Is your trust in science based on faith or based on science?

What I mean is this: how much do you actually know about the science most atheists parrot? Most atheists know as little science as most Christians know as little theology. Just as a Christian trusts his priest to tell him what he believes, an atheist trusts scientists with a Ph.D. tacked to their name to tell them what they believe. But how many times have the scientists turned out to be wrong? I only ask this because it seems this is central to the problem that most atheists have. They are repulsed by the phrase “believe” – they are addicted instead to the phrase “know”. But honestly, do you really know, or are you just believing what you’re told? I would like to remind you that in the 1970′s the scientists of the day were seriously concerned that we were about to enter an ice age, and less than 30 years later they are now convinced Earth is about to turn into a desert.

Unless you’ve observed something yourself, or observed and interpreted the evidence yourself and drew your own conclusions, you are just as guilty as faith as any religious person.

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It's lunacy, yes? These people dug up the corpse of a former pope and put it on trial, found it guilty, mutilated it, threw it in a river.

It gets better. It seems his dug up, mutilated, water-logged corpse was "rescued", and the twice dead pope began the miraculous healing of people before ultimately being vindicated and finally reburied. The formal name of this event is the "Cadaver Synod". Seems even death is not always easy for the one guy that has god's ear.

I'm sure it all gets rationalized, they are experts at that. Really, what else do you really need to know about Catholicism?

That seemed to be a Church fad that really caught on there for awhile.

Between 600 and 1600 CE, the Church declared it punishable by death to own a Bible in any other language that Latin, which the average man couldn't read, if he could read at all.

In the late 1300’s, the secret society of Culdees chose John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teachings of the organized Church which he believed to be contrary to the Bible, to lead the world out of the Dark Ages. Wycliffe has been called the “Morning Star of the Reformation”. That Protestant Reformation, for believers, was about one thing: getting the Word of God back into the hands of the masses in their own native language, so that the corrupt church would be exposed and, for those, the message of salvation in Christ alone, by scripture alone, through faith alone, would be proclaimed again.

The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380's CE by Wycliffe. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe's death, he ordered his bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

Yes, there were women who were respected in the bible, but they fell by the wayside.

Really?  The Catholic and Orthodox veneration of Mary ("Queen of Heaven and Mother of God" no less) has fallen by the wayside?  Who would have thought?

Why didn't Catherine of Sienna become pope?  Why didn't any women become Roman Emperors?  Can you name any secular women potentates before Elizabeth I of England or Catherine de Medici (and Catherine was just regent)?  How about any women U.S. Presidents?

The Church is in many ways countercultural, but it is not immune to the cultures in which it operates.   Women through most of the history of the world have been abused property.  The Church taught monogamy, that women were to be cherished and protected, that they deserved loyalty and respect.  It taught chivalry.  It was the first organized body to educate women, to allow groups of women to own property and engage in commerce, to serve as leaders in their own right.  It canonized Joan of Arc who was burned for being a soldier and wearing pants.  It paved the way for de Medici and Elizabeth. 

I'll agree that our 20th century record has not been in keeping with our previous record in some ways, more's the pity.  Honesty demands that we attend to the whole.

Yes, other religions do use sort of the same thing - Indoctrination, re-inforcing.

Careful about the pejorative terms.  They're signs of bias, not reason.

A better expression would be to say that meditation, repetition, etc. are ritual practices.  There's a fine Scientific American article this month on the psychological research establishing the value of ritual practices in improving concentration, performance, and mental health.

Besides the rampant, unfettered pedophilia in the catholic church, there are little gems like the Legions of Jesus.

Legionaries of Christ.  An absolutely wrong-headed order that should be forcibly dissolved.  I blocked them from access to all the youth in our area back in the early 1990s as best I could. 

Yes, there are bad Catholics, wicked popes, wrong-headed religious.  I think Dante put more popes and religious in hell than any other group (though politicians were probably close), and for good reason.  If you are expecting all of us to be free of sin, that's as irrational as expecting all democratically-elected Congressmen to be wise or all scientists to be free of research fraud. 

Because some scientists commit fraud does not mean that science is wrong, or isn't a worthy endeavor.  Because politicians are sometimes scum does not mean that freedom and democracy are bad things.   That way lies the Tea Party and the Islamists.  Is that the way you really want to go as a rationalist?

I get that atheism is mostly a form of negative campaign advertising and spin, both as a culture and an intellectual tradition.  Perhaps, though, it's possible to set some of that aside and look more academically and honestly at things.

I for my part am not participating in a cult. I'm not being controlled in any way, on an everyday basis or more broadly.   I am not fearful, of hell or anything other than not doing my best.  My doors at home are not locked, and I welcome strangers and family of all stripes.  And yet I'm a faithful Catholic.  There are many like me.  As a rationalist, isn't that data that you have to incorporate into your thinking?  Does that not disprove your theory as surely as Michelson-Morley was the end to ether as a medium for electromagnetic waves?

@Doug P;

I say: "doG Damn you're right!"

