Ruins wrote:Since you made such a long post, I will just answer each section individually. I apologize in advance for the long post, but my ISP has capped my downloads, so instead of watching some pr0n, I am writing this...
lots of stuff
okay, that makes a little more sense. i didn't understand your wording on what you meant by decision making. but i think you misinterpreted a few of my points (or i wasn't very clear) and they are important enough for me to respond.
2) -i wasn't putting them in a binary, only reacting to the frame you seemed to be working within with your post. sorry, i wasn't clear about that. but i do mean that there are different ways of thinking about things and that they cannot be strictly compared. this is the argument that i am making later with the thing about ethics.
-not all religions have not been as reluctant as you suggest. the catholic church believes that evolution could be true and they HAVE admitted they were wrong in the way they treated galileo. they are more conservative than science, though, but since i think they deal with other types of knowledge when they are doing their job, this is justified. science, you could argue, is behind the curve with addressing the developments in aesthetic theory. yes, it's less important, but the same sort of situation...it's not science's thing to be on the cutting edge of art. nor is it the place of religion to send up new telescopes into orbit. and yes, i realize that religion dominated the domain that science now holds for centuries (in europe, at least). that was because the main thinkers of previous centuries were philosophers within the church. the church was the center of knowledge for many centuries because of its political role, so religion informed 'science' for a while. but the fact that it no longer does this today shows that the essence of the majority of people's religions is not to compete or oppress free scientific investigation, but to address other matters.
you cannot paint all religion as being the same as evangelists. those are a loud minority. very loud. but there are billions of religious people who do not act in that way towards science. i would argue that they represent religion more so than the fundies who are pushing creationism in schools.
-i don't care about how much we use science. that it not the point. it does work. i get that. i saw the t-shirt. what i mean is that it is not necessarily the absolutely best tool for generating knowledge in all situations and one of those exceptions is the domain that concerns religion.
and if one argues that technological advancement is more beneficial than religion, i would refer them to the role tech played in making the two world wars such lovely experiences. and to that you might point out the inquisition versus smallpox vaccines. my point is that you could argue either way about the value of religion v. science..
3) just because your ethics aren't consistent in regards to a specific type of action doesn't mean that you don't work according to them. i also never argued for ethical absolutes. ethics are a hierarchy of values applied to various contexts, IMO. sometimes they conflict and we have to kill in self-defense (or let ourselves die), for instance. ethics isn't a set of ways to respond to actions. it is a set of decision making processes that puts things in categories of right and wrong.
i also didn't mean that religion should inform ethics. they are often separate. but even if ethics depend on culture, that is still a non-scientific epistemological process for making decisions. and it is valid in many (not all) instances.
but that wasn't my point...was using ethics as an example, not as an argument in itself.
you were talking about practical knowledge, that is, knowledge used to make decisions. ethics informs this, but an ethical 'fact' or value is not just another type of datum. there are different types of information. the information you receive from your eyes is different from the information from your ears. linking these in your head to form an idea about what's causing them is another type. now you could classify these all types of sensory information. but what of those that work on different levels?
think of historical knowledge. it must be assembled from a variety of highly subjective sources. there is no such thing as scientifically objective history, although certain events are extremely certain and number can be applied, like dates and quantities of people, etc. history, however, is not a set of dates and it cannot be treated as the same kind of information as weight or distance.
now, i would classify historical/ethical knowledge as separate from that of scientific knowledge. you cannot recreate the conditions of some types of knowledge. you cannot observe others. you cannot objectively observe historical knowledge.
some types of knowledge are uncertain. some only exist in culture. some reflect the physical world. some are pretty subjective (love, hatred, quality of art). some are just creations of the language we use (our grammar often forces the subject/object relationship upon situations where none exists in such a strict manner, for instance). other types of knowledge introduces categories like 'right/wrong' or 'happiness/sadness'. others deal with units of mass, volume, rate of acceleration, etc. what about a priori and a posteriori knowledge? if you are not familiar with john locke, his writings on such things is very interesting, even if no one follows it anymore. look at how he classifies different kinds of information...it's outdated scientifically but the questions that it calls forth about knowledge are valuable.
so, yes, i must insist there are different types of knowledge. they could all ultimately be classified as 'things you know', but that would ignore the critical things that actually make knowledge more than fleeting thoughts. and such differences in knowledge become especially important in decision making. you kinda need to understand the lesson of a wise fable from childhood in a different way than how many calories are suppose to be in a package of food, although the two might concern the same object.
4) people do not consult science in day to day life in this way. they instead tend to respond to social pressures, the growling in their stomachs, their fears, and their personal narratives. they do not fear airplanes crashes because of gravity. they fear them because they do not want to die, which involves a critical idea (that life is good) that cannot be informed by science. science as an epistemological tool is often neglected in day to day decision making. they are conscious of it, but other types of knowledge inform their actual concerns.
why, for instance, should the preacher you mentioned be thinking about electromagnetism? what does that have to do with anything? when i eat, i don't it matters whether i am privy to the exact way that i digest food. this may inform my nutrition, yes, but i don't think the way the acids digest things on a molecular level is more relevant beyond that. knowledge for its own sake is rad, but i thought we were talking about stuff that informs our decisions.
no, i am not saying that science is useless. just its wide application doesn't make it universally relevant and some situations require different kinds of knowledge.
in the same way that science can inform our decisions, so can other types of epistemological processes. these are just as important.
5) okay, that makes more sense of what you meant in your original post. but still, science only informs a fraction of the way that people operate. yes, i realize we are saturated by technology. but the use of science as a medium in our actions isn't the same as it giving us the type of knowledge that defines who we are and how to live. this is the type of knowledge that i think religion is concerned with for the most part. this is not an argument that religion is superior or that it is the only source of information about such things. but i am asserting that you can't compare the two, as they concern different things.
finally, the behavior of some religious people is not an argument against the truth of religion in general. people aren't consistent with their beliefs, although they will act like they are. just because lots of people have trouble following christian ideals does not mean that they are false. they are supposed to be difficult to follow.
also, i don't see how it is wrong for religion to disagree with you. of course it will assert its own veracity.
and there are some quite smart people who are very informed about science and who still willing to believe in 'the flying spaghetti monster'. belief is based on more than visibility and i think the acceptance of things beyond sensory perception is neither a marker of ignorance nor intelligence.
i would also argue that most of the violence committed in the name of religion is not informed by religion but other factors. since religion is extremely wrapped up with culture, actions committed by people because of social pressures take the garb of religion. think about the crusades. religion did not tell them to pillage. it was the justification for one culture trying to dominate the other. thus, terrorists are generated not simply because of extremist religions, but because they are responding to some kind of cultural conflict/injustice that leads them to kill others. understand that i'm not trying to justify them. but merely stamping out extremist sects will not make people stop wanting to kill each other.
and yes, i realize that religion does cause some people to kill each other, even after social/economic factors are taken into account. but this does not disprove all types of religion or mean that its disappearance would be the end of our problems.
none of this is meant to be an argument in favor of religion. i doubt that an online forum can lead to a change in faith either way and i have no interest in proselytizing.
edit: sorry for the typos. i don't have time to correct them all.