TED Conversations

Tim Colgan


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Has religion outlived it's usefulness?

I'd like to start this conversation with a quote from Richard Dawkins:

"Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!"

The Guardian, October 11, 2001

So my question is - assuming religion ever did serve a useful function for humanity, is it perhaps time that we get beyond religion and develop other tools to provide for human needs?

NOTE: To people making comments - I encourage you to not only give a brief response to the main question but also try to respond to one or more of the other comments. Keeping it brief, respectful and perhaps phrased as a question will help generate a true conversation. Thanks. And come back and visit when you can.


Closing Statement from Tim Colgan

Many thanks to all those who contributed to this discussion. Upon starting this conversation I was concerned that ted wasn't the right place, fearing it would be dominated by a single mind-set. But the diversity of opinions expressed here is amazing. These threads represent a true mosaic of human opinion. Perhaps not a perfect sampling, but a fascinating cross-sample of personal beliefs. The conversations themselves reveal a bit about humanity - filled with sibling rivalries, with moments of compassion. Highly recommended to anyone to take the time to read.

Although it's probably obvious from the conversation's introduction that my intentions included an agenda, that agenda was soon blown out of the water. We had trouble coming to agreement on the definition of religion. Whether it's called religion or not, humans need institutions to provide it's function. To me religion is most symbolized by it's place - temple, mosque, synagogue, church... A place where people gather to share their humanity and ponder the infinite, and their place in it. Perhaps ted is one of those places.

Thanks again to all who contributed. It has been truly enlightening. That's to say, each of you has shone light into some aspect of our topic.

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      Feb 21 2011: Agreed Birdia. Do you have any inputs on how to convince others to rely on rational thought vs dogma?
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        • Feb 28 2011: Hi Birdia, Im Nick from the UK, ive only just joined this site, and i certainly have not read all the letters on this subject, so please excuse if im repeating what some else has said. Im with Kathy K on this subject, but the point i wish to make is that to believe in God is not necessarily 'blind faith'. The universe was either created by chance [big bang] or it was'nt. To believe as i guess most atheists do that there was an explosion out of absolutely nothing, 'by chance' seems to me less logical than to believe in a creator. Perhaps us trying to understand God is like gold fish trying to understand how the fridge works [smile]
          I think a lot of people treat God like a 'magician' who will put all their errors right, But i find if for example one prays for patience, 'life' will throw at you many chances to have exactly that.
          Ultimately 'nothing' can be proved 100% , one cant even PROVE we exist !! [i believe we do] so i guess we all need to have a certain amount of faith.
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        Feb 26 2011: @Tim: the trick about your question is the word "rely."

        To rely on dogma when evaluating facts is a recipe for disaster. But relying on rationalism when trying to create meaning in one's life is fruitless.

        I'd suggest rewording it:
        "How do we convince others to rely on rational thought for discovering reliable facts?"
        "How do we convince others to use the power of myth and storytelling to give their lives meaning without disregarding these tools just because they are not rational?"
        • Feb 27 2011: Hi Jack. Tell me one thing Jack. I experienced once a person that was what I called "clairvoyant" and that person told me things about my past and my future that they had absolutely no possibility of knowing. I repeat... absolutely no "physical" possibility of knowing certain things about me and my life. I had never met this person before... never seen this person before... and none of my friends had "ever seen or met this person before" Tell me now... what is your theory for the fact that that person "knew" so much about me and my personal life.... I am really a quite sober person. Very stable... wife and children... hardly ever sick.... I'm actually about as solid as a person can be. Down to earth. Both feet on the ground....never hallucinated... May I ask again....How did this stranger know so much about me and my life? If you have never had such a meeting with a "seer" than I suggest you look one up. You may find one in your local newspaper adds... but watch out... there are many out there who are just after you money... Hadn't these things actually come true in my life (or already were true) than I too could write off the whole phenomenon as BS... but the fact is they were true. And furthermore there were lots of other people in the room that can verify this..... so what is your explanation Jack??
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          Feb 27 2011: hey man I'm a christian and I'm relaying just on rational thoughts (I ignore some of 'irationa thought' until I work them out ) but a lot of things (the most in my opinion) are very rational.

          of course are a lot of methaphysical things in a christian doctrine but they can be comprehend also , at least some of them......and methaphysics is an science as I know (ironie)
        • Feb 28 2011: If the reality is quantum, there is no conflict between "rational thought" and "spirituality". Rational thought and spiritual thought are absolutly nessesary as a complex quantum particle called a human being. The quantum world reserves at least half of the experience at any given time to be unknown, and the other half known. You need both views to see the wonder of it all but you can only use one to the exclusion of the other!

