Religion: The Deuce

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thorgold
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thorgold » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:57 am UTC

[snip]

(Note: Sorry for absence and short response, I'm getting steamrolled by a History/Philosophy paper)

[snip]


(In response to Azrael's warning on the last page - I admit, I'm at fault there. Overstepping the bounds of civility to make a point is a bad idea, sorry.)

Spoiler:
Original content, since it has been quoted & responded to below:
Xeio wrote:
thorgold wrote:EDIT: I just finished skimming the article on abiogenesis you directed me to earlier. Ironically, I'd like to point out that the section we are arguing over - how organic molecules go from primordial soup to life - is, in fact, written as "unknown" in the wikipedia page, and that's the point I'm getting at.
Essentially, yes, it's still a theory. My main point is not to prove how life came about, but that proof of life =/= proof of a divine creator which is what you originally claimed.

thorgold wrote:True, but even if the definition of purpose is ambiguous, there is no denying that there is purpose. Note my wording, which is necessary for a deductive argument - all things that exist have a purpose, a goal, a fulfillment. Nothing exists that does not have a purpose - therefore, it is logical to say that, for something to exist, it must have a purpose.
But a "purpose" is just something that we as humans give to an object to categorize it, anything can be given an arbitrary purpose "Its purpose is to exist"/"It's purpose is to be observed by humans", which are essentially useless purposes.

I guess TheGrammarBolshevik said it better, but yes, you're also missing the step from "all known matter has a purpose" -> "all matter must have a purpose". Even if I accept that a purpose is a property of the matter, then just because we haven't yet seen something without a puprose doesn't mean that something can't exist.


Regarding abiogenesis and the complexity issue, the problem remains that life just doesn't happen. Yes, we've discussed that it is possible (Read: POSSIBLE), even on the minutest chances, that Earth could have had ideal conditions for the components of life to gather, but that doesn't explain why organic molecules would start to form, nor how those organic molecules would suddenly begin complex processes designed to create more of themselves. Not only was the energy and organization not present for the formation of organic molecules. Enough about the sun, sunlight needs to be harnessed through photosynthesis and converted into ATP to be of use, otherwise it's just loose, uncontrolled energy - yes, the sun can power your car, but you need to harness it first. Simply put, there is no remotely possible way that life could've started. You can throw all the chemicals and molecules and assorted elements that create life into a pot, you can recreate the primordial soup, hell, you can zap the whole slew with lightning if you want, but you won't get life. Ever.

Life is unexplainable by any other means than an outside force - and the only outside force that is possible in this scenario is a powerful being outside of our universe (to be in our universe, he would be subject to the same laws that make spontaneous life impossible). If anything, the fact that such pipoint precise conditions and unexplainable "jumpstarts" of energy and organization are required for life make the existance of a God all the stronger.

The whole point of the "purpose" argument is that there is always a metanarrative, an overarching purpose. Inductive reasoning aside (thank you for correction; they're major topics in my paper and I'm getting them confused too often now), and even disregarding the origin of life, you can simply ask "Why?" Why would a bunch of lifeless molecules operate in an organized manner in order to counteract the Law of Entropy? Life is the only force in nature seen to harness, convert, and use energy. Furthermore, why would a bunch of organic molecules, organized into a cell, reproduce itself? What, do atoms have feelings? Are they communists, wanting to bring equality to all the atomic particles? I kid, but the question is raised - life, without purpose, makes no sense, particularly when the organisms involved are incapable of sentience.


It seems that you've missed a key feature in both my warning and the post two prior to this one.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:12 am UTC

Why would a bunch of lifeless molecules operate in an organized manner in order to counteract the Law of Entropy? Life is the only force in nature seen to harness, convert, and use energy.

I read all the way up to here, and I had to stop.

How can you counteract the Law of Entropy? Answer: you can't (the only thing that might possibly not be entropy is equilibrium--that means not changing, counteracting requires action thus uses entropy). And what force in nature doesn't use, convert, or harness energy? Their interactions are much simpler than ours, certainly, but it can convert chemical energy/nuclear to thermal energy to electromagnetic energy fairly easily. Behold Venus and Earth which can trap the sun's thermal radiation through its atmosphere.

Anyway, this is your basic thought process "why did all of these things appear? I can't just put a bunch of these things and zap em into existence? This must mean that god did everything because it is obvious that I have the perfect model of everything that happened 4.6 billion years ago." Aka, you run into a tough scientific problem and since you can't solve it you default to God did it (intellectual laziness).

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thorgold » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:30 am UTC

User was ejected from the thread prior to making this post. I've left it because it has been responded to below.

- Az

Spoiler:
infernovia wrote:
Why would a bunch of lifeless molecules operate in an organized manner in order to counteract the Law of Entropy? Life is the only force in nature seen to harness, convert, and use energy.

I read all the way up to here, and I had to stop.

How can you counteract the Law of Entropy? Answer: you can't (the only thing that might possibly not be entropy is equilibrium--that means not changing, counteracting requires action thus uses entropy). And what force in nature doesn't use, convert, or harness energy? Their interactions are much simpler than ours, certainly, but it can convert chemical energy/nuclear to thermal energy to electromagnetic energy fairly easily. Behold Venus and Earth which can trap the sun's thermal radiation through its atmosphere.

Anyway, this is your basic thought process "why did all of these things appear? I can't just put a bunch of these things and zap em into existence? This must mean that god did everything because it is obvious that I have the perfect model of everything that happened 4.6 billion years ago." Aka, you run into a tough scientific problem and since you can't solve it you default to God did it (intellectual laziness).

While I don't hold you at fault, if you haven't read the rest of my points the previous post will not make sense. It is the followup to counterarguments that only make sense in context.

However, you are wrong in your first assertion. Yes, forces in nature do interact with energy in some way, but it leads almost directly to the dispersal of energy denoted by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Sure, Venus and Earth capture energy in their atmospheres, the sun produces energy, hell, I absorb energy when I stand in sunlight. The key point is that it is all chaotic and unharnessed. An analogy would be a solar-powered car and a normal car sitting in the sun. While they're both absorbing energy, only the solar-powered car harnesses the energy, converts it to electricity, and puts it to use. Life does the same thing - energy would not behave in the way it does without the manipulation of cells.

And the defaulting to God isn't intellectual laziness; in fact, for quite a while I've held God as a last resort explanation when there is simply nothing else. Philosophically, existance doesn't make sense, and the universe violates its own laws in the act of existing. To "zap into existance" would, by natural laws, be impossible. Not so with God, who, by definition, would not be subject to those same laws. So, you either have a universe that defies its own laws, or a universe that was created by a God. While that may seem like the "easy way out" of explaining things, the process of elimination holds that when all options but one are eliminated, the remaining possibility must be the solution.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Xeio » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:34 am UTC

thorgold wrote:Life is unexplainable by any other means than an outside force - and the only outside force that is possible in this scenario is a powerful being outside of our universe (to be in our universe, he would be subject to the same laws that make spontaneous life impossible). If anything, the fact that such pipoint precise conditions and unexplainable "jumpstarts" of energy and organization are required for life make the existance of a God all the stronger.
So would you then stop looking, just because you believe it to be so improbable, so unlikely, as to be impossible? Even I can't claim to know for sure, 100%, whether or a/any god/s exist, who are you to claim that life could not have originated without outside intelligent interference? Have you disproven ambiogenesis and haven't alerted the scientific community? :P

thorgold wrote:The whole point of the "purpose" argument is that there is always a metanarrative, an overarching purpose. Inductive reasoning aside (thank you for correction; they're major topics in my paper and I'm getting them confused too often now), and even disregarding the origin of life, you can simply ask "Why?" Why would a bunch of lifeless molecules operate in an organized manner in order to counteract the Law of Entropy? Life is the only force in nature seen to harness, convert, and use energy. Furthermore, why would a bunch of organic molecules, organized into a cell, reproduce itself? What, do atoms have feelings? Are they communists, wanting to bring equality to all the atomic particles? I kid, but the question is raised - life, without purpose, makes no sense, particularly when the organisms involved are incapable of sentience.
Ok, you can't really claim entropy here without taking into consideration the entire universe is the system (also, it is undecided if life necessarily reduces entropy).

