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Do Faith and Science Contradict?: Interview with Catholic Physicist Dominique Lambert

Dominique Lambert

Prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins have consistently chastised religion for thwarting scientific research. But Professor Dominique Lambert, a respected expert in theoretical physics and the philosophy of science at the University of Namur, Belgium, believes not only does the Catholic faith, when correctly applied, not hinder science, but gives it vital intelligibility, meaning, and purpose.

In this interview, Professor Lambert speaks about the necessity of a harmonious relationship between faith and science and why the Catholic faith is best equipped to provide it.

Q: Can you explain what you mean by your assertion that only with faith is it possible to give complete intelligibility to science?

Lambert: In this dialogue, we have to say first of all that I cannot extract from science some theological point of view. In other words, science is producing many questions—rational and coherent questions—which are beyond the scope of its own methods. For example, the question of the ultimate foundation of existence, the meaning and history of existence—life, values, questions of a metaphysical and ethical nature—these are in fact produced by scientific activity but cannot be solved within the borders of scientific method.

Q: But atheists will insist that science can offer all the answers. Why is this not so?

Lambert: Because methodologically, science puts into brackets this question of meaning, the foundation [of existence]. The source of the existence is not solved by science because science presupposes this assumption, but rationally you need some explanation. For example, you can say: “I believe the world is a source of existence” or I can say, “Rationally, no, the existence of the world is received from a cause that is external to the world.” So you have a rational question but the answer cannot be formed because of methodological reasons. Intelligibility in fact needs some other explanation than this.

[With the Christian faith] you can shed some light on scientific findings. You can discover that many questions of a foundational value of meaning can receive some kind of intelligibility coming from this source of intelligibility. If you start from point of view of a believer, then you can get some coherent answer, with an increase in intelligibility. This point of view respects science completely, because you don’t modify science and you don’t try to extract from science that which is not science. You respect its autonomy, but you shed some light on it, [giving] an answer and an increase in intelligibility.

This is important. It’s not straightforward because we can, for example, adopt a religious position but one which will decrease the intelligibility of the world. But, in fact, we can prove that Christian belief is not like this. The Catholic tradition, for example, can shed some light and provide some elements as answers to fundamental questions, completely respecting the autonomy of science while at the same time increasing the intelligibility of science.

Q: You say that Richard Dawkins and other such atheist scientists try, in their own way, to offer a metaphysical perspective to science, but this doesn’t work. Could you explain more?

Lambert: His [Dawkins’] way of looking at religion, his way of giving to science some metaphysical power, does not respect the epistemological level of science. In fact, he is giving to science some metaphysical power that science does not possess. I respect his point of view, but we can in fact show that Dawkins gives to science some non-scientific powers.

Q: You also have observed a common trait among Nobel Prize winners in science, that they almost always write about philosophy after receiving their awards. Why is this and what does it say about science and faith?

Dominique Lambert3Lambert: This is, for me, a clue that science is not self-sufficient. Many, many great scientists are writing books on their activities, but books which are in fact philosophical works. This is normal, but it’s important to look at this phenomenon, because it shows us that in fact science cannot be self-sufficient. Science produces metaphysical questions and, in fact, great scientists tend to solve these problems. This is normal because their scientific activities produce these questions.

The problem is to believe that these solutions belong to science, or to believe that a philosophical solution is given immediately by science. It’s not true. We cannot say biology leads to atheism because we cannot extract from science something that is not scientific. But we can say, for example, that a religious, theological point of view can illuminate scientific research and can help to extract some coherent meaning.

We have to realize that sometimes it doesn’t work. For example, I can assume some theological point of view, and I realize it can be completely incoherent with the scientific research. Take American creationism in the literal sense: if we adopt this point of view we will discover it does not respect the contents of contemporary biology—there is a kind of contradiction and it doesn’t work. But in the Catholic Church, we have a theology of creation whose point of view respects evolution and so on completely, but gives to evolution an additional meaning which is not directly present in the scientific research but that scientific research is coherent with this point of view.

Q: It is therefore essentially about respecting philosophical and Christian methods, allowing the two to come together?

Lambert: Yes, and both are articulated without any confusion and without destroying the link completely, because it is important, on the one hand, to methodologically distinguish the levels. But it is important on the other hand to unify them by a kind of articulation which is not concordism [the practice of identifying a scientific fact or theory with a particular phrase or passage in the Bible].

Q: You also talk about faith giving hope to science. Could you explain more?

Lambert: If we are believers or atheists, we are carrying out the same science, but a religious attitude can change the way we do science. Of course, your ethics, your ontological perspective is influenced by your theological point of view or religious attitude, and this gives you a kind of optimism. Msgr. Georges Lemaître, who discovered the Big Bang theory, said that science is the same for atheists and believers, but religious beliefs give you a nice optimism and hope, hope in the enigma of the universe as a solution. Of course, it doesn’t change the science, but it gives you an optimism of hope and maybe it changes, not science, but your life.

Q: Would you say it also gives life to research?

Lambert: Yes, it gives you some meaning to your scientific life, a sense of your scientific practice and action. You can have other nice motivations, but faith gives you a nice impulse and realization that all of this world has a deep meaning to be discovered. That is the solution to the enigma, as Msgr. Lemaître said.

I would also like to emphasize that, regarding the relationship between science and faith, it is important to avoid two kinds of problems: those coming from concordism and discordism. We need to avoid them and instead need some kind of articulation. In fact, in the Catholics tradition we have this quest for articulation because we have the nice tradition of fides et ratio [faith and reason], intellectus quaerens fidem [seeking to understand faith], and fides quaerens intellectum [faith seeking understanding]. The First Vatican Council condemned rationalism—that is, reason alone without faith—but also fideism, faith without reason. It’s very nice to realize that in the Catholic tradition we have such a dynamic articulation between fides et ratio. I think this tradition proffers absolute respect but without breaking the autonomy of science and theology.
 
Dominique Lambert2
 
 
Originally posted at ZENIT. Used with permission.
(Image credit: YouTube and Fundp)

Brandon Vogt

Written by

Brandon Vogt is a bestselling author, blogger, and speaker. He's also the founder of StrangeNotions.com. Brandon has been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. He converted to Catholicism in 2008, and since then has released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011), Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014), and RETURN (Numinous Books, 2015). He works as the Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their five children in Central Florida. Follow him at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

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  • Rationalist1

    Just because there are perhaps questions that science cannot answer, why would anyone think that theology can answer them. Theology is still debating the Protestant reformation and one would be hard pressed to name one theological advanced that has benefited humanity since that period. At the same time one could name hundreds of scientific advances.

    Can science solve everything. Probably not, but with sciences track record, I wouldn't bet on what it can't solve. There are undoubtedly questions that have no answer and we need to deal with it. The first step is not being afraid of not knowing and admitting one doesn't know and not being satisfied with unsubstantiated answers.

    (I'm also curious, is Dominique Lambert a physicist or a philosopher of science? The Wikipedia entry has him as a Philosopher of science ( http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominique_Lambert ) and his publications seem almost exclusively philosophy and history related?)

    • primenumbers

      Just because a question can be asked doesn't mean it's a valid question. And just because science answers questions about the supernatural with "no evidence to the supernatural", an answer believers in the supernatural don't like, doesn't mean science hasn't answered the question to the limits of the available evidence.

      On the other hand, the "God answer" to questions answers nothing because as soon as you ask a theist anything meaningful about God, all you get is that God is mysteriously un-knownable. Something that we don't understand is not an explanation, but just a pushing of the question back one step further. Far better to just say "I don't know" rather than invent the God answer.

      • "[A]s soon as you ask a theist anything meaningful about God, all you get is that God is mysteriously un-knownable. "

        This is an unfair and untrue generalization, one I think is disproved by the reasonable descriptions of God in the posts and comments on this site.

        • BenS

          I think it's pretty accurate. As soon as you push god outside the bounds of science you immediately take away the most useful and reliable tool we have to investigate god and replace with tools that, whenever used, give wildly different answers depending on who's taking a crack at the question and there's no way to determine the correct answer.

          If you can't determine which answer is correct, the knowledge gained is practically worthless.

          • As a clarification, no one has "pushed God" beyond the bounds of science. Science cannot be brought to bear against the metaphysical. If you're a physicalist, then science answers all of your questions. If you're not, then it doesn't.

          • primenumbers

            Science answers questions based on evidence. It doesn't preclude the super-natural by design. If there was evidence for the supernatural then science would have something to say on it. The metaphysical is designed purely to avoid inspection and falsification, to not provide evidence.

          • The metaphysical was "designed" a long long time ago, back when science was basically just geometry.

            The metaphysical includes things like abstract logic and universal ethics, things that are abstract and not physical. It's not just "the supernatural".

          • primenumbers

            How abstract concepts are dealt with is similar to how material things are dealt with - a similar split with how we have natural and super-natural. People who believe in the supernatural have analogous ideas on abstract concepts, and those who are naturalistic deal with abstract concepts as part of the natural world.

          • And questions about why things are this way, why I should be this way, why this should be my priority and not that, these are questions that science can't answer, can it?

          • primenumbers

            If you're pre-supposing a sentient being that explains why they set things up the way they set things up, it makes no sense to ask the why question unless you first find out whether said sentient being exists. So those questions might make sense to you as a believer, but if you're asking science to answer nonsense questions (because you pre-suppose a God that has the explanations) then you're going to think science can't answer those questions. I think science did answer them by saying "Ok, show me this God".

          • But there are ethical systems that exist independent of a divinity. There are religions that exist independent of a divinity (Theravada Buddhism), and they answer these questions, so no, I'm not presupposing God by asking these questions, since others who don't believe in God ask these same questions.

          • primenumbers

            Well if you ask these why questions without even thinking there's an agent involved then you're asking daft questions.

          • So all Theravada Buddhists are daft? Isn't secular humanism in a lot of ways based upon the idea of answering these questions without God (I'm not sure about that, but that's the impression I've had?).

          • primenumbers

            If they're asking a question that can only be answered by an agent and don't believe such agent exists then indeed they are daft. If you ask a "why" question and can accept an answer like "it works well to produce a happy society", as in expecting an outcome based answer rather than an agent based explanation, then that's not daft.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The metaphysical is designed purely to avoid inspection and falsification, to not provide evidence.

            Is that a quote from Aristotle, cuz he invented the field a long time before experimental science?

          • ZenDruid

            A strong argument can be made for Democritus [contemporary with Aristotle] being the father of empirical epistemology. Plato didn't like him, per Wiki, and wished his work to be burned.

            Sic semper scientia, I suppose.

          • BenS

            Science cannot be brought to bear against things that do not have an effect in the universe. If they DO have an effect in the universe then we can measure the effect.

            So, does your god affect things in the universe?

            The answer to that tells you quite simply whether science can be brought to bear against your god.

          • Does ethics affect the universe?

            Can science do ethics?

          • To clarify, David posted some questions that I think are pertinent:

            • How ought I to live?
            • What is the meaning of life?
            • What's it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?"
            • When I have so much, and others have so little, what is my obligation to help them, or do I even have an obligation?

            Does answering these questions one way or another affect the universe? Can science answer these questions for us?

          • primenumbers

            Yup theoretically, although practically it's hard to set up the experiments with isolated populations running under sets of ethical rules to test their efficacy at producing a society that fulfills some goal.

          • Science can't do ethics, because science can only tell you what things are like, not how they should be (at least, not how humans should be, or behave). Science doesn't tell you what's good, only what is.

            Unless I'm wrong?

          • primenumbers

            Science will tell you how systems work. Set a goal - say "happiness", produce a happiness index based on a number of factors important to happiness and set up some populations with your test bed of ethical rules and statistical analysis will tell you which set of rules maximizes happiness. Keep trying this until you get the best set of ethical rules that the evidence available to you has demonstrated.

          • But what goal should we set? Science doesn't tell you what goal to set, and that's the whole core of ethics. Is our goal happiness, pleasure, utility, goodness, virtue, etc etc.

          • primenumbers

            What goal do you want to set?

          • The best one.

          • primenumbers

            :-)

          • primenumbers

            Ok, coming back to this. It's a good question, but it seems like you want (for your argument) not only for science to answer the question, but to actually provide the question too.

          • No, I want science to answer the question that precedes the question of "how to get to this goal", which is "what goal is the best goal". Of course, science can't on it's own, it needs to be guided by intuition, logic, reason, etc, but then, that's the whole point.

          • primenumbers

            Doesn't that end in an infinite regress where we set up some metrics and a goal for "best goal" and iterate? :-)

          • No, you come back to a point, which would be (totally unqualified physics analogy coming up) like the Higgs-Boson of Good-ness, that which gives everything it's Good-ness.

            But even still, the question What good is best? doesn't beg any further question. It is followed by "How do we attain that good?" Which can be aided by science.

          • primenumbers

            But by saying "What good is best?" implies a measurement of "best" which can be applied to various "goods". So now we start asking the question on "what measurement of 'best' is best" and so we continue....

          • Then you anchor it. What good is most aligned with God?

            And science does help to answer this question.

          • primenumbers

            You could anchor it there as you believe in a God. Now of course we can get God to do the same as we've been doing and he can ask himself "what "good" is best" and he'll say "Me!". Not a terribly useful answer to either him or us....

          • If goodness is "what is aligned with God", we examine God as we can see him throughout the universe, and in revelation, and we match our concept of goodness and ethics to that.

          • BenS

            Similar, I suppose, to using image analysis based on ratings of photos to provide a human face that is statistically the 'most beautiful' based on the responses.

            It will never tell you what the objective value of beauty is because it doesn't exist. Everyone will have a different idea. But it WILL give you an average to which you can say 'most people will consider this face to be beautiful'.

          • Keep trying this until you get the best set of ethical rules that the evidence available to you has demonstrated.

            What if you arrive at the conclusion that happiness is maximized if 10% of the population is enslaved. There is a consensus that slavery is immoral, but in your scientific system, it would be moral, because while it made 10% of the population suffer terribly, that was more than made up for by the increased happiness of the remaining 99%.

            Don't forget that eugenics was a scientific program.

          • primenumbers

            You miss the point entirely..... The scientific system is not telling you what is moral, but what works. Set the goal and index calculation for it and it will (theoretically) give you the answer to your question.

            (BTW, where did the extra 9% to make your total population 109% come from?)

          • josh

            You inadvertently got it right at the end. Science tells you what is, there is no good. There is no ought or should. Science tells you that you are asking the wrong questions if you think these have objective answers. That's not a limitation of science, it's a feature of the universe.

          • How do you get from "Science tells you what is" to "There is no good"?

            That's right, tautology. If science can't see it, it must not exist.

          • josh

            Nope. Roughly, if science can't see it, you don't have sufficient reason to believe it exists. But I can at least imagine things that objectively exist that are never detected by science. 'Good' is in a different category, it is fundamentally subjective. So objective good, which I presume you have in mind, won't be determined by science because it can't exist.

          • Why can't it exist?

          • josh

            Because good can't be defined objectively (and still comport with normal usage of the word). Basically, whatever you think I should do, there is no purely logical or evidential argument that can compel me on rational grounds to do so, unless you first appeal to a desire on my part. But desire is ultimately subjective itself, you can't rationally argue me into a desire without a prior underlying desire that would prompt me to take action in changing the first desire.

            For example, you could try to define good as 'what god wants'. There would be no evidence for this god or what he wants, but still, at this level anyhow, we could imagine in the abstract that there was a hidden god and it wants something. That would be a putative objective fact about the universe, like the mass of planet X. But you can't rationally compel me to care about what god wants, except to appeal to my other pre-existing wants (god will punish you, you don't want pain, etc.). But if I'm not rationally compelled to care about it without appeal to the subjective, then it doesn't seem to be a meaningful definition of 'objective good'. It would at best be an abstract property of the universe that can't compel my action.

          • Nope. Roughly, if science can't see it, you don't have sufficient reason to believe it exists.

            Don't you at least have to add in principle? We did not see, or even have photographs of, the far side of the moon until 1959. Nobody doubted its existence. Nobody "saw" the Higgs boson until last year. There have been many particles (e.g., quarks) whose existence was only hypothesized but were later detected. We are still looking for gravitons. If you use the word see, it seems to me far too restrictive. However, if you use something a little less concrete, as I think you have to, you open the door to abstractions such as "objective good."

            Not all atheists, by the way, deny the existence of objective good.

          • Nobody has seen dark matter despite fifty years of trying.

            Trying *hard*.

            There is a point at which the failure to discover the predicted entities of a theory becomes evidence that the theory itself has embraced false assumptions.

            There is also a point at which the direct observations of entities directly *contrary* to predictions falsify a given theory.

            Then there is that point where both things happen at the same time.

            Like now.

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-tale-of-two-anomalies.html

          • There is a point at which the failure to discover the predicted entities of a theory becomes evidence that the theory itself has embraced false assumptions.

            But dark matter has not merely been predicted, like, say, the Higgs boson. It has been detected through observation of its gravity.

            Nobody has seen an electron, and nobody ever will. That doesn't mean electrons don't exist.

          • "But dark matter has not merely been predicted, like, say, the Higgs boson. It has been detected through observation of its gravity."

            >> We have here a catastrophic example of what happens when science departs its method, and regresses to the stage of Cargo Cult shamanism.

            Notice:

            We observe galaxies that do not obey Kepler's Laws.

            They do not obey Newton's Laws.

            They do not obey Einstein's Laws.

            The matter does not exist within the universe to account for these observations.

            It is not observed.

            There are two possibilities in such a case.

            DOOR NUMBER ONE:

            Our theory does not work at scales larger than a stellar cluster.

            DOOR NUMBER TWO:

            Our theory *must* work, therefore we shall invent the missing matter, call it "dark", define it as undetectable, and then point to the very observations in question as proof of its existence.

            DOOR NUMBER TWO is Cargo Cult shamanism.

          • So relativity is wrong, evolution is wrong, particle physics is wrong, astronomy is wrong, and cosmology is wrong. Is there any field of modern science that is not, according to you, a house of cards that will soon come tumbling down?

          • Relativity is certainly wrong in its current, FLRW formulation.

            It might be salvageable in its LTB formulations, but those are geocentric solutions, so the matter is still dramatically favorable to the Church's position in l'affaire Galileo.

            Evolution is not science in the first place.

            Particle physics has one chance left, which is the 2017 run of the LHC. No supersymmetry, no adequate particle physics.

            Astronomy is not wrong. Astronomy is an observational science. Its interpretations are vigorous and alive, full of contesting theorists honestly pursuing science. Usually. Halton Arp excepted. What happened to him was an outrage of the sort that, after all, attends all human endeavours, science certainly being no exception.

            Cosmology, in its current, LCDM model, is certainly collapsing.

            These things happen from time to time.

            It is the nature of science.

            It is exciting to live at a a time when the pillars are all wobbling at once.

          • Max Driffill

            Evolution is not science in the first place. bah hah hahahahahahahahahaha ha ha HAR! I suppose if you keep repeating that nonsense enough, it might eventually be true, but probably not.

          • epeeist

            Evolution is not science in the first place.

            Well you see Popper, who is the only philosopher of science said it wasn't science. So therefore it isn't.

            But of course he changed his mind...

            When speaking here of Darwinism, I shall speak always of today's theory - that is Darwin's own theory of natural selection supported by the Mendelian theory of heredity, by the theory of the mutation and recombination of genes in a gene pool, and by the decoded genetic code. This is an immensely impressive and powerful theory. The claim that it completely explains evolution is of course a bold claim, and very far from being established. All scientific theories are conjectures, even those that have successfully passed many severe and varied tests. The Mendelian underpinning of modern Darwinism has been well tested, and so has the theory of evolution which says that all terrestrial life has evolved from a few primitive unicellular organisms, possibly even from one single organism.

            However, Darwin's own most important contribution to the theory of evolution, his theory of natural selection, is difficult to test. There are some tests, even some experimental tests; and in some cases, such as the famous phenomenon known as 'industrial melanism', we can observe natural selection happening under our very eyes, as it were. Nevertheless, really severe tests of the theory of natural selection are hard to come by, much more so than tests of otherwise comparable theories in physics or chemistry.

            The fact that the theory of natural selection is difficult to test has led some people, anti-Darwinists and even some great Darwinists, to claim that it is a tautology. A tautology like 'All tables are tables' is not, of course, testable; nor has it any explanatory power. It is therefore most surprising to hear that some of the greatest contemporary Darwinists themselves formulate the theory in such a way that it amounts to the tautology that those organisms that leave most offspring leave most offspring.

            C. H. Waddington says somewhere (and he defends this view in other places) that 'Natural selection . . . turns out ... to be a tautology'. However, he attributes at the same place to the theory an 'enormous power. ... of explanation'. Since the explanatory power of a tautology is obviously zero, something must be wrong here.

            Yet similar passages can be found in the works of such great Darwinists as Ronald Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane, and George Gaylord Simpson; and others.

            I mention this problem because I too belong among the culprits. Influenced by what these authorities say, I have in the past described the theory as 'almost tautological', and I have tried to explain how the theory of natural selection could be untestable (as is a tautology) and yet of great scientific interest. My solution was that the doctrine of natural selection is a most successful metaphysical research programme. It raises detailed problems in many fields, and it tells us what we would expect of an acceptable solution of these problems.

            I still believe that natural selection works in this way as a research programme. Nevertheless, I have changed my mind about the testability and the logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation. My recantation may, I hope, contribute a little to the understanding of the status of natural selection.
            Natural selection and the emergence of mind.
            Dialectica 32: 339-355.

            Of course it does help if you know what a "metaphysical research programme" is, but Lakatos is better on this than Popper.

          • MariusDejess

            Random blind mutation and natural productive selection, how do they exist together at the same time and in the same place?

            Or there is a time when and a place where natural productive selection is preserved and thereby conserved and thereby stabilized against the forces of random blind mutation, a time and place not accessible to random blind mutation, so that random blind mutation not being at the same time and in the same place as when and where natural productive selection has occurred, cannot wreak havoc against the fruit of natural productive selection; otherwise whatever natural productive selection has achieved random blind mutation will destroy it immediately -- and there goes every new species of life, or even the very chance of life ever coming to existence at all.

            Marius de Jess

          • Max Driffill

            Marius,

            There are great many errors here.

            The most telling is this. You are not accounting for differential reproduction. Environments are, more or less, non-random in the short term, and can remain constant and unchanging for very long stretches of geological time. Environments form selective pressures. Not all mutations in a given environment will be beneficial to the bearer of said mutation, in fact many (most) will not. Some will benefit the bearer not all, but also impose no costs, these we call neutral mutations. Some mutations will give the bearer a competitive edge. A competitive edge simply leads to a reproductive advantage. Reproductive advantage is the stuff of evolution. An individual with a slight reproductive advantage in a given environment will out reproduce its competitors, and thus spread this advantageous mutation through the population. This kind of thing can happen very fast in small founding populations, but takes longer in larger populations.

            In deceptively simple terms, evolution is about changing gene frequencies over time. This can happen in numerous ways, but adaptive change results from a mutation conferring some reproductive advantage on bearers of the mutation. Mutation aren't really free to spread like wildfire through a population, unless, they are neutral, or they confer advantage. Those mutations that do not, are quickly eliminated from populations because those who bear them do not get as many (perhaps not any) reproductive opportunities.

          • It is useful to point out that I have posted the below link at least twenty time.

            Many evolutionists have scoffed.

            None have engaged.

            There is an excellent reason for this.

            Click and see for yourself:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • epeeist

            So relativity is wrong, evolution is wrong, particle physics is wrong, astronomy is wrong, and cosmology is wrong.

            Looks to me as though someone who could actually demonstrate this, rather than just shout about it, might be in line for several Nobel and Crafoord prizes, Fields medals and maybe a trip to Japan for the Kyoto prize.

          • Danielle

            And has not good been detected through observation of it's affect on a reciever and observer?

          • josh

            Roughly I said. 'Science can't see' is Daniel's phrasing. I'm taking it to mean 'has no evidence of'. We have evidence of the dark side of the moon, quarks etc. and we never directly 'see' anything. We don't have evidence of objective good.

          • We don't have evidence of objective good.

            What about objective truth? If what is good or evil is just a matter of opinion, is it just a matter of opinion what is true and false?

          • josh

            We have evidence of objective truths. That doesn't mean we possess absolute certainties of those truths, but we do have evidence on which we can build a coherent theory. This is precisely what we don't have for 'good'. Quarks appear to exist independent of my opinions, good does not. Objective, subjective.

          • We have evidence of objective truths.

            I said objective truth. Is there objective truth, not are there things that are objectively true.

            Quarks appear to exist independent of my opinions, good does not. Objective, subjective.

            Is that really what quantum mechanics says? Doesn't a tremendous amount in quantum mechanics depend on the observer? And it is very much an open question in the philosophy of science whether the human perceptions that, under current theories, lead to the belief that quarks exist are perceptions of an objective reality.

          • josh

            "I said objective truth. Is there objective truth, not are there things that are objectively true." I don't understand the distinction you are trying to draw. Objectively true things are objective truths, no?

            QM is of course it's own kettle of worms, but it doesn't depend on the observer I would say. What the observer sees isn't, for some questions, predictable from the prior state of the observed or the observer. There's nothing special about any particular observer that affects the outcome. Your opinions on quarks don't change the experiment. As I tried to make clear, I don't claim that humans directly perceive objective reality, only that our perceptions count as evidence for an independent objective reality.

          • Danielle

            But we do have evidence of objective good. It does have an affect on the reciever and observers.

          • epeeist

            But we do have evidence of objective good.

            So give us an example of an "objective good", and tell us why it is an "objective good" and how you know it is.

          • josh

            It would help if you could give an example of what you had in mind. But what we have evidence of is physical things affecting other physical things. Now there are certain commonalities among most humans, so we can say that people who are rejected by society are usually unhappy, that many people have a sense of guilt which is shaped by society, that most humans have a sense of empathy and compassion for others, although this is limited by tribal identification, etc. But none of these things show an objective good that is different from our subjective desires and the effects of society and evolution.

