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Science is a religion

Dear TEDsters,

For almost a decade I've been appauled by people claiming that "if you don't trust science you're an idiot" or "Religion ha that's just for people who don't know facts!" or the really old "If you don't think I'm right you must be incompetent".
These arguments have been made by many scientific and religious fanatics alike.

Nowadays more and more people seem to confuse science with fact. Also there is the expression "to measure is to know" (at least in my language that is an expression). Although this is in part true this doesn't hold for the entire field of science and not even neccesarily for the most basic principles of science.

First of all let me state that I do not and can (probably) never know how you percieve the world as is the case for your ability to judge me.
Secondly even how you percieve the world changes during your lifetime as does it for me. Do you still remember how when you were young a kilometer seemed so large and tables seemed high etc.?

What we can do however is take an object (clone it) show it to everyone (which doesn't mean everyone has the same perception) and label that. This is for instance what we've done with a meter. Then we use a great invention called math to be able to do calculations with or about this object.
Up till now everything is fine ;)

Great scientists can percieve things differently. Einstein for instance saw a relation between energy, mass and the speed of light. Something nobody at that time saw, and probably many still do not. The fact is however that his equation is accurately describing/predicting many galactical events and phenomenon.

But we must NEVER forget that all we do is describe the events in such a way that our (math) explaination of it can insanely closely (up the the point where we have full believe in it) show what will happen.

The fundations of science however is that we believe what we percieve and we assume that when our describtion of it is correct the physics behind it is too.

Closing Statement from Richard Krooman

In this thread I try to take the point of view that all science is based upon the faith that our perceptions could be wrong and that therefor our scientific findings could be wrong. (This is not my personal view but I wanted to encourage people to see it like this.)
Also I try to enhance the point that although we are reasonably sure that we have accurately described certain observations throught the use of math it could always be possible that another explaination better describes this (aka einstein > newton).
Thirdly I wanted to focus on the 'unquestionability' of science where people always think that previous scientific findings are 100% fact. Even though there are many instances of previous scientific beliefs that have been falsified through the process of science. However the very idea that backs up science is that "something is true unless proven false" basically also means "A true scientist cannot ever be 100% sure of anything". Which than automatically makes it such that he has faith that previous findings are correct.

Quite a few people get a bit too hung up on the differences between science and religion that they forget to argue with the real point that I try to make.
And some people (falsly) believe that questioning science means that you disregard findings which "work" (especially examples with medicine are used in this thread).

Also too many people are thinking that the idea of God is somehow retarded because science has proven that there is none... which is also false. Science has just shown that to explain most things we do not need one (btw I am an atheist). And imo we cannot go into the argument because science can never prove that there is no God because he would be almighty (if he exists he can make us believe whatever we could believe).

The brain in the vat argument does well to make people think about the above concepts.

In the end I came to realize that it takes more faith, and less benefits, to believe in science than it does in God

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    Mar 27 2012: I agree devotion to science is not unlike devotion to any belief system, or religion.

    '....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 fallible senses, limited objectivity and current use of our conditioned mental faculties are able to process physical existence…"
    Might as well call it faith.
    • Mar 27 2012: nice to see that at least some people can understand my point of view.
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        Mar 27 2012: I participated a while back in a number of strings examining this issue with similar results.
        I no longer worry too hard about convincing people of things they intrinsically know, even if not consciously.
        Instead I now, as much as possible, enjoy the conversation.

        If it is done with love all will be revealed in the end.
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      Mar 27 2012: The difference is that you shouldn't be "devoted" to scientific method. You should use it as a tool because it appears to do the job. If it stops doing the job you find another tool.
      • Mar 27 2012: You guys realize science is objective, not subjective like religion. It modifies over time. The goal of its experiments are supposed to be replicable in order for them to be less bias. Moreover, science is simply not a religion because it is humble, skeptical, and curious, while religion is just skeptical and somewhat curious. Cable is too head strong with his definition of science, but nevertheless, science is way more reliable than religion for various of reasons.
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          Mar 28 2012: Being truly objectiv requires compleat understanding of all facets of any particular issue. Since all things are related this would mean knowing everything about everything.
          This is of course humanly impossible ergo your faith in the scientific process is just as subjective.
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          Mar 29 2012: I would argue that certain scientist are as least as arrogant as any religious person attesting that their version is the sole truth, therefor the way.

          I find it curious that some scientist put so much faith in something they themselves call theory.

          I find it sad that so many great scientific minds have allowed their devotion to hobble there curiosity.

          ...'humble, skeptical and curious'…

          not so much.
      • Mar 28 2012: Considering the fact, the physical world is different than the mental reconstruction of itself, it is quite clear that science is not subjective for it studies the physical world through the eyes of many by replicable experiments. If you want to state the physical world can be nothing, there is no proof behind it, ergo that's subjective. Science never notes the complete understanding rather than just facts over opinions, ergo it is objective.
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          Mar 28 2012: Mar 8 2011: Hello Tobias D.
          "In fact, it is scientific method that points out our perceptive flaws so wonderfully."

          I feel as though you have proved my point better than I did. Imagine for a moment that you are one of those seven blind men and the group has fallen into a pit. In this case, however, you are of different nations. Without tools you might spend much of your time examining to the best of your ability your immediate environment, using whatever was at the disposal of your corporal forms. You might become extremely proficient in using your remaining senses in defining to some extent your surroundings.

          However, sooner or later you will run into some enigma that is beyond your ability to define given what was at your disposal. Your senses are simply incapable of acquiring enough data for your brain to understand this situation. You are a fish midday in a Saharan sandstorm. Out of your element.

          Fortunately you are human. An Apex species (expression of life) with a construct of a brain which, if properly nourished, thrives under such conditions. You build tools from what matter you have already measured, defined and catalogued, imbue them with instruction born of ridged formulae then set them to work on your problem. Your success is only a matter of time, yet.

          And here lies my point:

          Along the way, the many failures (opportunities to begin again more wisely) you encountered in developing said tools, should have taught you to stay open to other possibilities. Drunk on your success you abandon alternatives and , sadly, you cannot learn from what you have chosen to forget. Those alternatives which perhaps required more collaboration (which given enough time provides the best solutions) have gone back to the void to wait for wiser species to assimilate.

          We need to dig deeper into our global Human history then identify and refine those methods used by Elder cultures and complement the Scientific method with them. It can only help our cause. Time is runni...
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          Mar 28 2012: Hi Zared the above is for you from another thread I wrote in.

          Please note :
          1) In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

          2) Scientist (what i call religious) and Sage (what you call religious) should be trying to correlate similarities vs reveling in attempts at disambiguation.
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          Mar 29 2012: "Superstition is peer reviewed."
      • Mar 28 2012: I understand your point; human error destroys basic concepts. The problem is the assumption of the one -eyed man as king for if this world was truly blind, then there would be no king and all would be just in endless paradise. Then again, scientists are suppose to be curious, skeptical, and humble. If you ever find a mad man who claims 100% on a scientific claim other than the laws, there is a good chance he is not a true scientist. A true scientist would try to doubt his own preconception for these can only lead to bias ideas, and he would make sure his experiment is replicable because any flaw in the experiment can alter the results. Scientists should not just correlate stimuli because correlation is not causation. I do admit there are "science" sages, but in reality, their aim is not true. Science was made by the people for the people, and it is clear that science is more reliable than religion because its aim is not only true, it is actually based on the truth.
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          Mar 29 2012: "... if this world was truly blind, then there would be no king and all would be just in endless paradise…" Please explain.

          "curious skeptical and humble" ?!? see above please.

          "any flaw in the experiment can alter the results" = "Law" only works under certain controlled situations.

          "If you ever find a mad man who claims 100% on a scientific claim 'OTHER THAN THE LAWS' there is a good chance he is not a true scientist."
          This sounds like a "biased idea". Are you saying "the Laws" are or are not "!00%"?
          Ive heard they also break down under certain conditions.

          I believe that science can reveal a version or aspect of the truth.

          Finally, I would argue that correlation reveals causation.
        • Mar 29 2012: I'd say test it for yourself once.
          Ask some people you know if science is theory or fact (or both). Or take some examples which deal with it like "can anything go faster than light?".
          People are just as eager to believe scientific findings (theories) as others are eager to believe in some sort of god. And when you 'over extrapolate' that you can say that science is a religion.... It's a fairly probable one but like I argued elsewhere hindoism is just 'as much of a religion' as judism or any other religion. The probabilty of a religion being high doesn't mean it's not a religion.
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        Mar 29 2012: Peter Lindsay I agree with you totally!!!

        We need to be polymath about this.
        I have always thought that the 'scientific method' would be more palatable if it embraced the idea that it as a process is evolving and should remain dynamic in its approach.

        The new method needs to be a multi tool bridging the dimensions of the cerebral with the spiritual.
        • Apr 1 2012: Correlation may reveal causation, but it does not prove causation. Science does not reveal a version of the truth, it reveals the truth. The law of gravity states the force gravity will always push objects down; a scientific law is not a theory, it is an observation of nature. I will not deny that laws can become obsolete if they are found in contradiction with new data, but this will only mean those false ones were not truly laws. Science does not carved information on rocks. Yes, laws might work under certain circumstances, then again, they work.
          Scientists are supposed to be skeptical to their preconceptions, curious to new possibilities, and humble to any of their mistake. I will admit religion is skeptical and curious, but it will never be humble. If you want to say no, Galileo and Socrates will be two of my defenses.
          The comment that I mean about eternal paradise own by no king is referencing if this world was play-dough in our minds, then we would make into a utopia by now. If the scientific method was spiritual, it would be subjective; hence, it will be incredibly biased. Do you believe that religion or science is subjective?
  • Mar 13 2012: One should never confuse theoretical science with already proven science and then attempt to conflate the two. The irony there lies in your tagging this with "circular logic".

    Here is the difference between religion and science: In science what I say must be true is not accepted by others as true until and unless they can replicate what I say is true. And when I posit something theoretical I can say this is what is known, and this is what is supposed. If any part of that is proven to be false then I am compelled to drop my entire premise. If I am wrong then I am wrong. Period.

    In religion there are often texts. If those texts say things in them that flatly contradict themselves and this is pointed out the person who points it out is called a heretic, they are told they lack faith, they are sometimes killed.

    If some one points out that something in a religious text is disproven by science this information is refuted, and usually just ignored.

    Theoretical physics stands on a foundation of fact. It enters the realm of philosophy and fantasy and yes, religion. But, it stands on feet of fact. Religion stands on mythology and refuses any scrutiny.
    • Mar 13 2012: religion is not theoretical science. You cannot say this because i am assuming you have never been religious, never meditate upon god's name - thus can never realise what god is.
      I know an old friend who spends every day of his life meditating upon god's name - and from the powers he gets, those vibes, those voices, he has seen the light inside him - the light of god,
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        Mar 13 2012: You shouldn't assume so much.
        I, myself used to be religious - for a good 20 years - before I realised that all of my positive experiences with God could be easily explained away with Science.
        If you'd talked to me 7+ years ago, I'd have been fighting your side here and would've given you some anecdotal 'evidence' of when I too could feel the light of God in me, hear God's wishes, and follow his vision - now though, I just feel stupid for ever being tricked into such irrational thoughts.

        Oh, and you CAN actually watch evolution happening, it wasn't "just a series of information from other scientists" - in humans, it's admittedly difficult to watch evolution in progress, but in other creatures that have much shorter generations (insects, mainly), you can 'watch' it happening. There is also PLENTY of evidence that it HAS occurred in our species in the past, which conflicting ideas lack.

        "Why not believe religion?" - well for the same reason that I assume (my bad if I'm wrong) that you don't believe in Zeus, Apollo, Odin, The Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. There's no point in believing an idea just because someone else does.
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          Mar 13 2012: Yeah, I've just got to toss in there that, like Andy, I was deeply religious for six years of my life. My 'awakening' to non-religiousness wasn't even prompted by exposure to 'better ideas', but in fact was entirely based on self-observation. I did not experience God; I believed because I was told to. I accepted spiritual truth, believed I had an immediate experience with God because I was told I did. But one day, it simply occurred to me - I didn't. I had not felt anything from my faith that I did not experience for other reasons, which included from my fascination with stars and planets. The experience of religion was like other experiences I had.

          Since then, I've explored the topic from with and from without. For years, I abstained exposing myself to the writings of non-religious people in order to understand my internal nature, to be sure that I was being honest with myself and my feelings. Then, I exposed myself to many sources of information. I am very comfortable now not believing in a god and in appreciating (though not blindly accepting) science.
      • Mar 14 2012: I can say "religion is not theoretical science" just fine. But you are right that personally speaking I've not had any religious experience.

        But I have a lot of respect for people who knowingly choose whatever it is they want to believe. It is a very difficult choice. People like Andy and Spencer found their way from religion into science and actively choose to let go something decisions like that shouldn't be taken lightly. The other way around there are probably also many atheist people who encounter "God" one day and turn deeply religious.

        What I dislike though is people that just braindead follow whatever path they got served (they are all around you... usualy atheists call religious people this, but many atheists have the same negative skill and they can be a LOT worse).

        I somewhat get the fibe from you that you think because I never 'found god' I have no right to talk about religion? But have you ever 'gave into science'? Did you ever think "ok what if I consider everything that science has shown through the ages and assume it to be the most logical explaination up to date"?
        Or did I get that fibe wrong?

