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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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?

Education?

Economics?

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.

Women through most of the history of the world have been abused property. 

So, that makes it OK, in this day and age, to keep women away from a form of positive inclusion, such as becoming a priest.

Countries per se don't set themselves up as paragons of virtue - that is the difference. Whilst, I don't know if you have noticed, the catholic church does.

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

Bias, no, simply because of experience - personal experience, of rampant hypocrisy, and a bible that contradicts itself, and an out of control god that you follow.

Meditation, repetition, etc. are ritual practices -

Meditation - ones own thoughts, good thoughts, pure thoughts, not to an outside source that is supposed to save, keep safe, save somebody else's life, because of sickness etc. etc. to pray to forgive one of the sin that they were 'born with', Paul prayed to save the Jews - that didn't seem to work, did it.

If you are expecting all of us to be free of sin -

Not at all. But I certainly expect people of any religion who are in a position of power, to be caring and honest, to practice what they preach, and when one is found to be committing criminal acts, to money laundering, to rape, to take him to a police station. Instead, these people were hidden and moved around, in their thousands, whilst still sprouting 'Follow me, I am the Truth', as is the case of the catholic church, the popes, priests etc. When people put their life in their hands, and their children in their control', to put money into the coffers, assuming it is going to a 'good cause'. Business as usual.

"Children are a gift from the Lord - they are a reward from him." - Psalm 127:3

That's as irrational as expecting all democratically-elected Congressmen to be wise or all scientists to be free of research fraud -

Once again, politicians I am not surprised when they are caught out, scientists will eventually be called out on fraud, as theories are tested, what they don't have is an organized hierarchical power structure, with dirty dark secrets to hide, whilst still professing to 'Tell the Truth". Politicians have never been thought of as Paragons of Virtue.

Show me where thousands of scientists have lied, have abused children, where scientists have covered up criminal acts, where politicians or scientists have billions of dollars in a shonky protected banking system.

Because politicians are sometimes scum -

Absolutely, but they don't have billions in the bank, they don't hide behind a cross, they aren't dragged kicking and screaming, in their thousands to court to face up to their criminal acts.

Of course, that doesn't include dictators, but they have been 'outed'. There are millions, just like you, arguing and counter-arguing how wonderful the catholic church is. The catholic regime relies on people, just like you. Also keep in mind, the vatican is a law unto itself, by Mussolini. What an upright man he was.

I get that atheism is mostly a form of negative campaign advertising and spin -

Pray tell, what do Atheists advertise - where are the millions of dollars being poured into propping up a hierarchy and PR agents, where is the Atheists billions of dollars worth of property, of our meeting place on top of the hill, as does the catholic church, where is our fraud "Mother Teresa", where are we not telling 'The Truth', where are we, as a group, hide our criminal acts, where are we in control of swathes of people, to the peoples detriment. Please enlighten me.

I don't expect to change a christian mind, a person must come to their own conclusion that religion is a fraud, by studying the bible, by studying history, by studying pagan gods and rituals, and seeing christians own behavior whilst sprouting 'Follow me, I am the Truth.' Then, know, that if it wasn't for Science, someone like me couldn't find out about all the control, subjugation, fear, and hypocrisy that are in religions of all persuasions.

I think Dante put more popes and religious in hell than any other group -

But still the business rolled on. Legion of Jesus, still in business, Opus Dai, still in business. The vatican, still in business, the vatican bank, still in business.

I don't go onto xian sites and make negative comments, I am not fussed about what anybody believes or not believe - it is when somebody else's religious views truncate peoples rights, by getting into politics, and trying to control people with their views, and trying to change secular laws, by the fear it engenders, and most importantly, Science.

And in the meantime the head of your church, sitting on his pile of gold, while the vatican and pope have control of the uneducated catholics thinking on contraception, while priests are not allowed to marry, while there are christians trying to get 'Creation Design' into Science classes, while there is a 'Creation Design Museum' in Kentucky, which asserts the earth was created 6,000 years ago, in six days - that is yet another problem.

It rejects any and all science. Certainly there are many christians who are also against this farce, just not enough.

Does that not disprove your theory as surely as Michelson-Morley - good for you quoting scientific endeavors - could you possibly join up with the different scientific groups trying to expose the creation museum as a fraud, but once again they are up against the millions of dollars put into this joke and it's advertising.

You, dear sir, are a form of the progressive christian - which is a good thing, just not enough of you - there are a lot of good muslims too, probably, but the bad guys have taken over, as has happened in the catholic church. The vatican is corrupt, priests are corrupt, your leader is corrupt, just by virtue of leading this farce, so why exactly do you call yourself a catholic instead of I am christian?

What most religions do, and yours is at the top of the heap, is ride on the back of good people, good christians, while protecting their power structure, business and money. So keep on making excuses.