          • Danielle

            Does bad exist? Is there no objectively wrong or right? Is this only what society tells us?

          • BenS

            Does ethics affect the universe?

            In and of themselves, no.

            Can science do ethics?

            What does this mean?

          • Ethics affects the universe, because people live their lives according to ethics, and people affect the universe. But science can't tell you what ethical system is the most good.

          • BenS

            Ethics affects the universe, because people live their lives according to ethics, and people affect the universe.

            You've just contradicted yourself. People affect the universe, not ethics. Remove the people, what effect will ethics have? None. Hence, people affect the universe, ethics don't.

            But science can't tell you what ethical system is the most good.

            Because good is subject and science doesn't really bother itself with subjective answers. If no answer is true and correct then it's not really a question for science.

          • If A affects B and B affects C, then A affects C. This is really basic stuff Ben.

            Again, begging the question by asserting that all things science can't answer are 'subjective'.

          • BenS

            If A affects B and B affects C, then A affects C. This is really basic stuff Ben.

            Well, in which case, my mind affects you getting an erection.

            My mind affects my hand, my hand affects the Earth's atmosphere, the atmosphere affects your wife, your wife affects your erection.

            Basic stuff, Daniel.

            Think of me tonight.

          • Your example is a little disturbing, but proves my point. The "Butterfly Effect" as it were does the same. '

            Hitler's ethics lead to him building concentration camps. This is an obvious effect upon "the universe".

            So, nice deflection!

          • BenS

            I've answered it properly. Concepts do not, themselves, affect anything.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So mathematics also do not affect anything only the person who uses mathematics. Yet mathematics is derived from reality and so should ethics be.

          • Rationalist1

            Modern Mathematics is not derived from the physical world. Math is created and it may or may not have any application to the physical world.

          • Then the physical world does not equal reality.

            Thanks, that is exactly our point.

          • BenS

            Well, mathematics and ethics are derived from our observations of reality but yes.

          • Frank Montez Jr.

            What are the rules of behavior toward each other and comments in general ?In particular , Ben's remark : Daniel's erection , Daniel's wife and Daniel thinking of him tonight. Are we enforcing anything , at least giving any warnings ? How bad does it need to get ?

          • BenS

            Mr McGiffin is a mod himself and I'm sure he's a big enough boy that if he thought the comments breached the rules, he would have told me or taken action himself.

            I was not insulting or abusive and my point was valid. I suggest if you find the concepts discussed on here not to your taste, you follow Brandon's sound advice to those who don't like what they read... and leave.

          • BenS

            Additionally, concepts don't affect people. When we say that, it's a shorthand to say that someone has been affected by their consideration of the concept.

            People's minds affect people based on their understanding of concepts. It's not the concepts themselves that affect the person, it's the working of their own mind. Let's face it, people formulate the concepts themselves and they modify their own behaviour accordingly.

          • But ethics is only ever taken into consideration as someone's ethics. Someone's ethical system affects their behavior. How people deal with metaphysical questions affects people.

          • BenS

            No, someone's consideration of ethical positions affects their behaviour. The ethical concepts themselves do not.

          • So the agent is affected by their interaction with the object and then go and affect the universe.

          • BenS

            Interaction with what object? Concepts are not objects as I understand them. The only interaction is neurons in the brain as the concept is considered. The concept itself interacts with nothing.

          • It's an object grammatically. And is interacted with when you "consider" it.

          • BenS

            So... to use clearer words for the stupid amongst us, that could be written as:

            "So the agent is affected by their consideration of the concept."

            Which means it's their consideration that's providing the effect. Not the concept.

          • But the concept is necessary to providing the effect. Without the concept you're considering... nothing. Which might have an effect on someone, but not like what we're talking about.

            At no point can you remove the concept from the chain of causality and end with the same result.

          • BenS

            Actually, the concept is a RESULT of the consideration. If the concept isn't considered, it doesn't exist to that person. The 'concept' is a discriptor we're using for the result of an act of thinking. No thinking, no concepts.

            The concept isn't a stage in the process, it's a byproduct of consideration. The concept itself cannot affect anything; only the act of thinking about something is affecting the person.

          • Another concept results from consideration of a previous concept, and to be honest, I'm not even remembering what it was we set out to settle, and why.

          • BenS

            That concepts do not affect reality. Only agents acting on those concepts affect reality.

          • If agents acting on concepts are acting differently than agents not acting on those same concepts, then concepts have altered something.

          • BenS

            No, the consideration of those concepts by the agents has altered something, in this case, the actions of the agents.

            I should have phrased my post:

            "That concepts do not affect reality. Only agents acting on their consideration of those concepts affect reality."

            For clarity.

          • But again, without the concepts, things would be different. Without the considering of _something_, things would be different.

          • BenS

            I think the problem there is you're trying to say the concept is, itself, a thing. It's not. It's the byproduct of thinking, it's the name we give to the result of thinking that we have, for ease of description, given the name concept. The concept itself is not an actual thing that can exist on its own, nor can it do anything.

            I'm trying to think of an analogy and all I can come up with is the running engine - 'running' itself doesn't do anything, it's just the description of a state the engine is in. That make sense?

          • But it's something that can be shared between people, and as soon as its transmittable then for all intents and purposes how is it not a thing?

          • BenS

            You're not actually transmitting it, you're causing the other person's neurons to rearrange so they then hold that information. Like when you send a file to another computer. You're not actually sending a thing, you're sending the information for instructing the bits in the receiving hard drive to arrange themselves in a way that replicates that file.

            The file itself isn't a thing, it's just a description of the arrangement of bits on a thing.

          • I did say for all intents and purposes. It seems to me you've gone to extreme lengths to try to disprove a fairly mundane and widely accepted statement about ideas and the people who act on them.

          • BenS

            Not really, I'm just trying to prevent creep of ideas because it leads to incorrect statements like 'concepts have effects on the real world'.

            I see it elsewhere when god is claimed to have an effect and what is really meant is people who believe in god have an effect. The latter, I have no problem with. The former, I do.

          • MariusDejess

            The concept you are considering if you are not the author of it, it already exists in your memory; so it is not factually realistic for you to say that the concept does not exist unless and until you are considering it.

            Now, how did the concept get into your memory? Simple, you got it from say Dawkins or Stenger or Hawking or Krauss or Hitchens or Harris...

            Marius de Jess

          • Michael Murray

            Just so you know many of the posts you are replying to here are by people who have been banned. So don't expect a reply from them. Best not to reply to posts more than a few minutes old. The regular atheist commentators don't survive very long. You can find some of them over here:

            http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com.au

          • Michael Murray

            Sorry to butt into this discussion with BenS. I'm wondering Daniel if you think ethics are independent of people. Let's say we all wake up dead tomorrow (gamma-ray burst or some other extinction event). Is there still ethics ?

          • BenS

            By all means join in. I think I've broken my brain.

          • I would contend (feel free to disagree, or disprove!) that ethics is a system by which sentient beings can come closer to/align themselves with the Good, what ever Good is so ascribed by any given ethical system (pleasure, utility, God, etc).

            So ethics is how we do Good. Does logic still exist if there are no more rational beings alive?

          • Michael Murray

            Thanks. So it sounds like you are thinking of the process (system) of ethical reasoning rather than the ethical "truths" that might be out there somewhere.

          • Ethics is a system for human beings to act Good-ly, yes. Goodness and Truth are aligned, so the system is anchored to an objective Goodness, but without humans, there's no system.

          • Michael Murray

            So what would ethics look like for another species on another planet. What if it was a species where the male was smaller, weaker, lower IQ and died after having sex a few times. Wouldn't what was good be different ? So there can't be an objective goodness ?

          • No, I can say that how their species can be the most good is different, so a different ethical system is required, but the Good can remain the same.

          • Max Driffill

            Given the reticence of our believing friends to entertain, and seriously, such hypotheticals I will be surprised if this challenge is taken up.

          • Michael said-
            [---
            Let's say we all wake up dead tomorrow (gamma-ray burst or some other extinction event). Is there still ethics ?
            ---]

            The answer is the same as for "would there still be mathematics?"

            It depends on whether you think it is invented or discovered.

          • Michael Murray

            I think that depends on what you mean by mathematics. What is true is fixed because they are basically tautologies. What theorems you decided to prove, what definitions you make, what the proofs look like are invented.

            But it seems like what Daniel means by ethics is the process not the final outcomes.

          • Rationalist1

            BenS - Technically that's correct and it does help to make that clarification.

          • BenS

            Thanks. I'm still kind of clumsing* my way through the subject so what is old hat to you veterans is stuff I'm just thinking of now. What, to you, is a clarification is often things I've only just realised and probably think it's profound and clever. Ah well, I'll catch up one day. Every day's a school day! :)

            ---

            * New word!

          • Rationalist1

            Ethics affects sentient beings, not the universe.

          • But sentient beings affect the universe. Again, Transitive Property here...

            If A affect B and B affects C, then A affects C.

          • BenS

            I don't think they do. I've tried to put what I mean here, in my usual stumbling manner.

            https://strangenotions.com/lambert/#comment-964286668

          • ZenDruid

            There is a very important ethical side to science, the main points being:

            Don't lie. Don't fudge the data.

          • Rationalist1

            And scientists are brutal (rightfully so) when someone breaks that rule.

          • Except, of course, when they are not doing science, but metaphysics, and continuing to call it science, since it sells better:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • Danielle

            I would say since Christ came it has had a huge affect in our world within the universe so yes God does.

          • primenumbers

            In other words science is a reliable method of gaining knowledge and faith is demonstrably unreliable. It's not rational to use an unreliable epistemology.

          • MariusDejess

            Here is the description of God in Genesis and in the Apostles' Creed:

            "In the beginning God created heaven and earth." Gen. 1:1.

            "I believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth." Apostles' Creed, verse 1.

            So, God is not described all the time and everywhere as " mysteriously un-knowable."

            First and foremost God is the creator of the universe.

            Do you find that to be "mysteriously un-knowable"?

            How is it "mysteriously un-knowable" to you anyone who bring up that allegation?

            You know the meaning of the word universe, just add God as creator of the universe, now you know what and who is God.

            Anyway, I like to hear from you what you find mysteriously unknowable with the description of God as the creator of the universe.

            Marius de Jess
            mdejess(@)gmail.com

        • primenumbers

          I don't know.... I've not seen reasonable descriptions of God, just descriptions that wrongly have existence as a property, or have contradictory properties that lead to a complete lack of coherence in the definition. Or when we get to looking at the problem of evil and suffering it's always a multitude of possible rationalizations, but nobody can actually say why God let that child die.

          The main definitions of God are in the negative - he doesn't exist in space and time, he's immaterial (not made of matter) etc. - they don't tell us what God is, just what he is not, leaving what God actually is as a total mystery. The powers of God - omnipotence and omniscience don't iterate out all the things he can do or all the things he knows but essentially tell us in the negative what he cannot do (nothing) and doesn't know (nothing).

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            For those who believe in him, God exist also in space and time.

            Logic is relative (also the non-contradictory principle is somewhat relative, and physics seem telling it to us), time is relative (we can remember the Black Holes where time seems to lose meaning). God for definition is absolute.

            It's obvious that if God exists, we can hardly understand great part of his reality; how could we understand God so much if we ignore great part of the Universe (and of the possibly existing universes, and also a lot of the Earth)? For the Christians, the essential things about God have been revealed by Jesus Christ and in the Sacred Scriptures.

            Science cannot say "God doesn't exist", simply, as Lambert said, science doesn't have in its objects, in its methods, in its field of work, the correct tools to decide that that assertion is true.

          • BenS

            For those who believe in him, God exist also in space and time.

            and

            Science cannot say "God doesn't exist", simply, as Lambert said, sciencedoesn't have in its objects, in its methods, in its field of work, the correct tools to decide that that assertion is true.

            Science doesn't tend to. What science tends to say is that 'there is no evidence that X exists'.

            Now, if your god exists within space and time (and has an effect on anything) science can test for this effect.

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            Can science test the eventual presence of a bacterium in one world in a far away Galaxy? I've said also that science has a very poor knowledge also of the Earth itself...

            And it's obvious that if God, as I believe (and I don't pretend others believe it), is present also in time and space, my faith said that He doesn't want that men demonstrate scientifically, and out of any doubt, his existence.

          • BenS

            Can science test the eventual presence of a bacterium in one world in a far away Galaxy?

            In theory, yes. It might not be you standing there with your miscroscope but some triple-breasted scientist from Eroticon VI but the presence of that bacterium is not outside the range of science in general, it's just outside your range.

            my faith said that He doesn't want that men demonstrate scientifically, and out of any doubt, his existence.

            The only way he can do this is by being indistuingishable from the natural working of the universe. In which case he, to all intents and purposes, does not exist. Fine. I'm happy with that assessment.

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            "In which case he, to all intents and purposes, does not exist", intents and purpose of whom?

            If one doesn't believe in God, he can say that God doesn't exist for him; this doesn't mean that God, out of any doubt, also for science, doesn't exist. No one knows the future, the future is a great field for faith - of any kind - and only who has some kind of faith can say: "God exists", or "God doesn't exist"; one can say only: "I've never seen God", but because he doesn't know the future he cannot say with sureness "I will never see God". A scientist can say "I can demonstrate the nonexistence of God ", but to prove it without any doubt, and for every time, is out of his field of research, because he doesn't know the future and because our knowledge is unfortunately relative and very limited.

            "The only way he can do this is by being indistinguishable from the natural working of the universe".

            God can make anything (limits are given by the kind of God one's faith reveals). For the God of Christian revelation is really very simple avoiding that men could demonstrate without any doubt his existence, and he equally can easily give hints, suggestions about his existence requiring intelligence and faith.

          • BenS

            intents and purpose of whom

            Anyone. If you're going to stand there and say that something exists but you can detect it in any way, it doesn't do anything detectable at all and his no effect on anything then you're using a definition of 'exists' that doesn't mean anything in practice.

            A scientist can say "I can demonstrate the nonexistence of God ",

            A scientist is more likely to say 'I cannot find any evidence for god'. If you're saying that god cannot, even in theory ever be detected, then it doesn't matter what the future holds. You've already given the definition that he cannot be detected.

            For the God of Christian revelation is really very simple avoiding that men could demonstrate without any doubt his existence, and he equally can easily give hints, suggestions about his existence requiring intelligence and faith.

            Sounds like a bald assertion with no other purpose than to hide from the fact that no evidence can ever be provided for your god.

            Which means.... SPACE PONIES!!!

            For the Space Ponies of revelation is really very simple avoiding that men could demonstrate without any doubt their existence, and they equally can easily give hints, suggestions about their existence requiring intelligence and faith.

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            Also ideas exist, theories exist, products of imagination exist, hypothesis not demonstrated exist, ideas on ethics exist, and have effects; and they are detected in the people, as the conviction of existence of God is detected at least among peoples through their lives and their way of living (also as for the conviction of non-existence of God).

            I was talking about the demonstration of God in science when I talked of the non-demonstration. Christian God doesn't want be detected without any kind of faith, in the material world, not in the whole reality (that, for Christians, is also and far more beyond these material universes we live in). Life after death is considered a situation in which men can see God face to face; science doesn't work with that kind of things as after-death (except in the corpses).

            "the fact that no evidence can ever be provided for your god"
            if you talk about scientific evidence (very limited, paradoxically and especially because of his its very accurate methods) you can be right, but it is not true if we talk about whole life, that needs without doubt some kind of faith in every moment.

            Space ponies could exist, I (and anyone) cannot say if they exist or not, and besides it depends on what characteristics you attribute to them. Science can say normally (depending on the model of reality it uses for its specific purposes) that something exists, but about non-existence of things it must be very cautious: we could remember the Popper consideration on the white swans and the black swans.

          • BenS

            Also ideas exist, theories exist, products of imagination exist, hypothesis not demonstrated exist, ideas on ethics exist, and have effects;

            Yes, but they're not real things - things that affect reality. They're just concepts. All this has been said before.

            Christian God doesn't want be detected without any kind of faith, in the material world, not in the whole reality (that, for Christians, is also and far more beyond these material universes we live in).

            This becomes circular. God cannot be detected without faith therefore you can't detect him you obviously don't have faith.

            Rejected.

            you can be right, but it is not true if we talk about whole life, that needs without doubt some kind of faith in every moment.

            Nonsense, unevidence, word salad.

            Rejected.

            Space ponies could exist, I (and anyone) cannot say if they exist or not, and besides it depends on what characteristics you attribute to them.

            As long as you realise your god falls into the same category as Space Ponies then that's fine by me.

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            "things that affect reality. They're just concepts. All this has been said before."

            Said or not said, these things affect reality through men, and man, and things he makes, are entirely part of reality. Or we must say man is not part of the universe?

            "This becomes circular. God cannot be detected without faith therefore you can't detect him you obviously don't have faith"
            Faith has this power to help intellect to detect God.

            "Nonsense, unevidence, word salad."
            Nonsense? Every second you cannot be sure at 100% that things will be in a certain way in the next or far future; you must believe you will live the next minute, you must believe that a lot of things will be there where you are watching, you must think (believe) a lot of things become something else or remain the same for some time, also thinking science will permit to discover a lot of other parts of reality is a form of faith... Some kind of faith is indispensable. One can use it as he wants. But it is indispensable, in part because of the unknown future.

            " into the same category as Space Ponies"
            Everything that could exist is of that category in some way...

          • BenS

            Said or not said, these things affect reality through men, and man, and things he makes, are entirely part of reality.

            No, men affect reality by considering the concepts. The concepts themselves do nothing. By said before, I mean on here, in conversations with Kevin and again with McGiffin the other day. I'm not doing it a third time.

            Start here (at the top) and read down:

            https://strangenotions.com/lambert/#comment-964300868

            Then start at the top of here:

            https://strangenotions.com/lambert/#comment-964389931

            And read down.

            Some kind of faith is indispensable.

            No, faith is belief without evidence. I have evidence that, in the next second, my desk is not going to leap for the stars in that it has never shown any propensity to do that before nor have I heard a valid claim from anyone else that desks do such a thing. I don't have faith, I have reasonable expectations based on experience and evidence.

            For your god, you have no evidence, you just have faith. Massive difference.

            Everything that could exist is of that category in some way...

            Nope, because for most other things, it is possible to gather evidence for them. Apples are not like Space Ponies because we have evidence that apples exist and - even if we didn't - because apples have mass they are able to be detectable by science.

            Space Ponies cannot be detected, ever. They have no mass, they have no effect, they cannot be detected or shown to exist. Space Ponies are like your god. They are not like apples.

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            "someone's consideration of ethical positions affects their behaviour."

            Is this consideration (=1 [mass noun] careful thought, typically over a period of time) of ethical position real? If it is so, it is something of not physical, as ideas and concepts, and it is constructed also with (I'm using some definitions from Oxford Dictionaries)
            - ideas (idea = 1. a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action), about the way of facing another man, about the structure of the universe, about personal effects..., an hypothesis is an idea;
            - concepts (=Philosophy - an idea or mental image which corresponds to some distinct entity or class of entities, or to its essential features, or determines the application
            of a term (especially a predicate), and thus plays a part in the use of reason or language),
            constituted by neuronal processes of our brain and expressed in our language with our tongue and vocal chords or written with our hands guided by our brain, and used for a lot of purposes: to make hypothesis, to communicate notions often essential for one's life.
            If it's not so (it isn't real), the consideration of ethical position doesn't exist in reality, and it shouldn't affect the universe.

            "I have evidence that, in the next second, my desk is not going to leap for the stars in that it has never shown any propensity to do that before nor have I heard a valid claim from anyone else that desks do such a thing"

            You can have evidence after something has happened, not before.
            The past can help for predicting the future, but it doesn't give sureness at 100% it will be in some way. Various highly unpredictable disasters show that a lot of things are insecure (for example earthquakes - also in places considered 'sure', or meteorites), the probability can be low or very low, but it is not possible totally to eliminate it. The future is sometimes greatly unpredictable; and any case it never can be sure what will happen in the future. The breakup of the window panes of the windows near the last meteorite fall in Russia was highly unpredictable but it has happened.

            "faith is belief without evidence"

            This definition is not the definition I use for faith.
            In the Oxford Dictionary (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/faith?q=faith) it is said also: Faith = "2. [count noun] a strongly held belief", it doesn't mention "without evidence". And the 1. says: "complete trust or confidence in someone or something", it doesn't talk about "without evidence".
            And about Belief (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/belief?q=Belief ) the 1. says: "an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof", "especially without proof"... And in 2. there is: " (belief in) trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something)", that talks about a synonymy between faith and belief.

            "Nope, because for most other things, it is possible to gather evidence for them"

            There are much more things that can be thought to exist than things that are considered existing. The apples exist, they are not in the category. But apples of 10 tons are on the aforesaid category at some rate, as hundreds of strange apples we can imagine; and for every existing thing, much more things can be hypothesized. Their existence will be very little probable, or greatly probable, but they are among the possible things, because of our really poor knowledge of the universe.

            "They have no mass, they have no effect, they cannot be detected or shown to exist. Space Ponies are like your god. They are not like apples"

            No one can say if can be among the 100 billion (underestimated, probably) stars of our Galaxy, and among the 100 billion galaxies (again underestimated, probably) in our Universe, will be Space Ponies (obviously I mean these in the sense of Ponies that wander through the space, not in the sense of an achievement of an internet game - because in this last case other kind of considerations would be necessary). Also no one can say Space Ponies will not exist in the future, also because time is relative and we don't know the past very well, no one can say with complete certainty even Space Ponies have existed.

          • Michael Murray

            So people think without getting tired and using up energy. That's never been my experience.

          • Alberto Quagliaroli CM – Italy

            I have a little headache, and probably this is a good suggestion.

        • Rationalist1

          I've never seen a description of God here or by religious people in a language that is in anyway definite. That was one of the problems Richard Dawkins encountered in The God Delusion. No matter what definition he used he would get the reply, "But that's not my God" Finally he came up with a definition that God was the creator of the world and interacts with his creation and is deserving of worship.

      • John Paul

        "On the other hand, the "God answer" to questions answers nothing because as soon as you ask a theist anything meaningful about God, all you get is that God is mysteriously un-knownable. Something that we don't understand is not an explanation, but just a pushing of the question back one step further. Far better to just say "I don't know" rather than invent the God answer."

        Here, you've made a non-empirical statement just the same as you claim the theist cannot provide anything except for an non-empirical answer to the truth-value of God's existence. If you wish to delve into the aspects of logic which both theists/atheists ultimately either attempt to or actually do evaluate the aspects of logic that derive from questions about God, you must also accept that any individual might bring non-empirical statements to the table/discussion. When you say that the "God answer to questions answers nothing", you are completely wiping away 2,000 years of scholarly material upon the subject based upon a principle that removes the entire dimension of this question [and not one aspect of it, but all of it entirely]. The dimension of this removal is based upon a double standard that the theist cannot and does not provide any empirical proof and must resort to non-empirical methods, even though the statement you provide is not one that can be tested and observed. You also attribute a great straw-man to the theist by stating that all you get is that God is mysteriously unknowable; perhaps, you may have spoken with some theists who have given this answer. However, to attribute this answer to all answers is a down-right fallacy in logic. Moreover, if you wish to continue to make argumentative points, you might use propositions, many of which might not be empirically verifiable, because they deal with true and falseness that lies outside of induction. "Inventing the God answer" again pushes a huge fallacy of accent and another straw man argument because all this does is state once more, through a non-empirical lens (given that in this proposition you are positing some form of indeterminism [that there is a sort of free-will that allows you to deny the theist in support of your own view], that one method is better than another [within reference frame to what?], and that the aspect of the totality of the world can be answered by that which is not God related [the problem is that once more you would be applying a non-empirical argument upon an empirical principle]. If you wish to bridge together, however, inductive and deductive principles or rather, empirical and rational principles, you must not limit that potentiality only to the atheist but also to the theist. Even if you wish to employ one dimension of Hume's stragtegem that the rational world is accessible only because of the empirical existence of what is, the theist is also able to make that case via his experience within the world.

        I recommend that you read this article by Robert Spitzer S.J. in order to see at least one case where a theist blends together the two dimensions: http://magisgodwiki.org/index.php?title=Cosmology#The_2003_Borde-Vilenkin-Guth_Theorem_.28the_BVG_Theorem.29:

        The very process of discovery and combination of experience and reason might be said to reveal the human aspect and divine aspect of Christ. This latter point IS NOT a proof for or against Christ's existence but rather to show through such a process, whatever truth-value it holds, that through the process perhaps God does reveal part of His nature to us through the very aspect of existence. The following establishes the point of a contradiction in logical positivism.

        "In the history of the debate over positivism, the most radical charge was that positivism is self-refuting. The empiricist criterion of meaning itself does not seem to be a statement that expresses the formal relation of ideas, nor does it appear to be empirically verifiable. How might one empirically verify the principle? At best, the principle of verification seems to be a recommendation as to how to describe those statements that positivists are prepared to accept as meaningful. But then, how might a dispute about which other statements are meaningful be settled in a non-arbitrary fashion? To religious believers for whom talk of ...“God” is at the center stage of meaningful discourse, the use of the principle of empirical verification will seem arbitrary and question-begging. If the positivist principle is tightened up too far, it seems to threaten various propositions that at least appear to be highly respectable, such as scientific claims about physical processes and events that are not publicly observable. For example, what are we to think of states of the universe prior to all observation of physical strata of the cosmos that cannot be observed directly or indirectly but only inferred as part of an overriding scientific theory? Or what about the mental states of other persons, which may ordinarily be reliably judged, but which, some argue, are under-determined by external, public observation? A person's subjective states—how one feels—can be profoundly elusive to external observers and even to the person him or herself. Can you empirically observe another person's sense of happiness? Arguably, the conscious, subjective states of persons resist airtight verification and the evidence of such states does not meet positivist's standards (van Cleve 1999, Taliaferro 1994). Also worrisome was the wholesale rejection by positivists of ethics as a cognitive, normative practice. The dismissal of ethics as non-cognitive had some embarrassing ad hominum force against an empiricist like Ayer, who regarded ethical claims as lacking any truth value and yet at the same time he construed empirical knowledge in terms of having the right to certain beliefs. Critical assessments of positivism can be found in work by, among others, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and John Foster." (From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

        • primenumbers

          "You also attribute a great straw-man to the theist by stating that all you get is that God is mysteriously unknowable; perhaps, you may have spoken with some theists who have given this answer. However, to attribute this answer to all answers is a down-right fallacy in logic."

