SCIENCE VS RELIGION

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Postby Moderator » Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:33 pm

Quester wrote:Atheism is unscientific. In order to be confidently atheist you would require knowledge that no human can have.


In all honesty, I've considered Atheism to be as much a religious belief as any other -- for exactly those reasons.

Welcome to the boards, Quester.

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Postby Quester » Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:45 pm

Christopher Hitchens is not a scientist so I will ignore his opinions. As for professor Dawkins he is apparently doing what mystics do, pretending to non-existent knowledge. That's what espousing atheism amounts to. T.H. Huxley described himself as an agnostic (he invented the term) so did Carl Sagan and that just means lack of sufficient evidence.

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Postby Quester » Mon Jul 30, 2007 2:11 pm

Separation of church and state is not a scientific problem it’s a political problem. The only way scientists can study religion is through comparative mythology. How can one scientifically study the hypothesis of life after death? It involves a non-material and non-energetic individual essence that can continue after bodily dissolution.

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Postby Quester » Mon Jul 30, 2007 2:26 pm

I wish parapsychology could be a real science but I don’t know how one would go about investigating claims of the paranormal. As for Noam Chomsky he always carefully assembles his evidence and CNN a Time Warner company has every reason not to acknowledge the facts he presents, neither does the New York Times Corporation. According to Realclimate.com CNN carries fraudulent stories about global warming as well.

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Postby Davey C » Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:34 pm

That's funny; I'm confidently atheistic and I don't have any knowledge no human can have.

At least I'm pretty sure I don't....though now that I think about it, I just might.
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Pro-Atheism

Postby LarryF » Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:34 pm

Quester: I'll take issue with you. Atheism simply means "Without theistic belief." No more, no less. As such, I cannot say, with certainty, that some sort of a god does not exist; however, I can say, with a high degree of probability, that the traditional God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam does not exist.

Famed English biologist Richard Dawkins stated, in Chapter Four of his best-selling book, The God Delusion, "Why There is Almost Certainly No God." "Almost Certainly." Not "Certainly." I have no reluctance in asserting that invisible flying unicorns do not exist; and yet I cannot prove, absolutely, that they don't exist. Ditto Zeus, Jupiter, Odin and so on. The only difference between the atheist and the theist is that the atheist does not believe in one more God than the theist.

Those who wish to think that a Big Guy in the Sky is intimately concerned with our comings and goings are welcome to do so; however, one should ask: What would a world be like in which such a being did not exist? I submit that it would not differ at all from the one in which we Homo sapiens currently exist. Cockroaches die, and decay; people die, and decay. For all I know, cockroaches have souls (whatever the hell that is) and we don't.

Ain't life grand?

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Postby Davey C » Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:38 pm

Diggin' it. Without god in the picture, the world and the universe it rolls around in seem all the more beautiful for being an instant-by-instant culmination of an infinizillion random chances.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Jul 31, 2007 11:53 am

Steve quoted and wrote

Quester wrote:
Atheism is unscientific. In order to be confidently atheist you would require knowledge that no human can have.


In all honesty, I've considered Atheism to be as much a religious belief as any other -- for exactly those reasons.


Normally this is the sort of lure that is irrestible to the EzraFish but verily I say unto thee that LarryF hath spaketh wisely and have nothing to add other than to agree.

Let me address an issue that is tangential to Larry's main point but important to me anyway.

I have a problem with being categorized for an opinion about something I don't believe. Who wants to be known for what they don't believe?

Of course nobody forces me to self-identify as an atheist but what if anything does that say about me? (Other than I have at least one thing in common with the Dalai Lama?)

Atheism is not where I end. It's where I begin.

This is why I have problems with a lot of the so-called "Atheist" or "Skeptic" organizations. Who wants to be just another whiney special interest group?


Questor wrote

I wish parapsychology could be a real science but I don’t know how one would go about investigating claims of the paranormal.

Endless and exhaustive double-blind studies have been done on parapyschological claims and there has never one shred of proof that such things as telepathy exist. The problem is not that parapsychological claims cannot be tested. The problem is that when they are they have invariably been disproven. It's not science because there's no proof.
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Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Tue Jul 31, 2007 10:00 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:This is why I have problems with a lot of the so-called "Atheist" or "Skeptic" organizations. Who wants to be just another whiney special interest group?

Bingo!! I resent "skeptic" being co-opted by people who begin from the thesis "I'm going to prove this isn't possible." At the very least, it precludes objective inquiry -- the very thing being claimed by most "skeptics" as differentiating them from the gullible masses.

And, yah, there's certainly atheists who have much the same preconception, & I'd venture there's self-styled agnostics as well who fall into that error.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:24 pm

This is one of those "don't know whether to laugh or cry" moments.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17152240/

Actually it's pretty dang depressing.

The only candidate whose attitude towards personal religion I agree with, Giuliani, is the one who gets disqualified on every other ground.

Unlike the others, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a divorced Roman Catholic who favors abortion rights, sidesteps such questions, claiming one’s relationship with God is a private matter.

When did "mind your own business" become unacceptable as an answer to "what is your religion"?

