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Thread: Richard Dawkins Documentary - Enemies of Reason

  1. #1 Richard Dawkins Documentary - Enemies of Reason 
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    If you've never seen this then I highly recommend a viewing! It's excellent!

    About:
    The Enemies of Reason is a two-part television documentary, written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which he seeks to expose "those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell", including mediumship, acupuncture and psychokinesis

    Part 1: Slaves to Superstition



    Dawkins points to some of science's achievements and describes it as freeing most people from superstition and dogma. Picking up from his superstition-reason distinction in The Root of All Evil? (while recycling some footage from it), he then says reason is facing an "epidemic of superstition" that "impoverishes our culture" and introduces gurus that persuade us "to run away from reality". He calls the present day dangerous times. He returns to science's achievements, including the fact that, by extending people's lifespan, it helps them to take more advantage of life. He turns his attention to astrology, which he criticizes for stereotyping without evidence. Having put astrology to the test and referred to larger-scale experiments, he then briefly describes the mechanics of astronomy, and then expresses frustration that 50% of the UK population -- more than are members of one religion -- believe in the paranormal.

    Part 2: The Irrational Health Service



    Richard Dawkins examines the growing suspicion the public has for science-based medicine, despite its track record of successes like the germ theory of disease, vaccines, antibiotics and increased lifespan. He notes a fifth of British children are currently not immunised against measles, mumps and rubella, attributing it to fears arising from a highly controversial report linking the vaccine with autism.

    Dawkins criticizes the growing field of alternative medicine which does not pass the same objective and statistical rigour as scientifically derived treatments using controlled double-blind studies. Without verifiable evidence, alternative therapies must rely on biased anecdotes and word of mouth to perpetuate. Dawkins observes these treatments have fanciful rationales and rituals behind them, with many alternative treatments employing pseudoscientific jargon such as "energy", "vibration" or "quantum theory" to give themselves greater credence to patients.


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    Quote Originally Posted by woody68 View Post
    About:
    The Enemies of Reason is a two-part television documentary, written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which he seeks to expose "those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell", including medium-ship, acupuncture and psychokinesis
    acupuncture?
    What Is Acupuncture? What Are The Benefits Of Acupuncture?

    okay, I can see how people can doubt it, but has he tried it? since he wants scientific data, he would have to try it I presume.


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    [QUOTE=chero;422181]
    Quote Originally Posted by woody68 View Post
    okay, I can see how people can doubt it, but has he tried it? since he wants scientific data, he would have to try it I presume.
    Trying it would be anecdotal evidence more than scientific.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    NO, why would HE have to try it. Do you have to personally take every medecine and do every experiment before you believe or doubt something. There is plenty of evidence as to the efficacy (or not) of acupuncture. Clinical trials have been performed and the results reproduced and published in a peer reviewed journals.

    acupuncture effectiveness - Google Scholar

    Why would one more experiment on Prof. Dawkins himself affect what the evidence says?
    unsure, but there seems to be a mixture of "evidence". I am going off what the o.p. states. if he is disproving a superstition in acupuncture, then that would mean some experiment has to made. since there are numerous claims as to how beneficial and pointless acupuncture is, there naturally would be confusion. that's part a. the other part is the condition of 'religious' or 'supernatural' condition in which the process of acupuncture is operated. I would presume, since acupuncture is not medicine w/ such side effects, he would want to or should try it for the first hand experience that is related to multiple experiences that rely on individual perspective or supernatural interaction.