          I've never ever received a coherent notion of God. Not here, not elsewhere, not any theist.

          "you are completely wiping away 2,000 years of scholarly material" - yup. None of it worth the paper it's written on without a coherent notion of God.

          • John Paul

            You may not have read one [or understood fully what you have read], but that does not mean that one does not exist. It also does not mean that you have fully understood the material or argument within the contextual language within which something has been written. The following links might be some useful materials; perhaps these are sufficient for you, perhaps not, but to deny any entire concept because you have not read something that satisfies you does not invalidate the truth or falsity of a truth-value. If anything, read more, for there is much to read, and though much might be unsatisfying, that does suppress an argument that is actually coherent.
            1. http://www.amazon.com/New-Proofs-Existence-God-Contributions/dp/0802863833
            2.http://www.newadvent.org/summa/

          • primenumbers

            Ok, from the very first part of your 2nd link: "We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not. " - that's case closed on my part I'm afraid.

          • John Paul

            You avoided discussing the first link entirely (which held the bulk of providing a legitimate response); therefore, since you did not respond to the post in its entire actuality, I find that you have not read all material of the past 2,000 years to judge it upon scholarly merit. I put that first link there for a reason since it deals with the issue from an astrophysical, etiological, and cosmological perspective. Also, you have fallaciously suppressed the contextual support that goes on to explain that claim. The summa theologiae (mind you) is more than one sentence and takes more than a sentence of reading to understand. The, "I'm afraid," part is not an actual argument but a rhetorical accent for which you use to elevate your own self-referential point of view. Your response, therefore, by these reasons is currently an insufficient one. Also, to go back, the statement, "not worth the paper," is solely an ad hominem attack to avoid a serious discussion of the material that has been printed on the matter. Again, your response, by this ad hominem, ceases to be a logical argument and becomes fallacious. Also, the phrase, "from the very first part," is an additional method by which you elevate your own position by an implication of problem of start-finish, rather than take up an actual dialogue of the argument.

          • primenumbers

            The 1st link is to a book that claims to have new proofs for God but merely regurgitates old proofs. From what I've read of it, it doesn't address the issue at hand here which was my statement on the mysterious nature of God not being a good explanation: "On the other hand, the "God answer" to questions answers nothing because as soon as you ask a theist anything meaningful about God, all you get is that God is mysteriously un-knownable. Something that we don't understand is not an explanation, but just a pushing of the question back one step further."

            The quote I mention above states the exact issue in hand that God is essentially unknowable: ""We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not. "" - If the rest of the document contradicts that then the document is not consistent or coherent and not worthy of my time. If it doesn't contradict that, then it proves my case.

          • John Paul

            "The 1st link is to a book that claims to have new proofs for God but merely regurgitates old proofs."

            Unless you actually read the book, you would have no exact way to verify that except by secondary quotation from another source, which is not in itself illogical, but shows that this is still not a serious discussion based upon citations and reasons, but a review of material without actual citation of the material within its own philosophical context.

            "From what I've read of it, it doesn't address the issue at hand here which was my statement on the mysterious nature of God not being a good explanation."

            You have refuted the text on the basis of knowledge that you do not posses, and the issue is to prove the existence of God before discussing the nature of God, for one cannot discuss the nature of something existing if the premise of the things existing in itself is not sound. Your statement might have been about anything relating to coherence or other forms of epistemology of God, but this conversation is about a logical conversation about coherence, not about one aspect of that coherence, and therefore, needs to encompass all aspects of that coherence.

            "The quote I mention above states the exact issue in hand that God is essentially unknowable: ""We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not. "" - If the rest of the document contradicts that then the document is not consistent or coherent and not worthy of my time. If it doesn't contradict that, then it proves my case."

            St. Thomas Aquinas has a very exact way of writing. He has objections and replies to numerous entries throughout his work. One needs to be able to discuss the authenticity of the premise by evaluating those premises such as "what He is not" in order to discern whether or not this is true. You say the following, "If the rest of the document contradicts that then the document is not consistent or coherent and not worthy of my time," which includes ad hominem as well as a premise of philosophy that itself needs to be evaluated. "Not worthy of my time," is another ad hominem attack to discredit the topic and does not show any serious discussion but a dismissal based upon your earlier premise, "If the rest of the document contradicts that then the document is not consistent or coherent." As to that statement, you might find that discussing the premise stated in the beginning is not incoherent but necessary. As Richard A. Muller, an American professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, writes, in physics you state your hypothesis, but if, upon turning in a paper that does not beat and discuss all aspects of an issue to show how that conclusion was drawn, you would receive a failing grade:

            "In physics, the common standard is that you need to demonstrate 95% confidence in your result before a journal will allow you to publish it as a statistically significant observation. ... Physicists, by tradition, have a more stringent standard than the courts: if you are caught exaggerating, distorting, or cheery picking, your scientific reputation is damaged if not destroyed. I learned as a graduate student that in a presentation or paper I am expected to present all the evidence--not just the truth but the whole truth, including any facts or analysis that might disagree with my conclusions. The public discussion of global warming rarely meets this standard of full disclosure. When scientists present their case to the public, caution is interpreted not as good as science, but as weakness. Among physicists, the opposite is true."

            St. Thomas Aquinas, via philosophy, 800 years ago focused upon just that aspect of rigorousness. Moreover, it does not indeed "prove" your case that 2,000 years of information is incoherent but that at least, and at the very least, that one source, and only one, has not lived up to your own, self-referential expectations.

          • primenumbers

            "and the issue is to prove the existence of God before discussing the nature of God," - that's an entirely different discussion that what we were having which was about God being essentially unknowable, a point you have utterly failed to address in any meaningful matter while wasting an awful lot of your own time, it would seem...

          • John Paul

            "that's an entirely different discussion that what we were having which was about God being essentially unknowable, a point you have utterly failed to address in any meaningful matter while wasting an awful lot of your own time, it would seem..."

            That itself is a premise upon which I commented: "One cannot discuss the nature of something existing if the premise of the things existing in itself is not sound. Your statement might have been about anything relating to coherence or other forms of epistemology of God, but this conversation is about a logical conversation about coherence, not about one aspect of that coherence, and therefore, needs to encompass all aspects of that coherence." As such, it is not, "[an utter failure] to address [the argument] in any meaningful matter."

            "while wasting an awful lot of your own time, it would seem..."

            This is another ad hominem attack and another logical fallacy in this conversation upon which this statement is unmerited in the conversation.

          • primenumbers

            "One cannot discuss the nature of something existing if the premise of the things existing in itself is not sound." - so I can't discuss the unknowability of God with you until I admit he exists? Sounds like we're not going to have a discussion on knowability then!

          • John Paul

            "Sounds like we're not going to have a discussion on knowability then!"

            This statement is an assumption based upon your previous statement, which shows that your question was not a question, but rather a complex or loaded question, and therefore, another type of logical fallacy.

            "so I can't discuss the unknowability of God with you until I admit he exists?"

            You have forced the statement that you must admit that he exists, which is in itself non-contingent to a conversation about whether he exists or not. You do not have to admit this but converse about the existence before that aspect of nature. Therefore, I encourage a reading of the book I posted. If you have serious problems with a premise made in the book or about a general aspect of the existence within some scale of reference, by all means, discuss it, and without ad hominem or loaded questions.

          • primenumbers

            In these comboxes we are having lots of interesting discussions. You cannot expect a reasonable discussion if all you do is say "read this book". It's probably quite reasonable for a start on a subject to present a rough idea of the argument from a book in your own words, and either flesh it out through discussion, or if necessary direct back to quoted or referenced passages from a book.

            Now because that book had been mentioned by other commenters I have read reviews of the book, and all of the book that is available on the amazon preview. What I read had nothing to do with the knowability of God.

            It appears you wish more to have a meta-discussion than an actually discussion about the issue I originally brought up and commented on which is the coherence or knowability of the of God and my smart-alec quote "We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not. " rather seemed to have rubbed you up the wrong way and sent you further down the meta-discussion route.

          • John Paul

            "You cannot expect a reasonable discussion if all you do is say 'read this book'. "What I read had nothing to do with the knowability of God."

            Dicto simpliciter, friend. What you read does not translate to the entirety of the book's reach, and without a doubt, this was not "all" I said since there were many argumentative premises before and after that statement. However, with aspect to discussing such introductory passages, I agree that this would be helpful in illustrating whatever point/premise is to be made, but contextually, in the striving to find at least one coherent account of God, a few key excerpts, without proper context may, figuratively speaking, "become lost in translation," especially considering the philosophical/scientific density of the material. Therefore, in order to engage this point, I suggested the book, especially since such an immense claim (covering 2,000 years) had been made, a statement, which itself requires many, many more premises, about each text's specific argument through deduction and/or induction.

            "It appears you wish more to have a meta-discussion than an actually discussion about the issue I originally brought up and commented on which is the coherence or knowability of the of God and my smart-alec quote 'We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not'."

            The meta-discussion pulled out of the comment about the 2,000 years because if this statement was to be made into a serious premise and then an individual were have a serious discussion about the consequences of that premise, that discussion itself needed to have taken place in order to reconcile, verify, or find the truth-value of this immense claim. Additionally, I responded to that claim more than once within the dialogue by positing both an argumentative premise about that premise itself as well as supplementary material, that, might aid, in understanding the entirety of what was being discussed.

            "Rather seemed to have rubbed you up the wrong way and sent you further down the meta-discussion route."

            Letting go of the "wrong rub" aspect, I refer to my comment above since the immensity of the claim opened up entirely another dialogue about the nature of coherence itself throughout one instance of that 2,000 year history, in discussing not only the nature, but also the existence, of God, which, under that passage of Aquinas' is described in the way that it is, outside not only of the standard formulation of genus, but the genus of "being" itself, or as just another object in the universe, and, as such, cannot be referred by standard notions of language (see Richard A Muller's quotation). This point in this statement is not to say that God, does or does not exist, but that very precise language is being employed within Aquinas' definition. Nonetheless, posting those links, in and of themselves, could definitely have been done in a more effective and constructive manner.

          • severalspeciesof

            This is another ad hominem attack

            You must be using a different definition of ad hominem than what I'm familiar with...

            Glen

          • John Paul

            ad hominem:
            "You attacked your opponent's character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument."

            How I spend my time was attacked, which was irrelevant to the conversation.

          • robtish

            "This is another ad hominem attack." Not, it's a complaint, not ad hominem fallacy.

            This is an ad hominem fallacy: "You're a time-waster, therefore your reasoning is wrong."

            This is *not* ad hominem: "Your reasoning is wrong, therefore you're wasting our time." And this, clearly, is what prime was saying.

          • John Paul

            "No, it's a complaint, not an ad hominem fallacy."

            The statement was an attack upon the manner in which an individual uses their time, unrelated to the topic of discussion within context of the argument, and had which derived from a premise that I had argued to be false. Whether or not one agrees or not with this premise, although there were argumentative premises which were used beforehand, this inclusion of the attack still resides as an ad hominem attack:

            "Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as an informal fallacy, more precisely an irrelevance."

            The detail of being an irrelevance is the aspect upon which I had made my claim. What you have equivocated upon in this case is that in order for something to have the ad hominem aspect it must encompass the entirety of the argument which, by definition is false, since one propositional statement might be argumentative without ad hominem and another, with it. Therefore, to call the statement a complaint is a fallacy in logic, which is an example of the fallacy, argumentum ad logicam, and thereby, a fallacy on your own part.

            "This is *not* ad hominem: 'Your reasoning is wrong, therefore you're wasting our time." And this, clearly, is what prime was saying.'"

            Firstly, he did not say "our time"; he said, "your time." You have given false information, so "clearly" this was not what he said and is therefore dishonest. Secondly, the statement, "Your reasoning is wrong, therefore you're wasting our time," is missing both a major and minor premise, and is invalid by definition of a what a syllogism is, and therefore, not sufficient in its claim to bridge the reason between type of reasoning and time since the reason had been accounted for and responded to.

          • robtish

            I am completely happy to let people compare my comment to your response and decide which they think is correct.

          • John Paul

            While I recognize that the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem is typified by its usage as an end in itself as opposed to a means to rhetorically furthering a given point via short, quick attacks whilst discussing a certain issue, the issue is not that the comment was stated an end in itself but part as of a means that was an unwarranted accompaniment in the discussion. Additionally, whether it was misquoted or intentional, "our" is completely different than "your". If I am to use my time in method, A, B, or C, let it be bridged properly by means of a syllogism rather than by stating two different propositions that have been combined without a proper conjunction.

            Moreover, if what is stated above (comparing comments) comes out via argumentation through a syllogistic structure, that would be/is logically consistent with this conversation. However, if it is solely a matter of votes (up or down), that what people vote to be true is true, unless constituted by a logical definition of accompaniment, such a method could fall in danger of argumentum ad populum, one way or the other. For now though, I must leave this conversation.

    • Is this a different tack than what you normally take? I felt sure you were going to say that there were no questions that science can't answer, because metaphysical questions and the like have no bearing on us?

      • Rationalist1

        I've never said that science can answer all questions (at least I hope I;ve been consistent) only that the scientific method is arguably the best way to answer questions.

        • No, you're right. Primenumbers was who I was thinking of. All you physicalists get me mixed up!

          • primenumbers

            Hey, don't get me mixed up!

            I don't say science can answer all questions. Well I guess it can because it can always say "not enough evidence to properly answer that question" or "question doesn't make sense". But really, my position is that if there is evidence then science can work with that evidence to provide answers that don't go beyond what the evidence can tell us. We shouldn't expect more of an answer than what evidence we have to answer it with.

          • Rationalist1

            I don't think Prime ever said that either, but I might be mistaken.

    • I did like the bit about scientists writing about philosophy after they get their Nobel Prize. Do you think philosophy can answer questions that science can't?

      • Rationalist1

        Philosophy is like mathematics. It can make deductions based upon its premises and can help practitioners of many disciplines refine their logic. But on its own, it can't even refute solipsism (or at least I can, but no one else can :->).

        • Sure, but isn't that what demonstrates how philosophy is different from mathematics? It incorporates, dare I say it, common sense. It can't refute solipsism point for point, but it can reject it because it's a stupid worldview to have and no one really has it (maybe sociopaths do. But probably not most).

          • Rationalist1

            Philosophy can't reject something because it's "stupid". It has to acknowledge its limits.

          • Maybe philosophy can't, but philosophers can

          • Rationalist1

            Then philosophers need to acknowledge the limit of their field.

          • I know that's the truth.

          • Rationalist1

            Are there any questions that metaphysics can't answer.

          • Yes, absolutely.

            At what temperature does water freeze?

            What's the best way to build a giant death robot?

            What planet would be best for interstellar colonization?

          • Rationalist1

            Is it ever wrong in the answers it does give?

          • Is science?

            If someone is doing it improperly, then the odds of them being right are slim to none.

            Granted, in some ways its more difficult to disprove a metaphysical argument than a scientific demonstration, but it can and has been done a lot.

          • Rationalist1

            Science is wrong all the time. In my own field physics I could fill this combo box with theories that were once held that have been proven to be wrong or had to be modified as new data became available and now no one accepts the old theory.

            Can you name one circumstance where your metaphysics has been proven wrong?

          • Where my metaphysical beliefs have been wrong? Yes, but the metaphysics of mine that have been proven wrong I have dropped like a bad habit.

            Most recently it was my concept of God's omniscience as it pertains to our free will. My friend demonstrated to me that, taken to its conclusion, I am either saying that God isn't omniscient or we don't have free will. I saw this error, and fixed my theory.

          • Rationalist1

            Just curious, which way did you come down on that, no free will or God not omniscient?

          • Originally my theory was leaning more towards God is not omniscient, in that he cannot know what we will do before we have done it, so technically he would still be omniscient because things we haven't done yet don't exist to be known, so he would know 100% of knowable things.

            Now it's been adjusted so that neither omniscience nor free will are in jeopardy.

          • Rationalist1

            I promise I won't do a "gotcha" on this but I'm honestly curious how one can reconcile the two, God, in conventional definitions, being out of time, knows what is going to happen where as if humans are to be answerable to God's judgement must have free will. Calvinists have their doctrine of election or predestination. I hope it's not a variant on that.

          • This is so off-topic here, but I'll write something up for you, promise.

          • Rationalist1

            Thank you. Maybe consider it as a original post. Have it not as a post to question the conclusion but more as one to demonstrate your reasoning. I obviously had similar issues when I was a believer but opted for a different answer.

          • Linda

            I would be very interested as well. I have my own thoughts on this but am curious about others.

          • Also, wasn't it talking with you when I mentioned I spoke with a real live Creationist/predestinationist? Those guys are bizarre. No, you will find no Calvinism here.

          • Rationalist1

            That's right. I have creationists relatives and friends. It can be quite illuminating.

          • I remember in grade school the following example was used. You are standing atop a tall building, on the northwest corner, looking down at the streets below. You can see two cars speeding toward the intersection, one of them headed north, the other headed west. It is evident to you that they are going to collide, but the fact that you know that doesn't cause them to collide. They collided because they were both speeding, by their own free will.

            Things don't happen because God knows they will happen. God know they will happen because they are going to happen.

            Also, if God is truly outside of time, it doesn't make sense to say he knows what is going to happen before it happens, because for God there is no before and after.

          • Rationalist1

            The last paragraph is wrong, it should be : Also, if God is truly outside of time, it doesn't make sense to say he DOOESN"T knows what is going to happen before it happens, because for God there is no before and after.

            This is not know a few seconds before cars collide what is going to happen, this is knowing what is going to happen before the parents of the two drivers were even born.

          • No, if God is truly outside of time, it doesn't make sense to say he knows what is going to happen before it happens, because for God there is no before and after.

            As for the watcher on the corner of the building, he is not analogous to God. The story is just intended to show that it is not the case that knowing something will happen makes it happen. I can think of thousands of examples where it is known by someone that something will happen, but the person who knows it will happen doesn't make it happen.

          • Rationalist1

            So why bring up the watcher if not as an analogy to God?

            Dispensing the semantics of before and after then does that mean God doesn't know what happens or knows everything that happens but doesn't know the timing?

            If the latter could one just go to confession once and confess every sin that one would like to commit, get absolution and then commit them. On judgement day you could just say, but as you know I confessed to all those sins and got absolution. :->

          • Linda

            I'm going to take a risk here and suggest that God - who is omniscient - knows all the choices we *could* make at any given time. We have the choice whether to make them. And He will help us decide if we ask.

          • I think you have both just demonstrated why "outside of time" makes no sense.

          • I think you have both just demonstrated why "outside of time" makes no sense.

            I am sure there were (and still are) people who would maintain that it makes no sense to say that A and B can be simultaneous for one person, but for another, B happens after A. If I understand quantum mechanics (which I don't!), particles can travel backward in time. Also, thinks happen without a cause. I just saw an article the other day in which it was claimed that in certain cases, effects can precede their causes (retrocausality). As I have argued a number of times, nobody really understands time. Nobody is sure if time really exists. How can you argue that it makes no sense to say that God is outside of time?

          • BenS

            As I have argued a number of times, nobody really understands time. Nobody is sure if time really exists. How can you argue that it makes no sense to say that God is outside of time?

            May I be so bold as to ask, then, why you don't seem to have lambasted a single theist for their claim that god exists outside of time?

            If no-one understands time then claiming god is outside it makes no sense either - yet you seem to reserve this objection solely for atheists.

            I've asked you this before. You didn't answer.

          • If no-one understands time then claiming god is outside it makes no sense either - yet you seem to reserve this objection solely for atheists.

            It seems to me that religious people don't have to explain mysteries about God except insofar as they involve true logical contradictions. No one has demonstrated to me that existing outside of time is a true logical contradiction. It seems to me the fact that nobody really understands time makes it more tenable to claim that God is outside of time than to claim it makes no sense (that is, that it is a logical contradiction) to say that God exists outside of time. What you seem to want is a scientific explanation as to how God could exist outside of time. This implies you understand time well enough to understand a scientific explanation of how God could be outside of time.

            I think what you are offering is what some of the atheists here call an argument from incredulity. "God exists outside of time? Why, how can that be! I don't understand!" I am not really seeing any arguments here. Only pronouncements. I do have a book that I hope to get around to reading called The God of the Philosophers by Anthony Kenny (who is an agnostic), and I have peeked ahead and know that his conclusion is that if determinism is true, then there is no problem with God's foreknowledge, but if there is free will, that is incompatible with God knowing what is going to happen. But I know that his argument is detailed and complex. The reason I am arguing mainly with the atheists is that, again, I haven't really seen any arguments.

          • BenS

            I am not really seeing any arguments here. Only pronouncements.

            Why is it incumbent upon me to provide an argument against god existing outside of time when you seem to permit theists to simply pronounce that he does?

            I think you need to be a little more even with your requirements.

            Otherwise I can simply pronounce your head is actually made entirely of water cress and it's down to you to argue that it's not. After that, I'll pronounce your leg is made of celery and then you have to argue that it's not. And so on.

            At what point will you turn to me and say "Ben, are you actually going to support any of these claims?"?

          • severalspeciesof

            No one has demonstrated to me that existing outside of time is a true logical contradiction.

            I've been pondering this for a while. And I have a question about logic.

            Doesn't logic need 'time' to make sense of it? In fact, doesn't anything need 'time' in order to make sense of it?

          • Doesn't logic need 'time' to make sense of it? In fact, doesn't anything need 'time' in order to make sense of it?

            Human beings use logic, but that doesn't mean God does. If you are omniscient, what do you need logic for?

            Maybe it's because I was raised Catholic, or maybe it's because I have read too much science fiction, but I don't instinctively react to claims that God is outside of time with instantaneous disbelief. (That is not to say that it is illegitimate for other people to.)

            For me the real question is that believers claim that God is outside of time in arguments like we are having here, but they don't talk about God as if he were outside of time, and they don't act as if God were outside of time. They talk and act as if they can get God to change his mind about something if they pray hard enough or if they get a saint to intercede on their behalf. If God is omniscient, immutable, and outside of time, he can't be persuaded to cure someone who would otherwise die or make the tornado alter its path and destroy your neighbor's house instead of yours.

            Believers invoke the "God of philosophy" in academic debates like we have here, but in actual practice, they "relate to" God as if he were a person a lot like they are, only with extraordinary powers. It seems to me you can't have it both ways.

          • May I be so bold as to ask, then, why you don't seem to have lambasted a single theist for their claim that god exists outside of time?

            I don't feel I am lambasting anyone. I hope the theists will not take offense, but the atheists are often more interesting to argue with here, and with a couple major exceptions, they dominate the discussion.

            Also, I have said here what in other "Catholic" forums would be considered outrageous anti-religious remarks, and the theists don't seem to argue back. I "attacked" the Ten Commandments the other day, noting I once said I could draw up a better set of my own, and there wasn't a peep.

          • BenS

            I "attacked" the Ten Commandments the other day, noting I once said I could draw up a better set of my own, and there wasn't a peep.

            I would imagine because they know that's perfectly true...

          • How can you argue that it makes no sense to say that God is outside of time?

            Consider the proposition: "X is outside of time, therefore Y." What tests would you use to evaluate the truth of that? Can you find a way to even reject: "X is outside of time, therefore ~Y"?

          • BenS

            As for the watcher on the corner of the building, he is not analogous to God. The story is just intended to show that it is not the case that knowing something will happen makes it happen.

            The watcher on the building doesn't KNOW it's going to happen. He can predict it happening but at any point one of the drivers could veer into a lamp post, get hit by another vehicle or the city vanish in the heat of a thermonuclear explosion.

            The watcher on the building has a better set of information to go off when predicting the outcome, but he certainly doesn't KNOW.

          • You are focusing on the analogy rather than the point of the analogy. Knowing in advance that something will happen, even if that knowledge is virtually certain, doesn't make the thing happen.

            However, those who believe in God believe him to be outside of time. You don't believe in God, so you can't actually criticize what God does. The best you can do is criticize what theists believe God does. I don't see how you can make a claim such as, "If there is a God, it is impossible for him to be outside of time, so if God exists and knows what people are going to do beforehand, then the people don't have free will." The Christian God (and the God of philosophers) is believed to be outside of time. How can atheists claim to know what God would necessarily be like if he existed?

            To summarize briefly, how can you not believe in God but also claim that you know what he would be like if he did exist?

          • BenS

            Knowing in advance that something will happen, even if that knowledge is virtually certain, doesn't make the thing happen.

            But if the thing is going to happen, no doubt about it, then what use is the knowledge. You can't change the event nor get others to change the event. You cease to be an active agent (with regards to that event, anyway).

            You don't believe in God, so you can't actually criticize what God does. The best you can do is criticize what theists believe God does.

            Agreed, for what that's worth.

            To summarize briefly, how can you not believe in God but also claim that you know what he would be like if he did exist?

            I wouldn't, for the most part. However, when things are contradictory - like existing outside space and time and yet having an undetectable yet distinguishable effect in the universe - I don't have to say what that would be like if it did exist because it simply can't exist. It's logically incoherent.

