Author Topic: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion  (Read 49816 times)

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #135 on: January 19, 2013, 02:53:50 PM »
We may take the position that nature inspires us, our love is pure, or our commitment is eternal, all without a requirement of proof.
All these things, if taken true, have evidence (except for the eternal part, but you probably meant that in the human context). 
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My point is that a statement of faith is ultimately no different.  It caries various social meanings and consequences but is not scientific.
Depends on the faith, really. You yourself showed really well in your earlier post how different beliefs can be scientific.
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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?
No, I don't agree. By the terms you have put forward, it's a reasonable belief, as it depends on the internal state of the believer. It's not amenable to scientific testing.

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Short answer.  Religions don't make claims, people do. 
I'm totally lost here. Can you please tell me what is a religion without the claims that the people have made?

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #136 on: January 19, 2013, 03:05:02 PM »
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.
Your own example about the omniscient god deceiving us to make the world look as it does is a good one. On what grounds would you think that having such an untestable belief is in line with requiring evidence for the other theories of the world?

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #137 on: January 19, 2013, 03:13:11 PM »
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?
No, I don't agree. By the terms you have put forward, it's a reasonable belief, as it depends on the internal state of the believer. It's not amenable to scientific testing.

I don't think you understand my differentiation between material and non-material and I am at a loss to put it into different words. 

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I'm totally lost here. Can you please tell me what is a religion without the claims that the people have made?
A religion, in my view is a human institution that is made up of more or less loosely or tightly affiliated people and ideas.  Saying that a religion makes a claim is in the same form as saying "the government hoaxed the moon missions."  The government is an institution that required people to do and say things. So the more accurate way to say it is people within the governmental hoaxed the moon mission.   Saying "the government did it" can be a useful short hand for describing events or it can be sloppy thinking.  With hoax believers it is easy to tell the difference.     

See L.O. there is a tie in. ;)

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Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #138 on: January 19, 2013, 04:08:07 PM »
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?
No, I don't agree. By the terms you have put forward, it's a reasonable belief, as it depends on the internal state of the believer. It's not amenable to scientific testing.

To revisit this.  I am confused here, you do not agree that a requirement for "additions (that) are only observable by the proponent of the theory." is a special pleading? or not equivalent to a creationist claim?   

This is one of the reasons I am at a a loss to explain.  I put forward a straight answer and proposition to search for points of agreement and your response is apparently to ignore what I say and simultaneously tell me I am wrong by some unspecified criteria that you attribute to me.  Understanding can only be gained if we each speak for ourselves. 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 05:45:37 PM by Echnaton »
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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #139 on: January 19, 2013, 04:32:57 PM »
Your own example about the omniscient god deceiving us to make the world look as it does is a good one. On what grounds would you think that having such an untestable belief is in line with requiring evidence for the other theories of the world?

On what grounds do you assume they have to be in line?
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Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #140 on: January 19, 2013, 08:29:14 PM »
To revisit this.  I am confused here, you do not agree that a requirement for "additions (that) are only observable by the proponent of the theory." is a special pleading? or not equivalent to a creationist claim?   
If I understood you correctly, you are saying that the creationist claim can fail empirical testing. For that reason, I don't agree with the latter part. Replace the physical qualities of colour and sound by "love" as the addition, if that better helps to see the point I'm trying to make.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #141 on: January 19, 2013, 08:39:44 PM »
Your own example about the omniscient god deceiving us to make the world look as it does is a good one. On what grounds would you think that having such an untestable belief is in line with requiring evidence for the other theories of the world?

On what grounds do you assume they have to be in line?
For a consistent world-view. Next, you'll ask me why I think it needs to be consistent, to which I'll answer that it's the requirement that a scientist uses for everything else that makes up the world, and we go back in circles, so I think I'm dropping this here, as I don't have anything more to add.

In my view, what you are asking me is the same as asking why we teach people that our planet is billions of years old. The age of the earth doesn't affect the life of your average person, yet we are explicitly telling them what to think, possibly against their belief that the earth is only thousands of years old. For this reason I'm having so hard time to see why a belief doesn't need justification.

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #142 on: January 19, 2013, 08:49:15 PM »
To revisit this.  I am confused here, you do not agree that a requirement for "additions (that) are only observable by the proponent of the theory." is a special pleading? or not equivalent to a creationist claim?   
If I understood you correctly, you are saying that the creationist claim can fail empirical testing. For that reason, I don't agree with the latter part. Replace the physical qualities of colour and sound by "love" as the addition, if that better helps to see the point I'm trying to make.

Something to the effect of
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You wouldn't take seriously a theory of relativity identical to Einstein's, except for the little addition that space-time is permeated with love that only some can feel?

That would be a nonsensical claim.  I still don't know what you are getting at.   

We have been quoting each other for so long I don't know what "latter part" are you referring here. 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 08:51:44 PM by Echnaton »
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Offline gillianren

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #143 on: January 19, 2013, 10:54:03 PM »
Okay, so you don't like "love" as unquantifiable.  How about "morality"?  "Ethics"?  "Justice"?  These vary from culture to culture and society to society.  They are clearly not objective qualities, and they can't be said to spring from chemicals in our brains.  Yet almost all people believe they exist, and if they don't, we almost always believe there's something wrong with that person.  There is no empirical right and wrong, but do we criticize all scientists who have a sense of right and wrong for believing in that without evidence?
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Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #144 on: January 20, 2013, 03:09:33 AM »
That would be a nonsensical claim.  I still don't know what you are getting at.
It's to point out that a scientist can't make such nonsensical additions to theories. Yet he can do so, if it's about a religious faith, which, at least to me, is inconsistent.
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We have been quoting each other for so long I don't know what "latter part" are you referring here.
Empirical vs. non-empirical claim, as I took you to present the creationist claim as empirical, while my example was pointedly trying to be non-empirical, so the two aren't equal.