    "....points are located on meridians through which gi vital energy runs. There is no histological, anatomical or scientific proof that these meridians or acupuncture points exist."
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    Quote Originally Posted by chero View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by woody68 View Post
    okay, I can see how people can doubt it, but has he tried it? since he wants scientific data, he would have to try it I presume.
    Trying it would be anecdotal evidence more than scientific.
    but isn't a person observing a scientific experience relying on their own personal account in order to correctly describe the process they observe?
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    Quote Originally Posted by chero View Post
    but isn't a person observing a scientific experience relying on their own personal account in order to correctly describe the process they observe?
    Notice the highlighted words?
    That's what would consign it to the bin as an anecdote.
    Unless and until his account is verified and corroborated it's not necessarily "correctly described".
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    Quote Originally Posted by chero View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by chero View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by woody68 View Post
    okay, I can see how people can doubt it, but has he tried it? since he wants scientific data, he would have to try it I presume.
    Trying it would be anecdotal evidence more than scientific.
    but isn't a person observing a scientific experience relying on their own personal account in order to correctly describe the process they observe?
    They aren't experiencing the results if they are observing. Even if they also take the medicine, they are subject to placebo effect unless they've somehow made what their actually taking blind to them against a control--and even with that it's only a sample size of one--not good enough. A good experiment of what others experience is double blind and involved hundreds of subjects.
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    And remember, most people don't think scientifically. There is some evidence that stimulating 'trigger points' and some 'acupuncture points' by pressure or heat or cold or vibration or laser or TENS machines or whatever can have some positive effects on stiffness or pain in joints or muscles in some patients. This is the reason why physiotherapy, massage, heat packs, cold packs and the like have positive effects for many people.

    But despite the fact that some practitioners refer to this sort of thing as providing support for acupuncture, there is no evidence of any kind for the flow of chi or life force or meridians or any of the other argle-bargle mumbled by acupuncture "experts". The support this research provides is restricted to only the specific techniques used for the specified conditions - not for anyone else to say, "therefore my made up theory is justified" because it's also related to the human body.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chero View Post
    but isn't a person observing a scientific experience relying on their own personal account in order to correctly describe the process they observe?
    They aren't experiencing the results if they are observing. Even if they also take the medicine, they are subject to placebo effect unless they've somehow made what their actually taking blind to them against a control--and even with that it's only a sample size of one--not good enough. A good experiment of what others experience is double blind and involved hundreds of subjects.[/QUOTE] so is there no placebo to acupuncture?
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    And remember, most people don't think scientifically. There is some evidence that stimulating 'trigger points' and some 'acupuncture points' by pressure or heat or cold or vibration or laser or TENS machines or whatever can have some positive effects on stiffness or pain in joints or muscles in some patients. This is the reason why physiotherapy, massage, heat packs, cold packs and the like have positive effects for many people.

    But despite the fact that some practitioners refer to this sort of thing as providing support for acupuncture, there is no evidence of any kind for the flow of chi or life force or meridians or any of the other argle-bargle mumbled by acupuncture "experts". The support this research provides is restricted to only the specific techniques used for the specified conditions - not for anyone else to say, "therefore my made up theory is justified" because it's also related to the human body.
    Is there a way to measure the electricity or energy in people and see how it 'flows' and where it 'flows'?
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    so is there no placebo to acupuncture?
    Of course there is. At least one difficulty of measuring acupuncture is how to measure perceived pain with a control. What would be the control? Perhaps people completely ignorant to the pressure points told they were going through a session, some getting the tradition acupuncture, while others get a made-up method? Only the one administering knows which to give and not entitled to talking with the patient? Setting up such experiments are not simple. All in post treatment asked if their original pain has subsided (most would say it did--that's the real placebo effect) and by how much. The one in charge of test doesn't go through the experiment nor even know who got the traditional technique or who got the made up control until it's over.
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    Is there a way to measure the electricity or energy in people and see how it 'flows' and where it 'flows'?
    Yes, it's called neurology. And I sincerely hope they've come up with better methods than the horrible machine they used 10+ years ago when tracking the passage of energy, and where and when it stopped, when testing the failing nerves in my own legs.

    Which raises a further interesting medical question. Why is it that every medical specialist everywhere seems surprised, shocked!, that their procedure might cause pain to a patient? I'm not special, and everyone I know has had painful incidents with various tests and treatments. So how come the people who do these things all the time react so badly when this particular patient reports pain? Especially a neurologist who's job is dealing with nerves that transmit pain, as well as other nerve impulses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by woody68 View Post
    If you've never seen this then I highly recommend a viewing! It's excellent!