          I Love quantum reality, half of it is wonderful, and I don't know much about the other half. Sounds a lot like a lot of religions to me, just not as beautiful.
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          Feb 28 2011: @daniel -- cold reading?
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          Feb 28 2011: Jack: Have really enjoyed all your posts (very thought provoking).

          Agreed - both rational thought and learning from myths have value.

          Why do you think that people are so drawn into taking myth as fact?
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        Feb 28 2011: This is in reply to "daniel hehir" above (the reply system is broken, no?):

        Daniel: thank you for sharing that experience. Please know that I have no desire to minimize the power that that had in your life. I believe you had that experience and I'm glad for it.

        But when people who claim to be clairvoyant are tested they are, as a rule, found to be frauds. Otherwise the Pentagon would have found a way to weaponize such talents (the economic argument: http://xkcd.com/808/)

        "I had a profound mystical experience that affected me" isn't a problem. But systematizing it is. The benefit of religion is limited to personal growth, only science can provide us with facts that are equally true for each of us.

        What would you think of a large social movement that tried to rely on clairvoyance for determining important matters like who should be elected to Congress and how income should be distributed?
        • Feb 28 2011: "What would you think of a large social movement that tried to rely on clairvoyance for determining important matters like who should be elected to Congress and how income should be distributed?"

          That would not be wise. Reason and knowledge must be employed even if you are clairvoyant. If you accept the idea as a rational person that quantum mechanics and quantum anomalies exist, then you must also accept that the entire universe is a quantum system of reality. The anomalies we observe in the lab are a direct observation of the fundamental rules of this reality.

          These rules allow for such phenomenon as is typically assigned by rational minds to mysticism or psi. These things are not necessarily bogus if the rules of quantum mechanics and quantum physics are applicable everywhere and at any time.

          By this logic then, we are free to rationally explore the stranger forms and events of our experience that do not necessarily fit into what is known of the physical world. Faith and clairvoyance are possible. But you must test your information against your knowledge or you are just guessing and believing rather than understanding.

          So electing a government by Psi is probably not a good idea for most of us, even though it worked for the Dali Lama. The Dali Lama was chosen by experienced psi experts. I think they did a good job, I just don't know how they managed it.
        • Feb 28 2011: Hey Jack. These threads are hard to follow. I don't like this new system at all.
          I'm not putting down the scientific method. I'm saying if you are operating under the theory that all crows are black.... and suddenly a white crow shows up... than your whole theory is blown out of the water.... You see... just one example is enough to force you to reshape your theory... "change your way of thinkin"
          Thats all I'm saying. Have you ever heard of a french guy called Jacques Lusseyran? He lost his sight as a child, but could still "see" with the type of vision that I'm referring to above. He was used by the French secret service in the second world war to locate where the Germans were hiding. This is fact and can be documented. I have the book beside me now. Its called "And there was Light" IBSN82-09-01429-3 Take a look in your local library and order it if they don't have it. It will give you a new perspective on life.... I'll tell you that !!
        • Feb 28 2011: Another thing Jack.. Ancient societies were very much based on exactly that. Their leaders were often "seers" and what we see today in tribal societies in Africa that still have medicine men are remnents of this. Where the scientific mind is not developed, they turn to frogs eyes and ears of nutes. The clairvoyants are still out there in our time but generally speaking are also remnents of the past. I wrote another message to you further down the page, but I think we have to complain about this new system of "reply" to TED .. it doesn't work worth a damn...
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          Mar 1 2011: Jack D. Canty ;
          r/t 'only science can provide us with facts that are equally true for each of us.'