For life, all it takes is one base organic compound to reproduce. After that, a bit of mutation and natural selection take over. Natural selection will, of course, tend to select for organisms that are more likely to reproduce (and more hardy, ect.), why else do you think humans enjoy sex so much?

As for purpose, I don't really know what else to say other than that there doesn't have to be an answer to "Why?", least of all the one you want (that there is a greater meaning to life other than just being alive).

EDIT:
thorgold wrote:And the defaulting to God isn't intellectual laziness; in fact, for quite a while I've held God as a last resort explanation when there is simply nothing else. Philosophically, existance doesn't make sense, and the universe violates its own laws in the act of existing. To "zap into existance" would, by natural laws, be impossible. Not so with God, who, by definition, would not be subject to those same laws. So, you either have a universe that defies its own laws, or a universe that was created by a God. While that may seem like the "easy way out" of explaining things, the process of elimination holds that when all options but one are eliminated, the remaining possibility must be the solution.
So, which god? Why not any of the other ones you didn't pick? What extra evidence does it have over the others?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:14 am UTC

An analogy would be a solar-powered car and a normal car sitting in the sun. While they're both absorbing energy, only the solar-powered car harnesses the energy, converts it to electricity, and puts it to use.

Which still doesn't mean it broke the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It is simply storing MORE than the other car. Which doesn't mean that it has reversed entropy aka, created energy out of nothing. A rock can roll up the hill if there is enough kinetic energy, meaning that it is gaining potential energy. This doesn't mean that it is gaining entropy for god's sake, it just means it is storing energy, more than if it had simply rolled on to flat ground.

Your thought process basically amounts to this. Living things are more efficient at harnessing energy than other things, thus god must have created these things because all of this is unheard of before. I mean its violating the 2nd law of thermodynamics!!!

But you don't understand that there is no 2nd law of thermodynamics being broken, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn't preclude simpler things from getting more complex. Just like the rock example before where it converted kinetic energy to potential energy, this is possible as long as there is a giant expulsion of energy from another source (aka the sun).

Think of it another way, if the slope is smooth and there is as little friction loss as possible, do you think the rock is breaking the laws of thermodynamics? No, despite it being more efficient than a regular rock rolling down a hill. This rule applies even when you create a more complicated system like a car or a human.

And the defaulting to God isn't intellectual laziness; in fact, for quite a while I've held God as a last resort explanation when there is simply nothing else.

You are doing it wrong then, philosophy has no last resort explanations. You either understand it or you don't, everything else is empty posturing.

Philosophically, existance doesn't make sense, and the universe violates its own laws in the act of existing. To "zap into existance" would, by natural laws, be impossible. Not so with God, who, by definition, would not be subject to those same laws. So, you either have a universe that defies its own laws, or a universe that was created by a God. While that may seem like the "easy way out" of explaining things, the process of elimination holds that when all options but one are eliminated, the remaining possibility must be the solution.

Philosophyically, your face doesn't make sense. Seriously, what kind of philosophy are you reading? The Matrix? You know that is just a movie right? A movie, might I add, which doesn't understand the philosopher on whom it is based on? And I obviously used "zapping things into existance" with the context at hand, which is transforming primodeal substances to something that can be considered life.

Again, all of your arguments amount to is intellectual laziness. If you had tried to read through my post just a little bit more thoroughly, you would understand that I am obviously not saying you need to break the laws of physics. So not only did you use a false dichotomy, you strawmanned my argument.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby netcrusher88 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:27 am UTC

infernovia wrote:But you don't understand that there is no 2nd law of thermodynamics being broken, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn't preclude simpler things from getting more complex. Just like the rock example before where it converted kinetic energy to potential energy, this is possible as long as there is a giant expulsion of energy from another source (aka the sun).

Speaking of the sun, isn't nuclear fusion an example of this? Under the right conditions - specifically, enough chaotic, unharnessed energy - hydrogen can fuse and re-fuse until you have any element on the periodic table, give or take (maybe some can only be formed by decay or fission? I don't know). Or, as with fission, it can happen when the right unharnessed particle wanders through and triggers the release of just enough chaotic energy to self-sustain. I think that fusion happens independent of quantum oddity, so it's really only a small sensible step to hypothesize that atoms could snap together into molecules and molecules into larger structures under other conditions. A hypothesis that has been tested, albeit under tightly controlled conditions.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:36 am UTC

I am not sure if I understand the question. But yes, this is another example of immense energies released from energy conversion, gravity and thermal to nuclear (which is released as thermal again), and an example of nature transforming and utilizing a source of energy which results in increase of the complexity of the particles. A very fundamental conversion, E=mc^2.

So yeah, nature seems to be pretty freaking awesome at converting things it seems, I don't know what that other guy is talking about. Should read some physics before mouthing off apparently.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kag » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:12 am UTC

thorgold wrote:Yes, we've discussed that it is possible (Read: POSSIBLE), even on the minutest chances, that Earth could have had ideal conditions for the components of life to gather, but that doesn't explain why organic molecules would start to form, nor how those organic molecules would suddenly begin complex processes designed to create more of themselves. Not only was the energy and organization not present for the formation of organic molecules. Enough about the sun, sunlight needs to be harnessed through photosynthesis and converted into ATP to be of use, otherwise it's just loose, uncontrolled energy - yes, the sun can power your car, but you need to harness it first. Simply put, there is no remotely possible way that life could've started. You can throw all the chemicals and molecules and assorted elements that create life into a pot, you can recreate the primordial soup, hell, you can zap the whole slew with lightning if you want, but you won't get life. Ever.


Well, it's no use discussing the odds now, really. God or no, evidently Earth did have the ideal conditions for the components of life to gather.

More importantly, it would seem that evolution occurs on the molecular level. So, if we accept that it's possible for a bunch of RNA to form, for whatever reason, then it's certainly possible for life to occur from that.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:35 pm UTC

Saying "You won't get life, ever" is like saying it's impossible that after the big bang, where everything was fairly evenly distributed, complex systems like galaxies, stars and planets arose. Sorry, that's simply not true. And in fact we actually have heaps of evidence of naturally occuring events where not only does the complexity of the subsystem increases but it is also self-organized.