    About:
    The Enemies of Reason is a two-part television documentary, written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which he seeks to expose "those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell", including mediumship, acupuncture and psychokinesis

    Part 1: Slaves to Superstition



    Dawkins points to some of science's achievements and describes it as freeing most people from superstition and dogma. Picking up from his superstition-reason distinction in The Root of All Evil? (while recycling some footage from it), he then says reason is facing an "epidemic of superstition" that "impoverishes our culture" and introduces gurus that persuade us "to run away from reality". He calls the present day dangerous times. He returns to science's achievements, including the fact that, by extending people's lifespan, it helps them to take more advantage of life. He turns his attention to astrology, which he criticizes for stereotyping without evidence. Having put astrology to the test and referred to larger-scale experiments, he then briefly describes the mechanics of astronomy, and then expresses frustration that 50% of the UK population -- more than are members of one religion -- believe in the paranormal.

    Part 2: The Irrational Health Service



    Richard Dawkins examines the growing suspicion the public has for science-based medicine, despite its track record of successes like the germ theory of disease, vaccines, antibiotics and increased lifespan. He notes a fifth of British children are currently not immunised against measles, mumps and rubella, attributing it to fears arising from a highly controversial report linking the vaccine with autism.

    Dawkins criticizes the growing field of alternative medicine which does not pass the same objective and statistical rigour as scientifically derived treatments using controlled double-blind studies. Without verifiable evidence, alternative therapies must rely on biased anecdotes and word of mouth to perpetuate. Dawkins observes these treatments have fanciful rationales and rituals behind them, with many alternative treatments employing pseudoscientific jargon such as "energy", "vibration" or "quantum theory" to give themselves greater credence to patients.
    Interesting, but what has this to do with religion? The focus of Dawkins' attacks here seems to be pseudoscience, rather than religion. Is this thread in the wrong section, or am I missing something?
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    Well, the description starts out talking about superstition and dogma. Then it goes on to other unevidenced beliefs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Well, the description starts out talking about superstition and dogma. Then it goes on to other unevidenced beliefs.
    You mean, Dawkins uses pseudoscience as a Trojan Horse to get at religion?

    That would be pretty intellectually dishonest, if true.
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    No. It's just part of a larger body of work, that's all. This particular piece is directly related to the OP - acupuncture. Yet another unevidenced example of "alternative medicine".
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    No. It's just part of a larger body of work, that's all. This particular piece is directly related to the OP - acupuncture. Yet another unevidenced example of "alternative medicine".
    But that's just it. Pseudoscience and religion are quite different things. Lumping them together as "unevidenced" beliefs is a shabby and tendentious trick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But that's just it. Pseudoscience and religion are quite different things. Lumping them together as "unevidenced" beliefs is a shabby and tendentious trick.
    IIRC Dawkins didn't have a go at religion per se in those documentaries.
    OTOH what is the difference between the two?
    You're saying that religion (the belief in god) isn't unevidenced?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Of course there is. At least one difficulty of measuring acupuncture is how to measure perceived pain with a control. What would be the control? Perhaps people completely ignorant to the pressure points told they were going through a session, some getting the tradition acupuncture, while others get a made-up method?
    I believe that is the way it has been done. Which is fraught with difficulties, as you note.

    Only the one administering knows which to give and not entitled to talking with the patient?
    We know from experience that the one administering the treatment should not know either (a double blind trial). This is easy to do with pills, not so easy with acupuncture.

    I suppose you can have an expert come in and mark the real or false acupuncture points; perhaps while the patient is being distracted by a questionnaire. Then a non-expert can come in and stick the needles in, without knowing which points are "valid" or not.
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    They actually have handy dandy fake needles for some acupuncture investigations. No idea how they work, but it's really testing for placebo effect when the acupuncture "point" hasn't even been touched.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But that's just it. Pseudoscience and religion are quite different things. Lumping them together as "unevidenced" beliefs is a shabby and tendentious trick.
    IIRC Dawkins didn't have a go at religion per se in those documentaries.
    OTOH what is the difference between the two?
    You're saying that religion (the belief in god) isn't unevidenced?
    Or, to put it slightly differently, there are separate sections on this website for Religion and for Pseudoscience. Why do you think that is?

