Scott Armstrong


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Does it really matter?

There is a wonderful ongoing battle between religion and science.

Although the two are often pitted together as if they were alternate answers to the same question (which they are not), both schools of belief do put forward theories about the origins of existence. Both are equally far-fetched and interesting.

My question is: does it matter?

Would it help anyone to know, without a doubt, how the universe began? Isn't knowing that a bit like knowing the exact circumstances of one's own death?

Why do people feel the need to choose a camp?

Personally, I don't mind what people believe. Convince me. GO!

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    Oct 23 2013: Without our quest for knowledge we wouldn't be where we are now.
    Asking questions about nature, whether that is how an organism works or how the universe came into being is not just to satisfy pointless curiosity but helps us understand how everything is interrelated.
    I have this thirst for knowledge however I understand that many people don't care, which is fine with me.
    As to the difference between religions and science:
    There is a fundamental difference. Science is based on evidence that leads to theories which get stronger the more evidence supports them. This doesn't mean that every theory is a reflection of the truth, but it still beats religion which requires no proof nor evidence for anything.
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      Oct 23 2013: how would knowledge of our origins, one way or the other, affect someone like you? Would there still be a quest for knowledge or would that be undermined by certainty..?
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        Oct 23 2013: The knowledge of our origin if taken isolated from anything else wouldn't effect me. What effects me are the results obtained through our quest for knowledge.
        For example, when people believed the earth was flat, it made no sense to try to circumnavigate it. Circumnavigation of our planet only became a meaningful objective once we understood that the earth is round.
        The same is true for all knowledge. Obtaining knowledge open new doors. Which ones it opens we can't say until we obtain this knowledge.
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    Oct 25 2013: No it doesn't.......but curiosity doesn't always look for what matters what not.

    I also don't mind if one lives with her/his own belief without bothering others.........
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    Oct 23 2013: Why I like science is for the fact it is built on ideas that can be proven wrong and changed and is mostly accepted as so. Religion is different it is built on beliefs and people generally can not handle these being proven wrong so are some times willing to die for them.
    Is it not better to have an idea than a belief?
    • W T

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      Oct 23 2013: Do you believe what you just said?
      Should I?
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        Oct 23 2013: its just an idea I had of why I like science more
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          Oct 24 2013: Yes, I see that it is your idea.
          But you ended it with a question.
          But, like Colleen says below, some folks do not like their beliefs challenged.
          And apparently some folks do not like their ideas challenged either.
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        Oct 24 2013: its more a question of what you are willing to die for so can we not change beliefs in to ideas they tend to be easier to change than beliefs
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          Oct 24 2013: I think what I was trying to get you to realize is that our ideas and our beliefs are based on our perceptions.

          Many people on TED take pride in believing that they just "don't know".....and they are happy with that.

          Others, have an open mind and have a set of ideas and beliefs but are willing to adapt them as more and more knowledge becomes available to them.

          Others found their 'truth'...ideas....beliefs......and go about trying to convince the rest.

          I think that people whose minds are open, whether they are religious or scientific, will change their ideas and beliefs with the right proof.

          And I think people with a closed mind, will remain with their entrenched belief and idea system regardless.

          This is mho of course. I could be wrong......
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          Oct 24 2013: I agree Mary, that our ideas and beliefs are based on our perceptions, which are often colored by how much information we are willing to explore at any given time.

          You say..."others have an open mind and have a set of ideas and beliefs but are willing to adapt them as more and more knowledge becomes available to them".

          It appears that we agree on this issue.....I LOVE it!

          BTW, I do not perceive Gareth to be trying to convince us of anything. He clearly wrote..."its just an idea I had of why I like science more".
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      Oct 23 2013: I agree Gareth, that some folks do not like their beliefs challenged.
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    Oct 26 2013: While this discussion has wonderfully demonstrated Scott's observation that "There is a wonderful ongoing battle between religion and science" I wonder if the tenor of Scott's question - does it matter if we know our origins? -has been overwhelmed in the discussion?

    I suggest that the desire/need to "know" why, or to "know" more, or simply the desire/need to "know" in and of itself, is far more pressing in some people than it is in others. Just as the object of that desire/need 'to know' can easily be more important or relevant to some folks than it is to others.

    So, yes Scott, it does matter.
    That is it matters to some, white to others it does not. And in that context the answer to your question seems to 'yes it does matter' but if it only matters to one single person, it will still matter, at least to them.

    As to "why people choose camps" or take firm positions on issues is a very different conversation.
    At some point the feeling or at least the idea that we "are right" about something takes hold and certainty in that rightness can grow or diminish over time. It matters not whether that certainty is pro or con on the issue. It is the certainty that leads to the camps and the larger the population of a particular camp the stronger the certainty is for many of us.

    Of course the extreme of this is to be found in the camps where those who believe themselves to be "right" grows into a sense of Righteousness whereby they know they are right and because they are right they are Righteous in their belief. Circular reasoning at its finest. It is this all consuming Righteousness that has been behind almost every atrocity perpetrated throughout human history. Of course that Righteousness has also been behind every advancement of human freedom and personhood we have achieved. Therein lies the conundrum. .
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      Oct 26 2013: The people of science do not have a sense of righteousness about the theories. We know the theories are most likely wrong. The only place in science where I personally am susceptible to this righteousness thing is where it comes to the method used to pursue this thing that I call common reality. There may be a better process but I sure don't have a clue what it might be. So until someone can come up with a better idea, I'll continue touting the scientific method with vigor. It has worked way better than any alternative. We can prove things are wrong, we cannot prove them right.

      So, in terms of 'certainty' or righteousness you are discussing the religious crowd, even their pros. The scientific crowd does not play the game of certainty in the same sense. At least not the pros. The two groups are not equivalent in any sense that I can think of.
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      Oct 28 2013: i blame people not religion.

      i have always found it strange that people are quick to blame religion for conflicts throughout history and yet nobody blames the scientific method that has lead to the development of weapons that are instrumental in the carrying out of those same conflicts. most probably because religion tends to elicit are far stronger emotive response in people than science.

      i don't blame science either - again, it's people that are the problem..
      • W T

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        Oct 28 2013: The voice of of my favorite sounds on earth.
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    Oct 24 2013: Good question Scott.

