Scientists and believe beyond ourself

Discussion in 'Religion' started by timojin, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I think there is a quite important subtlety here that you may be glossing over. We should not confuse how science enquires about the natural world, which is as you say, with what scientists necessarily think about God.

    Not all scientists, by any means, are philosophical materialists. Many are religious believers. They approach the study of the natural, physical world according to the scientific method, because that is the best technique for that task, but not to the exclusion of the presence in their lives of a non-physical, aesthetic and spiritual dimension.
     
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    No. Nothing circular. The natural laws and time and space were products of the big bang. What is circular in this POV?

    I believe that the big bang does not preclude a "god" nor a pre-existing, not well described field (both eternal with not beginning, as time did not yet exist prior to BB.) The fluctuation that stared it all was in that field.

    The details of inflation are not known. Many ideas. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_(cosmology)
    For some of them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, there's a significant minority of scientists who aren't philosophical naturalists in private life. But work-wise they should be adhering to what for them is methodological naturalism: Keeping their personal beliefs separate from their job practice and explanatory approach (if / when they come into conflict). Otherwise they may receive a disclaimer like Michael Behe had at the Lehigh University website: "While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific."

    Another way to put it is that a biologist named "Sally Harrick" is more than just a scientist: She's a multi-facted person (including the attribute of being a theist). When she's giving a guest sermon at a church the label of scientist during that period should be dropped, to avoid claims that "I know a scientist who advocates that God parted the Red Sea" or "Science supports that God parted the Red Sea" (as if a biologist would be an authority for matters of other physical sciences to be begin with). She's just being one of the everyday roles of Sally Harrick during times like that, not Sally Harrick the scientist or Sally Harrick performing her primary "day job".
     
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Be careful, again. Behe is a crank, because he advocates ID, which is pseudoscience.

    Scientists who are religious are not cranks, as a rule.
     
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    A classification of "pseudoscience" doesn't disqualify ID from having a religious undergirding. The former category is what such a "science facade" of a religious movement would be expected to subsumed under (barring actually supplying evidence, a way to test it, etc.) It's a claim made by its proponents that ID isn't religious, or lacks religious roots and motivations. Whereas a variety of examiners working from a secular perspective (scientists, philosophers, educators, etc) have contended otherwise. [1][2][3] examples, at bottom.

    The disciplined ones by virtue of confining their work approach to methodological naturalism (MN) can't help but avoid crankhood (or at least those pseudoscientific products stimulated by religious beliefs). While some metaphysical naturalists and even some Christian philosophers like Alvin Plantinga (below) have gripes against MN, there still has to be a conception referred to for what is going on there: For accommodating why / how scientists who are theists can be such without psychological and behavioral dissonance. The aforementioned scientists aren't going to suddenly stop having one foot in religious activity on the personal side of their lives or abandon mainstream science on the other just because two contrasting camps are whining hither and thither about MN.

    "In this article I begin by pointing to three examples of the religious non-neutrality of scientific claims or hypotheses. I shall then argue that a Christian academic and scientific community ought to pursue science in its own way, starting from and taking for granted what we know as Christians. (This suggestion suffers from the considerable disadvantage of being at present both unpopular and heretical; I shall argue, however, that it also has the considerable advantage of being correct). Now one objection to this suggestion is enshrined in the dictum that science done properly necessarily involves "methodological naturalism," or (as Basil Willey calls it) "provisional atheism." This is the idea that science, properly so-called, cannot involve religious belief or commitment. My main aim in this paper is to explore, understand, discuss, and evaluate this claim and the arguments for it...." http://arn.org/docs/odesign/od181/methnat181.htm

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    [1] http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CI/CI001_1.html

    [2] "My co-author has analyzed the purportedly scientific claims made by intelligent design proponents. We have also documented the fact that they are a religious movement, but that they are creationists. And we explain the significance of this information to the readers." http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day6pm2.html

    [3] As this paper demonstrates, the ID movement is the most recent version of American creationism. In promoting “intelligent design theory”—a term that is essentially code for the religious belief in a supernatural creator—as a purported scientific alternative to evolutionary theory, the ID movement continues the decades-long attempt by creationists either to minimize the teaching of evolution or to gain equal time for yet another form of creationism in American public schools. Accordingly, the ID creationist movement threatens both the education of the nation’s children and the constitutional separation of church and state, which protects the religious freedom of every American (Forrest and Gross, 2005). Despite political and legal setbacks ( Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District , 2005), ID creationists continue their campaign to de-secularize public education and, ultimately, American culture and government, thereby undermining foundational elements of secular, constitutional democracy. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/attachments/intelligent-design.pdf
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I find your style of writing hard to follow, so excuse me if I have misunderstood. But you seem to me to be saying you cannot be a Christian, say, and a scientist, without cognitive dissonance. I think this is false. There is room to follow methodological naturalism for understanding the physical world, and at the same time allowing for the possibility of something beyond the physical world to be present. This is absolutely normal Christian theology and does not conflict with following the principles of MN in science, so long as the God you believe in is not one who is in the habit of interfering in the order according to which the physical world works. ID and creationism are irrelevant distractions - only fools or knaves believe in either, basically.
     
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    No.

    Let' try this yet again with a few added tweaks: While some metaphysical naturalists and even some Christian philosophers like Alvin Plantinga have gripes against MN [metaphysical naturalism], there still has to be a conception [like MN] referred to for what is going on there: For accommodating why / how scientists who are theists can be such without [the apparent] psychological and behavioral dissonance [which some philosophical naturalists and the "let's make our own science" Christian critics may be construing the situation as]. The aforementioned scientists aren't going to suddenly stop having one foot in religious activity on the personal side of their lives or abandon mainstream science on the other just because two contrasting camps [some philosophical naturalists and some Christian critics like Plantinga] are whining hither and thither about [in regard to] MN.
     
  11. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know in which category you are going to place me . I have worked in Extracting enzymes , hydrolysing proteins ,determining property what I extracted, worked whit muscle protein. Worked with surfactants on metallic surfaces . Cleaned metelic surfaces with glow discharge ,and corona discharge, Compounded lubricants for wall ironing , Coating polymers on metallic surfaces and characterised surfaces . Characterised a variety of polymers all that my title was senior chemist . and did much more then mentioned .
    I dont know how you going to classify me as far my work in science . I believe in God and in Yahshua, In my earlier life I had some problem , but not know . I believe scientists is to far away from understanding
    nature on how it started and we speculate a hell a lot, and pretend to know it all
     
  12. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    You pretend to know there is a god, what's the difference? Your work doesn't seem to encompass cosmology or human origins, nothing that would contradict religious texts.
     
  13. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    I also have one foot in science and the other foot in religion. Some of us can multitask in terms of two separate belief systems. One is taught to do this in many religions. Jesus said, render onto Caesar what is Caesar's and render onto God what is God's. There is no one size fits all. It is OK to live a physical life, which benefits by knowing how the laws of science work; Caesar. It also OK to live an inner life which allows one to weather the storms of life and death.

    Where the atheist have problems, is they tend to fixate on only the religion ideas that are taught to pre-school children. Anything beyond, Genesis, Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark is taboo in science forums, where atheism rule. They seem to believe this is as far as religion goes. This is like assuming adding 2+2 in the first grade, is the same math, the PhD in math, will do. Therefore, if math is only 2+2, we can see no use for getting a PhD in math. Atheist sales pitch reason, but seems to be governed by superstitions and misinformation.

    Religions are smart, because children love story time. If you gave a 4 year old the choice of hearing the story of Noah's Ark or learning about how electricity works, they will pick the story. At the same time, these story will be remembered for life. Even atheists, who were pulled from religion early, remember these stories, to detail why they are upset about them.

    The stories of the bible are like compressed files. As you get older, they are decompressed and expanded into a more complex analysis. But it is hard to ever go there, since atheists can't get past the composed files of kindergarten.
     
  14. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    Hi where have been hiding ? Cosmology is something beyond my reach , Human origin I am interested , It says in the bible God created man Gen. chapter 1 . Now how he created we don't know , Do I believe in evolution , yes, I do believe Genesis 1 You can see there is a constant change , we don't know exactly the mechanism but it talks about progressive change unt man and woman. Now he finished the work, and let it go. and Said "Man take care everything " So here we are . Don't blame Him he giveth it to us.
     
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    To be fair, fixation on things like Noah's Ark is largely a result of Young Earth Creationism. YECs claim to believe that the whole Noah story is the literal truth, that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, and a lot of other nonsense. They also claim there is scientific evidence that supports their beliefs, in opposition to fussy sciency things like geology, paleontology, physics and the like.

    Not when it comes to myths like Noah and his Ark. Unless you know something you're not telling us about that...
     
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not sure if it's a minority. But yes, many/most scientists aren't metaphysical naturalists, they don't adhere to the (basically faith-based) proposition that if something has no place in the worldview of modern physics, then it can't exist. I say that it's 'faith based' since I don't know of any way that anyone can actually know it or verify it. But the idea that the world of physics and reality itself are identical and co-extensive is obviously a metaphysical speculation that many atheists adhere to, whether explicitly or implicitly.

