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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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. 

"Why not?"

Why not for which part? If you want to pursue some signal, by all means I laud your inquisitiveness. It seems you will pursue that signal to, at best, reveal something that exceeds the scope of your perception. To some extent, this even seems parallel with cosmology in which we hit both observational and conceptual limitations. It may just be that the fundamental nature of our universe is beyond our ability to grasp, at the very least within our lifetimes.

But the thing about cosmology is that it doesn't make any assumptions that the aspects of our universe which fall beyond our purview really give a shit about fancy, pointed hats, tithing, what we do with our genitals, or humanity in general. If people do care about those things, they should be able to find reasons closer to home than dictates of hypothetical phenomena addressed by cosmology and theoretical physics.

To bring it back, all of the parts of your god which fall outside of your perspective cannot be accounted for. It seems, from a human perspective, that in that unaccounted space, anything is possible. Maybe there is a glimmer of a signal from some grand cosmic being, but how that truly fits in with the larger picture is a mystery. For every potentiality suggesting this signal is valid, there exists a potentiality that it is not. Reason and probability fail at this extreme. There is no need to make assumptions that this unaccounted space truly wants us to behave one way over another. 

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.)

No, the pope is not held to be infallible.

Of course he is, Robert. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican.

91 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

No, the pope is not the direct pipeline from God to Man.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican says he is essentially. The power to infallibly mind-meld with God is reserved exclusively for the Pope. The Pope in turn has absolute (one might say God-like) power over the Church-- which has no authority without the Pope's agreement-- to carry out the will of God, post mind-meld.

81 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. "The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head." This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church's very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

82 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."

83 "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."

No, the pope is not "inspiration personified."

Now this one I've never heard of. Perhaps Arch can elaborate.

None of that is what we Catholics actually teach or believe. I would join you in agreeing that those notions are completely silly. So would Pope Francis.

Yeah, they're all completely silly notions. Yet two out of three (at least) are what you Catholics teach and what you're supposed to believe as a Catholic, even if you don't. You just didn't know about them because you are ignorant as a Catholic. This in addition to being willfully ignorant and perpetually dishonest as an intellectual.

The Pope, on the other hand, surely does know about them. They are included in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which consists of "the infallible doctrinal definitions of the popes and ecumenical councils in the history of the Church".

I'm afraid you and Pope Frankie would be knocking heads over those two items at the next pancake breakfast, Bob.  Better keep it hush hush.

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