Atheism Isn't a Religion Redux

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...back in the 70s; when I was in grade school, I was rather confused and irratated about the minority group of athiests going to take (compulsary) prayer out of public schools...I have never had much tolerance for others shoving thier beliefs down my throat.

But as one of my teachers of that era quipped: "As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools!!!"

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Shadowolf
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May. 6, 2010 1:46 pm

The cat just wants to get out of the box.

I like to bring up the topic of nothing once in a while.

Nothing is beautiful!

Just thinking about nothing contradicts its non existence and makes the whole concept of a state of complete non existence a logical fallacy.

The same can be said for the omniscient God, that is the manifestation of all things and holds dominion over all things.

In the same way that any thought of nothing negates the existence of it, merely conceiving of any thing greater than God or that God has no dominion over, also negates the possibility of Gods existence.

I love nothing, it's so peaceful.

There used to be a radio show on in Portland that was a religious call in show. I called in one night with a response to a question (I have now forget) but I will never forget the shows host getting angry at me and yelling on the air that " this is religion not theology".

I never called in again, of course.

I don't like to discuss religion because religious people are always locked in a set dogma.

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spankycrissy
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Quote spankycrissy:

Just thinking about nothing contradicts its non existence and makes the whole concept of a state of complete non existence a logical fallacy.

The same can be said for the omniscient God, that is the manifestation of all things and holds dominion over all things.

In the same way that any thought of nothing negates the existence of it, merely conceiving of any thing greater than God or that God has no dominion over, also negates the possibility of Gods existence.

Going with a variation on the ontological argument, eh?

Anselm of Cantebury formulated it thusly

If I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable, then I can think of no being greater

If it is false that I can think of no being greater, it is false I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable

Being is greater than not being

If the being I am thinking of does not exist, then it is false that I can think of no being greater.

If the being I am thinking of does not exist, then it is false that I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable

Conclusion: If I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable, then I am thinking of a being that exists

Which is absurd. My personal favorite critique is the parody by Douglas Gasking...

The creation of the world is the most marvelous achievement imaginable.

The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic quality, and (b) the ability of its creator.

The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more impressive the achievement.

The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-existence.

Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existent creator we can conceive a greater being — namely, one who created everything while not existing.

Therefore, God does not exist.

Thinking of something does not bring it into existence, I'm afraid. A thought does not need a referent in physical reality.

Quote shadowolf:...back in the 70s; when I was in grade school, I was rather confused and irratated about the minority group of athiests going to take (compulsary) prayer out of public schools...I have never had much tolerance for others shoving thier beliefs down my throat.

But as one of my teachers of that era quipped: "As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools!!!"

Surely you are not suggesting that removing or prohibiting prayer in public schools is shoving religion down your throat???

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Atheism is NOT a religion...

I wish Thom would stop saying that atheism is a religion. Here's why:

It is not that I believe there is no god, it's that I do not believe there is a god.

If atheists have a firm belief that there is no god, then yes, that is a belief system and could fall under the category of a religion. However, many of us simply do not believe there is a god. Therefore: not a religion. Simply not believing something is not the same thing as believing the non-existence of something.

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May. 6, 2010 10:48 am

Echeles- Would you call it a position on a religous question?

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I am saying that our evolution in "middle world" makes us useless at intuitively comprehending relativity or especially quantum theory.

Is that a rational intuition, or the more mysterious version? As far as I see this is an attempt at descrediting, or at least calling into question,whatever comprehension we have of the quantum situation at the moment in favor of some undiscovered nature that we would be adapted to if we had a scale of perception fitted for the quantum world. This seems to violate your adherence to "known" science. It seems the implication is that the confusion at the quantum scale, which might be seen as a negative in science's ability to expalin a comprehensible universe, is explained as not being "truly" comprehended or intuited properly and is moved aside in favor of a more comprehensible but yet unknown explanation.

Again, no idea what I said that would lead to the comment about math or infinity falling into disrepute. Then maybe we can review thismattnapa wrote:This surprises me a little. For starters mathematics does not exist other than abstractly. The idea of infinity seems to obviously exist. Now if you wish you can argue that it has some ambigous qualities to it, I understand It is kind of like we can point to what we think the idea means, but we can never quite get to the real apprehension of it. This can't quite grasp it quality helps my argument rather than hurting it in my opinion.

The idea of infinity seems to obviously exist? How is an idea less abstract than a mathematical construct? I can have an idea flying purple people eater, but surely that doesn't bring into existence an actual purple people eater. Does math only exist as an abstract concept

Idea's are highly variable. A memory can be called an idea. the presedential elections are an idea. Just because there can be ideas based on imaginary constructions does not measn all ideas are false. Are you really equating the idea of infinity with that of one of your monsters?I repeat it because it seems rather straightforward that the mere absence of belief in a thing does not constitute a belief system in and of itself, yet there seems to be vehement disagreement with that. No, sorry it is clearly provactive. There is no need to go past the statement that positing an entity without proof of existence is irrational, and allows for an infinite variety of such posits. Adding "funny creatures" is clearly ridicule, and a time tested way to piz off the other side. On the other hand I have already called it juvenile, so I am not really rising above either And as I think someone else mentioned before, if you redefine religion to include atheism or science, then you have redefined religion to mean anything. No the questions are about religous subjectsI never said the universe occurred randomly, though it may have. There are certainly examples of truly random events in nature, such as radioactive decay. Though it's strange and exciting to know that radioactive decay occurs at a predictable rate, yet we never know when any individual atom will decay. My position is only that it is not the result of intelligence or consciousness, neither of which are required for causation. I find the fact that we are here at all as quite magical and obviously indicative of intelligence, or at a minimum constituents and processes related to consciousness itself. For me the answer to the question of our "place" in the universe is related more to the "experience" of existence than it is to the study of physics. I find much of the atheist explanation to be dismissive of the novelty of consciousnees, and often treat the question as if we are an accidental and disassociated aspect of the physical universe to be disappointing. I have heard you been quite positive towards the plight of man's existential situation as defined by atheism, and I comend you for that. I personally find the atheist portrayal as depressing. But I will also admit that I worry that emotional attachment to a continued existence may effect my reasoning on the subject. And to add a third layer, I find William James explanation that religous beliefs may make life "better" regardless of the truth kind of compelling. If I could believe fully in an afterlife I would probably be happy to do so. I might even be happier with the certaiity of atheism, but alas I am stuck in uncertainity and all the angst my version agnosticism can bring. Though I can be resigned to the uncertainity, and occasionally it evens inspires some self ascribed bravado to face such monumental uncertainity on our final fate Not exactly on your question here, sorry.Well I would hope you would recognize the argument for an intelligent original cause versus a random one is different from the god versus a no god one. I would suggest it is more of a level playing field with no one put in the position of ascribing the burden of proof. So far you are not sure about random, but positive it is not intelligent or consciousness. It seems to have evolved into both, so I am confused how substance and energy can have a constituent somehow foreign to its original nature

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Thinking of something does not bring it into existence, I'm afraid. A thought does not need a referent in physical reality.

But that is an inaccurate description. Descartes is using premises and a conclusion based on logical principles. it is not simply thinking about something. You can disagree with the logic, but lets at least represent it accurately. I am not sure what to make of some aspects of Descartes logic, but the refutation you offered seem to only portray an absurdity of logic that claimed to mimic Descartes. Probably not my favorite form of refutation.What is significant is the idea that something is responsible for what is here and that something is greater than ourselves

It seems related to something else you said

I'm not talking about what we can visualize, I'm talking about what might actually exist. Show me a perfect 45 degree angle in nature. Or a straight line. You can't, they don't exist. A line by geometric definition has no width, but of course, anything we could draw or see has measurable width. Mathematical structures are abstractions.

The first point I want to make is that in math angles are eactly 45 degrees. And while I agree it does not have this nature in the real world, this is nontheless the point. Plato made much of the world of the forms, of which math was a significant part, and the way it was more perfect than what is attained on earth. I do not know that we can claim Plato's world of the forms are equal with Godnature, but it certainly points to a rational intuiton that we have understandings that are, in a sense, more perfect than what can be achieved in the physical reality atround us. Similar to what Descartes is getting at in my opinion

You also seem to be trivializing the relation of math to the real world with the statement that we do not have "absolute" physical coorespondence to mathematical qualities. Clearly the usefulness of math in real world application is clear, so in fact the connection is clearly viable. Why you apparently feel that because the coorespondence is not absolute that it is instead irrelevant, I do not franlky understand

You can call math an abstraction, but then so is language. I have heard it described as middle ground between language and reality. But it is clearly an integral part in understanding our relation to the the world around us, and iI find the use of abstraction in this case as discounting what it represents

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"For starters mathematics does not exist other than abstractly."

Mathematics is a construct of the human mind. It does not exist in nature.

Einstein said that there are two worlds, one of wood and one of crystal.

Not an exact quote but close enough. What he was talking about is that there is a duality between the order of the crystal and the disorder in organic structures. He understood that all things are essentially bundles of energy, whether it is a stone or a tree.

Those that are religious believe in a universe that is guided by an unseen hand. This is similar to those that are a-religious but believe that the universe is guided by mathematics.

God is a construct of the human mind as it attempts to make sense of the things around it.

Mathematics is a construct of the human mind as it attempts to make sense of the things around it.

Neither mathematics nor God can be shown to have created anything.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can be contained or released in an infinite variety of ways and we have some control of it's transmutation. But with all of our combined knowledge the most accurate models of the the universe are best described by random events.

I am quite OK with that. I think that the idea that we are a happy accident of random energy exchanges is a beautiful thing.

The exchange of information from one bundle of energy to another bundle of energy over a network of energy, questioning the existence and purpose of those bundles of energy is truly extraordinary.

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Quote mattnapa:

But that is an inaccurate description. Descartes is using premises and a conclusion based on logical principles. it is not simply thinking about something. You can disagree with the logic, but lets at least represent it accurately. I am not sure what to make of some aspects of Descartes logic, but the refutation you offered seem to only portray an absurdity of logic that claimed to mimic Descartes. Probably not my favorite form of refutation.