Offline Valis

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #145 on: January 20, 2013, 03:55:43 AM »
How about "morality"?  "Ethics"?  "Justice"?  These vary from culture to culture and society to society.  They are clearly not objective qualities
I'll stop you here. Religions (or, if Echnaton objects, the people who have laid down the rules of the religion) commonly claim that they are objective, with their way being the right way. 
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and they can't be said to spring from chemicals in our brains.
Perhaps not. But they can be said to spring from social interactions, which can be studied by scientific means (observations combined with logic).
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  There is no empirical right and wrong, but do we criticize all scientists who have a sense of right and wrong for believing in that without evidence?
I wouldn't say without evidence. If I kill someone at random, that person is definitely gone, and the act has probably caused grief to other people. The act has caused a reduction in the general well-being, and thus it's almost certainly wrong.

In fact, there's work being done towards deriving human values from science, see Sam Harris for example. Science can also help in answering moral questions. For example, an objection to abortion has been that it causes pain for the fetus. Scientific inquiry can determine the development of the nervous system and set an age for the fetus where it's incapable of feeling pain, making the moral question a little bit simpler. This is in sharp contrast with the theistic beliefs that come with absolute morals. The God of the Old Testament ordering genocide is one case I've often seen discussed. The discussions have sometimes contained absurd rationalizations from the Christian apologetics, like God ordering the children to be killed too was a good thing, as they were innocent and would go to heaven. Instead of attempts to evaluate the morality of the genocide, the believer is reduced to attempts to explain the behaviour of God who has been defined as an entity that doesn't do immoral acts.

Offline gillianren

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #146 on: January 20, 2013, 12:33:37 PM »
I notice you trimmed out all my stuff about differing beliefs in differing societies.  Why do the social interactions of one group permit, say, the death penalty, but not the social interactions of another?  Why do the social interactions of one group mandate that turning right on red is illegal but not another within the same nation?  (That's obviously a nation that drives on the right-hand side of the road!)  There is a whole wide range of actions that we consider right and wrong, few of which are as extreme as murder.  There is no tangible Thing called "justice," but we believe in it anyway.
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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #147 on: January 20, 2013, 04:22:01 PM »
For a consistent world-view. Next, you'll ask me why I think it needs to be consistent,

Please don't put words in my mouth.

What i was actually going to say is that it is consistent. I am consistent in my view that some things can be empirically proven and some things cannot, and I have no more problem applying different 'rules' to my thoughts on those different areas of experience than I do with not trying to play snooker by the rules of cricket.

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it's the requirement that a scientist uses for everything else that makes up the world

See my previous responses. I am a scientist, and I recognise that some parts of existence don't happen to fall within the realms of science, at least not yet, and not in terms of having supported answers. To use a slightly less contentious example than religion, the question of alien life springs to mind. We have no evidence for alien life. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, however, therefore the question 'is there alien life in the Universe' does not have a scientifically supported simple answer. I recognise and accept this and will gladly point it out to people when asked. If i am asked if I believe there is alien life, however, I'd have to say honestly that yes, I believe there probably is. I couldn't tell you why. Maybe it's just a romantic notion and I like the ideas of shows like Star trek being a reality some day. The point is that it's a question to which my rational mind cannot be answered one way or the other but irrationally I do believe it. Now why do I need to justify that belief when I have already conceded that there is no satisfaction of a burden of proof to provide a rational answer one way or the other to the question?

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In my view, what you are asking me is the same as asking why we teach people that our planet is billions of years old. The age of the earth doesn't affect the life of your average person, yet we are explicitly telling them what to think, possibly against their belief that the earth is only thousands of years old. For this reason I'm having so hard time to see why a belief doesn't need justification.

But that's nothing like what I am talking about. That's a question where we do have a satisfied burden of proof that says the Earth is billions of years old, and we teach it because of that. The belief that the Earth is younger than that requires a lot of empirical evidence to be discarded or argued away. The belief needs justification in the face of mountains of evidence that it is incorrect.

What I am talking about is things that don't have any evidence one way or the other, and so the burden of proof question can't be met anyway. If I can't draw a rational conclusion then all I have are irrational beliefs, and I don't see why I need to justify them to anyone when I have already conceded their irrationality.
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #148 on: January 20, 2013, 07:19:44 PM »
That would be a nonsensical claim.  I still don't know what you are getting at.
It's to point out that a scientist can't make such nonsensical additions to theories. Yet he can do so, if it's about a religious faith, which, at least to me, is inconsistent.

I think everyone in this discussion is in agreement that religion and faith are not science.  Please quote what paragraphs are saying otherwise and explain the reasoning of your interpretation. 

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We have been quoting each other for so long I don't know what "latter part" are you referring here.
Empirical vs. non-empirical claim, as I took you to present the creationist claim as empirical, while my example was pointedly trying to be non-empirical, so the two aren't equal.

Again I am unsure what paragraph of mine you are referring to in saying, "present the creationist claim as empirical." Can you please directly quote what it is you want me to respond to.
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: Tyson, Dawkins, and religion
« Reply #149 on: January 20, 2013, 07:29:14 PM »
Religions (or, if Echnaton objects, the people who have laid down the rules of the religion)...

Thanks for humoring me.  :)  It may seem pedantic to some, but I think it is an important point.

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commonly claim that they are objective, with their way being the right way.

So what if they do? No one else is obligated to pay them any mind.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 07:41:01 PM by Echnaton »
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett