Author Topic: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion  (Read 45142 times)

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #60 on: January 18, 2013, 09:57:51 AM »
They just don't seem to understand that while religious freedom is a basic principle of our country, it does not include the freedom to harm others or to use the machinery of the state to coerce others to follow their personal views.

To respond a bit more  to this post. We are in a situation today where some people do claim, as you say, that freedom of religion is tantamount to the freedom to practice only a certain religion and that freedom should be enforced by the state.  It is a bizarre twisting of logic.  Many others do rightly point out, and Dawkins is sure to be one of them, that an individuals freedom of religion intrinsically includes a freedom from religion.

For freedom of religion to occur, the state must be neutral on the religious content of our beliefs and focus on observable behaviors.  That way we can deal with unlawfulness while respecting the individuals right to hold either mainstream or outlier ideas. 
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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #61 on: January 18, 2013, 10:40:17 AM »
However, as I've tried to point out,  a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position, requiring evidence for everything else but his/her faith.

I disagree. There is nothing intellectually dishonest about believing in a divine entity that looks over us all while being a scientist examining the way the world works. Science by definition cannot cover things like divine entities or the afterlife because there is no way to test it. That doesn't mean a scientist can't believe he will go to heaven or be judged by a god when he dies.

I personally do not believe in a god. I see nothing 'intellectually dishonest' however, about believing that some divine entity set the universe in motion and scientifically trying to understand that setup, while all the time that entity is looking over us all and seeing how that universe he created gets on.
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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #62 on: January 18, 2013, 10:44:33 AM »
For freedom of religion to occur, the state must be neutral on the religious content of our beliefs and focus on observable behaviors.  That way we can deal with unlawfulness while respecting the individuals right to hold either mainstream or outlier ideas. 

The difficulty there comes from deciding what is lawful and unlawful, considering that a number of religions disagree on those points. Some 'observable behaviours' might be quite acceptable to some religions while being totally abhorrent to others, and the state has to try to legislate. Whatever it decides about the acceptability or otherwise of those behaviours, one group will disagree and claim discrimination and the forcing of other beliefs, religious or otherwise, on them.
"There's this idea that everyone's opinion is equally valid. My arse! Bloke who was a professor of dentistry for forty years does NOT have a debate with some eejit who removes his teeth with string and a door!"  - Dara O'Briain

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #63 on: January 18, 2013, 11:06:11 AM »
For freedom of religion to occur, the state must be neutral on the religious content of our beliefs and focus on observable behaviors.  That way we can deal with unlawfulness while respecting the individuals right to hold either mainstream or outlier ideas. 

The difficulty there comes from deciding what is lawful and unlawful, considering that a number of religions disagree on those points. Some 'observable behaviours' might be quite acceptable to some religions while being totally abhorrent to others, and the state has to try to legislate. Whatever it decides about the acceptability or otherwise of those behaviours, one group will disagree and claim discrimination and the forcing of other beliefs, religious or otherwise, on them.

Also disagreement among the non-religious.  Politics is one sticky wicket after another.  I think when politics works to address behaviors over beliefs, it is more likely to reach a reasonable consensus that also respects minority rights.  But there is simply no getting around the fact that some people feel put out or offended. 
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Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #64 on: January 18, 2013, 11:23:53 AM »
However, as I've tried to point out,  a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position, requiring evidence for everything else but his/her faith.

I disagree. There is nothing intellectually dishonest about believing in a divine entity that looks over us all while being a scientist examining the way the world works. Science by definition cannot cover things like divine entities or the afterlife because there is no way to test it. That doesn't mean a scientist can't believe he will go to heaven or be judged by a god when he dies.
I'll use this one spot to address all the disagreeing posts.

If you believe in a god that doesn't affect our lives or the universe in general, you are very far from "mainstream" religious beliefs. A god answering prayers, for example, is a testable hypothesis, and one that has been tested, too. Science can't cover things that don't affect anything we can observe even in principle, but then you'll have to somehow justify your belief in such a thing, when you have just acknowledged that you couldn't have had any information about it.
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I personally do not believe in a god. I see nothing 'intellectually dishonest' however, about believing that some divine entity set the universe in motion and scientifically trying to understand that setup, while all the time that entity is looking over us all and seeing how that universe he created gets on.
This is the God of Einstein, a deistic belief. It's still a baseless belief, and a scientist should know that at the moment, we can't know what actually happened at the beginning of our universe. However, this thread has concerned theistic belief, where there's an active god.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #65 on: January 18, 2013, 11:43:53 AM »
a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position
There is nothing intellectually dishonest about acknowledging holding non-scientific beliefs.
Then how can you justify your scientific views? Why can the burden of proof be shifted, when it's about a religion? What's the intellectually honest answer from the scientific point of view for, say, "why do you believe in the Christian God and not in Ukko ylijumala?"
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requiring evidence for everything else but his/her faith.

