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Scientific analysis of religion...possible?





Bikerman
There is a generally held belief that religion and science are different and that neither can comment usefully about the other.
This view was formalised in the notion of the 'Nonoverlapping Magisteria' (Steven J Gould)


I want to challenge that notion. I think that religion can indeed be examined by, and perhaps explained by, science. It must surely be possible to examine the possible roots of religion, and it should also be possible to see what, in psychological and psysiological terms, is 'going on' in the mind of a religious person and compare/contrast that with that of a non-religious person.
I don't accept that religion is somehow different from other facets of human behaviour, and I certainly don't accept that it is so different that science is useless as a tool to further examine it.

The person who best reflects my own opinions on this matter is the philosopher Daniel Dennett and I am currently reading his latest book on this subject - Breaking the Chains.
Here is Dennett talking about the book and the issue in general:

LittleBlackKitten
Science, like religion, is a theory. You can no more prove your beliefs than I can. The basic idea that anything can be "proven" is a myth - and so, it is safe to assume that BOTH are right, that EVERYONE is right, should they chose to believe it - sort of like with the various theories on how the earth and universe came to be. It is all about personal truth and personal right, not one right or one truth for everyone. So, yes, Chris, you're right; so is everyone else.
Bikerman
No. Science consists of theories which contain laws. Those laws can be proved to work - we simply setup an experiment and watch the results.
I can use scientific theory to tell you many things about your world which are correct - not arguably right but simply right. The whole of the technology you are currently using is dependant upon that simple fact.

The notion of personal truth is a non-starter. If someone believes that they have superpowers then we don't take that seriously, we try to show them the error in their thinking and, in extreme cases, we lock them up for their own safety.
A person can well believe whatever they wish to believe, but that doesn't make their belief correct - or even sensible. If a person believes, for example, that the world is a few thousand years old, then they are simply wrong.
LittleBlackKitten
As with religion can I use religious theory to prove to you WHY some of the things I believe are accurate - as with my own personal truth.

For instance, the golden rule , "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - debatably the most known bible verse in the world - is an accurate analysis of basic human to human interaction, and is scientifically backed, in the psychological world. If someone is mean to you, it inspires you to be mean to them; same with kindness, hatred, anger, debate, love, everything. USUALLY. Sometimes people are strange and respond with hate when presented with kindness, but those people are generally insecure and off their rocker. The Golden Rule as a theory has base in social sciences, psychological sciences, and is a RELIGIOUS statement that means to treat everyone else how you yourself would want them to treat you. It's not arguable in the sense that most of the time, it works - like much of science.

Science and religion CAN explain each other, when we have all the data, and all of the facts. We do not, however, have all the facts in EITHER realm. There are things that science cannot explain and does not understand - the same goes for religion, and what individuals believe.

For instance, those that believe in spiritualism; talking to/feeling/sensing ghosts, the power of incense, the power of the psychic mind - these things have no scientific backing at all - but for the individuals that believe it, it is true - and science cannot explain those that can, have, do, and will speak to spirits, sense things, and know things, because science doesn't know everything there is to know about the spiritual realm to the same level they know about, say, plants, or house pets.

A hundred years ago, if you told science that we would discover a type of carbon which has a tensile strength of 63 gigapascals, which basically equates to the ability to endure tension of a weight equivalent to 6422 kg on a cable with cross-section of 1 mm2, (referring of course to nano carbon) which is lighter than aluminum, with almost NO friction with itself as a core, that has a diamond hardness of 462–546 GPa, surpassing the value of 420 GPa for diamond, you would have been laughed at and told to get out. However, this carbon DOES exist, and is not terribly expensive.

My point is this; Science and Religion CAN explain eachother, and people DO have personal truths - I believe completely in many things from the psychic realm; I wager you do not. I have witnessed proof; you likely have witnessed proof that it does NOT exist. TO you, your truth is that it does not exist; to me, mine is that it does, and neither of us can successfully argue with the other.
Bikerman
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
As with religion can I use religious theory to prove to you WHY some of the things I believe are accurate - as with my own personal truth.

For instance, the golden rule , "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - debatably the most known bible verse in the world - is an accurate analysis of basic human to human interaction, and is scientifically backed, in the psychological world. If someone is mean to you, it inspires you to be mean to them; same with kindness, hatred, anger, debate, love, everything. USUALLY. Sometimes people are strange and respond with hate when presented with kindness, but those people are generally insecure and off their rocker. The Golden Rule as a theory has base in social sciences, psychological sciences, and is a RELIGIOUS statement that means to treat everyone else how you yourself would want them to treat you. It's not arguable in the sense that most of the time, it works - like much of science.
No it isn't a religious statement at all. The Golden rule existed long before Christianity or Judaism - it is the basis of reciprocal altruism in biology. It is found in many non-theistic forms of thought - including secular humanism. The fact that some religions include it doesn't mean that it originates with religion - it doesn't.
Quote:
Science and religion CAN explain each other, when we have all the data, and all of the facts. We do not, however, have all the facts in EITHER realm. There are things that science cannot explain and does not understand - the same goes for religion, and what individuals believe.
I cannot see how religion can explain science - in fact it doesn't seem to explain anything much.
Quote:
For instance, those that believe in spiritualism; talking to/feeling/sensing ghosts, the power of incense, the power of the psychic mind - these things have no scientific backing at all - but for the individuals that believe it, it is true - and science cannot explain those that can, have, do, and will speak to spirits, sense things, and know things, because science doesn't know everything there is to know about the spiritual realm to the same level they know about, say, plants, or house pets.
Science does not explain them for the simple reason that they are bogus. There are no ghosts and there is no 'psychic mind'. Everyone who claims to have psychic powers is free to demonstrate those powers. Those that have tried, failed. Without exception.
Quote:
A hundred years ago, if you told science that we would discover a type of carbon which has a tensile strength of 63 gigapascals, which basically equates to the ability to endure tension of a weight equivalent to 6422 kg on a cable with cross-section of 1 mm2, (referring of course to nano carbon) which is lighter than aluminum, with almost NO friction with itself as a core, that has a diamond hardness of 462–546 GPa, surpassing the value of 420 GPa for diamond, you would have been laughed at and told to get out. However, this carbon DOES exist, and is not terribly expensive.
That simply proves that science progresses. Any scientist who said it was impossible would have been speaking unscientifically - and I doubt any materials scientist would have said any such thing. I have no doubt that the coming years will witness developments that we cannot even guess at. They will be developed using the scientific method.
Actually I don't think it would have been too shocking to scientists from a century ago. The structure of the atom was already being understood, and all a carbon tubule is in reality is a C-60 arrangement of carbon atoms (sometimes called after Buckminster Fullerine who invented the Geodesic dome). They would certainly have been surprised by the technology used to 'grow' the tubules but the basic science was fairly well known.
Quote:
My point is this; Science and Religion CAN explain eachother, and people DO have personal truths - I believe completely in many things from the psychic realm; I wager you do not. I have witnessed proof; you likely have witnessed proof that it does NOT exist. TO you, your truth is that it does not exist; to me, mine is that it does, and neither of us can successfully argue with the other.
Yes, I can easily argue the case that such phenomena do not exist.
a) All cases which have been tested (and there are thousands) show that there is nothing to explain.
b) Anyone who had such powers could easily have claimed $1 million from James Randi for demonstrating them. Many tried, all failed.
c) No reliable evidence exists for any such phenomena. All we have is obviously doctored photographs and personal testimony. There is not one scrap of independantly verifiable evidence.
d) On the other hand we have perfectly reasonable alternative explanations for most, if not all, of these paranormal phenomena that don't require some mystic force or some contradiction of the known laws of physics.

Religion cannot explain science because religion is not equipped to do so. Religion has, at the core, the necessity for faith (belief without, or in spite of evidence). Faith is anathema to science.
Any scientific explanation or model (theory) will be able to make predictions which can be checked. i cannot think of a single prediction that can be made, using any religion, that can be checked....can you?

Here's a useful little video on how to spot baloney:
The-Nisk
What's the point of scientifically analyzing religion? It's the same as scientifically analyzing irrationality, which would yield similar results, which is time wasted in most cases.

If we're talking about looking at why people feel the need to indulge in religion you will find nothing which would warrant anything other than simple deduction. The great majority of people who are deeply religious are either:

a) poorly educated.
b) lacking in intelligence (which follows nicely from A).
c) live in conditions where blind hope and insanity is close to being the only viable methods of coping with life, religion being the juncture of both evils. (and you will find this point can also develop nicely from A & B).
d) idiots.

Delusion on a small scale is called insanity, on a large scale it's called a religion. A mass believed lie doesn't seize to be what it is, a lie. And it's about time religion lost it's fluffy self-proclaimed immunity from rationality and logic.
Bikerman
Well firstly knowledge is always good in my opinion.
Secondly there is more to it than you say. If it were just ignorance then one would not see very intelligent people with religious faith - yet we do. One would also expect religion to decline rapidly over the 20th century and yet whilst that may be true in much of Europe it isn't true of the US and some other Western countries.
There is a good reason to believe that religion has evolutionary roots and therefore must have offered a survival advantage at one stage in our development. Analysing this will tell us much more than we currently know about memes and how/why they survive.
Ankhanu
I suppose I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the idea is to test the claims of religion. Let's put it frankly, every religion claims some pretty crazy stuff, and asks/expects that it be simply accepted by its adherents… The idea here is, "can we test these claims" and "are these different vantage points compatible or comparable".

Personally, I think these are rather valid questions. Religion tends to aim towards the "why" of things, while science tends to look at the "how", which may then infer onto the "why". A lot that is presented in religion has been explained by science, though there are aspects that simply do not fall into the "how" realm. The majority of the wacky claims, as Bikerman has said, have been debunked already… but they can maintain some metaphor value. If religions are to adhere to claims concerning the nature of reality, reality had better back them up, or why hold on to the dream?

Nisk, your comments on why people are religious are really off the mark. While they may be true in some individuals, it's really narrow and unfair to believe this of all/most; it's way too simplistic (sometimes Occam's Razor doesn't work). In fact it seems more trolling than anything else.

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
Science, like religion, is a theory. You can no more prove your beliefs than I can. The basic idea that anything can be "proven" is a myth - and so, it is safe to assume that BOTH are right, that EVERYONE is right, should they chose to believe it - sort of like with the various theories on how the earth and universe came to be. It is all about personal truth and personal right, not one right or one truth for everyone. So, yes, Chris, you're right; so is everyone else.


This is a hideous cop-out, in my opinion. Given two (or more) points of view, it does not automatically follow that both are equal. Both exist, yes, but one may hold more true with the nature of reality than the other, making them inequal. It is possible that each has equal weight, though it is generally unlikely... it's also possible that both are completely wrong... which I suppose would also make them equal.

Personal truth is only useful for one thing, a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Once you're done with that, you've still gotta face reality. Personal truth means jack in the face of, well, truth Razz

Personal truth is a simple admission; "I don't really want to think about it, so I'll take the pretty one".
The-Nisk
Bikerman wrote:
If it were just ignorance then one would not see very intelligent people with religious faith - yet we do.


