Author Topic: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion  (Read 49806 times)

Offline Echnaton

  • Saturn
  • ****
  • Posts: 1490
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #120 on: January 19, 2013, 11:32:04 AM »
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.)
I think we'll just have to disagree on this one. You and several others don't seem to agree with me on the burden of proof part, so I don't see how this part of the conversation would lead to anything fruitful.

We can certainly agree to disagree.  But I would like more clarity on what you are saying so let me make a few statemetns so that your response might help me.

I don't see how the claim that religion exists is in need of proof, we are all in agreement on that.

A claim by an individual to belief in a deity is a statement of a state of mind and inherently untestable, therefor no burden of proof can be required because none can be offered.  One may personally accept or reject the veracity of such a claim but there is no scientific dispute.

A claim by a religious group to collectively have a theology based on the belief in a deity is usually self evident, but is easily shown by the existence of documents or a spoken testament of the theology.   

A claim of the existence of a deity that has no interaction in the material world, a demiurge or creator that is content to wind the clock and lets it run, is inherently unscientific and untestable because there is no interaction with the material.   One can require no burden of proof but one is also under no obligation to accept as more than a personal statement of belief either.  One might wonder what the point of belief in such a deity might be.

A claim to the existence of a deity is scientifically testable to the extent that the claimant proclaims the deity affects the material world.  So far no claim of a deity has produced a modicum of proof.  Most such claims since the invention of science seem to have fallen into the "god of the gaps" style arguments and quietly retreat as science has advanced.  They are superficial reductionist social arguments that may seem persuasive to some but are folly. 

A claim the "God hates... or God wants me to... and the like are inherently untestable because they beg the question of the existence of God.  We can atheistly view them as a learned or invented description of an internal psychological states and regard them as such. 

Given these statements, please elaborate on where we disagree about where testablity lies in religion, separate from other beliefs or belief systems.  I do not understand how you think, as it seems to me, that a statement such as "That is my faith. I believe it without proof," which contains no material claim is an intellectually dishonest description of an internal state, rather than an honest but personal description.  "Religion" cannot have a burden of proof, because it is nothing more than a concept that unquestionably exists.  Claims by the religious and non-religious alike can be subject to a burden of proof.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 12:55:33 PM by Echnaton »
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Andromeda

  • Jupiter
  • ***
  • Posts: 746
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #121 on: January 19, 2013, 11:40:54 AM »
^^This
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'" - Isaac Asimov.

Offline Echnaton

  • Saturn
  • ****
  • Posts: 1490
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #122 on: January 19, 2013, 12:07:08 PM »
Quote
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.
I have seen no evidence of a separate spiritual part of human beings. Why is it exempt from burden of proof?

I haven't made a claim for a "separate spiritual part of human beings."  If you are reading my words of " one's spiritual impulse exists" to mean this, let me expand.  By spiritual impulse I mean an internal state that people describe with this word.  I don't think there is a question that everyone is guided by various internal psychological states, the mechanisms of which are poorly understood by science. (ETA: oxygen deprivation to parts of the brain is in my understanding one cause for spiritual experiences.)  We choose diffident words to describe them, some call a subset of the states "spiritual."  I certainly do because the word best communicates to others the effects of what I have experienced.  The word does not necessarily mean a claim a specific deity or anything beyond a psychological state, although people do often mean various things beyond the psychological. So when people say "spiritual" it is best to clarify what they mean because the word is so broadly defined.

If this does not address your post, kindly point to what I have said and explain why you think that it leads you to this statement, I will attempt to further clarify my meaning.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 12:43:50 PM by Echnaton »
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Echnaton

  • Saturn
  • ****
  • Posts: 1490
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #123 on: January 19, 2013, 12:22:02 PM »
My point is that a religious belief is one big claim about the world

This seems to be at the crux of our misunderstandings.  At least I do not understand what you mean by this.  Perhaps you could elaborate in more detail on this point to help me and others comprehend what you mean.   
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline gillianren

  • Uranus
  • ****
  • Posts: 1927
    • My Letterboxd journal
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #124 on: January 19, 2013, 12:36:29 PM »
Indeed, I think the statements of several people have been indicative that they spend considerable time in self-reflection.
There's a lot to be said for going through that on your own instead of just adopting your parents' belief system without question. It wasn't easy but I had no choice.