You beg the question that one can, does and should require evidence for everything in life.
No, you misinterpret me. To make it easier, what other things would you believe to exist without proof?
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And one should keep the faith to himself, it should not affect others, especially in a negative way.


People should not share their unscientific thoughts and experiences?  Who is to decide what is "negative?"
It seems that you really want to deliberately misinterpret me. Just take a look at the position of homosexual people, and their rights compared to say heterosexual couples in the US. It shouldn't be that hard to see why having a religious belief, justified or not, is very different from having the belief and having it affect others without their approval.

Offline Andromeda

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #66 on: January 18, 2013, 11:47:13 AM »
you'll have to somehow justify your belief in such a thing, when you have just acknowledged that you couldn't have had any information about it.

With all due respect, who the heck are you to tell someone they "have to justify" a personal belief?  Who are you to judge?

I agree that one person's beliefs should not impinge on the rights of others, but that's not what you are saying here.  Any beliefs I do or do not have are none of your business and I do not have to justify them or myself to anyone.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 11:48:58 AM by Andromeda »
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Offline gillianren

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #67 on: January 18, 2013, 12:23:14 PM »
I took a picture around the November election of a board in front of the church near our library.  It normally lists what the sermon was going to be.  For a considerable length of time, it instead announced that people of faith should support love and support our gay marriage initiative.  Now, as it happens, I still don't want that church to announce its political stance that way, even though I agree with it.  I don't think churches should tell people how to vote.  However, I think they were driven to it by all those people (on both sides of the religious spectrum) saying that all religious people are opposed to gay marriage.  Given the statistics of religious people in the US and people in the US who support gay marriage, that literally cannot be true.

A few of you might be aware that I watch the occasional movie.  I also write reviews.  Those reviews are different from the reviews of everyone else, unto what I liked and disliked about the movie.  Personal opinion is unscientific.  Saying, "I enjoyed this movie" is subjective and not answerable to the same specifications as every other person out there.  Every day, we all think and act in ways that are different from one another.  Why?  Who knows?  But saying that religion is the "only" personal belief that doesn't meet scientific justification misses a large amount of the range of human thought.
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Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #68 on: January 18, 2013, 12:32:59 PM »
With all due respect, who the heck are you to tell someone they "have to justify" a personal belief?  Who are you to judge?

I agree that one person's beliefs should not impinge on the rights of others, but that's not what you are saying here.  Any beliefs I do or do not have are none of your business and I do not have to justify them or myself to anyone.
Why the aggression? How about justifying a belief to yourself, for starters? How many beliefs do you take for granted, without any actual basis? At least to me, this is basic self-reflection.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #69 on: January 18, 2013, 01:20:40 PM »
I took a picture around the November election of a board in front of the church near our library.  It normally lists what the sermon was going to be.  For a considerable length of time, it instead announced that people of faith should support love and support our gay marriage initiative.  Now, as it happens, I still don't want that church to announce its political stance that way, even though I agree with it.
If you live in the US, I think that the church can't do that and still be exempt from taxation.
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However, I think they were driven to it by all those people (on both sides of the religious spectrum) saying that all religious people are opposed to gay marriage.  Given the statistics of religious people in the US and people in the US who support gay marriage, that literally cannot be true.
Would you please present us those statistics? This may be one more case where a vocal and fundamental religious minority tries to affect the society, with the silent approval of the majority of their faith.
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A few of you might be aware that I watch the occasional movie.  I also write reviews.  Those reviews are different from the reviews of everyone else, unto what I liked and disliked about the movie.  Personal opinion is unscientific.  Saying, "I enjoyed this movie" is subjective and not answerable to the same specifications as every other person out there.  Every day, we all think and act in ways that are different from one another.  Why?  Who knows?  But saying that religion is the "only" personal belief that doesn't meet scientific justification misses a large amount of the range of human thought.
Yes, a personal opinion on matters of taste is not scientific, at least at the moment (I can fathom a future where it's actually possible to tell whether a person will like a movie, and why, by observing the brains of the person). However, would you write a review of a movie you never saw? If you did, would you think it'd be meaningful to compare your review with another made by someone who also didn't see the movie?

When writing the review, you are basing all the rational and emotional evaluations on something that exists, and exists in the same form for all the others who view the movie.

Offline gillianren

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #70 on: January 18, 2013, 01:42:10 PM »
If you live in the US, I think that the church can't do that and still be exempt from taxation.

Ha.  Look into the history of California's Proposition 8.

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Would you please present us those statistics? This may be one more case where a vocal and fundamental religious minority tries to affect the society, with the silent approval of the majority of their faith.