Unfortunately I have never met anyone who's highly intelligent and religious at the same time. Actually, I have. What's really interesting however is that their intelligence and their faith doesn't seem to have much in common. By that I mean that their argument was just as flawed as the next, less gifted persons. The reason for that seems quite simple, you can't use logic to defend faith. The only thing they have going for their 'faith' is their stubbornness. They do a peculiar thing, they set aside their logic when it comes to faith, nay blatantly ignore it. They allow it to be a subject that's immune to criticism and they probably don't even realize they're doing it. The reasons for that could be many, being born into a religion is highly likely one of them.

Bikerman wrote:

One would also expect religion to decline rapidly over the 20th century and yet whilst that may be true in much of Europe it isn't true of the US and some other Western countries.


Well unfortunately I will have to disagree here, while in the eastern states of Europe are mostly religion free, there's been an a huge migration of religious minorities into western Europe. These minorities are now anything but. Now I'm as discriminant to any one religion as to the next, but I won't hide my general opinion that Islam is rather nuts, when compared to their religions today. Unfortunately it is indeed Islam that is spreading through the western Europe like wildfire, especially in countries where the government is lax with it's spending on citizen Welfare.

Now is a good time to address what point I can already see aimed my way, no I'm not a racist. I discriminate only based on intelligence. It so happens that Islam is by far the best example of how bad and irrational religion can get, and I consider religion to be irrational to begin with. I can already sense the good old mention that I'm using rude generalization based on biased media etc. True enough to a point, I find that people who hold on to their religion despite the atrocities that are committed in it's name - disturbing. Now, Christians can be pesky at times to say the least, but the majority of them do not take religion alarmingly seriously, can the same be said for an average Muslim? Not the least worthy of mention is that while Christian fiction books are appalling at best and I don't know how good principles or morality can be taught from something with such roots, in comparison Islam seems much worse. Countries under Muslim rule seem anything but barbaric. Feel free to give counter examples, I'm quite sure I can find more examples. To me Islam today is what Christianity used to be - uneducated and barbaric. And it's all fine and lovely for us western people to say "everyone has a right to free speech and to express their belief", but some people do not view religion as something harmless or unimportant which can be just left to it's own devices, other people will use that innocent belief to their advantage to propagate their religion (I almost wrote down rule) and gain even greater following. I'm all for free speech, but I'm all against religion in any shape or form. It's a tochy topic to get myself into, with all that western philosophy of peoples rights, but here's the thing, it's no accident it's western, and I know I caught you out reading this sentence and having no objection that this ideology is attributed as to having been founded in the west. I would like to believe in human rights and say I'm fine with people believing what they will, no harm done. But, some people would abuse that right and if these people are in large numbers, whoever they are, a lot of harm can be done. Especially if they preach ignorance and lack of morals, disguise it how they please.

Bikerman wrote:

There is a good reason to believe that religion has evolutionary roots and therefore must have offered a survival advantage at one stage in our development. Analysing this will tell us much more than we currently know about memes and how/why they survive.


Again, seems like very basic things to answer. Religion gave people an imagined thing to have in common, community building aiding the survival - I'm sure you'll agree. The same imagined unity allowed for battles to be fought in order to protect the "values and principles" of the tribe or whatever. On a more individual level - weak people need something to believe or dedicate their lives to, false hope is amazing at allowing people to cope with hardships and things they can't comprehend or make sense of. It's curious in a way that peoples need to rationalize things is what gives rise to religion, or irrationality if you will. Religion being a replacement for an actual explanation. But lets not forget fear, one of the basic instincts, some people are just afraid to live a realistic life which might not have a higher purpose.

It's pathetic. But only half as pathetic as what now is an expected respect for such foolishness. There are better, more dignified and certainly more mature survival mechanisms than making up an imaginary friend to listen to all your hardships - that's what kids do.

@Ankhanu it's simplistic because I wasted enough time on debating religion, on this forum alone, and wanted to avoid any further such activities, feel free to judge how successful I was. I would ask you to desist from calling my claims simplistic, if they appear so, I assure you it is because I felt at ease to leave them as such in the belief that other members of the forum came to respect my level of intelligence to some degree, thus making overly exhaustive responses unnecessary. Also, any hints at lack of thought behind them or the simplicity of my condition could spark a rather court and perhaps provocative response from me, some days more likely than others Smile
Bikerman
The-Nisk wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
If it were just ignorance then one would not see very intelligent people with religious faith - yet we do.


Unfortunately I have never met anyone who's highly intelligent and religious at the same time. Actually, I have. What's really interesting however is that their intelligence and their faith doesn't seem to have much in common. By that I mean that their argument was just as flawed as the next, less gifted persons. The reason for that seems quite simple, you can't use logic to defend faith. The only thing they have going for their 'faith' is their stubbornness. They do a peculiar thing, they set aside their logic when it comes to faith, nay blatantly ignore it. They allow it to be a subject that's immune to criticism and they probably don't even realize they're doing it. The reasons for that could be many, being born into a religion is highly likely one of them.

Well, I was educated by Salesians and Jesuits and some of the smartest people I have known were amongst them...
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Well unfortunately I will have to disagree here, while in the eastern states of Europe are mostly religion free, there's been an a huge migration of religious minorities into western Europe. These minorities are now anything but. Now I'm as discriminant to any one religion as to the next, but I won't hide my general opinion that Islam is rather nuts, when compared to their religions today. Unfortunately it is indeed Islam that is spreading through the western Europe like wildfire, especially in countries where the government is lax with it's spending on citizen Welfare.

Well, that can be tested.
Most Western European countries have muslim populations of between 2 and 4%. France is historically high because of the North Africa connection (Algiers in particular) at about 9.5%. The Muslim population in Europe has doubled over the last 34 years.
Quote:
Now is a good time to address what point I can already see aimed my way, no I'm not a racist. I discriminate only based on intelligence. It so happens that Islam is by far the best example of how bad and irrational religion can get, and I consider religion to be irrational to begin with. I can already sense the good old mention that I'm using rude generalization based on biased media etc. True enough to a point, I find that people who hold on to their religion despite the atrocities that are committed in it's name - disturbing. Now, Christians can be pesky at times to say the least, but the majority of them do not take religion alarmingly seriously, can the same be said for an average Muslim? Not the least worthy of mention is that while Christian fiction books are appalling at best and I don't know how good principles or morality can be taught from something with such roots, in comparison Islam seems much worse. Countries under Muslim rule seem anything but barbaric. Feel free to give counter examples, I'm quite sure I can find more examples. To me Islam today is what Christianity used to be - uneducated and barbaric. And it's all fine and lovely for us western people to say "everyone has a right to free speech and to express their belief", but some people do not view religion as something harmless or unimportant which can be just left to it's own devices, other people will use that innocent belief to their advantage to propagate their religion (I almost wrote down rule) and gain even greater following. I'm all for free speech, but I'm all against religion in any shape or form. It's a tochy topic to get myself into, with all that western philosophy of peoples rights, but here's the thing, it's no accident it's western, and I know I caught you out reading this sentence and having no objection that this ideology is attributed as to having been founded in the west. I would like to believe in human rights and say I'm fine with people believing what they will, no harm done. But, some people would abuse that right and if these people are in large numbers, whoever they are, a lot of harm can be done. Especially if they preach ignorance and lack of morals, disguise it how they please.
I don't think you are racist (being against a religion isn't racism in any case). I agree to some extent that Islam is a potential danger.
Quote:
Again, seems like very basic things to answer. Religion gave people an imagined thing to have in common, community building aiding the survival - I'm sure you'll agree. The same imagined unity allowed for battles to be fought in order to protect the "values and principles" of the tribe or whatever. On a more individual level - weak people need something to believe or dedicate their lives to, false hope is amazing at allowing people to cope with hardships and things they can't comprehend or make sense of. It's curious in a way that peoples need to rationalize things is what gives rise to religion, or irrationality if you will. Religion being a replacement for an actual explanation. But lets not forget fear, one of the basic instincts, some people are just afraid to live a realistic life which might not have a higher purpose.
No, actually the picture is much more complicated.
Dennett proposes that religion arises from a stance towards the word that looks for intention in events and creatures. There are three basic stances - Physical (you work out the physics of how something works), Design (you assume it is designed and infer the purpose from the design), and Intentionality (you assume that the creature has an intent).
Physical is the slowest and most thorough. Design is a shortcut and Intentionality is the ultimate shortcut.
Thus, neolithic man meets sabre tooth tigre.
Physical - it has long teeth and sharp claws. I must measure how.....(gobble)
Design - those teeth and claws look designed to kill and rend, maybe I had better think about...(gobble)
Intentionality - this bugger intends to eat me - I'm off.

Obviously the intentionality stance offers a potential survival advantage and is therefore selected for.
Dennett proposes that this then misfires so our hero begins to assign intent to other things - thunder, floods, poor harvest, victory in a battle with another tribe....and so on.
From there it is a short step to religion.
The interesting questions are around how religion survives. What combinations of memes work best. Clearly you want some exclusivity but you also want to be recruiting new members. By learning what combinations of memes successful religion uses we can learn a lot about psychology and possibly useful stuff about how to make cultures/societies work better.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
Nisk, your comments on why people are religious are really off the mark. While they may be true in some individuals, it's really narrow and unfair to believe this of all/most; it's way too simplistic (sometimes Occam's Razor doesn't work). In fact it seems more trolling than anything else.
Well put Ankhanu. The majority of Muslims themselves are very peaceful people, and I can't see them making war against those who use their religion in vain. Maybe I'm just lucky where I am, because I move in the right circles, but as an obvious Christian to them, I've only been treated with the greatest of respect, including most of the time finding similarities between the two religions. I think a lot of the misperceptions could be due to cultural and language barriers between the West and the Middle East as well. However as the countries in the Middle East are becoming more sophisticated, communication is becoming better, and many of these misunderstandings are even openly investigated in Public Seminars. For example with the Denmark Mohamed Cartoons incident there were intellectual Muslims who invited expats to Seminars to explain to them exactly what upset them about the Cartoons. I did not have a chance to attend the Seminars and in retrospect wish I had made more time.
Bikerman
I know many Muslims and have (or had) a good friend in that faith. This does not, however, change the fact that when the Salman Rushdie affair was in full swing the streets of Britain were full of Muslims calling for him to be killed and offering themselves to do it. These were not young hot-heads - this was nearly every muslim I talked to.
I am not anti-Islam. I think my record of postings on these forums demonstrates that quite conclusively. I have frequently defended Islam against attack from Christians and others. On the other hand it cannot be denied that Islam, has at the core, certain beliefs which are not compatible with Western democratic traditions of free speech. That is not to say that Islam is incompatible with such traditions, but it is to say that many - in fact I would say most - Muslims currently have beliefs which ARE incompatible with such traditions. Islam must, therefore, change, just as Christianity has been forced to change.
Yes, some Muslims ARE changing - as one might expect to happen naturally. Unfortunately many young Muslims have become radicalised by what they perceive as the injustices dealt-out by the UK, US and other western countries. That perception is not wrong either. THAT is the major problem facing Western democracies when trying to integrate Islam into the culture and it is one which has most certainly not been properly addressed yet.
jeffryjon
Let's give it a go and see. Question is, do you want the red pill or the blue pill Allis? Rolling Eyes
timothymartin
‎"Truth is truth. It cannot be changed. If it could, it would no longer be truth.

Truth never needs to be revised. Since it is true, it will work for one just the same as it will for another. It's True!