    Religion and science are both here to stay, so both camps might as well try to understand each other. After all, they both represent, in some way, all that the brain is capable of conceiving. So why not collaborate?

    Personally, I'm very happy not knowing how the universe began and what human consciousness is all about. It frees me up to think my own thoughts without being told by someone else how 'certain' they are about what happened out there (eg because "spooky action at a distance" has now moved from religion to science) and who we are, (eg because an fMRI scan told them so).

    I have reservations about what religion has become - a politicised and commercialised shadow of what it should have been. I'm not religious, but have a consuming interest in all things philosophical, metaphysical and spiritual - because they are the 'outriders' or 'scouts' of human knowledge.

    There are too many examples where the philosophical, the metaphysical and the spiritual have got there first, in the initial stages of intuition, with science trailing behind, held back by its own addiction to 'certainty' and an almost self-destructive cynicism towards what the other half of the brain is doing.

    In thinking about these big questions spiritually, other times scientifically - and even attempting to justify one with the other, seems to me as though a natural hierarchy is forming between the two where collaboration is at all possible: It feels more natural and powerful to uphold spiritual thoughts with science, and much less so vice versa.

    Lamentably, the division between the two seems to be widening, if anything.
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      Oct 24 2013: While science certainly seems be here to stay, I suspect that religion - that is organized and institutionalized religion - will continue to be diminished in importance and value by those who are daily being empowered to determine their own spirituality and connections to a higher power.

      Science is an ever evolving form of knowledge while organized religion remains stuck in the antiquity and rhetoric of its superstitious past. .The current roman catholic Pope appears to be the latest convert to this premise but given how many still hold to the "old ideas" hi has a long uphill struggle ahead. .
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        Oct 24 2013: I'm not a neuroscientist but this adherence to belief systems might have something to do with how our brain is built.
        Our brain actually didn't evolve over time such as other organs did, but nature , for some reason simply built new elements on top of the older ones.
        This means that behaviors such as superstition or belief in the supernatural is just a relic still present due to our ancient parts of the brain.
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        Oct 26 2013: Hi William,

        I think you're right, that spirituality will become more an autonomous, personal thing at the cost of institutionalised and organised religions. If religion wantonly drives or alters the course of politics, then it ceases to be a religion in my view.

        However, I partly disagree with your statement: "Science is an ever evolving form of knowledge while organized religion remains stuck in the antiquity and rhetoric of its superstitious past" . I think science is also stuck because of its arrogant dismissal of many essential parts of our own consciousness - the evolved and ancient need for spiritual stimulation being one of them.

        I can't quite decide why this is, when science freely researches and reveals hypotheses and probabilities in quantum mechanics for example, yet dismisses equally bizarre aspects of the human condition out of hand, as 'pseudoscience'. Why is that?
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          Oct 26 2013: Absolutely, there is an ancient wisdom that suggests 'science advances only with the deal of the current adherents of popular thought'., again Copernicus comes to mind along with the current Pope :)

          As to your last concern of "why this is..." I think you have already answered your own quest with the observation of "arrogant dismissal". By that I mean that all predators are arrogant. They rule their habitat. And humans are just another predatory species, one that has an awful lot of members who arrogantly seek to rule a variety of things including the environment, people and events.
  • Oct 23 2013: No it does not. I lean toward science but so long as others do not force their beliefs on me, I am ok. I also will not force my beliefs on others.
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    Oct 23 2013: The "science vs religion" debate is in essence a non-debate.
    The only people who "do battle" on this topic have not yet matured enough in their thinking.
    Both are pursuits after "the Truth"; there is one truth to be found. True is true; and false is false.
    The current meeting-point between these two differing approaches to truth of religion and science can be found in "consciousness research".
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    Oct 23 2013: Where we came from doesn't really matter. If we are headed somewhere, that does matter. Especially if we have a choice of destinations.

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      Oct 23 2013: But the choices might not be what you believe they are......and that is why we have to keep an open mind.
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      Oct 23 2013: Hi Peter, good to see you are still here ;-)
      I wouldn't worry so much about where we are heading to. So far there is not a sliver of evidence indicating anything, beside decomposition, happens to us after death.
      In case new evidence appears we can revisit this topic;
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        Oct 24 2013: Hi Harald,
        I'm not decomposing yet. (Your wrong BTW)

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          Oct 24 2013: Hi Peter, I'm aware of that, otherwise I'd have to assume you are a ghost in which I obviously not believe.
          What I'm wrong in ? That we all eventually decompose ? Sorry to break you the news, but it will happen to all of us, even to YECs ;-)
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        Oct 25 2013: Hi Harald.
        Our bodies certainly decompose, but our spirits are eternal.
        Our bodies are just a precise collection of atoms. If God was smart enough to make them in the first place, it should be no problem to replace them. IMHO.

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          Oct 25 2013: I know Peter, that's what happens in your world. My world is a different one, free of the supernatural, mysticism, witchcraft and superstition.
          Life is pretty good in my world. No worries about some angry god punishing his sheep, no worry about an afterlife and how to make sure that satan isn't using us as eternal fuel in hell. We also don't have to beg to a god or negotiate with him to help us when we face challenges because we know that the only ones responsible to deal with life's challenges are we.
          You really should try my world !
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        Oct 26 2013: Been in your world Harald. It's a Dead End,

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          Oct 26 2013: Sure it's a dead end because once we die it's like pulling the plug. Everything is gone. That's true for me, for you and everybody else.
          Just because you don't like to face reality, doesn't make it any less real. You are only kidding yourself.
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        Oct 27 2013: Oh I don't think I'm kidding myself Harald. But, even if you're right, what have I lost? Believing in eternity enhances this life. However, if you're wrong, then you do have a problem.
        From your question re immortal bodies, I deduce you don't know a lot about the bible. Maybe worth checking it out.

