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Science as religion (Merged)
Posted: 21 February 2011 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 196 ]
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Jackson - 21 February 2011 04:07 AM
kkwan - 20 February 2011 09:58 PM

Popper notes that this “may illustrate Schopenhauer’s remark that the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”.

This fits with my comment to GdB that a contradiction is a pointer to a “trail” potentially leading to new truth and understanding—the contradiction itself doesn’t solve the problem, or tell us how to solve it,  but it is like some trace evidence telling us there is some gold to be mined here.

Exactly. Contradictions imply that there are missing unknowns, i.e. opportunity for further research to resolve them and have a deeper understanding.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 197 ]
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Sorry kkwan, you get stuck on every detail. When I say that Popper is not quite right, you come with a citation of Popper.

You force me to read an awful lot of Wikipedia, without reading my postings with an open mind. If a theory predicts novel facts, and if these facts are tested, and they are confirmed, is the theory then stronger than a theory which is falsified by the first test? No citation please, give your own answer.

psikeyhackr is right of course. Even if Eddington’s photographs were not decisive, a lot of empirical support was gathered for GR. Would it be a better theory if all predictions would have turned out wrong?

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

This is correct. But what is the difference with a theory predicting novel facts?

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

Do not just read with an open mind, but also with a concentrated mind. It says ‘the criterion of the scientific status of a theory’, not the criterion for correctness.

psikeyhackr’s remark on computers is also true: the computer software implements theories. When the theories are wrong, the predictions are wrong. And how do we know if the predictions are wrong? Just wait and see if the predictions fit the facts…

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Posted: 23 February 2011 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 198 ]
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GdB - 21 February 2011 11:53 AM

Sorry kkwan, you get stuck on every detail. When I say that Popper is not quite right, you come with a citation of Popper.

You force me to read an awful lot of Wikipedia, without reading my postings with an open mind. If a theory predicts novel facts, and if these facts are tested, and they are confirmed, is the theory then stronger than a theory which is falsified by the first test? No citation please, give your own answer.

I did read and reflect on all your postings. Confirmation of a theory (notwithstanding it’s novel predictions) is no guarantee that it is true. OTOH, if a theory is falsified, it is clear that either it is false or it is problematic. Your philosophical position is positivism, whereas mine is more inclined to consider pessimism as a antidote to positivism because “progress and science” is fallible human aspiration and knowledge…... “animal faith”. In that sense, positivism is similar to religious belief.

From the wiki on pessimism

Philosophical pessimism:

Philosophical pessimism is the similar but not identical idea that life has a negative value, or that this world is as bad as it could possibly be. It has also been noted by many philosophers that pessimism is not a disposition as the term commonly connotes. Instead, it is a cogent philosophy that directly challenges the notion of progress and what may be considered the faith-based claims of optimism

Environmental pessimism:

Some environmentalists believe that the ecology of the Earth has already been irretrievably damaged, and even an unrealistic shift in politics would not be enough to save it. According to this view, the mere existence of billions of humans overstresses the ecology of the planet, eventually leading to a Malthusian collapse. The collapse will reduce the ability of Earth to support large numbers of humans for a long time into the future.

The need for critical pessimism:

Happiness is not inextricably linked to optimism, nor is pessimism inextricably linked to unhappiness. One could easily imagine an unhappy optimist, and a happy pessimist. Accusations of pessimism may be used to silence legitimate criticism. The economist Nouriel Roubini was largely dismissed as a pessimist, for his dire but accurate predictions of a coming global financial crisis, in 2006. Personality Plus opines that pessimistic temperaments (e.g. melancholy and phlegmatic) can be useful inasmuch as pessimists’ focus on the negative helps them spot problems that people with more optimistic temperaments (e.g. choleric and sanguine) miss.

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Posted: 24 February 2011 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 199 ]
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Kkwan,

I never said something like ‚guaranteed true‘. I only talked about novel facts. Novel facts, are facts that do not follow from precedessor theories, or are even never observed before. When these novel facts are tested and falsified, the theory is wrong. When they are confirmed, the theory has got a confirmation. That does not mean ‚guarenteed true‘. Other novel facts that are not tested yet, can lead to a falsification. What falsificationists are opposed to is testing of facts where precedessor theories and the new theory predict the same, or testing the same facts again and again.