    Right. Natural science is naturalistic by its nature. It seeks natural causes for natural events and looks for formal correlations between them. If a hypothetical explanatory principle isn't observable in natural ways, at least through being instantiated in natural instances, then it has no place in natural science. As you say, that's methodological naturalism, which is not the same thing as metaphysical naturalism. Metaphysical naturalism is a speculative theory about what the boundaries of reality are. Methodological naturalism is more about what the scope of natural science is. It needn't imply that very real things can't lie outside the scope of science.

    Yes, adherence to methodological naturalism seems to be one of the most important distinguishing marks between what is and isn't scientific. To the extent that people don't adhere to methodological naturalism, they can't very well be called 'scientists'.

    I'm not sure that I agree with dismissing Behe as a "crank". He is more of an interesting problem-case on the edge of science. His idea of irreducible complexity might arguably become entirely scientific, if it can ever be precisely defined and some criterion for invoking it can somehow be specified and justified. I haven't studied this in depth, but my impression currently is that it's more of an intuition at this point and is basically just the traditional design argument in new dress, reminiscent of Paley's 'watchmaker' argument.

    Part of whether irreducible complexity is or isn't consistent with methodological naturalism probably depends on how hard one pushes it, on what kind of conclusions one insists on drawing from it. If it's presented as an argument for intelligent design, then it's hard to see how it would be scientific, since the "intelligence" that it's arguing for lies outside the natural world whose interrelationships science addresses. (That doesn't mean that an ID argument couldn't be a plausible metaphysical argument.) But if one draws more modest conclusions from it, such as using it as an argument for the supposed insufficiency of current evolutionary theorizing about the origins of complex systems, it might arguably be impeccably scientific.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Does that "lot of other nonsense" include: Joshua 10: lines 12 to 14? Where the sun stood still for almost a day - giving the Israelis more than 24 hours of day light to defeat their enemy, the Amorites?

    I don't know any thing about the YEC group. Is there no limit to their stupidity?
     
  18. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing here I would disagree with.

    I should perhaps explain that my harshness towards ID and its advocates, such as Behe, stems from it being apparent (to me and others who have followed their activities and pronouncements) that the goal of these people is to try to insert the supernatural into science, which, as you have just eloquently pointed out, is nonsensical. If Behe were merely arguing that current evolutionary theory is insufficient, then nobody would disagree - of course it is, so long as there remain things to be explained. But this is not all that he argues. And by the way, if he were arguing merely this, he would not be a member of the ID movement either.

    Any form of "science" that relies on a God-of-the-Gaps - which is what the "designer" is, if we all stop beating about the bush - is no longer science but pseudoscience and its adherents thus, in my view, cranks.

    (The ID movement has also been shown to be dishonest, e.g. in the Kitzmiller case, which does not endear them to most people.)
     
  19. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Some philosophical naturalists contend that their stance shouldn't be classified as metaphysics, but fact. They declare that all supernatural explanations have been falsified, ergo there is no option but naturalism. But I'd hazard that these experimental tests which they appeal to are usually confined to the most naive and inconsistent / garbled folk beliefs of whatever the "supernatural" is supposed to be. Rather than any sophisticated conceptions that aren't even concerned about the level of "causes" or stratum of investigation which science is interested in.

    Also, to proclaim that nothing other than "naturalism" is available or could ever be conceived as a rival (in terms of metaphysics) is the essence of being dogmatically philosophical, restricted in inventive thought, or predetermining ontological affairs in advance: Against the "open to revision and new developments" characteristic / spirit of science. (Footnote [*])

    Anyway, that overzealous sub-species of the philosophical naturalist is apparently one of the factions which criticizes MN: Considers scientists who are theists to be contradictory, or takes issue with the latter truly avoiding psychological and behavioral dissonance via the context of methodological naturalism (by compartmentalizing their personal beliefs from work practices).

    - - - - - - - -

    [*] Though science itself, by definition, can't ever be receptive to radically re-inventing itself in terms of its "as if" metaphysical realism about naturalism, applied as an operative approach / methodology. It would lose its original identity which the label "science" denotes. One can call a horse a lizard, but afterwards it does not retain what the word "lizard" formerly meant or was applied to.
     
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    I once assumed that space aliens could even qualify as the "designer" in ID, but apparently not. It embraces cosmology, as well, not just biology.[1][2] But if space aliens did qualify, there would still be the question of their origins, which ID proponents could similarly seize as covered by their criticism of standard scientific views of how life arose / evolved (pointing-out so-called "inadequacies", etc). Smuggling in God even with the extraterrestrials.