I'm not sure which aspect of Descarte's philosophy you are referring to. His famous, "Cogito, ergo sum" statement arose because of his exploration of extreme skepticism. To quote a telling section,

Accordingly, since we now only design to apply ourselves to the investigation of truth, we will doubt, first, whether of all the things that have ever fallen under our senses, or which we have ever imagined, any one really exists; in the first place, because we know by experience that the senses sometimes err, and it would be imprudent to trust too much to what has even once deceived us; secondly, because in dreams we perpetually seem to perceive or imagine innumerable objects which have no existence. And to one who has thus resolved upon a general doubt, there appear no marks by which he can with certainty distinguish sleep from the waking state.

Faced with the extreme prospect that there was no firm foundation for knowledge or knowing, he concluded that even in the act of doubting there was one thing he could be sure of: the existence of the doubter,

We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt, and this is the first knowledge we acquire when we philosophize in order.

While we thus reject all of which we can entertain the smallest doubt, and even imagine that it is false, we easily indeed suppose that there is neither God, nor sky, nor bodies, and that we ourselves have neither hands nor feet, not, finally, a body; but we cannot in the same way suppose that we are not while we doubt of the truth of these things; for there is a repugnance in conceiving that what thinks does not exist at the very moment when it thinks. Accordingly, the knowledge, "I think, therefore, I am," is the first and most certain that occurs to one who philosophizes orderly.

Quote mattnapa:What is significant is the idea that something is responsible for what is here and that something is greater than ourselves

Why does something have to be responsible for what is here? Why would that something have to be greater than ourselves? Doesn't this beg the question of an infinite regression? If something must be responsible for what is here, and that something must be greater than us, wouldn't it also imply that something must be responsible for that greater being as well, which would be greater still, and so on ad infinitum? As Bertrand Russel put it,

If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, "How about the tortoise?" the Indian said, "Suppose we change the subject."

Quote mattnapa:Plato made much of the world of the forms, of which math was a significant part, and the way it was more perfect than what is attained on earth. I do not know that we can claim Plato's world of the forms are equal with Godnature, but it certainly points to a rational intuiton that we have understandings that are, in a sense, more perfect than what can be achieved in the physical reality atround us.

I stand with most modern philosopher's in rejecting Plato's Forms. I also have absolutely no intuition that "we have understandings that are, in a sense, more perfect than what can be achieved in the physical reality around us". That doesn't seem self-evident in the least.

Quote mattnapa:You also seem to be trivializing the relation of math to the real world with the statement that we do not have "absolute" physical coorespondence to mathematical qualities. Clearly the usefulness of math in real world application is clear, so in fact the connection is clearly viable. Why you apparently feel that because the coorespondence is not absolute that it is instead irrelevant, I do not franlky understand

You can call math an abstraction, but then so is language. I have heard it described as middle ground between language and reality. But it is clearly an integral part in understanding our relation to the the world around us, and iI find the use of abstraction in this case as discounting what it represents

Yes, language is also an abstraction. There's nothing pejorative in the term nor is it trivializing math. As I mentioned before, mathematicians have long struggled with the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" in the world, precisely because it is abstract and there is no particular reason it ought to correspond so nicely to reality. It appears that math is the language of the universe, but it's a mystery why that should be so. I certainly never said or implied its abstract nature makes it irrelevant, anymore that the word "tree" is irrelevant despite being neither an actual tree nor even descriptive of any particular tree at all.

What is the two-ness is two? What is is about two oranges and two cars that despite massive differences, we instantly recognize as having at least this two-ness in common? Why can I cut a string in half and reasonably say I have two strings, but I cannot cut a cow in half and say I have two cows? But I can say (somewhat grotesquely) that I have two pieces of one cow?

What exactly is the square root of -1?

The mathematician G.H. Hardy said of himself, "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world." He considered pure math to be primarily of aesthetic value, that it expressed truths which were independent of the physical world. (Oh, if only he had lived long enough to see that bastion of pure mathematics, prime number theory, applied so ubiquitously to cryptography and computers!)

I was just reading an thought provoking article that undermines both some of my arguments, and your arguments, regarding the nature of a transcendent "reason" or a rational universe. The article argues the universe is more random than I have been willing to claim.

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I'm not sure which aspect of Descarte's philosophy you are referring to. His famous, "Cogito, ergo sum" statement arose because of his exploration of extreme skepticism. To quote a telling section,

This is Descartes

Quote:

If I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable, then I can think of no being greater

If it is false that I can think of no being greater, it is false I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable

Being is greater than not being

If the being I am thinking of does not exist, then it is false that I can think of no being greater.

If the being I am thinking of does not exist, then it is false that I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable

Conclusion: If I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable, then I am thinking of a being that exists

Accordingly, since we now only design to apply ourselves to the investigation of truth, we will doubt, first, whether of all the things that have ever fallen under our senses, or which we have ever imagined, any one really exists; in the first place, because we know by experience that the senses sometimes err, and it would be imprudent to trust too much to what has even once deceived us; secondly, because in dreams we perpetually seem to perceive or imagine innumerable objects which have no existence. And to one who has thus resolved upon a general doubt, there appear no marks by which he can with certainty distinguish sleep from the waking state.

Faced with the extreme prospect that there was no firm foundation for knowledge or knowing, he concluded that even in the act of doubting there was one thing he could be sure of: the existence of the doubter,

We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt, and this is the first knowledge we acquire when we philosophize in order.

While we thus reject all of which we can entertain the smallest doubt, and even imagine that it is false, we easily indeed suppose that there is neither God, nor sky, nor bodies, and that we ourselves have neither hands nor feet, not, finally, a body; but we cannot in the same way suppose that we are not while we doubt of the truth of these things; for there is a repugnance in conceiving that what thinks does not exist at the very moment when it thinks. Accordingly, the knowledge, "I think, therefore, I am," is the first and most certain that occurs to one who philosophizes orderly.

Yes I know

Why does something have to be responsible for what is here?

It seems more rational than claiming nothing is responsible

Why would that something have to be greater than ourselves?

Greatness is in the eye of beholder, but generally that which creates is seen as greater than what is created. Or that which is created owes its greatness to it's creator

Doesn't this beg the question of an infinite regression? If something must be responsible for what is here, and that something must be greater than us, wouldn't it also imply that something must be responsible for that greater being as well, which would be greater still, and so on ad infinitum?

I thought you are rejecting the importance of infinity, and now you are using it?

Plato made much of the world of the forms, of which math was a significant part, and the way it was more perfect than what is attained on earth. I do not know that we can claim Plato's world of the forms are equal with Godnature, but it certainly points to a rational intuiton that we have understandings that are, in a sense, more perfect than what can be achieved in the physical reality atround us

I stand with most modern philosopher's in rejecting Plato's Forms. I also have absolutely no intuition that "we have understandings that are, in a sense, more perfect than what can be achieved in the physical reality around us". That doesn't seem self-evident in the least.

I thought you said the real life application of mathematical forms are less exact in the physical than they are in pure math?

mattnapa wrote:Pretty sure that mathematical constructs often have cooresponding physicaly demonstrable phenomenon associated with them. A 45 degree angle is something we can at least visualize. So why would the idea of infinity be different. Maybe I am missing something. but I did not know that the either the idea of infinity or its application math has fallen into disrepute

I'm not talking about what we can visualize, I'm talking about what might actually exist. Show me a perfect 45 degree angle in nature. Or a straight line. You can't, they don't exist.

Well it is not simply visualization, it has application and bearing

What is the two-ness is two? What is is about two oranges and two cars that despite massive differences, we instantly recognize as having at least this two-ness in common? Why can I cut a string in half and reasonably say I have two strings, but I cannot cut a cow in half and say I have two cows? But I can say (somewhat grotesquely) that I have two pieces of one cow?

What exactly is the square root of -1?

The mathematician G.H. Hardy said of himself, "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world." He considered pure math to be primarily of aesthetic value, that it expressed truths which were independent of the physical world. (Oh, if only he had lived long enough to see that bastion of pure mathematics, prime number theory, applied so ubiquitously to cryptography and computers!)

I am sorry, but what is the point?

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mattnapa
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Quote mattnapa:

This is Descartes

Quote:

If I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable, then I can think of no being greater

If it is false that I can think of no being greater, it is false I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable

Being is greater than not being

If the being I am thinking of does not exist, then it is false that I can think of no being greater.

If the being I am thinking of does not exist, then it is false that I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable

Conclusion: If I am thinking of the Greatest Being Thinkable, then I am thinking of a being that exists

Right, the ontological argument. See the parody I posted above. Not to be an ass, but I didn't think anyone took that seriously anymore.

A variety of objections here. And in my opinion, a more devastating critique here. The sum of which is to say, semantic trickery doesn't prove anything.

Quote mattnapa:Me: Why does something have to be responsible for what is here?

It seems more rational than claiming nothing is responsible

Me: Doesn't this beg the question of an infinite regression? If something must be responsible for what is here, and that something must be greater than us, wouldn't it also imply that something must be responsible for that greater being as well, which would be greater still, and so on ad infinitum?

I thought you are rejecting the importance of infinity, and now you are using it?

I never rejected the importance of infinity as a concept. I said I wasn't sure infinity existed outside of a mathematical construct. Counting backwards to infinity is a mathematical construct. (Indeed, the first transfinite number, aleph-null, is countably infinite, in that it has a one-to-one correspondence with a countable set. There are higher orders of infinity which are not countable.) Regardless, doesn't the prospect of an infinite regression of gods pose a problem for your argument? Or is it turtles all the way down?

Quote mattnapa: I thought you said the real life application of mathematical forms are less exact in the physical than they are in pure math?

The key here was your use of the word "perfect". If by perfect, you meant idealized, as in the difference between the abstract notion of a "perfect" line of infinite length and no width compared to the lack of such an ideal in the physical universe, fine. But then it seems like you're mixing meanings. A "perfect" idea of a chair, in the sense of Plato's forms, is a very different beast than an idealized mathematical concept. And as I said before, I don't accept the notion that there is some quintessential notion of two-ness "out there" somewhere in the world of Forms. Thoughts do not have to correspond to physical reality.

Quote mattnapa:I am sorry, but what is the point?

How math is an abstraction and yet still useful.

