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Science and Religion

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Gavin, Aug 10, 2010.

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  1. Gavin

    Gavin Lucky

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    Its amazing how many people on both sides of the political/worldview divide have the impression that if you believe in G-d you cannot truly be a man of science. My students constantly bring this point up and are surprised when I tell them that the two are not mutually exclusive. While it is true that no definitive proof for G-d exists within the frame of logic that underpins science this in no way invalidates G-d.

    Lets not forget that science operates within limits - limits set by empirical evidence and the self-contained rationalism that allow us (as scientists) to infer from the evidence available. Like any system of knowledge it also accepts certain constructs apriori and as Godel showed with his incompleteness theorem, cannot be verifiable within itself. Nevertheless science is the best system for elucidating the mysteries of the universe as it constantly requires more stringent levels of checking and retesting. Couple this with the strength of Popper's falsification argument and it is easy to see why science is successful as a epistemological tool (its also why those who argue that climate change is a fact and that this point need not be debated are in reality anti-scientific).

    Science has played a vital role in my life and I am deeply passionate about my commitment to it. However I choose not to succumb to the lure of scientism, a barren locale that seems to attract more than its fair share of individuals. My ultimate belief is that there is simply more out there than what science can ever hope to deliver. Can I prove this? Not anymore than a gnat can understand calculus..... but so what? My life is hardly poorer for the uncertainty (and faith) that I permit and I am no less enthralled by my personal championing of physics - my favourite science

    I am not a biblical literalist in that I see that what purports to be the bible as a mixture (albeit a valuable one) of oral history and ancient mythology. I have also dismissed the scientific validity of intelligent design. Darwin's descent with modification makes sense to me, but at the same time I am skeptical of the random mutation arguments so favoured by the various Neo-Darwinian schools. I am more inclined to see evolutionary changes being driven by systems of self-organization. A methodology that is likely to be explained by science although not within the paradigm from which it currently operates at present.

    (Thomas Kuhn was correct in his assessment of how science evolves from periods of gradualism to those of radical transformation - its ironic how this philosophy parallels Gould and Elridge's model of Punctuated Equilibrium).

    Physicist-theologian Ian Barbour writes extensively about the interaction of science and religion and from his work I take much solice in an integrationist model that seeks to build connections instead of divide. For me this makes sense and it is from this platform that I see the world - open to reason but at the same time mindful about a greater presence that exists.

    Any thoughts on this issue?
     
  2. IndigoSensor

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    I am a man of science, I believe in god. 'nuff said.
     
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  3. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    A man of Science has scientific reasoning for his beliefs. What's your reasoning for god that passes scientific stresses?

    Hello newbie, you're a kabbalist?
     
  4. OP
    Gavin

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    I believe that there must be a source to all that there is. The kabbalah refers to this as the Ein Sof (without an end). This I take as a priori. Kierkegaard would refer to it as a necessary leap of faith.
     
  5. Matariki

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    God in my mind is the ultimate scientist.

    God invented it and most likley used it when he created everything, so I can't see why it cant co-exist with religion (or faith)
     
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  6. Shai Gar

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    Nice to meet someone else who has studied the kabbalah.
     
  7. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    Isn't the scientific mind inclined to search the source? Why not study the sources of religious beliefs? Don't you consider that the idea of god didn't come to your head out of nowhere, you learned it from the traditional culture around you, which was based on another cultural tradition, which was based on... insufficient information about how natural phenomena worked?

    Also, if someone believes there's a driving conscious force behind all events, isn't it interesting to ask how such inclination was formed? Could be based on specific experiences in very early childhood, which profoundly created this set of mind? There are many events around us that don't make sense at all, or make too much sense, and we wonder what's wrong with the matrix, so we think there must be someone behind all this. But this could be a fault of ours that we have to fight with, the inability to see the bigger picture, in which what seems to us determined is really the product of pure chaos.

