be literally true.  In this it has a lot in common with lots of fundamentalist faiths throughout the world, from Osama Bin Laden to Oral Roberts to the some of the most conservative Popes, all share the conviction of literal correctness.  Many of them share the evangelical zeal of the more annoying atheists in the scientific community, who simply won't let you alone and will give you no peace until you acknowledge the rightness of their revelation.

     All of them give me a migraine from time to time.  Heaven knows how badly I frustrate them.

quote:


Again, it's just my worldview, but that stuff sure looks no different than any other profession of faith to me.

[/quote]

     I don't know how completely we agree, but I find this statement congenial.  The problem is that the various faiths suffer from a confusion of tongues, and there is difficulty with finding people with the good will to listen to each other.

[quote]    

Religion used to be integral to science, and I think the reason it isn't now is because of competing faith claims. Unlike the new congregants of scientism, I don't believe that science has an answer for everything.




     In science and in Christianity and Judaism, there is a sort of millennial passion.  All of them must come to grips with the fact that everything isn't perfect now.  You distort the position of science if you say that science says it has an answer for everything.  What they say is we don't have that answer YET.  The implication is that sometime in the future the answer will come if we simply retain our faith in the Scientific Method.  In the fullness of time, that answer WILL COME.  The Jews say, "Next year in Jerusalem!" or "Comes the Messiah!"  The Christians say, "Your reward will come in Heaven" or When the messiah Returns."  You need to keep faith with your insight, I think, about science being one religion among many, and notice that the other religions do the same thing as science does in this case as well.

Very interesting Conversation, N.G.  Unusual last name.  Any relationship with the good Doctor?

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
Stephanos
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147 posted 12-23-2008 01:24 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch:
quote:
How can a hypothesis that’s still being tested as part of the scientific process NOT be scientific?

You’re mistaking the process of scientific method for an unproven claim represented as truth - something akin to the biblical genesis story for instance. Abiogenisis isn’t embraced, it’s investigated and tested and if it’s found to be false it’ll be rejected, that’s how the process works Stephen.


Oh Grinch, you're right.  Science is properly neutral on the question of God, since belief or disbelief in God is existential in nature, and provides a framework by which to interpret "evidence".  I wasn't speaking of how science should be, but how it really is sometimes.  Atheism really is portrayed as (by Dawkins et al) a scientific conclusion.  And though things like abiogenesis and panspermia are not fully embraced as scientific (well there's no way they can), they are warmly spoken of in some circles.


Even you tended to link Darwinism with Atheism in a thread not long ago.  I could quote you a host of published who have erroneously linked the science with the metphysics/quasi-religion of atheism.


Stephen
      
Bob K
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since 11-03-2007
Posts 3860


148 posted 12-23-2008 07:19 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     I see nothing about evolution that is inherently atheistic.  There may be a problem when you try to make it fit with some religious positions, but many religious positions have that same problem with each other.  I see science as a materialist attempt at a religious position, but even that is too limiting a way to talk about either science or religion and their area of overlap.


Dirt Roads Scholar
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since 12-19-2008
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149 posted 12-23-2008 09:36 PM       View Profile for Dirt Roads Scholar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Dirt Roads Scholar

Bob,

That was a quote from Norman Geisler, an author I'm very familiar with ("I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist", etc.).

I'm not looking for inclusion in next year's list of the 100 most unobtrusive moderates. Subtlety and nuance are more appropriate for the arts than ideals to live by. Grey is not a universal tint. Ideas have consequences, and the arena they are put to the test in is not an amorphous sponge-like place, absorbing all in its pregnable embrace. There are real effects relating to which of the viewpoints are ascendant, impacting actual humans for good or ill. Atheistic, State worshipping Communism being given an ethereal, benign sounding title such as Dialectic Marxist THEORY is scant comfort to it's 100 million dead.

This may well be better suited to another thread. I don't know. But on the vast majority of these forums where Christianity inevitably becomes pitted against everything from cosmic relativistic 'tolerance', to militant atheism, these same conflicts arise. A couple of questions that intrigue me:

Given the premise of the Christian precept of God's desire for a voluntary personal relationship with His human creation - if you were God, how would you achieve that goal, avoiding the 'problem of evil'?

There is a stark divide between the notions of an innately 'good' humanity, and a 'Fallen', sinful humanity (this is where I can almost sympathize with the alternate universe crowd... innate goodness is not registering on my radar when I look out my front door). The question: What do you imagine the world would look like had there never been a Jesus Christ or Christianity to impress an inner restraint on what we see men inclined to do down all recorded history to this day? Arranging externals 'just so', though I'm sure the social engineers 'meant well', has obviously been less than a stellar success... but maybe, given enough time - billions of years perhaps?

"You distort the position of science if you say that science says it has an answer for everything.  What they say is we don't have that answer YET.  The implication is that sometime in the future the answer will come if we simply retain our faith in the Scientific Method.  In the fullness of time, that answer WILL COME." BK

This is classic. The distinction is invisible. Scientists say that eventually, given enough time (absolutely anything is possible - see the list of faerie tales), the "Scientific Method" (may Its Holiness be ever exalted, and Its enemies perish) if worshipped faithfully, and not allowed to be profaned by heresies and the superstitions of the unenlightened, the mystery of an autonomous, self-existent, strictly material cosmos will be revealed. On that great day, the clouds will part, the scales will be lifted from all eyes, and the sky will reflect the sacred Periodic Tables as far as from East to the West. DRS

May those who love us love us,
And may God turn the hearts of those who don't.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles,
So we may recognize them by their limping.
 
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