Of course being from the south I can tell you that down there the questions you get when you meet someone are "your name", "your work", and "what church do you attend?"

Here's the clincher though.

An earlier poll by the Pew Research Center said 30 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate that was Mormon. The negative sentiment rose to 46 percent for Muslim candidates and to 63 percent for a candidate who “doesn’t believe in God.”

Jeez I'm lower than a Muslim.

I suppose the prudent thing would be to support Obama. He's a shoo-in what with knowing Jesus personally. All I can ever get is some Filipino at a help-desk.
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Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:36 pm

Ezra and Larry -
You're misunderstanding my post (or, I wrote it wrong).

Atheism is a religious belief.

That does not mean it's an organized or formal one, but it is a personal value derived from a religious standpoint -- even to the point where it's relatively doctrinized. You don't believe in a god, which is a de facto position as much as someone who DOES believe in a god, God or other pantheon (Zen Buddhism, for instance).

I do not mean to insinuate that Atheism involves anything above and beyond a simple internal set of values in regards religion, which by definition is a religious belief.

(Arguing that it's not a belief, but based on reality is precisely the argument my fundamentalist friend would make -- and equally convincing.)
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Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:29 pm

Barber wrote:You don't believe in a god, which is a de facto position as much as someone who DOES believe in a god


Not believing in something is not a position. It is, in fact, the absence of a position on the matter. To have a position you have to believe one thing or another.

But atheists do not simply not believe in god. To be an atheist means to believe god does not exist.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:47 pm

Rick wrote:

But atheists do not simply not believe in god. To be an atheist means to believe god does not exist.


Exactly -- and so noted as a correction of my earlier post.

But it is still a belief.

Technically speaking, only someone who had never considered the existance of God/god/deity -- or the lack thereof -- could accurately state they had no religious belief.
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Postby paul » Thu Aug 02, 2007 3:19 am

The whole idea of having a word for the disbelief of a god is silly. We don't have a name for people who don't believe in the easter bunny or Santa Clause, except adult. Why on earth should there be a special name for for people who know that gods do not exist?

The whole idea of belief, in itself, as regards religious deities, is absurd. People used to believe in a lot of silly things which are not true.

A quote from Douglas Adams i quite like:
"The fact that we live in at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away, and think this to be normal, is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be, but we have done various things over intellectual history to slowly correct our misapprehensions."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you Rick, i now need not type those words. My personal thoughts go a bit beyond that, though. I know gods do not exist. I am not an atheist. I don't "not believe" 'God' exists. There simply ain't one. Or many. Or Her or Him or Them. My "beliefs" don't enter into it. I don't have to weigh options or review data. There is no evidence nor record of same: end of story. If that puts me in that camp, fine, i'm not arguing semantics all my life.
I guess if i had to choose my classification, it would be as a 'Non-Dietical Imaginer'.
Just as an 'Anarchist' believes no government should exist, nor does any formed body represent or have power over an individual, I know that gods and the history of religions are a farce.
Religion has books written by people and word of mouth. Everything else is History, capital H.


Ezra~
When did "mind your own business" become unacceptable as an answer to "what is your religion"?


When the answer, "I don't have one and don't give a flying fuck." lost applause at the polls.
The medium is the message.

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:04 am

WARNING TO INNOCENT BYSTANDERS: If you're the sort of person who finds these discussions tedious and tiresome (a view already expressed by some) then the bar is open folks, see you later. The rest of you pull your chairs a little closer why don't you?

Ok Steve, if your definition of "religious belief" includes any and all beliefs about religion, then by that criteria I would agree with you. But if you're saying that atheism is a form of faith, or that it is non-rational then I just disagree.

But first some definitions. I define "theism" in the most common way held by the majority of western religionists over the last 2500 years or so in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. A personal god, uncreated, omniscient, omnipotent, who exists outside of time and space yet works his/her/its will in time and space.

This is the god I don't believe in when I say that I am an atheist. Now I'm perfectly aware that there are other conceptions of god, especially in the East but also in the West. But instead of me chasing down all these variant concepts let me just lay out my thought process.

I oppose irrational belief. "Faith" in the sense of accepting something to be true even though you have no evidence for it.

There is no evidence that I can see that god exists.

So why not suspend judgment? Take refuge in "agnosticism"? Because...

There is no compelling need for god to exist. That is to say there is no observable phenomenon in nature that requires god as an explanation.

But god is not merely a hypothesis is he/she/it? There is a whole host of cultural, social, political associations that have clustered around the god concept. This we can call "religion". As far as I know no one has ever been murdered over rival conceptions of string theory but people kill each other over god all the time. Which just tells me that there are other factors involved in irrational belief than recourse to evidence.

No, I cannot "prove" absolutely that no god exists to 100% certainty. But that's only because I cannot "prove" anything to 100% certainty. "Reality" rests on a continuum of statistical probability. In my opinion the existence of god is so statistically improbable that my default position is unbelief.

If anyone can produce evidence I'll greet it with excitement. If you can produce a natural phenom that could only have god as an explanation, wonderful! But until then, the god concept goes where the mermaids and Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster have gone before, in the realm of the imaginal.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


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