        If I'm right I would encourage you to reason everything through from the human nature through to what happened in the past etc. etc. and come up with a solid explainations one with God and one without. And then choose.
    • Mar 13 2012: Hello Sharon,

      Well what I'm more aiming at is that there is no true 'proven science'. There is accurate science but even that sometimes gets rewritten based upon new findings.
      My favorite for this is Newton and Einstein. Everyone understands the laws Newton discovered and gets them at school etc. But Einstein 'proved' that it is just a subset of his much more accurate and much less understandable theory of relativity. Which even now is still under debate and chances are that someday (perhaps quite soon) scientists will find a theory that is more accurate than Einstein.
      In the past there were also many theories found to eventually be false although they were regarded as true (the examples escaped my mind atm but science freaks will say ah it was 'just a theory').

      There are even mathematicians still trying to prove that 1+1 is unequal to 2. Even though I don't understand that because in my eyes it's a convention of a made up language that 1+1 = 2 just like 'A' is the capital letter of 'a'.

      We can only be sure of real facts when you catch everything like: "Under this pressure in this room at this temperature with gravity blabla and ...... (almost infinite limit of restrictions) we are sure that this will happen"

      And ofcourse if you accept a small error margin science is insanely accurate (which is why I also "put my faith on science rather than religion"). However fact is there is no science absolute. Mainly because you can argue about it from a phylosophical standpoint. For instance if I say that everything you observe is there because God is playing a movie of it infront of you while giving you the illusion that you're free to do what you want. There is no scientific answer which can ever go against that.
      Ofcourse it is not MY view that this happens, but there is no argueing against it other than "that God must be a really sarcastic and insanely skilled peeeeep"

      So it is still "a question of faith if you believe in science" and thus 'a religion'.
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      Mar 13 2012: I very much like your description of science, and clarifying the difference between the proven and the theoretical.

      However, the blanket statement that religion stands on mythology and refuses scrutiny is not entirely true. People of a religious nature may not take kindly to any refutation, but generally that is because they are going more on faith than on confidence, or else ascribe to a very violent dogma that demands retribution for any detraction. Remember that religion is merely a method used to describe the supernatural, and science, ultimately, is a method used to describe the natural (that which was created by God)

      I agree with another point that science is a tool, and I do respect the scientists who demand their theories to be replicated before positing them as fact (much more than I respect some religious zealots, I must say), but at the end of the day, science can not be a religion unless one is using science to worship that which science describes, which is creation. (here I envision a line of particle physicists splitting atoms every Sunday morning, or a group of hydrologists baptising each other in a tide pool).

      Lastly (just because it was in the question), why is it quite natural to say "scientists and religious fanatics" but it would be odd to say, "religiousists and science fanatics"?
      • Mar 13 2012: Ehh I mean both scientific fanatics as religious fanatics. Sorry if it was written wrong in dutch when you reference 'both' with any word like similar / alike / both / etc. the ending term should be applied to both.
        At least it was my goal to make it about the both extremes. I know that many scientists are even religeous. And also that religeous people don't blindly disregard science. So there is a whole large group that can combine both in a (often non logical) way. But there is also a group fed by people like Richard Dawkins and hmmm forgot his name from the religeous corner.
        small edit: I altered the origional post into "scientific and religious fanatics alike" I think that is more syntactically correct. Thx for pointing it out.
      • Mar 13 2012: One must be cautous always to differentiate between "religion" and "spirituality". Religion is a man made institution containing within it the sacralization of norms, which of necessity include sanctions both positive and nagative for the fialrue to meet them, and the sacralization of certain beliefs such as the nature of sin and the rpesence of heaven and hell. Granted these are merely examples from very popular religions, but they have very real implications. (Thomas theorem redux.)

        Spirituality I think, in merely my own biased and subjective opinion, is one's relationship to that which one perceives as being the valuable in the universe. I do not belive in god but I do beleive in gravity, an unseen force which simply has not been able to be proeprly quanitifed or explained through science but whose presence effects all of the universe. I suspect now that this is what Mr. Krooman meant.

        But, in these perious times when it is quite popular to deny any science which is inconvenient or disagrees with one's religious beliefs we remain a tad too close too the dark ages for comfort in this particular regard.

        "Science replaces private prejudice with publically verifiable evidence." Dawkins
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          Mar 19 2012: That is a wonderful distoction and I agree; some dangerous people have taken religion ( the dogma that you define) and have made THAT their god.

          The way you define spirituality is much closer to the type of relationship that God desires to have with each of us. I love your definition "the relationship to that which one perceives as valuable in the universe". Spot on! (in my humble opinion)

          But whether popular or not, I would exhort any believer never to deny any science that conflicts with their beliefs. A responsible believer would use the opportunity to learn more about the science, which should simply increase their faith. Most of the time I have found that scientific breakthroughs have merely augmented my understanding to the glorious complexity of Gid's creation (as silly as I know that sounds!)
  • Mar 20 2012: Richard, nobody can win a scientific debate...

    ...they can only learn something new. :)))
    • Mar 20 2012: it's up to the readers of the debate to make up their mind who won the debate. It's not my goal to 'win a debate' it's my goal to refute some things that I disagree with by explaining my vision.
      • Mar 21 2012: Your vision has not, thus far, extended to you stating a clear position. Your opening statement is that science is a religion. I have requested from you, on more than one occasion, that you assemble a coherent argument with which opponents can debate.

        No person can argue with YOUR vision nor can they argue with YOUR opinions, perceptions, feelings, intuition or faith. These things belong to you and are internal to you.

        It will not be useful to point out to you that your internal machinery is flawed or broken in some manner. It is whatever you have decided it will be and therefore no sensible argument can be raised against the way you see things.

        What people could argue about is the basis upon which you have reached your current position.

        Were you to expose your thought processes to the membership of this conversation (coherent statement of your position and why you have arrived at it) it would permit other people who are external to you, to examine your rationale for holding your current opinions. Absent which, it leaves no area which can reasonably be debated with you.

        Your feelings and opinions are of no account in this part of the debating process. What is important, to the people with whom you would have this debate, is how you think and why you think in the way that you do... concerning the issue which you have raised to be the subject of a discussion. If you don't expose your thought processes to the membership, there can be no debate because it is impossible to know what motivated you to think in the manner that you do.

        I know all about your opinions on the issue which you have raised and yet... I still know absolutely nothing about how you came to believe in your current position.
        • Mar 21 2012: "The fundations of science however is that we believe what we percieve and we assume that when our describtion of it is correct the physics behind it is too." (notice the word believe in there)
          While "....... I do not and can (probably) never know how you percieve the world......".

          In other posts in this thread I also keep talking about either having faith in our perceptions and or science not being sure about (many) things (as in is light a particle or a wave? What causes gravity? etc. etc.)
          Amongst this even is the basic principle of science which is the falsifiability concept which we've already talked about which sais that science can NEVER hold something as true. We can only increase the likelyhood of something being true or expand it towards multiple (individual) cases where it works.

          Therefor the bottom line comes down to faith and therefor it is a religion. (which I've already said below is pulling my view in the extreme sense so that it would lead to a more powerfull debate)

          In the rest of the debate that followed
          I also argued that even though science makes a much better case that it might be correct it is not a reason to be less of a religion. Because hinduism is in some cases a lot more plausible than other religions but they are still a religion as well because they reside on faith.

          Next to that I've also said that people who do not actively 'choose to believe/put trust in science' are lying to themselves that they know science is correct. As I've shown through some philosophical stances and through the notion of falsifiability.
  • Apr 13 2012: You are correct...True science is not a religion. The science of the Darwinian crowd however, is not true science. It is as much faith based as my faith in a creator.
    I do not claim to be "religious", I am a follower of Jesus Christ..for which I am called a Christian. There are millions of "religious" people in this world, and hundreds of different religions. Religion is man made. Just wanted to clear the board with terminology.
    Intelligently designed genome composition discredits the concept of genome evolution via natural process. A genome for instance is an irreducibly complex system designed and implemented from the very beginning with specific uniqueness to each and every created kind as described in the book of Genesis.
    The past causes produced present effects. The beginnings of things are the key to the present. Many of todays so called scientist try to work backwards using what is today and explain what was before. The book of Genesis tells us what empirical science cannot...the details of our origin.Cosmology cannot be the key to cosmogony.
    More later...
  • Apr 13 2012: As of today there are no skeletal remains anywhere in the world that would even slightly suggest that humans "evolved" from anything "animal". Also, there is much to support a "young"earth..no where near one million years, or as many claim, manifold millions. If you believe you came from some primordial "soup" and all the complexity of the human makeup just got more complex and so on....well...you do have a faith that is beyond even the most basic of religions...because you are not able to bring anything to the table of rational deduction and scientific method. You were not there when it all came into being....and you add multitudes of years in the hope that shear numbers will give you an edge up on a "theory" method that cannot explain anything. (as Zared spoke) The trouble is you do not want to know God, or acknowledge him, because if you do, then you will be subject to him....and that is your worst fear. The fool has said in his heart, "there is no God"! You, my friend, at least have April 1st to celebrate!
    • Apr 13 2012: Except for fossils, I guess there would of been no skeletal remains.
      Except for the Human genome project, I guess I cannot prove to you that humans evolve.
      Except for my existence of reality and the fact that I am agnostic, I am a fool like you.

      The truth is science is not a religion, and you cannot even argue your concept in the plane of reality. Please, explain to me how schizophrenia occurs and why the sky is blue according to religious terms.
  • Apr 4 2012: Can you really compare the two? They both shape how you view the world. Both are based on Faith or hypothesis and experience or measurement. But they are utterly different. They are not mutually exclusive. I believe Science is valid and I believe God is real. Why do science followers always try to disprove religion or the existence of God? Because they desire to be the their own master. There is a very twisted view of religion, rightly so, because in man's attempt to know and serve God (let's call it religion) our sin has caused us to go astray. We live in an ordered universe. There is a creator. Even Carl Sagan admits it is at least possible.
    For those who lack relationship with God and the holy spirit they cannot see or perceive the things of God. So how could they understand? It is a battle of world view and kingship. It is just the latest version of an age old story. Oh, I always laugh when people make science out to be the victim of religion as if we were living in the age of Galileo. No matter what you're stance we are a slave to something either our sin nature or God. I choose the one that is all powerful, good and loving.
    • Apr 11 2012: Look, religion is a firm rock, while science is a growing tree.
  • Mar 19 2012: This week's New Scientist touches on the relationship between science and religion, the scientific study of religion, etc, 19 March 2012, www.newscientist.com
    • Mar 19 2012: thanks for posting that I'll read it later.
  • Mar 18 2012: [R] "My actual point which I'm trying to make has more to do with scientists acting as if science is always right and 100% objective while saying versus the religious world that they are wrong."

    [J] Unfortunately, the statement above is you taking specific cases (within your personal experience) and generalising the characteristics which you dislike; to all scientists. The phrase 'as if' implies a value judgement which was made by you because you are the author. It is preceded by the words 'scientists acting' and I would ask you this: how many scientists do you believe act in this manner? All of them? Some of them? How many scientists have you witnessed acting in a way which supports your partisan viewpoint? It is a particularly lazy form of debate... observing one thing that supports your viewpoint and then extending it way beyond any reasonable extreme, ostensibly to give it the clothing of well-considered and acceptable wisdom.

    [R] " So in many regards it's a plea for a less arrogant scientific viewpoint in the religion vs science debate."

    [J] I see nothing wrong in you making the case. Your perception is that a scientific viewpoint is arrogant so you open a discussion entitled, 'Science is a Religion'. You have overstated your case. Had you determined to have an open and constructive debate, you would have chosen a different title for this debate.

    I have met many religious people who are able to let me live my atheist lifestyle, without it bothering them one jot. I am happy to engage them in discussion because we can compare approaches to life. They are not offended by my basic position...

    i.e. I refuse to hand off the responsibility for my life to the unseen deities of any religion. I cannot square the circle of all major religions saying that their's is the one true god.

    If god does exist, then he/she/it is very clearly a psychopath and completely underserving of my obeisance.
    • Mar 18 2012: Well the amount of arrogant scientists (in the 'religion vs science debate') is amazing. And it even is spreading amongst atheists who are not very scientifically knowledgeable. And I fear that this is creating a larger tension between groups in society than what is healthy. I can't really put a number on it because I've never done any research to this but I'd guess that it's over 50% of all atheists (so the 50% is my feeling and not fact! It's there as an indication of why this discussion is important).

      Now you're talking about that I must speak from my own experience here... however I'm not religious... Never have been and probably never will. Up till my grandparents however everyone was deeply religious and even almost all of my nephews / cousins / uncles and antes are religious. But I hardly ever see those (they live in different countries etc.)
      I just see that more and more scientists seem to claim that they know so much about the world that they have confinced themselves that there cannot be any god. And ofcourse they themselves cannot be wrong because well no human van think of himself to be wrong (I too belong to this group where I confinced myself that there cannot be a god which is described in any of the religious books). They might not be aware of this but it's there.
      • Mar 18 2012: With regard to the value c possibly not being a constant in the equation E = mc^2: http://tinyurl.com/75fb6pn

        [R] I pulled my view of science into an extreme in order for a better discussion.

        [J] Yes, I do see that now. I suspect that this particular debating strategy militates against your argument because it is counterproductive in terms of encouraging open discussions that would occur naturally from a neutral position and which would have the protagonist and antagonist remaining disinterested in the outcome. Once hyperbole is present, emotional overlay is unavoidable and the argument is more difficult to disentangle from one's personal feelings, beliefs and opinions.