Facts cannot change truth. Truth changes facts. Circumstances can never change truth. Truth changes circumstances." - Kenneth Copeland


The lack of proof is not proof.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
I know many Muslims and have (or had) a good friend in that faith. This does not, however, change the fact that when the Salman Rushdie affair was in full swing the streets of Britain were full of Muslims calling for him to be killed and offering themselves to do it. These were not young hot-heads - this was nearly every muslim I talked to.
I am not anti-Islam. I think my record of postings on these forums demonstrates that quite conclusively. I have frequently defended Islam against attack from Christians and others. On the other hand it cannot be denied that Islam, has at the core, certain beliefs which are not compatible with Western democratic traditions of free speech. That is not to say that Islam is incompatible with such traditions, but it is to say that many - in fact I would say most - Muslims currently have beliefs which ARE incompatible with such traditions. Islam must, therefore, change, just as Christianity has been forced to change.
Yes, some Muslims ARE changing - as one might expect to happen naturally. Unfortunately many young Muslims have become radicalised by what they perceive as the injustices dealt-out by the UK, US and other western countries. That perception is not wrong either. THAT is the major problem facing Western democracies when trying to integrate Islam into the culture and it is one which has most certainly not been properly addressed yet.
A very small minority of the Muslims are of the kind you described above. Those who are peaceful Muslims don't fight them because they are peaceful. To say they are like that because they are changing is not correct either. There have been peaceful Muslims for a very long time. They have just not been noticed, as the noisy ones seem to get more of the attention.

I agree that there are many aspects of the culture that are incompatible with Western values, but then that is for the Muslims to work out themselves in their own countries. I respect their right to work things out on their own. For the rowdy ones in the West however, who are generally second generation Muslims I think there is a really great problem. With not a very simple solution. Not so sure how that can be resolved. On the one hand there are Muslims who have emigrated and are excellent citizens of their host countries, and have earned the right to be valued and respected citizens. But then there are Muslims who are misbehaving and regretfully those who are good citizens seem to be painted with the same mud. Hopefully there is an opportunity here for sorting things out, but when it is so difficult to recognize who the enemy is, when it is so easy to coerce even the peaceful Muslims into acts of terrorism, it gets into almost impossible territory. Tough one to solve.
Bikerman
It is not a very small minority. The leaders of Iran & Pakistan (amongst many others) called for Rushdie to be killed and there were huge shows of public support for that line - even here in the UK.
To pretend that this is some small minority is disingenuous.
You are in a unique position to test this. Simply put an article in your local newspaper saying something insulting about Mohammad and see how small the group of people is who come for you.

It is easy to be peaceful when nobody is saying things you object to. The test of free speech is to be peaceful when people say things you find offensive.
Indi
i gotta ask for clarification:

Scientific analysis of religious belief?
Or
Scientific analysis of religious beliefS?

Dennett's work is in the first case, i believe. (Dawkins's is in the second.)
Bikerman
Indi wrote:
i gotta ask for clarification:

Scientific analysis of religious belief?
Or
Scientific analysis of religious beliefS?

Dennett's work is in the first case, i believe. (Dawkins's is in the second.)

Good point.
Actually I would say both. I find the former to be more interesting, since the latter is an ever moving feast and ultimately runs into the 'faith' barrier. The former offers a way through that barrier....
Ankhanu
Indi wrote:
i gotta ask for clarification:

Scientific analysis of religious belief?
Or
Scientific analysis of religious beliefS?

Dennett's work is in the first case, i believe. (Dawkins's is in the second.)


I think your comparison is pretty fair/on target. Like Bikerman, I'm interested in both, but my reply clerly leaned closer to the former than the latter. Both are interesting topics, but I do enjoy the non-anthropocentric leaning of the latter than the almost entirely human former.
jeffryjon
First we would have to accurately define 'belief', 'religious', 'analysis', 'scientific', 'possible'

Just as a starting point, here's some suggestions gleaned from the origins of the words according to Oxford/Longman

Belief - related to lief/leave/pleasant/acceptable - we could say something that I can leave-be. I believe I can walk and therefore just leave it be - I never have to think about or consider the process unless I consciously choose to do so. Something we are sure is true (sure - free from care about - feeling secure in the accepted truth) (true - something that holds loyal, steadfast - (my addition>) - something the conscious mind can come to a (<end my addition) truce with.

Religious - following of religion - religion being an obligation of/to reverence. Obligation from oblige - 'towards being bound/tied' Reverence from revere - to perceive something as being able to express intensive force to the point it is feared.

Analysis - loosen, let free

Scientific - relating to/based on science. Science - from scientia (knowledge) from scire (know). Know - to recognize/identify/ken. Ken - make known/tell

Possible - from 'posse' (be able) from 'power'.

So the question already poses problems unless we get to a fixed definition. If we accept the above then it would Read:

"Do (I have the) power to know, loosen and let free (big-risk stuff), the obligation (commitment to which I am tied) to an almighty power that can/should be feared (reverence) to the point where I can just leave it be."

If we allow this definition of the thread title, it could lead to a great deal of self-questioning on both sides of the debate.
Bikerman
No, you are just playing the normal silly games with word definitions. Using historical etymology to define the current meaning of words is, as I have already said, unsound, since words change meaning over time.
Repeatedly doing it is misleading at best, dishonest at worst.

The words used are easily understood, and if there is any problem then use a dictionary.

Scientific - using the scientific method/relating to science.
Analysis - investigation of the components of a system or entity.
Religion - set of beliefs, normally involving supernatural entities, regarding the origin and purpose of the universe.
Possible - able to be done, or able to happen or able to exist.
Belief - cognition held to be true. Opinion or conviction.

Now, why is that difficult? It isn't. It is clear and I am willing to bet that nobody who read it would have any difficulty understanding what was meant, unless they had poor English.
jeffryjon
Bikerman wrote:
No, you are just playing the normal silly games with word definitions. Using historical etymology to define the current meaning of words is, as I have already said, unsound, since words change meaning over time.
Repeatedly doing it is misleading at best, dishonest at worst.

The words used are easily understood, and if there is any problem then use a dictionary.

Scientific - using the scientific method/relating to science.
Analysis - investigation of the components of a system or entity.
Religion - set of beliefs, normally involving supernatural entities, regarding the origin and purpose of the universe.
Possible - able to be done, or able to happen or able to exist.
Belief - cognition held to be true. Opinion or conviction.

Now, why is that difficult? It isn't. It is clear and I am willing to bet that nobody who read it would have any difficulty understanding what was meant, unless they had poor English.


This is the problem inherent with any proposal of this nature. On the one hand you're using the circle is a circle is a circle even if someone incorrectly calls it a square approach, yet with other things you're proposing a circle is a square if the majority have been taken off-track in their understanding. It's not silly at all. In the first instance, we're dealing predominantly with a subject that's been around for a long time and even the definitions of many words have changed in their modern interpretation - and this even with a language using the same name - ie in this case English. In the second instance many/most of these scripts are translations of ancient languages and our modern interpretation is at best open to misinterpretation. In the third instance we're dealing with cultural/religious mixes, often not based on the original texts upon which these religions rely. In the fourth instance, we have the distinct possibility that the texts were written to cater for an audience that had/has a very limited understanding of the proposed truths. In the fifth instance, we have parables and possibly coded writings that add meaning to a wide variety of circumstances. In the sixth instance, religions often have circles within circles of understanding with only the selected elite generally allowed to see what exists behind the publicly displayed claims. In addition to what I've just written, your chosen definitions don't vary so much from what I've written and that gleaned from sources that are held in high esteem.

Scientific - using the scientific method/relating to science, which is about knowing things.
Analysis - investigation of the components of a system or entity - unravelling of the truth - let loose - set free.
Religion - set of beliefs, normally involving supernatural entities, regarding the origin and purpose of the universe - all-powerful beliefs in that they have a profound effect on the believers
Possible - able to be done, or able to happen or able to exist - empowered
Belief - cognition held to be true. Opinion or conviction - an opinion is not necessarily a belief - opinions often change rapidly - beliefs are deeper entrenched perceptions, especially in cases relating to interpreting God.
Bikerman
It is silly.
We are not dealing with history - I am asking the question NOW using words with their CURRENT meaning.
Scientific does not mean knowing things. It is a way of doing something IN ORDER to know something.
Analysis does not mean set free or let loose.
Religion is not necessarily a set of ALL POWERFUL beliefs. Most religious people have other beliefs which over-ride their religious beliefs routinely. Beliefs like going to church is not so much fun. Neither do those beliefs necessarily have a profound effect on the religious person. Most Church of England people I know barely give their religion a thought. Most catholics I know DON'T KNOW what the central beliefs of the religion are.
Possible does not mean empowered.
Belief is not necessarily entrenched. Mine aren't. FAITH is entrenched generally.

Now, when you take all these misconstructions, however small, and add them together, what you get is a 'translation' of the original sentence which bears little relation to the original.

Quote:
On the one hand you're using the circle is a circle is a circle even if someone incorrectly calls it a square approach, yet with other things you're proposing a circle is a square if the majority have been taken off-track in their understanding.
No I am not. Truth in logic is entirely distinct from meaning in semantics. Language can be defined as a set of commonly agreed representations. Without common agreement it is babble. It relies on all parties agreeing that a certain word stands for a certain concept or entity. Logical and mathematical truths do not rely on ANYONE agreeing, since they are deductive.

It is a silly game as I can easily demonstrate:
religion - relegare "go through again, read again,"
Deity - dewos - Zeus
So,
Going though something again and again is a set of beliefs involving Zeus.
Is that congruent with religion is a set of beliefs involving a Deity? Of course it isn't.
jeffryjon
Quite like the talk by your Dennet fellow - lot of good points. As far as the words go, your argument is with the authors of dictionaries - not me.

Every scientific analysis is a process of moving forward from KNOWNS to establish whether or not more things can be KNOWN so that in turn more things can become KNOWN. Somewhere in the process needs to be at least one KNOWN.

So here's the situation as I see it. We can't use well researched dictionaries to see whether religion and the beliefs that go with it are falling away in certain parts of the world due to misinterpretations and misunderstanding that have happened because people no longer/never did understand certain words in the same way. We can however use science and define words pretty much exactly as we choose to serve our argument. What we're doing here is the same as some kid watching a black and white movie that makes reference to some people being gay and interpreting that as they were homosexual. I really can't see how any scientific research carried out on this basis can be any other than biased toward motive.

Frankly, a folklore observation seems to ring true here - when one points his finger at another and accuses him of being .......(in this case silly), he needs to notice that three fingers are pointing right back at him.

As far as using 'believers' as a reference, as Dennet says, how many believe religion and how many believe in religion and that's hard to establish. Do I believe in religion? Yes - only an idiot wouldn't - the alternative would be like saying "I don't believe in dogs". Your definition of religion by the way (religion - relegare "go through again, read again) means that science is also a religion.
Bikerman
You have missed Dennett's point completely.
He defines believing in religion in the positive sense - as in believing it is a good thing. Therefore it isn't a case of only an idiot not believing,...Did you watch the video? it is really clear what he is saying and I don't understand how you could mistake it...