    My answer would be that pseudoscience makes the same sorts of claims about objectivity and technological application that science does. So it is fair to judge it by scientific criteria. Whereas religion is primarily not, as Dawkins seems to think, a set of propositions to be objectively tested in the way that science does. Religion - at least or at any rate as represented by the more sophisticated ones - is primarily a guide to living your life as an individual human being. For example, if you pop into a church on a Sunday, that is what you will hear the priest or minister talking about. In the case of Christianity it is a guide to living one's life, inspired by a set of stories and an example that believers hope are true but can never prove.

    When it comes to evidence, many believers claim to have personal experiences which suggest its truth, though this is acknowledged to be wholly subjective and thus not someting science can arbitrate upon. Christianity has also been the wellspring of the culture of the Western world for 2000 years, making it a subject worthy of study at many different levels, irrespective of whether one shares the beliefs in question. As it has been of course, in history, theology, art, and so forth. Much the same could be said for other major religions.

    A bit different from acupuncture, then.
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    an example that believers hope are true but can never prove.
    A lot of people do believe in literal readings of their holy books or sacred stories. It's not just Christians and the bible. Hindus, Jews and Muslims of various sorts maintain their own versions of what we think of as literalism or fundamentalism. (I get the impression that indigenous Australians have the sort of views that you're talking about when Dreamtime stories come up against scientific evidence. Don't know about other mythological systems.)

    Remember Dawkins got into this whole debate because he's a biologist who's had to deal with a neverending queue of religious believers of various stripes trying to tell him that evolution is wrong. Fed up doesn't begin to describe the effect on him. He also sees the same elements of irrationally holding onto unfounded beliefs in the various assortments of alternative medicine. These beliefs endanger people's lives.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    an example that believers hope are true but can never prove.
    A lot of people do believe in literal readings of their holy books or sacred stories. It's not just Christians and the bible. Hindus, Jews and Muslims of various sorts maintain their own versions of what we think of as literalism or fundamentalism. (I get the impression that indigenous Australians have the sort of views that you're talking about when Dreamtime stories come up against scientific evidence. Don't know about other mythological systems.)

    Remember Dawkins got into this whole debate because he's a biologist who's had to deal with a neverending queue of religious believers of various stripes trying to tell him that evolution is wrong. Fed up doesn't begin to describe the effect on him. He also sees the same elements of irrationally holding onto unfounded beliefs in the various assortments of alternative medicine. These beliefs endanger people's lives.
    Adelady, I'd never dream of defending religious fundamentalism. But fundamentalism is not fundamental to religion (as it were ), as history shows and as Dawkins jolly well ought to realise. I mean, Oxford University is just NOT full of nutters who believe the Earth was made in 7 days! So Dawkins has no excuse for lumping educated and intelligent religious believers in with them. He simply fails to engage with what religion really is. There's a whole world of human experience outside the science laboratory, for which the scientific mode of thought is very little help. This is the realm of the Humanities. Religion belongs there: it is silly and pointless trying to put it under the microscope of science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Or, to put it slightly differently, there are separate sections on this website for Religion and for Pseudoscience. Why do you think that is?
    That would because religion is so established that it's declared itself "beyond" scientific exploration.

    My answer would be that pseudoscience makes the same sorts of claims about objectivity and technological application that science does. So it is fair to judge it by scientific criteria. Whereas religion is primarily not, as Dawkins seems to think, a set of propositions to be objectively tested in the way that science does. Religion - at least or at any rate as represented by the more sophisticated ones - is primarily a guide to living your life as an individual human being. For example, if you pop into a church on a Sunday, that is what you will hear the priest or minister talking about. In the case of Christianity it is a guide to living one's life, inspired by a set of stories and an example that believers hope are true but can never prove.