For instance this is just one particular example of such evidence;
http://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/9/8/263
Complex plasmas may naturally self-organize themselves into stable interacting helical structures that exhibit features normally attributed to organic living matter. The self-organization is based on non-trivial physical mechanisms of plasma interactions involving over-screening of plasma polarization. As a result, each helical string composed of solid microparticles is topologically and dynamically controlled by plasma fluxes leading to particle charging and over-screening, the latter providing attraction even among helical strings of the same charge sign. These interacting complex structures exhibit thermodynamic and evolutionary features thought to be peculiar only to living matter such as bifurcations that serve as 'memory marks', self-duplication, metabolic rates in a thermodynamically open system, and non-Hamiltonian dynamics. We examine the salient features of this new complex 'state of soft matter' in light of the autonomy, evolution, progenity and autopoiesis principles used to define life. It is concluded that complex self-organized plasma structures exhibit all the necessary properties to qualify them as candidates for inorganic living matter that may exist in space provided certain conditions allow them to evolve naturally.


I came across a good quote by David Hume that I think is particularly appropriate here;
David Hume wrote:... if we could be happy with an inexplicably self-ordered divine mind, why should we not rest content with an inexplicably self-ordered natural world? Often, what appears to be purpose, where it looks like object X has feature F in order to secure outcome O, is better explained by a filtering process: that is, object X wouldn't be around did it not possess feature F, and outcome O is only interesting to us as a human projection of goals onto nature.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Azrael » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:42 pm UTC

Thorgold's ejection will be enforced via board-level permissions restrictions for one week. Even after that, they are still permanently ejected from this thread, so if you feel you must continue to respond, don't expect an answer.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:17 pm UTC

What I find especially hilarious is that even if you nuke every single spot on this planet with a fusion bomb, it would still not manage to match the sun's energy output. Yet people still think that we are breaking the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:17 am UTC

infernovia wrote:What I find especially hilarious is that even if you nuke every single spot on this planet with a fusion bomb, it would still not manage to match the sun's energy output. Yet people still think that we are breaking the 2nd law of thermodynamics.


The confusion is created from people reading the 2nd law incorrectly. Many people take it to mean that entropy cannot decrease anywhere. The simplest way of disproving that reading is to point to a refrigerator.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:58 am UTC

I'm not really touching on any of the topics in the recent few pages, but for the sake of my... very involved... interest on the matter, I'd like a few opinions on this question and it seems as if this is the place to get them. If I'm wrong, please delete/move this post and give me a swift kick in the gonads


Whenever I get in to discussions on religion, they have mostly consisted of religion vs science, or more appropriately, faith vs. science. There are merits to both arguments, refutations, counter-arguments, et c. involved - I don't care about those. My question is... why are the two notions (faith and science) immediately associated as too different, incontrovertibly opposite as to seamlessly interact? That's a simplification if there ever was one, but I'm curious to know. Maybe I'm naive or silly, however I feel the question has merit: why is science not immediately associated as a faith?

I feel as if I'm not doing the question justice, but there it is. I don't see religion as a separate entity from science, to me they are one and the same, though perhaps apparently different in intent, approach, or goal, but not incommensurable in any of those things to the other. Am I far off base?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:08 am UTC

To the extent that you are willing to rely on faith you cannot rely on science and vice versa. For most people, the two will not conflict in everyday life. However, it is inevitable that the more you use your religion to make claims about the world, the less you will be able to use science to understand the world.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Azrael » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:21 pm UTC

I would imagine the long history of religious establishments declaring science to be heretical might have something to do with it. As for why those establishments acted the way they did? People don't like having their power structures challenged any more than they like having their deep-seated emotional belief structures challenged.

In short, it's religion that (over the last hundreds of years) keeps being demonstrated to be incorrect. It is hard for many people to consider the two compatible when their are in direct, factual opposition over major facets. The Catholic church's recent embrace of evolution is a HUGE step in reducing a dogmatic loggerhead.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:15 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:I would imagine the long history of religious establishments declaring science to be heretical might have something to do with it. As for why those establishments acted the way they did? People don't like having their power structures challenged any more than they like having their deep-seated emotional belief structures challenged.

In short, it's religion that (over the last hundreds of years) keeps being demonstrated to be incorrect. It is hard for many people to consider the two compatible when their are in direct, factual opposition over major facets. The Catholic church's recent embrace of evolution is a HUGE step in reducing a dogmatic loggerhead.



I would argue that the bolded isn't actually religion in the sense of faith, but Man's actions over or about religion. I believe science was considered heretical because it called out major components of particular religious organizations belief systems as false, and at times that could be taken as labeling the particular religious system as entirely untrue (italics in the quote). Labeling science as a heresy, to me, speaks more to the power structure than to the religion. I think science can be considered more of a Religion than some mainstream religions today, and that was certainly more true when science was making it's early strides, but I'd wager that the actual differences between Science and Religion aren't so great.

That last bit is kinda where I wanted my question to go.

mmmcannibalism wrote:To the extent that you are willing to rely on faith you cannot rely on science and vice versa. For most people, the two will not conflict in everyday life. However, it is inevitable that the more you use your religion to make claims about the world, the less you will be able to use science to understand the world.




Is the difference in the process, or the assumed knowledge that one is more factual than the other? Trying to avoid specifics on the subject is hard, but... is the mere perceivedness' of sentience not indicative of a slightly more related interaction with religion? Actually, let me put that a better way: as I understand it, Science isn't actually about any of the facts gleaned about the Universe, but more about the process in which it does so. In that, I'm willing to state that I believe Science is a true form of Faith, but (and I'm now pulling this out of my ass) I feel like Science is missing a key component - the faith part of Faith. I can't explain that how I'd like to, I don't know how, so take it at face value. It makes sense in my head.

Not to imply any insanity, and this is FOR SURE not the best example, but if a person has been made privy to events, or natural mechanics, that belie traditional scientific beliefs but that also cannot be immediately or easily tested with Science, how does one reconcile that?

I'm not trying to ask pointed questions, I mean for any questions I ask in this thread to be quite open. I honestly don't know the answers.


I should add that I believe philosophy is the main draw of both Religion and Science (as opposed to religion and science) and I think that the two (Science and Religion) are missing a key component from the other, or, at least, I'm missing a key component of the two and am merely mixing things up in my head.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Azrael » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

Ortus wrote:
Azrael wrote:I would imagine the long history of religious establishments declaring science to be heretical might have something to do with it. As for why those establishments acted the way they did? People don't like having their power structures challenged any more than they like having their deep-seated emotional belief structures challenged.
I would argue that the bolded isn't actually religion in the sense of faith, but Man's actions over or about religion. I believe science was considered heretical because it called out major components of particular religious organizations belief systems as false, and at times that could be taken as labeling the particular religious system as entirely untrue. Labeling science as a heresy, to me, speaks more to the power structure than to the religion ...

So you'd like to "argue" ... that you pretty much completely agree with what I said?

Science and religions themselves can't actually do anything, that's sorta why I said religious establishments. It's people doing the ... well, doing.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bobjoesmith » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:10 am UTC

this is going to be a little story-like, so bear with me as i tell

-> think about this.
You walk into a forest and in the middle of a clearing, there's a Subaru Forester [haha] sitting there. Will there be anyone to say that this was not a car made by a thinking, rational human, and that the engine was made by other thinking rational humans, and crude oil refined into petroleum by yet other thinking, rational humans. Yes, all of its components exist in elemental form in nature BUT still when you look at it, you can tell 100% that this car was not an accident. It was a product of an industrial revolution followed by years of invention and innovation, assembled by reasoning men. No one, [not even Lando Calrissian] would bet that the car was assembled by itself. Now a car has 14,000 parts (on average, its on google... it must be true), but sitting there in that clearing, here on Earth, no one, 0% it could be accidental: it simply could not be.