          Just curious how might you describe the science (or lack thereof) behind, for instance, the Ten Commandments and the consequences that more than typically come with going against them?
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          Mar 1 2011: Wayne:

          Interesting that you should bring up the Ten Commandments. Here in West Chester we have them plastered on the courthouse wall. Here's the plaque:


          I've always been struck by number 10:

          "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

          and wondered how much that language has been used to justify slavery and the treatment of woman as property. Which gets to the crux of the problem - the interpretation of myth as literal fact.

          Why can't we read these things as metaphorical lessons and not take them as fact?
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          Mar 1 2011: Slavery is an emotive word due to the excesses of evil men against the Africans. As in many things, mans weakness is somehow taken as God's fault. There were no slaves in Eden. The following is more typical of God's instruction on the subject. It reads like it can be taken literally.

          Deu 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
          Deu 15:12 If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free.
          Deu 15:13 And when you release him, do not send him away empty-handed.
          Deu 15:14 Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you.
          Deu 15:15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.
          Deu 15:16 But if your servant says to you, "I do not want to leave you," because he loves you and your family and is well off with you,
          Deu 15:17 then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your maidservant.
          Deu 15:18 Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because his service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.

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          Mar 1 2011: Peter:

          Always was a bit concerned about Deu 15:12. Only a fellow Hebrew counts?
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          Mar 1 2011: Peter: I'm curious about your interpretation of Leviticus 25:44-46, especially how it contrasts Hebrew versus non-Hebrew slaves. I would also be very interested to read your take on Exodus 21:20-11. Bear in mind that both of these passages appear as commands from God, not the excesses of men.
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          Mar 2 2011: Tim/Tony

          It seems to me that God does treat his own differently. His own children, compared to those who live down the street. These were different times, when mayhem & murder was even more prevalent than now. Certainly Ex.21v21 has me puzzled, but I'm not that smart.
          With the bible it is usually the case that the more is read, the better the understanding. Try these :-
          Lev 24:17 "Anyone who takes another person's life must be put to death.
          Lev 24:19 "Anyone who injures another person must be dealt with according to the injury inflicted--
          Lev 24:20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Whatever anyone does to hurt another person must be paid back in kind.
          Lev 24:22 "These same regulations apply to Israelites by birth and foreigners who live among you. I, the LORD, am your God."

          No doubt many Atheists would cite this sort of thing as contradictions, but to me it's just another step to understanding. This was the reason that Jesus came, because we cannot fully understand all the rules. He said :-
          Mat 22:37 Jesus replied, " `You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' [fn]
          Mat 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
          Mat 22:39 A second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' [fn]
          """Mat 22:40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."""

          So, yes, you can trip me up quite effectively; as I said, I'm not that smart. Please don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you hunt for a reason to dismiss the bible, that's exactly what you'll get, if you search for truth, you will be pleasantly surprised.

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          Mar 2 2011: Peter: please understand that our disagreement is not personal. I've heard the argument all too often that God's idea of slavery was a sort of gentle servitude and that the real injustice came from man, when in fact biblically-endorsed slavery indeed could be quite brutal. You simply seemed to be presenting a one-sided view, and this is not the forum for one-sided views.

          My own journey through the Bible was indeed one of a seach for truth. I became a non-believer because of passages like this, after doing my level best to reconcile them. One approach to the apparent contradictions is to chalk it up to the limits of human understanding. In fact, this approach makes a lot of sense: if God is infinitely more complex than we are, who are we to judge the merits and validity of His commands? The problem here is that the logic doesn't go far enough: if indeed God writes this opaquely, what makes us so sure it's from God at all? In other words, I found I could not have it both ways: claim ignorance when faced with biblical absurdities, yet at the same time claim certainty with regard to its divine origin and consequent infallibility.

          For the sake of argument, the Bible could very well be the infallible Word of God, and our brains just too small for the task of grasping it. But if that is really the case, our brains are also too small to make sweeping conclusions such as "it's the infallible Word of God". Thus, my argument is not against the Bible per se, but against the kind of certitude promoted by religion. The driving motive behind this certitude is a desire for security -- as the writer of Hebrews so eloquently puts it, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1, NIV).
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        Feb 28 2011: This scientific method that we have developed to understand the known universe, reaches the limits of its effectiveness where it as a process, at best measures reality as our senses and current use of our mental faculties are able to process physical existence.