The only person misunderstanding the lexicon is you. I know exactly what the words mean and so does pretty much anyone who actually WANTS to. The fact that they may have meant something else in historic times is entirely irrelevant.
I am not redefining ANY words to suit my argument - you are doing that. My definitions are the ones you will find in the dictionaries. I know what religion means and what scientific means. I know what was religion in previous times and what was scientific in previous times (not that it matters because I'm not asking about previous times).

Science isn't biased towards 'motive' because most of the time there is no motive and in any case the point of testing is to refute the hypothesis, not prove it. If a scientist has a particular motive and bends the results to fit then he is dishonest. He WILL be found out (experiments have to be repeated independently) and when he is his career is over. Look at the Cold Fusion saga for an exemplar.
jeffryjon
Bikerman wrote:
You have missed Dennett's point completely.
He defines believing in religion in the positive sense - as in believing it is a good thing. Therefore it isn't a case of only an idiot not believing,...Did you watch the video? it is really clear what he is saying and I don't understand how you could mistake it...

The only person misunderstanding the lexicon is you. I know exactly what the words mean and so does pretty much anyone who actually WANTS to. The fact that they may have meant something else in historic times is entirely irrelevant.
I am not redefining ANY words to suit my argument - you are doing that. My definitions are the ones you will find in the dictionaries. I know what religion means and what scientific means. I know what was religion in previous times and what was scientific in previous times (not that it matters because I'm not asking about previous times).

Science isn't biased towards 'motive' because most of the time there is no motive and in any case the point of testing is to refute the hypothesis, not prove it. If a scientist has a particular motive and bends the results to fit then he is dishonest. He WILL be found out (experiments have to be repeated independently) and when he is his career is over. Look at the Cold Fusion saga for an exemplar.


I understood Dennet's point exactly as it was said and I never intimated at all that SCIENCE was biased toward motive. What I said was obviously a reference toward what you're trying to do.

Quote:
So here's the situation as I see it. We can't use well researched dictionaries to see whether religion and the beliefs that go with it are falling away in certain parts of the world due to misinterpretations and misunderstanding that have happened because people no longer/never did understand certain words in the same way. We can however use science and define words pretty much exactly as we choose to serve our argument. What we're doing here is the same as some kid watching a black and white movie that makes reference to some people being gay and interpreting that as they were homosexual. I really can't see how any scientific research carried out on this basis can be any other than biased toward motive.


Chris, I'm up for any balanced assessment of religion and the beliefs that stem from it (including the nonsense that arises in most cases). I'm also supportive of Dennet's suggestions of the power of hypnosis and how religion may have been used in that way - and successfully. I'll even support the possibility that the hypnosis wasn't always used for the benefit of the recipients. You seem to think I'm childishly playing with words in order to counter any arguments made - I'm not. To use your words - I want to keep it real, which means not ignoring the facts as they occurred and in the context that they occurred. Personally I believe a religion will either evolve with the finding of new evidence or devolve into superstitious nonsense if we leave books in their current form and don't take into account the possibilities that our understanding of what was said (and supposedly written with precision) may be different to how we understand the sentences now. It's easy to see, even in this forum, how what we write is interpreted differently by the readers and in these cases often less than an hour has passed.
Bikerman
jeffryjon wrote:
I understood Dennet's point exactly as it was said
Well in that case how could you interpret it as follows:
Quote:
As far as using 'believers' as a reference, as Dennet says, how many believe religion and how many believe in religion and that's hard to establish. Do I believe in religion? Yes - only an idiot wouldn't - the alternative would be like saying "I don't believe in dogs".
That is not at all what he said.
Quote:
and I never intimated at all that SCIENCE was biased toward motive. What I said was obviously a reference toward what you're trying to do.
What you said was:
Quote:
I really can't see how any scientific research carried out on this basis can be any other than biased toward motive.
'This basis' being the apparent ambiguity in my title. But the words in the title of this thread are clear and unambiguous. You have tried to make them ambiguous by providing misleading and wrong definitions. I am pretty sure that nobody else has any difficulty understanding what they mean.
In more explicit words:
can we apply scientific methods and principles to trying to understand religion (both in terms of individual religions and belief systems and in terms of religion as a phenomenon) ?

That 'clarification' is, however, unnecessary because anyone who read the title would understand that was what was being said. The only possible point of ambiguity was raised by Indi and dealt with.
Quote:
Chris, I'm up for any balanced assessment of religion and the beliefs that stem from it (including the nonsense that arises in most cases). I'm also supportive of Dennet's suggestions of the power of hypnosis and how religion may have been used in that way - and successfully. I'll even support the possibility that the hypnosis wasn't always used for the benefit of the recipients. You seem to think I'm childishly playing with words in order to counter any arguments made - I'm not.
I'm afraid I find it hard to see any other interpretation. I don't know whether the aim is to counter arguments or not, but it is doing nothing to further or clarify the debate - there is no valid point of discussion here at all.
Quote:
To use your words - I want to keep it real, which means not ignoring the facts as they occurred and in the context that they occurred. Personally I believe a religion will either evolve with the finding of new evidence or devolve into superstitious nonsense if we leave books in their current form and don't take into account the possibilities that our understanding of what was said (and supposedly written with precision) may be different to how we understand the sentences now. It's easy to see, even in this forum, how what we write is interpreted differently by the readers and in these cases often less than an hour has passed.
It has nothing to do with ignoring facts or context. There are excellent textual analyses of any possible materials I might wish to cite or research but since I haven't mentioned any such materials yet this is simply supposition.
jeffryjon
Dear Dear Dear, this is exactly the type of thing I'm talking about. If there's so much misinterpretation from one post to the next, then how can we do an analysis of religion from one century to the next?

I didn't say Dennet doesn't believe in religion or even the value of having a religion.

The basis I was questioning was NOT your title but the basis of refusing to accept words in the context that they were/may have been used. If we (or anyone else in that matter) go into the process of analysis and refuse to take a broad view about what the words mean/may mean then we get the exact same problem we're having in this thread. I say one thing and you interpret something quite different. There was no attempt to make your title ambiguous, in fact quite the reverse. You're presuming intent and the wrong one at that.

Let me make one thing clear which I've already mentioned in other threads. I do NOT support formalized/politicized religion. I do not support having someone else tell me how to understand what I'm capable of reading myself. My point is simply aimed at making a point that religion is based on a core which may be literal or open to interpretation, a use of coded scripts which was historically common as we can see in cyphers written in churches/graveyards etc even today., References to 'you know what' having a meaning of 'we know this' and so on and so forth. What I've been attempting, quite unsuccessfully is to put forward suggestions as one possible staring point (of the many I'd expect to be used) to give the maximum chance of anything worthwhile coming from such an analysis. Short of that we might as well all answer yes or no to the title and leave it as a poll.

Quote:
can we apply scientific methods and principles to trying to understand religion (both in terms of individual religions and belief systems and in terms of religion as a phenomenon) ?


sounds much better, but still unless we venture to speculate how to go about that, the answer is still as short as 'yes', 'no', 'don't know' at the most.

Further to this now rather ridiculous nitpicking, what has anyone else's research or interpretation got to do with anything? Many of us are acutely aware that the whole mess with religions as they are presented today is CAUSED by people interpreting interpretation. The old Chinese whisper problem. I don't care what anyone else's interpretation is unless I'm allowed to make my own and draw comparison. It was the vicars and various other clergy that led me to misinterpret many stories that on reflection had very different messages than what were given to me by proxy.
Bikerman
If you want to debate the general topic of semantics then start a thread. I find this whole sub-section ridiculous, contrived and unhelpful. Of course I don't accept redefinitions of words - the words used in debate are current. If I want to know what they meant 500 years ago or whatever, then I'll go and find out. It is not difficult and it certainly isn't worth wasting any more time on.
pentangeli
S. J. Gould is one of my favourites too. I think the reason a lot of scientists like leave religion alone is due to Occam and lots of other similar standpoints which make life 'easier' for want of a better word for science to stay within its comfort zone. I'm not basing my opinion on bias here at all. I just think that in order for science to fully examine and study religion it would have to adhere or possibly capitulate to some or maybe all of its principles. For example, you can't fight a pacifist and vice versa. I don't believe science is willing to acknowledge an unbiased and objective approach to studying such a notion. Personally, I don't believe it should either. Often whenever comparing the two, I myself feel that I am insulting both. As much as I would love to see some unity (and often do in many different areas), compliance is often misconstrued as competition. Harmony would be perfect but I also feel that science would be attempting to refute rather than understand such a concept. Regardless of motive, I do believe both are different languages and therefore an argument of any relevance seems limited and futile. A marriage of some description would be a beautiful thing. Scratch that, "is" a beautiful thing. I'm referring to the ironic, maybe sarcastic, yet also brilliantly insightful inscription that was over the door on Max Plank's Laboratory, "Let no one enter here who does not have faith".

Hopefully science will one day allow itself to study metaphysics but I'm not holding my breath nor am I awaiting the humiliation of religious dogma to newer theories which don't necessarily provide metaphysical reward. But that's just me. You see to me it's all about faith. And the premise of faith kind of depends of the polemic of not knowing something. And still believing it. Or perhaps, only having the integrity of that belief valid by not knowing it. It's arguable Chris, that both are co-dependent antonyms that sense. And even that any victory for one over the other is a greater eventual loss to itself. How does religion lose by refuting science? It loses logic and reasoning of purpose. How does science lose by refuting religion? It loses volition to even get up in the morning. Every scientific law was once a struggle of faith. See plank's lab above.

Religence. Let's make it happen.
Bikerman
Religion can't refute science. It has been trying for 500 years and more. The whole history of the Catholic church shows what happens - you end up with a stupid neo-platonic double-think. People KNOW the world is a sphere, and the Church knows that they know, and also needs that knowledge to ferry missionaries across the oceans. So people are allowed to SAY that the earth is spherical, but they mustn't say it is TRUE because obviously the bible's truth is higher. It was pathetic and heartbreaking - it cost Europe a thousand years of progress.
The only way religion can hurt science is when the religious hurt the scientists. It can't touch science as an enterprise. Anything that religion produces is fair game for scientific investigation, so let us say that some Monk somewhere produces an absolute undoubted miracle. Science then needs to readjust to take this miracle into account and work out what it can about the miracle. Science is the investigation of the universe, and if the theories are wrong we chuck them out and start again, we don't give up. If the universe includes a deity then we will scientifically investigate the deity. It is the only game in town. The alternative is personal revelation (another word for personal delusion) or acceptance of 'doctrine' uncritically. The last two millenia shows where that leads.

The notion that religion provides the meaning to life - the will to get up in the morning - is both wrong and pretty insulting. It implies that I have no meaning in my life, along with other non-religious people. That is a nonsense. I have plenty of meaning in my life - the fact that it doesn't include some sky-fairy or divine being is hardly an issue at all. Why is it that people need someone to tell them what the meaning in life is? Are we children that we cannot find our own meanings and have to rely on some 'adult'?

Scxientific law is not a struggle of faith. Belief, I would accept. Faith is more. Faith is unshakable belief, without, or in spite of evidence. That is not scientific and will not lead to scientific progress. If you know something then why test it? Without empirical test then science does not function - we get into philosophy and metaphysics where no validation is possible and therefore any theory is as good as another - ie we get into the world of religion.
pentangeli
Bikerman wrote:
Religion can't refute science. It has been trying for 500 years and more.


