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 would like to ask, which conclusion you trust most, the discarding of pons&Fleishman or the miracle of Lourdes?  Why?

Pons & Fleichmann, because of the preference for falsification as a matter of philosophy and theology.  Establishing that something is not true can reasonably be definitive.  Establishing that something is true is always subject to qualification.

Robes, if you are referring to graduation gowns (or if anyone still wears it as such, academic dress), this is more to the point. It is a tradition which serves social and personal needs -- which is great --, but it has nothing to do with science. It is tradition, not philosophy, and that distinction is relevant.

Same with religious robes and funny hats.

Peer-review isn't ritualistic in the proper sense of the term, that is to say it is not a rite. It is a functional aspect of research which has a clear and known purpose in advancing knowledge, albeit even if imperfectly.

Oh, perhaps in the strictest sense, but I think that's probably shaving the distinction a bit fine.  Marriage has a clear and known purpose for advancing social order, albeit imperfectly, but it's also a ritual.  Publishing and peer review is similar, especially given modern advances like the prepress servers.

I agree that this is a facet of religion; however, it is an antiquated and inefficient structure for setting about describing the universe.

It depends what aspects of the universe you wish to describe.  We adapt the methods and structures to the questions that face us, but the philosophy is quite similar.

I'm all for it, but do it because you have a personal reason to do it; there isn't any reliable means to determine whether your deity wants you to or not.

Ah!  I think I'll agree here.  I certainly wouldn't ascribe "want" to Deity in the way you do, for sure.  The bigger point is that religion is a human endeavor, the way science is a human endeavor.  Religion is not God any more than science is the Universe.   The rituals are human inventions, just as scientific practices are human inventions. 

If God is actually a personal and caring, then God can choose to meet us in the ritual.

Polytheistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic religions are not typically anything goes

I wasn't claiming that they were.  I was simply pointing out that if you don't believe that the world is governed by universal law, there's no point in going out and trying to figure out what the universal laws are.   Philosophical constructs or paradigms are much higher barriers to the development of new knowledge than you seem to think they are.

It's not a philosophy in itself

Fair enough, but then atheism really isn't a useful construct at all.  To replace an existing widely held theory, one must propose an alternate theory, not simply complain about the shortcomings of the current one.

Marriage is a contract -- a bond; a wedding is a rite. Weddings are nice and they serve a purpose, but they aren't necessary for marriage.

I agree completely.  For us, marriage is the sacrament.  Wedding is the ritual by which the community recognizes the sacrament.   The ritual is not required for the sacrament to be valid.   I was speaking of marriage, not weddings.

The point with respect to peer review and publication is that it's not required for the scientific process any more than a wedding is required for sacrament of marriage.  We can disseminate findings and results for others to check without Journals.  In fact, in the physics community just about everyone reads things on the prepress servers (ArXiv) these days.

A toothpick is a tool of human invention. A jackhammer is also a tool of human invention. I would never try to use a toothpick to tear up a street or a jackhammer to pick spinach out of my teeth.

Then the question would be whether you would believe the techniques of physical science are the proper tool to address all questions?  Wouldn't that be that the same sort of "If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" sort of thing?

Let me rephrase my original point: pantheistic deities still exist within a universal structure to which there is some set of universal law.

I'm not sure you've demonstrated that at all.  A lot of the polytheistic religions seem to have physical phenomenon that behave rather arbitrarily based on the volitional whims of various deities (Zeus's lightning, Thor's thunder, etc.).  If you believe that Zeus is causing lightning then there's no reason you would ever look for any underlying natural law which governs electricity.   The same applies to pantheism; rather than look for a natural law, the correct thing to do within that paradigm is to experiment with how to commune with or manipulate the forest spirits.

No one needs to replace the current theories to reject them. There is no 'must'. Sometimes the correct answer is "I don't know".

Certainly.  However, even when the answer is "I don't know", we are faced with having to make decisions.  True adherence to "I don't know" is paralyzing.   At best, one continues by inertia with the basic premises of the theory which was rejected, because that's all there is to go on until an alternate theory is proposed.  At worst, we just make emotionally driven decisions.