    When it comes to evidence, many believers claim to have personal experiences which suggest its truth, though this is acknowledged to be wholly subjective and thus not someting science can arbitrate upon. Christianity has also been the wellspring of the culture of the Western world for 2000 years, making it a subject worthy of study at many different levels, irrespective of whether one shares the beliefs in question. As it has been of course, in history, theology, art, and so forth. Much the same could be said for other major religions.

    A bit different from acupuncture, then.
    Yet religion has made, and continues to make, objective claims.
    Why should it not be subject to the same sort of examination as every other snake-oil claim?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Or, to put it slightly differently, there are separate sections on this website for Religion and for Pseudoscience. Why do you think that is?
    That would because religion is so established that it's declared itself "beyond" scientific exploration.

    My answer would be that pseudoscience makes the same sorts of claims about objectivity and technological application that science does. So it is fair to judge it by scientific criteria. Whereas religion is primarily not, as Dawkins seems to think, a set of propositions to be objectively tested in the way that science does. Religion - at least or at any rate as represented by the more sophisticated ones - is primarily a guide to living your life as an individual human being. For example, if you pop into a church on a Sunday, that is what you will hear the priest or minister talking about. In the case of Christianity it is a guide to living one's life, inspired by a set of stories and an example that believers hope are true but can never prove.

    When it comes to evidence, many believers claim to have personal experiences which suggest its truth, though this is acknowledged to be wholly subjective and thus not someting science can arbitrate upon. Christianity has also been the wellspring of the culture of the Western world for 2000 years, making it a subject worthy of study at many different levels, irrespective of whether one shares the beliefs in question. As it has been of course, in history, theology, art, and so forth. Much the same could be said for other major religions.

    A bit different from acupuncture, then.
    Yet religion has made, and continues to make, objective claims.
    Why should it not be subject to the same sort of examination as every other snake-oil claim?
    Well, to the extent that a religion does make objective claims, then it seems fair enough I agree. But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief. This is Dawkins' fundamental error, in my view.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief.
    Of course they are - the most basic being: you must behave this way because god says that's how you should behave.
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    That must be using a weird definition of "objective".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief.
    Of course they are - the most basic being: you must behave this way because god says that's how you should behave.
    You've lost me. How is that an objective claim about the physical world?
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief.
    Of course they are - the most basic being: you must behave this way because god says that's how you should behave.
    You've lost me. How is that an objective claim about the physical world?
    Huh?
    Oh, okay, how about claims made about objective existence?
    A flat declaration that people must behave in a certain way because that's how "god" wants them to?
    Is that not an "objective" claim that god exists?
    And that he has "desires" or "specifications" with regard to how humans should interact?

    1. (Philosophy) existing independently of perception or an individual's conceptions.
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    This is the realm of the Humanities.
    But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief.
    I'd grant that a good familiarity with the King James bible is as important as Shakespeare for anyone who wants to study literature.

    For other humanities and social sciences, there are a lot of "claims" in religious writings that are susceptible to rational, academic investigation and analysis. Religion may not rest on factual scientific claims according to you, but equally it can't be reduced to generalised statements of morality that anyone of any belief or none could agree with. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - any humanist or atheist can agree with that so there's nothing special to religion there.

    For Jews and Christians there are all sorts of statements and specific instructions in the bible, religious and moral, about family, social, military and political situations which can be examined and judged as good, bad or indifferent in their application and effects. A goodly number of them I regard as not merely wrong or silly but actively harmful or downright evil. I presume you also would reject many of them, but once you start discarding, where will you stop? And why there? And why keep what you keep?
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief.
    Of course they are - the most basic being: you must behave this way because god says that's how you should behave.
    You've lost me. How is that an objective claim about the physical world?
    Huh?
    A flat declaration that people must behave in a certain way because that's how "god" wants them to?
    Is that not an "objective" claim that god exists?
    And that he has "desires" or "specifications" with regard to how humans should interact?
    I'm not sure there is, in Christianity, a "flat declaration that people must behave in certain way because that's how God wants them to". Judaism does have its 10 Commandments of course, and the Christian gospels do speak of Christ summarising and replacing these by 2 new commandments of his own, to his disciples. But the process by which one is led to understand that Christ is the Son of God and that this means He is also God, via the concept of the Trinity etc etc, is all developed separately. One may, as a believer, conclude that Christ's reported words in the gospels are tantamount to a mandatory instruction, but there is plenty of scope for interpretation - and plenty of interpretation there has certainly been, over the course of history, as to what exactly it all means.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    This is the realm of the Humanities.
    But my contention would be that objective claims about the physical world are not at the heart of religious belief.
    I'd grant that a good familiarity with the King James bible is as important as Shakespeare for anyone who wants to study literature.