Now consider this: how much more complicated is a universe than a car? No, you aren't thinking hard enough: don't think of the universe as everything we know for a moment: consider each of its laws from Law of Gravitation to strong nuclear force, each of its billions of stars or planets as a part in a giant car sitting out in a clearing. Not even the universe, just think about how many "parts" are in Earth to make it run smoothly. How many parts in the human body is needed for us to live, or even in one cell. How long will it be until every last strand of DNA is analyzed and decoded? The DNA in and of itself is more complicated than a Subaru Forester (we don't have Jurassic Park but we have a detroit auto show), but we consider the Forester a product of invention and the DNA of chance?

Now someone is going to refute this and say "hey , its over billions of years and planets, totally by chance: as time -> infinity, anything could happen" Well yea? Why hasn't there been a car found in a clearing before? Why isn't there a death star orbiting Earth? Or star destroyers? Or TIE fighters in a clearing. As bs inventions -> infinity, shouldn't one of them have popped up once in our history? The chance of having a cosmically-assembled subaru is far more likely than cosmically assembled life, but not in one instance have the right ingredients come together to make a vroom-vrooming vehicle.

However, all of you are ready to accept as fact that someone built this car. Why is it so much harder to consider that maybe the complexity of the universe DOES require a builder.


-> And i have no problem accepting many scientific things as true
but maybe rats think the giant explosion gave them access to a safe hole to call home was chance, whereas it was really humans blowing through the mountains to construct a railroad

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kurushimi » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:25 am UTC

But, wouldn't that builder require a builder? That builder would have to be an intelligent agent, and being capable of building the entire universe would require a pretty powerful, complex agent. Wouldn't this complex agent require a builder?

Your reply is probably going to be, "what if the builder was omipotent? Magical? Outside basic laws?"

My reply to that is, what if the universe just had the ability to magically appear out of nothing?

Now, this isn't really a scientific theory, but it has exactly as much evidence as a creator of the universe.

Also, complex systems don't necessarily require a mind to build them. Take evolution for example. (unless you don't believe evolution could have occured autonomously, in which case you are wrong). Many animals we see today have incredibly complex biological systems, but no one sat down to work it out. Obviously the universe didn't arise from evolution, but it is also obvious that a creator is not the only way to get a complex system.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:29 am UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:The chance of having a cosmically-assembled subaru is far more likely than cosmically assembled life, but not in one instance have the right ingredients come together to make a vroom-vrooming vehicle.

Why is this true? The theory of evolution allows nature to build things more complicated than a car, but that doesn't mean it can build any arbitrary thing. What gets built through the long process of natural selection is shaped by the environment, so a car could be much, much less likely than a person.

Also, the comparison isn't fair. We know that through natural processes, a person can be grown from individual cells to a complete adult. That's not true of cars. If we find some mysterious object in the woods but find no natural ability for self-assembly, it seems much less likely that it just grew there. And if it didn't grow, then it didn't evolve in the same way people do.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:32 am UTC

Also a car assembled through natural forces is MUCH LESS likely than life assembled through natural forces. Less likely by about infinite
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:21 am UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:Will there be anyone to say that this was not a car made by a thinking, rational human, and that the engine was made by other thinking rational humans, and crude oil refined into petroleum by yet other thinking, rational humans[?]
If you could construct reasonable model, based on our existing understanding of cars and the way they work, that explains how the car could form, and that could make predictions and verify them through further observation, and, most importantly, if there was no evidence that there is any such thing as a "thinking, rational human being," then yes.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bobjoesmith » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:46 am UTC

The point is that the car is a symbol and it should be a pretty "yes-no" answer. Of course we are basing everything off our current understanding: by the logic we might learn something tmr is like saying Armageddon could come and God (god, gods) appear in flashes of light. So bear with me and agree that there is 99.99% (ok and dont be the smart aleck who tells me thats not a high certainty, im truncating it for simpicity's sake) chance the car is man made.

Don't get fixated on evolution. I agree, [though many may not] that evolution has a role*. Think big. In my story cells have a role smaller than the sanity of Kim Jong Il. Universe. If we sat in a clearing, and there was a giant universe lying in there, thats some seriously complicated crap in the middle of a clearing. What gives you your certainty that the car is manufactured? Its orderly arrangement. Its abillity to function (id say, that theres a bazillion factors regarding my abillity to type right now, and each of them could go wrong) its not even as in complexity being the factor, but how can something exist WITHOUT a guiding hand in building the complexity. If i throw paint off the empire state building a billion, trillion times, try as i may, i will never get the mona lisa. (I would get arrested, but not make the mona lisa. )
-> now you could say infinite universes, but im going to respond, if a fleet a toyotas sat in a parking lot, that doesnt make each toyota any less manufactured. if another universe shares different laws, then that universe will have its own design, or its own unique, amazing stuff that can be viewed independent of ours... (jedi??)

Something key to recognize is that if someone was born into say the clearing, lived with a rusting car from infancy, and never became educated... they just may think that that car is part of nature, much like any tree. No one will dispute me i hope that we kno almost nothing of the universe we live in, and perhaps we are acting liek the man who never knew how cars were made and so decided that the car must be natural... a reasonable deduction by a reasonable person

also im saying that probabillity of subaru vs. life doesnt matter. multiply 0.0000000001% by one brazilian (no this isnt racist, its a blond joke i found on facebook, http://www.ilike-quotes.com/2010/12/blo ... -that.html) different things id want to see be primordial good into existence and then you get a fair sense it maybe is a lot harder to zap together.



*yea so i dont have a big problem with evolution, so long as the peeps arent in ur face "if your christian fu"... the seven days thing is PROBABLY a metaphor imo so... there are so many what-if's you could come up with here that im not even going to elucidate any

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:39 am UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:Something key to recognize is that if someone was born into say the clearing, lived with a rusting car from infancy, and never became educated... they just may think that that car is part of nature, much like any tree. No one will dispute me i hope that we kno almost nothing of the universe we live in, and perhaps we are acting liek the man who never knew how cars were made and so decided that the car must be natural... a reasonable deduction by a reasonable person

That's reasonable if you build from the premise that we know nothing about how cars are made. But the problem with this analogy is that we do know a lot, even if there's a lot that we don't know. If someone really did grow up with a tree and a rusty car, they might notice that the tree grows like people and the car is either static or it decays. If someone happens to observe this and then asks the question about how cars and trees came to be, it seems reasonable to guess that they operate under different principals. If you want to cast the origin story of a car in the same light as the origin of man, you need the science to back it up. Which means we either need a natural theory for how cars came about, or some sort of evidence of a divine creator of man. And if we have a lack of knowledge, science is better served by saying we just don't have the answer. Concluding that it's too complicated for nature doesn't cut it. There's no reason to believe that our brain's intuitive guess on the bounds of nature is correct. In fact, we have every reason to doubt it.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:05 am UTC

Azrael wrote:
Ortus wrote:
Azrael wrote:I would imagine the long history of religious establishments declaring science to be heretical might have something to do with it. As for why those establishments acted the way they did? People don't like having their power structures challenged any more than they like having their deep-seated emotional belief structures challenged.
I would argue that the bolded isn't actually religion in the sense of faith, but Man's actions over or about religion. I believe science was considered heretical because it called out major components of particular religious organizations belief systems as false, and at times that could be taken as labeling the particular religious system as entirely untrue. Labeling science as a heresy, to me, speaks more to the power structure than to the religion ...