            Same with the whole 'omniscience & free will'. I can quite cheerfully point out that if god knows exactly what actions I'm going to take throughout my entire life with no margin of error at all then the generally held idea of 'free will' is moot. I cannot choose anything other than the path laid out in front of me.

            I can, however, say that if god DID exist AND we have free will then he cannot be omniscient otherwise the statement 'an omniscient god exists and you have free will' becomes logically incoherent.

          • Linda

            I think you are limiting God's knowledge. I think God knows everything we *could* do, all the choices we *could* make.

          • BenS

            But does he know what we WILL do? If he does, then how can we have free will?

            If he knows what we could do but not what we will do then how is he omniscient?

          • "But does he know what we WILL do?"

            >> Yes.

            "If he does, then how can we have free will?"

            >> Because God's omniscience includes the foreknowledge of the outcome of actually free human choices.

            "If he knows what we could do but not what we will do then how is he omniscient?"

            >> He knows what we could do, and He knows what we will do, and He knows this as the outcome of actually free choices which we make.

          • Linda

            He knows everything that could possibly happen, every decision everyone of us could ever possibly make, and knows exactly how that looks through time. For Him, everything we will do is everything we could do. He knows it all. That is omniscient. We are free to do as we please.

          • BenS

            Not sure I follow. If he knows absolutely everything we could do but doesn't know which we will do then - obviously - doesn't know what we will do.

            Therefore he's not omniscient.

            If he does know what we will do then we don't have free will. We can't choose to do something other than what he knows we will.

            Simple yes or no question: Does god know what we will do?

          • Linda

            Yes

          • BenS

            Then if god knows what we will do then we cannot, by definition, do anything other than that. Hence, if we cannot do anything other than what it is already known we will do, we do not have free will.

          • Linda

            He knows what we will do no matter what choice we make. He knows how this is. Every moment for every person for all time. He is beyond space and time so He can see it all. We can choose at any time to do anything in any way. But God has already seen that choice. And any other we could make. He calls us to make good ones. It's why we can all say we can see how the world would be a better place if we would all just make those good, loving choices. Knowing all the possibilities is omniscience. Letting us determine them is free will.

          • BenS

            I'm not being funny but this a load of words that don't mean anything at all and serve solely to obfuscate the fact that, if he knows WHICH out of all those choices we are eventually going to take then we do not have free will. There's no getting around it. If he knows in advance every decision we're going to make then we do not have free will.

          • Linda

            I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be confusing. And I know you're not being funny. It may be that your concept of God isn't big enough to take this in. And I am doing a poor job of explaining it. I feel like it must be something like a multiverse concept. For me God has seen all of time and every way that everything could happen and in this way He knows which choices we have made, and how they come out. He knows everything I face, all the good and bad that can happen, all the choices i can (and will) make and how they come out, and all the ways that everyone else's choices will affect me as well. And He knows this for everyone. It's an overwhelming, awesome scary thought (at least for me anyway). He can see exactly what happens when each of us makes any choice, and lets us make them. I'm sorry I'm not better at explaining this. Perhaps someone will intervene and help us both out. :)

          • BenS

            It may be that your concept of God isn't big enough to take this in. And I am doing a poor job of explaining it.

            I think it's more that the concept of god that seems to be being put forth is logically incoherent with various other concepts being bandied around.

            For me God has seen all of time and every way that everything could happen and in this way He knows which choices we have made, and how theycome out. He knows everything I face, all the good and bad that can happen, all the choices i can (and will) make and how they come out, andall the ways that everyone else's choices will affect me as well. And He knows this for everyone.

            This is all well and good and I'll even accept that level of omniscience. That's not the bit I struggle with. I can easily conceive of such a deity. But then in what way can you have free will?

            If god already knows what is going to affect you, what choices you make and what paths you're going to travel down and - this is the important part - is never going to be wrong... then how can you have free will?

            Look at it this way. You will only take one path through life. There is the option of many others - whether you choose to take the car or the bus, whether to have Munch-Os or YummyFlakes for breakfast etc etc. There are all these options but you will only take one of them each time. Each decision you have, out of all the possibilities, you will only take one.

            If god knows what that decision is, and the next one, and the next one and the next one right up until the day you die then that line, that path through life, has already been chalked on the floor. Your life is set. From beginning to end, from the moment you were born until the day you die, that line is already drawn because god KNOWS absolutely which decision you will take each time.

            If that line exists, from beginning to end, how can you have free will? You cannot deviate from that line because, if you do, god was wrong.

            So only one or the other can be true. Either god is omniscient OR we have free will. There can't be both.

            That a bit clearer?

          • Linda

            I need a physicist to help me out here, I think. :)
            We are in complete agreement almost all the way. And I'll probably find out that I have some terribly heretical concept of God, but knowing which way we chose is not controlling which way we choose. It's just knowing how it came out. And I think He knows all the ways we could choose (and I think this is a physics or math or philosophy concept about each having the same possibility - Schroedinger's Cat maybe?) He sees all the different universes that come about based on our choices. He can't be "wrong" because there's nothing to be wrong about. He's seen all the options. But here's the crazy part that's hard to get my head around (but I believe it and I think there's science somewhere to support it), He does know what choices we've made because He's infinite and for Him this universe is already done. But because He's infinite it's still happening, so we can choose.

            I don't think this helped. I am honestly praying for intervention. I am going to play with my children for a few hours and let this sit. I look forward to your response, even though this whole thing is making my head hurt.

          • BenS

            but knowing which way we chose is not controlling which way we choose. It's just knowing how it came out.

            But it knowing how it comes out... before it happens. God doesn't have to make the choice for us to rob us of our free will, but the act of god knowing what choice we will make robs us of the choice. We cannot do anything but what god knows is going to happen and therefore we have no choice.

            But here's the crazy part that's hard to get my head around (but I believe it and I think there's science somewhere to support it), He does know what choices we've made because He's infinite and for Him this universe is already done.

            The reason it's hard to get your head around is because the two things are in conflict. If god knows what choice we're going to make, we cannot make anything other than that choice. Ergo our lives are fully mapped and we have no free will.

            I look forward to your response, even though this whole thing is making my head hurt.

            I've not really much more to say than reiterate my points that you cannot have free will if all the choices you will ever make are known beforehand and you cannot deviate from that path.

            Have fun with the kids. :)

          • Linda

            Thanks for the discussion today. I shared bits of it with my friends from church after Mass today. Glad I did - one friend said she really needed to hear it. Not sure what exactly was helpful for her but it was all good for me. I enjoy being challenged by all these Deep Thoughts. :) We'll have to explore this some more next time it comes up. Just out of curiosity, are you wondering about your own free will or just engaging in an interesting discussion?

            On a completely different topic: had a lovely afternoon and evening with my children (definitely the right choice!); thanks for the good wishes! Hope you had a lovely day, too!

          • BenS

            I shared bits of it with my friends from church after Mass today. Glad I did - one friend said she really needed to hear it.

            Well, if she comes back next week in full atheist garb chanting from the Book of Dawkins, don't blame me!

            I'm intrigued to know what it was that she needed to hear, though.

            I'm not really wondering about my own free will, I just tend to hoik conflicting claims theists make into the light to examine them. The goal isn't to deconvert people either, it's just to have them think about some of the things they take for granted and realise how they can't be true as they stand. What they do then is up to them.

            Right, time for work!

          • Honest questioning is the best way to go.

          • BenS

            I'm not sure if that's an agreement or a rebuke. :p

          • Agreement.

          • "the act of god knowing what choice we will make robs us of the choice"

            >> Non sequitir.

            "We cannot do anything but what god knows is going to happen and therefore we have no choice."

            >> Non sequitir.

          • severalspeciesof

            I've always wondered about freewill in regard to Jesus/god here on earth. If we truly have freewill, how did he know that he would be sacrificed? Was it an educated guess? What would have happened if, using their freewill, most all the Jews started to follow Jesus and protected him from harm?

            Glen

          • Sample1

            Have you read Sam Harris' (now free) e-book titled, Free Will? One of the points from the book I carry with me, in addition to the difference between determinism and fatalism, is his observation that one can lock themselves in a room and attempt to do nothing and it's impossible. You will start thinking of things. Thought will spontaneously arise. It does not appear we have any freedom in that situation. None.

            Mike

          • severalspeciesof

            I read it standing up at a local Barnes&Noble a few months ago. I remember thinking I'll need to get it soon to really parse through it. Nice to know its free now. I think I'll have another look... Thanks...

            Glen

          • "I've always wondered about freewill in regard to Jesus/god here on earth."

            >> There are two wills in Christ, human and Divine.

            "If we truly have freewill, how did he know that he would be sacrificed?"

            >> Because He is God and came here for that precise purpose.

            "Was it an educated guess?"

            >> It was Divine omniscience.

            "What would have happened if, using their freewill, most all the Jews started to follow Jesus and protected him from harm?"

            >> It was known from all eternity that this would not be the free choice of the Jews.

          • BenS

            What would have happened if, using their freewill, most all the Jews started to follow Jesus and protected him from harm?

            I would imagine they couldn't. If this god knew in advance that Jesus was going to be crucified then absolutely no-one would have been able to stop it regardless of how much they wanted to. Their decisions would have been all mapped out too.

            Omniscience rides roughshod over the concept of free will.

            A more interesting thought experiment is what if someone from the future goes back in time in powered armour to Calvary and devastates the entire area with heavy weaponry leaving Jesus alone on the hill, confused but quite alive. THAT would be fun!

          • josh

            "To summarize briefly, how can you not believe in God but also claim that you know what he would be like if he did exist?"

            Two things. I can not believe in a possible thing but know certain properties it would have to have if it did exist. E.g., I don't believe I have a Ferrari but I know it would have four wheels and an engine if I did.

            I can also not believe in impossible things because I can state properties that they would have which would lead to a contradiction. E.g., I don't believe in four-sided triangles. A four-sided triangle would have four sides and internal angles adding up to 180 degrees (pace post-Euclidean geometry).

          • There is no such demonstration.

            You were hornswoggled.

            I would love to have a chance to see exactly where.

          • Andre Boillot

            "What's the best way to build a giant death robot?"

            You start by asking Del Toro to draw the concept for you.

          • primenumbers

            Sorry, wrong answer. You get Hajime Katoki to draw them for you.

          • Andre Boillot

            I'll raise you: Hideaki Anno

          • primenumbers

            Not so much a raise as a step in a slightly different direction...

          • Andre Boillot

            A 'call', perhaps?

      • Do you think philosophy can answer questions that science can't?

        It seems to me quite obvious that science can't answer the ultimate or penultimate questions, such as,

        • How ought I to live?
        • What is the meaning of life?
        • What's it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?"
        • When I have so much, and others have so little, what is my obligation to help them, or do I even have an obligation?

        And they are important questions. It also seems to me that religion and philosophy can help each individual to think through the issues and find his or her own answers to those questions, although I don't think religion and philosophy can actually give objective answers that apply to everyone.

        • But you forget that there are those among our number here at SN who deny the metaphysical completely.

          • But you forget that there are those among our number here at SN who deny the metaphysical completely.

            I disagree with them, at least to the extent that I think metaphysical discussions are important. I don't know that there are necessarily right answers to all metaphysical questions. I do tend to think there are right answers to moral questions, although it is a difficult issue. But it does seem to me that there are many questions, from the mundane to the monumental, that may not have definitive, objective answers that it is important to try to answer.

          • Rationalist1

            One can certainly try to answer them, but use reason, logic, experience, discussion, debate, history, philosophy and science to work on the answers. Don't reply on a subjective, unprovable, Aristotelian metaphysics to give the answers.

          • Metaphysics is reason and logic, though.

          • Rationalist1

            No, it's also premises. It may use reason and logic but it goes beyond those fields the same way as theology isn't philosophy and physics isn't math.

          • You're right, it's also premises. I wasn't saying it was 'merely' these things, my bad.

          • One can certainly try to answer them, but use reason, logic, experience, discussion, debate, history, philosophy and science to work on the answers.

            Well, if you are going to try to answer questions of meaning, as opposed to questions of fact, you are going to have to rely on some system of metaphysics. And ultimately, it's going to be unprovable. Even the decision to use the "scientific method" to answer questions of empirical fact is ultimately a metaphysical or philosophical decision. It may seen the obvious approach. It may be the approach almost everybody takes, whether or not they have even heard of philosophy.

            And even if one is fully committed to the "scientific method," there are different views of exactly what it is and how it ought to work. A little reading may be a dangerous thing, but I am on my second book dealing with the philosophy of science, and it seems to be that falsifiability in discussions on this site gets far more emphasis than it is given in contemporary thought about the scientific method.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            What about Aristotle's ethics based on virtues. Do you reject that, too?

          • Rationalist1

            The Nicomachean Ethics, of course not. But I'm able to read it and evaluate it, find some things that I agree with and some that I don't.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Good, because virtues *rock*.

        • BenS

          And they are important questions.

          Important how and to whom? Each of those (well, they're only two questions, really) is subjective. There's no 'right' answer.

          I'd say science is for determining what is true. This tag pretty much doesn't apply to subjective issues.

          • You they're subjective because you can't use science to answer them 'objectively', when in fact the whole argument here is about things science can't do. You're essentially saying, "Anything science can't do doesn't matter," which is completely begging the question.

          • BenS

            You're essentially saying, "Anything science can't do doesn't matter,"

            Rule Three, McGiffin. Don't straw man me.

          • Tell me how that's a straw man? I don't mean to strawman, but that's how your argument reads.

          • BenS

            It's a straw man because I never said it. If you think I did, please show me, through the use of quotes and a futuristic laser show, exactly where I did.

          • josh

            Science can't answer them because they are not objective. They don't have true answers.

          • They don't have science answers. That's a completely different statement from "The don't have true answers"

            A scientist is perhaps the least well-equipped person to speak about truth. That's not how or what the scientific method searches for.

          • Important how and to whom? Each of those (well, they're only two questions, really) is subjective. There's no 'right' answer.

            Do you believe that questions that have no objectively discoverable, demonstrably "right" answers should not be asked, and that no attempt should be made to answer them? First, how do we know what questions those are, unless we try to answer them? Second, do you really just dismiss questions about what you ought to do? Don't subjective answers require questions? And don't the answers matter?

          • BenS

            Do you believe that questions that have no objectively discoverable, demonstrably "right" answers should not be asked, and that no attempt should be made to answer them?

            No, but without a right answer, any answer will, technically, do. Someone else might not like that answer but if there's no wrong answer then it's still valid.

            Don't subjective answers require questions? And don't the answers matter?

            They do not 'require' answers, no. And who the answers matter to (and what each person chooses as their answer) is subjective as well.

            It's just a mess, basically.

          • They do not 'require' answers, no. And who the answers matter to (and what each person chooses as their answer) is subjective as well.

            In life, you are faced with thousands of choices. You have no alternative but to make them. Even doing nothing in the face of a dilemma is a choice with consequences. I don't understand how you can dismiss the subjective as unimportant. It is what living is all about. And I would presume one of the things you object to about religion is that many religions try to make your choices for you. If I am correct, you object to religion telling people what God says they are supposed to do, and you think that people ought to decide for themselves what to do. But then you turn around and say their decisions will just be subjective, which apparently makes them not even worth giving serious thought to.

          • BenS

            I don't understand how you can dismiss the subjective as unimportant.

            I don't understand why you're saying I am.

            But then you turn around and say their decisions will just be subjective, which apparently makes them not even worth giving serious thought to.

            More straw men here than a Mr Strawniverse contest.

          • josh

            The subjective matters to you. That is what it is. It isn't important by itself, no one else is rationally compelled to find it important but it feels important to you. So subjective questions don't have true answers except in the sense that there are true statements about how you feel.

            If I talk about how people ought to behave I am ultimately talking about how I want them to behave, how I wish the world would be. Insofar as you and I share some underlying goals and feelings, we can talk about the best way to bring about a desired outcome, that's objective. Other than that I can try to persuade you to change your subjective tastes, usually by appealing to other shared tastes. But at the root neither you nor I want things based in rationality. Our wants are arational (although there are physical reasons for them) and they cannot be made non-subjective.

            So it's not that the subjective is unimportant, subjectivity defines importance, but that doesn't make it true. (And I happen to think it is important that people realize this.)

        • Vicq_Ruiz

          What is the meaning of life?

          What's it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?

          I used to use my own words about this. Now I quote from Jerry Coyne, who expresses my own thoughts more eloquently than can I.

          ....... it’s simply not true that we haven’t grappled with those “real issues.” It’s just that they don’t upset most of us as much as Sacks (chief rabbi of Britain) thinks they should.

          Many of us have pondered and written about where one finds meaning and morality in a godless world, whether there is “freedom” (of the will or otherwise), and the need, or lack of it, for the rituals and narratives of faith. And for many of us, it’s not that big a problem.

          Yes, I don’t want my death to be the end of my consciousness, but that’s pretty much the way it is, and it’s better to know that than pretend we’ll meet Grandma and Fluffy in the Great Beyond. Nearly everyone, religious or otherwise, lives their lives without constantly fretting about meaning and mortality, for that spoils the one earthly
          life we do have. And most of us have simply come to terms with nonbelief: it simply doesn’t throw us into spasms of depression.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think there is a fallacy in your response. The question is what can science tell us about ultimate questions and the answer you give is what atheism responds. It is not a scientific answer.

            Science's answer is I don't know; I can't know.

          • primenumbers

            "Science's answer is I don't know; I can't know." - and if those questions actually have no answer, then science is correct, and if we can't even in principle know the answer, then science is honest.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Science can only speak to its own prevue. It can't even explain why it is valid. It needs something outside itself, philosophy of science, to do that.

          • primenumbers

            Science is valid because it has a proven track record of working. And as above, at least it's honest...

          • Apiology has a proven track record of working when studying bees. Should we apply apiology to the study of music?

          • Rationalist1

            No, but look at why Apiology is successful and learn from its methodology.

          • primenumbers

            Apiology is just the scientific study of bees, so in this case the method used in not Apiology, but the scientific method.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's the instrumentalist approach, no? We don't know why it works, only that it does. That not a very deep explanation.

          • Rationalist1

            And religion is suspect because it has a proven track record of not working.

          • ZenDruid

            It works very well for what it was designed: civil management.

          • Rationalist1

            But now many of us have outgrown it. Even this 12 year old who should be the next president of Egypt. ( http://www.upworthy.com/a-12-year-old-egyptian-boy-flabbergasts-an-interviewer-they-werent-expecting-a-political-genius-4 )

          • Kevin Aldrich

            In many ways science doesn't work that well all the time. Isn't peed out estrogen screwing up (no pun intended) aquatic wildlife? Antibiotics causing super strains of bacteria? Burning hydrocarbons causing global cooling or warming or just "change"?

          • primenumbers

            Who said the explanation had to be deep?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Deeper explanations both give us deeper understanding of the thing itself and are more useful.

          • primenumbers

            But explanations can only be as deep as they go.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            To give a trivial example, I know how to make superb bread by following a recipe I found and have somewhat refined. I have only an instrumental justification of my method--it works. A real understanding would involve agriculture, biology, chemistry, and more. Also, if I had a deeper understand so I knew what the principles were I might be able to make even better breads or even other kinds of food.

          • primenumbers

            I get your example, but I don't see how it's quite analogous to our situation where we're discussing the explanation of scientific method above of "Science is valid because it has a proven track record of working". That said, we can test some of the actual methods used by scientists, and we can find that double blind studies work better than single blind or unblinded studies because they remove some of the cognitive biases of the scientists who are studying the issue at hand.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't know the origin of doing double blind studies but I'd hazard it was a consequence of reflecting on why certain studies were more or less valid rather than a fortunate discovery.

            Maybe a better class of example would be all prescientific technological developments. Some genius in prehistory discovered a way to breed a wild grass into an ear of maize. The success of his or her method validated the method. But once the real cause of the success of the method was discovered (plant genetics), somebody like Norman Borlaug could develop superstrains of wheat and many other grains very rapidly and more surely.

          • Rationalist1

            Kevin - Can't it just make up a reason? Many (or all) religions and denominations do that.

          • Rationalist, no need for the sarcastic cop-out. Kevin asked a serious question and deserves a serious reply.

          • Rationalist1

            No sarcasm - Anlicanism can't explain why it is valid. Mormonism can't, Islam can't, Buddhism, can't, or can they. We both agree they made up their own justification.

            How do you distinguish a made up reason from a valid reason?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's another atheist dogma. All religions just make up stuff.

            A root cause of human suffering is desire. Did Buddhism just make that up or is it a reasonable observation about human psychology?

            Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Also just made up with no reference to reality?

          • Rationalist1

            I said many. Is everything in Islams true and everything in Catholicism true. Of course not. At least one of those religions are wrong and made stuff up.

            The great thing from the point of the religions is that they can never be proven wrong and they can assure themselves that everything they believe is true.

            What comfort is that?

          • Either all religions are false, or else all but one are.

            All but one are.

            The comparison of Islam to Catholicism has already been undertaken, as to empirically observable matters.

            See the Battle of Lepanto for details.

            Se the Battle of Vienna for others.

            See the cathedrals of Europe, for more.

            See the rise of European civilization to the development and deployment of the scientific method itself, for another.

            See the catastrophic collapse of Western civilization, and the rise of Islam, in the face of the West's apostatization from the Faith, for previews of the next episode.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Do your really believe that Mormonism can't be proven to be incredibly unlikely (no archeological evidence of wandering Jews in North America)? Or that it isn't *really* honorable to kill your wife or daughter if she *shames* you?

            One reason people join or leave religions has to do with what they believe about how true they are. When enough people are convinced a religion is false, it dies (like the Shakers).

          • Rationalist1

            Do Mormons think it's incredibly unlikely? They think it's incredibly unlikely that the creator of the universe exists as a wafer? As for killing your wife or daughter if they shame you is similar to putting your son to death if he curses you.

            "When enough people are convinced a religion is false, it dies" - I agree and most denominations are in decline. Some will take longer than others but I expect several major ones to be effectively gone or reduced to a small rump in some countries in my lifetime.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't hear of Jews killing their sons today, do you? Not even among the ultra-orthodox.

          • Rationalist1

            Leviticus 20:9
            "For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him."

            Fortunately most ignore it, but a few don't.

            And why today, isn't God's law permanent?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You'll have to ask a Jew that. I'm a Catholic.

          • Rationalist1

            I must have missed when Catholics abandoned the Old Testament. It seems they didn't for gay marriage however and original sin.

          • Come on, Kevin. That is a pure cop out.

            "To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not, And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. [17] Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. [18] For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. [19] Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, beingordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one.

            [21] Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. [22] But the scripturehath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe. [23] But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed. [24] Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [25] But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a pedagogue.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Original sin is not a Jewish doctrine.
            The other thing is a natural law matter.

          • Rationalist1

            They're both Catholic teachings.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Original sin is definitely a Catholic doctrine with many nuances. I've read the Jews don't agree with it (not that there is any monolithic Jewish position on anything).

            It's not exactly equivalent to say that the impossibility of homosexual marriage is a Catholic teaching, even though it is an obvious consequence of defined Catholic doctrine about natural marriage. The application is very recent, since the idea was virtually unheard of and for most people even unimaginable and incomprehensible before the last decade or so.

          • Sample1

            You think the Shaker faith died because people (ostensibly the followers) thought it was false? You do know that they had a requirement of celibacy for all, right?

            In reply to:

            When enough people are convinced a religion is false, it dies (like the Shakers).

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Certainly celibacy was a big factor but they stopped getting converts to be celibate. Too bad, since they made such nice furniture and sang nice tunes.

          • Andrew G.

            When enough people are convinced a religion is false, it dies (like the Shakers).

            I think the whole "not having children" thing was a bigger factor there (combined with restrictions on adoption).

            (Also apparently as of 2012 there were still 3 Shakers left, according to the Great Website Of Collective Lies)

          • josh

            Mormonism can be shown to be incredibly unlikely to a reasonable person. Unfortunately, being a devout Mormon makes you unreasonable when it comes to your religion, and the same is true of every other religion I've seen. There is no archeological evidence that a mass of Jews wandered out of Egypt either.

          • Sure there is.

            It is called "the Jews".

            Ask one.

          • severalspeciesof

            *forehead hits desk*

          • Poor desk.

            Is it OK?

          • severalspeciesof

            In fact there is no evidence that there was a mass of Jews enslaved by Egyptians either...

            Glen

          • There is no archeological evidence that a mass of Jews wandered out of Egypt either.

            This is correct. The Bible says 600,000 Jews (minimum) left Egypt in the Exodus. There are no archaeological traces of a movement of 600,000 people from Egypt to Canaan, and there are no Egyptian records of the abrupt disappearance of a vast population of slaves. There is no archaeological evidence in Canaan of a large influx of people.

          • Another way of saying this:

            There is excellent historical evidence of 600,000 Jews leaving Egypt and moving to Canaan; that would be the account of the event in the Hebrew Scriptures.

            I will employ an argument from silence as if it contradicted this, and hope you won't notice the logical fallacy.

          • There is excellent historical evidence . . . .

            Whether one regards accounts of the Exodus in Hebrew Scripture as historical evidence or not, the fact remains that there is no archaeological evidence.

          • severalspeciesof

            Plus Egyptians were very good at keeping records, especially records that would show them to be in control, and there are (TMK) no records by the Egyptians of enslaving a mass of Jews, which they would have recorded since it would have given them 'bragging rights' during that time...

            Glen

          • Argument from silence.

            We have been over this one before.

            It seems to be persistent.

            There exists an historical record of the Exodus.

            It is an extremely well-attested, excruciatingly well-copied, carefully preserved document, of supreme importance to the Hebrew people's personal history.

            The document exists.

            It cannot be ignored.

            It cannot be falsified on the basis of an argument from silence.