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          Oct 28 2013: You are right, if you are wrong, you'll never will get a chance to know you are wrong neither will you be able to regret it. So, from this point of view, your bet is a safe one.
          As for my point of view, the overwhelming evidence shows that I'm right, nevertheless in the unlikely case I'm wrong, I'll deal with my mistake when time comes.
  • Oct 26 2013: People drive their car differently if they think they are being watched, or not.

    Although it seems obvious that we can believe anything we want, it is a given that whatever we believe influences what we do, and how we do it.

    Personally I believe that both, religion and science, should acknowledge their strengths but also their limits. I also believe that the more someone tries to combine both sides, the closer to truth we come.
    Science and religion are both based on interpretation, but are looking in different directions. Science should only be based on the interpretation of physical and material evidence. Religion should only be based on the interpretation of Revelation. To me that means science cannot tell me what to believe, and religion cannot tell me what to eat.

    The more we believe in a higher power, the more we believe in a creation. Which should make us realize that both science and religion are from the same Source.

    Whatever we do, we do for a reason and why we do things, depends on what we believe, including our driving :)
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    Oct 26 2013: Religion is a set of ideas that a person 'believes' based upon what resonates nicely within the brain. The methodology of religion is to verify and search for evidence supporting a given 'belief'. Religion is a system that justifies what the brain 'believes'; what feels right and good, what resonates based upon what one can see and hear and feel without any external measurement. Religion bases on the concept that what one sees, hears, feels is absolute and real truth. We have come to know that what the the brain interprets is often wrong. The tables are indeed the same size and the colors are the same. The fact that you see them as different has nothing to do with reality. Your are seeing something that does not exist.

    Science is a set of ideas that a person does not 'believe'; they are the best concept, so far, based upon measurable evidence regardless of how it 'resonates' within the brain. The methodology of science is to disprove the ideas rather than verifier them. Science has recognized that the brain only presents to consciousness its 'best guess' and that best guess is very often totally and completely wrong. The ideas of science are based on verification through measurement. We are actively looking for those areas where our brain has misinterpreted

    Perhaps the greatest breakthrough in humans understanding of thought and the way to understand reality of all time, was the realization that one can not 'prove' things by demonstrating the supporting evidence; the religions thought process. This is theoretically impossible, one can 'prove' anything regardless of how ridiculous this way. Basing our intellectual constructs on our emotions has been throughly rejected by science, as it should be. It is fully embraced by religion, indeed it is the foundation of religion.

    Does it really matter? Yes, it does. It matters profoundly.
    No, science and religion are NOT 'different schools of belief'.
  • Oct 26 2013: "Why do people feel the need to choose a camp?"
    Perhaps it could be similar to what has happened in my life.
    I have had experiences that cannot be proven, I cannot prove them, I don't need to,
    nor does anyone else need to disprove them. They don't prove me right regardless of
    which camp I may have a foot in, nor do they prove the other camp wrong, if I am standing
    with my legs spread, a foot in each camp. But, I cannot deny them. They are based entirely
    in and on awareness, consciousness, an area science does not and cannot tread.
    You cannot build a bridge on faith, but everyone crosses them in faith they will remain up.
    There is empirical evidence. A scratch heals because IT heals. There is no conscious connection to this event by the person with the scratch. Looking at the cells involved will never allow any scientist to point at something and say, "there, that is intelligence. That is how IT knows how to heal. There, that is power, that is how IT is able to heal the cut. And there, that is love. That is why IT heals." But, everyone who has ever lived, is living and perhaps those who are yet to live, can point to nothing and say, "IT works! IT really does." That is the empirical evidence of the scratch.
    It would seem there must be intelligence somewhere in all this, behind it in some way

    Both science and religion tell us there is more than the material. They are right.
    Science attempts to verify and prove while the claims of religion are based first on the acceptance
    that their books are truly "thee resource books of all time."
    If anything, I prefer "spirituality" as I don't think religion has contributed "balance" to life at all. Maybe to mentally ill people but they remain so because of religious beliefs.

    It does matter. If science can answer "how?", if they're worth it, they will then turn to "why?"
    They can't answer that one.
    Personally, I believe in nothing. Have to start there if everything came from nothing, right?
    Then it sounds like a belief in god.
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      Oct 26 2013: "Science attempts to verify and prove" This is totally and completely the antithesis of what science is.
    • Oct 26 2013: Hi Random, I agree with most of what you say, except that I'm mentally ill. :)

      You may not be familiar with the religion that I support, but it is spiritual first and based on the natural later. It is based on the spiritual level, or meaning, of the Bible and so makes all discrepancies come together and so make sense. The big balance it brings to life is by the fact that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are One and the Same.

      I also like your idea that we cannot build a bridge on faith. We also believe that faith, by itself, is nothing.
  • Oct 25 2013: Harald; That depends on the questions you're asking. You do realize that there a vast range of beliefs and the Bible is only one text of one religion, which isn't even the largest religion world wide.

    I didn't say evidence through faith to support faith. I said we use faith as our approach to find answers to the questions that faith asks. Just as scientist use science not to support science or justify it, but to find answers to the questions science asks.

    Saying you respect people of faith "even though it's pointless" is itself disrespectful.

    We may be at an impasse here, because you seem not to have understood my initial proposition that facts and truth aren't the same thing. Are you asking me to use science to prove the truths of my faith? I thought only "bad" scientists did that? :-)

    What I can do is to say what my personal creed is. These are the personal truths to which my faith has led me. There is insufficient room to explain my life, which has led me to these truths of faith, however. Perhaps it will give you an idea of what I mean by truth as a personal thing. Do me a favor, though. Don't start trying to apply science to these truths or to challenge them; state your creed, what it is you believe, not what you don't believe.

    I believe that everything that is is of God and is God.
    I believe in a God of infinite possibility and endless variety; who cannot be defined or contained by all the thoughts and words and deeds of humankind; who speaks to us in every tongue and many voices; who has created of God a living, evolving, rational universe.
    I believe in the gift of free will, the power of unconditional love and the grace of forgiveness.