        Make no mistake. the sciences of the mind are in their infancy.
        Further, unaided, our senses (and by extension most tools we use in producing empirical data about our environment) are feeble compared to those enjoyed by the vast majority of other species on earth and our attempts to match or rival the abilities of said species are based on what 'we think' our senses say about how they perceive our world. Subjective theory at best in my opinion.
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          Mar 1 2011: Hi Birdia
          "it has already been proven that our universe is expanding – has the bible mentioned anything about that?"
          Isa 42:5 This is what God the LORD says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
          Isa 45:12 It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
          Jer 10:12 But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

          etc etc

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          Mar 4 2011: Peter:

          "My own hands stretched out the heavens"

          Were these real hands or metaphorical hands that stretched out the heavens?

          I really don't see why it's so important to insist on literal interpretations of anything in Holy Scripture. Do you really think that the message "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" would get lost if it turned out that there was really no guy named Jonah who got swallowed by a whale?
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          Mar 4 2011: Hi Tim

          Jesus is the one who stretched out the heavens, however I would say that he had no literal hands before he was born of Mary. So in my opinion the hands in this case are metaphoric; that's my opinion.

          Jonah & the Big Fish (maybe not whale) is written as a literal account, so I treat it as such. Maybe some hebrew scholar would make an alternative case, which I would have to consider.

          To me it's about credibility. If the bible is what it claims to be then it must be perfect. Any fault must be in translation, or in my understanding; if not then it's not the word of god. So far I am satisfied with it, & learning more week by week.

          The Golden Rule is great to live by, & believing that it also pleases God gives a bit of extra incentive.

        • Mar 10 2011: Hi Birdia,
          Yes, odd system here, only just found your reply. Yes the universe is expanding according to scientists, but it is more than probable that new information will be found, and what was once 'proven' is shown to be wrong, remember it was only a few hundred years ago they could prove the earth was flat, logical right? otherwise you would fall off!! well im sure the same sort of thing will keep on happening, im sure you get my drift.
          The bible of course mentions creation, but as i said, to have a universe to explode out of nothing , 'by chance' to me seems illogical. which reminds me of a little story, it goes like this... A scientist in the future had created life, and he challenged God , saying that he was like God because he had created life, God said to him, ok prove it to me, ok says the scientist, and bends down to scoop up some soil, and God then says to him 'get your own soil' so you see my point.
          It is fascinating to me that the universe floats in nothing, and is expanding into nothing, and perhaps the universe is in God and not the other way round, I propose that God is absolute simplicity and absolute mystery at the same time, and the bible quotes God describing himself by the words .. I AM, not i am big, or i am intelligent or i am wonderful, but I just AM !!!
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          Mar 2 2011: Hi Birdia
          Oh I think God has made it out of his book. I speak to him daily & often get feedback. The book helps me to know when it is him & when it is just me. He never contradicts the book.

          Hbr 11:6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

          Rev 3:20 "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.

          So we have to give him the 'benefit of the doubt'. We have to take a step of faith, based on our understanding of the bible. (Best to start with New Testament).
          If we can do that & invite him in then your questions will be answered in due course. I have no doubt in his existance now, but I had to take a step of faith initially.

          Speak to him.
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          Mar 2 2011: Hi Biridia ..........regarding your first paragraph I think the main idea from it is that: "man glorifies and attaches himself to this fictional 'God' to feel secure and safe" , but Birdia if we have done it............why we have done it? why almost all people from the earth feel that (are all in danger and they all have need of protection , I don't think)?.......you can't say that we have invented the idea of God , because if you say that you should answer to the next questions : Why we have created the idea of God (who had have this so great imagination to invent something like that?) because God is outside of our world , how could we know about Him? and why exatcly this idea is so well-known , why people are saying that they have a need to worship something? (all the people have done it throughout the history to a lot of "gods")
          What determined people to talk for God or against Him(all people do one of it)?
          Why all people from the surface of the earth are so influenced of this idea ,( some talk against it or some talk for it)?Why all people are thinking at least once in their life at this idea?...............What determined us to do all these things?........we was educated differnetly but all, absolute all people know about something supernatural even though they accept it or not?
          " the character we call 'God' has been used to cloak man's fear and despair through the centuries" you said in the first paragraph that "God" is a fictional chaacter but if He is, how could that ficton make us feel safer , happier .....if is just a fiction?
          How could a fiction impose a psychological presence?(and think at all the history)..........

