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Dr. Francis Collins - The Language of God (Merged)
Posted: 05 September 2007 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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You should try to read C. S. Lewis’s Myth Became Fact.  It is not all convincing.  rolleyes  I don’t see how he converted anyone with that junk.  I seriously doubt he did.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 05 September 2007 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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Mriana - 05 September 2007 08:20 AM

You should try to read C. S. Lewis’s Myth Became Fact.  It is not all convincing.  rolleyes  I don’t see how he converted anyone with that junk.  I seriously doubt he did.

Exactly what converts people is a very interesting topic. I remember seeing a recent documentary about Mormonism. In it, some lady tells her story of hardship growing up without responsible parents. She’s skeptical when a couple of missionaries come to the door, but they leave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. She opens it and reads the first sentence of Chapter 1: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, ...” At that point, tears well up in her eyes, the doubts fall away, and she becomes converted. After first sentence! Clearly, she was ready for some kind of conversion and that line hit the right note for her.

Religious people invest a great deal of effort to do this, but their explanations for how it works are essentially supernatural. Missionaries would probably explain that phenomenon by saying something like “the Holy Spirit prepares the way and was already working in her life (because we said a prayer before entering the house).”

Here’s were scientific naturalism can make very significant inroads I think. We need to better understand what’s going on here. While people aren’t converted by earthquakes, volcanos, and other natural phenomena much anymore (because those things are no longer viewed as supernatural), human behavior and emotion are still poorly understood and so are places where the supernatural can still hide. Sorry to see Collins and many others still looking there for signs of a god, but it’s a very human thing to do.


Richard

[ Edited: 05 September 2007 12:13 PM by rgill ]
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Posted: 05 September 2007 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Thought you might find the following interesting:

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/09/francis-collins.html

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Posted: 05 September 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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rsonin - 04 September 2007 01:26 AM

I’m amazed at the lack of logic in Collins’ thinking, especially because he is so highly trained in science.  I hate to say it, but it cats a pall on his scientific work.

I knew if I looked through this thread, I would find someone making this statement.  You *should* hate to say it, because there’s no basis for the statement.  The evidence suggests that Dr. Collin’s scientific work to date is impeccable.  It’s fine if you think that he is philosophically inconsistent (I would agree with that), but to say that his work in science is suspect because of this is a serious logical fallacy.  It’s like saying “that’s guy tripped on his shoelace, he shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car.”

J. D.

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Posted: 05 September 2007 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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I think that “great” people in general but especially when already accredited and praised during their lifetime tend to become obstinate. Don’t forget that Albert Einstein said about Heisenbergs uncertainty principle, which is nowadays widely excepted throughout the scientific community, that God doesn’t play dice. I just want to point out that even great minds are not impeccable.

[ Edited: 05 September 2007 03:19 PM by Thordike ]
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Posted: 05 September 2007 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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rgill - 05 September 2007 09:48 AM
Mriana - 05 September 2007 08:20 AM

You should try to read C. S. Lewis’s Myth Became Fact.  It is not all convincing.  rolleyes  I don’t see how he converted anyone with that junk.  I seriously doubt he did.

Exactly what converts people is a very interesting topic. I remember seeing a recent documentary about Mormonism. In it, some lady tells her story of hardship growing up without responsible parents. She’s skeptical when a couple of missionaries come to the door, but they leave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. She opens it and reads the first sentence of Chapter 1: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, ...” At that point, tears well up in her eyes, the doubts fall away, and she becomes converted. After first sentence! Clearly, she was ready for some kind of conversion and that line hit the right note for her.

Religious people invest a great deal of effort to do this, but their explanations for how it works are essentially supernatural. Missionaries would probably explain that phenomenon by saying something like “the Holy Spirit prepares the way and was already working in her life (because we said a prayer before entering the house).”

Here’s were scientific naturalism can make very significant inroads I think. We need to better understand what’s going on here. While people aren’t converted by earthquakes, volcanos, and other natural phenomena much anymore (because those things are no longer viewed as supernatural), human behavior and emotion are still poorly understood and so are places where the supernatural can still hide. Sorry to see Collins and many others still looking there for signs of a god, but it’s a very human thing to do.


