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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Oh, perhaps in the strictest sense, but I think that's probably shaving the distinction a bit fine.

Well, it's mostly just wanting to use words with their actual meanings. There is nothing so wrong with the colloquial usage of 'ritual' as in 'my morning ritual is coffee and reading the news', but you are now softening even the colloquial meaning. A ritual is not just any activity which has a set format.

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.

The rituals are human inventions, just as scientific practices are human inventions. 

This isn't a point of contention. It never was. It's not wrong, just specious. 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.

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

If God is an angry ethereal wombat he can choose to send his lackey Phil to meet you in the ritual.
If God is the supreme sneaky Leprechaun, he can trick you into thinking he met you in the ritual while simply distracting you from searching out his penultimate point of gold.

Problematically, your 'if' is unresolvable as long as you are talking about an entity the scope of which exceeds human perception.

 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.

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

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.

No one needs to replace the current theories to reject them. There is no 'must'. Sometimes the correct answer is "I don't know". But the term atheism has more cultural significance than philosophical for many. In a society where theism is quite common, and even prevalent, I have a term to denote that a theist is what I am not. Furthermore, atheism' is the antithesis of 'theism' which itself is not a philosophy. It is a singular statement of belief on the existence of one or more deities/ deistic concepts. there are many philosophies which fall beneath theism, but they are not all unified and compatible. The same is more or less true for atheism.

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.

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. 

I never stated that it was necessary. It isn't. What I stated is that it serves a clear function, and that it is not a ritual.

Then the question would be whether you would believe the techniques of physical science are the proper tool to address all questions? 

Hypothetically, it could be though it is not necessarily the most efficient for all situations. I am not advocating that science be used for all things. I am stating that religion, as a tool for seeking knowledge, is no longer efficient.

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.

Thor, Zeus, electricity, Atman, Shiva, Krisna all have properties and all connect to the world as we experience it. People who ascribe to the belief that any of the preceding exist all live in the same world; they simply view it from a specific paradigm. That paradigm does not alter the nature of their experiences in this world or the benefits of exploring this world as it exists. The belief in Thor would not negate the productive benefits of harnessing electricity in lightbulbs. Now, there may be moral philosophy which cautions against certain material benefits or advancements, but this can occur in monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, deistic, panentheistic and even atheistic philosophies (and I am sure any others which I have missed). Conversely, adherents of all of those x-theistic categories have, in fact, sought to explore and improve their understanding of their naturalistic/ materialistic environment.

Worded differently, if Thor exists, Thor exists in a manner compatible with the world in which we live. 

That said, your reasoning on the 'correct thing to do' also applies to your deity. The correct thing to do if such a deity existed would be to entreat that deity for favourable conditions. People do this on a regular basis to your deity. It's usually called 'prayer'. The majority, I believe, do not do this entirely at the expense of material knowledge -- of science. A minority, however, does. Some even take it to the extreme and try to pray away disease while rejecting modern medicine, even if it kills them or their loved ones.

Under the assumption that there is a god governing the universe and that this god has a will or a plan, it's not entirely unreasonable to entrust one's fate entirely to that god. If you can explain why the minorities on either extreme of the equation and all of the shades of grey in between exist -- differing philosophies regarding the same god -- you can understand why it is more an issue of human nature than hard logic concerning how to treat material existence with regard to any deities or lack thereof.

Certainly.  However, even when the answer is "I don't know", we are faced with having to make decisions. 

And you make those decisions to the best of your ability based on what you do know. But would you care to guess how many times in life I have had to make practical decisions dealing with the origins and supreme nature of the universe, or what lies outside our current event horizon of observation?

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.

I am only me, not them.

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. 

You are mistaking the limit of technology at the time for a limit of the paradigm. The limit of exploration in the paradigm was never reached before the religious traditions where almost entirely crushed. We cannot speculate where that limit would have been. They did not create such a science, but at the time, no one had. There is no sound reason to speculate that the would not have as a matter of principle. Nothing in the theology precludes it.

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.

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