So you'd like to "argue" ... that you pretty much completely agree with what I said?

Science and religions themselves can't actually do anything, that's sorta why I said religious establishments. It's people doing the ... well, doing.



...Erm, yes. And no. Mostly yes. I didn't mean argue in the sense that we were to do intemellectual battle, but that my stance, my argument, was to follow. I suppose I didn't quite read what you wrote beyond face value, I was attempting to make a distinction between the two - that my original question was referring to Religion and Science, as opposed to either of the two touched by human machinations (science and religion), or either of the two submitted to the whims of an involved power structure (like the Papacy, or a university/corporation).


Science and religions themselves can't actually do anything, that's sorta why I said religious establishments. It's people doing the ... well, doing.


...Yes they can? I was under the assumption that we were merely observing and reaching reasonable conclusions about sets of data (our conclusions don't affect the process of what was observed), in regards to science, and I'm not sure what the analogy would be for religion. Actually, I think I misread you (again, sorry). People give the sciences, and religions, power - but is it that without people with which to give it power, religion and science don't exist?

Let me clarify how I'm viewing this: I view science and faith as the way the Universe works, which sounds... incredibly naive written out like that. It's romanticized, but it makes sense to me... and I know I say that a lot... sorry xD

Kurushimi wrote:But, wouldn't that builder require a builder? That builder would have to be an intelligent agent, and being capable of building the entire universe would require a pretty powerful, complex agent. Wouldn't this complex agent require a builder?



I know this wasn't expressly directed at me, but this is why I don't like discussing specifics on the issue - there really isn't an answer to this question, at least not one that will satisfy every party involved. I mean, one could ask the question of, "Who built the builder" to infinity...

...but what if the builder built the builder? Built himself? I hate specifics :(
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:14 am UTC

Is the difference in the process, or the assumed knowledge that one is more factual than the other? Trying to avoid specifics on the subject is hard, but... is the mere perceivedness' of sentience not indicative of a slightly more related interaction with religion? Actually, let me put that a better way: as I understand it, Science isn't actually about any of the facts gleaned about the Universe, but more about the process in which it does so. In that, I'm willing to state that I believe Science is a true form of Faith, but (and I'm now pulling this out of my ass) I feel like Science is missing a key component - the faith part of Faith. I can't explain that how I'd like to, I don't know how, so take it at face value. It makes sense in my head.

Not to imply any insanity, and this is FOR SURE not the best example, but if a person has been made privy to events, or natural mechanics, that belie traditional scientific beliefs but that also cannot be immediately or easily tested with Science, how does one reconcile that?

I'm not trying to ask pointed questions, I mean for any questions I ask in this thread to be quite open. I honestly don't know the answers.


I should add that I believe philosophy is the main draw of both Religion and Science (as opposed to religion and science) and I think that the two (Science and Religion) are missing a key component from the other, or, at least, I'm missing a key component of the two and am merely mixing things up in my head.


There is a difference in the process, which leads to the difference in views on what is factual. Not sure what your sentence on sentience is supposed to mean. The only "faith" science takes is the assumption that things can be understood rationally; under the reasoning that the alternative(things can be understood nonrationally) would lead to all knowledge being useless**. As to your faith statement, I think the problem is you are extending science into philosophy; as in, your thinking of science as more then the process of trying to understand reality in the literal what is stuff and how does it work sense.

By accepting that they are hard to show, and trying to rationally understand how they could be tested/disproven(assuming you may have been wrong).

Religion was the first attempt at philosophy***; this is why it made(makes) claims about all aspects of life. What religion is now "missing" is the same thing an outdated computer is missing(pardon harshness of analogy). Science isn't missing something because science isn't about making claims in all aspects of life; your closer to saying secular philosophy is missing something.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:19 am UTC

I know this wasn't expressly directed at me, but this is why I don't like discussing specifics on the issue - there really isn't an answer to this question, at least not one that will satisfy every party involved. I mean, one could ask the question of, "Who built the builder" to infinity...

...but what if the builder built the builder? Built himself? I hate specifics

The idea that a builder created the world (defined as everything, which would include the builder himself) but built himself is intellectual laziness because it is trying to create the first cause when there isn't one. Its basically creating something out of the thin air because the reason given is "he is the first because he is the first, or there has to be a first."

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:24 am UTC

infernovia wrote:
I know this wasn't expressly directed at me, but this is why I don't like discussing specifics on the issue - there really isn't an answer to this question, at least not one that will satisfy every party involved. I mean, one could ask the question of, "Who built the builder" to infinity...

...but what if the builder built the builder? Built himself? I hate specifics

The idea that a builder created the world (defined as everything, which would include the builder himself) but built himself is intellectual laziness because it is trying to create the first cause when there isn't one. Its basically creating something out of the thin air because the reason given is "he is the first because he is the first, or there has to be a first."



Hrm, I always viewed 'the builder' in this question as something outside of The Universe (outside of whatever the heck it is he, she, or it built). http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html is the sort of thing I was thinking about. Of course, the question is then, "Has this always been so? Has The Universe always existed like this blah blah". As I said, I hate specifics.


mmmcannibalism wrote:
Is the difference in the process, or the assumed knowledge that one is more factual than the other? Trying to avoid specifics on the subject is hard, but... is the mere perceivedness' of sentience not indicative of a slightly more related interaction with religion? Actually, let me put that a better way: as I understand it, Science isn't actually about any of the facts gleaned about the Universe, but more about the process in which it does so. In that, I'm willing to state that I believe Science is a true form of Faith, but (and I'm now pulling this out of my ass) I feel like Science is missing a key component - the faith part of Faith. I can't explain that how I'd like to, I don't know how, so take it at face value. It makes sense in my head.

Not to imply any insanity, and this is FOR SURE not the best example, but if a person has been made privy to events, or natural mechanics, that belie traditional scientific beliefs but that also cannot be immediately or easily tested with Science, how does one reconcile that?

I'm not trying to ask pointed questions, I mean for any questions I ask in this thread to be quite open. I honestly don't know the answers.


I should add that I believe philosophy is the main draw of both Religion and Science (as opposed to religion and science) and I think that the two (Science and Religion) are missing a key component from the other, or, at least, I'm missing a key component of the two and am merely mixing things up in my head.


There is a difference in the process, which leads to the difference in views on what is factual. Not sure what your sentence on sentience is supposed to mean. The only "faith" science takes is the assumption that things can be understood rationally; under the reasoning that the alternative(things can be understood nonrationally) would lead to all knowledge being useless**. As to your faith statement, I think the problem is you are extending science into philosophy; as in, your thinking of science as more then the process of trying to understand reality in the literal what is stuff and how does it work sense.

By accepting that they are hard to show, and trying to rationally understand how they could be tested/disproven(assuming you may have been wrong).

Religion was the first attempt at philosophy***; this is why it made(makes) claims about all aspects of life. What religion is now "missing" is the same thing an outdated computer is missing(pardon harshness of analogy). Science isn't missing something because science isn't about making claims in all aspects of life; your closer to saying secular philosophy is missing something.



That does make more sense to me. However, I still have a few questions... you say that, "religion was the first attempt at philosophy...[it is now outdated]". Is it irreconcilable to the more 'up-to-date' form of philosophy? Which is to say... I guess I still don't understand the difference between science and religion. Keep in mind, though, that I'm not talking about an Abrahamic religion, or any specific religious beliefs, but the process of religion.

One more thing...