Richard

Interesting.  Sounds to me like a strange coensidence not some Casper the Friendly Ghost.  IMHO, if religious people spend a great deal of effort to convert others, then apparently they do amatuer psychology and look for what they think will get the person, esp when they are at their lowest.  IMHO, it is a sneaky underhanded trick.  mad  Even so, I have seen them do these underhanded tricks to people all the time.  It’s not the Holy Spirit, it is only other humans doing it to others.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 05 September 2007 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Mriana - 05 September 2007 04:17 PM

Interesting.  Sounds to me like a strange coensidence not some Casper the Friendly Ghost.  IMHO, if religious people spend a great deal of effort to convert others, then apparently they do amatuer psychology and look for what they think will get the person, esp when they are at their lowest.  IMHO, it is a sneaky underhanded trick.  mad  Even so, I have seen them do these underhanded tricks to people all the time.  It’s not the Holy Spirit, it is only other humans doing it to others.

Yes, I think it is amateur psychology, though I don’t think people usually realize what they are doing. For the most part, they think they are doing others a favor.

I was running in a foot race a year ago. In the last dozen yards, one of the race volunteers was stationed to direct traffic and offer encouragement to the runners.  Unfortunately, this volunteer was yelling something like “It’s not your hard work that has brought you this far, it’s God’s grace and mercy.” When a person is pushing their limits, they are tired, oxygen-deprived and not able to think very clearly. I don’t get offended easily, but this seemed like an overt attempt to brainwash people when they were vulnerable to suggestion. I regret not making a fuss about it to race officials. Ethically, that really steps over the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if the person doing the “encouragement” knew full well what he was doing, but rationalized that the ends justify the means.


Richard

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Posted: 05 September 2007 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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Oh I really hate it when they don’t give someone any credit at all for their hard work.  What?  The person didn’t do anything to achieve success?  PLEASE!  I would have made a fuss about it.  It does step over the line.  Sorry, but I see no divine intervention there.  You did it all yourself fair and square, thus you deserve all the credit that is due you and you are right, it is brainwashing.

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Mriana
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Posted: 05 September 2007 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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Mriana - 05 September 2007 05:11 PM

Oh I really hate it when they don’t give someone any credit at all for their hard work.  What?  The person didn’t do anything to achieve success?  PLEASE!  I would have made a fuss about it.  It does step over the line.  Sorry, but I see no divine intervention there.  You did it all yourself fair and square, thus you deserve all the credit that is due you and you are right, it is brainwashing.


It’s a clever scheme really, not unlike military indoctrination at boot camp. First step is to break a person’s self esteem. The event was actually hosted at a campground that caters to military personnel.

Richard

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Posted: 05 September 2007 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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jdmack -

It casts a pall because it has an effect on the kinds of questions hat he is likely to ask, the way he asks them, and the resulting latent biases with subtle effects.  A person’s philosophical outlook is not a side-issue, it is central to everything that person does and is, and so it shapes everything that person produces, and especially that which the person cares and thinks most deeply about.

The analogy to a clumsy person driving a car is not quite valid, but to extend it anyways - if you saw the neurosurgeon who was about to operate on your brain trip on his shoelace, would you be as confident of the coming result?

“Impeccable” in science means only that the work is not falsified, the numbers add up right, the methods are sound, etc.  There is more to scientific work than that, however.  There are things like social responsibility, intellectual integrity, ethics, and politics, and they extend to the principles informing the rationale behind the work, and also to how that work fits back into the society that produced it.  Collins’ himself has said, of the new genetic technologies: “As Christians, we bring a special perspective on how to usher in this new revolution in a fashion that has the maximum benefits and is done in the most benevolent way.”  I don’t want Jesus-freaky Christians anywhere near those decisions.

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Posted: 06 September 2007 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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rsonin,

I think you are right in that no one is free of bias and what we bring to the table has our own sense of flavor. Here comes the “but”, But, this recognition is what has driven refinements to the processes of doing science. The goal then is to allow the process to weed out what are fruitless vines. In this manner it matters not what bias is brought forth, the measure of the science must stand on its own merit.

As far as Francis’ religious views, I heard nothing new in the interview. I say this in the same way I found nothing to new in Richard Dawkins’ latest book. My opinion as I listened was the voice of someone straining to address issues brought to light not by his own doing. I would argue Francis holds a belief in a personal type of God and in essence is arguing with himself. Part of the reason I say this is because of the argument of “arrogance”. When I hear this it is often from people who considered themselves non-theist at some point in their lives. A sort of answer to; “how could I have been so blind”. Seek and ye shall find.

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Posted: 06 September 2007 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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rsonin - 05 September 2007 11:09 PM

jdmack -

It casts a pall because it has an effect on the kinds of questions hat he is likely to ask, the way he asks them, and the resulting latent biases with subtle effects.  A person’s philosophical outlook is not a side-issue, it is central to everything that person does and is, and so it shapes everything that person produces, and especially that which the person cares and thinks most deeply about.