          • severalspeciesof

            Do your really believe that Mormonism can't be proven to be incredibly
            unlikely (no archeological evidence of wandering Jews in North America)?

            This can be assuredly said against the idea that the Exodus occurred (no archeological evidence when there should be), and with no Exodus the whole 'passover' is... well... I think one can figure it out...

            Glen

          • No offense to Jerry Coyne (and not to get polemical), but statements like that, in the midst of otherwise enlightening exchanges, always stop me dead in my tracks and astound me. They're nearly inhuman; but within the words I think you can spot a tension, a secret disbelief at what's being said. Can God really be so terrible a possibility that we're willing to dismiss lifetimes of sweat and tears of countless men and women down the ages, searching for the meaning of their moral acts and their mortal coil, their loves and their lives, through philosophy, poetry, and story, just to completely disassociate ourselves from any sense of shipwreck, longing, or journey? Are we finally robots?

            Give me Nietzsche and Camus over this kind of atheism any day. At least they were bold enough to follow out what the death of God meant for questions of morality and meaning and own it like men, not ignore what is most human about us like computers. Man cannot simply "get over" those "anachronistic" questions about what it means to live and die as a human being. But there are always distractions. "Distracted from distraction by distraction..."

          • Vicq_Ruiz

            There may be a Reason For Everything.

            But I've managed to live almost six decades, do a turn in my country's service, stay married to the same wonderful woman, raise a family, and do rather well in a career, while basically giving the question of that Reason only an occasional thought.

            Am I therefore supposed to feel bitter, or unfulfilled, or less than a human being?

            No offense taken, BTW. Your question is a fair one.

          • The point is that everybody makes decisions about how to live their lives, what to study in school, whether to marry or not, whom to marry if they decided to marry, whether to have children and, if so, how many, what sports to follow, what charities to give to, and thousands of other decisions, and they don't make them "scientifically."

            In a great many respects, the atheist, the agnostic, and the most devout believer all lead lives that are pretty much the same. Unless you stretch the meaning of science and scientific method beyond all recognition, it plays very little part in the daily lives of rabbis, priests, ministers, nuns, on the one hand, and and "aggressive atheist" scientists like Oliver Sacks (one of the people I admire most) on the other. The scientific method is the best way to approach science (although saying that is almost tautological), but it doesn't help you to decide whether or not to watch Under the Dome.

        • Andre Boillot

          David,

          "It seems to me quite obvious that science can't answer the ultimate or penultimate questions"

          "although I don't think religion and philosophy can actually give objective answers that apply to everyone"

          I would agree that it's unlikely that science will ever give us answers to questions seeking ultimate answers, like "what is the healthiest" or "what is the best way to live". However, I think we're selling it short in it's ability to help get progressively better answers to these questions in general. I also think that science is quite useful when trying to bridge the gaps and contradictions between various religious or philosophical ethics.

    • Michael Murray

      (I'm also curious, is Dominique Lambert a physicist or a philosopher of science? The Wikipedia entry has him as a Philosopher of science (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... ) and his publications seem almost exclusively philosophy and history related?)

      He has some publications in mathematical physics

      http://directory.unamur.be/staff/dlambert/publications

      I think -- my French is rubbish. But this one certainly qualifies

      http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/10857580_48

      • Rationalist1

        Thanks. It looks like he started out in mathematical physics, did some biology and now does history and philosophy of science.

        • Michael Murray

          Why would anyone give up studying gauge theory ? There's no accounting for taste :-)

          • Rationalist1

            I gave up physics for the money in other fields. Alas I miss it. I still bring out my old battered copy of Arfken Mathematica Methods of Physics and read through it wistfully seeing what I can still solve.

          • Michael Murray

            It can be tough. I think I was 35 before I got off the short contract postdoc treadmill. It looked to me like it was harder for people in physics.

          • Rationalist1

            I went into computers, management and writing.

    • vito

      I agree. To put it simply, science has solved a great number of problems in my life and has provided a number of important answers. Religion has not answered/solved any. Zero. But that is of course, just me

      • It is, and arguments by anecdotes don't count, else this will quickly become the unruliest thread in the history of StrangeNotions.

        • The theology of the Catholic Church answered and resolved a great many problems long ago, so that the modern scientific method could actually not only come into existence but also be useful to its fullest extent...

          • I was saying "it is" to the statement "But that is of course, just me"

          • Yes and whoops--didn't mean to anchor my comment to your reply! I think you and I are on the same page!

    • Andre Boillot
      • Rationalist1

        Yes. Thanks. Quite impressive.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      [O]ne would be hard pressed to name one theological advanced that has benefited humanity since [the period of the Protestant Reformation].

      Jesuit theologian Suarez developed the notion of natural rights, which was central to the founding fathers of the American revolution, and which contributed greatly to Catholic social teachings, which form the basis of the UN declarations on human rights.

      • BenS

        which form the basis of the UN declarations on human rights.

        This has been rejected elsewhere as all the things contained within the declaration of human rights have also been found outside catholic teachings, often predating them.

        Will you continue to repeat it, even though it isn't true?

        • David Egan

          "Will you continue to repeat it, even though it isn't true?"

          Isn't that the very foundation of religious apologetics?

          • BenS

            I'm beginning to fear so.

          • Isn't that the very foundation of religious apologetics?

            Where's my rim shot audio clip ... ;-)

          • ZenDruid
          • Thanks Zen, I knew I left it around here, somewhere.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No it is not.

          • It would seem to be the foundation of atheist apologetics.

            After all, it is established that this universe certainly had a beginning; it began to exist.

            Since it cannot have preceded its own existence, we see that it had a supernatural cause.

            Atheism is falsified in its initial assumption.

            Yet the atheist will continue to repeat, even though it isn't true;

            "There's no evidence for God."

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Why do you continue to repeat your denial when I gave you good evidence it was true?

          • BenS

            You gave a blog post, Kevin.

            What you could have done is shown that none of the articles in the UN Declaration of Human Rights existed before Catholic church. You didn't do that because the declaration of human rights is not based on Catholic teachings. It's based on a number of things, many of which predate Catholicism.

          • Andrew G.

            Moreover, some of the things in the UN Declaration of Human Rights are things that popes throughout the previous century or so had been denouncing as "errors".

            Little things like freedom of religion and speech...

          • BenS

            And have flatly contradicted actions popes have taken in the past. Hard to say the bit about slavery is based on Catholic teachings when some popes actually owned slaves.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It was not a blog post! It was a scholarly essay by a legal expert as part of the proceedings of the 15th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

            The fact that some of the human rights predate anything is not germane. If they are really human rights, of course they have existed from the beginning of the human race.

          • BenS

            So what that it was a scholarly essay. I can write a scholarly essay on why modern English is derived from Klingon - it doesn't make it so.

            And the fact that some of the human rights were noted in cultures predating Catholicism OF COURSE means that UNDHR can NOT be based on Catholic teaching. It is clearly based on some things that predate Catholicism.

            It's not rocket surgery.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The original demand was name one worthwhile thing that came from religion in the last 500 years.

            Glendon writes,

            "Needless to say, Catholic social doctrine was only one of many tributaries to the Universal Declaration. Nevertheless, the record shows that it is no mere coincidence that the document’s implicit vision of personhood, its attention to the mediating structures of civil society, its dignitarian character, and its insistence on the links between freedom and social justice so closely resemble the social teachings of Leo XIII and Pius XI."

            http://www.pass.va/content/scienzesociali/en/publications/acta/socialdoctrine.html

          • BenS

            The original demand was name one worthwhile thing that came from religion in the last 500 years.

            But the UNDHR did NOT come from religion. That's the point.

            Nevertheless, the record shows that it is no mere coincidence...

            Could this be because Catholic teachings were drawn from the same well that the UNDHR was? That of social norms in place at the time that had been honed over many generations from many cultures?

            That's a rhetorical question. The answer is yes.

  • It seems to me Professor Dominique Lambert is basically describing the "non overlapping magisteria" position, which I believe makes a great deal of sense, but which many (or at least some) of the commenters on Strange Notions do not accept. For example, Stacy Trasancos explicitly disagreed with it in her piece titled Come, Let Us Do Science Together," and a number of contributors and commenters appear to support ad hoc explanations of human origins (for example, Mike Flynn's explanation about how the human race could have descended from two and only two human parents) and the current top commenter on the site who—to the extent I can determine it—defends a literal interpretation of the Bible to the extent of clinging to geocentrism. Practically all of science is deemed to be wrong in some way or another, and although many of the religious people on the site claim to believe there is no conflict between science and religion, they leave it to the atheists to defend science that is clearly being distorted in the interest of preserving "faith." I really do believe that—except for historical claims, and I am not sure if they count—there should be no conflict between science and religion. But one would never know it from reading much of what appears here. Merely asserting there is no conflict, and then denying science because it allegedly conflicts with the Bible or Church doctrine, is merely paying lip service to the idea that there is no contradiction between religion and sciences.

    I may be in a minority here, but I believe the Catholic Church itself, in the 21st century, does rather well in separating scientific and religious issues. But those who claim to speak here for the Church often do not.

    • David, thanks for the comment. I didn't get the sense that he was endorsing Gould's NOMA position. Which lines gave you that impression?

      • I didn't get the sense that he was endorsing Gould's NOMA position. Which lines gave you that impression?

        These, in particular:

        For example, the question of the ultimate foundation of existence, the meaning and history of existence—life, values, questions of a metaphysical and ethical nature—these are in fact produced by scientific activity but cannot be solved within the borders of scientific method. . . .

        . . . Because methodologically, science puts into brackets this question of meaning, the foundation [of existence].

        • Right, he's saying *some* questions can only be handled by non-scientific methods, but that's not the same as Gould's non-overlapping-magisteria which suggests that religion and science have *no* overlap.

          In fact, in the very next paragraph Professor Lambert explains how faith and science interact and build off each other:

          "[With the Christian faith] you can shed some light on scientific findings. You can discover that many questions of a foundational value of meaning can receive some kind of intelligibility coming from this source of intelligibility. If you start from point of view of a believer, then you can get some coherent answer, with an increase in intelligibility. This point of view respects science completely, because you don’t modify science and you don’t try to extract from science that which is not science. You respect its autonomy, but you shed some light on it, [giving] an answer and an increase in intelligibility."

          • . . . how faith and science interact and build off each other

            No, I don't think it's correct to say that faith and science interact and build off each other. Professor Lambert says, "This point of view respects science completely, because you don’t modify science and you don’t try to extract from science that which is not science." If you "don't modify science, you don't make a claim based on the Bible that the earth stands still and the cosmos revolves around it, or that the offspring of Adam and Eve mated with "almost-humans" and consequently polygenism is not actually true.

            I take him to mean that faith can help you appreciate the findings of science, and perhaps make more sense out of them, as the handiwork of God. I don't take him to be saying that in an interplay between science and faith, faith will lead to new scientific questions that will then be investigated by science and lead to additional scientific answers. I take him to be saying that science deals with fact, and religion deals with meaning.

    • David, if you haven't read it already, I suggest reading the beginning of Fides et ratio. While there may be autonomy of method (as any of us here would agree), different disciplines seek the same ultimate truth. What's true in science cannot contradict what's true in religion or philosophy, ultimately. There should be no conflict, like you said. Gould's NOMA model holds that there is separation and that the two never have to agree, which is another way of saying that religious truth doesn't really count as truth.

  • "science is producing many questions—rational and coherent questions—which are beyond the scope of its own methods. For example, the question of the ultimate foundation of existence, the meaning and history of existence—life, values, questions of a metaphysical and ethical nature—these are in fact produced by scientific activity but cannot be solved within the borders of scientific method."

    >> Bingo.

    "Take American creationism in the literal sense: if we adopt this point of view we will discover it does not respect the contents of contemporary biology—there is a kind of contradiction and it doesn’t work."

    >> Evolutionary biology doesn't respect science, and also doesn't work. Science involves crucial experimental test of what we think we know, with the intention of possibly falsifying it.

    In the absence of a foundational commitment to this method, what we are presented with is not science, but metaphysics.

    Darwinist evolution is a metaphysical, not a scientific, research program.

    To suggest that a profoundly anti-Scriptural metaphysics is to be respected as if it were science, is false.

    Here is the conclusive *proof* that evolution is not deriving its data through scientific methodology:

    http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

    • Quatsch83

      I don't really understand why, to Catholics, the evolution debate is even interesting. If it happened, it happened...if it didn't, it didn't...either way God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. That God made and sustains everything is what is important...we can learn more about him from how he did it, but it doesn't change the essential fact.

      I would be interested in hearing why it is so important to fundamentalists and some rad trads.

      • The issue of course, as always, involves the relationship of Faith to reason.

        The Catholic Faith includes the dogma that Scripture has God for its Author, and is inerrant in everything it asserts.

        There is a marked tendency recently- it essentially begins with Galileo- to propose that the contingent consensus of science on a given matter is to be preferred over the unanimous consensus of a given interpretation of Scripture by the Fathers.

        This is a direct inversion of the Faith; this approach was utterly foreign to the Church until the climbdown after Galileo.

        Most Catholics are comfortable with this; they have been told for many generations now that Galileo was right, the Church was wrong, but it somehow doesn't matter, since there was no issue of infallibility involved.

        Most Catholics also are completely oblivious of the fact that every argument Galileo advanced in favor of his heliocentric hypothesis is now known to be false as a matter of science, and that science to this day is unable to:

        a) establish the falsehood of the geocentric cosmology
        b) explain the recent, truly stunning large-scale observations of the cosmos which support that cosmology in ways unimaginable even a couple of decades ago.

        So, it matters, because having taken away the Christian cosmos; a cosmos centered upon Earth. the place of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and replaced it with the notion of Earth as an insignificant bit of rock orbiting an insignificant star in any insignificant galaxy etc etc etc etc.......

        The next target is the doctrine of original sin itself, similarly under ferocious attack on allegedly conclusive scientific grounds.

        Which aren;t scientific grounds at all, as it turns out.

        Those Catholics uncomfortable with the disastrous state of the Church in this time, and with Her essentially uninterrupted decline over the last three and a half centuries, are beginning to consider the possibility that the Church had it right all along.

        • Quatsch83

          The Catholic Faith includes the dogma that Scripture has God for its Author, and is inerrant in everything it asserts.

          You should add "when properly interpreted."

          So, it matters, because having taken away the Christian cosmos; a cosmos centered upon Earth. the place of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and replaced it with the notion of Earth as an insignificant bit of rock orbiting an insignificant star in any insignificant galaxy etc etc etc etc.......

          I could see an argument from fittingness, but does it really matter where the earth lies in the cosmos since man is made in God's image and likeness? Isn't that what is really important?

          Those Catholics uncomfortable with the disastrous state of the Church in this time, and with Her essentially uninterrupted decline over the last three and a half centuries, are beginning to consider the possibility that the Church had it right all along.

          I'm a convert and am extremely uncomfortable with the state of the Church and the number of poorly catechized Catholics out there, but I still fail to see how your focus on cosmology even begins to address this. People are converted by the message of the gospel not by cosmology.

          • VelikaBuna

            I guess what is important is what is correct. Why accept Atheist understanding of the world if one does not have to based on evidence?

          • Very good questions.

          • Here is an even tougher one:

            Given the fact that Newton's physics *completely demolished all opposition to the Copernican theory on solid experimental/scientific grounds*, and yet Newton was *wrong*- what possible proper proofs could exist under which a Catholic could be allowed to surrender a unanimous patristic consensus concerning Scripture?

            I am completely convinced the answer provided by our Holy Faith is:

            None whatsoever.

            Faith is above reason.

            Though never in conflict with right reason.

          • Quatsch83

            It doesn't matter what the unanimous patristic consensus was if it is about something that is not a matter of faith or morals.

            Faith is above reason and never in conflict with right reason, I completely agree with that statement.

          • I am afraid you are wrong in your first assertion.

            Council of Trent:

            "Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, it [the Council of Trent] decrees that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,—in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,—wresting the sacred Scriptures to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy Mother Church—to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures—hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries and be punished with the penalties by law established."

            The Vatican Council
            Session III, April 24, 1870, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith:

            ... "And as the things which, in order to curb rebellious spirits, the holy Synod of Trent decreed for the good of souls concerning the interpretation of Divine Scripture have been wrongly explained by some, We, renewing the said decree, declare this to be its meaning: that, in matters of faith and morals, appertaining to the building up of Christian doctrine, that is to be held as the true sense of Holy Scripture which our holy Mother Church hath held and holds, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; and, therefore, that it is permitted to no one to interpret the Sacred Scripture contrary to this sense or likewise contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers."

          • Quatsch83

            I'm sorry, both of those quotations are clear about the faith and morals clause and agree with what I asserted.

          • There is a matter of faith and morals involved: the inerrancy of Scripture.

          • Quatsch83

            I've got work to do...but I'll try to check back on the comments later this evening. And if you could post a link about the experiment that disproved Newtonian physics I'll check it out. Cheers.

          • Quatsch83

            I do not accept the atheist understanding of the world as I believe that God created and sustains everything in existence.

            I don't particularly care which cosmology is true nor whether evolution is true. I am not an expert in either. In any case, given the proper provisions, they are not matters of faith so long as they do not assert claims beyond the scope of scientific inquiry.

          • VelikaBuna

            They affect faith of many people. The lies make it possible for people to believe false theology. Evolution for example as proposed by atheists is at least damaging to faith, because at best it relegates God to some distant being who long time ago may have had something to do with creation, but things have pretty much been taking care of themselves through purely understandable natural laws, with no need for God. One short step away from atheism. No wonder once people accept this lie, they drop the faith. We see this happening in the modern times. If there was some gradual development of life akin to evolution, we do not have any plausible explanation based on evidence how this could have happened without intervention by God.

          • BenS

            No wonder once people accept this lie, they drop the faith

            You think evolution is a lie?

            I look forward to seeing you collect your Nobel prize when you demonstrate this then.

          • VelikaBuna

            I believe that no plausible mechanisms have been proposed that would explain how evolution could happen.

          • BenS

            Fortunately science disagrees. I'm also intrigued about how you deal with things that we quite clearly have observed to evolve in lab tests (and even the wild, like MRSA) but I imagine the answer would be based largely on ignorance.

          • VelikaBuna

            Nobody is disputing pliability and changeability in existing organisms. Evolution would be if MRSA evolved a fully functioning leg and passed it on to other MRSA. This is all much more complicated.

            http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/04/a_review_of_ala058641.html

          • BenS

            BenS: but I imagine the answer would be based largely on ignorance

            ...

            VelikaBuna: Evolution would be if MRSA evolved a fully functioning leg and passed it on to other MRSA

            What do you know. I was right.

          • VelikaBuna

            Let me put it for you in the layman's terms what MRSA did. It activated prexisting (preloaded) function which made it resistant. It did not create new function through evolution. I suspect this does not phase your faith in this so called "proof' of evolution.

          • epeeist

            It activated prexisting (preloaded) function which made it resistant. It did not create new function through evolution.

            You have raised an hypothesis. Now, got evidence for it?

            You know the stuff that is raised in these papers

            Edit: added evidence!

          • VelikaBuna

            Here is a picture for you of what happens so you can comprehend.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vancomycin_resistance.svg

          • epeeist

            Here is a picture for you of what happens so you can comprehend.

            I prefer to read the text under the picture, it says:

            Diagram depicting the action of the antibiotic vancomycin and one way bacteria have evolved resistance to it.

            My emphasis

          • VelikaBuna

            Therefore humans have evolved from bacteria...right?

          • Michael Murray

            From single cell organisms sure. Current bacteria are very distant cousins. We had a common ancestor 2.5 billion years ago.

            http://www.timetree.org/index.php?taxon_a=homo+sapiens&taxon_b=bacteria&submit=Search

          • VelikaBuna

            How do you know?

          • Michael Murray

            Because science works and this is the scientific consensus.

          • BenS

            It activated prexisting (preloaded) function which made it resistant.

            I'm going to call bollocks on this. Those who try to avoid the implications of evolution always try to paint any change which has been observed as one that was in the organism's ability to do anyway and anything else as something that is not. Hence, anything that they have not personally seen cannot be evolution. As soon as it is seen to happen through a scientific test then it was in the organism in the first place.

            This leads to the rather bizarre theoretical situation where, if a fully developed leg sprang from a bacterium, the evolution deniers would be saying this was perfectly ok and within the organisms ability to do anyway and the scientists would vomit over their own face and neck.

            What would be nice is one of these evolution deniers to say BEFORE the scientific test to see if a bacteria strain can evolve to digest nylon that it's categorically not in that bacteria's innate ability. Funny, though, they don't do that. They only make their decision afterwards. I think we know why.

          • epeeist

            What do you know. I was right.

            Yeah, same old, same old.

          • Michael Murray

            I thought the Darwinist International Illuminati had suppressed all the crocoduck pictures. If you never post again we'll know what happened.

          • VelikaBuna

            Oh my. I did not mean literally a leg, but anything new like a leg or could be an ear or anything similar that may or may not presently exist and that would confer upon a MRSA an advantage.

          • BenS

            Like... a resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics...?

          • VelikaBuna

            No. You don't get it.

          • BenS

            Then why don't you explain it to me, 'cos I really thought I'd got it.

            In fact, why don't you explain it in a scientific paper, citing evidence for your claims and then submit it for peer review to a reputable journal.

          • VelikaBuna

            Point 4: Scientific dogmatists increasingly play the "peer-review card" to silence scientific dissent.

            Despite the deficiencies in the peer-review system, "peer-review" serves
            as a rhetorical weapon, enlisted for the purpose of silencing
            dissenting, minority scientific viewpoints. In scientific debates, we
            often hear sneers like "Does your criticism appear in a peer-reviewed
            journal?" before it will be taken seriously. It's hypocritical when
            scientists push their views upon the public through non-peer reviewed
            venues like the media, but then try to shut down critics for responding
            in non-peer-reviewed venues.

            Point 5: The peer-review system is often biased against non-majority viewpoints.

            The peer-review system is largely devoted to maintaining the status quo.
            As a new scientific theory that challenges much conventional wisdom,
            intelligent design faces political opposition that has nothing to do
            with the evidence. In one case, pro-ID biochemist Michael Behe submitted
            an article for publication in a scientific journal but was told it
            could not be published because "your unorthodox theory would have to
            displace something that would be extending the current paradigm." Denyse
            O'Leary puts it this way:
            "The overwhelming flaw in the traditional peer review system is that it
            listed so heavily toward consensus that it showed little tolerance for
            genuinely new findings and interpretations." - See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/problems_with_p056241.html#sthash.sTuqiazR.dpuf

            http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/problems_with_p056241.html

          • BenS

            Point IV: Scientific illiterates increasingly play the "peer-review avoidance card" to explain why their nonsense claims aren't adopted by science.

            When people with no evidence at all for their claims complain that the peer review system is irredeemably flawed, what they usually mean is that their 'research' is so appalling that an 8 year old can poke holes in it. Given that it would never pass through any kind of review system that involves people who actually know what they're talking about their general canard is to shout... "Booooo! That's not fair! Scientists won't just accept any old shit!".

            These people appear to be under the impression that their unscientific views should be given as much respect as the views of people who have actually done some proper science.

            They are wrong.

          • VelikaBuna

            Nice straw man or a caricature of the point being made.

            (1) In 1981, Nature
            rejected a paper by the British biochemist Robert H. Michell on
            signalling reaction by hormones. This paper has since been cited more
            than 1,800 times.

            (2) In June 1937, Nature rejected Hans Krebs's letter
            describing the citric acid cycle. Krebs won the 953 Nobel prize in
            physiology or medicine for this discovery.

            (3) Nature initially rejected a paper on work for which Harmut
            Michel won the 1988 Nobel prize for chemistry; it has been identified
            by the Institute of Scientific Information as a core document and widely
            cited.

            (4) A paper by Michael J. Berridge, rejected in 1983 by Nature, ranks at number 275 in a list of the most-cited papers of all time. It has been cited more than 1,900 times.4 - See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/intelligent_des056221.html#sthash.9UjbwPCy.dpuf

          • epeeist

            Very good, we can see that you have just about managed to work out how to copy-paste (though not how to format the results).

            So, science sometimes gets it wrong both by not publishing good papers and no doubt by publishing papers that are subsequently shown to be wrong.

            Your claim would therefore seem to be that because some mistakes are made then the whole process is wrong. Of course I know you wouldn't put it this way, because it would show that the logic employed is fallacious.

          • VelikaBuna

            I prefer what I said to what you think I said. You keep twisting what I say, this is known as a famous straw man.

          • Sample1

            VelikaBuna,

            If you went into an engineering forum and claimed that toothpicks and cream cheese were sufficient materials to build the Tower Bridge, would you expect to be taken seriously?

            I'm not picking on you specifically (honoring the TOU) as I don't know you, but your posts do represent a widely practiced phenomenon whereby individuals who know nothing about a technical subject expect to be taken seriously regardless. I'll grant that for some people, there are benign and innocent derivations of this phenomenon easily corrected by good educators. But there is another subset of people who are, for lack of a better word, innoculated against being receptive to any kind of correction. But be that as it may, biology will probably be off the radar of the religious in the near future.

            Once chemistry figures out how life emerges from the periodic table, chemists will be the new corrosive force against faith origin stories. Biologists will welcome the respite as there will be new "controversies" conjured up to protect one's addiction to faith. I can envision Intelligent Potion theory being proposed as a rival to the future scientific evidence.

            Hopefully I'll be dead by then or at least in a PVS awaiting the download of my brain into a fresh corpse. :p

            Mike

          • "biology will probably be off the radar of the religious in the near future."

            >> Oh how dearly I would love to get you into a nice poker game sometime.......

            "Once chemistry figures out how life emerges from the periodic table"

            >> "The theory of everything is nearly ready. It's inevitable. Has been for centuries."