    I'm not sure how you decide whether any particular piece of knowledge is "important." Sounds like a judgment based on something you believe. Since your list of "important" knowledge is certainly a personal one rather than a universal scientific truth, it must be a personal truth. What belief supports it
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      Oct 25 2013: I picked the bible just as 1 example, but if a belief cannot be backed up with evidence than for all practical purpose it is meaningless.
      Truth must be absolute. For example, it is true that the earth revolves around the sun. This truth is not optional or object to interpretation.
      You speak about your personal "truth". There is no such thing as personal truth. What you call personal truth is just your belief.
      If you talk about god (and we would have to define what you mean with the term "god") you tell us what god means to you. This has no meaning to me or anybody else, but you. No, I'm not applying science to god, because science doesn't deal with god(s).
      Free will: this is still a question debated in philosophy. To what degree do we have free will ? But that it is very different topic and there were already many discussions about that here on TED.
      As to my comment about "pointless", This is not meant disrespectful, but if you believe in something that turns out not to exist, your investment of belief might very well have been pointless.
      Knowledge: I don't mind a particular piece of knowledge. Gaining knowledge in general is important because the more knowledge I have the better my understanding of the world I live in.
      I admit however, that there are people who don't care about gaining knowledge which is fine with me.
      • Oct 25 2013: Truth is not absolute. Fact is absolute (when the fact can be accurately observed). That the Earth orbits the Sun is a fact. It would be true even if we had not observed it. Your claim that truth is absolute is a definition of truth, and therefore personal. It reflects your belief about things.
        Faith has many practical purposes. What we believe is the basis for how we choose to act in the world. Do you believe that there are things in the universe which cannot be observed, perhaps will never be able to be observed by us? Do you believe that there is important knowledge to be gained from art, music, poetry, literature or drama? What if that poetry is the product of the answers to questions that are explored through faith? Much, if not most, of our knowledge of what it means to be human is not subject to scientific proof. Which is why what I believe about what it means to be human is going to be different from what you believe.
        Historically, faith and science have worked together to help us learn who we are, individually, collectively; as in the great cathedrals, where the architecture is both art and science informed by faith. You define knowledge and truth too narrowly for me. It's not about people not caring about gaining knowledge. It's about having as many strategies as possible for gaining knowledge. If your way of knowing is limited to what you can prove scientifically, then there are things you will never know and your understanding of the world will thus be limited. I would also contend that a significant amount of what you know is in fact based on belief. Faith is not limited to religion. It exists even where one does not believe in a god. Does your trust in science require that you believe that the universe is wholly observable, and that given enough time and the right tools, humans might be able to understand it completely?
        What you mean by "God" is also a personal truth with meaning only for you. But it's as important in this discussion as mine.
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          Oct 25 2013: David, if something is a fact than it is obviously true.
          According to Webster dictionary:
          "the body of real things, events, and facts" or "the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality "
          You can't just redefine terms and expect people understand what you are talking about.
          There are degrees of belief. If no evidence for a certain belief exists, this belief is the same as fantasy. With evidence increasing, a belief increasingly becomes more likely to reflect a part of reality.
          For example, we can't observe a black hole directly, however, there is abundant evidence that black holes exist. So, in this case I do believe in black holes because this belief is supported.
          On the other hand, believing in a god for me is meaningless because no evidence points at his existence.
          " most, of our knowledge of what it means to be human is not subject to scientific proof" this makes no sense to me. Please provide an example.
          A cathedral has nothing to do with faith, beside the fact that an organization living off faith
          I don't know in what sense you are using the term faith. I can have faith in my capabilities to do certain things but I have no faith in supernatural (e.g. gods) beings, mysticism, witchcraft, superstition, etc.
          So explain how you are using the term faith.
          For all practical purpose, anything you can't prove scientifically or at least predict, for example based on mathematical calculations, is meaningless because it means that you can't measure nor observe it in any way, which means you have no way to actually know that whatever you believe exists actually does exist.
          Everything we know about the world and the universe was obtained through scientific inquiry. Nothing was discovered reading holy books or through supernatural powers.
          As to the meaning of god, for me it's not different than the meaning of any other character in fairy tails.
      • Oct 25 2013: We are at an impasse. If it is truly your belief that anything not supported by scientific inquiry is meaningless, then we have too little common ground to find agreement in. Meaning isn't simply out there to be read in the dictionary. I have defined how I am using fact and truth and faith. You insist on rigidity and narrowness of meaning. But all language, even the language of science is metaphorical, not just denotative or referential.
        Humans don't discover meaning, they create it. When you discount the meaning of things not scientific and the knowledge thus gained, you miss half of what it is to be human. That's why you don't understand what I mean when I say that most of what it means to be human isn't subject to scientific proof. But I thank you for the discussion.
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          Oct 25 2013: Terms we use must be used according to the meaning it has. If you talk about a car, everybody knows what you are talking about, but if your personal definition of a car is actually a bicycle you will have problems to get yourself understood.
          This has nothing to do with being rigid.
          I didn't say that we discover meaning. Meaning is something subjective.
          I discount everything for which existence doesn't exist evidence because otherwise I'd live in a world of fantasy.
          If you say that you don't need proof or at least evidence for something to consider, where do you put the limits ? Based on such view, there is no difference between a belief in the existence of a god, green little men on mars or Darth Vader.
          But with one thing I agree and that is that we don't have much common ground here ;-)
  • Oct 24 2013: This post is out of order. I did something wrong and it posted as a separate entry rather than a reply. I intend it as a response to the thread with Harold Jezek under my previous post.

    Science beats faith for what? This isn't a competition. Science beats faith in doing what science does. It is totally useless in doing what faith does. And it's .same the other way around.

    And those who are rigid about their faith are not "good" believers, either. You keep saying that faith is unsupported by proof, by which you seem to mean the scientific method, which doesn't apply to faith. That doesn't mean that the faithful don't search for evidence of faith, it's just that they approach the evidence through faith rather than through science.

    Why can you not respect that?