Aquinas didn't try. He did it in one fell swoop. Read Augustine too. Aristotelian in origin and yet still unre-refuted to this day. Especially on matters concerning creation causality and the immaterial soul. What you are saying is not accurate here. There are many great Christian philosophers and theologians who have not only not been refuted (yet) by science, but also inspirational and often (especially in the case of Aquinas) pivotal in shaping modern science. I know of one instance, where a renowned scientist (apologies, his name escapes me, but it's not important) said of Augustine that he was wrong, and proved wrong on one writing, but he was wrong in such an original and interesting way that changed the whole entire approach to it and brought about new and critical studies just by extending the parameters. They didn't just widen the goalposts. Thomas Aquinas pretty much put them there to aim at in the first place. You say theologian, I say scientist. Maybe this is why you think I have an unchristian approach to arguing for Christianity. Maybe I do.


Bikerman wrote:
So people are allowed to SAY that the earth is spherical, but they mustn't say it is TRUE because obviously the bible's truth is higher. It was pathetic and heartbreaking - it cost Europe a thousand years of progress.


This is also another myth, largely brought about in reference to the House Arrest of Galileo (at the hands of zealots in power at that time) completely side-stepping the Vatican funded studies of both, and in the case of Copernicus, encouragement in scientific research way and beyond the call of "instill the bible". Did you know that the Vatican has an observatory, manned 24/7, by ex Nasa astronomists? Science has been in our camp since day one. The human lust for power and control (and sometimes young boys) has too. Where there is human error there will always be conflict and problems, that's not the religious believer's fault nor does alter the relationship the church has always had with thinkers, theologians, intellectuals, artists and scientists.

To address the above though, in plainer terms, the Bible says nothing of the sort, and nor is it echoed by the church that it says anything of the sort. It does however say,

Quote:
When God made the Earth He hung it upon nothing" - (Job 26:7)


Nice gravity observation, considering it was 2000 years ahead of it's time. But wait there's more...

Quote:
"It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the Earth" (Isaiah 40.21)


This is the same Bible you're referring to? The one that came 2000 years before science, gave it legs to walk on and yet attempts to shut science down for arguing with it? That Bible?

You want dinosaurs? I got the dinosaurs. I got Leviathans and Behemoths. Shit, I even got Cavemen! I can drop the science like it's hot if you really want it. Again.. all 2000 years before you folks even "agreed in disagreement" to it. Bleh!


To address the rest of what you said, I'm kinda pushed for time. I was inferring that your drive to do, create, embetter anything is a drive which science doesn't like to quantify, measure or account for. It's a metaphysical desire to progress and live. So when I say "you wouldn't get out of bed in the morning" I'm not trying to insult you, I'm merely provoking the response of "meaninglessness" that you so generously provided. Meaning indeed. I mean you are a faithful believer in pursuit of a higher echelon, after all. You're a hungry human in need of nourishment. You find it not in solutions nor correctness, as that's fleeting. You find it in the love of the quest and the challenge it presents. You're here interacting with other people on this basis alone. You falsely attribute this inert desire of enlightenment and nurture to the age-old "magic man in the sky" idiosis, and you shouldn't, because you know exactly what it is.
Bikerman
pentangeli wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Religion can't refute science. It has been trying for 500 years and more.
Aquinas didn't try. He did it in one fell swoop. Read Augustine too. Aristotelian in origin and yet still unre-refuted to this day. Especially on matters concerning creation causality and the immaterial soul. What you are saying is not accurate here. There are many great Christian philosophers and theologians who have not only not been refuted (yet) by science, but also inspirational and often (especially in the case of Aquinas) pivotal in shaping modern science. I know of one instance, where a renowned scientist (apologies, his name escapes me, but it's not important) said of Augustine that he was wrong, and proved wrong on one writing, but he was wrong in such an original and interesting way that changed the whole entire approach to it and brought about new and critical studies just by extending the parameters. They didn't just widen the goalposts. Thomas Aquinas pretty much put them there to aim at in the first place. You say theologian, I say scientist. Maybe this is why you think I have an unchristian approach to arguing for Christianity. Maybe I do.
Nonono. Aquinas was no proto-scientist. I HAVE read him - in the original Latin. There was no real science in the 12th century - the Church had long since killed-off any notion of empirical evidence and retreated to the knowledge of the 'ancients' - ie the greeks. The platonic funk had long since settled and the 'cave' allegory was now seen as real. Pathetic.
The only extent to which Aquinas was a proto-scientist was his insistance that man could know SOME things without divine help - but he was firm in the view that ALL truths are divinely revealed, not observed. To that extent he did weaken the hold of neo-Platonic thought and it's benighted 'Cave of shadows', and re-introduced Aristotelian philosophy, which was a move forward. But you, in common with many who haven't read all of his work, give him far too much credit. Much of his commentary on the natural world was stolen from Aristotle. He is best remembered as a philosopher/theologian. That is where he made his real mark.

Augistine was a real mixed bag. His work on the nature of time IS impressive. However that has to be balanced by his deeply damaging notion of original sin. I find Augustine a quite sympathetic character - I quite like him.
Quote:
This is also another myth, largely brought about in reference to the House Arrest of Galileo (at the hands of zealots in power at that time) completely side-stepping the Vatican funded studies of both, and in the case of Copernicus, encouragement in scientific research way and beyond the call of "instill the bible". Did you know that the Vatican has an observatory, manned 24/7, by ex Nasa astronomists? Science has been in our camp since day one. The human lust for power and control (and sometimes young boys) has too. Where there is human error there will always be conflict and problems, that's not the religious believer's fault nor does alter the relationship the church has always had with thinkers, theologians, intellectuals, artists and scientists.
Yes I did know. I also know that Galileo was a prat and need never have forced the confrontation with the Pope had he not written a deliberately offensive treatise, casting the Pope in the role of fool. I am not afraid to grant credit where it is due and I have no agenda to exaggerate the crimes of the Catholic Church. The Church did indeed have a close relationship with scholars - at several intervals in between hanging or burning them. Of course that is until the reformation and the counter-reformation (after Galileo) when it retreated to dogma as it did battle with the Protestant upstarts. The fact remains that the greeks, in 300BCE, knew more about the universe than the Europeans did in 1400CE. Once the Church lost its grip just look how fast we moved...
Quote:
To address the above though, in plainer terms, the Bible says nothing of the sort, and nor is it echoed by the church that it says anything of the sort. It does however say
Quote:
When God made the Earth He hung it upon nothing" - (Job 26:7)
Nice gravity observation, considering it was 2000 years ahead of it's time. But wait there's more...
Quote:
"It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the Earth" (Isaiah 40.21)

This is the same Bible you're referring to? The one that came 2000 years before science, gave it legs to walk on and yet attempts to shut science down for arguing with it? That Bible?
Of course it is. The world was known to be spherical from well before the age of Jesus. The Greeks cracked that one about 400BCE. The bible is contradictory as usual and of course you can cherry pick verses. The 'hung it on nothing' quote is not very convincing - the full quote is "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. " So what is this North? What is the empty place and why was the North stretched? It makes no sense. If you cherry pick parts of sentences and the occasional full sentence then of course you can make it appear prophetic - oldest trick in the book. In science we call it 'hit seeking'. You go through a text and note only those bits which seem to hit the mark and ignore all the bits that are wide of the mark. Using that technique you can make just about any text appear prophetic.
Likewise the Isaiah quote is not impressive either. The full quote reads:
"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."
Above a circle - ie the earth is a flat disk. The heavens are a tent-shaped canopy - from which the theologians inferred a tabernacle shape. Nonsense of course.
Quote:
You want dinosaurs? I got the dinosaurs. I got Leviathans and Behemoths. Shit, I even got Cavemen! I can drop the science like it's hot if you really want it. Again.. all 2000 years before you folks even "agreed in disagreement" to it. Bleh!
LOL...more cherry picking. What about the race of Giants who lived in the time of Genesis?
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. "
Complete baloney. For every lucky hit you find I'll find ten or more complete misses. The whole creation myth is complete pants.
Quote:
To address the rest of what you said, I'm kinda pushed for time. I was inferring that your drive to do, create, embetter anything is a drive which science doesn't like to quantify, measure or account for. It's a metaphysical desire to progress and live. So when I say "you wouldn't get out of bed in the morning" I'm not trying to insult you, I'm merely provoking the response of "meaninglessness" that you so generously provided. Meaning indeed. I mean you are a faithful believer in pursuit of a higher echelon, after all. You're a hungry human in need of nourishment. You find it not in solutions nor correctness, as that's fleeting. You find it in the love of the quest and the challenge it presents. You're here interacting with other people on this basis alone. You falsely attribute this inert desire of enlightenment and nurture to the age-old "magic man in the sky" idiosis, and you shouldn't, because you know exactly what it is.
No, completely wrong. Most of my time here is spent correcting silly misconceptions and irrational comment. I am a teacher and that is where I find some satisfaction, not in the quest for knowledge - not here anyway. That I get in other places.
pentangeli
Bikerman wrote:
The Church did indeed have a close relationship with scholars - at several intervals in between hanging or burning them.


hahaha, I liked this. We burned Tyndale too. That was awesome.

Nah, you can't say picking out those accurate and well advanced descriptions of something we had no technology to observe or clarify is "cherry picking" though, especially when you attempt to cherry pick in it's direct vincinity and even cherry pick reference to the Nephylym (check my username), an entirely different book from an entirely different author, as an example of why cherry picking is bad. Can you? You even laid that circle flat like a disc of your own whim. Don't do things like that, man. Plus the description Job offers of the Behemoth is eerie. Not just in detail but in depth. He even describes the "chedars" in it's toberlone textured tail and what it eats and how it's built. He's describing a Anchiceratops, basically. But hey, if finding a load of odds and ends and putting them together in a Tony Robinson type of prehistoric Meccano set is REALLY scientific then I guess this isn't!? haha. Come along now. Talk about cherry picking. There's lots of other passages throughout which you would regard cherry picking which hold similar insights about the universe (namely water and weather cycles) that would have been impossible to determine without technology yet are (Archaically versed, I admit) but still bang on - to the letter. Lest we forget, long before Science claimed them and long before you failed to refute what you'd stolen! It also seems bizarre that you'd write off accuracies due to inadequacies you've found elsewhere in these collection of books. I could go through a lot of your books and pretty much damn all scientific victories using the same rationale. Never made a guff? You did here:

No, man. That's not why you come here. If you came here and marked all these inaccuracies like a teacher alone in his room with no interaction, pats on the back or exchanges of human gratitude, companionship or competition, you would not come here at all. Would you? If there was just you? Marking a load of deserted threads? If so... why log in? Just think it to yourself and go about your day. Nobody is paying you and the ridiculously long holidays don't start till August. You do it to be involved with other humans. Not because you're as cold and calculating as you would like to think, but because you have a soul capable of experience of self. You sure you've read all of Aquinas?
Bikerman
I didn't cherry pick anything. A circle is two dimensional - flat - by definition. If the writer had meant a sphere then they would have said so, or used a world like Globe, Orb or similar. Sitting above a circle clearly means that it IS a circle - you can't site above a sphere (where is 'above it'?).

You can name ANY book from the bible, then pick your chapter, and I will find ten misses for any hit you can name.