Well, these days, vocal disapproval, if you look at those gay marriage initiatives that succeeded in November.  We were all poised to be the first state to approve gay marriage by ballot, not legislature or judiciary, and we were in fact the third--because two other states had polls that closed before ours.  53% of Americans (depending on what poll you're looking at) currently support gay marriage.  That doesn't include those who support "civil unions."  On average, polls show that eighty percent of Americans consider themselves religious, which doesn't include "religious unaffiliated"--religious, but they don't know what they believe.  Assuming that everyone who isn't religious also supports gay marriage--not a safe assumption--shows that there has to be about a thirty percent overlap of "religious" and "supports gay marriage."

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Yes, a personal opinion on matters of taste is not scientific, at least at the moment (I can fathom a future where it's actually possible to tell whether a person will like a movie, and why, by observing the brains of the person). However, would you write a review of a movie you never saw? If you did, would you think it'd be meaningful to compare your review with another made by someone who also didn't see the movie?

Well, I've written a review or two of a movie I didn't finish, generally to explain what was so awful about a movie that other people really seem to like that made me angry enough to turn it off.  (See my review of In and Out, actually.)  However, I am currently in the middle of a series of discussions with friends about why I'm probably not going to see a fairly popular movie at all.  Certainly not in the theatre.  I have made that decision without what some people consider to be enough evidence, based in part on my feelings.  (Also on certain glaring historical errors that have been brought to my attention and a visceral dislike for the director.)  And indeed, at the point the conversations started, none of us had seen the movie.  We were taking fragmentary evidence and deciding if we felt it made it worth pursuing further.

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When writing the review, you are basing all the rational and emotional evaluations on something that exists, and exists in the same form for all the others who view the movie.

Okay, then what about love?  Do you think love is quantifiable?  How about beauty?  Yes, we know that human standards of beauty are generally based on symmetry, but why, then, do so many people even within a culture have such varying standards?  Why were my best friend and I able to argue Charlie Sheen versus Emilio Estevez when we were in eighth grade?  Yes, both men exist, but if beauty is quantifiable, why can't two girls the same age, who attended the same school district--even the same school, at the time--and the same church, and who had mostly the same interests, agree on which one was better-looking?
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Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #71 on: January 18, 2013, 02:15:37 PM »
If you live in the US, I think that the church can't do that and still be exempt from taxation.

Ha.  Look into the history of California's Proposition 8.
OK. I don't live in the US, but my understanding is that if you want to be tax exempted as a charity or such, you can't participate in politics in this sense.

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Well, these days, vocal disapproval, if you look at those gay marriage initiatives that succeeded in November.  We were all poised to be the first state to approve gay marriage by ballot, not legislature or judiciary, and we were in fact the third--because two other states had polls that closed before ours.  53% of Americans (depending on what poll you're looking at) currently support gay marriage.  That doesn't include those who support "civil unions."  On average, polls show that eighty percent of Americans consider themselves religious, which doesn't include "religious unaffiliated"--religious, but they don't know what they believe.  Assuming that everyone who isn't religious also supports gay marriage--not a safe assumption--shows that there has to be about a thirty percent overlap of "religious" and "supports gay marriage."
While I do hope that what you describe about gay marriage approval is correct, I'd still like to see some actual statistics. It's not legal in more than a couple of states, after all.

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Well, I've written a review or two of a movie I didn't finish
But you saw enough to make your mind that the movie actually existed, and that it wasn't to your liking.
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However, I am currently in the middle of a series of discussions with friends about why I'm probably not going to see a fairly popular movie at all.  Certainly not in the theatre.  I have made that decision without what some people consider to be enough evidence, based in part on my feelings.  (Also on certain glaring historical errors that have been brought to my attention and a visceral dislike for the director.)  And indeed, at the point the conversations started, none of us had seen the movie.  We were taking fragmentary evidence and deciding if we felt it made it worth pursuing further.
Fragmentary information is not what I meant. If all of you got about the same information about the movie, and you could even agree that you were talking about the same movie, that's fine. It has nothing to do what I meant, though. Could you actually make a review of the movie?

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Okay, then what about love?
In the context of this discussion, I've never loved anything that I haven't observed to exist. 
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Do you think love is quantifiable?
Perhaps not, but I know I love more my wife and my child than my parents, for example. I've also observed that all of them exist.   
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How about beauty?
I'll make my judgment when I see it. 
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Yes, we know that human standards of beauty are generally based on symmetry, but why, then, do so many people even within a culture have such varying standards?
I'm not sure. Perhaps it has something to do with "compatibility", like tall people preferring tall partners. This still doesn't mean that the object of desire doesn't exist in a physical sense. 
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Why were my best friend and I able to argue Charlie Sheen versus Emilio Estevez when we were in eighth grade?  Yes, both men exist, but if beauty is quantifiable, why can't two girls the same age, who attended the same school district--even the same school, at the time--and the same church, and who had mostly the same interests, agree on which one was better-looking?
You tell me. Did you write down the features that you found attractive?