        Pharmaceutical companies are frequently engaged in research that has little to do with the health of the organism and far more to do with long term strategies for extracting money from a captive audience. Much of what passes for common practice in the industry is merely fraud on a grand scale and the vast sums of cash available to pharmaceutical companies prevents directors from getting some much needed jail time. http://tinyurl.com/prwkmz

        [R] I'd GUESS that it's over 50% of all atheists

        [J] I must confess that a man is guilty of unpardonable arrogance who concludes, because an argument has escaped his own investigation, that therefore it does not really exist. (c1737 per David Hume)

        A feeling you have based upon your guess work is not a suitable basis upon which to base an argument. I am trying to take you seriously but it is difficult because you are giving me nothing to work with.

        [R] I just see that more and more scientists seem to claim that they know so much about the world that they have confinced themselves that there cannot be any god.

        [J] Baseless hyperbole. It appears probable that you do not have any access to scientific journals of any repute.

        PLEASE... make a coherent case for your proposition; Science is a Religion and I will be delighted to examine it and debate it with you.
        • Mar 19 2012: Ah I heard that the neutrino's exceeding the speed of light was due to a measurement error. And that thus Einstein still holds. Heard this only a couple of days ago...

          [J] Yes, I do see that now.....

          [R] I don't see why it would be counterproductive... there are just a few too little people who are willing to defend (parts of) my side... which means I have to do a bit more than usual ;). Maybe you're right though that me myself commenting on most posts to defend my view isn't the best possible option to debate. But it would be nice if other people would also counter views that go too far into trusting science.

          [R] I'd GUESS that it's over 50% of all atheists
          [J] David Hume

          [R] Well it's not based on research but more on my own friends and friendly talk about difficult subjects when I meet them. The shift from "religion is something one can respect" towards "religion is for stupid people who are too afraid / retarded / whatever to see that science is right" is happening though. It's just hard to put a % on it.

          [J] Baseless hyperbole. It appears probable that you do not have any access to scientific journals of any repute.

          [R] Scientific journals don't (in general) deal with the religion vs science debate. They focus purely on the science. I can give you the names of some people who I find strike the wrong tone in the science vs religion debate: Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins are the ones I read 'most things about' (I'm not worlds leading expert to say it short) but also Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Julian Baggini and Herman Philipse.
          I agree in part that religion is too often used in order to 'keep people dumb'. But their conclusions are way to harsh and illogical. They all show a complete believe that science cannot be debated... while the fundation of science is that it's falsifiable... aka we can never know 100%... we can only know 99% ;)
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    Mar 15 2012: Richard, Give unto Ceasar that which is Ceasars ...... Give unto God that which is God's. All the best. Bob
  • Mar 13 2012: Science is not a religion. Religion is not par of science, it is a faith, a belief that only those who understand it can prove it.
    Science is just a series of ideas, alongside proof.
    Science has many flaws, for example its observations - to be able to prove something, its must be observed in the same way the person who discovered it. For example, Evolution - did you see evolution yourself? Or was it just a series of information form other scientists? Then why not believe religion?
    • Mar 14 2012: Again, conflating fact with theory. The "theory" of evolution is a reasonable extrapolation based upon entirely verifiable science of evolution in breeding. I can (and have) breed a pygmy goat with a fainting goat and get small statured goats that faint some times. The size appears to be more dominant in the pygmy breed because I can see that when I breed a standard goat with a pygmy all of the kids are of smaller stature than a standard goat.

      I can breed an animals for desirable traits and see the change in the animals over time. That is proven and something I have personally seen. I have seen the bones of animals that no longer exist. I can see that animals change dramatically over time. All breeds of dog from the teacup Pekingese to the Great Dane are readily shown to be bred from the same gene pool. That's pretty vast change.

      I am more than willing to believe that there is a great deal that I do not know. But, a man made social institution based on ethicalist aspects of a wide variety of religions. It is good for people to be as good to one another as possible. Believing in one religion means you have to refuse to believe in another. Most of them have serious overlap, but they all claim to be the one that is "right". That is absurd to believe without a great deal of evidence which none of them can provide.
      • Mar 14 2012: okay, so you have seen evolution in action. However, where did that first cell, the first ''thing'' from which we evolved , come from? Out of nothing? Surely god must be behind this?
        • Mar 14 2012: Surely? Or rather I would be willing to settle for perhaps. Look, scientists have been able to use electricity introduced to chemical stews to get amino acids which are the very building block of "life". We have a number of problems with our very definition of what is alive. No matter how far out or in you go you have to consider going further. The logical fallacy of if god can do anything can god create an object heavier than he can lift?

          I just recently saw a very good explanation for why we really are living in a matrix simulation created by some outside ultimate programmer. I am willing to admit I do not know - certainly not that I am sure that there is a god.
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    Mar 13 2012: Science is cool. The opinions of scientists can sometimes be religious, where different conclusions can be drawn from a given set of data. Absorb the data & form your own conclusions.

  • Apr 12 2012: It is not Christianity...but for many, it IS their "religion" True science will walk you right back to a creator. False science will surround itself with a "faith" that takes even MORE faith than the one of biblical understanding, because it is entirely BASELESS. It has no foundation. It is riddled with supposition. It's premise is derived from the supposition that there is no God.
    Take a look at real science at the ICR website!
    True science will take that which is repeatable and make it's foundation upon that. The Darwinian dream of many today is so farfetched that a child could see through it as a fairy tale!
    • Apr 13 2012: Have fun stopping a heart attack with a prayer or prove gravity with divine power. Either way, using God to explain even the simplest of things evoke great subjective results, which means the God method cannot explain anything.
    • Apr 13 2012: And to end this topic we get the religious nonsense into the scene. Yet again.

      Mark, I would repeat what I have told innumerable creationists, who, like yourself, get their information from creationist propaganda. But I am tired of so much repeating. Instead, I suggest that you consult a few reputable resources and learn why evolution is 100% well founded science. But, if you will insist on creationist propaganda, I suggest you to think whether you will convince anybody with half a proper education that creationist quacks know better than scientists when something is scientific or not.
  • Apr 11 2012: In the beginning (time) God created (space) the heaven and earth (matter) our perception depends on the one who teaches us....What a privilege to have the ability to discern outside ourselves and even "think" Is there a Creator?
    Wonderful discussion...may it cause us all to see that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.
    • Apr 11 2012: This is still not the question. Science is not a religion. We are not even talking about the possible existence of God.
  • Comment deleted

    • Mar 29 2012: and then there was a measurement error... and Einstein was still right (probably).
      At least there is no concrete evidence that the neutrino was actually faster than light.
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        Mar 30 2012: Can you have concrete evidence of an almost massless chargless particle?
  • Mar 24 2012: [R] 1) Then why do you post so much here?

    [J] A non-sequitur. Why I post here has nothing to do with truths that are self evident.

    [R] So actually you're proving me right because this sure looks like a religion to me.

    [J] You did not read the example of a bunsen burner and the application of heat, which was the object of my comment. Are you seriously denying that the application of heat to an object will inevitably make the object hot. I can wait... /popcorn

    [R] I personally choose science to be closest to the real thing

    [J] This is you playing fast and loose with the word 'Religion'. It should not have escaped your notice that you are using the straw-man argument which you created to make your point... to support your foolish answer to the question as to which religion is the one true religion.

    It is an idle argument and I suspect that you have no wish to examine it properly, having painted yourself into a corner of your own design, you now cannot defend the indefensible. As a debater, you are seriously ill-disciplined. All that matters to you is winning the debate.

    You obviously did not heed the point I made elsewhere that a scientific debate cannot be won. We can only learn something new. Unfortunately, you appear to have a brain that is full up and so there is no more room for any new information. I see no point in pursuing this conversation with you, Richard. Your rules are a moveable feast and you have no interest in discussing the points you raise, other than to confirm your own viewpoint.

    You have WON this debate. Enjoy your 'victory'. I withdraw hors de combat
    • Mar 25 2012: [J] "You obviously did not heed the point I made elsewhere that a scientific debate cannot be won."
      [R] I'm not debating a scientific fact.... you are trying to.

      [J] A non-sequitur......
      [R] My question to why you're posting here so much is because I cannot realize that you think that I'm trying to argue that science is a religion through science.

      [|J] You did not.........
      I did read your example and I ignored it because of your idea that this is a scientific debate. Which is beyond me.

      [J] This is you playing .........
      Given my prestated "Science is a religion" I think that I can say that for me science is the true religion... although I personally don't experience it as such the fact that it is build upon my foundation of trust that it is correct because (input quite a few arguments).
      And yes I do use the word 'religion' quite loosely but it mainly to get readers engaged into the subject and make them 'want to disagree' because a debate can't happen if we all agere.... I can make a similar post as the above to which everyone will agree... but no debate can follow from that.

      The point is many people view science as a religion... They stopped questioning scientific findings long ago. My first reaction on the neutrino's being faster than light was to read the research and as reaction write to them (through twitter but what the heck) that it is unclear to me how they removed the computer delay and fixed the time difference due to possible different gravitational fields. While many assumed that particles went faster than light "because the data shows it".
      There is a fine line between religious and religious fanatic... as there is also a line between scientific scientists and scientific fanatics (which imo view science as a religion). And that is what I'm debating.

      I like it that I already won though.
  • Mar 22 2012: We remain poles apart, Richard. I see how you have used the word, faith and then equated that to religion. I think it is a very loose misunderstanding of the word, as applied to science.

    When I heat a substance in a test tube with a bunsen burner, I know that it will get hotter. It is not an article of faith. Science is able to let anyone follow the same method used to create an experimental situation and reproduce the results identically, given that all other factors are equal.

    Religion does not conform to any reproducible model. People of the same religion will experience different things at the same event. The fact that they all ascribe their personal experiences to the same superhuman being is incidental and something akin to a phenomenon such as mass hysteria.

    Creationists (a religious sect) have faith in the bible and cite Genesis as the starting point, when the earth was created by god in six days. Adam and Eve are to be found in the garden of Eden and are supposed to be the ancestors of all living humans. The bible mentions their 3 sons and no daughters. Were Cain, Able and Seth homosexual? How did they produce children? What of the daughters who we know must have been present for babies to have been born? Was incest the rule?

    What faith requires is that one suspends their critical faculties and accepts that the nonsense written in the bible is true. I pointed out early on that god was obviously a psychopath. Many religious people will cite god's love for all living things as proof of his/hers/its existence. When questioned about the needless slaughter of innocents (e.g. the three young children shot dead by a maniac in France recently) religious people reply it is because we have free will. I don't buy that response and any half decent omnipotent god would have prevented the deaths of three children.

    Happily, science is not religion. I don't see religion as being worth any of my time. Religion is the single greatest cause of needless suffering.
    • Mar 23 2012: it's fine that we're worlds apart.
      You've proven quite often that you're in the category of people that just refuse to question science on philosophical grounds. And that's fine... your anger/hatred towards religion is somewhat disturbing though.
      You also don't think you've made a choice to believe in science... so in my eyes you're just fooling yourself into thinking you can't question science -> it is similar to a religion.

      But like I said it is fine that we disagree on these things...
      • Mar 23 2012: Richard, philosophy is not a true science. It is not based on objective measures nor does it modify over time.
        • Mar 23 2012: I've ignored all your posts up till now because you refuse to see that the point I make is a philosiphical one.
          I am perfectly well aware that I can't prove through science that science is a religion. I'm also perfectly aware that I can't argue from religion that religion is a science.
          You cannot see it my way because in your eyes all science is factual and you completely disregard philosophical statements because they make you question your own ideas about the world... You'd rather let 'science journals' tell you how the world works... while not questioning anything that is written there... Man those last lines sounded a lot like religion.
      • Mar 24 2012: "You'd rather let 'science journals' tell you how the world works" = I would rather investigate these so-called journals to grasp a better understanding of the concept; I am not a gullible idiot who would just follow these potential faulty journals.
        I do not disregard your statements as philosophical because in reality, critical thinking is philosophy, and it is obvious that you are thinking heavily about this subject. I do disregard the meaning of your statements because I find a fault in them.
        In a realistic world, some things that are believed to be false are later turn out to be true and some things that are believed to be true are later turn out to be false. In religion, concepts are rarely modified over time, and if they are modified, they follow the advancements of the modern world, not their own studies. I do admit that religion is consider a philosophy, philosophy created the foundation for science; therefore, religion aided the construction of science in a sense. However, religion is a philosophy, philosophy is not a science; therefore, religion is not a science.
        • Mar 24 2012: the "I would rather investigate these so-called journals" is what saves you.

          The problem I see is that less and less people do and just assume the validity. More and more scientists even show this awesome ability of proclaiming they are right while everyone who claims otherwise doesn't have his/her facts right.
          I know I assume too many things which I read to be true... but I 'choose to believe' them regardless... but it's a choice.

          But philosiphically we can't be sure. The argument that I've discussed in other posts of a brain in a vat for instance is a way of thinking that has no flaws. All scientists should hold this posibility open to them. One of the questions that results from this how is "holding the believe that this might be true while not assuming that it is not real" any different to a leap of faith?
          You know that you might be a brain in a vat... however we (or well by far most people ;p) choose to assume that we are not.
          Many more scientific findings, theories and can boil down to questions like this where you have to choose what you want to believe. Because at the end of the day... we're not sure.
          My posts are basicly saying that scientists should question their trust in science more. Because many (apparently not you) think that it is the absolute truth (which I in part actually agree with but hey that's just me)
      • Mar 24 2012: Richard, I don't need to philosophically question that which I know to be true. I neither hate religion nor am I angry.

        So from your enlightened position, kindly tell me (and everyone else) which religion is the one true religion? Which god is the one true god to whom I must submit and prostrate myself?

        I certainly don't know and I am sure that I am not alone in saying that I have no place from which to begin to address this question... but I do know that religious wars are common. All of the major religions in the world believe that they are the only true religion and everyone other religion is wrong.