I really don't undersrtand why you are so impressed with Behemoth. Look what it says:
15 Behold now the behemoth that I have made with you; he eats grass like cattle.
16 Behold now his strength is in his loins and his power is in the navel of his belly.
17 His tail hardens like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
18 His limbs are as strong as copper, his bones as a load of iron.
19 His is the first of God's ways; [only] his Maker can draw His sword [against him].
20 For the mountains bear food for him, and all the beasts of the field play there.
21 Does he lie under the shadows, in the cover of the reeds and the swamp?
22 Do the shadows cover him as his shadow? Do the willows of the brook surround him?
23 Behold, he plunders the river, and [he] does not harden; he trusts that he will draw the Jordan into his mouth.
24 With His eyes He will take him; with snares He will puncture his nostrils.


Vague vague vague.
It could be:
A hippo, an Elephant, a Water Buffalo, or even an aligator/crocodile - different scholars have made a case for all of those - and more. The notion that this is some accurate description of Anchiceratops is ridiculous - cherry picking again. You can make that description fit any number of animals.
What do we know about it?
1. It is a herbivore. 2. It has powerful loins and a navel. 3. It has a tail of significant size, which is hard and mobile. 4. It has large limbs, strongly built. 5. It is powerful enough to make killing it beyond a normal man. 6. It lives on or near mountains. 7. It is either semi-aquatic or takes to the water on occasion. 8. It has nostrils.
Look at an Anchiceratops: it has 3 horns (not mentioned), a beak like a parrot (not mentioned), a large frill on the neck (not mentioned), it had no navel - dinosaurs were egg layers. Not very impressive is it? It misses the most distinctive elements of the animal entirely and gets part of the description completely wrong.
The only things that match are power/size/possibly habitat and diet. An elephant is a much closer fit. It has a navel, spends time in water, has massive limbs and a mobile tail, has a navel and has powerful loins/back-end.

You really are clutching at straws with this stuff - it wouldn't convince anyone who wasn't desperate to believe it.

On Aquinas - I read (or more accurately was forced to read) Summa Theologica, Principles of Nature and Cantena Aurea in the Latin at school in theology. I have read the English translation of De Magistro some years ago. I think there may be another couple of worksbooks I haven't read.
Indi
Bikerman wrote:
LOL...more cherry picking. What about the race of Giants who lived in the time of Genesis?
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. "
Complete baloney.

Don't forget the dragons, and the unicorns, and the satyrs... or all the talking animals. Or my favourite part: the battle between the wizards.
Bikerman
A favourite of mine is Exodus.
The bible gives us 600,000 men of fighting age in the party. A bit of reasonable estimating puts the entire group at somewhere around 2 million (allowing for older people, women and children).
At the time the entire population of Egypt was probably around 3 million.
So they would have formed a line 10 abreast, 150 miles long (without allowing for livestock and supplies).

Shurely Shome Mishtake Moneypenny?

Bible inerrancy? ROFLMAO.
pentangeli
Indi wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
LOL...more cherry picking. What about the race of Giants who lived in the time of Genesis?
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. "
Complete baloney.

Don't forget the dragons, and the unicorns, and the satyrs... or all the talking animals. Or my favourite part: the battle between the wizards.


I wanna see an elephant eat a mountain bear. That would probably get a few youtube hits. And Bikerman, if a circle is always flat then Euclid never propagated materialization either. Plus, how about letting the Aramaic zero-shy numerology slide, yeah? There was no zero digit. 600,000 could be 6 to 6 trillion. Not to mention, it was probably calculated something like forty-four and twenty eons ago.
Bikerman
pentangeli wrote:
Indi wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
LOL...more cherry picking. What about the race of Giants who lived in the time of Genesis?
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. "
Complete baloney.

Don't forget the dragons, and the unicorns, and the satyrs... or all the talking animals. Or my favourite part: the battle between the wizards.


I wanna see an elephant eat a mountain bear. That would probably get a few youtube hits. And Bikerman, if a circle is always flat then Euclid never propagated materialization either. Plus, how about letting the Aramaic zero-shy numerology slide, yeah? There was no zero digit. 600,000 could be 6 to 6 trillion. Not to mention, it was probably calculated something like forty-four and twenty eons ago.
I didn't say a circle was always flat. I said it was 2-D - flat. It can curve of course, but it has no extent in the third spatial dimension - that is why I qualified 'flat' the way I did.
The 'eating the mountain bear' is actually a weak point in your case, not mine. There were no bears around at the time of the dinosaurs and, in any case, your suggested candidate was a vegetarian and unlikely to be approached by anything as small as a bear.
The Arameic number system is a complete red herring. The genesis account is not written in numbers, it is written in textual language. The word 'Yom' or 'Yaum' is used - it means a day.
Some like to argue that it can also mean a 'period of time'. That is true, but only in the same way that we can use the word 'day' to mean a period of time. Thus 'that will be the day'; 'It is a bit late in the day to back out' etc etc. When the word is used in such a manner it is obvious from the context that it is being used metaphorically. The same applies to Yom/Yaum, so I'm afraid that dog don't hunt either...
Not that it matters - there is no possible period that you could assign to 'Yom' that would work. You would need 'Yoms' of wildly different values for each 'day' of Genesis. It is a daft argument though because the account is so daft that it doesn't bear wasting time debating in detail.
pentangeli
It's nearly as daft as you (you, not me) suggesting that a herbivore elephant could or would if it could eat a mountain bear that hadn't evolved yet because apparently Job invented them. Your mathematics is still attempting to ask how long is a piece of string too, while on its way to the hardware store for some tartan paint and a long weight. But you're probably right. Bohemoth was elephant and Leviathan was just a really big lizard. The 28 different accounts of Tanniyn was just an early intermediate link of what we now know as dinos...umm, sheep! That'll do. They eat meat right? No? Ok, dogs. That'll do.
Bikerman
I didn't suggest anything of the kind - I don't believe the fable to start with. I merely pointed out that the elephant fits the description better than your dinosaur.
The fact that the Hebrews had a word meaning 'sea monster' is hardly evidence of Dinosaurs. We have many such words, but nobody I know claims to have met a dinosaur.
It's a story book. When that is realised it all becomes much clearer.

PS I think you are confused. 'Bear fruit/food' not 'Mountain Bear' - same word different meaning.
Ankhanu
I was wondering where the idea of eating mountain bears was coming from from my first read through... that makes sense. Yeah, "bear" here clearly refers to bringing forth, not ursine mammals.
Indi
pentangeli wrote:
Indi wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
LOL...more cherry picking. What about the race of Giants who lived in the time of Genesis?
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. "
Complete baloney.

Don't forget the dragons, and the unicorns, and the satyrs... or all the talking animals. Or my favourite part: the battle between the wizards.


I wanna see an elephant eat a mountain bear. That would probably get a few youtube hits....

You see, you say shit like this - shit that is completely non-sensical, completely idiotic, completely unrelated to the topic or anything that anyone has said in it - and you force me to make one of two conclusions. Either you're an idiot, and you've completely misunderstood something that someone has said so far (and honestly, if Bikerman hadn't spotted it - assuming he's right - i never would have, because i never would have dreamed that someone who thinks they're smart enough to mouth off wouldn't know the difference between the verb "to bear" and the noun "bear"), or you're a lunatic. So, inevitably, when i call you out as a dumbass or a crazy person, you're going to get defensive and whine about how mean i'm being, when in reality i've made the only reasonable conclusions i could make about you. (That's actually the reason i haven't been bothering to reply to any of your posts - they're just too nuts, too dim, or both, to make it worth my time to bother.)

i'm going to offer you some advice:
  • Don't try to be a smart-ass, because it really doesn't look like you have the intellectual heft to keep it up. Just make your points clearly and intelligently. Don't try to be clever; you're just coming off as nuts.

  • When someone says something that you think is completely absurd and idiotic, before you start mouthing off to mock them... make sure that's what they really mean. Ask them for confirmation. You might have misunderstood what they said, or maybe they just made a typo. Either way, intelligent conversation will be much better served by clarifying things first, before trying to mock them for their stupidity - especially when there's a very real chance that they're not the stupid ones.

  • In general, approach the debate with a little bit of humility, because first of all, these people - Bikerman, Ankhanu and others - are not dumb people - quite the opposite - and, secondly, you really do have much to be humble about.


Bikerman wrote:
The Arameic number system is a complete red herring. The genesis account is not written in numbers, it is written in textual language. The word 'Yom' or 'Yaum' is used - it means a day.
Some like to argue that it can also mean a 'period of time'. That is true, but only in the same way that we can use the word 'day' to mean a period of time. Thus 'that will be the day'; 'It is a bit late in the day to back out' etc etc. When the word is used in such a manner it is obvious from the context that it is being used metaphorically. The same applies to Yom/Yaum, so I'm afraid that dog don't hunt either...
Not that it matters - there is no possible period that you could assign to 'Yom' that would work. You would need 'Yoms' of wildly different values for each 'day' of Genesis. It is a daft argument though because the account is so daft that it doesn't bear wasting time debating in detail.

Anywho, on to the real business at hand....

Bikerman, i don't know why you even bother to engage in the "day" debate. ^_^; Even if the facts weren't plainly obvious just by the context itself, it should be plainly obvious that these modern day apologists all have their heads up their asses... because for them to make the claim that the writers of the text didn't mean "day" literally means that they would have to be claiming to understand ancient Hebrew better than the people that wrote it. Because the people that wrote it clearly understood the word to mean a literal day... that's the whole point of the Sabbath. It's not once every seven weeks, it's not once every seven months, it's not once every seven years and it's certainly not once every seven billion years... it's once every seven days. If they wanted to mean a long, long period of time, they had plenty of other words they could have used, but they didn't - they literally meant days.

But like i said, i don't know why you even bother to engage in that debate, because not only is it silly... it's pointless. Because even if you allow that "days" meant periods of time ranging from billions of years to millions of years to - presumably femtoseconds (unless the "day" God rested on meant the entire universe was without God for a whole 24 hour period!!!)... even if you allow that interpretation the fable is still plainly wrong. Because no matter how long each "day" is... the events are still out of order. That's a game breaker right there. The account has night and day created before the sun and stars, fruit trees before animals, birds before land animals, etc. etc..

Not only that, but the events are even out of order between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2!!!

Don't bother getting dragged in to a debate about what the ancient Jews meant by "days" when the ancient Jews themselves show they clearly, literally meant "days" (as if it weren't obvious enough from the text). It doesn't matter how long the "days" were... the account is clearly not in agreement with modern science at all.
pentangeli
You're certainly passionate and wordy about how irrelevant my input is in here, Indi.



But hey, if you want to launch personal attacks, step into my arena. Your inability to refute the "truth" problem no doubt butt-hurt you deeply. Egging on everyone else to do it because you didn't know where to begin, mainstay threatened though? Identity is at stake! Jesus, somebody do something! When challenged personally to locate one's money mouthward, you still failed. Miserably. I know this got stuck in your craw a little bit. Hence the last reply basically trolling through yet another thread you lack the intellect (and originality) to individually contribute to. Probably because you're the biggest no-mark here. I won't mention your blatant ass-kissing and coat tail riding of mods and so called intellectuals. I think that's already apparent to anyone with the slightest semblance of self respect and dignity to cringe at. And I don't need bulletin points to illustrate what you so painfully prostitute out yourself. I mean, I'd take the piss out of you, but you're giving it away, aren't you?