    For other humanities and social sciences, there are a lot of "claims" in religious writings that are susceptible to rational, academic investigation and analysis. Religion may not rest on factual scientific claims according to you, but equally it can't be reduced to generalised statements of morality that anyone of any belief or none could agree with. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - any humanist or atheist can agree with that so there's nothing special to religion there.

    For Jews and Christians there are all sorts of statements and specific instructions in the bible, religious and moral, about family, social, military and political situations which can be examined and judged as good, bad or indifferent in their application and effects. A goodly number of them I regard as not merely wrong or silly but actively harmful or downright evil. I presume you also would reject many of them, but once you start discarding, where will you stop? And why there? And why keep what you keep?
    Well, there's a question! To answer it I need to show a bit of ankle here. I will admit to being (currently) somewhat agnostic but with affection and sympathy for Christianity and what it has made of Europe and European thought. I think the answer for me - and for most religious people I know - has been you keep the bits that seem to you coherent and helpful and discard what seems preposterous. Actually I don't see how any thinking person can do anything else. I suspect all believers keep and discard slightly different bits. And I'm not sure that really matters much. The value to most people is the guidance it gives in times of human triumph and disaster and for some, the feeling (whether illusory or not) of a greater whole, of which one's own experiences are just a part. Well this sort of thing anyway - rather hard to put into a few words on an internet discussion forum.
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  34. #33  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I'm not sure there is, in Christianity, a "flat declaration that people must behave in certain way because that's how God wants them to".
    And then you go on to contradict yourself.
    Judaism does have its 10 Commandments of course
    Is the bible not replete with instructions?
    Are churches not full of exhortations on how to behave?
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I will admit to being (currently) somewhat agnostic
    Atheist or theist?
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I will admit to being (currently) somewhat agnostic
    Atheist or theist?
    We don't know each other well enough. Agnostic will have to do.
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I'm not sure there is, in Christianity, a "flat declaration that people must behave in certain way because that's how God wants them to".
    And then you go on to contradict yourself.
    Judaism does have its 10 Commandments of course
    Is the bible not replete with instructions?
    Are churches not full of exhortations on how to behave?
    Well yes of course, that's what I've been saying about a guide to living your life.

    But I'm afraid I still struggle to see that an exhortation as to how to behave is an objective claim about the physical world. I think you are trying to stretch this idea too far.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But I'm afraid I still struggle to see that an exhortation as to how to behave is an objective claim about the physical world.
    I'll repeat: those dictates are claimed to issue from god.

    I think you are trying to stretch this idea too far.
    Really?
    The whole idea of religion is that if you behave in a certain way (a way dictated by a non-proven but very much claimed to exist god) you'll be rewarded in the "afterlife".
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Agnostic will have to do.
    Then you're evidently ignorant of the actual meaning of "agnostic".
    One is either an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist - agnosticism is independent of one's belief (or disbelief).
    (Unless one claims to know - but that's a different question).
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  40. #39  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    I'll repeat: those dictates are claimed to issue from god.
    But that doesn't make them statements about objective reality. Now, if people claim their god says the sky is green or the Earth is the center of the universe then that is a statement about objective reality which can be tested.

    "You shouldn't kill people" (or whatever) is a moral rule, not a statement about the world. I suppose one could do some sort of sociological research to find out to what extent people obey the rules, or whether obeying the rules makes for a "better" society but it is all very wishy-washy and subjective.

    p.s. exchemist, you will find any arguments neutral to or in defence of religion don't go down too well here.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    But that doesn't make them statements about objective reality. Now, if people claim their god says the sky is green or the Earth is the center of the universe then that is a statement about objective reality which can be tested.
    They claim god exists and that he passed on his desires/ dictates.
    Is that not an "objective claim"?