Science isn't missing something because science isn't about making claims in all aspects of life


...Then why is science vs religion an issue at all? Not trying to ask that question like a dick, I'm honestly curious!
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:33 am UTC

How can you define something is outside of "everything?" Any concept you create that breaks these concepts contradicts either the definition of "outside" "is" "something" or "everything." If something is outside of the universe, then we would know nothing about it because it would at no points be connected to the universe. Anyway, just read Wittgenstein if you want to know more about it instead of fiction writers.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:38 am UTC

infernovia wrote:How can you define something is outside of "everything?" Any concept you create that breaks these concepts contradicts either the definition of "outside" "is" "something" or "everything." If something is outside of the universe, then we would know nothing about it because it would at no points be connected to the universe. Anyway, just read Wittgenstein if you want to know more about it instead of fiction writers.



I misspoke. I was (poorly) differentiating between 'known' space and everything to ever exist ever - even though I can see the possibility of something existing outside of everything, as you said, it wouldn't matter because we (us omnipotent beings) would never know about it.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jimmigee » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:58 am UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:What gives you your certainty that the car is manufactured? Its orderly arrangement. Its abillity to function (id say, that theres a bazillion factors regarding my abillity to type right now, and each of them could go wrong) its not even as in complexity being the factor, but how can something exist WITHOUT a guiding hand in building the complexity.


It isn't the orderly arrangement or ability to function that suggest the car is manufactured, it's the lack of known processes which can explain how the car formed. We are finding all the processes that make the universe the way it is, and it often comes down to very simple rules which, when extended over billions of years, bring about incredible complexity and order.

Your ability to type successfully is based on millions of years of evolution where things did go wrong, often resulting in the removal of a set of unsuccessful genes.

Extend this: "how can something exist WITHOUT a guiding hand in building the complexity" to a god and you'll see it has no use as an argument.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby netcrusher88 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:45 am UTC

For that matter said vehicle did not simply pop into existence in its current form. It's the culmination of centuries of engine design, decades of body design, and about 30 years (if memory serves) of Land Rover themselves refining the design. Vehicles are a particularly bad example, if you want something that didn't evolve. There have been many, many genetic lines that died off for whatever reason, many of them false starts on new technologies or species, if you will, of vehicle that died out due to evolutionary pressure. Even vestiges of engineers having less than perfect foresight can be observed.

Not to diminish the work of engineers at all. My point is, Toyota didn't say "let there be Hilux".
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jimmigee » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

I don't think it matters if the car 'evolved' or not. The analogy is supposed to show that an intelligence is required for a universe this complex and ordered.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:35 pm UTC

Ortus wrote:Whenever I get in to discussions on religion, they have mostly consisted of religion vs science, or more appropriately, faith vs. science. There are merits to both arguments, refutations, counter-arguments, et c. involved - I don't care about those. My question is... why are the two notions (faith and science) immediately associated as too different, incontrovertibly opposite as to seamlessly interact? That's a simplification if there ever was one, but I'm curious to know. Maybe I'm naive or silly, however I feel the question has merit: why is science not immediately associated as a faith?

I feel as if I'm not doing the question justice, but there it is. I don't see religion as a separate entity from science, to me they are one and the same, though perhaps apparently different in intent, approach, or goal, but not incommensurable in any of those things to the other. Am I far off base?

It seems you are touching on various related subjects. I highlighted what i feel are two separate avenues of discussion.
To answer the bolded question, in my opinion, the questions of religion vs science is very, very different from faith vs. science. Religion and science are the exact same. They both answer the various questions along the theme of "how does the world around me work?" Faith is the tool Religion uses to answer these questions. The scientific method is the tool Science uses.

To use an overly simplified analogy for illustrative purposes. You have to get from Boston to Los Angeles. You can take a car, or a plane. Both will work. Still, it is impossible to use them both at the same time.

It is in this sense that they can not seamlessly interact.

The italicized question, 'why is science not immediately associated as a faith' is generally worded as 'doesn't it take just as much faith to believe that science is right as to believe the bible is right?' or 'isn't the belief in science as much a religion as the belief in god'. Now I don't mean to put words in your mouth, so if it wasn't what you meant then my apologies. I feel that the reason science is not a religion is how the two entities treat evidence. For the religious, if you are shown evidence that contradicts your beliefs, hold your beliefs and have faith they are true. For the scientist, if you are shown evidence that contradicts your beliefs, change your beliefs because your beliefs are wrong.

guenther wrote:How do I know God is real, God is perfect, and is the God of the Christian Bible?
I can't know. Religious truths are poorly defined, which means that not only are they not testable, but it's not even clear how to theoretically test them. So much of the "truth" about religion is simply whatever people want to believe in. I've talked about these types of truths before, which I feel sit somewhere between objective and subjective (i.e. they're subjectively shared across a large group of people but get treated as if they're objectively true). I think these types of beliefs can hold value because they encode wisdom on how to behave.

First, I find the idea that perpetuating a lie to the masses as long as it serves an ulterior motive arrogant and offensive. This same logic that you to defend religion, is the the same process Bush used to get the States into Iraq. He preached the gospel of WMDs until enough people believed his subjective truth as objective truth.

guenther wrote:How do I go from "These beliefs are useful" to "These beliefs are true"?
Basically because it feels right. This is certainly not a persuasive argument, but it's the truth. Christ's story resonates with me, and it seemed to speak to me at a time when I was seeking those sorts of answers. Christians would call that the work of the Holy Spirit. And it feels very real to me. And since then, I've tried to restructure my life around Biblical principals and I've been very pleased with the result. And I've know many people who've done the same with similar results.

Having said that, I do think it's important to distinguish between poorly defined truths and scientific truths. As real as any of this feels for me, it's irrelevant for building a physical model of the universe. I believe faith is a useful tool, but it does run counter to scientific principals and can very much impede scientific progress. However, I regard science as a tool as well (as opposed to a philosophy on life), so it really just boils down to using the right tool for the job.

The earth also feels pretty flat, doesn't it? :wink:

In my opinion, clean drinking water is more important the people being nice to each other. Being nice makes life slightly more enjoyable. Clean water makes life possible. If religion impedes science, religion is not worth it. That's my opinion, take it or leave it.

guenther wrote:How do I know Christianity is the best path
The best argument I know is because the Bible says so. However, it's a weak argument for anyone that's not accepting on faith what the Bible says. So in general I don't make this a part of my thesis when debating. Rather I say that Christianity is good, and that there are many other paths that can help us achieve good results too (where "good" is used in a more intuitive sense, not in the Biblical sense). And I try to recognize that a Christian who's strong in faith can still be very problematic in our modern world.

Are you a bible literalist? How do you know what parts of the bible are the unerring word of god, and what parts are balderdash? More of the 'it just feels right"?



guenther wrote:
fr00t wrote:It sounds like your advocating religion not from a transcendental perspective, but from a utilitarian one. As if the promise of an afterlife is unlikely to be legitimate but instead is just a carrot-on-the-stick for the "large scale masses". Incidentally, I would argue that science, not faith, gives us tools for solving problems, and secularization and liberalization have created much more harmony and good will towards fellow man than religion ever did. And lest ye not forget, the only time humanity united under one cause, god punished them for their audacity, and scattered them accross the earth.