            "chemists will be the new corrosive force against faith origin stories."

            >> Right. Since, of course, intelligent designers will have intelligently designed life from elements which themselves, it is scientifically certain, came into existence as a result of a supernatural cause.........ooops

            "Biologists will welcome the respite as there will be new "controversies" conjured up to protect one's addiction to faith."

            >> Biologists would welcome the respite, apparently, since they can't be bothered to abandon their fantasies long enough to do actual, experimental tests of the risky predictions of their theory, such as here:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

            "I can envision Intelligent Potion theory being proposed as a rival to the future scientific evidence."

            >> See above. Your dream world does include, I am happy to say, at least an awareness of the logically certain storm clouds on the horizon.

            "Hopefully I'll be dead by then or at least in a PVS awaiting the download of my brain into a fresh corpse. :p"

            >> There's always hope.

            I hope, for example, to get you into a poker game sometime.....

          • VelikaBuna

            Keep the faith.

          • epeeist

            I prefer what I said to what you think I said. You keep twisting what I say, this is known as a famous straw man.

            You give four examples of landmark papers that were rejected for publication in one journal over a fifty year period.

            I am struggling to understand what implication you draw from this.

            Incidentally, I presume you are aware of the numbers of papers submitted to Nature each year and the number that are published? I don't mind helping you, here are the figures.

          • It's just so unfair.

            It is also uneconomical and time consuming. If journals just skipped peer review and published every paper that was submitted, they could cut out a lot of red tape and paperwork, and papers could be published within days or weeks instead of months.

            Let me know if your campaign against peer review is successful. I have always wanted to publish something in Nature.

          • VelikaBuna

            I am not against peer review per say. I am against doctrinal peer review, in other words no evidence contrary to the established doctrines is acceptable.

          • severalspeciesof

            I second this... I'm working on a paper titled "Hoof rot in Unicorns: Why bacterial infection may be wrong."

            It's sure to change the world...

            Glen

          • BenS

            Oh, so... science corrected itself after all? Usually within a scant handful of years.

            Evolution has been knocking around for a century and a half. If there were better theories or disproofs of it, do you not think science would have noticed after 15 decades?

            Pointing to papers that were initially rejected and then a few years later accepted as correct just proves that science corrects itself fairly quickly.

            So after 150 years, evolution is still kicking around despite all these papers which, apparently, prove it's a lie. Maybe it's that those papers aren't very good and don't actually prove evolution wrong? Maybe it's not a conspiracy, maybe just the few fringe 'scientists' who reject are simply wrong? Ever consider that?

          • "Oh, so... science corrected itself after all? Usually within a scant handful of years."

            >> Science corrects itself in one exact way. It subjects anomalous observations to crucial experimental test, with the intention of possibly falsifying what we think we know.

            Evolution is not science.

            Evolution is metaphysics.

            That is certain:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

            How long this has been the case I cannot say, but Popper had it right the first time, all the way back in the 1970's.

            "Evolution has been knocking around for a century and a half. If there were better theories or disproofs of it,"

            >> How can one disprove what one will not experimentally test?

            See above link.

            "do you not think science would have noticed after 15 decades?"

            >> *Science* certainly would have noticed. Metaphysical research programs do not specialize in experimental test with the intention to possibly falsify what we think we know.

            Metaphysical research programs specialize in research designed to preserve the theory from falsification.

            Evolution is a metaphysical research program.

            See link above.

            "Pointing to papers that were initially rejected and then a few years later accepted as correct just proves that science corrects itself fairly quickly."

            >> True. Pointing to scandalous refusals to conduct crucial tests of risky predictions of the evolution theory just proves that evolution is not science.

          • VelikaBuna

            Evolutionist establishment rejects any evidence contradicting their so called theory. These same people are in charge of peer review and the gate keepers of "acceptable" interpretation of evidence. You are right, that is not science but ideology, and atheist ideology to be specific. Dawkins recognized this when he wrote, "

            Darwin made it easy to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist"

            http://evolutionwiki.org/wiki/Darwin_made_it_easy_to_become_an_intellectually_fulfilled_atheist

          • VelikaBuna

            I consider everything, and most of all the evidence, and there is not nearly enough evidence for standard evolution theory. You know in science you don't have to always appeal to the established authority.

          • BenS

            I consider everything, and most of all the evidence, and there is not
            nearly enough evidence for standard evolution theory.

            Fortunately, I think, no-one really cares what your view of the evidence is. You haven't the faintest clue what evolution actually is, based on your ignorant mischaracterisations of it, so I'm not surprised you don't think there's enough evidence for it.

            As it happens, there are plenty of people with significantly more training and education than you who DO think there's enough evidence. They work with it every day, testing it, gathering it, writing about it and they've compiled a huge body of work that supports it and has refined it from the initial premises of Darwin into the modern synthesis. You may have heard of them. They're called scientists.

            You know in
            science you don't have to always appeal to the established authority.

            Obviously, otherwise the theory of evolution wouldn't even have got a foothold, would it?

          • Bluster and bluff there, Ben.

            "Oh how dare you question the Gods of Evolutionary Olympus! Don't you see how mighty we are?"

            Bunk.

            Evolution is a cooked goose, right here, right now, as a matter of *science*.

            It's timeline has been experimentally falsified.

            Its gatekeepers are hysterically dishonest.

            Here is the proof:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

            None of the Olympians will address it.

            They can't.

            If they did we would go to the next step of the evidence, and the next step of the evidence is a complete, devastating, experimental knockdown of the entire theory.

          • VelikaBuna

            Here again. Peer review is a double edge sword, it preserves orthodoxy, and stifles new ideas, when it should really be just checking for technical errors not preservation of ideologies.

            http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/intelligent_des056221.html

          • Peer review is a double edge sword . . .

            Nothing at all prevents anyone from publishing anything, especially now that the whole world is connected to the Internet. Why do proponents of Intelligent Design want to publish in peer-reviewed journals? Apparently astronomy, evolution, cosmology, particle physics and just about every other branch of science are all on the verge of collapsing like a house of cards. Journals like Science and Nature are all apparently filled with nonsense. Better to publish on the web site of the Discovery Institute for real credibility.

          • You really can't say that Nature rejects controversial new claims though. They ran this just yesterday.

            http://www.nature.com/news/cosmologist-claims-universe-may-not-be-expanding-1.13379

          • VelikaBuna

            Thanks for the very interesting article. Just shows that the same observations can be explained many different ways.

          • VelikaBuna

            By the way your link led me to this article also quite interesting.

            http://www.nature.com/news/higgs-data-could-spell-trouble-for-leading-big-bang-theory-1.12804

          • severalspeciesof

            Evolution would be if MRSA evolved a fully functioning leg and passed it on to other MRSA.

            Actually, that would disprove evolution...

            Glen

          • VelikaBuna

            That would give a good case for Cambrian explosion.

          • severalspeciesof

            No, it would not. You are aware that this 'explosion' lasted over 50 million years, right?

            Glen

          • BenS

            Dear Sir,

            I right to you today to corect your interperatation of the Cambian Explosion.

            The Cambian Explosion was caused when a lot of volcanoes exploded at the same time. This caused worldwide change of the atmosphere, lithiumsphere and buyersphere. The explosions blew apart many many creatures and scattered the bodyparts over a wide area.

            As shown in the edutainment package 'Spore', creatures could then pick up these parts and choose how they wanted to evolve. This happened over the coarse of no more than three (or four) levels, certainly not 50 million centuries, like you claim.

            Please accept this corection in the spirit it was meant (nameley that I know more than you).

            Kind Regards,

            Ben

          • severalspeciesof

            :)

          • GreatSilence

            We now have evolution deniers on this site, the geocentrism argument is all too prevalent here ..... wow, and yet we have a preponderance of articles dealing with science. The word "science" does not seem to mean the same thing to all contributors here. Maybe we should have less "scientific" articles if we cannot even agree on these issues, issues which I would have liked to see being common cause between us.

          • Sample1

            We now have evolution deniers on this site

            All practicing Catholics are, in every sense of the word, evolution deniers because so-called theistic evolution (whereby Yahweh "injected a soul into the first human") is not science.

            Mike

          • epeeist

            We now have evolution deniers on this site

            There have been evolution deniers on the site for a long time.

            Maybe we should have less "scientific" articles if we cannot even agree on these issues, issues which I would have liked to see being common cause between us.

            Or maybe we should have less "religious" articles if we cannot agree on the meaning of "god" and "religion"?

            I am of course being somewhat sardonic with the above comment.

            What is not realised I suspect by a number of people on the site is that the writers tend to be in the minority, they are far outnumbered by the lurkers. So if certain posters put forward supposedly scientific ideas which (and I am struggling to find a polite phrase here) are not consonant with accepted theories, descriptions and explanations but at the same time seem to be expressing orthodox doctrine then I would argue that it reflects badly on the other religious posters here.

          • clod

            It's I bit difficult to take this site seriously when mainstream catholics are largely silent when faced with the science denialism apparent here. Perhaps they would like to present their interpretation of scripture that demonstrates no conflict with current scientific findings?

          • epeeist

            You think evolution is a lie?

            It always amuses me with creationists (or their cousins in clown shoes the "intelligent design" proponents) that they rely on a false dichotomy "Evolution has 'problems', therefore it is false, therefore creationism is true".

            But of course if someone did come up with data that showed the modern synthesis to be false all it would show is that the modern synthesis is false. It says nothing about the validity of any other hypothesis (especially one with no evidential background to support it).

          • BenS

            Very true.

            Speaking of amusing things, it amuses me when they claim there's a gigantic scientific conspiracy to protect the status quo and not allow anything to overturn things like evolution. They seem to forget that evolution overturned the creationist viewpoint that was prevalent at the time. If there really is a scientific conspiracy to prevent new ideas, why did it not prevent evolution gaining a foothold in the first place...?

          • VelikaBuna

            Nobody wants to be proven wrong, especially by somebody else. Do you think people who built their careers on a certain ideology are eager to have their mammoth egos bruised?

            Here is something you may find interesting. A long term study of bacteria subjected to all kinds of evolutionary stresors.

            http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/09/richard_lenskis_long_term_evol051051.html

          • epeeist

            Here is something you may find interesting. A long term study of bacteria subjected to all kinds of evolutionary stresors.

            No, that is a puff piece on a web site written by a lawyer.

          • VelikaBuna

            Who decides who gets Nobel prize?
            I think evolution is not proper science, but more of an possible idea assuming blind forces can create coherent biological organisms.

          • epeeist

            Who decides who gets Nobel prize?

            Well that one is easy

            I think evolution is not proper science, but more of an possible idea assuming blind forces can create coherent biological organisms.

            I think this Isaac Asimov quote is apposite here:

            Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'.

          • BenS

            I love Asimov quotes. His intellect was almost as impressive as his sideburns.

          • Velika, when you say something like:

            No wonder once people accept this lie, they drop the faith.

            those of us who know that the Theory of Evolution has been worked out over the last 150 or so years by honest people from factual evidence, are not a bit moved in favor of your position. Remember, if you want to support faith in the supernatural, the burden is upon you to prove you are right, not upon us to prove you wrong.

          • VelikaBuna

            If evolution took place, we do not know how, because none of the proposed methodology is capable of doing it.

          • ... because none of the proposed methodology is capable of doing it.

            Velika, why do you think that the vast majority of scientists who spend their working careers studying the evidence conclude otherwise?

          • VelikaBuna

            Vast majority are just non thinking puppets running after this or that authority. That is why. If Dawkins says it is so....why would you doubt it? (sarcasm)
            Vast majority was never responsible for new discoveries, but individuals who question and do not just follow.

          • Well, I would hope that you look deeper and reach a better understanding. You know, Catholics are not the only ones to accept the Theory of Evolution, the CoE is joining you:

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/2910447/Charles-Darwin-to-receive-apology-from-the-Church-of-England-for-rejecting-evolution.html

            Why would the leaders of the RCC and the CoE go this way when neither has any loyalty to Richard Dawkins or any scientific leader?

          • VelikaBuna

            Depends what you mean by "Catholics". I know majority accept it and I was one of them. I thought questioning something like evolution was for dummies. I learned old theory (pre DNA). I still remember how giraffes got their long necks, of course that theory is now debunk knowing that you cannot be a body builder and have a baby with muscles, things just don't work that way. Then followed vestigial organs, then junk DNA, dinosaurs with soft tissues carbon dating less than 30 000 years (this information is suppressed) All wrong predictions based on wrong "theory". Lack of any empirically testable model for evolution. I know you are appealing to majority rule and accepted authority on the subject, and I don;t blame you for it. I must say I know too much about the subject to believe in proposed theories of evolution. If evolution did happen gradually, it was fairly rapid and purposeful. Catholic church has never accepted evolution, although certain individual Popes in particular have said certain things (not binding), that was interpreted by many as the official teaching of the church. Here is a good site with good scientists and experts who expose many of the fallacious logic and conclusions presented by the evolutionists.

            http://www.discovery.org/csc/

          • Michael Murray

            Then followed vestigial organs, then junk DNA, dinosaurs with soft tissues carbon dating less than 30 000 years (this information is suppressed)

            I wonder if that information was suppressed by the same people covering up the alien bodies in Area 51.

          • VelikaBuna

            Only atheists I find believe in aliens, since life arise spontaneously, and there are billions of galaxies with billions of stars each.

            Here is something of relevance for you.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynXwAo9V_pY

          • epeeist

            I wonder if that information was suppressed by the same people covering up the alien bodies in Area 51.

            Well I could tell you about sporks, but then I would have to kill you.

          • BenS

            Oh, dear god, I've just replied to another of your posts saying that the whole science conspiracy thing amuses me.... and HERE IT IS!

            Someone actually saying science is suppressing things that would overturn evolution.

            Makes me want to weep.

          • VelikaBuna

            Science is not repressing anything but ideologues and proponents of certain ideologies are. These are hindrance to progress.

          • Quatsch83

            I will reiterate as I have in another comment I made to you, I am in no way claiming that anything happens without direct, continued intervention by God.

          • Vicq_Ruiz

            Imagine building a scale replica of the entire city of London using Legos. Now imagine building a single Lego that can replicate itself into all the different shapes required to build that scale model, and which would then assemble themselves into the model without further directions. Which is the greater act of creation??

          • severalspeciesof

            No wonder once people accept this lie, they drop the faith.

            Guess Francis Collins didn't read the memo (or did and has a severe case of dyslexia, since he was an atheist, now a believer)

            Glen

          • " I am not an expert in either. In any case, given the proper provisions, they are not matters of faith so long as they do not assert claims beyond the scope of scientific inquiry."

            It is the Holy Catholic Church, acting through the established channels of Her magisterium, that decides what is a matter of Faith.

            Here is an example:

            http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html

            Excerpt:

            "This Holy Tribunal being therefore of intention to proceed against the disorder and mischief thence resulting, which went on increasing to the prejudice of the Holy Faith, by command of His Holiness and of the Most Eminent Lords Cardinals of this supreme and universal Inquisition, the two propositions of the stability of the Sun and the motion of the Earth were by the theological Qualifiers qualified as follows:

            The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.

            The proposition that the Earth is not the center of the world and immovable but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith."

            So we can either allow you to make this determination, and you are self-admittedly neither expert nor do you possess any charism of Christ to speak with magisterial authority......

            Or we can notice that the Holy Office, acting with the approval of a Successor of Peter, directly contradicts you here.

          • VelikaBuna
          • Quatsch83

            I do not dispute that the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church has every right and authority to determine in what sense Sacred Scripture is to be understood. However, the condemnation you quoted was not an infallible teaching as defined by the First Vatican Council.

            And in fact, Blessed Pope John Paul II points out the error of the theologians that issued that condemnation:

            The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture

            http://www.its.caltech.edu/~nmcenter/sci-cp/sci-9211.html

            So, given these two contradictory papal statements, neither infallible declarations of dogma, how does one decide which is correct? I, in perfectly clear conscience, side with Blessed Pope John Paul II.

          • A very excellent post. You are an honest thinker.

            I respect that.

            We have arrived, you and I, at one of a very few, very anomalous, but crucially important instances where magisterial teaching is in tension with other magisterial teaching.

            In theology, as in science, anomalies are very precious things.

            It is in the identification and honest resolution of anomalies that theology advances.

            Just as science advances.

            Here is an example:

            "So, given these two contradictory papal statements, neither infallible declarations of dogma, how does one decide which is correct? I, in perfectly clear conscience, side with Blessed Pope John Paul II."

            >> First off, it is not my intention to disturb your conscience in any way at all.

            I cannot conceive of any means under which I could justly do so.

            That being said, I must truthfully report to you why I do not take the same course in resolving this anomaly.

            1. The papal sentence of Galileo is an authentic exercise of the Christ-protected magisterium. It does not involve the note of definition, but it need not involve that note, if it represents an instance of a teaching which is infallible under the ordinary magisterium; that is, a doctrine which is from Revelation, and which is attested to by a unanimous consensus of the Fathers.

            2. The papal allocution you reference is *not* an authentic exercise of the the Christ-protected magisterium. It is addressed, not to the Church, but to a group of scientists. No such allocution can bind the conscience of any Catholic.

            3. If we accept the notion that a Pope, addressing not the Church, but scientists, can accuse other Popes, Doctors, and Saints, of being in theological error, it logically follows that the same Pope making the accusation could Himself have been in error.

            4. This is a catastrophe.

            5. In such a catastrophic instance of contradiction of Pope by Pope, I conclude that the Catholic honestly seeking to form his conscience in such a way as to objectively profess the True Faith, must adhere to that Pope Who can be shown to have exercised the magisterial charism at a higher level, in a way consistent with Scripture and Tradition, especially as that is evidenced by a unanimous consensus of the Fathers.

            I, in perfectly clear conscience, side with the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Holy Office, St. Robert Bellarmine, and Pope Urban VIII.

            One extremely important reason I do so, is that the scientific evidence is now dramatically in favor of the Church, and conclusively against Galileo.

          • To the contrary.

            The very first story ever told in Christendom, by which the mind of the average man was persuaded that the Scriptures could be in error; or at the very least the Church's ancient interpretation of them could be, was l'affaire Galileo.

            Until that time we lived in a cosmos manifestly Designed with us at the center, the place of the Incarnation of the Son of God for the redemption of the race of Adam.

            Catholicism has always been a profoundly Incarnational Faith; it was of the essence of that Faith that the cosmos should reflect the glory of God and His purpose in creating it, which was, exactly, the place of the Incarnation of His Son.

            Modern Catholics are so far removed from this cosmology that it literally seems alien to them.

            But it was the world view of the entirety of Christendom for all of the years of Her glory.

            I believe people are converted to what they are persuaded is the True Faith.

            There are grave difficulties involved in persuading the modern mind that the faith is True, if it can be abandoned and redefined according to the latest scientific consensus.

            It is also a gravely erroneous approach to the Faith in general, as the present assault on the dogma of original sin attests.

          • VelikaBuna

            That is a curious idea...how do evolutionist Catholics explain where the first humans came from, and what do they do with the Biblical account in that case? I have seen many high ranking and "educated" Catholics trying to reconcile the two, by doing all kinds of tap dancing. Even most Bishops today are mesmerized by all the proudfull pronouncements by the atheist version of science and accept it all without a question or understanding, but they nevertheless accept it on authority of the scientists.

          • This is *exactly* the problem.

            It is a grave, even an existential one.

          • Quatsch83

            I think both of you are trying to prove too much. Does it matter where the body came from if the soul is uniquely created by God? Is it more impressive that he make it from dust in an instant or over a long time? It seems more fitting from Scripture (thinking specifically of his slow revelation of Himself throughout salvation history) that he would carry things out longer in time than do them instantly.

            Since all things were created from nothing by God and all things are continuously being held in existence by him, I fail to see how the *exact* manner in which he did it is of so supreme an importance in our salvation. Scripture does not tell us how he did it or how fast he did it, nor, from what I know, are the Fathers unanimous on this point but have a plurality of teachings.

          • "Does it matter where the body came from if the soul is uniquely created by God?"

            >> It certainly does matter. The Church believed from the beginning that the body of Adam was formed directly from the dust by God, and the body of Eve directly from Adam.

            No contrary notion is so much as hinted at in Scripture, in the Fathers, in the Doctors, the Saints, the Popes, the Councils.......until modern times.

            In other words, the question is raised *only* on the assumption that the contingent propositions of modern science are to be understood as sufficient to overturn a unanimous consensus of the Fathers.

            This is a way of thinking utterly foreign to the Church, until the aftermath of l'affaire Galileo.

            This way of thinking happens to coincide with a period of uninterrupted decline of the Church, leading to Her present, dramatically grave circumstances.

            "Is it more impressive that he make it from dust in an instant or over a long time?"

            >> The question is not what is more impressive. The question is what is true, and, also, what is consistent with Scripture and Tradition.

            " It seems more fitting from Scripture (thinking specifically of his slow revelation of Himself throughout salvation history) that he would carry things out longer in time than do them instantly."

            >> In other words, you propose to substitute what seems plausible to you, to Scripture and Tradition.

            I decline to agree with this approach.

            "Since all things were created from nothing by God and all things are continuously being held in existence by him, I fail to see how the *exact* manner in which he did it is of so supreme an importance in our salvation."

            >> In that case, what was the purpose of the Revelation in Scripture in the first place?

            Under your reasoning we should have been far better off without it.

            "Scripture does not tell us how he did it or how fast he did it,"

            >> To the contrary. Scripture explicitly *does* tell us exactly how He did it, and exactly how fast He did it.

            "nor, from what I know, are the Fathers unanimous on this point but have a plurality of teachings."

            >> The Fathers are unanimous on this point.

          • VelikaBuna

            This is belief in a minimalist not involved God. The only thing God did was started the ball rolling and the pieces fell into place all by themselves just as atheist version tells us. I don't buy it, I believe the modernism is the synthesis of all heresies.

          • Quatsch83

            I'm sorry, "continuously held in existence" is anything but a "minimalist not involved God." That is a God who is present at every moment in every place in creation. I have by no means expressed a God who just got the ball rolling and left everything. No doubt there are Catholics who believe that, but I agree that it is a grave error and not consistent with the Church's constant teaching.

            Revelation does not specify exactly *how* God created only that he did and that he sustains all things in existence. There is important nuance between that and the caricature that you painted, and nuance is extremely important in the Church.

            I agree with St. Pope Pius X as well (whom you lifted that quote from without reference), but what I have stated is in no way contradictory to the Church's teaching or guilty of any of the many errors of modernism.

        • Vicq_Ruiz

          Rick, may one believe in a non-geocentric, old universe and still properly consider oneself a Catholic?

          • Of course.

            The matter is, along with several other similarly anomalous cases, one on which Catholics of good Faith can disagree, since magisterial teaching is in tension with other magisterial teaching, or else magisterial enforcement is manifestly absent concerning a magisterial teaching.

  • cowalker

    If you limit theology to answering questions that by definition cannot be empirically challenged--what is the meaning of life? is there a cause that is external to the world?--then of course faith won't interfere with science. It's just Gould's Non-Overlapping MagisteriA (NOMA). It's a clever solution, but not a whole lot different from what most believers do in their daily lives. Most believers just go along with the culture around them, not allowing religious belief to interfere with practical matters unless belief is integrated into daily social life. In a secular state it's like maintaining separate mental train tracks that don't even share switches. Clearly many people find it psychologically helpful to keep both sets of trains running. Personally I don't find it helpful.
    Sid Collins

    • Kevin Aldrich

      If you limit theology to answering questions that by definition cannot
      be empirically challenged . . . then of course faith won't interfere
      with science.

      This is a clever approach that atheists take. It begins with the assumption that real truth is only found in science, which belongs to the atheists who are devoted to the empirical; it also includes the assumption that it's the un-empirical religious who retreat to the safety of theology which can't be empirically challenged.

      In reality, science can only examine the physical world. It is a very good and useful but limited way to know reality. It can't tell us if God exists or not. It can't tell us whether it is good to cure disease or to cause it.

      • josh

        "It begins with the assumption that real truth is only found in science,
        which belongs to the atheists who are devoted to the empirical; it also
        includes the assumption that it's the un-empirical religious who
        retreat to the safety of theology which can't be empirically challenged."

        The first half of this sentence isn't an assumption of science, it is what science was constructed to do: arbitrate reliable truth. The second half isn't an assumption either, it is a repeatedly tested observation.

        In reality, your very notion of the physical world has been determined by science, it is not a precondition for doing science. It can tell us that it is unreasonable to think that God exists. It also tells us that "is it good" is not an objective question. It does not have a true answer.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          "It" refers to the implict assumptions in cowalker's pontification.

          Your claim that science was constructed to arbitrate reliable truth is historically false. Experimental science was constructed to understand the physical world. It wasn't created to supplant every other form of knowing truth.

          "The second half isn't an assumption either, it is a repeatedly tested observation." I have no idea what you are referring to.

          "Science" cannot tell us *anything* about God! It is a method for understanding the physical world.

          If the question of whether science should try to cure diseases does not have a true answer, then I hope you are not a scientist!

          • BenS

            "Science" cannot tell us *anything* about God! It is a method for understanding the physical world.

            We've been through this. Any action your god takes in the real world is either identifiable by science or not. If science cannot identify it (i.e. there is no effect or that effect cannot be distinguished from the natural workings of the universe) then god, for all practical purposes, does not exist.

            You appear to have given up on our conversation, presumably because you can find no errors in my observations, so pressing the reset button and trotting out the line 'Science cannot tell us anything about god' when I've shown this not to be true is fundamentally dishonest.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Not so.

            Physics and chemistry start off assuming that the universe is “closed,” that is, not acted upon by the supernatural. These
            sciences have no way of determining anything about something beyond their preview. The question can only be resolved outside these sciences. God being “detectable
            by science” is meaningless in these fields.