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reed9
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http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/the_bible_was_written_by_dru... blasphemy is a stupid law, I suppose US will write some laws forbidding criticism of Reagan, soon.

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douglaslee
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Quote douglaslee:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/the_bible_was_written_by_dru... blasphemy is a stupid law, I suppose US will write some laws forbidding criticism of Reagan, soon.

Wow. Just wow.

And folks wonder why atheists sometimes get a little militant in their opposition to religion.

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reed9
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if only people could get off their false notion of duality. we are a culture addicted to zero-sum proposition. the opposite of reason,is not illogic. the opposite of intuition,is not logic. as far as secular materialism,or "reason" being a propagator of evangelism,it does not have to be. we are saturated with the implicit notion that all good and great stems from cogitation. the subtle,the intuitive,the wholistic are not really a part of our world in a aptly recognized way. the sort of cerebral ridgidity that creates a rockefeller drug law,comes from a reductivist mindset. do people really think that all great comes out of cold logic. no human choice on anything could. nor should. a g

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Quote agilkat:

if only people could get off their false notion of duality. we are a culture addicted to zero-sum proposition. the opposite of reason,is not illogic. the opposite of intuition,is not logic. as far as secular materialism,or "reason" being a propagator of evangelism,it does not have to be. we are saturated with the implicit notion that all good and great stems from cogitation. the subtle,the intuitive,the wholistic are not really a part of our world in a aptly recognized way. the sort of cerebral ridgidity that creates a rockefeller drug law,comes from a reductivist mindset. do people really think that all great comes out of cold logic. no human choice on anything could. nor should. a g

Of course cogitation is not the source of "all good". And where are you living that you are saturated with such a message? From where I stand in the United States, reason and science are being assaulted from all sides. The emotional and intuitive dominate our lives. Everywhere I look, the message is, "trust your gut" or "listen to your heart". Go look at the spirituality and self-help section of your local Barnes and Nobles and compare it to the science section. (You can't compare it to the atheist section, because that probably does't exist.) Faith is considered a virtue and we are addicted to "feeling". (But it is the trivialization of feeling. The sort of thing that says we can't give a kid an 'F' anymore, because it might hurt their feelings. Or, in the case posted above, that you can't criticize religion because it hurts their feelings.)

Look, there is nowhere I know a large body of atheists, secularists, or scientists dismissing the role of emotion in our lives. No one is saying we ought to all be a bunch of Spocks. I want people to cultivate a sense of wonder and awe and love. I simply don't understand why those feelings are directed at juvenile stories of a bearded fellow in the sky, or ghosts and psychics and the afterlife, when there is so much wonder right here in the real world. It's as though they have a collection of masterpieces by Rembrandt and Gogh and Da Vinci in front of them, and yet they turn away to look at a crude drawing by Joe the Plumber.

Science and logic are not cold and I'm sorry you feel that way. Science is vibrant and life-affirming. Far from being rigid, it is dynamic and generative, delighting in the thrill of knowledge and the "pleasure of finding things out", to quote the physicist Richard Feynman. It is about questioning and understanding and ennobling the human spirit. Science is the very definition of open-mindedness, for being open-minded is not, as so often claimed, the willingness to entertain any absurd notion, but the integrity to follow the evidence wheresoever it leads, and to change any belief or opinion, no matter how dearly held, given new evidence.

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reed9
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Right, the ontological argument. See the parody I posted above. Not to be an ass, but I didn't think anyone took that seriously anymore.

They still teach it in universities. what is your source that it is not taken seriously?

Me: Why does something have to be responsible for what is here?

It seems more rational than claiming nothing is responsible

Me: Doesn't this beg the question of an infinite regression? If something must be responsible for what is here, and that something must be greater than us, wouldn't it also imply that something must be responsible for that greater being as well, which would be greater still, and so on ad infinitum?

St Augistine posited god as outside of time. Still having a little trouble with you not having to deal with the problem much, but at the same time insisting on an explanation from me. If it is only a problem of abstraction, why does it negate a conversation of the elemental nature of the universe?

I thought you are rejecting the importance of infinity, and now you are using it

The key here was your use of the word "perfect". If by perfect, you meant idealized, as in the difference between the abstract notion of a "perfect" line of infinite length and no width compared to the lack of such an ideal in the physical universe, fine.

No I would say geometric forms are in fact perfect, or at least they have an effect as some sort of perfection on our rational capacities

But then it seems like you're mixing meanings.

In relation to what?

A "perfect" idea of a chair, in the sense of Plato's forms, is a very different beast than an idealized mathematical concept.

A chair is not in the same category as geometry

And as I said before, I don't accept the notion that there is some quintessential notion of two-ness "out there" somewhere in the world of Forms.

Not sure of the reference here. I am not implying everything Plato stated is related.

Thoughts do not have to correspond to physical reality.

Not getting the context. I thought I made it clear that I agree they do not necessarily coorespond

I am sorry, but what is the point?

How math is an abstraction and yet still useful.

Well what you said in 109 did not help me with this point

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mattnapa
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Quote mattnapa:

Right, the ontological argument. See the parody I posted above. Not to be an ass, but I didn't think anyone took that seriously anymore.

They still teach it in universities. what is your source that it is not taken seriously?

I admittedly don't have a particular source. I've simply never heard anyone bring it up as other than an object of ridicule. It's so obviously absurd and easily deconstructed.

Quote mattnapa:St Augistine posited god as outside of time. Still having a little trouble with you not having to deal with the problem much, but at the same time insisting on an explanation from me. If it is only a problem of abstraction, why does it negate a conversation of the elemental nature of the universe?

St. Augustine wasn't aware the earth revolved around the sun, let alone knowledge of relativity or space-time. I wouldn't take his ideas on time seriously. He didn't have any concept of what time was (we barely do now) nor what it might mean to be outside of it. And speculations about something we do not have and cannot have knowledge of, ie, god, are, well, vacuous.

I don't know what problem you're referring to that I don't have to deal with much. You lost me altogether on the last sentence.

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reed9
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Quote spankycrissy:

"For starters mathematics does not exist other than abstractly."

Do you think math would "exist" in the same fashion for a race of ET's.

Mathematics is a construct of the human mind. It does not exist in nature.

Nature may not have any sense without a mind. Existence itself is predicated on perception

Einstein said that there are two worlds, one of wood and one of crystal.

God is a construct of the human mind as it attempts to make sense of the things around it.

Maybe.

Mathematics is a construct of the human mind as it attempts to make sense of the things around it.

I do not think so. On what basis is the claim made

Neither mathematics nor God can be shown to have created anything.

Science has not created anything either, so what is the point

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can be contained or released in an infinite variety of ways and we have some control of it's transmutation. But with all of our combined knowledge the most accurate models of the the universe are best described by random events.

I am quite OK with that. I think that the idea that we are a happy accident of random energy exchanges is a beautiful thing.

Accidents usually require an intention gone awry. I am not really even sure how to understand the logic that creation is an accident

The exchange of information from one bundle of energy to another bundle of energy over a network of energy, questioning the existence and purpose of those bundles of energy is truly extraordinary.

I don't think you can have any purpose in an accidental universe

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Science is the very definition of open-mindedness.

So many problems with this.

First -We have the economic and political co-opting of science.

Second- Ethics regarding what science might produce is increasingly on the radar, and the so-called open-mindness may in fact present devestating problems.

Third- It often systematically ignores abberation. Especially in medicine.

Fourth- It establishes paradigms of dogma that can be resistent to new information. See Thomas Kuhn

Fifth- It is often limited to a labratory to perpetuate results. The world does not always lend itself to labratory investigation.

And just a final point with medicine. It is clear to me that doctors have a serious problem with rigidity. The why for this question may be tough to unravel, but part of it is the "certainity" they feel they have from the scientific method.

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Pardon the persistent posts. As to superior intelligence or technology being able to dictate our perceptions. Certainly we are familiar with the idea of the matrix and the artificial production of reality. Do we agree that an advanced civilization could indeed artificially create reality? Are we not on our way? Is there anything about science that could ensure the "realness" of our perceptions. Do we have faith that it simply cannot be true?

Also I want to throw in coorespondence theory. If we grant an existent exterior universe, how do we know that our sensory apparatus gives a "true" understanding of said universe. Is ther in fact not a contradiction that color appears as a wave/particle to various mechanical monitoring systems. That it becomes an electro-chemical signal in our nerves. And then is sensed as a color. It cannot "be" different things.

Much has been made of abstraction. I would submit it is all abstraction. Descartes got it right in that experience is the only truly known quantity.

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http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18869-neanderthal-genome-reveals-i...

interbreeding humans and neanderthals, was it rape or lonliness? Which plooked which? It's not in religious narrative, since that's the only truth, and science/atheism being cast as religion, it must be false religion. That also helps those that like their myths, to believe there is no such thing as non religion

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Mathematics is a construct of the human mind. It does not exist in nature.

Look up Adolf Zeising and the Golden Ratio.

bonnie
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Certainly we are familiar with the idea of the matrix and the artificial production of reality. Do we agree that an advanced civilization could indeed artificially create reality? Are we not on our way?

We've been there, done that and are still doing it.

Are you familiar with the allegory of Plato's Cave?

In fact the Weinstien brothers based the concept of The Matrix on Plato's Cave adding elements of Greek, Roman, Gaul, Christian, and Judaic mythology... ...not to mention the pop-culture influences.

bonnie
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Quote mattnapa:

Science is the very definition of open-mindedness.

So many problems with this.

First -We have the economic and political co-opting of science.

Second- Ethics regarding what science might produce is increasingly on the radar, and the so-called open-mindness may in fact present devestating problems.

Third- It often systematically ignores abberation. Especially in medicine.

Fourth- It establishes paradigms of dogma that can be resistent to new information. See Thomas Kuhn

Fifth- It is often limited to a labratory to perpetuate results. The world does not always lend itself to labratory investigation.

And just a final point with medicine. It is clear to me that doctors have a serious problem with rigidity. The why for this question may be tough to unravel, but part of it is the "certainity" they feel they have from the scientific method.

Perhaps I would have been more accurate to say scientific skepticism

But...