The analogy to a clumsy person driving a car is not quite valid, but to extend it anyways - if you saw the neurosurgeon who was about to operate on your brain trip on his shoelace, would you be as confident of the coming result?

“Impeccable” in science means only that the work is not falsified, the numbers add up right, the methods are sound, etc.  There is more to scientific work than that, however.  There are things like social responsibility, intellectual integrity, ethics, and politics, and they extend to the principles informing the rationale behind the work, and also to how that work fits back into the society that produced it.  Collins’ himself has said, of the new genetic technologies: “As Christians, we bring a special perspective on how to usher in this new revolution in a fashion that has the maximum benefits and is done in the most benevolent way.”  I don’t want Jesus-freaky Christians anywhere near those decisions.

I hope jdmack replies. I tend to agree with Zarcus. As long as a person is honestly applying methodological naturalism, then trustworthy science will result regardless of what wacky ideas they may have. When it comes to advances in sociobiology, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the evidence. The main problem I have is that persons like Collins will eventually be elevated to high positions in government where their religious biases may come into play in major policy decisions. On the whole, I thought his book section (Appendix) on ethics was pretty good (he was actually recommending against faith-based decisions), though I did have a couple concerns. Theologically speaking, he is quite far removed from the religious right.

Richard

[ Edited: 06 September 2007 09:37 AM by rgill ]
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Posted: 06 September 2007 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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I would like to add one further thought to my last post. Without addressing any one particular post on this thread, I must say that I found Francis to be quite restrained and open. If I found myself in his, and countless others shoes over the last year I’m not so sure I could be so accommodating. I say this based on incredibly arrogant statements made by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. Calls to end faith, allowing the submitting of religion being the root of all evil (even if just a question, after all those with Atheist bias can read that with an answer in mind). Sam’s constant tirades against “moderates”, liberals and his view of “apologist”. It is seemingly possible to me that one of the leading influential intellectuals in the field of Evolutionary Biology will be remember for a mediocre book on religion. It is a good book, the message of “consciousness raising” is needed, but once the arguments are understood, we can not be left with people thinking they will end faith or even religion. That can only lead to resentment and continued irrational anger.

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Posted: 06 September 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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zarcus - 06 September 2007 09:42 AM

I would like to add one further thought to my last post. Without addressing any one particular post on this thread, I must say that I found Francis to be quite restrained and open. If I found myself in his, and countless others shoes over the last year I’m not so sure I could be so accommodating. I say this based on incredibly arrogant statements made by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. Calls to end faith, allowing the submitting of religion being the root of all evil (even if just a question, after all those with Atheist bias can read that with an answer in mind). Sam’s constant tirades against “moderates”, liberals and his view of “apologist”. It is seemingly possible to me that one of the leading influential intellectuals in the field of Evolutionary Biology will be remember for a mediocre book on religion. It is a good book, the message of “consciousness raising” is needed, but once the arguments are understood, we can not be left with people thinking they will end faith or even religion. That can only lead to resentment and continued irrational anger.

I actually like that fact that Harris, Dawkins and even Hitchens are out there.  For too long, fundamentalist right-wing religion has had free run of the airwaves and we’ve suffered for it. Now there is more balance and people can choose whatever middle ground they want.  Polemicists are blunt, passionate, and even rude at times on purpose to get people’s attention.

I do think that the extreme positions advocated by Harris et. al. will ultimately be found overly simplistic. The problem of dogmatism is much broader and more complex than faith or religion. I think that he’s also mistaken about moderates. Moderate religion may serve as an important conduit for people to gradually leave religious dogma.

RG

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Posted: 06 September 2007 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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rsonin - 05 September 2007 11:09 PM

Collins’ himself has said, of the new genetic technologies: “As Christians, we bring a special perspective on how to usher in this new revolution in a fashion that has the maximum benefits and is done in the most benevolent way.”  I don’t want Jesus-freaky Christians anywhere near those decisions.

We are basically in agreement here.  When it comes to what is done *with* science, then one’s philosophies definitely matter.  But as far as *doing* science, in the case of Dr. Collins, I do not think that they do.  I believe that Dr. Collins is unlikely to ignore or distort any data as it relates to the human genome based on his personal faith.

(on a side note - I think I went on my little tirade here because I’m still miffed by some of the people on the Skepticality forum who argue that Hal Bidlack cannot be a true skeptic because he is a deist.)

J. D.

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