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Does science take away the 'magic' in life?

It seems in today's society we know everything from atoms to what caused life. But does this take away the 'magic', the passion, the wonder in life. for example, if you were to watch a sun set, we are told it is formed because of gravity's pull and the rotation of planets compared if we did not know the function we would simply stare in wonder. I am not saying science is bad but that it turns our view of our surroundings into a mechanical engineering system, a system relying on statistics and data only. making our world cold. religion has often been denied by science the belief in God since the enlightenment has made church attendance at a all time low. So should we go back to the stone age and stop innovation? of course not however, does science take away the 'magic' in life? if so, should we embrace it? what steps should we take to preserve the 'soul' of life?


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  • May 14 2013: I don't think so. I think it does the opposite. In attempting to understand the world, going beyond the superficial and in not being content with "Well, God did it" the world becomes more "magical" as you can find true wonderment in the complexity of life and everything in it. You've also got the excitement, enchantment and challenge of that which we do not know yet. Feynman compared how an artist perceived a flower's beauty, but it was only the look that they considered, a scientist, he argued, was exponentially captivated by everything else associated by the flower.

    "God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time--life and death -- stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don't think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out." Richard P. Feynman
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      May 14 2013: David: While I agree with the conclusion that understanding the science of a thing does not diminish its wonder, I do disagree with the conclusion that understanding function precludes the existence of a designer. This is akin to saying that since we understand how a car operates mechanically that the existence of an engineer is no longer required. Feynman's analysis of this matter has a flaw in its premise, namely that religious belief (i.e. God) was invented to explain the currently inexplicable. That simply does not match up with the historical facts, namely that the leading inquisitors into the mysteries of the universe were those of deeply held religious convictions who sought to understand the mysteries of the universe as a means of peering into the thinking of the Creator. While religious organizations have acted shamefully in this respect, individual men and women of science and faith sought to understand such mysteries an an enhancement to, not a replacement of, their faith.
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        May 20 2013: Rick,

        A car is designed a tree is not no are they the "same" thing. True many of the great scientist of the past held religious convictions, but if you take forr example Newton has religions feelings at the boundaries of his knowledge , but when he talks about motion there is no reference to God(s) or neither when he talks about the two body force (gravitation that he deduced, there is no mention of God(s). Why because he had his mind wrapped around the subject like a vise grip, even thou that in his time iit was a commonplace to render those subjects to the divine.When Newton faced the calculation of the whole solar system using the body equations his formulas crashed, they could not account for the stability for as long as it has in the Universe. The Sir Isaac Newton lacking the Math framework to account for the tugs of some planets invokes Intelligent design, a Creator. Then Huygens solves the problem in 1650 (no God(s) required), then Huygens himself calls on Intelligent Design to account for all the Biodiversity ( of course biology was a little behind in the 17th century).
        And the examples go on. The God(s) do hide at the perimeter of our ignorance , I agree with Feynman.
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          May 20 2013: Isaac Newton actually wrote more about religion and religious subjects than he did about science. And, interestingly, he applied the same rigor to his religious thought as he did in the scientific realm. The result were works that were completely at odds with the religious systems of his day (and today for that matter). I would not describe this portion of his life and thought being at the "boundaries" in any way. Instead, Newton considered them the centerpiece of his life and in complete agreement with his scientific discoveries. However, Isaac Newton is not the heart of this reply.

          A few flaws stick out in your argument. First "many great scientists of the past held religious convictions" implies that this is not the present state. The reality is that many great scientists throughout history, including our modern day, hold deeply religious convictions. Of course individual belief, no matter the level of education, proves nothing at all. That takes me to the second flaw, namely "a car is designed and a tree is not". Well, despite efforts to close down this debate, the jury is still out on that one. And no, I am not implying some supernatural design for each species of tree. What I am saying is that the mechanisms of life at the genetic level cannot be glibly dismissed with time and randomness as the agents of creation. The laws of probability alone preclude this being a chance random event. It is clear that design was involved, and design that we are only starting to appreciate with recent developments in nanotechnology.

          Which takes me to the overarching theme of this discussion; do any of our advances in understanding diminish the wonder of it all? Well, when I consider closely the elegant beauty manifest in genetics, all of which is only recently coming to light, I am in awe of its accuracy, complexity and, dare I say it, wisdom. As I learn more, it is only enhancing my appreciation and continues to fill me with a sense of wonder.
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        May 20 2013: I think you miss my point at hand between Newton and Huygens, basically is that a Creator fills the gaps of knowledge, but the creator gets pushed as mankind moves the boundary further.
        . And very true many a scientist do hold or held religious convictions, that is fine. And is also true that there is a large number of scientists that do not. I agree with you that individual belief no matter the educational level is not evidence of anything by itself.
        "mechanism of life at the genetic level cannot be glibly dismissed with time and randomness as the agents of creation. The laws of probability alone preclude this being a chance random event."( for some reason it reminded me of Borel's law)
        If we were to rewind the tape of our history to the beginning and then to have a fresh start , I dare say that the outcome would be different, (you use the concept of randomness, but random relative to what?), thus there is an element of chance involved, let's say the asteroid that hit the Yucatan peninsula & killed the dinosaurs may or may not hit us.Also natural selection would do its work whether mutations are directed or not. We need to distinguish between two senses of "random": the one kind that involves a total break in the causal chain, and in which the event is essentially chaotic; the other that requires only unpredictability such as the decay of unstable atoms, or Brownian motion, but which remains a caused event. These get confused all the time. There is nothing about changes in a genome or a gene pool that is random in the first sense, but much of the second sense.
        And I agree with you again as I watch the marvels of the universe I am humbled and fascinated.
        I know what makes a CD player work, but when you play Ray Charles , I don't think about audible acoustic waves, or frequencies , but rather the "magic" of a musical genius.
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          May 20 2013: Carlos, I have reread both of our comments and I see your point, namely that Newton or Huygens invoked a creator in areas they did not understand using the models they created. I would however point out that if either of them could have ascertained the solution to their respective dilemmas, I doubt that either would have had their faith in a creator pushed out by the scientific explanation. Rather, what we see in the writing of Newton is that his discoveries were, in his view, insights into the mind of God not an explanation eliminating him, as was Feynman's original premise.

          Regarding randomness, I would wholeheartedly agree that randomness is an explanation for variance in a given outcome and, in that sense, would agree that a fresh start very well would have altered our present reality. And natural selection certainly provides a satisfactory explanation for changes in an existing system over time. However, as a causal agent of extremely complex systems, neither random events nor natural selection provide a satisfactory explanation.

          One final point, a very important one; you have great taste in music.
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        May 20 2013: Rick operationally I agree with Feynman, and both Newton and Huygens were men of faith.
        Evolution provides a satisfactory explanation for Genetic changes that can be passed on to the next generation. Darwinian Evolution doesn't attempt to explain How life began, and Physics points to causes known to have taken us to this point and time.
        Evolution of complex systems is a ubiquitous phenomenon, we can't explain a complex thing as originating in a single step, but complex things do evolve. Like let's say software systems (remember DOS?) The assumption of complete requirements at any point in time is detrimental to the development of successful (i.e., useful and usable) software systems, successful software gets changed because it offers the possibility to evolve.

        In the other hand all the explanations in the world cannot kill the beauty of a Maui sunset in Kihei. Science is an essential tool for discovery, but for me it doesn't take away the passion for life, au contraire it enhances that je ne sais quoi life is made out of.

        Thanks Rick!!

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