1. Which has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry for evaluating truth claims.

2. Also has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry. I discussed ethics a little earlier in this thread somewhere. Knowledge can be dangerous therefore....what? We shouldn't know anything? Bogus argument.

3. Assertion without evidence.

4. Regardless of paradigm shifts, Newton was not wrong per se, but incomplete. Newtonian physics is still perfectly useful for many things. However, accepting that science does undergo radical changes based on new evidence and discoveries, that is in support of my point. Characterizing established fact as dogma is silly. Is it dogmatic to insist the earth revolves around the sun?

5. The principles of scientific and skeptical inquiry can be applied anywhere. Carl Sagan, in his book "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" wrote a section describing his "baloney detection kit", which can serve as a guide for scientific skepticism.

Closing note: I'm assuming the so called "rigidity" you see is the rejection of alternative and complementary medicine. That is not rigidity, that is integrity. It is wholly unethical and wrong for a doctor to make claims that are not supported by the best evidence available. Otherwise it's called selling snake oil. See sciencebasedmedicine.org for many discussions of the trouble with alternative medicine. (And by the way, I speak this as someone who has had a tremendous amount of chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, and acupuncture. I practiced massage therapy as well in my early 20s. I'm quite aware of what alternative medicine is and I know how painful it was to give up my hope in those modalities. But the evidence sadly is pretty conclusive.)

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reed9, you might like http://www.skepdic.com/

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Quote douglaslee:

reed9, you might like http://www.skepdic.com/

I know of it and I do like it. Thanks!

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reed9
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I think it's interesting that an Atheist needs God in order to exist...if there wasn't a "God" there would be nothing to be against. It therefore puts the Atheist (like it or not) in the same camp as a belief system or religion because of its very definition. The very definition of an Atheist supports the existence of a God...

Also, my favorite definition of an Agnostic is this ...An Agnostic is someone who sees "the light" off in the distance but just can't be sure that "the light" isn't Disneyland. (I can't remember the name of the guy who said this but he's a modern theologian and his name starts with a B...how's THAT for clarity???:)

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Quote Grandy:

I think it's interesting that an Atheist needs God in order to exist...if there wasn't a "God" there would be nothing to be against. It therefore puts the Atheist (like it or not) in the same camp as a belief system or religion because of its very definition. The very definition of an Atheist supports the existence of a God...

No, it merely needs the idea of god in order to exist. Do you need Purple Unicorns in order to not believe in them?

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reed9
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Perhaps I would have been more accurate to say scientific skepticism

But...

1. Which has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry for evaluating truth claims.

Maybe in a pure form, but it has nothing to do with the reality of it. You know kind of like religion in its pure form is good just the application sucks

2. Also has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry. I discussed ethics a little earlier in this thread somewhere. Knowledge can be dangerous therefore....what? We shouldn't know anything? Bogus argument

Open mindness and truth claims are not the same thing. False analogy

3. Assertion without evidence.

Same to you

4. Regardless of paradigm shifts, Newton was not wrong per se, but incomplete. Newtonian physics is still perfectly useful for many things. However, accepting that science does undergo radical changes based on new evidence and discoveries, that is in support of my point. Characterizing established fact as dogma is silly. Is it dogmatic to insist the earth revolves around the sun?

Were kind of slipping into name calling here. Dogma can be true or not true. If you like doctrine better so be it, but your characterixation of my characterization is incorrect. Are you really claiming ther is no tendency to adhere to doctrine? It is a problem for a lot of belief systems. The answer is usually something like rigorously tested beliefs loosely held. But if your going to claim there is not an issue with the degree doctrine is held in the face of new information, then your silly

5. The principles of scientific and skeptical inquiry can be applied anywhere. Carl Sagan, in his book "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" wrote a section describing his "baloney detection kit", which can serve as a guide for scientific skepticism.

Applying principles and results that come from laboratory settings are not the same thing. Is a shaman always a scam artist according to "scientific principles." Or is it simply the placebo effect. When does science say we are not sure what is happening?

Closing note: I'm assuming the so called "rigidity" you see is the rejection of alternative and complementary medicine. That is not rigidity, that is integrity. It is wholly unethical and wrong for a doctor to make claims that are not supported by the best evidence available. Otherwise it's called selling snake oil. See sciencebasedmedicine.org for many discussions of the trouble with alternative medicine. (And by the way, I speak this as someone who has had a tremendous amount of chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, and acupuncture. I practiced massage therapy as well in my early 20s. I'm quite aware of what alternative medicine is and I know how painful it was to give up my hope in those modalities. But the evidence sadly is pretty conclusive.)

We can argue the evidence if you like, but it is not the only point. Medicine simply pretends to have understandings when they do not know what is happening. LPR, Prostatitis, etc. The amount of drugs being pumped into people unecessarily is absolutely contrary to what medicine claims to be. The antacid industry is probably causing more health problems than in particular factor in our society. There is no proof that they or anti-deppresents work better than placebo in most disorders. Even in the cases where PPI's may help acid problems, they create new problems.

The whole premise with allopathic medicine has been to alter the body as opposed to reinforcing it's natural function. It follows the pardigm of money's infection of science quite nicely. Sorry if you had poor experiences with alternative medicine, but to give your particular experience much credit would be poor science. The fact is that alternative medicine continues to grow quite rapidly. Apparently your side will play the "deluded fool" card it likes to play when people get involved in things that have not been established with your kind of proof. It seems clear to me doctors, and the medical industry, has made a systematic practice on limiting the discussion around medicine, and in particular the issues regarding alternative medicine

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Quote reed9:
Quote Grandy:

I think it's interesting that an Atheist needs God in order to exist...if there wasn't a "God" there would be nothing to be against. It therefore puts the Atheist (like it or not) in the same camp as a belief system or religion because of its very definition. The very definition of an Atheist supports the existence of a God...

No, it merely needs the idea of god in order to exist. Do you need Purple Unicorns in order to not believe in them?

Not much of a distinction. Whether it is God, or the idea of God ,atheists need it. And yes I need the idea of purple unicorn to knowingly not believe in them.

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mattnapa
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Quote mattnapa:

1. Which has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry for evaluating truth claims.

Maybe in a pure form, but it has nothing to do with the reality of it. You know kind of like religion in its pure form is good just the application sucks

Well, I actually think religion in its "pure" form also sucks. But that is just opinion, and what I'm primarily concerned with is how to confidently establish which things are probably true.

Quote mattnapa:2. Also has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry. I discussed ethics a little earlier in this thread somewhere. Knowledge can be dangerous therefore....what? We shouldn't know anything? Bogus argument

Open mindness and truth claims are not the same thing. False analogy

Granted that the two are not the same. But there is a relationship. We don't want to be so credulous that we believe anything, right? We all have criteria by which we judge things to be more or less plausible. My argument is that we ought to be more careful about our criteria to avoid logical fallacies and cognitive biases. You tacitly grant my position when you try to demonstrate through logic and reason the correctness of your position. Kind of a catch 22.

Quote mattnapa:3. Assertion without evidence.

Same to you

The point is you're making a very bold claim about science and medicine ignoring "aberration", without even attempting to define what you mean by aberration, nor even anecdotal examples, let alone real evidence. I made a guess regarding medicine what you meant, I haven't a clue what "aberrations" you think science is ignoring.

Quote mattnapa:4. Regardless of paradigm shifts, Newton was not wrong per se, but incomplete. Newtonian physics is still perfectly useful for many things. However, accepting that science does undergo radical changes based on new evidence and discoveries, that is in support of my point. Characterizing established fact as dogma is silly. Is it dogmatic to insist the earth revolves around the sun?

Were kind of slipping into name calling here. Dogma can be true or not true. If you like doctrine better so be it, but your characterixation of my characterization is incorrect. Are you really claiming ther is no tendency to adhere to doctrine? It is a problem for a lot of belief systems. The answer is usually something like rigorously tested beliefs loosely held. But if your going to claim there is not an issue with the degree doctrine is held in the face of new information, then your silly

Dogma by definition is a claim made by authority (ie, argument from authority), and usually implies there are not adequate grounds to make that claim. The difference with with scientific fact is that in principle anyone should be able to look at the same evidence, do their own experiments, and reach the same conclusion. There are no "authorities" in science, only experts.

All people have a tendency to adhere to doctrine. Science is the only thing I know of with a built-in self-corrective mechanism. Because questioning authority and doctrine is a fundamental aspect of what science is, errors tend to be corrected in time. At the same time, it wouldn't be good to jump on every new hypothesis too rapidly. The vast majority of all hypotheses are wrong. And of course, the more a new idea deviates from the accepted body of knowledge, the more convincing the evidence needs to be. This is also a good thing. If you're going to propose a theory of splace-time that doesn't include gravity, for example, you'd better be prepared to have some damn strong evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Quote mattnapa:5. The principles of scientific and skeptical inquiry can be applied anywhere. Carl Sagan, in his book "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" wrote a section describing his "baloney detection kit", which can serve as a guide for scientific skepticism.

Applying principles and results that come from laboratory settings are not the same thing. Is a shaman always a scam artist according to "scientific principles." Or is it simply the placebo effect. When does science say we are not sure what is happening?

If the shaman is making claims about cause and effect, about the physical universe, then we are correct to criticize them. They are not necessarily a "scam-artist" since that implies they know what their selling is bunk. I do think most purveyors of medical woo have their heart in the right place. It's their minds that need help. And yes, so far the overwhelming evidence for most alternative medicine is that it performs no better than placebo.

Quote mattnapa: We can argue the evidence if you like, but it is not the only point. Medicine simply pretends to have understandings when they do not know what is happening. LPR, Prostatitis, etc. The amount of drugs being pumped into people unecessarily is absolutely contrary to what medicine claims to be. The antacid industry is probably causing more health problems than in particular factor in our society. There is no proof that they or anti-deppresents work better than placebo in most disorders. Even in the cases where PPI's may help acid problems, they create new problems.

Again, you're making bold claims with nothing to back it up. I admittedly haven't looked deeply into the antacid industry. Show me studies showing the cons of antacid use outweigh the pros and I'm there. As I've said elsewhere, I'm no apologist for the pharmaceutical industry. They obviously do engage in sketchy behavior and not all drugs are adequately tested or used appropriately. But if the standards for mainstream medicine aren't good enough, why would you accept lesser standards for alternative medicine?