If you want to believe in a god that has done nothing in over two thousand years to benefit humanity, that is fine. I f you want to follow a religion that has plagiarized stories to fit an agenda, that is fine, if you want to believe in a god that condones the selling of women, the killing of children, that is fine, if it makes you feel better, fantastic - You are not fearful, brilliant, neither am I, but I used to be. Hell was driven into my childhood brain, fear that my brothers and sisters would go to hell because of some innocent act of recalcitrance. That my friends would go to hell - seared into my brain. That the belief that god would save children if I prayed hard enough.

Religion has a two way bet - if prayer doesn't work, well, there you go, you didn't pray hard or meaningful enough, if it 'works' Jesus did it - he listened - hallelujah.

Yes, the catholic church is a cult - just a very big one that makes billions, and hides fraud, sculduggery, behind the Mantra of 'I am Love, I am Truth, I will Save you, If you believe in me.

But if you don't you will burn in Hell, forever.'

You are being controlled - the fact that you are

1. Religious
2. Catholic = Control. The brainwashing has done it's job.

@Prof. Bob - Women through most of the history of the world have been abused property. 

Yes, Mary is one and there is also.......

So, that makes it OK, in this day and age, to keep women away from a form of positive inclusion, such as becoming a priest.

Countries per se don't set themselves up as paragons of virtue - that is the difference. Whilst, I don't know if you have noticed, the catholic church does.

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

Bias, no, simply because of experience - personal experience, of rampant hypocrisy, and a bible that contradicts itself, and an out of control god that you follow.

Meditation, repetition, etc. are ritual practices -

Meditation - ones own thoughts, good thoughts, pure thoughts, not to an outside source that is supposed to save, keep safe, save somebody else's life, because of sickness etc. etc. to pray to forgive one of the sin that they were 'born with', Paul prayed to save the Jews - that didn't seem to work, did it.

If you are expecting all of us to be free of sin -

Not at all. But I certainly expect people of any religion who are in a position of power, to be caring and honest, to practice what they preach, and when one is found to be committing criminal acts, to money laundering, to rape, to take him to a police station. Instead, these people were hidden and moved around, in their thousands, whilst still sprouting 'Follow me, I am the Truth', as is the case of the catholic church, the popes, priests etc. When people put their life in their hands, and their children in their control', to put money into the coffers, assuming it is going to a 'good cause'. Business as usual.

"Children are a gift from the Lord - they are a reward from him." - Psalm 127:3

That's as irrational as expecting all democratically-elected Congressmen to be wise or all scientists to be free of research fraud -

Once again, politicians I am not surprised when they are caught out, scientists will eventually be called out on fraud, as theories are tested, what they don't have is an organized hierarchical power structure, with dirty dark secrets to hide, whilst still professing to 'Tell the Truth". Politicians have never been thought of as Paragons of Virtue.

Show me where thousands of scientists have lied, have abused children, where scientists have covered up criminal acts, where politicians or scientists have billions of dollars in a shonky protected banking system.

Because politicians are sometimes scum -

Absolutely, but they don't have billions in the bank, they don't hide behind a cross, they aren't dragged kicking and screaming, in their thousands to court to face up to their criminal acts.

Of course, that doesn't include dictators, but they have been 'outed'. There are millions, just like you, arguing and counter-arguing how wonderful the catholic church is. The catholic regime relies on people, just like you. Also keep in mind, the vatican is a law unto itself, by Mussolini. What an upright man he was.

I get that atheism is mostly a form of negative campaign advertising and spin -

Pray tell, what do Atheists advertise - where are the millions of dollars being poured into propping up a hierarchy and PR agents, where is the Atheists billions of dollars worth of property, of our meeting place on top of the hill, as does the catholic church, where is our fraud "Mother Teresa", where are we not telling 'The Truth', where are we, as a group, hide our criminal acts, where are we in control of swathes of people, to the peoples detriment. Please enlighten me.

I don't expect to change a christian mind, a person must come to their own conclusion that religion is a fraud, by studying the bible, by studying history, by studying pagan gods and rituals, and seeing christians own behavior whilst sprouting 'Follow me, I am the Truth.' Then, know, that if it wasn't for Science, someone like me couldn't find out about all the control, subjugation, fear, and hypocrisy that are in religions of all persuasions.

I think Dante put more popes and religious in hell than any other group -

But still the business rolled on. Legion of Jesus, still in business, Opus Dai, still in business. The vatican, still in business, the vatican bank, still in business.

I don't go onto xian sites and make negative comments, I am not fussed about what anybody believes or not believe - it is when somebody else's religious views truncate peoples rights, by getting into politics, and trying to control people with their views, and trying to change secular laws, by the fear it engenders, and most importantly, Science.