Dawkins makes the "modest proposal" of insulating children from religion until they're old enough to understand and choose (or not) one on their own. The usual response is "but if we don't indoctrinate our kids from a young age, they won't adopt our religion when they're older!"

Precisely.


I was raised Catholic.  At the age of nine, I wanted to be a nun.  As I got older, certain things about Catholicism started to bother me, and I did not consider myself Catholic anymore.  This process happens to quite a lot of people as they get older who then find other religions--heck, my dad was raised Methodist!  This is part of why I'm so irritated at the assumption that my beliefs are unthinking.
"This sounds like a job for Bipolar Bear . . . but I just can't seem to get out of bed!"

"Conspiracy theories are an irresistible labour-saving device in the face of complexity."  --Henry Louis Gates

Offline LunarOrbit

  • Administrator
  • Jupiter
  • *****
  • Posts: 909
    • ApolloHoax.net
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #125 on: January 19, 2013, 01:20:21 PM »
I'm considering locking this thread because I can tell it's a little bit heated. One thing I can't stand is when arrogant atheists tell faithful people that they are basically stupid or dishonest. It's just as bad as when religious people try to convert non-believers. If you can't have a discussion without insulting people then don't have the discussion. And if you can't manage that on your own I can help.

I consider myself an "agnostic atheist" because while I don't believe (theist/atheist) in a god I don't claim to know (gnostic/agnostic) for sure that there isn't one. I personally require evidence, but I understand that just because I haven't found it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It only means I haven't looked in the right place. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

True atheism doesn't seem like the scientific way to me. You can't prove that god doesn't exist, so claiming that you know there isn't one is making a conclusion that you can't really support. Agnosticism is closer to what I consider the ideal scientific stance regarding god because it leaves open the possibility that you're wrong. I'm "agnostic" about alien life too, for example, because I can't prove aliens exist, but I can't say that I know with certainty that they don't. I have to assume that they might.
It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth.
I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.
I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Offline Valis

  • Venus
  • **
  • Posts: 96
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #126 on: January 19, 2013, 01:43:47 PM »
Thank you for summing up the discussion so far, making it a lot easier for me to show my point.
I do not understand how you think, as it seems to me, that a statement such as "That is my faith. I believe it without proof," which contains no material claim is an intellectually dishonest description of an internal state, rather than an honest but personal description.
This is where we differ. It's taking a position with no evidence. You wouldn't allow to add such things into a scientific theory, therefore the dishonest part comes from allowing one thing to do so. You wouldn't take seriously a theory of relativity identical to Einstein's, except for the little addition that space-time is brown and emits a pleasant sound (but the two additions are only observable by the proponent of the theory).   
Quote
"Religion" cannot have a burden of proof, because it is nothing more than a concept that unquestionably exists.  Claims by the religious and non-religious alike can be subject to a burden of proof.
What religion exists without making any claims? I don't agree with your definition of religion, as they invariably make unsupported claims of the world we live in.

Offline Andromeda

  • Jupiter
  • ***
  • Posts: 746
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #127 on: January 19, 2013, 01:54:28 PM »
Sorry, Valis, but I cannot have a discussion with you unless you drop the "dishonesty" business.

Believing something within oneself is not the same thing as claiming something is true.
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'" - Isaac Asimov.

Offline Valis

  • Venus
  • **
  • Posts: 96
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #128 on: January 19, 2013, 02:08:15 PM »
Sorry, Valis, but I cannot have a discussion with you unless you drop the "dishonesty" business.

Believing something within oneself is not the same thing as claiming something is true.
I've asked for a better word for it. What would you call a scientist believing in the modified relativity I specified above?

[replaced "person" by "scientist" to better make the point]
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 02:09:54 PM by Valis »

Offline Jason Thompson

  • Uranus
  • ****
  • Posts: 1533
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #129 on: January 19, 2013, 02:23:35 PM »
It's taking a position with no evidence. You wouldn't allow to add such things into a scientific theory, therefore the dishonest part comes from allowing one thing to do so.