Regarding anti-depressants and similar drugs, psychiatry and psychology are rife with unproven claims. The lack of scientific rigor is a serious problem in these fields. (And I also worked in community mental health as a case manager for years. So I'm familiar with that industry as well.)

Quote mattnapa: The whole premise with allopathic medicine has been to alter the body as opposed to reinforcing it's natural function. It follows the pardigm of money's infection of science quite nicely. Sorry if you had poor experiences with alternative medicine, but to give your particular experience much credit would be poor science.

I did not have a poor experience with alternative medicine. I had a great experience in alternative medicine, insofar as liking the people involved, feeling cared for, and such. And going to Seattle Massage School was one of the greatest experiences of my life. My experience has no bearing on the evidence, as you rightly pointed out.

Quote mattnapa: The fact is that alternative medicine continues to grow quite rapidly.

That alternative medicine continues to grow or has many adherents is an argument from popularity.

Quote mattnapa:Apparently your side will play the "deluded fool" card it likes to play when people get involved in things that have not been established with your kind of proof. It seems clear to me doctors, and the medical industry, has made a systematic practice on limiting the discussion around medicine, and in particular the issues regarding alternative medicine

What would your kind of proof be? We've had decades and millions of dollars poured into studies which so far at best have been equivocal. If the pharmaceutical industry operated with the same lax standards as alternative medicine, they would have the pants sued off them, people would be up in arms. There should not be dual-standards or even such a thing as alternative medicine. There should just be medicine. If a treatment works, great, it will be adopted. If it doesn't work, get rid of it. What in world in wrong with wanting evidence, especially when it comes to people lives and health???

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reed9
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Quote mattnapa:
Quote reed9:
Quote Grandy:

I think it's interesting that an Atheist needs God in order to exist...if there wasn't a "God" there would be nothing to be against. It therefore puts the Atheist (like it or not) in the same camp as a belief system or religion because of its very definition. The very definition of an Atheist supports the existence of a God...

No, it merely needs the idea of god in order to exist. Do you need Purple Unicorns in order to not believe in them?

Not much of a distinction. Whether it is God, or the idea of God ,atheists need it. And yes I need the idea of purple unicorn to knowingly not believe in them.

It's a huge distinction! It's the difference between existing and not existing. The original poster argued disbelieving in God supports the existence of God. By the same argument, disbelieving in unicorns ought to support their existence. Or in Zeus or in any of the other millions upon millions of things we don't believe in. It's ludicrous. You can't seriously argue it's not logically absurd???

I'm sorry, but it's extremely frustrating. I'm all for discussing religion and nature of the universe and all, but you have to adhere to some basic principles of logic, or it's just like shouting "because I said so" over and over.

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reed9
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Quote reed9:

Well, I actually think religion in its "pure" form also sucks. But that is just opinion, and what I'm primarily concerned with is how to confidently establish which things are probably true.

Well I am also interested in principles being applied fairly towards both arguments. Many of the quotes you have used have criticized what is done in name of religion and not what the original teachings are. Do you recognize most religions have taught a certain denial of hedonistic pursuit in favor of a disciplined and contemplative self. Do you really think meditation and other forms of either spiritual evolvement, or if you prefer self control "suck.". Conversly something in the mad rush to science seems intimately connected with greed and the urge to control ones environment.

And when you say true you mean repeatable and measurable?

Quote mattnapa:2. Also has nothing to do with science as a method of inquiry. I discussed ethics a little earlier in this thread somewhere. Knowledge can be dangerous therefore....what? We shouldn't know anything? Bogus argument

Open mindness and truth claims are not the same thing. False analogy

Granted that the two are not the same. But there is a relationship. We don't want to be so credulous that we believe anything, right? We all have criteria by which we judge things to be more or less plausible

That is fine, but it still seems like a strecth to support the open-mindedness staement. I do agree that there is a difficult balance with doctrine or knowledge and open-mindedness

. My argument is that we ought to be more careful about our criteria to avoid logical fallacies and cognitive biases. You tacitly grant my position when you try to demonstrate through logic and reason the correctness of your position. Kind of a catch 22.

No I really do not think so. I think that logic is a tool for either side of this argument. Certainly there have been many theoligan philosophers who have thought so. Aquinas probably being the best.

Quote mattnapa:3. Assertion without evidence.

Same to you

The point is you're making a very bold claim about science and medicine ignoring "aberration", without even attempting to define what you mean by aberration, nor even anecdotal examples, let alone real evidence. I made a guess regarding medicine what you meant, I haven't a clue what "aberrations" you think science is ignoring.

This is kind of a difficult one. First I would suggest the use of probability of coincidence to discount apparently strange phenemenon is pretty much out of control.? Second is a kind of built in denial of contrary data as long as overall trends remain consistent. This is not necessarily always an oversight since science must set limits on how categories and trends are defined and examined.

Quote mattnapa:4. Regardless of paradigm shifts, Newton was not wrong per se, but incomplete. Newtonian physics is still perfectly useful for many things. However, accepting that science does undergo radical changes based on new evidence and discoveries, that is in support of my point. Characterizing established fact as dogma is silly. Is it dogmatic to insist the earth revolves around the sun?

Here is my American Heritage defenition-A principle, belief, or statement of idea or opinion esp.one authoritatively considered to be absolute truth.

What am I missing?

Were kind of slipping into name calling here. Dogma can be true or not true. If you like doctrine better so be it, but your characterixation of my characterization is incorrect. Are you really claiming ther is no tendency to adhere to doctrine? It is a problem for a lot of belief systems. The answer is usually something like rigorously tested beliefs loosely held. But if your going to claim there is not an issue with the degree doctrine is held in the face of new information, then your silly

Dogma by definition is a claim made by authority (ie, argument from authority), and usually implies there are not adequate grounds to make that claim. The difference with with scientific fact is that in principle anyone should be able to look at the same evidence, do their own experiments, and reach the same conclusion. There are no "authorities" in science, only experts.

I thought science relied on an ongoing set of working hypothesis and not static facts. Tell me your not saying science eludes the definition of dogma because they are expert and not authorities. Yes that it is a potentilaly every man"s playhouse is good, but the premise does not support your conclusion as far as I can see. Even if it does so what? Is the word dogma applied to science that you go this far to avoid it? Sounds kind of defensive.

All people have a tendency to adhere to doctrine. Science is the only thing I know of with a built-in self-corrective mechanism.

These two statements seem to be incontradiction, but it is probably your way of claiming that science helps man overcome himself. There is a clear tendency to adhere to doctrine period. And a matter of fact, there needs to be some in science as well since not every working hypothesis can be constanly checked on from all angles. Though Kuhn is his disciplinary matrix seemed to suggest that a certain"shared" organizational network was necessary for science to proceed properly. This seems somewhat at odds with science as absolute in its open ended demoratic nature.

.

Quote mattnapa:5. The principles of scientific and skeptical inquiry can be applied anywhere. Carl Sagan, in his book "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" wrote a section describing his "baloney detection kit", which can serve as a guide for scientific skepticism.

Applying principles and results that come from laboratory settings are not the same thing. Is a shaman always a scam artist according to "scientific principles." Or is it simply the placebo effect. When does science say we are not sure what is happening?

If the shaman is making claims about cause and effect, about the physical universe, then we are correct to criticize them.

Well here is a case where abberation becomes anathema. One might posit that at some times a shaman may "seemingly" cause a physical event to occur inconsistent with some working hypothesis. If the the reaction is impossible then in fact you do not have a working hypothesis but instead dogmatized axiom. Instead it is necessary to prove that another explanation of the events attributed to the shaman was at play. Now in practicallity, it is not possible to investigate every claim, but in the the cause of the scientific method it is. You knoiw I am sorry to say this, but if you hook a shaman up to a bunch of wiring and monitors it might break up his routine a bit

They are not necessarily a "scam-artist" since that implies they know what their selling is bunk. I do think most purveyors of medical woo have their heart in the right place. It's their minds that need help. And yes, so far the overwhelming evidence for most alternative medicine is that it performs no better than placebo.

Well we might as well have at this one as well. Please provide some support for your claim for starters

Again, you're making bold claims with nothing to back it up. I admittedly haven't looked deeply into the antacid industry. Show me studies showing the cons of antacid use outweigh the pros and I'm there.

Well it starts in what I have already mentioned. Look first at how to restore normative function, as opposed to looking only at symptom relief. Let's also differentiate between symptom relief alone, as opposed to overall mortality and drug side effects. If you know of some studies on antacids with these three factors please let me know.

Also I made claims about the claims of the allopath regarding certain disease. Maybe we can start with the cliam that so many disease is incurable. Now does this mean that you will never have 100 percent symptom resoloution, or does it mean that you will not have 100 percent symptom resolution without lifestyle changes

That alternative medicine continues to grow or has many adherents is an argument from popularity.

I will look at the link after this, but maybe you have realized by now that I am familiar with the logical fallacies. For one it depends if we are making a truth claim, and exactly the logic involved in such a claim. I did not say Alternative medicine is a more objectively truthful form of medicine, though I am not relinquishing this cliam either, rather I said simply it is growing proportionally in the marketplace. Now if you wish to claim the marketplace is an unfair barometer of the usefulness of services provided then do so

Quote mattnapa:Apparently your side will play the "deluded fool" card it likes to play when people get involved in things that have not been established with your kind of proof. It seems clear to me doctors, and the medical industry, has made a systematic practice on limiting the discussion around medicine, and in particular the issues regarding alternative medicine

What would your kind of proof be?

Well looking back I think I tried to say two different things here.

An unwillingness from the allopathic industry in general to have open public discussion of the issues

The existing structure for comparitive testing of supplements is inadequate, as is the review process of existing studies for them. Am I implying a financially motivated bias in the system. You betcha

Though looking back on my original question it does seem a little hostile. My apologies. I try not characterize the "your side" stuff and attribute things to you which you have not statedOccasionally it comes with the territory of certain argument to defend those with whom your position is reflected, but it did not seem to be necessarily connected here

We've had decades and millions of dollars poured into studies which so far at best have been equivocal. If the pharmaceutical industry operated with the same lax standards as alternative medicine, they would have the pants sued off them, people would be up in arms. There should not be dual-standards or even such a thing as alternative medicine. There should just be medicine. If a treatment works, great, it will be adopted. If it doesn't work, get rid of it. What in world in wrong with wanting evidence, especially when it comes to people lives and health???