And in the meantime the head of your church, sitting on his pile of gold, while the vatican and pope have control of the uneducated catholics thinking on contraception, while priests are not allowed to marry, while there are christians trying to get 'Creation Design' into Science classes, while there is a 'Creation Design Museum' in Kentucky, which asserts the earth was created 6,000 years ago, in six days - that is yet another problem.

It rejects any and all science. Certainly there are many christians who are also against this farce, just not enough.

Does that not disprove your theory as surely as Michelson-Morley - good for you quoting scientific endeavors - could you possibly join up with the different scientific groups trying to expose the creation museum as a fraud, but once again they are up against the millions of dollars put into this joke and it's advertising.

You, dear sir, are a form of the progressive christian - which is a good thing, just not enough of you - there are a lot of good muslims too, probably, but the bad guys have taken over, as has happened in the catholic church. The vatican is corrupt, priests are corrupt, your leader is corrupt, just by virtue of leading this farce, so why exactly do you call yourself a catholic instead of I am christian?

What most religions do, and yours is at the top of the heap, is ride on the back of good people, good christians, while protecting their power structure, business and money. So keep on making excuses.

If you want to believe in a god that has done nothing in over two thousand years to benefit humanity, that is fine. I f you want to follow a religion that has plagiarized stories to fit an agenda, that is fine, if you want to believe in a god that condones the selling of women, the killing of children, that is fine, if it makes you feel better, fantastic - You are not fearful, brilliant, neither am I, but I used to be. Hell was driven into my childhood brain, fear that my brothers and sisters would go to hell because of some innocent act of recalcitrance. That my friends would go to hell - seared into my brain. That the belief that god would save children if I prayed hard enough.

Religion has a two way bet - if prayer doesn't work, well, there you go, you didn't pray hard or meaningful enough, if it 'works' Jesus did it - he listened - hallelujah.

Yes, the catholic church is a cult - just a very big one that makes billions, and hides fraud, sculduggery, behind the Mantra of 'I am Love, I am Truth, I will Save you, If you believe in me.

But if you don't you will burn in Hell, forever.'

You are being controlled - the fact that you are

1. Religious
2. Catholic = Control. The brainwashing has done it's job.

Wow, there are really two of these long missives!

I don't want to argue, @Suzanne.  I'm just providing an alternative viewpoint.  You might try to dismiss that as being brainwashed, but isn't that just really trying to hide from a perspective?  I assure you my participation in the Catholic community is entirely voluntary and not incompatible with my life as a science faculty member at a research university. 

Yes, the Catholic Church "makes millions".  It's hard not to when you are trying to provide services for 1.2 billion people.  Even if each only gave us a penny a year we'd be making millions.  The fact is that an average priest's salary is much less than his education level would command anywhere else, and of course the religious work essentially for subsistence wage.

No, we don't set ourselves up as paragons of virtue.  We do teach about virtue, and try to encourage virtue, but we're as fallible as anyone else when it comes to practicing virtue, and at all levels.  Why would you believe we are anything other than human?

Yes, in 1.2 billion people, you will find Catholics who are murderers, rapists, thieves.  Yep, we have an institutional hierarchy that is sometimes an embarrassment or in need of jail time.  It's true that the current episcopate has been influenced a bit by the worldwide trend toward fundamentalism/authoritarianism, despite our teaching to the contrary.  None of that is any different than any other institutional effort serving 1.2 billion people.  President Obama taught constitutional law, and yet we have an illegal prison, questionable drone strikes, and overbroad subpoenas of journalists' phone records.   We humans don't often live up to our teachings or our highest ideals.

The only difference is perhaps that so many of our folks are doing their work in the Church for free, and so few are getting any real personal wealth from it.   The retired pope gets a small apartment on the grounds. 

In the same way, you should not expect any of us who engage in science to be paragons of virtue either.  We are every bit as human, with the same level of potential for wickedness.  Perhaps we don't have as much access to youth, since we don't run many children's programs, but we certainly do design a lot of weapons to enable the more effective slaughter of our fellow humans, implement natural gas fracking without sufficient thought about unintended consequences, overstate findings frequently and get a bit full of ourselves. ;-)  We probably don't make as much as our education level should command either, and there aren't too many of us who retire to great wealth, though as a group we do considerably better than the men and women religious. 

For all the rest about killing children, selling women, and the like, that's just irrational and ugly prejudice, and I suspect you know that.

Science has nothing to do with my believing/not believing in god. Believing in god and trusting in science are not mutually exclusive but I can examine the evidence for both and I find one factual and one not. Wanna guess the factual one? Science is not like religion in that if you don't understand one paper (on say light wave frequency ranges) you can examine other evidence you may understand until your grasp of the knowledge is up to par and there are may fields of study. Religion is just dogmatic crap for the dark ages.

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