If you look at the text of many of the folks here, there's an awful lot of emotionally-driven stuff in their writing.   There's also a lot of latent Christianity retained by cultural inertia.

Conversely, adherents of all of those x-theistic categories have, in fact, sought to explore and improve their understanding of their naturalistic/ materialistic environment.

Only within the limits of their paradigm.  You are imputing modern concepts of exploration and understanding to pre-modern peoples.   Vikings would certainly use lightbulbs, if provided.  Vikings would not (and did not) develop a science of electricity.

The anthropologists tell us that paradigmatic views are remarkably difficult to overcome.  Even today, despite all of the advances of western medicine, many cultures (and many people here in the U.S.) still practice every variety of "traditional" medicine and other quackery.  That's with knowledge readily available and evidence often before their eyes.

What we're talking about for ancient polytheists is a culture where even the idea that such knowledge of the world was possible did not exist. 

Do you by any chance mean the ancient polytheistic Greeks, who determined very nearly exactly, the diameter of the earth?

our gallant trojan horse visitor appears to be merely ruining your precious summer...

Somehow I am able to enjoy the both of you, and most others as well! I am also noticing how easily some of we of little faith get blown off topic. But not lost forever. And often gifted, even if conspicuously so.

Speaking of off topic, I spent $175 on gas last week riding my motorcycle add to that the cost of burning thru a rear tire every 2500 miles, my effort to find Nirvana in the twisties is sure adding up.

@uldis, I wish I were on your boat!   Stuck here dealing with grant applications.  Our National Science Foundation has been tied in knots by the budget battles, and is only now shaking things out it seems, with a rush before the end of the government fiscal year.   A sailboat would be delightful.

Folks, can we for a moment imagine someone who lives happily and is predominantly good to those around him and manages to do so without a god (or the god). If the above were true at least in my case, then faith is irrelevant, insignificant, - a mere triviality.

I can certainly imagine folks like what you describe. I am blessed to know a good number. 

I don't think the second bit follows, however.  The people I knew, and I suspect you as well, all grew up in cultures that were largely religious, at least historically.  They were probably surrounded by religious language, watching movies and reading books from The Matrix to Harry Potter with predominantly religiously derived themes, in nations where not just the laws themselves but the system of laws have religious roots.

It's a bit like growing up on a boat being sailed by others across the ocean, arriving at a certain spot, jumping off the boat and saying "look at this nice swimming hole, boats are trivial!".  You're right.  For you, in that spot, right then, boats are trivial. 

To go further, to have a spot to rest when it gets dark, for sustenance and shelter when you're done swimming, though, perhaps a boat is still useful.

RE: "They were probably surrounded by religious language, watching movies and reading books from The Matrix to Harry Potter with predominantly religiously derived themes" - not untrue.

Fortunately for us, movies like "The Ten Commandments," "The Robe" and, "The Greatest Story Ever Told," evolved into, as you say, the "Matrix" and "Harry Potter" series. Also fortunately, we evolved as well, from believing that Noah sailed the ocean blue in BC three thousand and forty two, to the warm, charming and affable folks you find before you today.

Ta daaaa --!

I think it's more spin-offs.  We've had spin-offs forever.  Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Tolkein, etc.  J.K. Rowling is just one of the more recent and more fun.

I'll agree, though, that we humans are slowly learning over the centuries.  Or at least I hope we we are.   Besides, who wants to sail around on a boat with a bunch of pairs of odd, stinky animals?

RE: "who wants to sail around on a boat with a bunch of pairs of odd, stinky animals?" - I suppose that depends on how long they can tread water.

All this establishes is that religion is a sufficient but not necessary for the development of science.

I think it's the other way around, @terrence.  Necessary, but not sufficient.  One has to believe in stable natural law before one goes to look for it.

Ironically, the Crusades may also have been necessary, or at least instrumental.  It seems that the introduction of Arabic ideas to Europe as a result of the Crusades certainly spurred things along, from the re-introduction of Aristotle to the conversion to Arabic numerals.



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