          ..............is imposible that the idea of God to be a fiction......God is very very real................
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          Mar 2 2011: Hi Birdia

          I agree with Eduard. To an extent we see what we want to see. Dozens of peoples all over the world have a flood story in which some were saved by getting on a big boat. Athiests will say that the biblical narrative is a copy of these stories, I would say the opposite. The fact that the story is so well known to me verifies that it probably happened.
          There is tons of real life evidence that the bible is accurate in many fields. If you have time, here is some archeological evidence to consider.

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          Mar 2 2011: yeah ..........the chinese culture is one of the greatest
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          Mar 3 2011: The single chinese book that I've read is "The art of war " by Sun Tzu........I was especially facinated by the stuffs which I've heard and saw about chinese culture .......and I'm still learning.
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        Feb 27 2011: Kathy, I appreciate how, in your last line, you discuss the reverence people have for their holy text. I think that's something that the modern atheist movement should take more note of: people actually care about the text and feel connected to it.

        Your claim that the bible withstands scrutiny is in need of massive clarification. It continues to be a source of meaning and connection for billions of people, yes. But there are large religious movements that treat the bible as some kind of encyclopedia in which one can look up facts about God. And that's a problem.

        I think what Tim Colgan and Richard Dawkins are trying to point out is the great horror that comes when we take a text that has a rich narrative tradition but is not factually reliable and use it as a replacement for the rigorous application of science.

        I'm sure you can understand the fear some people have if a president of the United States believed that dinosaurs walked the earth seven thousand years ago and that Jesus was coming back "any minute now." Somebody who has the launch codes to our nuclear arsenal cannot be permitted to believe that those are facts. It could mean the death of us all.
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        Feb 27 2011: You said that Holy Scripture is a connection to truth that we can rely on and, as a testament, it's stood the test of time
        But I wonder, which Scripture? Or more generally, which text even? We could take the most prominent ones: The Bible, The Koran, The Torah and discover that each asserts itself as, unequivocally, 'the' holy book.
        This, in itself, is aside from numerous internal contraindications and considers only three of thousands of equally confident scriptures each of which, in themselves, fail to reveal accurately even the most basic facts about our world.
        Too, withstanding ages does not necessarily imply truth. Consider the long held geocentricism that was, mind you, aggressively, and falsely, supported by the church.
        Moreover, I believe your assessment of science is flippant. While it is true that science is always updating, this is its greatest strength and does not counter its truth or relevance but, rather, reinforces it. Science does not continuously reinvent itself, it refines itself in light of new facts but, always, it is moving closer to the truth; a singular, not erratic, trajectory. For example, the discovery of heliocentrism, a product of evidence overturning apocryphal beliefs, or of a new lifesaving treatment, deduced by science, overturning a false and ineffective 'traditional' method.
        Finally, I think that it is a bit rash to claim that referencing a holy book as irrational is blatantly ignorant. While there is something to be said for the numinous aspects (this bit I suspect you mean when you say "[not] via the intellect alone") of religion, these experiences are not singular ones and occur across all religions, and even for non-religious individuals. Nor is there any reason to suspect that these experiences are outside the realm of science.
        Also, Atheism is not the simple consequence of not understanding and 'giving up'. Rather, it and, in general, non-religious views take relgion as a hypothesis, consider the evidence, and adjudicate.
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          Feb 27 2011: "fail to reveal accurately even the most basic facts about our world"................I totaly disagree, the religion(christianity) reveals a lot of facts (not just the basic facts) but a lot of facts , which(the most of them) was proved just in the last centuries by science(and surely science and religion aren't in relation of enmity).
          "Consider the long held geocentricism that was, mind you, aggressively, and falsely, supported by the church." the Bible from the begining have ever said that the earth is "circular" , the wrong was just the interpetation of the Bible(have you ever read the bible?).