    - - - - - - - - -

    [1] "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." http://www.discovery.org/id/faqs/#questionsAboutIntelligentDesign

    [2] William A. Dembski: All the elements in this general scheme for recognizing intelligent agency (that is, choosing, ruling out, and specifying) find their counterpart in the complexity-specification criterion. It follows that this criterion formalizes what we have been doing right along when we recognize intelligent agency. The complexity-specification criterion pinpoints what we need to be looking for when we detect design.

    The implications of the complexity-specification criterion are profound, not just for science, but also for philosophy and theology. The power of this criterion resides in its generality. It would be one thing if the criterion only detected human agency. But as we've seen, it detects animal and extra-terrestrial agency as well. Nor is it limited to intelligent agents that belong to the physical world. The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design. So too, Michael Behe's irreducibly complex biochemical systems readily yield design. The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/119
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah it sounds potentially plausible at first reading, but they have totally failed in their attempt to set out an unambiguous test for "design" in nature. How ever they dress it up they cannot get beyond design being either that which looks designed - to an ID believer, that is - or, that for which we cannot yet explain how it arose. So it's either Paley or God-of-the-Gaps. It bears repeating that scientists with Christian belief do not, as a rule, go in for either of these.
     
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I have some fondness for speculating about panspermia, for the idea that life didn't originate on Earth but instead originated somewhere else in the universe and that microbial life was seeded here. While I rarely imagine that being done intentionally, I can imagine the very early earth being visited by space aliens with dirty boots.

    David Brin's multi-volume Uplift Saga paints a different Science-fiction picture of 'ID'. It imagines a universal civilization, billions of years old, encompassing multiple galaxies, in which earlier intelligent races engineer (or 'uplift') other species to sentience. So every existing intelligent race has an earlier patron race that created it, and that race has an earlier patron race, leading back to the mythical Progenitors billions of years ago, who are imagined everywhere with religious worship and awe.

    The appearance of human beings throws that civilization into consternation, since human beings have no known patrons, no known creators. That is considered a heretical idea and is not welcomed. Most of the alien races assume that humans had patrons who abandoned them for some reason, but humans are convinced that they evolved on Earth, making them their own Progenitors. Evolution, like many human ideas, is totally alien to the countless aliens out there, they can't believe it. Another way that humans are different is that we value creativity, while the thousands of alien races assume that everything that can be known has already been discovered in their billions of years of collective history. While humans conduct scientific research and continue to invent things (however crude by galactic standards), the aliens consult their Libraries filled with scripture-like records containing the accumulated knowledge of billions of years. So the aliens are probably right in considering the new humans to be a disruptive force in their exceedingly static civilization.

    So... why can't there be different species of 'ID', arguing for different designers who designed different things? Why can't life have one kind of designer (patron races in Brin's universe) while cosmology has a different designer, assuming that cosmology has a designer at all? The whole idea that all the design arguments have to converge on one single Grand Designer seems to be a monotheist assumption built into the design arguments.

    The Progenitors.

    The phrase "certain features of the universe" is ambiguous. It might just mean things like tools and architectural artifacts, it might mean biological organisms and perhaps other systems of similar complexity, or it might mean the laws of physics themselves. I think that 'ID' arguments have been applied to all of them. And again, there's the phrase "an intelligent cause" which suggests singularity, the idea that one single cause is responsible for all of it. That looks to me to be little more than a theological posit.


    Dembski seems to be suggesting that they already have a "complexity-specification criterion" that "formalizes" and "pinpoints" the criterion that they are using to identify cases of Intelligent Design. I'm exceedingly skeptical and would really like to see it.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Right! And nobody outside the ID fraternity, so far as I can see, gives any credence to Dembski's attempt to do so.

    It looks like a sort of mathematical mumbo-jumbo to convince the IDers themselves, rather than a serious attempt to advance any new scientific criterion. The key thing for me is that it seems to make no testable prediction. If it were really an unambiguous way to detect design, one might expect ID researchers to pick it up and run with it, offering a variety of structures in organisms that they think must be designed, and contrasting them with other complex structures for which a natural origin has been found, to show the difference and thus the ability of CSI to discriminate. The eye would be an obvious one, as this was once thought by creationists to be too complex to have arisen by evolution, but now there are models for how it arose. The bacterial flagellum might be another, as this was seized on after the development of the eye was accounted for (and is now, if my recollection of the Kitzmiller case is correct, tentatively explained as a type 2 secretory system). So what is now the best example of a structure whose SCI is too great for it to have arisen naturally? I don't think I've come across any successor to the flagellum.

    What else have we seen from this concept of CSI? Nothing but rhetoric, so far as I can tell. It rather looks as if SCI is no more than a mathematical way of expressing "it looks to me too complex to have arisen by chance": in other words, the good old "Argument from Personal Incredulity", just dressed up a bit.
     

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