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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What a fabulous piece of insight, Kris.  I like the cut of your cloth!

How do you figure, @Kris?   I don't think that follows logically from correcting a few random misunderstandings.

Why not?

If that deity is interacting with humans or the world in any way, even infrequently, then there is signal.   It may be difficult to distinguish signal from noise; it may take time to refine theories and understanding; there may yet be much to learn and some of our understanding may be wrong or incomplete.

So long as there is signal, though, it is possible for humans to discern over time.

"So long as there is signal, though, it is possible for humans to discern over time."

Do you suppose it's buried in the solution to pi?

<Smile>  Wouldn't that be a stitch. 

I found Contact as a novel to be truly dull, with the sole exception of that interesting concept. 

Oh, what a delightful thought, @Kris.  I'm sorry I missed this earlier in @Gallup's rantings.

I'm not sure I'm quite understanding all of that, but I think that some of it at least is about right from my perspective.  Whether I'm trying to puzzle out features of the universe from observation, or experiment, or kicking ideas around with other people, it's a human endeavor.  The universe doesn't particularly care about peer-reviewed journal publications or wearing funny robes as we induct new scientists into the profession.  Those are human rituals to help us structure the quest for understanding of something that is ultimately too big for us to understand.  That doesn't mean that those human social rituals aren't useful.  They are!  At very least, they allow the quest to continue from generation to generation.

Same with religion.  Religion like science is another community, and is a human response to the quest for understanding of a different aspect of the universe: the questions of human social interactions and society and personal fulfillment and such.   Its rituals are rituals, with different publications and different funny hats, but they also are useful.  At very least, they allow the quest to continue.

The two for me go hand in hand.  They are aspects of the same thing, a human quest for understanding of something much bigger than ourselves. 

In each quest, we do make some assumptions, or at least start with some axioms.   In science, we believe that there really are "laws" which govern the universe, and that those can be discerned through observation and experiment.  That notion of Natural Law is what allowed modern science to come into being, because if the universe is really the product of pantheistic spirits each with independent will, then there's no point in trying to discover laws.  The development of science required a monotheistic creator God, a lawgiver.  That's why we started looking for Natural Laws, instead of trying to please the spirits of each object to get what we wanted.

Now, it's possible that for human societies and human fulfillment and relations to divinity and such that there are no laws, there is no purpose.  That's the atheist position, from my perspective.  It's all fake and isn't worth pursuing, like the notion of Natural Law is to pantheistic cultures. 

Me, I like the quest for understanding, and I really think that understanding is possible, and the pursuit of that understanding is useful.  I think we have learned some things that are pretty sound, and others that are good working theories, and that those understandings of man's interactions with each other and with divinity have advanced human society as much as our progress in other areas of thought.

RE: "ultimately too big for us to understand" - to which, I would add one word: yet.

RE: "The development of science required a monotheistic creator God, a lawgiver." - Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, laws existed LONG before the concept of a "monotheistic creator God" - you're not talking to a Sunday School class here --

laws existed LONG before the concept of a "monotheistic creator God"

Well sure, but narrowing a doctrine down to "there's only one god, and I'll tell you what he wants" makes it easier to unify (and manipulate) your followers.

(I'm not being cynical here... just pointing out the survival value of monotheism as opposed to believing in various other, random spirits.)

To which, PP, I'm inclined to quote Seneca:

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers, as useful."
-- Seneca --

Well sure, but narrowing a doctrine down to "there's only one god, and I'll tell you what he wants" makes it easier to unify (and manipulate) your followers.

I'm not sure it makes it easier, @Pope.  Shamans and witch doctors and other folks who claim to be able to influence the spirits in pantheistic religions do a pretty good job of control, too.  I agree, though, that any time humanity creates a leader or authoritative person in any sphere, there is a risk that the leadership will be abused, or poorly used.   That's no different in religion or politics or academics.

Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, laws existed LONG before the concept of a "monotheistic creator God"

Archy, Archy, Archy, I'm making a social science/anthropological argument here.  Yes, the universe existed long before humans, but the question is what were the necessary ingredients in human culture and thought to cause the emergence of the idea of modern physical science?  There's a reason why it grew out of only one particular culture in human history, and even now is resisted by other cultural groups.

Yes, the universe existed long before humans, but the question is what were the necessary ingredients in human culture and thought to cause the emergence of the idea of modern physical science?  There's a reason why it grew out of only one particular culture in human history, and even now is resisted by other cultural groups.

I take it, Bob, that you posted this before you read any of the comments by myself and others, about other cultures, of which, the Egyptians certainly predated the little Jewish shepherds, who were doing science.

RE: "Yes, the universe existed long before humans" - what has such an obvious statement like that to do with anything? Or was it a sudden realization, an epiphany, perhaps?

RE: "the question is what were the necessary ingredients in human culture and thought to cause the emergence of the idea of modern physical science?  There's a reason why it grew out of only one particular culture in human history" - are you really referring to the Judeo/Christian cullture? Really? And you really lack awareness of any other culture having developed science? Now I know you're joking --

Yeah, I'm getting a little snarky, but only because your comments are getting weaker and weaker.

From Prof Rob:

I'm not sure it makes it easier, @Pope.  Shamans and witch doctors and other folks who claim to be able to influence the spirits in pantheistic religions do a pretty good job of control, too.

I was thinking about wider-spread religions and political institutions, but that's a minor point. It seems we mostly agree, again. (I'm not here to demonize you for your current beliefs, but to challenge the more militant group-thinkers.)

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