        Science is required for my work and I chose my work. Science just happens to be the means by which my work improves. I won't improve my field of work by prayer or attending any one of the numerous religious services that attract the ilk of the Moonies, PeoplesTemple Agricultural Project, Branch Davidians as well as... Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Quakers et al.

        I have no faith in things that cannot be understood and my tool for understanding is scientific method, not guesswork, desire, intuition, superstition, fairy tales, wish fulfilment, lack of self-responsibility, feelings, comfort and the complete panoply of baggage that accompanies the acceptance of religious supremacy.

        Not for nothing are religious beliefs frequently referred to as doctrinal and dogma. I choose not to be hoodwinked by people claiming to be the mouthpiece of god. I choose to think for myself rather than having this one-size fits all notion of life imposed upon me by the same people who derive comfort from the notion of a supreme being.
        • Mar 24 2012: "I don't need to philosophically question that which I know to be true."
          1) Then why do you post so much here?
          2) If you know them to be true you won't be able to question them. And because science itself is based upon the foundation that we cannot know things with absolute certainty. So actually you're proving me right because this sure looks like a religion to me.

          "So from your enlightened position, kindly tell me (and everyone else) which religion is the one true religion?"
          I personally choose science to be closest to the real thing (most probable to be fairly correct) the fact is that I do not know. But the point that I'm making is that everyone should respect the choice that other peope made to believe in something.... As long as they knowingly made their choice. Something which most scientists of this day and age have not done (many religious people also forget that they have a choice though).
      • Mar 24 2012: Science is not a religion because religion assumes that its beliefs are definitively true, but science always modifies its works to see if it is true. There are scientific laws such as gravity is a force that will always push objects downward and air resistance is a force that will always push objects upward, but even these we test daily by everyday actions. In science, you are suppose to be skeptic, humble, and curious, but in religion, you are suppose to be skeptic and somewhat curious. The goal of scientific experiments are to be replicable because there could always be error in the results such as the study that states immunizations can cause autism or homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse, but these results haven been proven false with later findings that suggest they have weak correlations. Personally, Cable is too headstrong with his definition of science, and I do admit that science does not hold all the answers of the universe, but its answers are more reliable than the ones given by religion considering the fact that science modifies itself over time with objective research.
        I do not deny that my brain can be in a jar and this world can be nothing, but this is truly subjective for it cannot be proven true or false, but as I mention again and again, science is based off of objective research, which is why philosophy is not considered a true science.
        By the way, if a scientist believes his or her research are 100% true, then he or she would be definitely considered error-prone.
        • Mar 24 2012: now we're getting somewhere :)

          Let's first say that I do not attribute the next paragraph to you, but in general towards 'scientists who lost their way'.

          the "I do not deny that my brain can be in a jar and this world can be nothing, but this is truly subjective for it cannot be proven true or false.....". How come more and more people nowadays claim that all religions are false (or stupid / whatever negative term they use) while also the existence of God cannot be proven true or false?

          For me the assumption that many scientific findings are true, based on my perception of the world, is similar to "faith in my perception" / "faith that there is an exterior world".
          If someone percieves that "God blessed them with a gift" while I can explain it through reproduction of cells ;). Who can say which of us is correct? Perhaps I'm seeing it wrong and their perception is right. I don't believe I'm wrong but because I am a scientist I must assume that I might be wrong.
          This mindset is completely absent in many scientists who, by doing so, are (in my eyes) turning science into a cult / religion.
        • Mar 25 2012: Richard, the 'brain in a jar' argument doesn't apply as easily as you make it seem. While it is true that it cannot currently be proven true or false, the fact is irrelevant. No one is trying to claim that we are in deed brains in a vat and the statement doesn't affect anything. On the other hand, established major religions have billions of supporters who claim that their one and only religion is infallibly true. It's the good old 'burden of proof' argument. As long as believers want to convince other of their religion's monopoly on truthfulness, there needs to be some form of proof.

          Now, at the same time, if someone believes in an indefinable deity outside the realm of organized religion, that's where I give up my efforts to seek evidence. If you simply believe in a higher power, go ahead. Call it Yahweh and we're going to have a discussion.
        • Mar 26 2012: Johan Pärjamäe

          "On the other hand, established major religions have billions of supporters who claim that their one and only religion is infallibly true."
          Scientific people are starting to act like that as well. Which is the thing I have a problem with.

          The brain in a jar argument does apply easy because all scientists hold it to be possible and therefor all scientists must also hold religion possible but they choose not to believe that but rather put their trust in science. Ofcourse there is no saying which religion is right... but to a convinced scientific atheist it doesn't really matter to me. What does matter to me is how convinced scientists are that they have figured it out.... there is no god.

          It's not that I don't think science is right... I think that scientists are arguing the wrong discussion in the 'faith vs religion' debate. Which is why I wanted to make scientific people realize that they actually assume that they don't know the (full) truth.
      • Mar 24 2012: Science is simply objective and religion is simply subjective. One's perception in science is nothing compared to our perception in science. Scientific studies are meant to be replicable, otherwise they are usually discounted for. People discredit religion because science is more reliable than religion in the end. I choose medicine over a prayer any day of the week. Personally, I think it does not hurt to have faith in god as long as one has greater hope in science. Many hospitals allow religious figures come into the buildings and give hope to patients; studies have shown this reduces stress which helps the patient to improve from his or her condition. The same people who simply accept a scientific study as fact and ignore other studies are the same type of people that believe in the eugenics movement. Science is more likely to be right than religion because it is humble; religion simply assumes that it is true, while science sets out to prove that it is true. If I were to assume that I am right all the time, then I would overlook the times when I am wrong; religion can ignore its errors. The only science that comes close to a cult is cosmetology because it is superficial and materialistic but even that is a long stretch. It is just a hyperbole to state science as a religion or cult.
  • Mar 21 2012: Richard, Please disregard everything you have written or read in this particular thread...

    Explain to me why science is a religion.

    It would assist me to understand your viewpoint if you can define two terms before you begin. The two terms which require definition (before you begin to explain your position without making any reference to the words in this thread) are 'SCIENCE' and 'RELIGION'.
    • Mar 21 2012: Extremely dumbed down it is:
      Because science resolves around the faith that our describtions of what happens in an observation are correct. Even though scientists are being thought to question their own beliefs and check/re-evaluate/etc. them continuously more and more and more people do not. They see science as if it's the pinnacle of truth which cannot be questioned therefor it is a religion.

      To explain the term religion I must first explain faith.
      Faith is the ability to hold something true for which there is no conclusive evidence that you are right.
      Religion then is similar to, as a group, follow this faith through and stop questioning it. (it's not 100% accurate describtion but I don't really have other words for it that can describe it in 1 line).

      Science is the search to understand the *universe through (what we hope to be) objective measurements.
      Notice here that I don't explain how science does that but just what it is.... how it does that is already debated below (aka that science can by definition never be "completely sure" but "grows more and more sure as time progresses").

      (*universe = totality of everything that exists (strict meaning of it) not just our universe)
      • Mar 22 2012: Religion is 100% theoretical, while science is not 100% theoretical. A specific religion does not modify over time by objective measures, while a specific science modifies over time by objective measures. The "faith" in science is passion, and it is a compelling feeling to achieve something, not necessarily a bias belief. Science works off replication, which means that if some jerk added a fudge factor to distort his or her true results of an experiment, it would be quickly discredited by many other scientists who may or may not share the same view point of that individual. In other words, if science was base off of point of view, then variability will quickly show science is a fraud. To stupefy this for you, science is not a religion.
      • Mar 22 2012: [R] Because science resolves around the *FAITH* that our describtions of what happens in an observation are correct.

        [J] The Oxford dictionary definition of science follows:
        The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

        FAITH is not used anywhere in this definition of science. You have used the word FAITH in your dumbed down explanation of why science is a religion.

        [R] Faith is the ability to hold something true for which there is no conclusive evidence that you are right.

        [J] The Oxford dictionary definition of faith follows:
        Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

        [J] The Oxford dictionary definition of Religion follows:
        The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

        Science is not based upon spiritual conviction rather than proof. The definition of science makes no mention of a superhuman controlling power or gods.

        Your loose use of words has created the condition where you have conflated the TRUST which scientists place in rigorous scientific method, with the FAITH that believers of religions have in their gods.

        As a scientist, I understand that scientific enquiry will yield results which I can trust (until such time as future research modifies those results) and I know that scientific method has never failed to bring me answers which I find to be useful and with which I can work.

        I hold no spiritual conviction, supporting the notion that science works. I don't need any mythology or spiritual experience to enhance the value of science.

        According to my dictionary definitions, science is unconnected with religion or faith. Q.E.D.
        • Mar 22 2012: First of all I said that "Science is the search to understand the *universe through (what we hope to be) objective measurements.". Just in case you missed that.
          The part you quote is from the philosophical part of my origional post....

          Secondly "accept/take (something) on faith: to accept (something) as true without proof or evidence that it is true"
          (different dictionairy)

          As third "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." also from a dictionairy... see how the word "especially" is used... it's not reserved for superhuman entities.

          Forth you can't use the mathematical = in language and you can't just logically prove that one word is different from another.... well you can and you just did... but theres no discussion possible about it :) (as your Q.E.D. implies that the words are not the same :s)
          I could also prove that 'To have' and 'To own' are 2 seperate things which overlap greatly but are not the same using your logic.

          If you don't manage too see where the philosophical side of my origional post is, I'm afraid that, you'll never really see my points.
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    Mar 19 2012: One recent and notable instance of science being presented with religious ferver is Al Gores "An Inconvenient Truth". The evangelistic presentation and use of extreme case scenarios just served to cloud the real science. Had that presentation been done by David Attenborogh we probably wouldn't be seeing the mad extremes of climate change denial and climate change alarmist that we see today. When you lose the science you end up with believers and deniers instead of a consensus based on scientific method. The end result being the complete lack of progress regarding any real action being taken as the deniers and the believers hijack the conversation, for the deniers any action would be pointless and for the believers any action is insufficient.
  • Mar 19 2012: [R] I don't see why it would be counterproductive.

    [J] In any debate, where people have a vested interest in hearing answers which support their own opinions and beliefs, they are less inclined to engage in debate if they feel their points are supported. They tend to quit while they are seemingly ahead but I think that this type of debating tactic only serves to stifle honest debate and prevents subject matter from being adequately explored.

    Debate outcome should (like science) not depend on personal viewpoints, however honestly they may be held.


    [J] Clearly: The plural of anecdote is not data. How will you convince anyone, who is not a friend of yours, that your friend's back of a table napkin observations are valid and able to withstand analytical scrutiny?

    [R] Scientific journals don't (in general) deal with the religion vs science debate. They focus purely on the science

    [J] Yes! Of course they do. It is not the job of scientific journals to determine whether god(s) are real. Chasing and observing the religious fantasies of other people is way beyond the practical application of science... and a complete waste of my valuable time.

    [R] I can give you the names of some people who I find strike the wrong tone in the science vs religion debate:

    [J] And...? Who cares? If you don't like the style or tone of a particular person, you are free to ignore them. Why do you vex yourself by reading the words of people who irritate you so much?

    I don't read the words of people who adopt views that exclude any possibility of an opposing viewpoint being relevant.

    I also don't bother reading the words of people who think I am a like-minded soul and I actually want to see my viewpoints extended to ultra-extreme positions.

    I don't feel obliged to read nonsense nor do I feel obliged to submit to it. I don't care for Dawkins. I don't care for pharmacists who create a climate of fear and then invite us to take medicines as a 'cure'.
    • Mar 19 2012: Seriously since when is "You don't have any research claiming you are correct" (a shorter version of your "[J] Baseless hyperbole. It appears probable that you do not have any access to scientific journals of any repute.") an argument for me being wrong?
      Come on prove to me then that not more than 50% of the scientists believe that religious people are just religious because they are ignorant / unknowing / stupid / etc. etc. (add only negative words there). Ha you don't have any research on this? You must be wrong! Read more scientific journals that do NOT TALK ABOUT THIS.

      [J] And...? Who cares? If you don't like the style or tone of a particular person, you are free to ignore them.

      [R] So I should just ignore them and go on: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke (although it is a bit of an extreme statement for Dawkins is not evil.

      The fact that I name numerous scientists that are actively proclaiming that god is highly improbably while religion is keeping people dumb (and other "If you don't agree you're stupid / incompetent" statements). Doesn't seem to support my observed swing in the science vs religion debate. Even though just a few years ago there were no scientists claiming this at all.

      [J] In any debate, where people have a vested interest in hearing answers which support their own opinions and beliefs....

      [R] If I wanted to hear that I'm right I would not write a post in any debate. In dutch politics for instance only 1ce did a guy agree with the other guy during the debate. It is about weighing advantages and disadvantages against eachother and discussing the different viewpoints / angles to solve the same problem.

      [J] I don't read the words of people who adopt views that exclude any possibility of an opposing viewpoint being relevant.

      [R] "[J] But science is 100% right and cannot be up for debate this is simply not possible science is FACT!" = my view of how you're viewing science.
      • Mar 20 2012: [R] Come on prove to me then that not more than 50% of the scientists believe that religious people are just religious because they are ignorant / unknowing / stupid / etc. etc.

        [J] I was merely pointing out that you make unsupported assertions to bolster your argument... such as it is. It is not for me to prove or disprove your ridiculous assertion. It is for you to rise to the challenge and make an unbiased and coherent case for the proposition with which you opened this debate.

        [R] So I should just ignore them and go on...