A scientist, in order to have the right, rational attitude for practicing science, must bring following traits with him, and move between them:

- dogmatism: do not give up immediately when your theory seems to be wrong. The measurement can be false, maybe a small correction in the theory without touching the core of it, solves the problem
- criticism: search for possibilities where your (or some other’s) theory might be wrong
- doubt: never be sure to have discovered the truth
- irony: the ability to see that you were wrong all the time

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Posted: 26 February 2011 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 200 ]
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GdB - 24 February 2011 07:48 AM

A scientist, in order to have the right, rational attitude for practicing science, must bring following traits with him, and move between them:

- dogmatism: do not give up immediately when your theory seems to be wrong. The measurement can be false, maybe a small correction in the theory without touching the core of it, solves the problem
- criticism: search for possibilities where your (or some other’s) theory might be wrong
- doubt: never be sure to have discovered the truth
- irony: the ability to see that you were wrong all the time

Dogmatism, criticism, doubt and irony are also found in religion. Are there similarities between religion and science?

From the wiki on
relationship between religion and science

Parallels in method:

Two physicists, Charles A. Coulson and Harold K. Schilling, both claimed that “the methods of science and religion have much in common.” Schilling asserted that both fields—science and religion—have “a threefold structure—of experience, theoretical interpretation, and practical application.” Coulson asserted that science, like religion, “advances by creative imagination” and not by “mere collecting of facts,” while stating that religion should and does “involve critical reflection on experience not unlike that which goes on in science.” Religious language and scientific language also show parallels (cf. Rhetoric of science).

From the wiki on rhetoric of science

Epistemic rhetoric:

Its task then is the rhetorical reconstruction of the means by which scientists convince themselves and others that their knowledge claims and assertions are an integral part of privileged activity of the community of thinkers with which they are allied (Gross “The Origin” 91).

Are there conflicts between religion and science?

From this essay in th IEP on conflicts between science and religion

Broken harmony:

There was a time when philosophy, theology, and natural science coexisted peacefully as equal partners in the quest for understanding. In the eyes of many, that harmony has turned into the strongest rivalry of our time.

The Hostility Theory:

The relationship between science and religion is frequently modeled as being hostile, with each side making claims that the other side denies. According to the hostility model, scientific claims are false if religious claims are true, and religious claims are false if scientific claims are true. The depiction usually goes beyond that, however, to the claim that the opponent is not simply incorrect, but operating under great and dangerous delusions.

Central issue:

All these conflicts have a central issue: the explanation of data. Frequently, the debate is not over what the data are, but what they mean. It is often thought that scientific data do not require any interpretation, but that position cannot withstand much scrutiny.

The implications of The Duhem-Quine thesis:

According to this proposition, scientific hypotheses do not come free-floating. They are always situated against a large array of background hypotheses, which consist partly of other observations, partly of other empirical hypotheses, and partly of metaphysical and epistemological philosophical propositions. No single hypothesis, therefore, can be isolated and either decisively refuted or confirmed by experimental data.

The Harmony Theory:

During the heyday of scientific advancement in the modern period, countless thinkers have found themselves adhering to religious commitments and adding to scientific knowledge at the same time. People like Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Boyle, Kepler, Gassendi, and many more have sought the harmonization of science and religion.

Sentiments like Calvin’s are still expressed by many experimental researchers who hold to religious beliefs. To them, the study of nature has led us to understand the world as being vastly more complex and intricate than anyone ever knew before.

The Indifference Theory:

Unlike the conflict model, where religious claims and scientific claims are seen to falsify each other, this description makes scientific declarations exempt from religious scrutiny and vice versa

Conclusion:

According to some commentators, religion and science work together to present a fuller understanding of the world by mutually enlightening each other. Still other people think that science and religion pose no risks to each other, but they do not support each other either; they are simply concerned with isolated sets of questions.

If both religion and science are essentially facets of human experience and knowledge/interpretation of reality, is there any fundamental conflict between religion and science?