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mattnapa
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delete

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douglaslee
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try
http://www.philosophersnet.com/games/god.htm

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douglaslee
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finally 3 posts down a link

Battleground God

Do-It-Yourself Deity

Have you played Do-It-Yourself Deity yet? If not, you should play this before Battleground God. It deals with the same issues, but is less complex.

Battleground God

Can your beliefs about religion make it across our intellectual battleground?

In this activity you’ll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet.

Click here for more on the criteria for hits and bullet-biting

Of course, you may go along with thinkers such as Kierkegaard and believe that religious belief does not need to be rationally consistent. But that takes us beyond the scope of this activity, which is about the extent to which your beliefs are rationally consistent, not whether this is a good or a bad thing.

What happens when you don't agree with the analyses!?

Have a look at our FAQ. It'll give you some idea of our thinking, even if we have got things wrong. I'm afraid that we can't reply to email about this activity - we just get way too much and the issues are frequently quite involved. Sorry! This is purely a question of time, nothing else. [Don't look at the FAQ before you play, that'll spoil the game.]

Don't cheat!

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote mattnapa:

And when you say true you mean repeatable and measurable?

Those are two things that help us be confident that something is true. There could be true things that are neither repeatable or measurable, but it would be difficult to be confident they were true.

Quote mattnapa:

No I really do not think so. I think that logic is a tool for either side of this argument. Certainly there have been many theoligan philosophers who have thought so. Aquinas probably being the best.

I prefer C.S. Lewis to Aquinas, personally. :) Either way, they both frequently ask us to accept premises that are not self-evident or make dubious leaps of logic.

Quote mattnapa: This is kind of a difficult one. First I would suggest the use of probability of coincidence to discount apparently strange phenemenon is pretty much out of control.? Second is a kind of built in denial of contrary data as long as overall trends remain consistent. This is not necessarily always an oversight since science must set limits on how categories and trends are defined and examined.

I don't think the use of probability to discount weird phenomena is out of control, assuming probability describes something true about the world. If something has a 1 in a million chance of happening to a person, and there are 6 billion people in the world... And of course, many events that seem improbable on the surface really aren't. In a group of 23 people, there is a greater than 50% chance two of them will share a birthday. Most people feel it ought to be far less. If probability didn't work, casinos would all fold.

Quote mattnapa: I thought science relied on an ongoing set of working hypothesis and not static facts. Tell me your not saying science eludes the definition of dogma because they are expert and not authorities. Yes that it is a potentilaly every man"s playhouse is good, but the premise does not support your conclusion as far as I can see. Even if it does so what? Is the word dogma applied to science that you go this far to avoid it? Sounds kind of defensive.

I'm saying the words dogma and doctrine have specific connotations that are not applicable to science and I reject efforts to frame science in those terms. Framing science in the language of religion once more leads down the path to define science as religion.

Quote mattnapa:All people have a tendency to adhere to doctrine. Science is the only thing I know of with a built-in self-corrective mechanism.

These two statements seem to be incontradiction, but it is probably your way of claiming that science helps man overcome himself. There is a clear tendency to adhere to doctrine period. And a matter of fact, there needs to be some in science as well since not every working hypothesis can be constanly checked on from all angles.

Yes, if you define doctrine to just mean a body of established knowledge. By necessity there are assumptions that must be made to do anything. We can't reinvent the wheel every day. But again, scientists can and do question these assumptions all the time.

Quote mattnapa:

Well here is a case where abberation becomes anathema. One might posit that at some times a shaman may "seemingly" cause a physical event to occur inconsistent with some working hypothesis. If the the reaction is impossible then in fact you do not have a working hypothesis but instead dogmatized axiom. Instead it is necessary to prove that another explanation of the events attributed to the shaman was at play. Now in practicallity, it is not possible to investigate every claim, but in the the cause of the scientific method it is. You knoiw I am sorry to say this, but if you hook a shaman up to a bunch of wiring and monitors it might break up his routine a bit

We don't need to hook the shaman up to a bunch of wires in most cases. If a shaman claims to be able to cure cancer, it's pretty simple to have the shaman do his thing on a group of cancer patients and see if they still have cancer afterwards.

If the shaman claims to be able to make it rain, then we just need to see if after he does his thing, it rains. Taking into account the probability it would have rained anyway. That's a little more difficult to establish a statistically significant effect for, but not all that difficult.

Quote mattnapa: Well we might as well have at this one as well. Please provide some support for your claim for starters

If you go to the site I posted before, sciencebasedmedicine.org, you will find many many discussions of the various studies out there. It is of course difficult to lump all alternative medicine as equivalent, since it encompasses a huge range of modalities. Some are more plausible than others. Acupuncture looks to have some effect for back pain, for example. (At least, I think the state of the evidence still suggests that.) But, given that sham acupucunture performs equally well, whatever effect it might have seems to have nothing to do with Chi or energy meridians. Chiropractic subluxations don't exist, but some chiropractic treatment works as well as mainstream physical therapy. And homeopathy is complete BS.

So there are two separate issues. Whether there is an actual effect to the modality, and what sort of claims the practicioners are making. If acupuncture is effective, but does not have anything to do with traditional concepts of why, then I think it is unethical for practitioners to regale their clients with ideas of Chi and meridians. Health care providers have an ethical and moral obligation, or ought to at least, to present the facts as best they can to their clients.

How would you recommend differentiating between an actual snake oil salesman and, for example, a homeopath, without science?

Quote mattnapa: Well it starts in what I have already mentioned. Look first at how to restore normative function, as opposed to looking only at symptom relief. Let's also differentiate between symptom relief alone, as opposed to overall mortality and drug side effects. If you know of some studies on antacids with these three factors please let me know.

This is one of the more bizarre claims I hear time and again about mainstream medicine - that it is overly focused on symptom relief and doesn't address the underlying causes of the disease. It's just not true. Antiobiotics are one prime example of addressing the underlying disease. Or the claim that mainstream medicine doesn't focus enough on prevention. Un, vaccines? Not to mention every doctor I've ever talked to advocates lifestyle changes to maintain health.

Quote mattnapa: I will look at the link after this, but maybe you have realized by now that I am familiar with the logical fallacies. For one it depends if we are making a truth claim, and exactly the logic involved in such a claim. I did not say Alternative medicine is a more objectively truthful form of medicine, though I am not relinquishing this cliam either, rather I said simply it is growing proportionally in the marketplace. Now if you wish to claim the marketplace is an unfair barometer of the usefulness of services provided then do so

I would absolutely say that the marketplace is a poor barometer of the effectiveness of the medicine. I'd be careful saying usefulness. For example, my mom goes to naturopaths primarily because she likes the amount of time they take talking with her, so it is useful in that context, so long as she doesn't have anything seriously wrong with her.

Patent medicines were very popular at one point in time, but you wouldn't argue they were actually effective, would you?

Quote mattnapa: An unwillingness from the allopathic industry in general to have open public discussion of the issues

I don't get it. Alt. medicine is huge business. There's lots of discussion public and otherwise.

Quote mattnapa:Patent medicines The existing structure for comparitive testing of supplements is inadequate, as is the review process of existing studies for them. Am I implying a financially motivated bias in the system. You betcha

I don't disagree. I would include in this statement herbal and dietary supplements.

Quote mattnapa: Though looking back on my original question it does seem a little hostile. My apologies. I try not characterize the "your side" stuff and attribute things to you which you have not statedOccasionally it comes with the territory of certain argument to defend those with whom your position is reflected, but it did not seem to be necessarily connected here

I don't mind passionate debate or even a little hostility, so long as the argument made is to the point of the conversation and rational. (Well, hostility towards the argument, not the person. It wouldn't do to call each other names, but you can call my argument stupid all you want.) You were far more careful in your use of language in this last post, which I appreciate.

reed9's picture
reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 10:26 am

It's a huge distinction! It's the difference between existing and not existing.

Maybe for a believer of some sort, for the agnostic it is simply the same unknowable question. .

The original poster argued disbelieving in God supports the existence of God. By the same argument, disbelieving in unicorns ought to support their existence. Or in Zeus or in any of the other millions upon millions of things we don't believe in. It's ludicrous. You can't seriously argue it's not logically absurd???

I thought he/she said atheists need a god ato establish their position. Maybe I read it wrong. Logic can be strange as well, and I would say that arguing against something gives that something a certain validity. But I would not suggest it proves it place in the functional reality to which you refer

I'm sorry, but it's extremely frustrating. I'm all for discussing religion and nature of the universe and all, but you have to adhere to some basic principles of logic, or it's just like shouting "because I said so" over and over.

Well I hope this answer is less frustrating.

mattnapa's picture
mattnapa
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote mattnapa:

I thought he/she said atheists need a god ato establish their position. Maybe I read it wrong.

The original poster said, "The very definition of an Atheist supports the existence of a God..."

reed9's picture
reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 10:26 am

Mattnappa wrote: "I'm sorry, but it's extremely frustrating. I'm all for discussing religion and nature of the universe and all, but you have to adhere to some basic principles of logic, or it's just like shouting "because I said so" over and over."

--------

Probably religious texts should be used as a starting point for religious debate....not as a final prononcement. "The book says.....and that's it." Nope.

I interpret Christianity with a Buddhist prespective. That totally changes the dynamics of what Christianity is or isn't for me. It changes meanings extracted from Scripture. I probably have more in common with atheists than I do with Christians.

I'll explain my religious views...and don't attempt to convert people to them.. They are certainly outside the views of my own church....and have a lot in common with the writings of some early saints. Writings that are read with great difficulty by those adhering to current views. For example, "double think" has to be applied by most when they attempt to comprehend the Philokalia.

Any strong belief upheld with "religious fervor", I consider to be a religion of sorts. Nazism was a "religion" from my point of view....as is market fundamentalism.