        [J] This is a blatantly unfair trick of argument. It implies that I must relinquish my viewpoint because you are a 'good' person and by extension; everyone who holds a different viewpoint to your own is a 'bad' person. This is a most disgraceful misapplication of Burke's aphorism. I have never seen it used in a debate in order to suggest that the person presenting Burke's words was 'good' and the holders of antagonistic views were bad.

        This is not an adult debate... it appears to have descended into puerile name-calling. I would like to suggest to you that you refrain from this approach and make a coherent case for your position, as constrained by the title of your debate. Failing which, you leave me little choice but to withdraw. I don't run from anything in life but I know when I am unable to make an impression.

        You appear determined to browbeat anyone who is not you. I am done with you.

        • Mar 20 2012: I don't claim to be a good person just like I don't claim that Dawkins is a bad person. I just show you, by pulling it into the extreme (something you said you like to do yourself) that your argument doesn't hold. And then all of a sudden I'm calling you names while proclaiming I'm right? That logic doesn't make sense to me.

          That you go on to question WHY I wrote the origional posts which is not a scientifically proven reason is fine with me.
          However to mistake why I wrote it to be an argument in favor for my case is completely random. And to then argue why I wrote the post if it's not proven by science that my feeling is correct. And simply tell me not to read / listen to scientists I don't agree with is highly strange.

          I don't attack you at all. Each time I attack your stances. Although this post is the first that borders on a personal attack.

          Your origional post that science is only science because experiments can be replicated while the theory holds was a nice point but I've argued against that and I must say that I personally feel that I made a decent case. And people are free to choose whichever option they would like to choose. If you have any other point discerning the topic I'd gladly discuss it with you.

          In my eyes the origional post makes a fairly coherent case for science being a religion as both resolve on a level of faith.

          p.s. If you think I attacked you personally anywhere I'd challange you to find any place where I offend you in our discussion and post that as a reply. (or in a new post as we're 4 deep again...)

          I hope you have a good night as well :)
  • Dan F

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    Mar 18 2012: Science as religion.

    Science has a cumulative and interlocking element that sets it apart from religion. Consider biological evolution. A theory originally based on observations in natural history. Subsequently, genetics described how discrete packets explained a mechanism for inheritance. Then, chemistry entered the picture describing the composition of genes, and on and on. This process involves diversions, which tend to be peripheral and/or exploratory dead ends that all contribute to new knowledge and refinement of the original sound concept. The use of the scientific method to gain knowledge and wealth through technology and services has been mind boggling to the most casual observer.

    Science seems more godlike than the supernaturals of religion for some of us.

    In this context I see science as having multiple gods all spurred on by memes. Those things that become blessings, such as communicative skills, a longer, fuller and more convenient and perhaps a more meaningful lifestyle. But, this same ingenuity has given strength and rise to lessor gods of the more self serving mode of behavior.

    Is it time for all of us to be a little more humble regarding our beliefs?

    The bakers and shakers among us are transforming and modifying our physical world in ways never envisioned. The explosive technological application of science has a downside by creating stresses and strains that affect the quality of our lives (See Paul Gilding's recent talk and numerous others).

    The real challenge is is to set aside our differences and tackle the the problems WE have created and are dumping on our innocent offspring. Is this not the most pressing and ultimate moral issue confronting us?
    • Mar 19 2012: It is well past time for us all to be more humble regarding our beliefs — it's what we do that counts. Belief is inner experience and only matters to someone else in what it brings a believer to do. And we have other ways of making judgments about actions.
  • Mar 18 2012: In religion, God found the people, but the people did not found God; therefore, God found no God among the people. Science is the opposite of this concept; therefore, religion is not a science. If anything, religion comes close to philosophy, and it would be consider a false science. However, philosophy laid the foundation for biology, physics, and psychology, but religion is still not a true science.
  • Mar 17 2012: [R] "I don't actually like to mess around with details so much as I'll do in this post...

    [J] Debating generalities is inconclusive and usually unsatisfactory. The details are where an argument stands or falls and each party would normally try to be clear about what they are saying and where they stand.

    [R] Ok if you don't say we have to have the same perception than I mis-understood your post partially. Not sure what you are trying to say though by telling me that "Science is about that which is observed AND it must be reproducible by others ......".

    [J] The science may be followed by dint of it being reproducible. Theories may be pertinent to science in some senses but falsifiability has no effect on observable, reproducible science facts. i.e I know that your blood is red (science fact). Any person who has ever cut themselves, will know that blood is red. It is irrefutable, based upon evidence. Falsifiability is a method of testing theories and it may be used to avoid investing large sums of research cash or chasing wrong-headed notions.

    [R] Since when does assumption and perception have nothing to do with science? It pretty much IS science.

    [J] Are you are confusing assumption with asking that most common of scientific questions... What if?

    As far as discussing the unknown goes, we don't know. We may talk about it in terms of our best and most educated guess but where we do not know, there is no real discussion. Falsifiability essentially means if it is true then it is not false. If you know anything about symbolic logic, you will see that even that statement can be made to appear unreliable.

    Explaining unknown things is an area I don't find particularly fruitful. In my opinion, it is only guesswork to try and so I leave it to other people to try and explain an area about which they have no understanding.

    I don't expect you to say I am right because I oppose your viewpoint. 'Right' and 'Wrong' cannot be applied to opinions, however dearly held.
    • Mar 18 2012: First statement: "Falsifiability is a method of testing theories and it may be used to avoid investing large sums of research cash or chasing wrong-headed notions."
      This is very wrong... We don't invest money in "new ideas" we invest money in "this is the current (best) theory let's test if it holds". New theories are rarely well funded.

      Second statement: "Falsifiability essentially means if it is true then it is not false. If you know anything about symbolic logic, you will see that even that statement can be made to appear unreliable."
      That heavily depends if you mean to say A --> not not A. You can't falsify that so you can't make that appear unreliable. You could introduce a probability according to some logics. Or you could introduce 'multiple worlds' aka if "A is true here --> not not A is true remains true after there has been an action on the model" (this statement is false for you could toggle A with the action).
      The way you put it though it can't be unreliable.

      Combining those 2 leads me to believe that you have a skewd vision of falsifiability.
      It works through induction... all science works this way btw..

      To use your own example of blood being red.
      Everyone we know of has had red blood -> theory "everyone has red blood".
      If you want to falsify this theory you could go:
      Person 1 has red blood AND person 2 has red blood AND person 3 ....... 13492883246535 has red blood. Etc.
      But to say ALL people have red blood still isn't true. (from a logical math pov.) Especially when you introduce multiple worlds ALL 'A' holds becomes 'everywhere at all times A holds'. When I find one without red blood the theory fails.

      For Einstein it works the same... In case 1 E=Mc^2 holds... in case 2.... 10000 it all holds... but in a few we're still unsure because our perception isn't good enough to measure. Einstein is not proven wrong yet.
      For Newton also a few billion cases hold.... but a few don't... which can only be explained by E=Mc^2 (up till now) so he's proven wro
      • Mar 18 2012: Religion does not modify over time, and it is 100% theoretical, while science modifies itself with objective research, and it is not 100% theoretical. Religion is not a science nor is science a religion.
      • Mar 18 2012: [R] New theories are rarely well funded.

        [J] qv the Pharmaceutical industry.

        [R] Combining those 2 leads me to believe you have a skewed vision of falsifiability.

        [J] It's your opinion.

        [R] To use your own example of blood being red...

        [J] Of course (in its strictest mathematical logic sense) blood may well be any colour you wish it to become and the possibility has to be accepted. However, the acquisition of scientific knowledge is an empirical process and if you believe that blood may not be red in all cases, despite red blood being present in every human being on the planet earth (given that there are no confirmed reports from reliable sources of other colours of blood having been discovered) then your belief is not based in anything which I would recognise as being remotely rational.

        At some point you have arrived at this erroneous conclusion to your deliberations, based upon an absence of evidence, which you are highly unlikely to obtain even though you want to allow that there is the possibility of a single person having green blood. At that point in your assessment you obviously cannot hold ANY information to be true, if you measure everything in this way.

        Either you are a skeptic (a good basis for being a scientist) or you are inclined to believe propositions which you find attractive without any requirement for evidence.

        E=Mc^2. Science now suspects that c is not a constant. Relativity, both General and Special, must fail if c is variable.

        Science is self modifying - religious belief won't change.

        Betrand Russell had this to say...
        There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dares not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed
        • Mar 18 2012: Let's start by saying that I'll never become furious on this subject because. As I explained in other posts (towards other people) I pulled my view of science into an extreme in order for a better discussion. My main point is that scientists should be less arrogant about their findings because deep down we all know that we're not all that sure.

          But you do say something really nice in your post.
          The 2 paragraphs as responce to blood being red:
          [J] "Of course ..... then your belief is not based in anything which I would recognise as being remotely rational.
          At some point you....... you obviously cannot hold ANY information to be true, if you measure everything in this way."

          This actually is a fairly good way of describing the falsifiability concept through which science works.
          And yes it leads to the conclusion that one cannot hold ANY information to be true. Which is both science greatest strength as it's greatest weakness.

          Mind you that I'm not talking about personal views here but scientific ones. For instance I personaly trust that "all blood is red" but if I would want to prove science wrong here (given that it hasn't already happened while I'm unaware of it) would work as I describe and because it is an infinite process of re-checking the color one cannot ever prove that it is correct. One can only prove that theories are incorrect or that they hold in multiple cases.

          As far as I know within the pharmaceutical industry the money doesn't go to any new theories... just towards new medication which are developed through instances of already existent theories. Or build upon theories that have been discovered without (much) funding.

          I'm always sceptical... and I didn't know they believe c to be a constant. Do you know where you read / seen that? I always find type of scientific findings nice to see.
  • Mar 17 2012: Richard stated: "The fundations of science however is that we believe what we percieve and we assume that when our describtion of it is correct the physics behind it is too."

    This statement misunderstands science and then conflates it with perception and assumption. Your position Richard, if built upon this demonstrably poor understanding of science; cannot be anything other than misinformed.

    Science is about that which is observed AND it must be reproducible by others who were not present to observe it but who can (using known building blocks) reproduce that which was observed. Scientists pay attention to the world by observing it closely and then recording what was observed. They interact with their observed environment and invite others to test their observations. Science tries to find flaws with the observed phenomena and when enough people have been unable to find fault with the hypothesis, it stands until a fault can be found.

    Even Einsten's work is now being questioned again, with reference to the bending of time and space. This is how science progresses. Agreed knowledge is subject to scrutiny and it is adjusted in the face of better evidence. It is as far removed from taking something on trust or faith, and never subjecting it to any further examination, as it is possible to get.

    In scientific method, there are no cries of 'heresy!' or 'apostasy!' from people who cannot bear to have their beliefs shaken or have the world see how false and nonsensical are those religious beliefs. The sense of holding onto an idea (in a religious manner) is understood to be utterly inimical to reaching understanding. Religions state that you must believe, no matter what, and hold out the stick of eternal hell if you do not believe. You only have to look at the unwillingness of religious groups to tolerate any other religious groups, to see many sadly misguided people loudly declaiming that only their own god knows best.

    science requires no act or declaration of faith
    • Mar 17 2012: ah but theres no proof that what you percieve is the same as I do.

      There is no real proof that even though the describtions of the phenomenon match the perceptions do as well.
      For instance many (really a lot) of people are somewhat color blind. However they don't notice this themselves because they don't have any reference to something else.
      To use an example for some people 'orange' is just a lighter shade of 'red' than 'red' is to them. While for most people orange is a seperate color. But when they see a 'light red' they would also call it orange. What tells you that this is not the same thing for other elementary basics of your own perception?

      The corresponding factor in science is that math can accurately describe each (change in) observation which in itself makes a really strong case in favor of science. But your statement that because others can percieve the same mathematical change and therefor their observation must be the same is, in my view (during this debate :p), false.

      And btw.... you're doing the exact thing I say I dislike in most scientists... "if built upon this demonstrably poor understanding of science; cannot be anything other than misinformed." --> ""If you don't think I'm right you must be incompetent".
      • Mar 17 2012: I don't have to have the same perception as you. This is the straw man argument that you have erected in order to support your opinion.

        I know that if I follow simple arithmetic, that I can add one and one together and the answer in a decimal accounting system will always be two. Likewise, where you have acquired the same skill, you will always make the answer two, even without sharing my perceptions or worldview.

        My life's work has been in medicine and I don't expect to overturn the notion that red blood cells carry oxygen via haemoglobin, anytime soon. It would help if you could understand that the fact does not depend on my perceptive abilities or my biases.

        Acids will always have a pH value of less than 7 and alkalis will always have a pH value that is greater than 7. Neither of our perceptions can alter that proposition. It exists despite us. Being trained to observe in an unbiased and rigorous manner is what scientists are expected to do. They are not expected to colour their findings with personal opinions, mythology, hopes, fears and a whole panoply of irrelevant whimsy.

        Your position takes science and adds assumption and perception to the mix. Neither has any place in the practice of science. You appear to believe that science is a religion and so you assess it by the standards which you apply to religious belief. It is a mistake. I don't think you are incompetent and those are words you are choosing to ascribe to me, even though I did not write them.

        It is an unfair means of debating an issue. In my mind the word which I did use was 'MISINFORMED' and like many adjectival words it is merely a descriptive word that is neutral and not loaded to insult you. I am saddened by your response because it appears to me that you have no wish to debate an issue you started... unless it is on your own terms and provides support for your ill-informed opinions; which are (like my own) absolutely independently arrived at and thus baseless.
        • Mar 17 2012: I'll go through your post in the same order as you posted it.
          I don't actually like to mess around with details so much as I'll do in this post...