In future, if I want your opinion, nick-nack, I'll ask Bikerman for it.

No more tears.
Bondings
We're planning to not allow anything related to personal comments in this forum (sort of zero-tolerance kind of thing). This doesn't mean that before this is implemented, you should go ahead and write as many off-topic personal remarks as possible, considering this has never been allowed anyway.

So please, pentangeli, Indi and others, please calm down and get back on topic. Very Happy
toasterintheoven
Carl Jung is a great blend of empirical science, religion, and other fields
Bikerman
Empirical science? Jung? Can you name one theory of Jung's that can be empirically tested using the scientific method?
I know he claimed to have a scientific method of dream analysis but having looked at it (admittedly in no great depth) I don't see anything 'refutable' in what he said and as far as I'm concerned if you can't prove something wrong then it ain't a scientific hypothesis.
Maybe I've missed something - I freely admit that I might have done.
Dennise
I have long wondered about the fundamental genesis (pun not intended) of religion. It's probably an over simplification, but I have distilled it into three basic human fears and needs.

1. To address our own mortality, we can ameliorate the innate fear of death with the belief that all is really NOT over when we die, and we'll live on after death and be reunited with others who have gone before us. This is a very powerful idea and humans will long cling to this because science can't disprove it.

2. Leaders can invent and use religion effectively to control the masses ..... which is sometimes good.This works until enough enlightened members learn enough science to challenge the religion of the time.

3. We humans - and other primates - are quite capable of malevolent behavior when certain resources are at stake e.g. food, wealth etc. Organized religion gives us license to channel this malevolence into war e.g. Onward Christian Soldiers ......

Anyone care to add to the list?
Bikerman
Yes, certainly. I'll add Dan Dennett's theory in a nutshell (and very simplified).





Primitive hominid...........---->Physical Stance (what are the physics, how is it put together, etc?)
3 ways to view the world---->Design stance (what does it look like it might be designed to do?)
......................................---->Intentionality stance (what does it look like it intends to do?)

..................................................----> Physical stance, hmm I must measure the length of...MUNCH
Primitive hominid--->Large Carnivore-->Design stance....Hmm those teeth and claws could be...MUNCH
......................................................-->Intentionality stance...that bugger wants to eat me, I'm ofski

Therefore the intentionality stance is selected for.

This then misfires:

Storm-->No food.................Intentionality stance -->What was it that intended to make that storm?
Sun---->Plenty food............Intentionality stance-->That sun clearly intended me to eat well today..
Flood/drought...starvation....Intentionality stance--->I must have upset the Sun (substitute increasingly sophisticated agents of intent over time).

And so on.

In essence the natural selection of a shortcut (intentionality) over a longer-cut (design or physical) misfires to create agents of intent which then morph into Gods...
tazone
religion is like santa claus
people want to believe in something greater than themselves to give them hope


strange thing is:
people have faith till they feel its irrifutibly disproven by science (or many people telling them its not real, peer pressure)
and people gain faith when they feel its irrifutibly proven by a miracle (which is just a very random occurance that they think cant be random)


the sad thing is that many people indoctrinate their children to have their beliefs

thats why i think mixed religion couples are better, they show the child that there is more out there than just one religion
roxingo
Não que Religião e Ciência tenham que ser inimigas naturais, mas todas as vezes que ambas tratam das mesmas coisas, os conflitos são inevitáveis. O Criacionismo é um dos melhores exemplos.

Vamos ignorar que a maioria dos Criacionistas são no entanto cientificamente leigos, sendo em sua maioria pastores e teólogos. Vamos considerar como válidos mesmo os títulos científicos de criacionistas que os conseguiram em cursos por correspondência não reconhecidos, e ignoremos o fato de que alguns estabelecimentos cristãos fundamentalistas conseguem distribuir diplomas em áreas científicas apesar de constantes brigas judiciais contra o Ministério da Educação dos E.U.A.

Afinal como é possível que tantos indivíduos que passaram por instituições científicas de ensino superior defenderem propostas completamente irracionais e incoerentes com a Ciência?

Os Criacionistas alegam que a Teoria da Evolução é um embuste, uma fraude com o objetivo de anular a Bíblia como fonte Única de Verdade Suprema. Dizem que há uma conspiração secular que predomina no meio científico, com raízes provavelmente no Iluminismo e Positivismo, se não uma manobra ardilosa do próprio Satanás.

Muitos denunciam que a Evolução ao abalar a autoridade do Livro Sagrado, abre caminho para uma sociedade sem "Deus", que segundo eles só pode conduzir à auto destruição e infelicidade, pois só a crença numa criatura onipotente, vigilante e vingativa poderia manter uma sociedade em ordem.

Afirmam que a verdadeira Ciência é a que afirma a glória de Jeová e confirma os ensinamentos da Bíblia. Alguns até acusam o Evolucionismo de Pseudo Ciência, e de que não passa de uma Torre de Babel de falácias e mentiras com objetivo de disseminar uma filosofia ou religião humanista e atéia.

Em síntese, acusam a Ciência de tudo o que eles próprios são também apropriadamente acusados por alguns de seus adversários: Pseudo Cientistas sem compromisso com a verdade e sim com crenças de uma religião ultrapassada e danosa a toda a história da civilização. (Uma crítica comum entre alguns Anti-Criacionistas.)

Entretanto não cabe aqui esticar mais essa difusão de opiniões pessoais a respeito. Cada um pode acusar ao outro das mesmas coisas. Afinal o que é pior? Acreditar ou não em Deus? Estado vinculado ou não a Religião? Democracia ou Teocracia? Formação filosófica e humanista ou doutrinação religiosa?

E segundo os próprios Criacionistas acusam, o que contribuiria melhor para o progresso da Ciência e da Sociedade? Uma postura Evolucionista e Naturalista ou uma Criacionista e Religiosa?

Deixarei de lado por enquanto aspectos morais e éticos da sociedade, e me concentrarei no que se refere ao verdadeiro conhecimento científico.

Os Criacionistas chegam a declarar que enquanto a Evolução não for descartada e a Criação admitida, toda a Ciência estará envolta em erros e estagnação. Vamos comparar então períodos históricos com relação ao desenvolvimento científico e a disseminação das religiões.
Ankhanu
roxingo - via Google Translator wrote:
Not that religion and science have to be natural enemies, but every time that both treat the same things, conflicts are inevitable. Creationism is one of the best examples.

Let's ignore that most creationists are scientifically lay however, most of them being pastors and theologians. Let us consider as valid even the titles of scientific creationists that succeeded in correspondence courses are not recognized, and ignore the fact that some establishments fundamentalist Christians can distribute diplomas in science despite the constant arguments filed against the U.S. Department of Education

After all how can so many individuals who have undergone scientific institutions of higher education advocate proposals completely irrational and inconsistent with science?

Creationists argue that the theory of evolution is a hoax, a fraud in order to annul the Bible as the sole source of Truth. They say there is a secular conspiracy that prevails in the scientific world, probably with roots in the Enlightenment and positivism, if not a shrewd maneuver of Satan himself.

Many complained that the state to undermine the authority of the Holy Book, it opens the way for a society without "God", which they say can only lead to self destruction and misery, because only the belief in an omnipotent creature, vigilant and vindictive society could maintain a in order.

They argue that true science is the one that says the glory of Jehovah, and confirms the teachings of the Bible. Some even accuse the Pseudo Science of evolutionism, and that is just a Tower of Babel of fallacies and lies in order to disseminate a philosophy or religion, humanist and atheist.

In short, they accuse the Science of everything they own are also appropriately accused by some of his opponents: Pseudo Scientists without commitment to truth, but with the beliefs of a religion outdated and harmful to the entire history of civilization. (A common criticism among some anti-creationists.)

However it is not here stretch over the dissemination of personal opinions about it. Each one can accuse the other of the same things. So what is worse? Believing in God or not? State bound or non-religion? Democracy or Theocracy? Philosophical and humanist or religious indoctrination?

And according to the Creationists accuse themselves, which would contribute best to the progress of science and society? A posture or an Evolutionist and Creationist Naturalist and Religious?

Leave aside for now moral and ethical aspects of society, and I will focus in relation to the true scientific knowledge.

Creationists come to declare that while the state is not discarded, and the Creation admitted, all science will be wrapped in errors and stagnation. We will then compare historical periods with respect to scientific development and spread of religions
yagnyavalkya
scientific analysis of religion is difficult
Ankhanu
yagnyavalkya wrote:
scientific analysis of religion is difficult


Brilliant insight Razz
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
yagnyavalkya wrote:
scientific analysis of religion is difficult


Brilliant insight Razz
Or perhaps go a step deeper and say scientific analysis of religion is fundamentally challenged by the expectation of a posteriori "empirical" knowledge?
Bikerman
Scientific analysis of religion is, in fact, well underway. I've done a bit of reading on this, since posting the original, and some interesting developments are happening.
It has long been suspected that religious 'visions' might in fact be a result of temporal lobe epilepsy. There are several documented cases of people with epilepsy having religious/spiritual visions/experiences. Indeed, the 'founder' of 7 Day Adventism - Ellen G. White - is suspected of being an epileptic because of a childhood trauma to the head. Similarly it is hypothesised that Paul of Tarsus (St Paul) was an epileptic.
So, where does this get us? Well a whole new discipline - Neuro-theology - has arisen. Michael Persinger developed a 'helmet' which produces an em-field across the temporal lobes and which can generate a religious experience in the majority of people - atheist or theist. This definitely points to a physiological cause of 'visions'. More recent work, using CAT scans of religious folk - a buddhist meditating, Catholic nuns at prayer and others - shows a similar pattern in the brains of all of them. The temporal lobes 'light up' and, importantly, the parietal lobes 'shut down'.
This is the part of the brain responsible for our sense of time and place. Shut this down and you become unaware of time passing and you 'lose' your sense of place (your orientation in space).
Using this research it should be possible to induce spiritual experiences reliably on demand for just about anyone.
Theists will no doubt object that this induced 'religious experience' is not the same as the 'real' thing, but that seems to me to be a very weak objection.
It does indeed seem that the human brain is, through evolution, predisposed to believe in God(s). The only remaining question, I think, is what evolutionary advantage this would have conveyed. Dawkins thinks that isn't the right question, however. He thinks the real question should be 'what is the survival value of the kind of brain which, under certain circumstances, manifests religious belief'.
Research has also shown that the sensitivity of the temporal lobes to this 'religious' em-field varies widely between people - which would account for the fact that some people are extremely religious and others less so, or not at all. This leads to a testable hypothesis - devoutly religious people should show high sensitivity to em-fields in the temporal lobes and there should be a correlation between this sensitivity and the religiousity of the person. I'm looking for research in this area - so far I've not found any proper clinical studies.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
It has long been suspected that religious 'visions' might in fact be a result of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Hilarious .... Laughing