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Posted: 26 February 2011 10:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 201 ]
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author=“kkwan” date=“1298797689
If both religion and science are essentially facets of human experience and knowledge/interpretation of reality, is there any fundamental conflict between religion and science?

I agree that is a valid question. The main difference IMO lies in the assumption of an “intentional” act of creation by theists.
In another thread I just made a suggestion that a comprehensive, comparative list of possible parallells between parables and allegories in scripture and a generic type of scientific thought, leading into more critical observation and knowledge, leading to an evolving scientific understanding of nature. However, this better knowledge and understanding of nature does not seem to support the need for an “intentional” causality.

[ Edited: 26 February 2011 10:35 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 February 2011 12:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 202 ]
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Write4U - 26 February 2011 10:30 PM

I agree that is a valid question. The main difference IMO lies in the assumption of an “intentional” act of creation by theists.
In another thread I just made a suggestion that a comprehensive, comparative list of possible parallells between parables and allegories in scripture and a generic type of scientific thought, leading into more critical observation and knowledge, leading to an evolving scientific understanding of nature. However, this better knowledge and understanding of nature does not seem to support the need for an “intentional” causality.

The assumption/belief that there is a “creator of the universe and life” is philosophically unsound.

Just because there is complexity in the universe and life does not imply there must be a creator.

An underlying principle (not a deity) guiding the evolution of the universe and life could be all there is to it. The evolving universe could be infinite and eternal.

The concept of a creator who is an “uncaused cause” is notably incoherent.

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Posted: 27 February 2011 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 203 ]
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kkwan - 27 February 2011 12:48 AM
Write4U - 26 February 2011 10:30 PM

I agree that is a valid question. The main difference IMO lies in the assumption of an “intentional” act of creation by theists.
In another thread I just made a suggestion that a comprehensive, comparative list of possible parallells between parables and allegories in scripture and a generic type of scientific thought, leading into more critical observation and knowledge, leading to an evolving scientific understanding of nature. However, this better knowledge and understanding of nature does not seem to support the need for an “intentional” causality.

The assumption/belief that there is a “creator of the universe and life” is philosophically unsound.

Just because there is complexity in the universe and life does not imply there must be a creator.

An underlying principle (not a deity) guiding the evolution of the universe and life could be all there is to it. The evolving universe could be infinite and eternal.

The concept of a creator who is an “uncaused cause” is notably incoherent.

I did not say anything about a creator of the universe and life. I understand that complexity has nothing to do with it either. A fractal universe could be incredibly complex yet very simple in fundamental properties and mathematical instructions. In that regard we are in agreement.

IMO, this universe is finite, it had a causal beginning and it will end eventually, perhaps even be causal to another universe.

Again, I do not use the term creator, but rather ” the precondition to the creation (the causality) of this universe”. I see nothing wrong with that position, it is defensible both scientifically and philosophically.

[ Edited: 27 February 2011 02:57 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 February 2011 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 204 ]
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kkwan - 26 February 2011 09:08 PM

Dogmatism, criticism, doubt and irony are also found in religion. Are there similarities between religion and science?

There are: they both claim to say something about the world.

Both are sometimes seen as giving guidance in what to do in the world: as providing values and moral norms. Science can’t, but it is based on a value: rigidly searching for objective truth, for its own sake or for its possible use. Religion does provide values and moral norms, but cannot stand rational scrutiny. Humanism also provides values, trying at its best to see what would the best moral norms to follow, what actions are best, given what humans are. It does not provide natural truths, it accepts the truths that are provided by established science.

It is often thought that scientific data do not require any interpretation, but that position cannot withstand much scrutiny.

Of course science needs interpretation of data. But not if they fit into our present values and norms.

kkwan - 26 February 2011 09:08 PM

If both religion and science are essentially facets of human experience and knowledge/interpretation of reality, is there any fundamental conflict between religion and science? 

Yes. Religion does not search to falsify its ‘truths’, and it is not rational to the core.

For science as religion, see the OP in this thread.

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Posted: 27 February 2011 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 205 ]
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GdB - 27 February 2011 05:46 AM
kkwan - 26 February 2011 09:08 PM

Dogmatism, criticism, doubt and irony are also found in religion. Are there similarities between religion and science?