          Ok if you don't say we have to have the same perception than I mis-understood your post partially. Not sure what you are trying to say though by telling me that "Science is about that which is observed AND it must be reproducible by others ......". My guess would be that you want to point me to the falsifiability part of science. Which btw would show that my "you need faith for science" concept still holds as all theories must be possible to be falsifiable. (and therefor we can't ever know they are correct)

          "Acids will always have a pH value of less than 7 and alkalis will always have a pH value that is greater than 7." That's actually how it's defined, we call everything which we observe to have a pH value of less than 7 an acid. The properties of an acid / alkalis wouldn't change if we knew this value or not.

          "Your position takes science and adds assumption and perception to the mix. Neither has any place in the practice of science."
          Here comes the real discussion though! Since when does assumption and perception have nothing to do with science? It pretty much IS science.
          We assume tons of things in science (which we are yet unable to falsify and therefor we assume them to be correct). And we use that to explain our perception on things.
          The above alinia is the part I'd like to (possibly) discuss further... the rest of the post is just because I was "misinformed" ;)

          Competent: "having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc."
          Informed: "having or prepared with information or knowledge"
          I must say I see a link between (mis)informed and (in)competent.

          I'm fine however with debating stuff... in other posts I even agree with the opposing party quite often. That it's a debate doesn't mean that I have to nod and say you're right as soon as you say something opposed to the starting post of the debate.
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    Mar 17 2012: Hi Richard,

    I disagree that science is a religion. I believe that science and religion are two different ways of seeing the world. Science is built on structure. Religion is built on morals and ethics. Right and wrong in science is; will it work or not. Right and wrong in religion is; should we be doing this.

    Religion developed in the age of mythology. It is all built on right-brain associations. Modern science developed in the age of reason it is all built on left-brain logic.

    The right brain hemisphere sees the forces of creation as a creator. The left brain hemisphere sees the forces of creation as mathematical models.

    Quantum fields are everywhere. They are invisible. They are what is doing the creating. They are the source from which all things come and back to which they go. They have all the qualities attributed to God because they are one and the same.

    In answer to some posts;

    We evolved, we were not created? If evolution is not a creative process, then what is it?

    Science and reason says that spirituality is a fantasy. Much of it is, but it is a window to a world that science cannot know. Are there no alternate realities? Many would argue based on how it has affected their lives.

    We do not have faith in scientific facts, we have faith in the process that brings them to light. That doesn't make it a religion, but it does make it a faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

    Religious faith used to be about the path that leads to wisdom. Since the time the Catholic church took God out of reality (after its attack on Galileo) faith is not allowed to be questioned. That has to change.

    Science will not acknowledge a miraculous cure because it cannot be tested. yet there are countless doctors that have seen results that elude their understanding.
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    Mar 17 2012: You don't actually argue science is a religion. By any reasonable definition science and religion are different animals. There is some overlap that relates to your later points. Both are human constructs. Both shape our perception of reality. Many religions make claims that clash with a modern scientific explanation unless excruciating intellectual gymnastics are applied. Both rely on our brain, language, comprehension, learning etc.

    You mention people running down religion, preferring a world view based on science not one of thousands of religious views. Your main point seems to be taken to extreme we know nothing for sure. Fair enough.

    However, does this mean every view or belief about the universe that we seem to be sharing is equal. No it doesn't. Even if it is an illusion, it is an illusion with repeatable patterns, physics etc.

    To say scientific claims and religious claims are equal where they overlap is a big call. In this universe the application of the scientific process have led to all sorts of technology. Maybe electricity is an illusion, but science does a pretty good job explaining how it works so that we can turn on this computer and have a conversation on the internet. Science works. Religion does not try to understand the universe in the same way. Most of it is the relics of non scientific age.

    Not even all religious/supernatural beliefs are equal. If you believe in a physical god interacting in a physical sense, in the creation stories, the miracles etc this is pretty hard to align with a 21st century understanding of the world. Most gods today are invisible to fit the most likely scenario they are not real.

    If you are saying we don't know anything for sure so science is no better than religion at explaining the universe, then I tend to agree with the dissenters, if not the way they say it. If your motivation is to imply because we know nothing for sure then religion and science are equal at explaining the universe, thats a poor argument.
    • Mar 17 2012: You have a good sense of reading hehe ;)

      As I explained to Gabo as well I pushed my own view a bit to the extreme by putting an is between science and religion.
      However to get back to your point of critism christianity and budism also isn't the same... but both are still religions because they ask their believers to exhibit a certain type of faith.
      Science also asks some forms of faith of which I feel some are very closely related to religion.

      Next to me not actually arguing that science is a religion I also however don't claim that scientific claims and religious claims are equal. So not really sure where that came from.

      My actual point which I'm trying to make has more to do with scientists acting as if science is always right and 100% objective while saying versus the religious world that they are wrong. Even though science isn't sure about many things. So in many regards it's a plea for a less arrogant scientific viewpoint in the religion vs science debate.
  • Mar 17 2012: As I can see: Science helps to describe the natural phenomena. Science is about explanation. Religion goes toward spirituality--- Religion is about "being".

    Both get confused with each other when the knowledge behind them is perceived as the ultimate truth. :``

    Maybe this can help.. :)

    First frame
    Calvin: You know, I don’t think math is a science. I think it’s a religion.
    Hobbes: A religion?

    Second frame
    Calvin: Yeah. All these equations are like miracles. You take two numbers and when you add them, they magically become one new number! No one can say how it happens. You either believe it or you don’t.

    Third frame
    Calvin: This whole book is full of things that have to be accepted on faith! It’s a religion!

    Fourth frame
    Hobbes: And in the public schools no less. Call a lawyer.
    Calvin: As a math atheist, I should be excused from this.
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      Mar 17 2012: Yuri, a scientific view can also be about being and spirituality.
      Science conflicts with many religious creation stories and claims
      Science and reasoning shows there is no proof for any gods existing.
      Reasoning indicates competing religious beliefs can not be all correct.
      Science indicates we evolved and were not created.
      Science and reasoning indicates the spiritual realm is most likely a fantasy.
      Reasoning indicates all relgions are most likely completely man made, religious phenomena is just stuff going on in our brains etc.
      Perhaps there are gods and souls and reincarnation or a heavenly paradise where all our relatives are waiting for us. Reasoning indicates this likely just wishful thinking.

      Science and rational thought is about being. What we are - brainy animals. Our consciousness, our evolution, our psychology, the meaning we can apply to our existence, how we might best interact, while explaining how we are subject to both instinct and reason.

      I don't think science is an ultimate truth. It just does a better job explaining the universe around us and relegates many religious claims to the level of unverifiable nonsense.

      I think Gould and other were wrong to say religion and science are separate realms. One of them seems to indicate much of the other is false or unprovable and probably completely a man made cultural construct that spreads much like different languages do - a product of when and where you are born.
      • Mar 17 2012: Well, it seems We refer to "being" in a different sense. The sense of "being" written above relies on Spirituality :`)
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          Mar 17 2012: Spirituality is a 'big' word, like 'god'. It can mean different things to different people.
          It could be related to the belief in an immortal spirit. In an invisible world with angels and demons and gods. Or the spirits of the dead, ghosts hauntings. Or nature spirits. Or a sense of connection with the universe an exploration of self and consciousness.
          How do you define it?

          I consider myself a very spiritual person. I have had some what might be considered by religious as transcendent experiences via meditation, also when religious in the past etc.

          I believe this is just stuff going on in my mind.

          If you mean eternal spirits and an invisible spiritual realm then science indicates this is most likely an elaborate fantasy like gods. Cant prove it. Cant disprove it.

          There is no compelling direct evidence for gods or a spirit world.
  • Mar 16 2012: Science is a flower growing from dirt, religion is a dead cold rock for religion does not modify itself over time.
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      Mar 17 2012: i get what you mean in that the texts dont change.
      but the interpretations seem endless in variety.
      also religions develop and evolve. jews then christians then muslims each building on the former. then mormons then jehovahs witness then christian scince etc etc. within each strand are many sects and variants. i suuggest most who consider themselves christians today have avery different world virw and religios framework to those 2000 years ago.
      • Mar 17 2012: Christianity lies pretty much the same framework it has for more than 2000 years. Its changes lie from the concept of attracting more people, not base on any study. Christian science is a great example of this. All of religion is subjective and theoretical, while all of science is not necessarily subjective and theoretical. There lies the simple answer that tells us all that science is not a religion.
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          Mar 18 2012: Agree Science is not a religion by any reasonable definition of either.

          I think religions evolve, culturally. I guess my point is not about one particular view or strand of a religion, but how religious views develop and spread and adapt and mix and influence each other.

          The beliefs floating around societies influence each other.
          Buddhism owes much to the Avedic or Hindu beliefs e.g. reincarnation
          Pre Christian gods in Europe have similarities in belief.
          At some point Judaism settled on a belief in one god.
          Judaism, was part of the framework for Jesus leading to Christianity and then Islam.
          Christianity starting with a bakers dozen, now has many different strands, and offshoots, each with slightly or very different dogma.

          Many people consider themselves Christian, or have absorbed Christian mythology and culture, they may pray or believe in the old guy with a beard type god, or something less specific, but don't take it to the level of what others might consider the basic tenets.
          Virgin Birth. Jesus is god. Died for our sins etc. Accepting him as your lord and saviour etc.
          I would not be surprised if more than half of the people who consider themselves Christian would not be considered so by born again or church going Christians.

          Prophets and gurus might develop new ideas, but they typically borrow or build on what is around them.

          Islam could never have developed in America or East Asia, because the Jewish beliefs had not spread there. It is a product of its time and place. There is not one Islam or one Christianity - many different strands have developed.

          Not sure which strand or if any are close to the original beliefs.

          Religion with old scriptures does have some foundation, but over time people develop different views or add new revelations etc like the Mormons.

          English might be similar to Elizabethan English, but it has not existed for ever. It has changed and there are many variants in terms of pronunciation. It also absorbed words from other lg
  • Mar 16 2012: This seems logical, but we can't forget that the leap of faith taken by scientists is much less grand than that of most modern religions. Science is also the only religion I know of which CHANGES itself to cooperate with modern observations, rather than attributing the findings to the mysteriousness of God.
    • Mar 16 2012: In all fairness I don't think that religious people judge how large that leap of faith is in an equal way as scientific people do.

      Many religious people are very spiritual by nature and thus always have the feeling that "there is a higher power". For people who already believe this to be true the leap of faith required to become religious is fairly small.
      The leap of faith for this group of religious people to also believe in science might actually seem bigger as it is being made difficult by some scientists who claim that God is an illusion or religious people are not thinking straight.
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        Mar 17 2012: good point. in a trivial sense religion comes from sripture and the preacher. science for most of us comes from text books and teachers. we arent personally investigating every theory. we are trusting the process. in that sense they are similar.with 5 minutes proper analysis you can see how stupid the comparison is. its saying we take in and percieve information and explanations the same way.... so allexplanations not based on personal experince are equal. this is obviously false. the religious tend to forget there are and have been thoisands of different religious viewpoints claiming to be the truth. it takes faith too believe your one is the right one. religion often comes back to invisible entities with no evidence that can not be observed or verified.
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    Mar 15 2012: Perhaps religion is the wrong word as it brings supernatural forces to mind. Although many scientists profess a faith in the supernatural, the discipline itself is supposed to be strictly materialistic. Faith however is a more apt word. If I operate a light switch I have every faith that the light will operate, Bishop & Biologist alike have the same faith.
    I am reading a book called "Darwin's Black Box" by Michael Behe. The author is attempting to explain the intricacies of a living cell in layman's terms. He has his work cut out; a cell seems to be an engineering system beyond our present understanding. We've got enough understanding to realise just how far beyond us the design & manufacture of a similar system is. My faith (I'm an engineer) is in a being way beyond our understanding. How complex does a system have to be to be designed ?
    Evolutionary biologists have faith that these systems are the end result of millions of years of mutation (?) & natural selection . That is faith with a capital F, no doubt about it.
    Even without cells etc. just look around; is it "All" mutation & natural selection ? Nobody knows, so it's down to faith.

    • Mar 15 2012: Oh come on Pete! Not again this "evolutionary biologists have Faith" please. I have explained this many times to you. What will it take for you to understand my answers? I have no faith whatsoever that we are the result of evolution. The Evidence has convinced me, and that's it. End of discussion. Evidence with capital "E." Not faith. I accept evolution. I don't believe it. Got it?

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        Mar 15 2012: So we disagree, that's not a problem, after all we're only human.

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      Mar 16 2012: Peter,

      Why do you think that "evolutionary biologists have faith that these systems are the end result of millions of years of mutation (?) & natural selection"? Multicellular life has evolved in about 60 days,


      while fruit flies adapt to their new environments almost overnight:


      Do you still think that evolution is a matter of faith? You also state "If I operate a light switch I have every faith that the light will operate," which is not a matter of faith. Your expectation that the light will turn on when you flip the switch is based on induction, and inductive reasoning is not faith.

      "We can't know for sure, so it's a matter of faith" is a false dichotomy. Whether or not it is rational to believe in some belief B is not binary; that is, just because we can't know for sure doesn't mean that we ought to suspend judgement or that B is faith-based—it is a matter of degree. We can have good reason to believe B even if we cannot know B with certainty.
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        Mar 16 2012: Hi Paul.
        Quote from link.
        "Under artificial pressure to become larger, single-celled yeast became multicellular creatures".
        These things pop up every few weeks, usually they are discreetly put to bed at a later date. I'm no chemist, but isn't this stuff still yeast ? At any rate, if we succeed (as we may) in producing life in the lab, doesn't that just reinforce the notion that 'intelligence is required to produce life?