    BTW, one definition of religion might argue that it has three elements: The first is faith ( an approach to the world that seeks to answer questions about our experience of the world); the second is dogma, which is a specific set of conclusions (truths) arrived at through faith and particular to a specific community of faith; and practice, which is a particular religion's ways of applying dogma to the problems of life and the maintenance of the community. None of these is simple. And none is perfect. But ay conflict between them and science is the fault of the practitioners, not the faith. Or the science.
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      Oct 24 2013: Science beats faith in finding answers to our questions.
      "And those who are rigid about their faith are not "good" believers, either"
      This is interesting because true believers still believe in the same God people believed in thousands of years ago and, as to my knowledge, there are no revisions to the bible either. So, where do you see any progress ?
      "Evidence through faith to support faith" ? This is circular and makes no sense.
      Oh, I do respect that people have faith, even if it is pointless. I also would respect somebody's faith in the tooth fairy. I cannot dictate what someone should or should not believe. Many people are doing things that make no sense. This is a personal choice.
      "specific set of conclusions (truths) arrived at through faith "
      How could you possibly find any truth through faith ? Give me an example what truth was unearthed based on faith rather than the application of scientific processes.
      Look back in history, no important knowledge was obtained or discovery made based on unsupported faith.
      If you believe otherwise, please provide examples.
      • Oct 25 2013: Again, see above. I've only just now realized that I can't respond to your replies through the link in my e-mail.
        From now on I will log in and reply directly on this site.
  • Oct 24 2013: why are you comparing blind faith ignorance too rigorous investigation.its just silly hearing people say religion is about truth. how is that so. its about following and accepting without question the words of men. you say the words of god but god didnt write them , some humans did.
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      Oct 25 2013: i wouldn't call empirical data truth either.

      you have an interesting take on following without question - isn't that the same approach a lot of people have to the scientific method? a guy in lab-coat doesn't look too different from a guy in a smock :)
  • Oct 24 2013: one is based on a methodology that requires the testing of physical data for repeatable verification; the other is based on hear say from self proclaimed holy men(a really long time ago) with claims of direct spiritual communication to the one making it possible for revelations of gods will.............its like comparing ignorance to knowledge. and ill just stop right there................
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    Oct 23 2013: Hi Scott......GOOD question!

    I don't mind being in the state of "not knowing", and I also like to take in all available information and explore with open mind and heart. So...knowing all the details of how the universe began, would not change my life experience. To me, life is an exploration, and if I get to another place at another time, I will explore that situation with the same curiosity. At the moment, I am NOW HERE......OH.....wait a minute.....maybe I'm NOWHERE....maybe I'm everywhere....ya never know for sure:>)

    Personally, I don't mind what people believe long as those beliefs and practices do not adversely impact other people. Guess I'm not convincing you of anything huh??? Maybe we're in the same camp....don't need to be in a camp??? LOL:>)
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      Oct 23 2013: it's my opinion that we are all in a state of not knowing and that, at best, we only ever think we know. that seems to be good enough for people to get on with it but i wonder at the real disparity between peoples' mental world views.

      I'm a big believer in what we cannot see or understand and that our limited brains are not a curse but a blessing.

      I feel that humanity is on the brink of another renaissance - not revolution or destruction..
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        Oct 23 2013: I agree Scott, that we are all in a state of "not knowing", and sometimes we only "think" we know something. Some people are more accepting of the idea.....some....not so much:>)

        I also feel that humanity is on the brink of another renaissance, which is facilitated by our advanced communication systems like TED:>)
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          Oct 24 2013: Not knowing is one thing but wanting to know and looking for the answers and then taking actions will get you in trouble most of the time when politics are involved.
          I know. Just Google me: Carl G. Mueller, Nam 68.

          Renaissance? The comfortableness of ignorance is the policy?
          Advanced Commutation with dead/dope heads is the same as ignorance?
          My Ideology = Life is over rated by the poor and helpless?
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        Oct 23 2013: Hey Scott,
        I'm curious, what evidence would you point to that we are on the brink of another renaissance? Certainly there is ample evidence to the contrary. I could certainly expound on that for pages. But I'd love to know more about your evidence to the positive.
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          Oct 24 2013: Media - the advent of social media has started it already - people are very wise to mass media and the only folk who haven't really understood this are the mass media propagandists themselves.

          so we are currently undergoing a communication renaissance - we are mired in the Propaganda Age more than ever, but there is now a forum for dialogue instead of the one-way communication devices like TV, film and radio. This has the confusing effect of "what do I believe" in people who think.

          i think we're in the middle of an energy renaissance - admittedly, this will come into full effect once other options have been exhausted - typical humans.

          really, i have no evidence other than my faith in people. the bastards might be running the world but not forever..

          revolution is no good - you must have an alternative ready to go and people ready to put it in place but it's likely to end up no better (and maybe worse) than current systems of government..
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        Oct 24 2013: Carl Mueller.....there is no reply option for your comment.

        "The transitional movement...marked by a humanistic revival of classical influence expressed in a flowering of the arts and literature and the beginnings of modern science; movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity ;rebirth; revival".

        I honestly do not understand the meaning of your comment.
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    Oct 23 2013: How are you going to your destination if you don't know where to begin?

    A house with a strong foundation will stand firm for a long time. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
    A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can't make up his mind about anything.

    To have questions and to be curious is okay as long as we are looking for answer and rest with it if you think that answer is genuine.
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      Oct 23 2013: Hi Doris,
      How about beginning here and now? I have questions and to be curious is good....interesting:>)

      Do you think/feel that a strong foundation can be built with the belief that we don't necessarily need all the answers right NOW? Is it a "strong foundation" when we absolutely decide to "know" something? Is a strong foundation to accept that we may not "know" everything right now?
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        Oct 25 2013: I think strong foundation can be built even if we don't have all the answers right now. as long as the current answers that you have is credible which continue to be convincing for you. I can only say that it is a strong foundation if you cannot easily moved by other perception or belief except if you think they outweigh what you are believing now.

        Some people easily change their mind without weighing it's credibility just because someone told them to believe in this. I don't think this is a strong foundation.

        Some people only believe what they are believing now and refuse to listen or search for new things. I believe this is being a close minded.
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      Oct 24 2013: Hi Doris,

      I cannot agree with the whole "to know where you're going you need to know where you're from" philosophy. It's a good way to maintain staid tradition for the sake of tradition and doesn't seem very open to change or anything new.