You still continue to insist that we should be treating everything like science just because we are scientists. That's not how it works. Not everything breaks down to science, at least not with our current level of understanding. Therefore we separate that which can from that which can't. It is not dishonest in the least to admit to that separation. There are things I can test, and there are things I cannot. I am comfortable with that, and as long as I make clear which is which when making claims to other people, exactly how am I being dishonest?
"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

  • Saturn
  • ****
  • Posts: 1490
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #130 on: January 19, 2013, 02:25:59 PM »
It's taking a position with no evidence.

We may take the position that nature inspires us, our love is pure, or our commitment is eternal, all without a requirement of proof.  My point is that a statement of faith is ultimately no different.  It caries various social meanings and consequences but is not scientific.  If you place other attributes on such a statement that is fine, but please expand them and on the scientific determination of the attributes you ascribe to a simple statement of faith. 

Quote
You wouldn't take seriously a theory of relativity identical to Einstein's, except for the little addition that space-time is brown and emits a pleasant sound (but the two additions are only observable by the proponent of the theory).   

That would be a special pleading of an empirical claim.  If it fails empirical testing it need not be taken to mean any thing about the material world.   Thus it is no different than a creationist account of the beginning of the world. Are we agreed on that?

Quote
What religion exists without making any claims?

Short answer.  Religions don't make claims, people do. 

That is someone had to say or write it and someone had to interpret it to have a particular meaning.  This is a process of human living.  Could we say "What history exists without making claims" without really referring to documents and historians, even in an nonspecific way?  Or "What philosophy exists without making claims" without really referring to philosophers their interpreters.    If one takes an functional materialist mode of thought, religion becomes another social phenomenon that can be understood as not much different from other social phenomena. 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 02:56:25 PM by Echnaton »
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Jason Thompson

  • Uranus
  • ****
  • Posts: 1533
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #131 on: January 19, 2013, 02:27:14 PM »
I've asked for a better word for it.

We cannot offer a better word when you are insistent that that word still has to mean 'dishonesty'. It's not the word it's the meaning that is the issue.
"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 Valis

  • Venus
  • **
  • Posts: 96
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #132 on: January 19, 2013, 02:37:29 PM »
You still continue to insist that we should be treating everything like science just because we are scientists. That's not how it works. Not everything breaks down to science, at least not with our current level of understanding. Therefore we separate that which can from that which can't. It is not dishonest in the least to admit to that separation. There are things I can test, and there are things I cannot. I am comfortable with that, and as long as I make clear which is which when making claims to other people, exactly how am I being dishonest?
See above. You are asking what allows you to make ad hoc assumptions about the world. Again, the dishonesty (still lacking the better word) comes from allowing this one thing to be exempt from the rules you apply to other such claims.

Offline Echnaton

  • Saturn
  • ****
  • Posts: 1490
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #133 on: January 19, 2013, 02:42:37 PM »
I'm considering locking this thread because I can tell it's a little bit heated.
Do what you feel is best.  I am enjoying the tread but we all seem to have stated our positions and had ample opportunity to clarify them.  We certainly shouldn't let this topic sidetrack us from our main purpose.

I now refer to myself as an atheist. It seems the differences between people who identify as atheist or agnostic are largely social, since both share a common characteristic of the understanding of an absence of evidence for any god.  Identity, it seems, is as much of a problem in this world as religion. Let's always focus on our first identity as moon hoax debunkers.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 03:32:34 PM by Echnaton »
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Jason Thompson

  • Uranus
  • ****
  • Posts: 1533
Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #134 on: January 19, 2013, 02:47:43 PM »
See above. You are asking what allows you to make ad hoc assumptions about the world. Again, the dishonesty (still lacking the better word) comes from allowing this one thing to be exempt from the rules you apply to other such claims.

I'm sorry, but who are you to decide what rules I am applying to other claims, or what rules I should be applying?

Some things cannot be subject to burden of proof. It is not dishonest (or any other word that means something like it) to fail to apply some rules when they cannot be applied in the first place.
"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