However, at is core, religion is really an introspective sort of thing. "The kingdom of heaven is within you." Contentment, joy, etc. are within...not without. Religion, for me, is in developing the capacity to create them internally...being responsible for one's own emotional content rather than projecting it onto someone else. Religious "rules" assist in that endeavor whether Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or findings in modern psychology. It's all the same thing.

It's pretty difficult to create internal contentment if one goes around bopping people over the head, stealing their stuff or bombing them into oblivion. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one definition of that sort of thing.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Art Junky- If you read what I said we know "how" gravity works, but we do not know "why" it works. Science rarely answers the whys in the world.

This presumes that "why" is an important question. Just because people want things to have meaning, doesn't mean it should.

As far as the point about gravity, the Aristotelian Authority DEMANDED that people believe that gravity was inseparably linked to the forces of heaven (being "up there") and hell (being "down there"). Gravity was a manifestation of heaven and hell. As long as the universe was ordered so that the center of the Earth was also the center of the universe, their authority stood solid.

We all know now that this "UNANSWERABLE QUESTION" or assumption, was flat out wrong. Although it fit nicely into the metaphor they had devised, it failed to describe a good working model of how gravity worked.

I started out on this thread telling everyone that I finally got my FSM (flying spaghetti monster) hood ornament. I could ask WHY does "my god" have spaghetti noodles for appendages or, for that matter, why is the Invisible Pink Unicorn PINK?

It really doesn't mean anything because the question is stupid to begin with.

What I'm getting at is I can invent an infinite number of deities and then ask an infinite number of questions about these deities. Asking why gravity works, is doing the same thing. Once we know how something works, the whys become redundant. Unfortunately, humans are addicted to the "whys" and in the case of religion, they will sacrifice it all for fantasies. Humans want(NEED) a good plot in a story. If our lives turn out to have a really bad narrative, what's the purpose of that?

artjunky's picture
artjunky
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I want to step back to a broader picture for a second. There are some fundamental assumptions I'm making that I'd like to make explicit. The axiomatic foundation of my position if you will.

1. There is a universe/multiverse/some sort of reality out there, independent of me or human beings. It would exist with or without us.

2. This reality is essentially regular. Which is to say, the laws of physics are universal in both time and space, ie, the speed of light is the same in another galaxy as it is here, and that it was the same a million years ago and will be the same in a million years. I anticipate there could be some criticism here, or claims that this is unprovable and therefore a belief. All I can say is that so far, in recorded history, there are no counter-examples to these two tenants.

3. Human senses accurately represent some limited aspect of reality. Whatever our limitations, our senses are accurate enough that two people or a million people have enough commonality to function, interact, and agree on some basic fundamental descriptions of the world.

Granting those 3 points, I further conclude that facts do exist, and there are some statements that are more factual than others. Given a tree, one can confidently describe its root system, or life cycle, or the shape of a leaf or branch, and be objectively more accurate, closer to fact, that if you described it as being a screen upon which to watch broadcast television programs.

Anyone disagree with these so far?

Given that, are there criteria we should put forth in order to more confidently decide which things are more or less representative of objective reality? Is there a way to confidently decide for example, that "I cannot fly without external aid, and I won't be able to tomorrow or next year either. Furthermore my neighbor also cannot fly unaided, nor any other human being, even though I haven't gone through and checked with all 6 billion of them"?

Obviously, I think there is such a criteria and we call it science. Anything that has not been subject to this criteria, we can rightly be skeptical of and hold judgement on. The closer an unkown corresponds to something that is provisionally known, the more quickly we can accept it confidently. If I am confident that chemical X is poisonous to roses, and a related chemical Y gets poured on my roses and they die, it isn't a stretch to guess chemical Y is at fault. (Though it may not be. But no surprise if it is.) If I poured water on my roses and they died, though, I wouldn't guess it was water. Furthmore, I would be skeptical if someone claimed that it was, because that would violate something which I have already confidently established.

There are some thing which are outside of this framework. Should the State have a right to execute someone? Science can't answer that. Science can, however, tell us, for every 100 people executed 5 are innocent, to make up some numbers, and we can decide if that is acceptable.

This is in essence all I've been arguing. These are the things we are confident in, these are the things we are are not confident in, as in there is evidence supporting our lack of confidence, and these are the things we really have no idea on. I can see a case for God in either of the latter two.

My personal opinion is that given that lack of confidence, there is no need to concern ourselves about it. God has no necessary relationship to our emotional, moral, or intellectual lives. Since obviously people can be good without God, and can lead rich and fulfilling lives without God, why bring him into the picture at all? And all the time spent worrying about or worshipping God could be spent addressing real human concerns and problems. War and poverty and inequality, things that matter to us as a species.

And this doesn't mean we'd all be cold, logical machines. We don't need God to feel warmth and compassion anymore than we need Cupid to be able to love. Or maybe to rephrase it, what in the world does the supernatural have to do with warmth, compassion, and love? Why would the existence of heaven or some spirit world in any way effect the depth of our emotions or committment to life?

reed9's picture
reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 10:26 am

Reedwrote: "Given a tree, one can confidently describe its root system, or life cycle, or the shape of a leaf or branch, and be objectively more accurate, closer to fact, that if you described it as being a screen upon which to watch broadcast television programs."

----------

Well, the projection of what's perceived by the eyes onto the back of the brain can be likened to a TV set. Everything is viewed internally.

We can determine the physical make-up of a tree and its growth cycles, etc.

What we can't do is separate that which makes a living tree distinct from a dead one. Just exactly what is this thing we call "life"? What precisely is it that allows any living thing to be animated, grow, reproduce, repair itself, etc.? Why can't life be transplanted from a living tree....to a dead one?

Using the scientific inquirey, how can it be done? Is it a religious question, a scientific question, or both?

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Well, the projection of what's perceived by the eyes onto the back of the brain can be likened to a TV set. Everything is viewed internally.

Sticking to the broader point, regardless that brain interprets information from our senses, are we in agreement that there is something actually there, something stimulating the senses to be able to give information to the brain? And that, with few exceptions, regardless of culture or language, all people will have a similar enough experience of this thing that we can function together?

Quote polycarp2:

We can determine the physical make-up of a tree and its growth cycles, etc.

What we can't do is separate that which makes a living tree distinct from a dead one. Just exactly what is this thing we call "life"? What precisely is it that allows any living thing to be animated, grow, reproduce, repair itself, etc.? Why can't life be transplanted from a living tree....to a dead one?

Using the scientific inquirey, how can it be done? Is it a religious question, a scientific question, or both?

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

Are you saying "can't" as an absolute statement on the limits of knowledge, or "can't" as is we currently are not able to? To the former, how do you know we can't? To the latter, it's still in the realm of scientific inquiry regardless of whether we have a confident answer yet.

I suspect part of the trouble coming up with a definition of life that isn't merely descriptive (what we currently have), is that the boundary between life and death is more of a continuum than a discrete point. However, for purposes of society wanting to know things like time of death, we have to choose a particular point.

What "allows" life to reproduce? I'm not sure I understand the question. We have a tremendous about of knowledge about reproduction down to the level of DNA and how it codes for specific proteins. Allow is an interesting choice of words. It implies right off the bat that the existence of life requires something which can allow (or presumably disallow) it. It's an unnecessary supposition.

Again, science doesn't need to know all the answers. We have those things we are fairly confident are true and we have those things we are cofident are not true and we have things in the middle where we just don't know. (Though they may be leaning in one of the two directions.)

If you label the things we just don't know as religious questions, you're making a God of the Gaps argument. But my biggest confusion with it all is that positing God doesn't answer the questions either. To the question, for example, of how organic material arose from inorganic material, how life actually started, the difference between "I don't know" and "God did it" is infinitesimal. Saying God did it does not increase understanding at all. The former is at least more honest. And the danger of the latter is that it can set up a barrier to questioning. (As we have seen many times, religious sects frequently do not care for their doctrines to be questioned.)

reed9's picture
reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 10:26 am

Just a question. What is this thing we call life that can animate a being?

Has it been studied and put in a bottle? What color is it, etc.? If it has a distinct form, shape, can it be translanted into something dead...bringing animation? Is that a religious question, a scientific question, or both?

From my own perspective, it's both.What is life?

Retired Monk -"Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

If Atheism is a religion then words mean nothing; our religious metaphors mean nothing too. If so, the answer is neither. Neither Religion nor Science can answer the question because the abstractions have been rendered meaningless.

In a world without "context," the world "just is" and no matter how much we try to give it a good narrative, it will always elude us.

Reed, I can agree with the three points.

I think my opinion differs from most people here. Of course we're splitting hairs and basically agree with each other. That said, I think I'm more willing to give our Scientists the ability to establish a knowable and predictable framework that works. And given time, I am fairly confident that we will answer ALL those unknowables by either proving them flat out wrong or by demonstrating how things REALLY work. These "unknowable" questions will simply be rendered moot. Just as the question about where the center of the universe was rendered moot Science will figure it out for us.

While some may be willing to say that "we just can't know" I think we can know. I also think it's that age-old Religious indoctrination that has framed the argument for us. Because of this, we have inherited "unknowable's" that favor religious needs. Religion needs unknowable questions. Religion exists because of these "unknowables."

What we can establish is that Christianity has consistently been on the wrong side of so many issues while Science has consistently been write.

artjunky's picture
artjunky
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Just a question. What is this thing we call life that can animate a being?

Has it been studied and put in a bottle? What color is it, etc.? If it has a distinct form, shape, can it be translanted into something dead...bringing animation? Is that a religious question, a scientific question, or both?

From my own perspective, it's both.What is life?

Retired Monk -"Ideology is a disease"

"Life is a highway... I'm gonna ride it. All night long."

Seriously, in the sense you ask the question, life is a really complex chemical process. Disrupt the chemistry enough and life ceases.

Which isn't to say that is isn't a wonder and a truly beautiful thing. But a miracle? No.

BadLiberal's picture
BadLiberal
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Just a question. What is this thing we call life that can animate a being?

Has it been studied and put in a bottle? What color is it, etc.? If it has a distinct form, shape, can it be translanted into something dead...bringing animation? Is that a religious question, a scientific question, or both?

From my own perspective, it's both.What is life?