Bikerman wrote:
There are several documented cases of people with epilepsy having religious/spiritual visions/experiences. Indeed, the 'founder' of 7 Day Adventism - Ellen G. White - is suspected of being an epileptic because of a childhood trauma to the head. Similarly it is hypothesised that Paul of Tarsus (St Paul) was an epileptic.
So, where does this get us? Well a whole new discipline - Neuro-theology - has arisen. Michael Persinger developed a 'helmet' which produces an em-field across the temporal lobes and which can generate a religious experience in the majority of people - atheist or theist. This definitely points to a physiological cause of 'visions'. More recent work, using CAT scans of religious folk - a buddhist meditating, Catholic nuns at prayer and others - shows a similar pattern in the brains of all of them. The temporal lobes 'light up' and, importantly, the parietal lobes 'shut down'.
This is the part of the brain responsible for our sense of time and place. Shut this down and you become unaware of time passing and you 'lose' your sense of place (your orientation in space).
Using this research it should be possible to induce spiritual experiences reliably on demand for just about anyone.
Brilliant! I MUST get hold of this helmet. Guess this has to be a much more improved way of getting on a high than non-prescription drugs. Just imagine if I could put that helmet on, and then post at Frihost at the same time. Wonder what the visions would be like! Just imagine the fun posts it would have as a result. Now this is right up my street, thanks for posting this.
Bikerman wrote:
Theists will no doubt object that this induced 'religious experience' is not the same as the 'real' thing, but that seems to me to be a very weak objection.
I've got no objection. I'm more like intrigued. And wanting to try out that helmet. I'd imagine that whatever potential one has spiritually, that is suppressed by the thinking part of our brains, would come to the surface in spades. You may well turn into an Apostle yet Bikerman!
Bikerman wrote:
It does indeed seem that the human brain is, through evolution, predisposed to believe in God(s). The only remaining question, I think, is what evolutionary advantage this would have conveyed. Dawkins thinks that isn't the right question, however. He thinks the real question should be 'what is the survival value of the kind of brain which, under certain circumstances, manifests religious belief'.
Well, if a helmet can bring forth spiritual experiences that cannot be experienced in normal day to day behaviour, then there has to an area of spirituality that may always be dormant. Scientists would probably need to know more about that area, before they can come to the conclusion that it's on its way out. I can't help but wonder also whether there is a link between that part of our brain and our dreams, and ability to stay sane. We may not be able to survive without it.

PS: Do you have a link for this research as would love to read more about it. Cool
Bikerman
Click on the link below. Then scroll down the videos on the right until you get to 'God on the Brain' - about 1/3rd the way to the bottom. Click on that and you get a Horizon program on this exact issue which contains all the information you want.
http://bikerman.co.uk/en/science/contacts/horizon
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
It has long been suspected that religious 'visions' might in fact be a result of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Hilarious .... Laughing

Hilarious? Really?
Fascinating, sure, but... hilarious?

Bikerman wrote:
Michael Persinger developed a 'helmet' which produces an em-field across the temporal lobes and which can generate a religious experience in the majority of people - atheist or theist. This definitely points to a physiological cause of 'visions'. More recent work, using CAT scans of religious folk - a buddhist meditating, Catholic nuns at prayer and others - shows a similar pattern in the brains of all of them. The temporal lobes 'light up' and, importantly, the parietal lobes 'shut down'.
This is the part of the brain responsible for our sense of time and place. Shut this down and you become unaware of time passing and you 'lose' your sense of place (your orientation in space).
Using this research it should be possible to induce spiritual experiences reliably on demand for just about anyone.

How old is this? I hadn't thought about it when I'd read the thread before, but this rings some bells... perhaps it was mentioned in This is Your Brain on Music, a neurobiologist's book about cognition and music. That was published in 2006.

deanhills wrote:
Just imagine if I could put that helmet on, and then post at Frihost at the same time.

There's a scary thought Razz

deanhills wrote:
I'd imagine that whatever potential one has spiritually, that is suppressed by the thinking part of our brains, would come to the surface in spades.

Whereas I'd say that whatever potential one has for spirituality is a function of the thinking part of our brains. Dunno about you, but whenever I have a "spiritual" experience, I'm thinking about it as I'm enjoying its wonder.

deanhills wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
It does indeed seem that the human brain is, through evolution, predisposed to believe in God(s). The only remaining question, I think, is what evolutionary advantage this would have conveyed. Dawkins thinks that isn't the right question, however. He thinks the real question should be 'what is the survival value of the kind of brain which, under certain circumstances, manifests religious belief'.

Well, if a helmet can bring forth spiritual experiences that cannot be experienced in normal day to day behaviour, then there has to an area of spirituality that may always be dormant. Scientists would probably need to know more about that area, before they can come to the conclusion that it's on its way out. I can't help but wonder also whether there is a link between that part of our brain and our dreams, and ability to stay sane. We may not be able to survive without it.

No one's suggested that it's "on its way out", but, yes, you're right, we definitely need to know more about the area. Neurobiology and cognition are still young fields of study, but they've made great leaps of understanding in the past couple decades; it's really quite astounding. There is yet much to learn, however.

Personally, I'm more apt to lean towards Dawkins' phrasing/recast of the question; I have serious doubt as to spirituality having direct evolutionary advantage and selective pressure, rather, it appears to be a secondary trait that confers some advantage. The advantage it conveys, would appear to be social, there's very little advantage to an individual's survival and reproduction outside of a social context, in which the experiences can instill greater social cohesion... it's like mutual grooming in a sense; it confers advantage, but only when others are present, and the advantages go beyond the immediate act itself Wink

deanhills wrote:
PS: Do you have a link for this research as would love to read more about it. Cool

Likewise.
If not a link, just the journal references will do; I can hunt down my own literature Wink
Bikerman
Ankhanu - it's not brand new. The Horizon program is from 2004 I think, so it is certainly a few years old.
Persinger & helmet - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet
(journal links at the end of the article, plus counter-argument from skeptics).
MRI result for praying & meditating
http://andrewnewberg.com/pdfs/2003/Prayer.pdf
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
deanhills wrote:
PS: Do you have a link for this research as would love to read more about it. Cool

Likewise.
If not a link, just the journal references will do; I can hunt down my own literature Wink
Not sure what you mean Ankhanu, what are journal references? Twisted Evil

Also not sure why you have to make an atheists versus christian type discussion out of something that I'm genuinely interested in. This may well be a tool that can help people whose spiritual capabilities are dormant, experience them. If you can get past your own prejudice you may be able to see the value and maybe even the irony of that. I'm almost certain one can get this affect with the use of drugs as well, although I'm much more interested in the electronic version.
Ankhanu
What are you talking about, dean? (Feel free to PM, as this appears to be an aside to the topic)
deanhills
@Ankhanu. OK, I'll try and start fresh. I've always been fascinated with what electronic impulses can do to the brain. So when Bikerman mentioned research with regard to the "God spot" in the brain, it completely intrigued me. I spent the last two days or so working through some literature. It may not appear completely coherent, but if you are interested, I'll share them with you.

I started by doing some PubMed searches, since you're into Journal articles, so came up with the basic paper on hyperreligiosity in persons with partial epilepsy.

Here is a BBC Documentary with the same theme.

I then discovered that all of this is part of a field of study called "Neurotheology" or "Spiritual Neuroscience" - refer Wikipedia. This is a an attempt to explain spiritual experiences by connecting them up with specific parts of the brain. Plenty of this at this Website on temporal lobes:
http://neurotheology.50megs.com/whats_new_9.html

There is also an interesting article on how a special kind of mushroom could hit the God Spot as well.

Then trust a Canadian from Montreal University to come up with research to debunk the whole idea of a God spot. NewsMedical

I thought this was an interesting article in the Globe&Mail - 2 Apr 2010:
Scientists investigate if atheists' brains are missing a ‘God Spot’

What fascinated me most however is the ability to zap that part of the brain that is in touch with our spirituality. In the same way that the brain can be zapped to relieve manic depression. If we could activate those portions of the brain that are connected with our spirituality and subconscious we may be able to gather insights about ourselves that we can't with our thinking brain. I imagine us being able to put a helmet on, and then to sit back and relax while we "go on a trip" as someone would do if they are taking drugs of a kind. Or others with advanced meditation.

Drs Chi and Snyder from the Centre for the Mind of the University of Sydney, Australia have done a lot of research in zapping the brain for such things as facilitating insight, improving memory, reducing false memories by zapping the temporal lobe .... etc. etc. Here is a link to some of their pubs:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Richard Chi and Allan Snyder

Here is an article on Chi and Snyder's research on a brain-zapping helmet.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41534303/

Here's a fairly recent article (Feb 2011) on how zapping the temporal lobe of the brain could increase the ability of puzzle solving - NHSChoices

Here is an interesting article about controlling brainwaves:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/sound-waves-for-brain-waves

Here's a helmet for cancer treatment:
Quote:
Novocure Ltd., a closely held Channel Islands company, won U.S. approval for a helmet-like device that emits an electric field to zap brain cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the NovoTTF-100A System for adults with glioblastoma tumors following relapse and chemotherapy. New York-based Pfizer Inc. (PFE), the world’s biggest drugmaker, and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), of New Brunswick, New Jersey, have been among Novocure’s investors since 2009.

Bloomberg - 15-Apr-11

OK, I then went to check where those temporal lobes are situated:
http://www.neuroskills.com/brain.shtml

Apparently they are in line with behind the ears. Then learned that in addition to zapping, one could tap them as well:
Laughing

Source: tapintoheaven
Ankhanu
Thanks for the content!

My main confusion stemmed from "atheists versus christian type discussion out of something that I'm genuinely interested in," I didn't see where that came from, and really came across as non-sequitur. We're discussion scientific analysis of religion, and, as far as I knew, that's what I was addressing.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
Thanks for the content!

My main confusion stemmed from "atheists versus christian type discussion out of something that I'm genuinely interested in," I didn't see where that came from, and really came across as non-sequitur. We're discussion scientific analysis of religion, and, as far as I knew, that's what I was addressing.
I rest my case Ankhanu. You've just answered your own question through the content of your comment. I spent quite a lot of time trying to present something worthwhile, and you have to argue something completely different and "more worthwhile". This is exactly what I meant in my previous post. You made something of my comment to Bikerman (not you) into something completely different than what had been intended. But it would seem that your interpretation of an acrimony in it meant more to you than the actual subject matter on hand. Not to mention that that comment had been intended for Bikerman and not for you.
Bikerman
Well, all I would say is that I'm not actually sure that producing this effect has any utility - outside perhaps enjoyment (and a lot of people report it as a quite disturbing experience). I can see the point in doing it for research, but I don't really see what 'good' it would do in general. It is essentially inducing a brain state in which we are fooled into perceiving what isn't really there. I get the impression that you maybe think it is sensitising the brain to pick up something which IS there (this is not a dig, btw, and if I'm wrong then I have simply misunderstood).
Ankhanu
*nod*
Yeah, not sure what utility it could have... though, I suppose with more research it could be used as a diagnostic tool to help map and understand brain function in some sort of neurological study or test for something else. Of course, we won't know what potential use it could be put to until we understand it and how it interacts with other systems better.

If nothing else, it could have some value as recreation/entertainment in certain circles.
Ankhanu
Almost hate to bump this after so long, but, it's looking like the "god spot" is a myth. Rather, concepts/feelings associated with spirituality are more disparate, rather than concentrated. It does suggest that impairment of the right parietal lobe (due to damage, or intentional manipulation) can lead to an enhancement of spiritual sensation as concepts of self are diminished.
Bikerman
That doesn't surprise me. I can't see how evolution would have centred 'spirituality' in one part of the brain - it generally doesn't work like that and the more we learn about the brain the more distributed the processing seems to be in general.
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