There are: they both claim to say something about the world.

Both are sometimes seen as giving guidance in what to do in the world: as providing values and moral norms. Science can’t, but it is based on a value: rigidly searching for objective truth, for its own sake or for its possible use. Religion does provide values and moral norms, but cannot stand rational scrutiny. Humanism also provides values, trying at its best to see what would the best moral norms to follow, what actions are best, given what humans are. It does not provide natural truths, it accepts the truths that are provided by established science.

Interesting that religion can provide (some) good moral premises, based on false data, while science provides good data, based on non-moral premises.

[ Edited: 27 February 2011 01:30 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 February 2011 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 206 ]
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Write4U - 27 February 2011 01:27 PM

Interesting that religion can provide (some) good moral premises, based on false data, while science provides good data, based on non-moral premises.

Are moral premises on data? Or do our actions follow from moral premises and data?

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Posted: 27 February 2011 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 207 ]
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GdB - 27 February 2011 02:12 PM
Write4U - 27 February 2011 01:27 PM

Interesting that religion can provide (some) good moral premises, based on false data, while science provides good data, based on non-moral premises.

Are moral premises on data? Or do our actions follow from moral premises and data?

I believe morals are based on data learned from experience (or science).
The old moral taboos of eating pork and comitting incest are clearly based on the fact that in olden days pigs were a source of trichinosis and incest produces genetic defects. These causes and results were later proven by science, but at the time they were imbued with spiritual evils and thus the “moral commandments”. An example of good morals based on false premises.

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Posted: 27 February 2011 05:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 208 ]
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Aren’t we born amoral? In fact evidence shows that a newborn mind has no inhibitions (morals). It has also been demonstrated that different geo/demographic societies have sometimes very different sets of values and morals.
IMO Morality is a refined survival technique in human terms. It learns from experience.

Perhaps during our evolution morals may well become part of our genetic memory, as are several other “instinctive” defenses and behavior patterns, as in mating. 
I see no need to take the philosophy of Morals to a divinely inspired quality of humans. The evolution of human intelligence is sufficient.

Moral behavior is beneficial to human survival as a group or society, as well as the earth and all other living species thereon. Praying to a “ghost” does not add to that fact, and religion may even detract from objective human morality.

[ Edited: 27 February 2011 06:44 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 February 2011 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 209 ]
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Write4U - 27 February 2011 02:55 AM

IMO, this universe is finite, it had a causal beginning and it will end eventually, perhaps even be causal to another universe.

That would be the Big Bang (beginning) and Big Freeze (end), the Big Bounce (oscillating) or Multiverse (no complete end) models of the universe.

OTOH, from the wiki on the ultimate fate of the universe

Cosmic uncertainty:

Each possibility described so far is based on a very simple form for the dark energy equation of state. But as the name is meant to imply, we know almost nothing of the real physics of the dark energy.

It is possible that the dark energy equation of state could change again resulting in an event that would have consequences which are extremely difficult to parametrize or predict. It is also possible the universe may never have an end and continue in its present state forever.

And this article from NASA on Is the universe infinite?

WMAP has confirmed this result with very high accuracy and precision. We now know that the universe is flat with only a 2% margin of error.

In other words, the universe is possibly infinite.

FWIW, from this short paper on
Infinite Universe Theory

But what if we adopt the opposite point of view: that the universe is infinite in three dimensions and eternal? This paper explores that possibility by contrasting the Big Bang Theory (BBT) with its logical opposite, the Infinite Universe Theory (IUT)

Please read the whole paper to get the full picture.

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Posted: 27 February 2011 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 210 ]
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I read it and it seems to pose as many obstacles as any other modern theory.

It seems to relate to David Bohm’s Implicate/Explicate order theory.
http://www.quantumyoga.org/QuantumBrahman.html

Personally, I like a fractal geometry to the universe as described by Loll. It seems to be able to overcome all scientific obstacles without compromise (special pleading).
http://www.phys.uu.nl/~loll/Web/research/research.html

[ Edited: 27 February 2011 11:40 PM by Write4U ]
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