      A house with strong foundations is no good if there is a flood or fire - it cannot move.

      Most people view cognitive dissonance in a negative light but I believe the ability to entertain more than one version of a concept at the same time is an indication of mental evolution.

      Doubt is not the same thing as refusing to commit to one philosophy - this is especially important as no one philosophy has all the answers and many are intolerant of other ideas and philosophies because it undermines it.
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        Oct 25 2013: If God show himself to you right now and tell you I created you I created everything I think it would be easier to choose to believe that God created us and to live a life pleasing unto Him. Unfortunately God's way isn't like that why? who knows? who even knows if God exist or not with a credible proof. If God is real perhaps He want us to discover the origins of our existence.

        To choose what to believe about the origin of our existence or where we from will be easier for us to know what we should be doing now and what we are going to do in the future or to have a belief of where we will be heading.
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          Oct 28 2013: you have gotten to the heart of my actual question. thanks.

          i worded it poorly and the majority of responses have been about science vs religion rather than cogitation on what effect knowing without doubt might have on people.
  • Oct 23 2013: The biggest practical difference is that science leads to engineering, which results in a myriad practical applications.

    On a more philosophical level, the two don't actually contradict each other in the slightest. They don't complement each other very well either, but there is no direct contradiction between the two schools of thought.
    Some specific scientific theories do clash with some specific religious beliefs however (like evolution and creationism), which from a purely practical standpoint, makes life difficult for people working on beneficial research religious groups don't like.
  • Oct 23 2013: Why do people feel the need to choose a camp?

    We are conditioned to seek an outside Authority.

    Are you free, Scott? Free of this Authority?
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      Oct 23 2013: i must admit, i waver and i wonder at why and how.

      i was just wondering what kind of effect knowing our origins would have on us.

      as for being free - i am as much as any one human can be. physically, i have my health and i live in a country where i am free.

      i have had a lot of opportunity and advantages in life, more than many others, but i am still bound by my insecurities and habits. always searching for peace of mind though.
      • Oct 23 2013: I like your thoughtful reply. I too wonder about our origins. I see that religions and science rely upon at least one miracle each. And so I remain skeptical of all dogmas. As for freedom, the danged thing is like love and beauty. It cannot be obtained. It can only be approached by understanding what it is NOT. We save the question of 'can there be Total a Freedom for a human?' for later, and ask a 'smaller' question of 'can a human be Free of insecurities and habits?' There is a belief that one cannot be free of such thangs. I'm not free, but I doubt that belief. I just doubt it. Doubt is really all that is required. Cheers, Scott
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    Oct 23 2013: It doesn't matter.
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    Lejan .

    • +1
    Oct 23 2013: 42
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      Oct 23 2013: "Even" if that were so..........I am at "odds" with your answer.....

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        Oct 23 2013: This is no contradiction!

        As 42 originated in Europe, in the UK, to be more precisely, or even Germany, depending how deep one digs into it, 41 may well be what it looks like from your geographical position and it may becomes more obvious to you if you recall the funny effects of spherical geometry... :o)
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        Oct 23 2013: Yes, I did, because Douglas Adams is one of my favorite minds who ever walked on earth... :o)

        42 is even on my numberplate! ;o)
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        Oct 23 2013: He was great storyteller not only in his books:
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    Oct 23 2013: I like science because it talks about all the Tidbits of the system; But when it fails to make a complete sense I look forward towards Religious belief and trust.
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    Oct 23 2013: "Both are equally far-fetched and interesting."

    This is where some people disagree. Believing that superman just made everything because he wanted to and because he had the superpowers to do it is not far-fetched and not interesting. That's why there's nothing written about it in Scripture. If you say it just happened for supernatural reasons, then no one cares anymore.
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    Oct 27 2013: We won't know it's true worth until we figure it out, no? Perhaps the knowledge of our genesis is irrelevant to our existence. Or maybe it will revolutionize how we view life. We are experts in death, yet we still have an enigmatic path to follow when it comes to pure creation. Sometimes we don't realize how important understanding something is until we do. I can personally say that I found no use in learning the function of cells in our bodies until I learned about them, and boy was I impressed.

    As to picking sides, humans like certainty. It is scary to know that there is something out there we truly do not understand, or have a vague idea of its complexity. We need the illusion of understanding; theories that have yet to be proven. I don't think knowing how our universe began to be the equivalent of knowing the exact circumstances of our own death. I think it will help us comprehend why our universe is the way it is, if this was purely chance or divine creation. We already know how stars are formed, why not go a little deeper?
  • Timo X

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    Oct 26 2013: "Would it help anyone to know, without a doubt, how the universe began?"
    It is significant that this question comes from someone who is clearly religious. Religion is the ideology of blind obedience, the glorification of ignorance, the opium for the masses. Why would you want to know anything? Why not blindly obey the good book, the good idea, the good man? Why risk your free ticket to heaven?

    Calling the interaction between science and religion 'a debate' is a gross misrepresentation. Science does not need the sanction of religion, has not needed it since Galileo. Religion a camp? A concentration camp perhaps.
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      Oct 28 2013: you know what they say about folk who assume..
      • Timo X

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        Oct 28 2013: You seem to imply that I make a false assumption. Could you be more specific than that, or do you prefer to be vague?
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          Oct 28 2013: you made a colossal assumption.

          more than taking one side or another, i prefer to stir things up by championing one or the other depending on the nature of the debate - generally, I like to shoot holes in the majority view. it's only debate, after all, which is nothing more than entertainment of a kind.

          in my opinion, mythical, religious and scientific views of existence all boil down to differing versions of the same thing and, here and now, we're all just arguing semantics and perceptions.

          the wording of my question is poor. it doesn't clearly define what i was really asking people which was less to do with science vs religion and more to do with "would it really be beneficial to know the exact details of the beginning of existence? - would it cause people to flip their beliefs/understandings or would people just carry on head-in-the-sand-like?" I have a sneaky feeling that it would be the latter.

          there. i've gone and been far less vague than I prefer..
      • Timo X

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        Oct 29 2013: I appreciate that at least. Perhaps you are not such a great example of a champion of religion. Nonetheless, the idea that "mythical, religious and scientific views of existence all boil down to differing versions of the same thing" is wildly inaccurate. Ghosts and gods may exist in myths and stories, but have never been observed in reality, thus removing them from the realm of science.