            If "detectable by science" means "detectable in by some systematic, quantitative method that begins by forming hypotheses and proceeds by collecting relevant data" then we have many decades of scientific detection of God. William James was as rigorous in collecting and evaluating his data as we could expect any scientist to be. His work was checked and reduplicated many times. Other scientists have done similar work more recently, such as Edwin Starbuck, Sir Alister Hardy, Andrew Newberg, and Justin Barrett.

            If "detectable by science" means that it can be in principle detected by some instrument, or as given in experience, then we human beings have been detecting God with brains for thousands of years over thousands of different cultures. If one made a robot human brain, it would tend to detect God too, for the simple reason that if it did not then it would
            not be a faithful reproduction of the brains we actually have. My wife and I have made seven human brains and they tend to detect God too, my 17-year-old son being the exception.

            Philosophers have been detecting God for 2500 years and still are, though there are a lot like my 17-year-old.

          • BenS

            Physics and chemistry start off assuming that the universe is “closed,” that is, not acted upon by the supernatural. These sciences have no way of determining anything about something beyond their preview.

            Already responded to this. If god has any action in the universe then we can bring science to bear on it. If it has no action inside the universe then, for all practical purposes, it doesn't exist. You still have not shown how this isn't the case and you never will. You'll just keep on ducking it.

            If "detectable by science" means...

            It means detectable by science. Your definitions are unnecessary given, of course, that they're definitions of straw.

            we human beings have been detecting God with brains for thousands of years over thousands of different cultures.

            No, we haven't, don't talk nonsense. We haven't been 'detecting' god, humans have been inventing them. Dragons have been put forward in many cultures too. Are we 'detecting' them with our brains?

            If one made a robot human brain, it would tend to detect God too, for the simple reason that if it did not then it would not be a faithful reproduction of the brains we actually have.

            Tautology, rejected - and has a disturbing implication later.

            My wife and I have made seven human brains and they tend to detect God too, my 17-year-old son being the exception.

            I really hope you captured on film the day you told your son that you and your wife failed to make a faithful reproduction of a human brain in his case meaning he's defective and therefore not human.

            Do you even think about what you're saying?

          • Rationalist1

            BenS - Miracles can't effect our reality because then science could measure their effect, prayers can't be any more efficacious than random as then we would have evidence and religious should always have divergent dogmas and doctrines as that shows there is no overall divine guidance.

          • BenS

            Please tell Kevin this!

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If god has any action in the universe then we
            can bring science to bear on it. If it has no action inside the
            universe then, for all practical purposes, it doesn't exist.

            I've been trying to comprehend this statement for weeks now. I can't, which bothers me because you consider it a foolproof proof of atheism. I guess I'm a fool who doesn't even think about what he's saying.

          • BenS

            I've been trying to comprehend this statement for weeks now. I can't, which bothers me because you consider it a foolproof proof of atheism.

            If you let me know what bit of it's stumping you, I'll try to rephrase or explains or provide example or whatever it takes to help you understand it. I have no problem with people actually not understanding and I'll do what I can to explain. Which bit of it do you not get?

            I also don't consider it a foolproof proof for atheism. It's just a statement. It doesn't even state that god doesn't exist, it just states if he does and has an effect in the universe, science can - in theory - be brought against these effects.

            It's when the effects cannot in theory be found or cannot be distinguished from the natural workings of the universe then it becomes a grievous blow against most concepts of god.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If god has any action in the universe then we
            can bring science to bear on it. If it has no action inside the
            universe then, for all practical purposes, it doesn't exist.

            Science is a physical action detector. If God performs any physical actions, then we should be able to detect them with science. If God performs no physical actions inside the universe, he might as well not exist.

            My eyes are electromagnetic wave detectors. If there are electromagnetic waves that exist but I can't see them, they for all practical purposes, don't exist.

          • Rationalist1

            Your eyes are electromagentic wave detectors over a narrow band of wavelengths, AM radio is another, FM radio a third. You can't see gamma waves but they will kill you whether or not for practical purposes they don't exist.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Right. So you need another way to "see." Like maybe we need ethics to see right from wrong. Or epistemology to see how we know things.

          • BenS

            My eyes are electromagnetic wave detectors. If there are electromagnetic waves that exist but I can't see them, they for all practical purposes, don't exist.

            Not quite because I'm usually careful to point out (in theory).

            Your eyes might not be able to detect certain frequencies but the important thing is, it IS possible to detect them using other methods.

            If there are electromagnetic waves that exist but cannot possibly be detected at all, ever, by anything, then THEY for all practical purposes would not exist.

            That clearer?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Yes, but my point is experimental science *is* like my eyes, able to see something but not everything. As Lambert points out in the video I posted earlier, we already know that science can't see the grounds for its own validity, any ultimate meaning of what it discovers, or the ethical dimension of anything. Those are three important limitations of physical science.

            Just to take the issue of ethics, if science can never detect ethics, does that mean human life has no moral dimension?

          • BenS

            Yes, but my point is experimental science *is* like my eyes, able to see something but not everything.

            Then I'm afraid your point is wrong. Science is not just your eyes, it is every tool that is available and possible. Your point is like saying 'I can't see gravity therefore gravity does not exist', which I hope you will admit is ludicrous. If we can't measure it with one tool, we use another.

            The point is that if something cannot be measured with ANY tool, EVER, not even in theory then it simply does not exist in any practical method.

            Just to take the issue of ethics, if science can never detect ethics, does that mean human life has no moral dimension?

            Been through this lots of times, please pay attention. Ethics are just concepts. If you want to admit your god is just a concept, go right ahead and do so. I'm fine with that.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Using eyes to see is just an analogy. I think our disagreement is that you think the only instrument to see reality is science. I'm trying to point out that science's purview is limited and that there are other instruments. One powerful one is philosophy, which can account for the validity of science, search for deeper meanings, and open the way for ethics.

          • BenS

            I've repeatedly shown that for anything that exists or affects the real other than a concept, science can be brought against it. You haven't given me a single example of anything OTHER than a concept that science can't be brought against.

            Basically, if you're telling me that science can't be levelled against your god then your god is just a concept. Unless you show otherwise, that still stands regardless of your denials.

          • so pressing the reset button and trotting out the line 'Science cannot tell us anything about god' when I've shown this not to be true is fundamentally dishonest.

            In my opinion, science cannot tell us anything directly about God. If God intervenes in the world by occasionally suspending the laws of nature to do something that we would consider a miracle, we might or might not be able to detect that. God might, for example, act so infrequently that even if a large amount of data were captured, God's interventions reflected in that data would not be statistically significant. God could also answer prayers for miraculous healings of, say, cancer and also miraculously heal an equal number of people where no prayer was involved so that they appeared to have natural but inexplicable spontaneous remissions.

            How could he do these things? As Plantinga noted (and it was not an original suggesting), God could influence the physical world by manipulating "uncaused" events on the quantum level. Since science claims that things happen on the quantum level for no reason, without cause, God's involvement there would be undetected.

            It is true that everything I have suggested is unverifiable, and if you believe questions about unverifiable phenomena are nonsense, then you will reject the very ideas (or reject them as scientific propositions), but not everything that is unverifiable is untrue or unimportant. If I offer an alibi to prove I could not possibly have committed a certain crime in a certain place at a certain time, and it turns out I can't prove it, no matter how true it is, it won't get me off the hook.

            So science can't prove there isn't a God. The most reasonable assumption may be that there is no God, but it can't be proven.

          • josh

            Science can't prove that God doesn't have an unmeasurably small effect on the universe. Check, same as with every other unevidenced concept you can conceive of, and those you can't. Note however, this doesn't rule out science disproving God.

          • BenS

            The issue there is something I've said many times before to Kevin (and maybe also to you, I don't recall).

            If the workings of god are indistinguishable from the workings of the natural universe then we simply have no need to posit god. No need at all.

          • If the workings of god are indistinguishable from the workings of the natural universe then we simply have no need to posit god. No need at all.

            If you feel there is no need to posit God, then don't.

            The problem, though, is that the majority of people in Western civilization, in which you live, believe in God. So you are stuck with the concept, whether you feel the need to posit it or not. The people who believe in God have been in control of the civilization in which we live for centuries. So whether or not you personally feel the need to posit a God, a God has been posited and really can't be un-posited. "Is there a God?" is simply a huge question, and even if the answer is no, and a thousand years from now people wonder why in the world it was even discussed way back in the 21st century, there is no escaping it.

          • BenS

            So what's your point?

            That people can legitimately posit god anywhere they like because a lot of people believe in one?

            I reject this.

          • josh

            The 'assumptions' you refer to aren't assumptions, I though I was clear. I can't speak for how cowalker views them but one is not required to make them.

            Experimental science was constructed over a long (and ongoing) historical process. The essence of that process is 'how do we know what is true', it's epistemology, it's about how to avoid fooling yourself. But there is no need to insert a physical/unphysical or natural/supernatural distinction. What, after all, would be the epistemology that sets that up as an inherently real difference? The notion of testing things and checking oneself against external constraints doesn't require any prior assumptions about an abstract category 'physical'. As I hinted, the very notion of what is physical has changed, seeing as the idea of mathematical representations of abstract fields involving point-like spin in an inherently curved space with only relative distances would pretty much define unphysical to a medieval thinker.

            Now you can always construct a conspiracy theory to avoid all the tests, but that doesn't have anything to do with physical or unphysical, it just tells you you have a conspiracy theory.

            "I have no idea what you are referring to." For example, I observe you, in the very comment above, concocting a theological definition of God and science in order to avoid empirical constraints on your fixed ideas.

            Anyhow, regardless of what you hope, I am a scientist. Lucky for you I want diseases to be cured, I'm just smart enough to know that is ultimately a subjective want.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Experimental science cannot be not the arbiter of all truth because it can't justify itself, it can't explain the meaning of things, and it is "ethically challenged."

          • ZenDruid

            Don't lie, and don't fudge the data. Please explain how experimental science is ethically challenged.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No need to go all bold on me.

            Science can tell us how often people lie and even the reasons why people lie but it cannot tell us whether it is right or wrong to lie. That what I mean by ethically challenged.

            Science can provide us WMD's, but not tell if, how, and when we should or should not use them. More ethically challengement.

          • josh

            I'm not sure I would call it the arbiter of all truth, some things don't have to be taken to arbitrage. But of course nothing can justify itself if you mean justify with respect to an external system. Science is more like the definition of justification. (And bear in mind that I'm speaking of science broadly here, since I don't think it can be demarcated from math and logic).

            Your questions about meaning and ethics are non-sequitors. You assume they are meaningful questions but they are subjective, so they don't have an objective truth for science or anything else to decide.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So science is meaningless and human rights are up for grabs.

          • Sample1

            Where did you learn all that? Well, never mind.

            If I'd like you to realize one thing, Kevin, it's that when you state, "it can't justify itself" you are tacitly endorsing the mechanism that gives power to science (reason/critical thinking) in the first place.

            You're essentially saying, reason isn't enough here and I know that because I'm using reason.

            Perhaps there are better ways to clarify your objections but what you're currently doing isn't one of them.

            Mike

          • To be fair, science =/= reason. Science is reason applied to observations. So science has this limit, whereas metaphysics would be reason applied to the unobservable (not the real definition, just a stand-in), so it is the mechanism that gives power to metaphysics

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That is my very brief summary of what Lambert said in the video I cited above.

            Of course I'm endorsing what gives science its power: rationality! Experimental science is a subset of rationality. It is a particular kind of science (organize, justified knowledge). I'm saying science isn't enough here and reason can tell us why.

  • Ben @ 2CM

    George Weigel said it best:
    "Faith devoid of reason becomes blind superstition. Reason devoid of faith becomes self-absorption with a detachment from reality."

    • VelikaBuna

      I think that is quote from the Pope Benedict if I am not mistaken?

      • Ben @ 2CM

        I'll double check my source. I thought it was from the forward of the book "Light Of The World". Forward was written by George Weigel. Thank you.

  • Quatsch83

    This quote from Chesterton's biography of St. Thomas is always relevant when the discussion of science and faith comes up:

    But for all that, he was historically a great friend to the freedom of science. The principles he laid down, properly understood, are perhaps the best that can be produced for protecting science from mere obscurantist persecution. For instance, in the matter of the inspiration of Scripture, he fixed first on the obvious fact, which was forgotten by four furious centuries of sectarian battle, that the meaning of Scripture is very far from self-evident and that we must often interpret it in the light of other truths. If a literal interpretation is really and flatly contradicted by an obvious fact, why then we can only say that the literal interpretation must be a false interpretation. But the fact must really be an obvious fact. And unfortunately, nineteenth century scientists were just as ready to jump to the conclusion that any guess about nature was an obvious fact, as were seventeenth-century sectarians to jump to the conclusion that any guess about Scripture was the obvious explanation. Thus, private theories about what the Bible ought to mean, and premature theories about what the world ought to mean, have met in loud and widely advertised controversy, especially in the Victorian time; and this clumsy collision of two very impatient forms of ignorance was known as the quarrel of Science and Religion.

    • Chesterton desires to paper over what is in fact a much more serious and, now, recurring difficulty,

      He says:

      "nineteenth century scientists were just as ready to jump to the conclusion that any guess about nature was an obvious fact, as were seventeenth-century sectarians to jump to the conclusion that any guess about Scripture was the obvious explanation."

      >> Very unfair, both to nineteenth century scientists, and to "seventeenth century sectarians"- who will be found, upon honest examination, to actually be Popes, Doctors, and Saints of the Catholic Church.

      "Thus, private theories about what the Bible ought to mean"

      >> There was no private theory involved. The conflict between Galileo and Bellarmine centered exactly upon a dogma of the catholic Faith; that it is impermissible to interpret Scripture in any way that is contrary to a unanimous consensus of the Fathers.

      Bellarmine carried the day, Galileo was condemned, and the 19th century scientists proceeded to exquisitely make the case on scientific grounds that Galileo was right and the Church was wrong.

      That magnificent employment of the scientific method fell apart completely in the face of the Michelson Morley experiment.

      The entire Newtonian edifice collapsed in the face of one simple experiment.

      And nothing that science has ever accomplished since, even remotely begins to compare with the stupendous persuasiveness, comprehensiveness, and experimental validation of that Newtonian edifice.

      The scientific method properly applied and rigorously adhered to yields *wrong answers* about reality, that are nonetheless incredibly helpful in bootstrapping us, perhaps, even a very great way up the mountain.

      But something has gone drastically wrong in Catholic theology since l'affaire Galileo, and its root is found in the inversion of the authentic relationship between Faith and reason.

      Faith is above reason.

      Though never in conflict with right reason.

      • Quatsch83

        Very unfair, both to nineteenth century scientists, and to "seventeenth century sectarians"- who will be found, upon honest examination, to actually be Popes, Doctors, and Saints of the Catholic Church.

        This does not prevent them from being incorrect on either account of matters that are not of faith or morality.

        I have absolutely no idea what collapse of the Newtonian edifice you are talking about. I searched your blog very briefly, but am still not sure. Link?

        • Sure.

          http://worldtracker.org/media/library/Metaphysics%20&%20Spirituality/Dewey%20B.%20Larson%20BEYOND%20NEWTON.pdf

          Excerpt:

          "Newton’s Laws of Motion are based on the primitive concepts of space and time: a three-dimensional Euclidean space (coordinate space) and a one-dimensional time progressing uniformly and having the same value at all points in space at each stage of the progression (clock time). For two hundred years these laws met every test, with nothing
          more than minor discrepancies which were not regarded very seriously. Then in 1887 the Michelson-Morley experiment shattered the foundations of Newton’s structure. Fig.3, adapted from Tolman,45 shows the nature of the problem introduced by the results of this experiment. Let us assume that a ray of light from a distant source S passes from A to B and from A’ to B’ in two parallel systems. Then let us assume that the systems AB and APB’ are in motion in opposite directions as shown, and are in coincidence as the light ray passes A and A’. Because of the motions of the respective systems, point B will have
          moved to some point C closer to A by the time the light reaches it, whereas B’ will have
          moved to some more distant point C’.

          Yet if the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment are to be believed, the velocity of the incoming ray at C is identical with the velocity of the incoming ray at C’; that is, the
          velocity of light is independent of the reference system."

          It should be noted the author does not report Michelson Morley's own results accurately.

          Michelson reported a measured difference in the velocity of light, merely one far too small to account for the assumed motion of Earth around Sun.

        • Andrew G.

          There's a quotation, from Asimov I think, which goes something along these lines:

          "When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

          Rick seems to be going for some kind of record for wrongness. I think those of the atheist contributors who haven't left in disgust are finding it massively amusing.

          • Well, then, Andrew, you must be in possession of a scientific falsification of the following postulate of the General Theory of Relativity, and I would ask you to go ahead and share it with me now, so that I can cease to be so wrong.

            Thanks in advance:

            "The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, 'the sun is at rest and the earth moves', or 'the sun moves and the earth is at rest', would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems]."

            ---"The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, New York, Simon and Schuster 1938, 1966 p.212

          • There is another possibility here.

            Perhaps Andrew does not have the goods, and will simply continue to assert what he cannot demonstrate, and call this right.

            I would certainly invite the rational to decline to agree with him, in such a case.

          • I wonder if you are interpreting this quote correctly. It is true that according to Einstein's theories, you can pick any coordinate system as fixed and the laws of nature will be the same. But that doesn't mean they are perfectly equivalent. The Church insisted that the earth fixed at the center and everything revolved around it. However, the Church was willing to allow publication of works that, for the sake of simplicity of calculations, took the sun as the center of the solar system. The prohibition was not against doing calculations based on the simplifying assumption that the sun was at the center. The prohibition was in claiming that the sun actually was at the center.

            Of course, if we interpret Einstein the way you seem to, he is not saying geocentrism is correct or heliocentrism is correct. So Einstein certainly could not agree the Church was right and Galileo was wrong in maintaining that the earth really was at the center of everything. From the quote, Einstein would have to say that both the Church and Galileo were wrong to argue over whether the earth or the sun were really at the center. So the Einstein quote certainly does not vindicate the Catholic Church.

            In any case, I don't think the Einstein quote means anything more than that according to relativity, either the earth or the sun may be chosen as the fixed coordinate system and all the laws of nature will appear the same. I don't the the quote means there is no difference at all based on what coordinate system you choose. The fact that the Church allowed "hypothetical heliocentrism" for the sake of doing calculations does, it seem to me, indicate there is a practical difference in choosing the sun as the center rather than the earth.

            Also, as I understand what you have written in the past, you don't even agree with Einstein. You believe the earth is in a "privileged position." You maintain there is some kind of absolute space and it is meaningful to say the earth is at the center and the cosmos revolves around it. That is completely incompatible with the Einstein quote.

          • "I wonder if you are interpreting this quote correctly."

            >> I do not interpret. I reproduce.

            "It is true that according to Einstein's theories, you can pick any coordinate system as fixed and the laws of nature will be the same."

            >> This is a complete falsification of every argument ever advanced by Galileo. Also by Newton, also all 19th century arguments advanced as disproving the Church's cosmology, including Foucault pendulum, stellar parallax, etc.

            All of them.

            "But that doesn't mean they are perfectly equivalent."

            >> That is exactly what it means. The exact words Einstein uses are "either coordinate system can be used with *equal justification*."

            "The Church insisted that the earth fixed at the center and everything revolved around it."

            >> The Church asserted this as a theological, not a scientific, datum.

            "However, the Church was willing to allow publication of works that, for the sake of simplicity of calculations, took the sun as the center of the solar system."

            >> Of course. The datum, as I said, is theological. Science can choose whatever hypothesis serves its purposes. The Copernican system itself is born in the context of Pope Leo X's request that the scientific minds of Europe assist in the reformation of the Julian calendar.

            "The prohibition was not against doing calculations based on the simplifying assumption that the sun was at the center. The prohibition was in claiming that the sun actually was at the center."

            >> As I said. The Church asserted geocentrism as a theological datum; that is, a truth of Scripture completely insusceptible of falsification by the tools of natural philosophy.

            In this She turns out to have anticipated Einstein by three centuries.

            "Of course, if we interpret Einstein the way you seem to,"

            >> I do not interpret. I reproduce. You interpret, and ascribe your interpretation to me. Another term for this is "straw man argumentation".

            " he is not saying geocentrism is correct or heliocentrism is correct."

            >> He is saying that both are equally valid. A subtle and carefully chosen formulation.

            "So Einstein certainly could not agree the Church was right and Galileo was wrong in maintaining that the earth really was at the center of everything."

            >> Einstein has nothing to say about the matter, theologically speaking. As a scientist, he affirms that science cannot distinguish any absolute frame, which, if true, renders the question entirely theological/metaphysical in nature.

            "From the quote, Einstein would have to say that both the Church and Galileo were wrong to argue over whether the earth or the sun were really at the center."

            >> To the contrary. Einstein affirms that his physics is incapable of establishing any absolute frame.

            If this is true, then the question is not accessible to the scientific method, and remains, as the Church initially asserted, a matter of theological Truth; a matter of revelation.

            "So the Einstein quote certainly does not vindicate the Catholic Church."

            >> To the contrary. The Einstein quote emphatically vindicates the Church. The question is not susceptible of falsification by means of natural philosophy.

            "In any case, I don't think the Einstein quote means anything more than that according to relativity, either the earth or the sun may be chosen as the fixed coordinate system and all the laws of nature will appear the same."

            >> You are apparently unaware of the utterly astonishing implications. The physics world wasn't.

            "I don't the the quote means there is no difference at all based on what coordinate system you choose."

            >> It means exactly what it says- either coordinate system is *equally justified*.

            Assuming Relativity is true, of course.....

            "The fact that the Church allowed "hypothetical heliocentrism" for the sake of doing calculations does, it seem to me, indicate there is a practical difference in choosing the sun as the center rather than the earth."

            >> Use the sun when its convenient. Use the Earth when its convenient. As the Church understood three centuries before Einstein, scientifically it is simply a matter of convenience. Theologically, it is a matter of Faith, as Bellarmine said, and as the Popes agreed.

            "Also, as I understand what you have written in the past, you don't even agree with Einstein."

            >> Einstein is on the ropes, as anyone paying even slight attention knows already. The standard solutions to the Einstein Field Equations require an isotropic and homogeneous universe.

            It isn't.

            Einstein might be salvageable under the LeMaitre-Tolman-Bondi solutions.

            You know, the "void cosmology" solutions?

            They put Earth at the center of the void by the way......

            "You believe the earth is in a "privileged position."

            >> Thank you for your first accurate characterization of my position in many a day.

            "You maintain there is some kind of absolute space and it is meaningful to say the earth is at the center and the cosmos revolves around it. That is completely incompatible with the Einstein quote."

            << Bravo. You are beginning to understand.

            Let's summarize:

            1. The Church stated geocentrism was a matter of Faith, that is, a unanimous consensus of Scripture by the Fathers.

            2. Galileo said he could scientifically falsify this.

            3. Galileo was wrong.

            4. Einstein affirms that Galileo was wrong- no scientific means exist, according to Einstein by which we can determine any absolute motion of Earth around Sun.

            5. Einstein's Theory requires the universe to be isotropic and homogeneous on its largest scales (at least the FLRW solutions require this).

            6. The universe is not isotropic and homogeneous on large scales.

            Score one for St. Bellarmine.

  • clod

    Can someone give an example of faith shedding light on a scientific finding? What do you think is being added?

    • VelikaBuna

      Purpose and cohesion. It lifts person up rather than tears him down.

      • clod

        Please describe how 'purpose' and 'cohesion' relate to a scientific finding. It is not clear. Can you give an example? Any scientific finding will do.

        • "Please describe how 'purpose' and 'cohesion' relate to a scientific finding. It is not clear. Can you give an example? Any scientific finding will do."

          >> An excellent example is Kepler's derivation of the laws of planetary motion.

          Both Tycho and Copernicus were geometrically identical. The only way to distinguish between them was by means of providing an explanation for the force moving the planets around the Sun.

          This Kepler did, although his initial hypothesis of a "magnetic" force was incorrect, the idea of a "physick" (force) was the breakthrough.

          This explained the *purpose* of the Sun in the heliocentric system, and provided a much greater *cohesion* to that system, since it eventually allowed Newton to derive the first truly scientific model of reality in the "Principia", based on a principle of universal gravitation.

    • Rationalist1

      If science can have no effect on the divine, then perhaps metaphysics can have no effect on the physical.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Metaphysics happens in a mind. When that mind is attached to a body it does have effects on the physical.

        • Rationalist1

          When would a mind not be attached to a body?

          • BenS

            When it's outside time and space, silly.

          • Rationalist1

            Wow. So easy to say, so hard to accept.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            I believe that's why is called "faith" :-)

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Kevin Aldrich

            A human mind would not be attached to a human body when that human body is dead.

          • BenS

            Then where is the human mind.... and how can you tell?

            ---

            Edit: Sorry, R1, I'm sticking my face in again. Just bop me on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and I'll clear off.

          • Rationalist1

            Did it exist also before birth?

    • Kevin Aldrich

      The current scientific conception of the universe is that it has been build up over time from simplicity to great complexity with built in order and information. The Catholic can see this as God's providence.

      • Really?

        "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth."

        I mean, if the very first line of Scripture tells us something completely opposite to its actual meaning, is there really any meaning left to the concept of Revelation?

        Can the Church simply reverse what She has received from the beginning?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Homey don't play dat game.

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      Cantor's transfinite work.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Cantor

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      DHS

      • Rationalist1

        It's not a pedantic point but that's mathematics, not science. It's like saying the perfection of the circle is a reflection of the perfection of God.

        • Dcn Harbey Santiago

          That of course that is one opinion, although many mathematicians would disagree.

          I'm confused by your analogy. "Perfection of the circle" & "perfection of God" are two philosophical statements. Cantor's work on transfinite number and its resulting contribution to set theory are not philosophical at all.

