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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The T-shirt's not bad either --

Gallup: Now that last part about being subject to evidence is a surprise, although I know it's crap (because it's always crap) but I'll take you up on it anyway. Let's see the evidence for your notion that there is a God. And now silence will reign, or bullshit will reign, or evasion will reign; anything but the evidence. Because those are the real Catholic/Christian notions.

Robert: Yes, including being subject to evidence and argument, which is a bit different than being dependent on evidence and argument. [Blah blah blah blah blah....] God is too big to be knowable in that sort of definitive way. 

Translation: You were right, Gallup. That part about evidence? It's crap. There is no evidence! Not a tattered scrap of it!  But letting silence reign is embarrassing-- I'm doing it an awful lot these days-- so I went with a mixture of 85% bullshit and 15% evasion. God is soooooooooo big, we don't neeeeeed evidence. Ta-dahhhhhh! ***Bats eyelashes***

The notion of falsification in Catholic conciliar theology predates the notion of falsification in modern science.  I don't know that anyone has done any scholarship with respect to the connection.  Quite possibly both derive from Jewish rabbinical literature, though certainly there are echoes in other philosophical writings, like the Socratic dialogs.

Translation: Okay Gallup, I admit it. That part about "those are Catholic/Christian notions"? I made it up. 

I do remember Pons and Fleischmann.  In fact, like many of us, I was part of a group that immediately tried to replicate the work (and was enormously annoyed that insufficient details were forthcoming).  In some ways it was good that the thing didn't work, because we were all being a bit sloppy about neutron shielding.

What you're not really understanding is that the appearance of Mary to a French peasant girl is not really a change-the-world-forever sort of claim.  In fact, it's not in any way central to our faith.   We do dispatch investigators to such things, including scientists and psychologists, because in most cases it's just people being nutters.  There is a need for skeptics, for what we jokingly call devil's advocates. 

Where I think you're running off the rails a bit is in your desire to compare things with experimental physical science.   Experimental physical science and its techniques answer a very limited set of questions, just because most phenomenon aren't easily isolated in a laboratory.   We're closer to ecology or geology or astrophysics or the social sciences.  The interesting stuff we have to puzzle out from observations where we don't have the ability to replicate or experiment, and where effects occur in longer time scales than subatomic interactions.

Hinduism and Judaism are both older religions, but I was speaking of some things that were somewhat unique to Catholicism.   That's a weak claim, though; the early Church and rabbinic Judaism had an awful lot in common.

RE: "the early Church and rabbinic Judaism had an awful lot in common." - I've little doubt that's true, with controlling the populace and pocketing as much of their money as possible, positioned quite near the top of their common agenda lists.

RE: "There is a need for skeptics, for what we jokingly call devil's advocates." - we tend to jokingly call them rational people.

No, rationality is an orthogonal construct.  The Devil's Advocate is a role or a job.

But being rational people can BE a role or a job, but thank you for the input, Mr. Webster --

LOL.  Not Webster.  Perhaps Dictionary of Catholic Terminology.  Advocatus diaboli is a job - the assigned skeptics at a claim of miracle or sainthood, who are given the task to disprove the claim.

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?


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