When the Cliff Notes for this thread come out I'll take a look. :D

I think Dawkins said it best when asked by an audience member why a person should trust in science

"“If you base medicine on science, you cure people. If you base the design of planes on science, they fly. If you base the design of rockets on science, they go to the moon. It works, bitches.” – Richard Dawkins (February 15, 2013 – Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford)"

For physical systems, yes.  At least when those physical systems are relatively simple.

How good has our science of psychology been?  The cure rates for mental illness don't come close to those in medicine or trauma, after all.

How about our social science?  Are those theories really as successful?



Legal theory?

When it comes to issues of human development, human personal and social interactions, can we honestly say that science has been all that successful?   Those are much closer to the areas where religion provides insights and answers. 

When it comes to issues of human development, human personal and social interactions, can we honestly say that science has been all that successful?  Those are much closer to the areas [such as psychology, education, economics, and legal theory] where religion provides insights and answers.

That's an interesting insight, Robert.

Name some discoveries and accomplishments that religion has provided to psychology, pedagogy, economics, and legal theory in the last decade. Too tough? Let's double it to twenty years. Shoot, let's make it fifty years. Name one example from each discipline.

And keep it real, Pinocchio. Don't come back with some instructor who won a teaching award who also happened to be a Catholic priest. If religion actually provided the result it means without the religion the result would otherwise have been impossible.

Or you can admit there are none.

I disagree with the "those systems are relatively simple" wording, but I think the rest of what you're saying is a very good observation.

Could we not agree at least that science endeavors to measure, describe, and predict physical systems, while such human inventions as religion, philosophy, art, are attempts at similar understandings of the more ethereal, unmeasurable aspects of human existence?

With physics, we can make scientific statements and predictions that can be tested and then used to make further scientific statements and predictions. Atomic theory helped lead to atomic energy; germ theory helped lead to antibiotics; electro-magnetic theory helped lead to radio and TV; and (most importantly), these new products of science help lead to even more powerful and sophisticated science.

(That's where I disagree with your relatively "relatively simple" phrase, by the way. It might be more accurate to say "increasingly measurable and predictable".)

As for your examples of social theory and other potential "sciences", they are not pure sciences, yet. Instead of describing or idealizing these fields of study as "science", it would be more accurate to describe them as pre-science, philosophy, or perhaps art. Real science in these fields exist only secondarily to their more ambiguous measurements and predictions, even when leaders in the field want the field to be more scientific. Opinions in these fields matter more than empirical evidence. And this is also true for fields of religion.

Perhaps the most profound difference between science and religion is the relative importance of empirical evidence vs social/emotional based opinion. Or at least, that's surely a profound difference wrt how study in each field is conducted and documented.

(I almost forgot to mention Political "Science" in the above list of arts.)

Sounds like you're describing verifiable fact, vs unverifiable opinion.

I think you're not taking your reasoning quite far enough, @Pope.

You're trying to use the "not pure sciences" thing to distinguish the social sciences from your view of "true" science (something that I have been accused of here, with that bit about True Scotsmen, LOL). 

My colleagues in the social sciences (and I admit, I dabble) would tell you that they are genuinely applying the scientific method to social questions.  Their mathematics and modeling, at least, I can say to be top-notch.   Indeed, it's far more complex than anything we have to deal with in physics, because social systems are far more complex and multivariate and because they generally don't have the ability to isolate variables in a laboratory setting.

So the proper conclusion would seem to be that scientific techniques are not well suited to building robust understandings of social systems.  The models, by and large, fail.

I would say that what makes social sciences soft isn't that social scientists are less scientific. It isn't their scientific tools which are soft, it is the subject matter and the framing of questions which is softer than in the hard sciences, where what question to ask is more cut-and-dried.

You're trying to use the "not pure sciences" thing to distinguish the social sciences from your view of "true" science (something that I have been accused of here, with that bit about True Scotsmen, LOL).

Yes, you're correct that I distinguish these "sciences", but unlike True Scotsmen, I haven't redefined anything for convenience, nor moved any goal posts. (Your True Scotsman charge is a Straw Man. <insert smiley here>)

How good has our science of psychology been?  The cure rates for mental illness don't come close to those in medicine or trauma, after all.

I don't disagree with you on that. Now I'll repeat a quote from my post:

Could we not agree at least that science endeavors to measure, describe, and predict physical systems, while such human inventions as religion, philosophy, art, are attempts at similar understandings of the more ethereal, unmeasurable aspects of human existence?

And throw in most of our social sciences, too, imho. This will sound weird, but I think I'm disagreeing that we were disagreeing. Indeed, my point is that the success of physical sciences far outweighs the success of the social sciences. (Yes, I was also comparing religion to social science.)

However, and however ironically, over time, we will be able to move the goalposts in some social science. We're learning the real, physical causes of several mental diseases, and we already have successful treatments for some of them. Only this year President Obama and Dr. Francis Collins (of the successful Human Genome Project) are planing "brain observatories". Here is a quote from that article:

The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.

Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses.

So, just as medicine was once more art than science, so too are the "sciences" of mind, behavior, other social sciences (and religion?), more art than science. But more and more science is replacing the art! Even the goalposts are moving, but not because of me.



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