A few things. First, science gives us some very powerful tools for solving problems, but the scientific process is very expensive, labor-intensive, time-consuming, and limited in scope. We are wise to look to what science says, but it can't answer everything. Second, secularization is good when we're coming from an era where powerful religious entities controlled too much of our lives, but that doesn't mean that ever dwindling amounts of religion will produce ever better results. Third, had the people united to express love rather than pride, maybe they would have had better results.

There was a period in history where christianity dominated all. We call this period 'the dark ages' for a reason. The only thing that ended the dark ages was the re-secularization of society. Seriously, what good has religion done for the world? I'm drawing a blank, I can think of crusades, inquisitions, burning scientists at the stake, more crusades (there was, like, a metric fucktonne of crusades), witch hunts, the feudal system, etc. No large scale good done solely in the name of religion comes to mind. There must be some though...

Since you allow that science is good, that religion is good, and the religion impedes scientific progress, where do you think the equilibrium point is?


guenther wrote:Yes! Of course "love your neighbor" is the overarching rule, but it's simply easier to do with people that are good to you. So I generally emphasize the importance of loving people who are difficult to love (although I generally refer to it as extending empathy and respect). I suspect the hardest person to love is the one on the other side of a sharp divide where showing compassion can actually be harmful to the team agenda. I've burned through a lot of words trying to convince people to do this, and I've had little success but have made many people very angry (though I can accept that that's partly due to my technique). "Love your enemy" is a hard sell, and the only times I've ever had success was when speaking to Christians using Biblical arguments. Though sadly it's mostly a hard sell there too.

There is a reason it is a hard sell. It is because it produces worse outcomes than the alternative. This is another case where religious dogma has worse results than the science it competes against. On the religious side we have the golden rule. On science's side we have game theory and the prisoner's dilemma. Science shows us another way to describe "love your enemy" is "be a doormat".


guenther wrote:
lati0s wrote:What you have given here is a reason to applaud the philosophy of Christianity, a reason to follow that philosophy and perhaps a reason to try to encourage others to follow that philosophy. None of it, however, amounts to anything close to rational reason to accept the supernatural claims put forth by Christianity.

I wrestled with this very issue for a bit. Did I want to promote Christianity or just its philosophy? Actually at first I tended towards the latter. I would strip away all the "magic" stuff and just leave the things that practically seemed to matter. One example was with prayer, and I would sit in church during prayer time and just let my mind wander. But somewhere along the way I decided to take a leap of faith and try with my whole heart to do prayer properly. And it made a difference. Not some magic difference in some other person being healed, but a real difference in me. Praying for someone else forces me to spend some of my precious time on other people's concerns and it really turned around how I responded to other people's needs. And praying to God for my own needs has helped me build a real emotional relationship with God, which in turn helped me weather hard times and keep to the path that I intellectually agreed was important (one area was Love your Neighbor, but another was self-control). Trying to rewrite the Bible led me to make worse choices, and I improved my life by having faith.

Another point to observe is that there are very few people that follow the Christian path without a belief in God. Being Christian is very challenging at times, and a faith in God helps people remain faithful to the path. Faith is about being faithful.

Once you strip away the magic of christ, there is no christianity left. All you would be left with is 'don't be a dick', and that philosophy predates christianity by a long shot.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:35 pm UTC

@nitePhyyre

First: Science vs. Religion
Why can't we be both nice and have clean water? You act like our toolbox is only big enough to hold one tool. We either have a hammer or a screwdriver, but never both. I'm of the opinion that our toolbox is big enough to hold multiple tools. There are some questions that are difficult to scientifically study or are simply outright unscientific. Faith can help here, though of course it has the power to do bad stuff too. And then there are other areas where faith will give consistently bad results but science will triumph.

When I said faith can impede science, I meant that if a scientist has faith in a certain outcome, it will bias their ability to objectively observe. But if that same scientist has a faith in God, it doesn't necessarily have to conflict at all. Only on one screw or nail do we have to choose, but that doesn't mean our life is either filled with only screws or only nails. Also there's a middle ground where faith is inappropriate, but the science is lacking.


Second: Love your Neighbor
"Don't be a dick" is a weak version of "Love your neighbor", and I think it's sad that people conflate them. And the Bible without the magic stuff isn't simply a message that we should love, even though that's certainly the most important. The book has lots of wisdom on how to live life.

If you want to pick game theory over the golden rule for your morality, go ahead. I do think there's utility to it, particularly in politics where teams win points by fostering animosity towards each other. These negative emotions are powerful motivators to take action. However, I personally think it's trading short-term political gains for long term societal dysfunction. Politics creates a huge distortion of perspective where acting rationally is very challenging. I think your approach will further fuel this leading to greater distortions. I believe the fix is to challenge the sharp divide, which means challenging our internal negative feelings about the opposition. The natural hook to do this is to extend empathy and respect across dividing lines. I think this will improve people's ability to think critically and rationally. And it will improve our ability to work together to produce even better results into the future. But it does come with the downside of being less politically effective since it means rejecting hate as a weapon.


Third:
nitePhyyre wrote:I find the idea that perpetuating a lie to the masses as long as it serves an ulterior motive arrogant and offensive. This same logic that you to defend religion, is the the same process Bush used to get the States into Iraq. He preached the gospel of WMDs until enough people believed his subjective truth as objective truth.

I don't promote building up lies to serve ulterior motives. If you don't believe something you shouldn't promote it as truth. And if you do believe something and you promote it as truth, you aren't lying.

Also, the analogy doesn't work. Who is making the case that we should have applied faith to the question of the existence of WMDs in Iraq? Who is saying that a question of war should be made on faith and not intel? Certainly I'm not, and I don't think Bush did either. Just because I believe that faith can have value doesn't mean we should apply it everywhere blindly.

A better analogy would be morality. For example, there's no way to measure the goodness/badness of homosexuality, so its truth is poorly define. But that doesn't stop people from actively professing their perceived moral truth as if it's objective fact. Not everyone describes this process as faith, but I think it's a similar phenomenon to the professed truths of religion.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:29 pm UTC

It seems you are touching on various related subjects. I highlighted what i feel are two separate avenues of discussion.
To answer the bolded question, in my opinion, the questions of religion vs science is very, very different from faith vs. science. Religion and science are the exact same. They both answer the various questions along the theme of "how does the world around me work?" Faith is the tool Religion uses to answer these questions. The scientific method is the tool Science uses.

To use an overly simplified analogy for illustrative purposes. You have to get from Boston to Los Angeles. You can take a car, or a plane. Both will work. Still, it is impossible to use them both at the same time.

It is in this sense that they can not seamlessly interact.

The italicized question, 'why is science not immediately associated as a faith' is generally worded as 'doesn't it take just as much faith to believe that science is right as to believe the bible is right?' or 'isn't the belief in science as much a religion as the belief in god'. Now I don't mean to put words in your mouth, so if it wasn't what you meant then my apologies. I feel that the reason science is not a religion is how the two entities treat evidence. For the religious, if you are shown evidence that contradicts your beliefs, hold your beliefs and have faith they are true. For the scientist, if you are shown evidence that contradicts your beliefs, change your beliefs because your beliefs are wrong.



I do admit that I'm struggling with the application of some of these concepts. If one is shown evidence that beliefs are wrong, one changes beliefs - but are you actually changing the essence of your beliefs entirely, or are you merely changing the substance? I have a few thoughts on that, because I think every person at some level must 'change their beliefs' day to day, instant to instant, but perhaps not as intentionally or pointedly as science would suggest.