    "You shouldn't kill people" (or whatever) is a moral rule, not a statement about the world.
    Except that the source of that rule is, supposedly, god.
    The rule is "don't kill people BECAUSE god says you shouldn't".

    This started due to Exchemist's objection: Pseudoscience and religion are quite different things. Lumping them together as "unevidenced" beliefs is a shabby and tendentious trick.

    I fail to see any significant difference - both are founded on "unevidenced beliefs".
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  42. #41  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    They claim god exists and that he passed on his desires/ dictates.
    Is that not an "objective claim"?
    I wouldn't have thought so. I suppose a religious person might say (*) that the existence of god is "objective" in the informal sense that they believe it to be a true description of the world, but I assume they would also admit (*) that the existence or nature of god cannot be tested or measured in any objective way.

    So, no it is a purely subjective view.

    (*) Obviously, I have no idea if either of those assumptions are true or not. But it is my subjective impression. (Which, after all, is what we are dealing with here.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post

    I wouldn't have thought so. I suppose a religious person might say (*) that the existence of god is "objective" in the informal sense that they believe it to be a true description of the world, but I assume they would also admit (*) that the existence or nature of god cannot be tested or measured in any objective way.

    So, no it is a purely subjective view.

    (*) Obviously, I have no idea if either of those assumptions are true or not. But it is my subjective impression. (Which, after all, is what we are dealing with here.)
    This is a variable.
    Some absolutely believe that God is objective and can be tested but we are forbidden from putting God to the test (Jesus and Lucifer on the mount).
    They absolutely believe that objective evidence for God exists. This is the sort of crowd that constantly claims absurdities like, "I Swallowed a mushroom and this proves that God is real."

    There are others in this day and age that realize they cannot refute the scientific objective evidence or cannot do it easily, so they shift the goal posts, making God outside of testing and making him subjective.

    Either way, the nature of the belief is that God IS real. That must be firmly believed in order to reap the benefits of Heaven, everlasting life, 42 virgins, wealth from giving away money in tithes, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I wouldn't have thought so. I suppose a religious person might say (*) that the existence of god is "objective" in the informal sense that they believe it to be a true description of the world, but I assume they would also admit (*) that the existence or nature of god cannot be tested or measured in any objective way.

    So, no it is a purely subjective view.

    (*) Obviously, I have no idea if either of those assumptions are true or not. But it is my subjective impression. (Which, after all, is what we are dealing with here.)
    I'll try again.
    You said: Now, if people claim their god says the sky is green or the Earth is the center of the universe.
    Now, their claim is that we get these rules from, were given them directly by, god.
    That
    is a claim about objective reality.
    They might well have removed god itself from direct scientific investigation, but they still make claims about reality and god's part in it.
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    exchemist is right that most religions have contributed to the good of society. However, .... that is not an honest admission that religion is a superstition. Which makes Dawkins 100% right in placing religion exactly where it should be studied. Christianity is just a large cult and the largest belief in christianity is catholicism and rightfully should be studied as a shamanistic practice of the most primitive kind. Of course that admission would be a finalized death sentence to all catholics, as they can easily be forgiven for any sin by saying a hail mary or two, and still enter the pearly gates .......except the denial of the catholic supernatural.... which is the mother of all no no's. and no forgivness is offered. Not to worry though, the mormons are closing that door and now saving souls from the grave, and why not , the catholics can perform miracles from the grave, so a little ol morman should be able to start his/her own business of saving lost souls of the grave. That is, unless you feel mormonism is not a grown up legit religion yet, then maybe that license should be delayed for a couple hundred years to allow for some maturation.
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  46. #45  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Agnostic will have to do.
    Then you're evidently ignorant of the actual meaning of "agnostic".
    .
    Oh dear, maybe. But at least now I know, not only that it was Typhoo put the "T" in Britain, but also who it was who.....etc ...........
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