Retired Monk -"Ideology is a disease"

"Animate" is at heart a metaphor, meaning to breathe life into, or the metaphor LIFE IS BREATH. (The Latin animare meaning to give breath to.) The concept behind the word is synonymous with life. So you could fairly rephrase it, "What is this thing called life that can give life to a being?" A meaningless question.

But you're missing, or at least not addressing, the crux of my argument. Regardless of whether science has or can answer a question, religious answers do not add to our understanding of the world. Even if religion comes up with a true answer, we have no grounds to be confident it is true based on a religious argument. If someone says, God is increasing the acidity of the oceans to punish sinners, there is no reason to believe that is true. If someone says, basic chemistry shows that increased C02 concentration in water increases acidity, and increased acidity softens calcium, leading to destruction of coral reefs and crustaceans, I have a much better reason to believe them, and I have the option of testing the claim. Of course, in practice we don't individually test most claims, which is why the peer review process is so important.

Is there a purgatory? If there is, do unbaptized children go to purgatory? For thousands of years the answer was yes, recently the answer according to the Pope changed to no. There is no reason to be confident in either answer or be confident such a place exists.

Does God want me to smite infidels and assure myself a place in heaven with 72 virgins? (Or possible raisins?) Does he want me to give all my possessions away? Is homosexuality a sin or not? What reason do we have to be confident in an answer to any of these questions?

Science may be imperfect, but it's the best we have.

reed9's picture
reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 10:26 am

What REALLY bothers me about religion is the fact that even after prooving so many of their wild claims wrong, Religion Inc still insists that they have the legitimate claim to what is right. And because our cultrue, in general, supports this dellusion, our facts never seem to stick and Science is forced to continually disproove these crazy positions.

Meanwhile, we don't have this issue when we ask people if they believe in the Fly Spaghetti Monster.

Through the years, "god" has been forced so far back into a corner that nobody from the 15th Century would recognize Christianity has evolved.

If people were really interested in knowing the truth, we would have been done with religion a long time ago. We wouldn't have tollerated this nonsense. Ultimately, people need/want the Sci-Fi and when the State offers sactuary for these dellusion, it's VERY hard to dispell...or should I say it's IMPOSSIBLE.

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artjunky
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I prefer C.S. Lewis to Aquinas, personally. :) Either way, they both frequently ask us to accept premises that are not self-evident or make dubious leaps of logic.

I would suggest all sides of the arguments have problems.From my perspective your frame is that there is no logic to the none mechanist argument. With Polycarp you stated something similar to" religion cannot prove anything." The statment seems to be entirely based on the assumption that science offers answers that religion cannot. This seems further based on the idea that some religous stories in our history are inconsistent with scientific principles. Science and religion of the past were very much fused and certainly there are were beliefs and stories that were not factually true, but how that now gives science some authority to answer non scientific questions escapes me. As I have asked before what about a consistent set of phenemenon in our perceptions implies some answer to the God question?

I'm saying the words dogma and doctrine have specific connotations that are not applicable to science and I reject efforts to frame science in those terms. Framing science in the language of religion once more leads down the path to define science as religion.

I guess that is because I still see similarties. any tightly held belief system that claims to know the nature of existence is inherently dogmatic. Further I really do not see how it can be argued not top be the case given the definition. You seem to be introducing connotation as a presupposing factor for denotation.

Yes, if you define doctrine to just mean a body of established knowledge. By necessity there are assumptions that must be made to do anything. We can't reinvent the wheel every day. But again, scientists can and do question these assumptions all the time.

Well I guess the last sentence is the key. how often do we question? What is the right amount of questioning versus trust in doctrine. See I did not use the other d word

We don't need to hook the shaman up to a bunch of wires in most cases. If a shaman claims to be able to cure cancer, it's pretty simple to have the shaman do his thing on a group of cancer patients and see if they still have cancer afterwards.

If the shaman claims to be able to make it rain, then we just need to see if after he does his thing, it rains. Taking into account the probability it would have rained anyway. That's a little more difficult to establish a statistically significant effect for, but not all that difficult.

You are of course implying criteria that I never suggested, however it is probably not the best example. I will add a layer. I do not have the exact information in front of me, but it involves researh done by the ethographer Wade Davis. The basic gist is that tribal peoples have been able to discover specific antidotes and combinations of herbal interaction which are effective to a degree which are simply unexplainable in tems of the trial and error method. Clearly there is evidence that some sort of intuitive powers exist that are beyond conventional understanding..

I guess my point with the laboratory thing is better explained this way. Double blind studies wish to take all the complicating factors out of the way so the experiment can test a specific substance for a specific reaction. This system for giving us useful information about drugs has utility, but as endall to explain the overall compl;exity of our biology it has serious limitations

If you go to the site I posted before, sciencebasedmedicine.org, you will find many many discussions of the various studies out there. It is of course difficult to lump all alternative medicine as equivalent, since it encompasses a huge range of modalities. Some are more plausible than others. Acupuncture looks to have some effect for back pain, for example. (At least, I think the state of the evidence still suggests that.) But, given that sham acupucunture performs equally well, whatever effect it might have seems to have nothing to do with Chi or energy meridians. Chiropractic subluxations don't exist, but some chiropractic treatment works as well as mainstream physical therapy. And homeopathy is complete BS.

Are you saying that the effects of acupuncture are only equivalent to a placebo version?

If so I think you should provide a direct link, rather than me searching a web-site.

As to Chi it is a little hard to believe , given the chinese level of overall science and technology, that they would base their whole medical system on nothing. Tai chi and other practices have clear demonstrable health effects. There may be a way to describe them using conventional western standards as well, but that does not mean it is the only frame of explanation. As to homeopathy, is your claim based on studies or on the belif that it cannot be effective given it;s methodology?

On supplements and orthomolecular medicine. Do you believe that vitamin and levels in the body have impact? Do you think it is more a matter of aborption that limits the effectiveness? Or is it that varying levels simply do not have significant biological impact. How about heavy metals, plastics, hormone disrupters and all the rest? All basically insignificant in most cases?

So there are two separate issues. Whether there is an actual effect to the modality, and what sort of claims the practicioners are making. If acupuncture is effective, but does not have anything to do with traditional concepts of why, then I think it is unethical for practitioners to regale their clients with ideas of Chi and meridians. Health care providers have an ethical and moral obligation, or ought to at least, to present the facts as best they can to their clients.

Agreed except for the meridian business. If it works it works. Plenty of allopathic medicine is not understood in terms its mechanism beyond its result

How would you recommend differentiating between an actual snake oil salesman and, for example, a homeopath, without science?

Results, mostly.I do not see homeopathy as completely void of science. It implies that the mixtures effect molecules at a level that we cannot distinguish. however GMO foods seem molecularly identical, yet I would suggest there is good evidence that they have a shown deleterious effect on health nonetheless. Is science so locked up in doctrine that it cannot allow for the possibilty that there are effects on molecules in ways that cannot be presently detected?

I think the fields were reversed. I asked ou how many pharma studies include the factors I mentioned in detrmining efficacy?

Quote mattnapa: Well it starts in what I have already mentioned. Look first at how to restore normative function, as opposed to looking only at symptom relief. Let's also differentiate between symptom relief alone, as opposed to overall mortality and drug side effects. If you know of some studies on antacids with these three factors please let me know.

This is one of the more bizarre claims I hear time and again about mainstream medicine - that it is overly focused on symptom relief and doesn't address the underlying causes of the disease. It's just not true. Antiobiotics are one prime example of addressing the underlying disease. Or the claim that mainstream medicine doesn't focus enough on prevention. Un, vaccines? Not to mention every doctor I've ever talked to advocates lifestyle changes to maintain health.

Antibiotics are virtually the only example actually, and they clearly do not address on how physiologies become susceptible to pathogens. Further it seems well established that antibiotic ressitance as well as their destruction of healthy bacteria make they treatment more problematic than helpful in a great many cases. As to vaccines. Again very problematic in terms of the balance of effect. Clearly they are effective in populations prone to serious pathogens, but in those that do not vaccines seem to be a wash in terms of problem versus benefit. Not to mention they are based on homeopathi principles. I will give that they do actually attempt to build the bodies defense system.

Perhaps you feel that these two modalities are good enough to illustrate your point. But when ot comes to treating most of the modern afflicitions that threaten our life they are basically meaningless. I stand quite firmly by my claim that the great majority of medical procedure look to treat symptoms after they become a problem. Other than cigarettes, obseity, and maybe alcohol the medical community is quite silent on all the other factors effecting our basic health.

poor barometer of the effectiveness of the medicine. I'd be careful saying usefulness. For example, my mom goes to naturopaths primarily because she likes the amount of time they take talking with her, so it is useful in that context, so long as she doesn't have anything seriously wrong with her.

Well what are the good barometers. We have the ransomized studies, but I am not aware if there is any attempt to track patients in the effectiveness of treatment either in allopathic or alternative practiices

Patent medicines were very popular at one point in time, but you wouldn't argue they were actually effective, would you?

But what were the options? The point is that there options now and people are still coosing alternative practioners. I do not see the connection between how less effective medicine of the past plays a rolew in how people choose in the modern era. Just because people tried the only options they had in the past somehow sheds light on the choices they make today. How?

I don't get it. Alt. medicine is huge business. There's lots of discussion public and otherwise.

Try to find out what doctors are familiar with praticular disorders? Yes they are an ENY, but how orten have they dealt wiht LPR or some other particulat disease, How many doctors will allow for a phone call or email coorespondence to adrees your questions? They haver the reputation as virtually the most unwilling proffesion to discuss your case. And if you challenge their opinion you can forget about it.

As to the public debate, Again virtually non-existent. The industry makes no attempt to have the public involved in open discussion of the controversies. No discsssion boards are populated by doctors, alternative practioners, and well informed patients. This may not be all the allopathic communities fault, but in my opinio they have a large part to play. And sadly I feel it comes from a certain mixture of arrogance and insecurity in defending their culture of expertise

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mattnapa
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The other way we're subsidizing Walmart...

Most of us know how taxpayers subsidize Walmart's low wages with billions of dollars in Medicaid, food stamps, and other financial assistance for workers. But, did you know that we're also subsidizing the retail giant by paying the cost of their environmental destruction.

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