        No creationists has any problem with creatures adapting to their environment, that's normal. We have been breeding fruit flies for a century with the hope that would evolve into something else; we still get fruit flies.

        I don't play with words, it causes confusion. Call it something else if 'faith' isn't to your taste. I find the evidence for creation more compelling than for evolution, so I chose creation. I'm not certain, so to me it is faith. Evolutionists make the same decision.

  • Mar 15 2012: Do you understand that a prayer is greatly insignificant compared to the power of modern medicine? Perceptions are different for all people, but the results tells us science is different than religion. I suppose you can say that religion can "heal" the inflicted by increasing his or her moral, but in terms of reality, the patient benefits most from modern medicine. If you want to discuss about the "healing power" of religion, I am well prepare to tell you that the decreasing mortality rate is not because of the healing prayer. Science is base on facts which are proven over and over again by cause and effect relationships; while religion is just an assumption made by believers. Science gradually changes over time by objective studies, while religion yields subjective reasoning. Not of all science is theoretical, but all of religion is theoretical. If you do not mind, can you state your belief in greater depth in order for me to understand it better.
    • Mar 15 2012: Hello Zared,

      Yes I understand that medicine > religion in order to cure people. I'm actually a big science fan myself. But science always goes like: Observation -> describe in math -> test through making another observation -> let others do observations -> tada theory.
      But first of all we don't know if our observations are correct and second of all we don't really have any clue what causes the things we observe. Like in the past gravity was just "a property of the ground" but now everything is effected by gravity, even time. Or it's the other way around that time influences gravity. Or perhaps Einstein was wrong and there is another option which we do not know about.

      So, at least in part, we have to trust / have faith in science.

      I just wrote a post to Gabo that contains the following alinea:
      Scientists and religious people should realize that we're not sure about a lot of things. For instance science could be completely wrong. It could be (in an extreme case) that God shows us a movie from the start of our lives till the end and everything in it is fabricated. Scientists just choose to believe that this is not the case. If you never considered that you have to "choose to believe in science" you're not being fair/honest to yourself.
      • Mar 15 2012: Your argument has no real proof. You are just stating broad statements that are very subjective which are what religions use to convey ideas. Yes, science changes, but this is because it modifies itself with objective research. However, religion cannot grow because it is all theoretical. Compare the modification of Christianity to the modification of Physics if you do not understand what I am saying. There are different classes of Christianity, but they also do not modify over time. Even in your point of you, God found the people, but the people have not found God. Science is not a religion because science is a rose growing from dirt, and religion is a dead cold rock.
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    Mar 15 2012: From Merriam-Webster:

    Definition of SCIENCE
    1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
    2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study
    b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge
    3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
    b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science
    4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws

    Definition of RELIGION
    1 a : the state of a religious
    b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
    2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
    4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    Therefore, science is *not* a religion.
    • Mar 15 2012: You being a student of philosophy..... I do hope that philosophical questions aren't answered using a dictionairy.
      Have you considered the possibility that science actually claims that our senses accurately describe the world to us? The only proof for this is that from science we gain ability to alter the world around us which (circular logic) leads us to believe we are right. So we do: Observation (it's cold) -> learn how to fix it (invent heater) -> put the heater on -> ahhh warm -> we must be right about what heat is.
      We invented fire long before we discovered atoms though... We melted things before we understood that the forces which atoms have upon eachother. etc. etc. etc.
      We might by using something now with great success which actually we don't understand at all (like light or magnetic forces).
      • Mar 15 2012: Science does not claim that our senses accurately describe the world to us. Otherwise we would not invent technologies to improve over those senses. It is not circular logic to be able to describe stuff and alter them in predictable ways. It is positive feedback. There is a difference that, if you are a philosopher, you should try and grasp. We did not invent fire, we found ways for making it ourselves and control it. So you might say we invented ways for making it ourselves and control it. That we don't fully understand a lot of stuff, yet we use it, still does not make science a religion. There are very important distinctions that cannot be ignored.
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        Mar 15 2012: Richard,

        OK, perhaps I could've been more thorough in my post, but I think my point still stands: there are important distinctions between science and religion, are there not? Does religion have the "rigor" in its methodology that science does? I do not believe so. There are a number of assumptions made in science, but it takes more than the making of assumptions to call something a religion.
  • Mar 14 2012: That you "have to trust something" does not make everything a religion. Conflating religion and science is plainly fallacious, useless, and dangerous. Dangerous because it makes it appear as if science is a matter of faith, as if everything we have come to know is a matter of faith. As if the computer you are using is mere chance, because the science behind the technology is a matter of faith. Not of knowledge, not of anything else, but faith. That's beyond ridiculous. If all the stuff was a matter of faith, no connections would work, no technology would be possible, no prediction would be possible.

    Also, we scientists know that our proposals depend on our perceptions and on our limitations. We know that math is human-made, we know that the models are not reality, we know that the theories might not properly, not perfectly, describe what happens, and how it happens. We use them as far as they work. Once we reach a point where they fail, we know we need further and/or better models, and we know that the models might never reach total descriptive/predictive power. We know that models have limitations, we know that models are not reality (I said that already). But we also know that models work, and which models work up to what point. This is what makes advances possible, that even with limitations they work, so we can make connections, have excellent predictions, and build technology (if that's the goal), or build new and more complicated knowledge. That is far from faith.

    I wish people stopped and thought before posting something this nonsensical.
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      Mar 15 2012: I think the confusion arises when scientists forget the fundamentals. Many great scientists have held on to ideas with almost religious ferver in spite of evidence to the contrary. Also some areas of science are a little less black and white than others. How do you feel about string theory. Strings are untouchable and undetectable. We will never be able to prove they exist as they are theoretically so small,but they do allow accurate predictions of quantum phenomena.
      • Mar 15 2012: Hi Peter,
        I agree that some might forget the fundamentals. I agree that some might have something akin to religious fervour. I agree that some ideas in science are less black and white than others. Not a single of these things would make science a religion. I don't feel anything about strings other than if they work, then they are a model that works and predicts. They are also built on previous knowledge and models, and that sets them apart from religion. I am no physicist though, so I might not be describing their status properly, but my understanding is that they are pretty new stuff still a lot under development.
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          Mar 15 2012: Studying theoretical physics does make you question reality because it points out how little we know. String theory requires 10 physical dimension of which we only experience 3. On a larger scale we've just started looking for dark matter which probably makes up 70-80% of the universe and is involved in a force that we don't have a name for yet. I'm not religious but this stuff does leave a lot of room for things we can't explain (yet). You are right though. Science is definitely not religion as long as its done properly.
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      Mar 15 2012: Hi Gabo,

      I have a question for you that is probably irrelevant to this thread. You said "We use them [models and theories] as far as they work." Do you believe scientists look for merely what is useful (scientific instrumentalism) when they do science or do you believe that scientists try to describe things as they are, that they hope that their views "map on" to an external reality (scientific realism)?
      • Mar 15 2012: Hi Paul,

        I don't know about everybody in science, but from my experience, we seek to describe and discover things as they are, though most often we have to accept that the most we might get is models that work. Approximations to those things we would actually like to know as they are.
    • Mar 15 2012: Hello Gabo,

      I have stopped and thought before posting this. But the reason for why I want a discussion on this is described in the first alinea of the origional post. It's my goal (with this discussion) to reduce the gap between science and religion to make both parts see their similarities rather than their differences.
      This mainly because of the rising tension between science and religion which imo will become larger fast.
      Scientists and religious people should realize that we're not sure about a lot of things. For instance science could be completely wrong. It could be (in an extreme case) that God shows us a movie from the start of our lives till the end and everything in it is fabricated. Scientists just choose to believe that this is not the case. If you never considered that you have to choose to believe in science" you're not being fair/honest to yourself.
      Religion could also be completely wrong though... but the fact remains that we don't know. We just often 'pick 1' and claim that the other is incorrect.
      • Mar 15 2012: Hello Richard,

        As positive as your intentions for bringing science and religion together by similarity might be, I find the idea ludicrous. I don't think that making them appear as equivalent helps. People can find connections between the two. Many go and do science, distinguish it perfectly from their religion, yet look at it and feel like they are talking to their gods. They find a connection other than making them appear to be equivalent. One allows them to see how their creator might have gone about it. The other is about their creator proper, with faith and ceremony and all that shit. Fine by me.

        I did not choose to "believe in science." I don't think that a lot of people *chooses* to believe anything. Most go by whatever they were taught, or accept a reality as it presents to them. That I don't seriously entertain thoughts like being a brain in a jar, or such stuff, does not mean I have chosen to believe in science. If science works, then we can accept it. Acceptance of something that works is not akin to choosing to believe. So the next step might be for you to claim that I have chosen to "believe" reality, though I would have to say I have rather chosen to *accept* reality, not to "believe it." Acceptance describes the situation much better. There is nothing invisible, intangible, awfully looking like imaginary. It is undeniably there, even if it were fabricated, it would still be there. So there is no faith involved. Whatever you might want to add, it would still be different to religion. Try it yourself. To accept that we are brains in a jar, we would have to have proof. To have proof you have to accept that there is a way to reach reality. Thus, some acceptance of reality has to be at the very bottom. Be the ultimate axiom. Thus, nothing changes, except our perception of what's there. (I think this is pretty close to objectivism.)

        • Mar 15 2012: Well Gabo,

          Well I'm not really planning to make science and religion equivalent... But at the 'core' scientists believe that what is "out there" really is out there. And thus that we're not a brain in a vat.
          Some might argue that they still hold possible that they are a brain in a vat and that science might only describe how that bain in the vat functions.
          Which is one of the view points I can't really argue with.

          But even then I do reach my goal of reducing the gap as many religious people find the idea of us being a brain in a vat a lot less likely than there being a God. And people who, to put it my way, "believe in science" can't really remain as arrogant with their "I know better than you" attitude (described in the first alinea of my origional post as being one of the reasons for my origional post).
      • Mar 15 2012: Sorry Richard, but this is still pure nonsense. You do not succeed in "closing the gaps" between science and religion except in your imagination. What's out there is really our there even if we were a brain in a vat (again, I reject this mental masturbation, but follow just for the sake of helping you understand my position). Only it would not be what we think it is. Science is still giving us ways of understanding and describing it. Thus, science is not about beliefs, but about how it works to help us understand. The religious would have two problems. One, they accept a reality, then they accept whatever those imaginary beings called gods might be about in their particular religions. On top of that, they reject what works, by rejecting scientific understanding (not all of the religious, but I am following on your dichotomy). No, science is not a belief, science is not a religion.

        Do I really have to keep explaining what should already be evident from what I told you before? Can you make an effort at understanding instead of just arguing?

        Also, trying this hard to insult the "arrogant" science-inclined person who says "I know better than you," will only get you a "Heck, I know infinitely better than you if you truly think that science is a religion!"
        • Mar 15 2012: Sorry Gabo,

          But you're also one of those "religion is less than science" or "I know better than you" etc. etc. kind of people.

          I understand you better than you think. But you're blind for what I'm trying to do because you're stuck in this "science is truth" mode and you can't break out of it.

          Heck if you bothered to read my last post you'd see that I tell you that point you give is a viewpoint one cannot argue with. So in fact I'm saying you are (in part) right?

          Also the best way to start a discussion is from a bit of an extreme stance because the essence of a discussion is that people disagree.

          Next to that I don't think many religious people deny scientific findings... It is just one of those things arrogant scientists say about religious people in general. There are a few that do deny scientific findings though but well let's not talk about the few extremists (either in science / religion). Many scientists haven been / are religious. And there are not many religious people who won't use computers for example.

          "What's out there is really our there even if we were a brain in a vat"
      • Mar 16 2012: Maybe I am indeed one of those "I know better than you" kind of science people. Heck, sure I am. But I am not a "religion is less than science" person. Religion is culture, and I hell love cultural stuff. Only I don't believe it to be true. I still find it fascinating, and thus it is not "less" than science. It is just something completely different. So, while you are right that I am a "know better" person, you still get me wrong. I am not blind to what you want to do, I reject the nonsense of what you are trying to do. I have shown you multiple times here that I don't think that "science is truth," but "an approximation to the truth." And no, I will not break from it just because you think I should admit that all is equal fantasy. Show me something that would break the idea, then I will accept it. Keep the nonsense, then I will keep feeling all right where I am.

        Agreed that an extreme stance brings about the discussion. But disagree that keeping the stance without trying to understand leads anywhere. We agree that not all religious people reject science, maybe we also agree that there are scientists who are also religious. Good. Nice to know that you were not trapped in a false dichotomy as I originally thought (from the way you presented the "problem").

        As for your quote, did you care to try and understand what it means? Do you think that a vat-induced reality is not "out there" just because it is not what you think it is? Do you further think that a vat would not be a reality that's out there? I think you are mistaking the possibility to correctly perceive a reality, with whether there is a reality to perceive in the first place. If so, I suggest you read a bit beyond solipsism and venture perhaps into objectivism. While I don't consider myself an objectivist (I might be more of a pragmatist, but maybe I am a whateverworksist), their concepts might help you out with understanding my position.

        Best, and ciao.
        • Mar 16 2012: Hi Gabo,

          Well it is hard for me to actually disagree with your points because for a very large part I feel the same. And in all fairness I'm also quite the "I know better than you" person ;)
          I know that on previous occasions we also pretty much always agreed. But here I'm purpously taking this a bit too extreme stance such that other people would go through the same logic as you've done in the posts above. I feel like many people unjustifiably say "I (scientist) have my facts better in order than you (religious person) and therefor I am right and you are wrong" in the science vs religion debate. (I would say however that scientists in general do a much better job at convincing you they are right by doing experiments etc.)