        As to your refined question, I think the answer depends entirely on the definition of the word beneficial. For the zealot, newfound knowledge endangers established dogmas: he does not /want/ to discover. That is why I said religion is glorification of ignorance. But it does not require zealotry to put ones head in the sand, it is a far more common desire. After all, most people believe that ignorance is bliss and that curiosity killed the cat, instead of the other way around.
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          Oct 29 2013: i don't mean to say that the gods and demons and fantastic elements in the myths that religions are built around are or were real in the sense we know real to be, more that they are narrative features in a version of existence that lives and works on some symbolic level.

          i realise as i write this that i'm really talking more of myth than religion here but i think this is relevant, because the crux of the science vs. religion thing is the argument over whether something like the bible is literal or literature.

          ultimately, when it comes to myth and science, i think both are a search for some definable and reliable explanations and answers to the why and how questions. they each address fundamentally different aspects of being alive and being aware of ourselves, our surroundings and our mortality. so, i do consider some aspects of religion to be beneficial and 'good at it what it does' so to speak.

          you make good points at the end of your post and i think we agree on that aspect of the human race. i'm pretty sure human nature is considered flawed across all spectra of belief and world views. it's about the only common thread.
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    Oct 26 2013: Our minds are designed to put correlate what our senses see, feel, etc . It is building a reality model and sometimes that reality model is completely and totally wrong. The world of illusion demonstrates this to the satisfaction of anyone that bothers to look at it. There are illusions about tables and lines that the brain has interpreted as being hugely different in area and length when they are the exact same dimension. There are similar illusions about color and sound and touch. When our subconscious minds have done the interpretation of these data it makes the presentation to the conscious mind.

    Once the mind 'believes' something, it alters the way that the person thinks about it. Even after verifying that the two colors are of the same, the brain refuses to allow the conscious mind to 'see' it this way. In this sense the unconscious mind is fabricating false information for the conscious mind. The unconscious brain will filter data and will actually manufacture data and experiences that do not exist. The brain does all this (I think) to maintain the coherence of the reality that it 'believes'.

    Personally I define belief to be that state where the brain has started to filter information and manufacture false information for the presentation to the conscious mind. When a person 'believes' something it is a statement that there brains can no longer be 'trusted' to see reality as it is. Belief is the statement that the brain will no longer thinks about something and will not even allow the conscious mind to fairly question it. The data that the mind presents is no longer reliable. Being in the state of 'believe', when the word is used this way, is a very bad thing. No, I do not 'believe' this. I think it; it is one of my ideas. It is the best idea that I have on the subject at the moment.
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    Oct 26 2013: doesn't matter with others ,it's matter with itself only...
  • Oct 26 2013: Science is the curiosity of origins on steroids and speed,so to speak. The bibles account of creation leaves out the big bang...hello , we have a problem houston. The same mind that the creator allowed us to evolve happens to be smart enough to know that the bibles account is not accurate.
  • Oct 25 2013: Like I said. Yr comparing Ignorance to knowledge . At the core religion is based on hear-say aka the bible. There is simply no comparison .
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      Oct 25 2013: i wouldn't say having religious faith is the same as ignorance.

      but that's not what i was asking..
      • Oct 26 2013: When comparing the two religious arguments are from ignorance plain and simple. The more we learn about gods green earth and the heavens above the more it conflicts with the ideas in the good book. I'm jus saying , God created the universe and man wrote the bible then sometime later created the scientific method. Does what matter? Picking a side? It does matter pr ogress is made through scientific discovery.
  • Oct 25 2013: Science is used to understand things ..How, why, when, where... etc.
    Religion is used for Mental Balance ... how, why, when, where...etc...and self logical answers. (For those who need it).
    Scott: If I need to find where I come from and where I go using the tools religion and Science I should wish myself for Good luck till my death.
    I believe nobody can convince me, unless I convince myself.
    For the Question does it really matter?
    My simple answer will be NO.
  • Oct 24 2013: I think one is considered crazy if one doesn't take a stance on one side of this issue. ... so call me crazy. You are right " does it really matter"?
  • Oct 24 2013: Facts are things that exist whether we know about them or not. If we did not know what we do about the structure of the atom, the atom would still be constructed the same way. These are the potentially knowable things in the universe.

    Truth is more personal than fact. As we individually encounter the facts we are aware of, we need to address those facts in order to develop strategies for getting our needs met within the context of what we know. This is where perception comes in. Each of us perceives facts differently and creates meaning from them in at least slightly different ways. Certain communities (such as religions and scientific disciplines) develop methodologies and common understandings which lead to common truths. Some of these truths can be applied more generally than others, but only a relatively few truths can be said to be universally common.

    Science and religion look at the same facts, but ask different questions, use different methodologies, and arrive at different truths. It is as pointless for either to try to prove or disprove the other. There is no particular reason why the two cannot co-exist, even inform each other.

    Both science and faith require belief in something. Science would be impossible without at least a belief in a logical, observable, knowable universe. And that is not the only possibility. It is possible that the universe is illusory, that our observations are so limited by our humanness as to be unreliable, and that it is all ultimately unknowable. I don't believe that, but it is still possible.

    Both are human activities. Both are ways of exploring our humanity, of being human. Both lead to important insights into what it is to be human in this universe, and both are flawed (as are all human endeavors). Both have led to great good and great evil, depending on the nature of their practitioners.