          "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
          DHS

          • Rationalist1

            No, most mathematicians know that math isn't science. Math is used by scientists (and engineers and economics, and ...) but mathematicians create math that may or may not have application to science.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            "Math is the Queen of Sciences" Gauss.

            I think I'll stick to Friedrich on that one.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Rationalist1

            Full quote - "Mathematics is the queen of sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics. She often condescends to render service to astronomy and other natural sciences, but in all relations she is entitled to the first rank."

            Queen Elizabeth is the queen of her subjects but she is not a subject.

          • If she has the first rank, she still ranks among them. Queen Elizabeth is still a Brit, also she is the Queen of the Britons.

          • Rationalist1

            My point is mathematics is, in Gauss' quote, the queen of the sciences, but it still not a science any more than philosophy is a theology. Math and science have two different starting points.

          • But by your same postulate here, we are required to conclude that number theory, the queen of mathematics, is also not mathematics.

            But this is plainly absurd.

            There is something wrong in your premise.

          • So, then, the queen of sciences is not science. Therefore neither is number theory mathematics.

            By the same reasoning.

            Doesn't seem right to me.......

          • Harbey, mathematicians start with a set of postulates (propositions assumed to be true) and rules of inference and then work out (deduce) the structures and conclusions arising therefrom. Science looks at the world around us and uses evidence to find what we can reliably call true.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Q.

            Not all sciences use the scientific method. I wrote in my blog a post referring to the (perhaps unconscious) habit atheists have of thinking that only sciences which use the scientific method are real sciences.

            Here is the link:

            http://www.deaconharbey.com/2013/04/atheist-meme-3-new-atheist-world-view.html

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Rationalist1

            Name a science that doesn't use the scientific method. And what does it in in its place?

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            R1

            Paleontology, You can not test your hypotheses in this field.you can only observe and make
            conjectures based on qualitative analysis of data.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Andrew G.

            Your idea of "the scientific method" seems to be just a caricature of what scientists actually do.

            And of course you can test your hypotheses.

          • The scientific method, as understood by the greatest discoverers and theorists, is summarized by Einstein in one crucial sentence:

            "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right. A single experiment can prove me wrong."

            *That*, unlike the modern evolution metaphysicists, is a scientist.

            http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/popper_falsification.html

            Excerpt:

            "It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.

            Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.

            Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

            A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.

            Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

            Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence.")

            Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.")"

          • Rationalist1

            Of course you can check your hypothesis. Read the excellent book by Neil Shubin, "Your inner fish" about the discovery of Tiktaalik. Neil Shubin predicted that an animal midway between lung fish and tetra-pods would be discovered in sediment dating to 370 million years ago. He located the sediment in the Canadian arctic and found just the animal he had predicted.

          • Paleontology, You can not test your hypotheses in this field.you can only observe and makeconjectures based on qualitative analysis of data.

            This is untrue, and as I recall, even some of the adherents of "scientism" perpetuate the myth that if there are not repeatable experiments under controlled conditions, it's not the scientific method. For example, if a paleontologist asserts an artifact is 50,000 years old, he or she does not have to take a similar artifact, place it in similar conditions, and wait 50,000 years to see what it looks like. There is radiometric dating, dating by rock strata, dating by proximity to items whose ages are already known, and so on.

            You can't do controlled, repeatable experiments on stars, but there are any number of ways to determine their size, their mass, their brightness, their age, their chemical composition, their distance, and so on. No one would say astronomy was not a science because you can't do controlled, repeatable experiments on stars.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            In your eagerness to prove me wrong you end up agreeing with me.

            You said:
            "if a paleontologist asserts an artifact is 50,000 years old, he or she
            does not have to take a similar artifact, place it in similar
            conditions, and wait 50,000 years to see what it looks like. There is
            radiometric dating, dating by rock strata, dating by proximity to items
            whose ages are already known, and so on. "

            I ask you, doesn't this agrees with my statement that:

            "you can only observe and makeconjectures based on qualitative analysis of data."

            Isn't the paleontologist you describe using data produced by science fields (Chemistry, Startography) to make conjectures which can only be proved by the finding of a new specimen?

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • In your eagerness to prove me wrong you end up agreeing with me.

            No, we disagree. You were asked to name a science that does not use the scientific method. You said paleontology. But paleontology uses the scientific method. It just doesn't (for the most part) use repeatable scientific experiments under controlled conditions. Neither do astronomy and geology. But they are sciences and they use the scientific method. Repeatable scientific experiments under controlled conditions are part of the scientific method, but they are only one part, and one can use the scientific method without using them.

          • Paleontology is certainly not science, since it is prepared to vehemently refuse to experiment upon anomalous, soft-tissue presenting T Rex fossils from Cretaceous strata alleged to be 65-80,000,000 years old.

            Metaphysical research programs seek to explain away anomalies, in order to preserve a theory from possible falsification.

            Scientific research programs seek to subject theories to crucial experimental test, with the intention of possibly falsifying them.

            Evolution- and paleontology- are metaphysical research programs:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • Andrew G.

            "refuse to experiment" - how so, when the protein sequences were published in Science? Where is the refusal?

          • Science proceeds by subjecting anomalous observations to crucial experimental test, with the possibility of falsifying the risky predictions of a theory.

            Metaphysics refuses such tests, and pursues only those lines of investigation which will preserve the theory from falsification.

            Evolution is, demonstrably, a metaphysical, not a scientific, research program:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • Andrew G.

            Mindless regurgitations reported as inappropriate.

          • As usual, Andrew, you just don't have the goods :-)

          • Harbey, I would say the academic fields of study you mentioned at your blog link do fall into looking at the world around us and using evidence to find what we can reliably call true.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Q.

            "looking at the world around us and using evidence to find what we can reliably call true."

            The problem with this statement is that it generalizes the scientific method so much one can make the claim that Theology & Philosophy meet this criteria.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • The problem with this statement is that it generalizes the scientific method so much one can make the claim that Theology & Philosophy meet this criteria.

            All of science is a subcategory of philosophy (used to be called "natural philosophy") so that part is no surprise. It would be nice if theology were also scientific, but it so often assumes its conclusion at the outset that I have yet to find how it could be thus included.

          • Rationalist1

            Most theology and religion can't be scientific because it has no mechanism for finding fault with their assumptions. They are all asserted to be correct.

          • Indeed.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            "All of science is a subcategory of philosophy"

            I which some of your atheist brethren were as enlightened as you :-)

            "It would be nice if theology were also scientific,"

            Never said it was. My point was that by your definition of science, a theologists could make the claim that by observing the world around they see evidence of a "Unmoved-mover".

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • I which some of your atheist brethren were as enlightened as you :-)

            Thanks, I try.

            My point was that by your definition of science, a theologists could make the claim that by observing the world around they see evidence of a "Unmoved-mover".

            Yes, well, some scientists also make claims that they may think come from evidence, but the process weeds out those claims that really don't. A lack of any testing mechanism in theology is why theologians in different religions need never come to agree about what is actually true.

          • Rationalist1

            Q. Quine - And is why religious people never believe admit their denomination (any denomination practically) can be wrong.

          • Rationalist said
            [---
            And is why religious people never believe admit their denomination (any denomination practically) can be wrong.
            ---]

            If it were true that religious people never admit they are wrong, why do we have all this evidence of people leaving their faith?

            Why do we have all this evidence of people converting? If what you said were true, why is all the evidence to the contrary?

          • josh

            Theology and Philosophy, can't generally claim the 'reliably' part. Philosophers like to define philosophy so broadly (when claiming benefits of or territory for their field) that it basically becomes 'thinking about stuff', in which case you can't separate it from science. Similarly, you can't thoroughly separate science and math. But in the modern structure, what we call Philosophers are people who generally lack the formal rigor of math or the external rigor of science. So while in principle a philosopher could make important contributions to the search for truth, in practice a lot of the field seems devoted to fruitless tangents and ephemera. Theology starts with unreliable premises and proceeds by unfounded inferences so it's right out.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Right. Science in the broadest sense is organized, verified knowledge, so in
            this sense math is a science. So are philosophy and piano pedagogy.

            Nice, OP, by the way.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Terms.

            Science in the broadest sense is organized, verified knowledge, so in this sense math is a science (or many sciences). This is also who philosophy is a science as is piano pedagogy.

            Most of the time nowadays science really refers to experimental science.

          • Rationalist1

            But Math isn't verified in the sense that science is verified. As an example, there are three basic types of geometry, Euclidean, elliptic and hyperbolic. The differ in being based upon different postulates. In Euclidean the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degress, in elliptic 180 degrees. Which one is right. They all are.

      • clod

        Infinity is chocca with paradox. Science deals with measured things and it would seem infinity is beyond measurement. You can say god is infinite but it would share that property with nothing and nothing has been said, no?

      • josh

        I don't see where faith added anything to Cantor's work. From what I read, he was interested in infinity in part because he wanted to back up his theological and philosophical notions, but his work doesn't seem to derive from any such ideas. I mean, it stands because of logical consistency, which is true for any 'pure' math, but it's not like the Bible or church doctrine lead one to a notion of Cantor's diagonal argument.

    • Kepler's derivation of the planetary orbits from a frankly metaphysical/theological conception of space as organized according to an inscribed/circumscribed series of Platonic solids (this one led directly to gravity, by the way).

      What is being added is the assumption that science consists, as Kepler said, in "thinking God's thoughts after Him".

  • Sample1

    The Catholic tradition, for example, can shed some light and provide
    some elements as answers to fundamental questions, completely respecting
    the autonomy of science while at the same time increasing the
    intelligibility of science

    No example is given. Soundbites like that are not cool nor are they commensurate with an otherwise seemingly healthy adult brain supposedly devoted to critical thinking.

    Mike

    • ZenDruid

      My impression is that 'the Catholic tradition' only relates to science to the extent that it can put an emotional stamp on good epistemology. I'd much rather leave that task to a Stoic.

      • Sample1

        Yes, spot on. And that point (emotion-based being an insufficient answer) is usually completely lost on the believer.

        If I were to guess, the anticipation of "heavenly morphine" after death results in a lifelong sustained serotonin release in the brain. That's a powerful addiction to combat when the alternative is "merely" a daily nutritious meal of cautious optimism within a culture of doubt.

        Mike

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Dude's got doctorates in physics and philosophy and you're claiming he has an unhealthy brain that can't do critical thinking because he didn't provide an example in an interview?

      Who's the one with critical thinking problems?

      • Sample1

        What a quizzical rendition of my comment. I don't understand how you could arrive at such a conclusion. Maybe I need to raise the Flesh-Kincaid readability score of my posts?

        I didn't say he has an unhealthy brain. In fact, I said his brain is seemingly healthy but that his words aren't commensurate with someone devoted to critical thinking.

        There can be many reasons for that.

        Mike

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Maybe you should. Why did you "call bull" otherwise?

          • Sample1

            Again, I called bull because it's a soundbite with no evidence provided. I don't know the man, but I read his words. He makes a claim in the form of an answer to a question but doesn't back it up. Then the interviewer moves on to another question.

            That's a no no.

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Take it up with the interviewer.

  • Rationalist1

    Unrelated but curious.

    Vatican offers 'time off purgatory' to followers of Pope Francis tweets

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/16/vatican-indulgences-pope-francis-tweets

    and

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/490948/20130716/pope-francis-rio-wyd-brazil-twitter-plenary.htm

    Any time off for posting here? :->

    • primenumbers

      Maybe it's based on up-votes?

      • Rationalist1

        There's a day off for you.

  • reader_gl

    Two points after having read this interesting interview:

    1. We cannot extract from science something that is not scientific - simply brilliant!

    2. Science is the same for atheists and believers - a sort of big and thick question mark

    I am used to pray this Prayer to St. Albert the Great, Patron of Scientists (November 15)

    Inspire scientists to use their gifts well in studying the wonders of creation,
    thus bettering the lot of the human race, and rendering greater glory to God. Amen.

    Science is like collecting stamps: one may collect any stamp, without series, without themes, etc., another collects strictly certain themes, all par/face values, etc. The former one I would compare with atheist (a-theme-ists), the latter one - with believer.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    Nice video if you are patient:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdnKUFc0IuQ

    Lambert articulates three limitations of experimental science:

    1. Science cannot explain itself. This is an epistemological limit.

    2. Science cannot provide the deep meaning of what it studies. This is a methodological limit.

    3. Science cannot judge the ethical meaning of its discoveries. This is a moral limit.

    • 4. Science can be successful only to the extent that it ceaselessly attempts to experimentally falsify what it thinks it knows, whenever an anomaly presents it with the chance to do so.

      5. When science does #4, it advances.

      6. When science ceases to #4, it ossifies and begins to sprout epicycles.

      7. As to #6 above, see space time curvature, inflatons, curvatons, gravitons, dark matter, dark energy, multiverse.........

      • Ben

        But you believe in a geocentric universe. So you don't like the modern alleged 'epicycles', but you do like actual epicycles, right?

        • In terms of actual epicycles, Copernicus had more than Ptolemy:

          "The popular belief that Copernicus’ heliocentric system constitutes a significant simplification of the Ptolemaic system is obviously wrong. The choice of the reference system has no effect on the structure of the model, and the Copernican
          models themselves require about twice as many circles as the Ptolemaic models and are far less elegant and adaptable."-----Otto Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, 1957, p.204

          In terms of the modern geocentric models with which I am familiar, they involve a Planck scale rotating aether and gravity.

          Nothing more.

          Given the massive contradiction between Relativity and quantum physics, it is not hard to predict that the aether is back.

          It is called "dark sector" now, but that is just a matter of preserving the model.

          There can be no ponderable aether in Relativity, and that is exactly what will sink (is sinking) it.

          • Ben

            Relativity does at least explain why Mars sometimes seems to be going backwards in its course, so that's one up on Ptolemy.

          • It is Newton that explains that.

            Tycho's explanation is equally valid:

            http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.7290

          • Ben

            I am interested in your prediction that we're going to go back to a Ptolemaic model. How long do you think it will take for relativity to be abandoned?

            I would be up for a long bet on this subject.

            http://longbets.org/

          • Better figure out what you're betting on first.

            Hint: It ain't Prolemy:

            http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.7290

    • Dr. Lambert is expressing what is very well know in the philosophy of science. As to why science works so well, it is because over the last couple of thousand years we have gone though a process of throwing out methods that don't work and refined, through formalization, the methodology that does. It is, first and foremost, based on what can be tested against objective evidence.

      Science can't establish science because our methodology is not an independent fact about the world. Trying to present that as some kind of weakness or defect in science is a non sequitur. However, we can and do use knowledge obtained through scientific means to modify our methodology. For example, we use studies of confirmation bias in humans to design our experiments to minimize the errors that bias introduces.

      Dr. Lambert is also correct about science not being able to tell us what our ethics ought to be or what we ought to do, at all. And anyone who understands Hume could have told you that as well. However, if people can come to agree on some set of ethical goals, science can provide knowledge as to what actions we can reliably expect to move us to, or away from, those goals.

      IMHO, "meaning," deep or not, is an emotion in our brains. Again, I agree with Dr. Lambert that science does not answer questions of meaning, but we are starting to look into how our brains work, and science may come to tell us how the feeling of meaning happens in our brains. Dr. Lambert says that metaphysics can give us answers, here, and I partially agree. Metaphysics can give us answers, but because of its nature we can't test to see of any of those kind of answers are actually true or not.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Bravo. That's what I call a thoughtful response. I don't agree with everything you said (not that my opinion matters), but it's all substantive.

        I don't think experimental science has any weakness in itself. The problem is in human beings either misusing science (like making germ weapons) or giving it an importance it doesn't have (like making it the measure of all things).

        • Thanks Kevin.

          The problem is in human beings either misusing science ...

          Often, people don't consider the difference between science and engineering or technology. Science produces knowledge. That knowledge can be used by engineering to produce whatever technology advances a given set of goals. Science often gets the blame when someone misuses the knowledge.

          On the issue of "making it the measure of all things," I am sure you remember my piece about scientism. We don't know what it will turn out to be able to measure, as time goes on.

      • primenumbers

        Excellent response. And I really like your mentioning of how science has learned about and put methods in place to avoid or mitigate the problems of confirmation bias as I think this demonstrates a key difference between science and faith.

  • Isaac Clarke

    Hey I'm new and will fail on many terms, but...

    Isn't ethics just a way of describing human behaviour. Some good, some bad, but changing (and getting better) as we expect humans to be more caring.

    The idea of ethics effecting the world, let alone universe, is egotistical. Do bees have ethics? They have a social structure, if a lot of workers don't do their "ethical duty", sit around not pollinating, are they ethically wrong? How do you to convince a worker bee that their laziness will effect all life on the planet?

    Surely ethics, or morals, are only important in how we behave. It's limited to the power we have to effect others, animal, vegetable or mineral. We are now in an age where we make global decisions, so surely we have to be aware that even small decisions have a global effect. Our choice to treat a certain mineral in a certain way could have long term, global effects.

    • Sample1

      Thanks for bringing up ethics.

      Science is an indispensable player in that field. There are now many ethical scenarios where it's no longer reasonable to be agnostic; I'm thinking of non-human animal mentation for instance and other animals' needs and interests.

      Regarding the lazy bees, evolutionary biologists know that nature does nothing special to stem the tide of extinction in any given species. The last pair of passenger pigeons probably didn't consider having more sex despite all their cousins disappearing. Birds are being shown to be more intelligent each passing decade it seems, but as far as I know, their brains haven't been shown to possess the ability called theory of mind though there also is a paucity of data in many non-human species about the subject so stay tuned. Perhaps bees do have an ethical system. Science will be the tool, of course, to help us understand if that is factual.

      How would the Catholic Church adapt to a future understanding of non-human animals having theory of mind and also needs and interests of their own beyond pleasure and pain? The latter, needs and interests beyond pleasure/pain, is already a reality.

      Mike

      • Jay

        Not totally sure what u r trying to say... Wouldn't your final question be covered sufficiently under the Catholic Church's social teaching under the care for creation?

        • Sample1

          care for creation

          Well, I'm unaware of any Catholic prohibition against risotto- stuffed pilot whale. My point is that so-called "Catholic care for creation" is built (among other things) on the premise that humans are "a little lower than the angels" but certainly above non-human animals (which incidentally call this planet home too).

          To build a moral voice for the future, I should think the Catholic Church is going to have to change its interpretation of creation to include not eating other species who show the same fMRI brain patterns of suffering and pain as humans do.

          Mike

          • BenS

            I'm intrigued as to where it will stand on things like AI. Artificial constructs that can reason as humans but were not conceived from sperm and egg.

            It's almost certainly going to become a reality that we will be able to transcribe the workings of a human brain into a sufficiently powerful computing system and, at the time of copying, it will be identical to the mind it was copied from. When it begins to diverge (as diverge it must) is it then still a sapient creature?

          • Michael Murray

            If an AI has the same rights as humans because of its level of intelligence you face the interesting question of when it gets them. Why an AI and not the thermostat on the wall, or my iPhone ? Or maybe none of the above because they don't have souls ?

          • BenS

            Why an AI and not the thermostat on the wall, or my iPhone ?

            Exactly, it's going to be an interesting area to explore. I would imagine some kind of cognitive scale would be set up - which then poses the question of what happens when a human fails. If a weak AI which falls short on the scale is still 'smarter' than mentally impaired human (who scores even lower) then how can it be fair that one gets rights and the other doesnt?

            Or maybe none of the above because they don't have souls.

            I rather imagine this nonsense is going to be the initial response from theists and it will be soundly blasted when it's raised.

            Anyway, it's going to lead to interesting times...

          • Michael Murray

            There was an interesting article over on Richard Dawkins site a few years back by Steve Zara on this topic. He is basically asking: If you believe brains are purely material and you start up a simulation of a brain on a computer is it OK to turn it off ?

            http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/490048-the-blue-brain-blues-materialist-ethics-and-simulated-minds

          • BenS

            Well, I've read the article, but not the comments but yes, in my view, he's right - it's something that should be at the forefront of discussion as computing power grows. I'd like to see the debates occurring BEFORE we start creating these intelligences every day, testing them and then turning them off before we go home at night.

            I can easily envisage companies generating whole artificial towns full of artificial people set to run for a brief time to see which advertising campaign works best, only to be discarded when the trials are complete.

          • Jay

            You all should go over to http://www.marymeetsdolly.com and read some of Rebecca Taylor's posts on transhumanism. Considering what has been written here, you three would have some interesting conversations together on some of her posts.

          • BenS

            Sorry pal, I couldn't get past the first article I read.

            "Each child is meant to be conceived out of a love for love. Creating children outside conjugal love is immoral."

            It's just assertion after assertion, absent reasoning. Ranting, in other words. Nothing discussion worthy there, that I could see.

          • Jay

            Fair enough. Thought u might be interested on some of her thoughts on transhumanism with the discussion u 3 had.

          • BenS

            I'm always interested in people's thoughts as long as they have some kind of reasoning behind them. The article I read was basically her opinon - unjustified - and a general decrying of science in general.

            If, for example, she'd said "I don't think we should grow babies in vats because of X, Y and Z." then I could at least have tried to follow her reasoning.

            Instead, she just asserted a load of things as though her declaring them meant they were true. Ah well, thanks anyway. :)

          • Jay

            :)

          • But, the simulation would not know that it had been turned off.

          • BenS

            But is that any different from you not knowing you'd been killed...?

          • Simulation can be restarted without loss. So far, people can't be.

          • BenS

            True, but can be doesn't necessarily mean will be.

            In most speculative scifi invovling creating backups of humans (backup devices in cortical stacks, mind 'snapshots' in memory clinics, whatever) there's the issue of how much of a crime is it to kill someone if they can be restored from a backup anyway?

            Firstly, there's the property damage (to your body).
            Secondly, there's the denial of opportunity (if you're out of the world for a month as a suitable body is regrown, you've lost the opportunities that would exist in that month)
            Thirdly, there's the very unsettling knowledge that you were killed - or, in this case, that your simulation was halted.

            Now, the first wouldn't apply to simulations (as long as NO loss did occur), the second and third would occur if the simulations were permitted to interact with the world outside their simulation. If they are, I would consider turning them off an immoral act.

          • I think the carryover from how we think about the morality of killing someone is not necessarily justified in the case of halting a simulation. The simulation case would have to be studied de novo. Also, the question of timing comes in. If you suspend a simulation for a second, is that the same moral level as suspending for a year? A thousand years? The context is so different from our evolved biological life that quick equivalence is unjustified.

          • BenS

            I'm not so sure it is quite so different, given that equivalent things could potentially happen to non-biological life.

            If, for example, you rendered someone unconscious with the Ionian Nerve Grip and then cryonically preserved them for a hundred years, it would have a broadly similar effect to turning off a comparable simulation for a hundred years.

            I would think a good starting point for how to treat artificial life would be considering how we'd treat the same thing happening to biological life.

          • But, you are setting up contrafactuals that we can't test now. We do know that people are put in drug induced comas for medical reasons when necessary, and then (usually) brought back to functionality. Cryosuspension may be reversible, and restartable, but we don't know that, yet. Artificial life is not subject to our limitations, which are our essential defining characteristics. As such, we don't know about them, and our limited imaginations (read speculative fiction) are almost surely going to be dwarfed by the future reality (as has always been the case in the past).

          • BenS

            We were hypothesising, I thought. Cryonics is not yet reversible, true, but neither is artificial life possible. The point was, we should really start to consider how we deal with such things before we start cocking around with them. It's a bit late for us to decide that switching simulations that can interact with the outside world off and on at our whim is immoral after we've been doing it for a decade and have created a few thousand artificial life forms that we've driven insane with our meddling.

          • Michael Murray

            It's a bit late for us to decide that switching simulations that can interact with the outside world off and on at our whim is immoral after we've been doing it for a decade and have created a few thousand artificial life forms that we've driven insane with our meddling.

            But unfortunately consistent with our usual approach to these things! I started reading a book awhile back about neural plasticity. It was fascinating stuff but I had a real struggle getting past the neural mapping experiments done on chimps.

          • BenS

            But unfortunately consistent with our usual approach to these things!

            Indeed. I'd like to think we, as a species, are past making those mistakes but we're really not.

            Which book was it, btw? I'm always looking for things to add to my reading list.

          • Michael Murray

            The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge

          • BenS

            Ta. :)

          • Michael Murray

            Interesting point. So we can't erase the simulation but have to store it. We could end up with vast collections of stored simulations that we aren't quite sure what to do with like collections of frozen embryos.

            http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/july/25.46.html

          • Indeed.

      • Isaac Clarke

        Actually that's twice I was a coward, both times trying to start a new thread. I wanted to shift the conversation to understandable terms.

        I think no-one gives a monkey's fart about how you think, they will carry on regardless. Our opinions are equal that way.

        Mate, then there's the the science thing! Which I think is valid. Then the supernatural, much though I love it just doesn't work.

        I love gods, but they don't exist in our world yet.

        • Jay

          Your opinions very much do matter and we do like that you share them with us. I hope u have a good night. Take care.

  • [---
    Do Faith and Science Contradict?
    ---]

    Only when there is bad science, or there is bad theology. There have been examples of both in history.

    • UWIR

      And by what standards can one call theology "bad"?

  • I just came here with my popcorns to read the comments, I like what @epicusmontaigne:disqus says and how he handles the situation :3

  • Danielle

    Fantastic article.

  • UWIR

    " But atheists will insist that science can offer all the answers."

    Odd. Do articles not have to follow the same rules as comments? Because this seems to me to be a blatant violation of Rule #3.

  • Mike

    Excellent, thanks; interesting that so many Nobel winners go on to write about issues that are only tangentially related to the sciences.

    PS we also have to distinguish between Hard Sciences, Soft Sciences like sociology and economics and Science-related concepts like Reason, Logic, Rules of Logic etc.