          On your last point of the brain in a vat concept... In my eyes it means that something exterior from myself is controling my senses and thus able to let me percieve whatever he/she/it wants me to percieve. So in many senses it is like the movie The Matrix (which is for a very large part relying on this principle).
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    Mar 14 2012: IMO science is not a religion. They are very different things.

    Science is not a belief system, it is a process. It is an institutional process by which people can perform experiments, communicate their findings and attempt to draw mathematical correlations between observed data. Nothing more. The aim of science is to find enough of those correlations to be able to predict effects of given causes and engineer the technology we use today. As a institution the scientific community has strong traditions and processes of peer review and analysis to further their mathematical models.

    Religion is entirely different. Religious institutions are part of socialization. Their function is to create community and teach people life values. Sometimes they can be effective at promoting constructive ethics, and somethimes they aren't.

    Science has nothing to do with socialisation and cultural values. For example, the scientific community may demonstrate that spraying DDT is damaging to ecosystems and human health. However, no experiment can show that we should care. No experiment can show that is bad, and we shouldn't do it. That requires a different sort of belief. It requires a belief we are socialised into, sometimes through religion, but often through good parenting.
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    Mar 14 2012: Science and Religion are both atates of mind. They are in some ways opposites. In science you believe nothing and form your own ideas based on your own experience. In religion you have unquestioning belief in the doctrine of your fiath. The problem with pure science is that if you do all your own work you won't get far. You have to have "faith" in the work of others. Science starts to look like religion when scientists lose sight of the fallability of all theory. There are no facts in science, only things we think are true as far as we know. That should be the point! when science starts to look like a religion its because the science has stopped.
    • Mar 14 2012: you're making life easy for me :)
      Now first of all let me say that personally I feel the same.

      "There are no facts in science, only things we think are true as far as we know. That should be the point!"
      How is this (much) different from religion? You put faith into something which you 'think is true' but is not a fact.

      If I'd say to you that I put my faith in God because I believe the story in the bible is true. But I deny that all things in there are absolute facts.
      This is in essence the same, don't you think so?

      Sure science might do a better job at promoting their stance through logic, repitition etc. But the essence doesn't change.
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        Mar 14 2012: I agree. I have a science background but I would never claim the bible is a fabrication. I also leave room for the existence of God because I can't prove he doesn't exist. Maybe my earlier contrasting of religion and science was actually more a contrasting of reason and fanaticism. Perhaps the problem is that the religious arguement seems to be dominated by the fanatical element as is science in the popular media. Maybe for both we should try to be right but avoid being righteous. Even as a science teacher I would never say to a student "God doesn't exsist" but I will say "I don't think God exsists" But like everything in science should be that's just my opinion based on my experiences, No one should expect others to agree with them as no one else has your experiences.
        • Mar 14 2012: well if you want to tell your students anything than you can just say: "I don't have definitive proof supporting the claim that God exists/doesn't exist.".
        • Mar 14 2012: I can perfectly, happily, and unambiguously say that the bible is "a fabrication." I can safely say that "God" does not exist, because the god of the bible is nonsensical. It is as false as a square circle. The only "possibility" really allowed by the nonsense of philosophical universal negatives, is an untouchable, undetectable, never-described god, which I can't prove not to exist, but which sound too obviously as mere mental fabrication, and thus can dismiss as easily as I can dismiss the existence of untouchable, undetectable brungigurisofamous. No need to "prove" that they don't exist.
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      Mar 15 2012: I believe it to be a mistake to say that "In science you believe nothing and form your own ideas based on your own experience." Scientists have beliefs just like everyone else and it is almost always the case that scientists draw from the other sciences in forming a hypothesis. For example, when Galileo made observations through the telescope that he himself had improved, he had to also take into account optical theories that were dominant during his time. In short, scientists do not study things in a vacuum, as you suggest: you "form your own ideas based on your own experience." Second, "In religion you have unquestioning belief in the doctrine of your fiath" is a false statement. The religious do not necessarily accept/hold their doctrines without question—this is a generalization. Third, you go on to say that, "The problem with pure science is that if you do all your own work you won't get far. You have to have 'faith' in the work of others." Calling a reliance on the works of others a matter of "faith" is a stretch. Chemists employ suppositions about biology all the time, but aren't those biological suppositions themselves based on something? Couldn't the chemist ask the biologist for evidence here? I am a student and I write papers on my computer, which is a form of reliance on someone else's work—in this case, it is the work put in by others that allows my computer to operate. Would you say that I have "faith" that my computer works? Is my "faith" *like* religious faith? I don't think so at all.
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        Mar 15 2012: Scientists have to have "faith" in the scientific rigour applied by those whose work we are relying on. Ideally you should try to reproduce any result your work is reliant on. That's what peer review is for. You will probably find if you study sciences the further into any area of science you go the less confortable you are being reliant on others work. As for "In science you believe nothing and from your own opinion based on your own experience." This is the first and most important rule of scientific method. This comes directly from Plato and Aristotle.
        Believe: to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so. Dictionary.reference.com
        Believe leaves no room for doubt. Scientists should never lose their doubt.
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          Mar 15 2012: Hi Peter,

          So "faith" in scientific rigor is akin to religious faith? I don't see how; I question that we have "faith" in scientific rigor to begin with—science has given us computers, satellites, the iPhone, particle colliders and medical technology. It seems like we have good reason to believe, therefore, that science is based on more than faith, do we not? We have, after all, empirical evidence, whereas many religious claims are unfalsifiable and/or lacking in empirical support. So how do you tie religious belief and scientific rigor together with "faith"? You restate that: As for "In science you believe nothing and from your own opinion based on your own experience."—I find "In science you believe nothing" vague. What do you mean?
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    Mar 13 2012: science is a tool....
    • Mar 13 2012: ....which you have to trust.
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        Mar 13 2012: I don't trust 1+1=2 - I don't need to trust it in order for it to be a truth, which is like the majority of empirical science - math (as you denoted with physics) - even in fields like psychology, we need math in order to formulate patterns... The "trust" is that your mind works in some methodological order - which it does - but the process is to find out how and that is not emotionally driven but rationally decided.

        If you have a problem with "science" I am assured you are just bothered by the modern western scientific communities - not overall "science."

        I get "there is no way to have absolute truth without subjective perspectives" but it does not mean we cannot know the absolute truth of nature/reality.

        I agree we should expand our scientific methods and practices, but as far as the TOOL being a religion of any sort is just changing meanings to satisfy your argument.

        Now if you said... Scientific communities act "religiously"... We would be on the same boat. Cultures tend to do that on every level, it doesn't mean the information produced by the cultures are all "trusted facts."
        • Mar 13 2012: Well I mentioned 1+1=2 in a different post in the same context you're doing now.
          Math is the singular man made "science" which is, as a concequence of being man made, fully consistent (or well almost fully).

          But just math is nothing. 1+1 what? = 2what? You need to either do physics or some other science to give meaning to the numbers.
          So math actually is more a language rather than a science... it's just extremely syntactically build and has a lot more interresting properties which would lie on the edge of science and language.

          You can see numbers as words.. they only get meaning through context. For instance the number 3.14 doesn't mean anything... however it probably rings a nice round bell ;)

          But I must say that I can see your points and I agree with most of them. However I try to push the bar a bit further to a side than what is usualy done to make for a more interresting discussion :)
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          Mar 14 2012: You guys should study quantum mechanics, 1+1 never equals2 you can't even clearly define 1
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        Mar 13 2012: "But just math is nothing. 1+1 what? = 2what? You need to either do physics or some other science to give meaning to the numbers."

        Okay so then these symbols have representations that can be applied universally. Also math is not singular, in your own example Einstein needed to reformulate geometry into "practical geometry" in order to produce space-time theory.

        Now you are suggesting the philosophy of science/mathematics... Again, not very religious because the practice is the premeditation prior to the use of a tool. Philosophy is not a tool; logic, epistemology, metaphysics... are tools in which to interpret philosophical arguments - which should be a bigger part of science today - vocabulary.

        The religion would have to indoctrinate the specific usage of these formulas prior to performance of methods and studies, and that is "kind of" how today's communities work, but overall no structure is universal in science, making it nothing like a religion.

        So, Yes I agree we should push buttons also... Get people out of the bubble they grow fond of.. Why nihilism gets a bad-rep all the time!

        Nice conversation.
        • Mar 14 2012: Perhaps I should explain a bit more how I come to the term religion.
          Science is used in order to describe and attempt to figure out what happens in the 'real world' (which philosophically also doesn't have to exist but that aside).
          Science does an, at times remarkably, accurate job of describing the world such that it becomes increasingly likely that we're correct about things.
          However science can by definition never know anything for sure (with the exception of completely man made sciences). Most of science is based upon attacking the current held visions. And everytime a theory endures all of these attacks the probability of it being correct increases.
          Also all scientific laws/rules are up for debate and re-tested as soon as our perceptions on something increase. Just look at how the laws of physics have been altered / seen additions during the past say 110 years.

          The problem however is that we have no clue how much of 'reality' we are able to percieve. Perhaps everything we see is done by goblins with invisiability cloaks. Who's actions by the way are remarkably well defined in math.

          But on a more serious note in many cases we do not even know what the cause is and which the concequence. For instance is the sun hot because of the constant fusion taking place or is constant fusion taking place because it's hot? (perhaps science actually figured this out by now I'm not well aware on this particular subject just thought I'd pick something everyone can relate to). One that's sure is that we're devided on the question "is light a particle or a wave?"

          But at the essence we trust (or have faith) that our perceptions are correct and that the explainations we came up with are correct because they seem to act similar in different situations. But quantum physics then is completely unlogical... I reasoned this through a bit further and came up with the term religion which imo is nice because it attracts 2 'conflicting worlds' :)
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    Mar 13 2012: More religious than scientists are sometimes people who are not scientists, who engage themselves in scientific reading and tend to accept the findings factually. I've experienced debates as an atheist, against atheists who could state certainly that the universe was definitely infinite - scientists have said so, after all.

    The fact is, none of us can completely prove that the universe - and indeed, our whole selves - did not start right now, and that what we take for proof of the past (photographs, memories, logic, the immediate experience, etc...) is not somehow an illusion.

    Conversely, in order to remain alive, we must make a choice which will definitely not kill us. So we must come up with a model that is definitely true, or else our error might kill us. I believe this to be the source of 'faith' - not just religious faith, but any kind of faith, from faith in ones choices to faith in family to faith in science. We are now living in a world where most of our choices do not determine whether we live or die, but only how well we live (and indeed, how well we shall die!). But our natures have not changed... We still try to determine 'true' models, and it seems that very few people have the ability to shake the desire to 'know truth' regardless of the system used to determine truth.

    Humans, however, seem to have an interesting ability to do something that's not part of some logically determinable evolutionary imperative. For example, I rarely equate things as 'true' or 'false' in my mind, save for ease-of-communication ('extremely probable' is annoying verbally by comparison to 'true'). But I try to create a system of probabilities which I adjust as I'm exposed to new information.

    I still can't fully prove that Japan exists, or that anyone besides myself exist, or that there are planets beyond Earth, or that there is indeed an Earth. But I don't see a point to doubting my faith in these things.

    It is complicated, to be a human...
    • Mar 13 2012: Hello Spencer,

      Well I share most of your views. And especially at the ending paragraph about Japan you seem to get what I'm going for.
      Personally I don't really, to use your words, "doubt my faith in these things", but with my origional post I try to make people see that science isn't as insanely sure as many people make it to be.
      And this is what I would like the debate to be on. How far would you go to say that science is depending upon 'believing that they are right' versus "'the inablity to prove that anyone besides yourself exists'. Which I phrase (for tension mainly) as science being a religion.
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        Mar 13 2012: I think one has to admit to having 'faith' in science if one doesn't commit to going out and replicating the studies done, and I certainly do have that faith. I know I'm speaking abstractly when I'm saying I can't prove that Japan exists, but I think it's the same as saying I can't prove that, let's say, quarks bind subatomic particles, or that specific genes are the reason for my blue eyes. But I have faith that the system which allows science to exist will mostly regulate itself.

        I do admit to certain levels of skepticism. It's important to have this skepticism. If someone walks up to me and says "Evolution is not true", thanks to this skepticism I can avoid a violently 'religious' reaction and say "State your case" while internally committing to changing my mind if they make a worth-while argument. I have to have this perspective because there's no logical reason to assume that science is a flawless process nor that scientists are incapable of making poor decisions (such as falsifying data to satisfy ones ego, or accepting bribe money to claim a conclusion is true when it is in fact false).

        But I have faith in the scientific community and method as a whole. I figure... If one scientist tries to claim that something wrong is in fact right, other scientists will prove them wrong (and that person will be black-listed in some way, I should hope). I also believe that if many scientists have a false perspective, eventually the 'correct' science will override, through its method, the 'false' science. I don't think this is quick, and I believe it is common that the scientific community will claim one theory to be too true to deny, while another equally worthwhile theory will be denounced as ridiculous. But over the last century, scientists have changed their minds many times through the scientific process.

        Science may not be totally right all the time, but science has the best change to be right at any given time, and deserves some faith (but not absolute faith!).
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          Mar 13 2012: Don't you take things issue-by-issue? Do you accept every proposition, assumption, theory or thesis the scientific community cranks-out as being factual? You can respect natural Science and look to it for truth, but is Science really a proper object of faith, even less-than-absolute faith? I don't think the word "faith" has application in matters of Science. If Science functions on faith then it is a Religion.