    The universe began. Deal with it in your own way, but honor the human experience within it.
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      Oct 24 2013: A few things:
      1) Science doesn't even try to disprove faith.
      2) There is a difference between scientific and faith based approach.
      Science looks at our surroundings and comes up with theories how things might work. Once there is a theory, science tries to gather evidence to confirm those theories or use further observations to improve on the theory.
      Faith on the other hand, doesn't employ any method at all. It just stipulates a certain "truth" which has to be accepted at face value by the faithful. No proof or even evidence are required.
      • Oct 24 2013: Science and faith are both ways of addressing the questions humans have about the world. Science doesn't do anything. People use science to do many things, including trying to disprove some of the things some other people believe. And some other people try to use the conclusions of their faith to disprove science.
        Of course science and faith are different approaches, and they serve different purposes; but to say that faith doesn't employ any method is simply to misunderstand what faith is. In the interest of space, perhaps I contributed to this by not differentiating between faith and religion. Just as there are many different kinds of science, there are many different approaches to faith; and just as different applications of science disagree, so do different applications of faith. The existence of so many variations on Christianity is some evidence that the truths of faith are questioned all the time. It could also be reasonably argued that some people use science as rigidly as any pope and that science has often resisted change and demanded adherence to ideas that should have been let go long before.
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          Oct 24 2013: Some scientists might be rigid in their approach and not open to change, but those are not good scientists. Overall, you have to admit, the scientific method works pretty well leading us to an ever better understanding of nature, constantly adjusting and correcting our views of reality. That doesn't mean that all our current views are correct nor does it mean we have answers to all our questions. But it certainly beats faith. Btw, faith and religion are very different things. Religion is just the dogmatic framework around the faith.
          Faith or belief in something if not supported by evidence is totally meaningless because there are really no limits in what one can believe if not pressed to provide proof or at least show evidence for a given belief.
        • Oct 25 2013: The variations do not come from question but from interpretation.
      • Oct 24 2013: Please see my new post above to continue this discussion. I intended the post to be here, but did something wrong. Sorry
    • Oct 25 2013: You say science and religion look at some facts, how so? And your examples for them both being a belief left out the fact that science is a work in progress that is open to question , dare you question the good book and be labeled as sacrilegious.
      • Oct 25 2013: I didn't say that both are beliefs. I said that everyone believes something. Absolute non-belief is impossible. There are beliefs (not religious beliefs, but certainly at least analogous to faith) that are necessary to science.
        Faith is also work in progress, at least it is for me. But history certainly shows that faith as expressed by religions is a work in progress. There is no religious faith that does not have variations among its followers. Most people don't slavishly follow the core texts of their faith. There are myriad religions that have come and gone. How many people believe any more in the Greco/Roman pantheon? There is a growing number of people who have a personal faith that is not aligned with any specific religion at all. Why would I care about being called sacrilegious by a religion I don't agree with. That's about dogma and practice, not faith.
        Science, btw, has had its own share of condemnation of those who have suggested that it had gotten something wrong. Even now there are significant disagreements about how to interpret the observed facts. Just because science disagrees about interpretation of facts and the application of the scientific process rather than the conclusions of faith, doesn't make the disagreements any less vitriolic or damaging.
        So far, most of the arguments have been about proof; but in logic inability to prove something doesn't make it false, nor does the inability to disprove it make it a fact.
        If objective reality is not an illusion, then I exist. As I live my life, I must make some sense of the experiences of my life. Each experience represents an observable fact which I choose to consider in a variety of ways. If I need to understand why my physical body is in a state of disease, the observable facts of my symptoms help medical science diagnose it and treat it. If I want to understand my life purpose and my proper relationship to the universe, I use faith to search for that answer.
  • Oct 23 2013: How do I know what I don't know?
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    Oct 23 2013: Well, science attempts to be based upon repeatable and observable data while religion is more about belief, superstition and faith. so there is an incompatibility right there. Now, just to clarify, religion and science are human made structures and tangible, while spirituality and faith are personal and inner self related processes. .

    Absolutely it matters, especially since science and technology are rapidly approaching a point where death will no longer have to be one's ultimate fate. At least to the ones that can afford it. Science plans on taking us beyond, not just the confines of this planet, but to the very limits of the whole of the universe itself.

    Religion has been behind an awful lot of atrocities and outright arrogance regarding schience - Copernicus comes to mind - throughout human history and has not garnered anywhere the same level of respect as science has from the majority of people.
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      Oct 23 2013: living forever - my version of hell. let's hope that science never gets its cold hands on that one.

      of course, science cannot be blamed for the development of nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons, mass production and waste in the way that religion gets blamed for propagating ignorance..

      i think people need to start blaming people for all the bad stuff that gets done in the name of something because religion is no worse than science in terms of atrocities and vice versa.

      i'm not sure you've addressed the question - how would it affect you to know for sure.

      actually, i don't think it would affect many people - people being people, they would probably ignore the evidence and continue as if nothing was any different.
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        Oct 24 2013: I'd definitely sign up for immortality if I could. Not you, uh? Interesting. I'm starting a conversation about this, let's see what other people think.
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          Oct 24 2013: no way - one time round on this ride is enough for me.

          i guess immortality would have to come with a few additions for it to be appealing - namely youthful physicality and mental stability.

          imagine the horror of not being able to die and also being bed-ridden of completely mad..
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          Oct 24 2013: Good topic Gerald, start it. I'd say whether immortality is a good thing or not depends on how you are able to spend your life. If you spend it in poverty and misery, immortality probably isn't such a good idea.
    • Oct 24 2013: yea but one is comparable to a fantasy novel while the other is an investigation into the workings of all the facets of our universe. its highly likely that the creator is now us and every single thing known and unknown in the universe. like , god is the biggest schizoid out of all of us .....god being all of us and every thing.
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    Oct 23 2013: No

    To some people yes, to others no.
    That's the best I can do..........for now.
  • Oct 23 2013: one is based on a methodology that requires the testing of physical data for repeatable verification; the other is based on hear say from self proclaimed holy men(a really long time ago) with claims of direct spiritual communication to the one making it possible for revelations of gods will.............its like comparing ignorance to knowledge. and ill just stop right there................
  • Oct 23 2013: science is the symbolic representation of the actual inner workings of the physical universe which has practical application. religion is the verbal representation of how some imagined how the physical universe may work bypassing any investigation carrying on the exact traditions that were laid forth by humans several thousand years prior.blind faith with out question.the word of god is really the word of humans that were supposedly filled with the holy spirit which brought about holy scripture.