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #72 on: January 18, 2013, 02:37:06 PM »
a religious scientist is in an intellectually dishonest position
There is nothing intellectually dishonest about acknowledging holding non-scientific beliefs.
Then how can you justify your scientific views? Why can the burden of proof be shifted, when it's about a religion? What's the intellectually honest answer from the scientific point of view for, say, "why do you believe in the Christian God and not in Ukko ylijumala?"


An intellectually honest answer would be, "That is my faith. I believe it without proof." An answer much like the one Gillianren gave earlier.  (Not intending to put words in her mouth.)

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No, you misinterpret me. To make it easier, what other things would you believe to exist without proof?

I interpreted "evidence for everything in life" as well, everything in life, material and non-material.    I see your  statement of "believe to exist" as perhaps meaning only material existence.  If you meant only material existence, then we are in agreement. One needs to have proof for a claim of something having materiel existence or an ability act on the material.  One need not have proof to say that one's spiritual impulse exists and influences decisions in one's life.

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It seems that you really want to deliberately misinterpret me.

I really did mean those questions as questions that I would like you to clarify, not accusations.

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It shouldn't be that hard to see why having a religious belief, justified or not, is very different from having the belief and having it affect others without their approval.

This does occur with beliefs religious and not.  The director of the Bolshoi Ballet was attacked with acid to the face yesterday and may loose his sight.  News reports attribute the attack to artistic differences.  Union members may attack or kill scabs.  Although religious hatred may be the most prevalent, I just don't see much ultimate difference between religious and secular hatred.

If we are not communicating, please do not take my misunderstandings as deliberate.  I think our conversations here are productive. 
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Offline gillianren

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #73 on: January 18, 2013, 02:41:34 PM »
OK. I don't live in the US, but my understanding is that if you want to be tax exempted as a charity or such, you can't participate in politics in this sense.

And that is supposed to be true.  Supposedly, you should lose your tax-exempt status if you tell people how to vote.  However, there's a certain Utah-based faith that poured unknown dollar amounts and volunteer hours into the Proposition 8 campaign, and they still have tax-exempt status.  I'm sure one marquee on one obscure Olympia church isn't going to change a thing.

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While I do hope that what you describe about gay marriage approval is correct, I'd still like to see some actual statistics. It's not legal in more than a couple of states, after all.

Assuming the Supreme Court overturns Prop 8, it will be legal for a quarter of the US population.  That will be because California is the most populous state in the Union--and it's legal in New York, which also has a rather large population.  It is legal in nine states, the District of Columbia, and two Indian tribes.  Obama has publicly declared his support of same-sex marriage.  Three states made it legal in one day, which is fairly impressive.  On that same day, another failed to pass a constitutional ban, becoming only the second to do so.  What statistics do you want?  I gave you current poll numbers.  Do you want links to the actual polls?  Because I can do that, too.  Heck, it doesn't take much looking around to discover that the support for same-sex marriage is increasing in the US, whereas the amount of people who consider themselves religious is relatively static.

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Fragmentary information is not what I meant. If all of you got about the same information about the movie, and you could even agree that you were talking about the same movie, that's fine. It has nothing to do what I meant, though. Could you actually make a review of the movie?

Probably, but I wouldn't.  I know there are several movies I haven't actually seen that I could not only write reviews of, but could write accurate reviews of.

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Perhaps not, but I know I love more my wife and my child than my parents, for example. I've also observed that all of them exist.

You're missing my point, perhaps deliberately.  I can't remember the exact quote, but in Hogfather, Death talks to Susan about how humanity is all about the things that don't exist.  She argues, but he suggests she mill the universe down to its smallest particles and find her an atom of "justice" or "love."  Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez certainly exist, as does your family.  Your love for them, and their beauty, do not have tangible existence.  They are names we have assigned to something that, from an objective perspective, can be said not to exist.  "Compatibility"?  Find me a particle of that.  The object of desire exists, but "desire"?
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Offline Andromeda

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #74 on: January 18, 2013, 02:53:43 PM »
With all due respect, who the heck are you to tell someone they "have to justify" a personal belief?  Who are you to judge?

I agree that one person's beliefs should not impinge on the rights of others, but that's not what you are saying here.  Any beliefs I do or do not have are none of your business and I do not have to justify them or myself to anyone.
Why the aggression? How about justifying a belief to yourself, for starters? How many beliefs do you take for granted, without any actual basis? At least to me, this is basic self-reflection.

Why so personal?  When someone tries to tell me what to think, yeah I get annoyed.

Again, it is none of your business what I do or do not believe or why.  You don't know me, and you do not know how deep my self-reflection runs or what I have put in to achieve it.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 03:00:24 PM by Andromeda »
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