    Of course many good scientists have been and will be religious; part of this is that good scientists often have strong deterministic bias: they seek and put reason behind everything that happens. That doesn't necessarily make it true, or their general viewpoint outside of pure science.
     
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  8. TheLastMohican

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    Whose role is it to define "man of science"? Science can be viewed as a group of highly specialized studies, not only a philosophy or mindset.
     
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  9. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    Science is a Philosophy, to be specific, Natural Philosophy.
     
  10. TheLastMohican

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    It depends on whom you ask. Obviously one can know a lot about science, and even practice science, without fully embracing the scientific philosophy as you define it.
     
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  11. muir

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    Do you find that physics is now straying tentatively into mysticism looking for theoretical ideas about the nature of existence?

    Science split off from magic and alchemy and the two are possibly converging again (maybe they only split publicly)?

    I have heard the idea that that which is beyond nothing gave voice and that act formed the universe. The universe is essentially a ressonance.....or more poetically: a song (all matter being energy vibrating at different frequencies).

    I'd like to hear more from a scientific standpoint.....
     
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    #11 muir, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  12. Faye

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    It is impossible to practice science without embracing science as a philosophy at least in regard to the basics. A good example is the duplicability of experiments.
     
  13. Jack

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    Science uses naturalism methodologically, but does not require someone to be a naturalist to practice it.
     
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    #13 Jack, Aug 14, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  14. TheLastMohican

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    That's like saying that it's impossible to know the rules of football without being an avid sports fan.

    Indy may not apply the scientific method to everything in his life, and may not hold it as an ideal. That does not prevent him from knowing chemistry and performing experiments. It's easy to recognize the usefulness of a regimen within a particular field of study without wanting to adopt it as a general philosophy.
     
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  15. Faye

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    I never said that it needed to be adopted as a general philosophy or applied to other areas of one's life. I was merely pointing out that science is a philosophy. You seem to be equating philosophy with religion to some extent.
     
  16. TheLastMohican

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    I think you might be forgetting the context: you replied to my reply to Shai Gar, and he was saying that Indy could not be a man of science while not having scientific backing for all of his beliefs. So I'm saying that there's a difference between practicing science (performing experiments) and believing that the scientific method should be used for things other than the particular scientific inquiries you are working on.
     
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  17. Faye

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    One need not believe in a philosophy in order to utilize it. A person may behave in a particular way devoid of the labels associated with that behavioral pattern. This does raise internal conflicts, but they may be ignored.

    Also, many people think that science is metaphysically naturalistic in addition to be methodologically naturalistic (many of the people who don't think that are often also called creationists). If it is metaphysically naturalistic, then you could argue that you must actually adhere to this position in order to practice science. I think it is also possible to adhere to it without fully accepting it as long as one is willing to compartmentalize the issues surrounding it. If you don't accept metaphysical naturalism to some extent, it becomes difficult to test ideas scientifically because you technically do not have anything to test. By definition you cannot test what is not testable; you cannot naturally inquire into what is beyond nature.
     
  18. Faye

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    You're right as long as the person in question deliberately ignores the issues surrounding the inconsistencies between science and their beliefs.

    And then you get things like this where they don't ignore the differences:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_geology
     
  19. TheLastMohican

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    Most everyone does that in some area(s), to some extent. You don't have to agree with such reasoning (or lack thereof) in order to acknowledge its existence.
     
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  20. deadred

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    My biggest problem in any intellectual field is dogma. In academia, I see the worst holdup to progress as tenure. Once folks get towards the top of any endeavor they tend to become quite fixed in their views as to what's possible and what's not possible, and that goes totally against the grain of how I define the Scientific Method. I can understand how human nature would tend to allow us to want to maintain our positions at the top, but we're in the 21st century, where even Newtonain Physics has been displaced as King. I'm not saying rigorous experiment and controls ought be replaced, but if we are not careful, we miss things right under our noses simply because of bias on the front end.
     
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