          I don't know why so many are putting science and religion in relation of enmity(perhaps they don't know too well neither what is saying religion nor what is saying science) , they aren't enemy ....they are just to complementary things.
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          Feb 28 2011: Birdia, I appreciate your contrast of philosophy and science, I see them fulfilling complementary roles as well.

          I'm curious how you'd describe the difference between religion and philosophy. Particularly when they creep close together like with Pythagorus or Plato. Is it just belief in a theistic being that separates them, or is it something more?
      • Mar 4 2011: Absolute knowledge Kathy, absolute moralism, and absolute certainty, all of these seem to me incredibly dangerous. As for religious texts themselves I have read many and enjoyed some immensely the prose edda in particular is fascinating and beautiful but they contain no absolutes, only insights into human beings and the different models they make of the world. The march of science is one of model refinement, as time passes our models become more accurate, but they are never absolutely true, they are only true, until they are not. This seems to me to be a much more preferable system.
    • Feb 27 2011: I really like your response Birdia. And I think the task at hand, in replacing religion with other tools to provide for human needs, is to find an overarching humanitarian concept that has multiple paths to accomplish it.
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        • Mar 1 2011: The scariest thing is the defense for religion by saying science is against it, a religion in itself, etc.

          No...it's merely a method of figuring out how something works. You start off with a hypothesis "IF this THEN that" and create controlled tests to prove it true or false. THATS IT. So really it clashes only when the information obtained begins to potentially disprove a long held belief a group of people have.

          Personally I'm tired of the labels. Yes of course I have certain feelings and ideas of how things should work but I am willing to accept that they have no place in reality if the accumulated information says otherwise. We tend to not want to be wrong or let go.(Comes down to Fear of the Unknown)

          Obviously im on the side thats says it's outdated. But I'm willing to say that many of my statements are merely strong opinion without the personal research to back it up.

          ***Do you think there is a way to quantify all the information and dialogue that many people have put into this debate and elsewhere?

          To condense and calculate the accuracy or inaccuracy of our 'views' with INFORMATION compiled(feelings, proven/unproven facts, percentage of people, etc)...to perhaps get something closer to a definitive answer out of the chaos many people talking.
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          Mar 1 2011: Hi Birdia
          "Science is based on facts with no mysticism or a fixed set of 'beliefs', so how can it be classified as a 'religion'?
          Besides, science is not 'against' anything; basically, it is 'for' anything that can be proven. Science can even prove 'beauty' with geometry"

          For me science oversteps itself into belief with assertions about the Big Bang, Abiogenesis, Dinosaur extinction date, Macro evolution etc. These things cannot be proven, but to cast doubt on the truth of them will bring a major backlash, as many scientists have found to their cost. It's good to have theories, but unless they can be tested they are faith based, & not strictly scientific. Don't you think?

        • Mar 2 2011: Exactly science is neutral. As strong information processing creatures I think we always want know. If we don't know or cant figure it out we create our own answers to feel content. We usually need a reason to do something right?(My guess is we always do)

          And as 'thought provoking' as some peoples responses are how can we make such an in depth analysis of things that have very little/no proof? OR when we have such contrasting information that says otherwise...doesn't that create a high probability the belief as it is false by default.

          How about the statement that science cannot explain 'this' or 'that' therefore it's wrong. I mean isn't that a cop out for the fact that science has not explained it YET? I can't say it will but we are gaining so much new knowledge every single day(and exponentially).

          @Peter. We've created many methods to test the things you've stated. Like the Hadron Particle accelerator in relation to the Big Bang. We have math equations that explain gravity, electricity, and other forces. Yet we don't have one for the 'invisible man'. Again I'm not against God but if there's people so strongly defending it step up to the plate to create some controlled tests and numbers for comparison.
        • Mar 2 2011: P.s. Your right.

          We need to start an idea thread on how the make commenting much more effecient. It makes me not even want to have multiple conversations. Perhaps we should start a thread on this alone. Ha

          TED should focus on making these interactions as powerful as possible. Which is why I think crowd sourcing the information has amazing potential for something greater here.

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