Faith has a different connotation here than I'm used to, and I think that's what is giving me the most trouble. Maybe I'm synonymising faith and philosophy (the ideal of philosophy, rather)? Anyways, as to the bolded: I wasn't aiming for that question exactly. I'm differentiating between SCIENCE and science, RELIGION and religion. SCIENCE (Science) is the scientific process, science is the actual stuff derived from that process (subject to change, essentially meaningless to the process). RELIGION (Religion) is 'faith' (or my interpretation of it, I guess) and religion is, say, Christianity or Judaism which is, essentially, meaningless to the idea of faith. That's where I'm trying to draw parallels, though I could be wrong in my assumptions. The idea that the actual substance of a science, or of a faith, is on some level irrelevant, as it is subject to change, to evolve and grow as our understanding grows and it is the process (Science and Religion) that is the thing that truly matters. If either faith or science fail to grow as our understanding grows, as in our substance (irrelevant things) and our essence (the process of the scientific method and 'faith') don't evolve with our understanding, I would label that as a failing (and failing is okay, it is [or should be ffs] encouraged) of the person/people perpetrating the understanding and not the actual idea of Science and Religion.

Were that to be the case, that the two were rather inseparable yet apart and capable of almost painless change, the amount of growth in both areas would be astonishing, even by today's standards. Or I could just be romanticizing the whole thing xD

Does that sound mo' betta'?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:26 am UTC

...Then why is science vs religion an issue at all? Not trying to ask that question like a dick, I'm honestly curious!


Because all religions fall into one of two categories

A. makes claims about the natural world(that is gives an explanation for why something occurs)
B. doesn't make claims about the natural world

B. is deism, any other religion will at some point make a claim about the natural world. As soon as they do this there is a conflict between faith* and the scientific method.

As to the other part. Philosophy is "above" science in that philosophy is what leads us to see the scientific method as valid. In this sense, religion was an early attempt to understand the world; an attempt I view as crude(understandable) and horribly outdated.

*believing things without evidence, evidence being something tangible and not "I feel it"
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bobjoesmith » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:41 am UTC

Jimmigee wrote:Extend this: "how can something exist WITHOUT a guiding hand in building the complexity" to a god and you'll see it has no use as an argument.


By the same token, if the universe could have given us sentient life, why could it not have given us a God as well? It sure sounds cheesy that a dood would come down to earth, die and be reincarnated. but if we didn't know better, and had not done it wouldn't it be silly if I told you that a sack of carbon atoms had the ability to move themselves 384,000 miles to a nearby orbiting planetoid and then return?

heck if i told a fourteenth century man that we would someday stand on the moon, he would laugh at you. If you told a 19th century man that we would be able to communicate face to face through montiors and cameras in real time, he would have laughed at you.


And on this science vs. faith thing, distinguish religion from dogma. Earth is flat? Dogma. [Ok, and it makes me angry when people say this, because Pythagoras had found spherical Earth over a millenia ago. By Columbus, anyone learned could tell you the Earth was a sphere. they just didn't know if you could go all the way to China- and they were right] Jesus is God? Faith. Burn the witches? Dogma. God exists? Faith. Crusade for God? Dogma. God is good? Faith.
-> Distinguish clearly the manipulation of religion for human ends and what is in the bible. There is not a single sentence in the bible that says go and kill Muslims, nor does it once say to establish inquisitions. All the foul things listed were done by people to gain power. Hitler didn't have a religious end, and nor did Mao or Stalin. In fact Mao and Stalin detested religion, but caused just as much harm as "a metric fucktonne of crusades" as nitePhyyre said: in fact if you put "a metric fucktonne of crusades" into a single year of Stalin's rule, it would probably be sent to the gulags for being small and insignificant. Be clear on what religion says and what dogma says. The Pope may be the Catholic's rep on Earth and the King of England may've been the Anglicans' , but find me the sentence in the bible that says marry like 8 times and chop of bunch of their heads off [King Henry VIII cough]

And this game theory vs. love each other is also something to express creation, or a guiding hand, or whatever phrase you want to term to there being a being of power. If we all came directly out of unadulterated evolution, why is it that humans can feel love, have devotion to mates, or have ethics ?
-> Love makes no sense. Having one mate is silly to natural selection: the people who had the most babies shoudl be the most expressed genes. Love should never have happened: it defies almost every rule of "survival of the fittest": its putting someone in your life ahead of your own importance. Its hard to spread your genes when you take that lion claw for your mate, but here it is. Its what makes Harry survive lord voldemort...
-> Ethics? Why ethics? Why is it that there is a general consensus that there should be fairness or equality. Laws have existed for as long as there has been recorded history: a society that creates at least a little bit of equity in a supposedly efficient free market of life or death. Merchants should all try and cheat people, and none of us should pay, but all steal. The first ethical mutation would have resulted in that guy being quite low on the food chain.

As said before "Don't be a dick." Yes but this in and of itself is something to show that something must have had a hand in our development. The guy who isnt being a "dick" is going to be the one screwed over by all the ones who havent learned not to be that way.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:31 am UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:And this game theory vs. love each other is also something to express creation, or a guiding hand, or whatever phrase you want to term to there being a being of power. If we all came directly out of unadulterated evolution, why is it that humans can feel love, have devotion to mates, or have ethics ?

Because a group of humans working together are more powerful than a group of humans stabbing each other in the back. So naturally evolution selected for groups that did this. And since we're primarily emotional creatures (as opposed to rational logic crunchers), the way the behavior gets programmed into us is largely emotional. Even our morality has a major basis in emotions even though we can layer a rational framework on top of it.

One thing I find fascinating about our concept of morality is our strong tendency to treat it as truth. I think this is because the "time constant", so to speak, of morality is very long, perhaps longer than a generation or more. This means that the benefit of "doing right" as defined by the group gets reaped long in the future, where if we took shortcuts to bypass moral behavior, we could personally reap the benefits much sooner. Because the effects are so long, our brain is not equipped to handle moral policy very rationally (broadly speaking, though any individual might be good at it). So an interesting idea is that evolution came up with a way for us to adhere to the rules without us having to rely so heavily on our biased mind, which is much better at thinking in terms of personal benefits in the short term. Morality gets cast as statements of truth rather than statements of policy. We should do X because doing X is the right thing to do.

Another impact of morality being such a long-term phenomenon is that it is very difficult to study. It's a problem that has countless variables, involves huge groups of people, and needs to be observed for decades. And there's no quantifiable moral "currency" to track (to draw a parallel from economics). So in theory I agree with Sam Harris that we could move morality into the realm of science, but practically I don't see us getting any real benefit out of that science for a long time. The best we'll be able to do is come up with intuitive explanations for why we have the current morals we have. But actually using moral models to design something better is a phenomenally harder problem. (Clearly I'm pessimistic about this, but I still think it's healthy for people to dive in and give it a try.)

One last point. As a Christian I'm not at all bothered with the notion that our morality is an evolved trait. If I can accept that my physical being came about through natural selection, why is it so unpalatable that our sense of right and wrong did as well? In fact, I quite like it, perhaps because I'm enamored by science.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Dark567 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:12 am UTC

guenther wrote: So in theory I agree with Sam Harris that we could move morality into the realm of science...
Just because we evolved some behavior doesn't mean we ought to follow it. Many human behaviors which have evolutionary backgrounds could be seen as being immoral. Harris just commits the naturalistic fallacy, like so many others before him. His "science of morality" only describes the causes of the actions we take, not whether or not those actions are "good".
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