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Thread: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs

  1. #1 The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Like it or not there are people who are both Christians and scientists and such people must find some way to reconcile these two points of view in their minds, for the Christian believes that there is a God and/or spiritual entities and these are found nowhere in the scientific worldview. It is also true that there are people who are both atheists and scientists and despite the any delusions they may entertain these are not the same thing and so they also find a way to reconcile their "religious" beliefs with science in much the same ways. Of course this last is not strictly necessary if the atheist, like science itself remains silent on the topic. The atheist can do this by declaring simply that they themselves see no reason to believe in the existence of a God, and when it comes to the beliefs of others they just mind their own business.



    God of the Gaps
    This attempts reconcilliation by fitting the God and spiritual entitites, which they believe in, into things which science does not currently explain. Thus it is their hope that as science investigates these phenomenon which they cannot currently explain they will eventually find evidence for the existence of God and spiritual entitites.



    Atheism of the Gaps
    Likewise, many atheists are not satisfied with the fact that science is simply silent on the topic of the existence of God and spiritual entities and so they look forward to a day when science will discredit the belief in these things once and for all. And so it is a great irony that in nursing this hope that they follow some of the same paths as the Christian in seeking a way to reconcile this hope with science. So "atheism of the gaps" also imagines that the evidence to disprove the existence of God and spiritual entities will be found in those things which science cannot currently explain. They looks forward to future scientific discoveries that will realize their dream and prove their belief that their is no God or spiritual entities.



    God of the Goofs
    Not satisfied with the slowly vanishing role of God and spiritual beings that is afforded by a "God of the gaps" reconcilliation, many Christians have decided that science must have either made a mistake somewhere, or that science has been corrupted by the prejudice of infiltrating atheists. Such Christians thus use the term "atheistic science" for the work of science that assigns no role for God or spiritual entities in its view of reality. Christians involved in the scientific establishment are considered dupes of the enemy. It is therefore considered the task of righteous and "intellegent" Christians to redeem science from the hands of the enemy by creating a "Christian science" that recognizes the proper role of God and spiritual entities in various phenomena in accordance with their theology.



    Atheism of the Goofs
    Some atheists have realized that the time when explaining the unexplained could disprove the existence of God or the spiritual has come and gone, because the last best hope that science could do this was in physical determinism. If the cause of all observable events could be traced to physical causes then it would be obvious that there would be no rational role for God or spirit in the lives of human beings. Therefore such atheists believe that in the John Stewart Bell experiments upholding the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics, science has made a goof. Unlike the majority of physicists such atheists are willing to sacrifice foundational pillars of physics like special relativity in order to remove the premise of local reality that lie behind John Stewart Bell's famous inequality in order to resurrect physical determinism.



    God and spirit as a different aspect of reality
    This reconcilliation realizes that the idea that science will someday will either prove or disprove the existence of God or spiritual entities is a false hope. There is in fact good reasons to believe that the methods of science are directly related to the difference between the physical and the spiritual. The physical aspect of reality has to do with mechanical mathematical laws which are unresponsive to human wants and desires, while the spiritual aspect of reality is not like this at all. There does in fact seem to be a part of the human experience of existence in which people see what they want to see, and so there seems to be a rather substantial apsect of reality which is responsive to human will.

    This view of God and spirituality accepts that modern man no longer has a need for a role of God and spiritual entities as an explanation of objectively observable (physical) phenomena, and that the attempt to make God fit such a role was a mistake, but it also realizes that this was never the most important role for God in the lives of the religious anyway. This view also supports a view of spirituality which can be described in terms of a set of natural laws regarding the realities of human desire.



    The physics worldview is the totality of reality
    In response to this last reconcilliation atheists who want to continue in their opinion that Christians and other religious people are stupid or delusional find themselves forced to make the assertion that the physics/science worldview represents the totality of reality. But some physicists, like Eddington find this idea absurd, "Life would be stunted and narrow if we could feel no significance in the world around us beyond that which can be weighed and measured with the tools of the physicist or described by the metrical symbols of the mathematician."


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  3. #2 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Like it or not there are people who are both Christians and scientists
    Like it or not, most of the world (atheists and Christians alike) aren't aware. It pisses me off, but...oh well.


    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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  4. #3 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Nice, well-written post. I'll just pick at the few parts that I thought were a bit off.
    Likewise, many atheists are not satisfied with the fact that science is simply silent on the topic of the existence of God and spiritual entities and so they look forward to a day when science will discredit the belief in these things once and for all.
    I don't think that there are many people out there who seriously expect science to prove that it is impossible for a god to exist. Rather, there are many people who would use science to disprove particular claims the certain religions make about the natural world, and if a religion’s claims about the natural world can be demonstrated to be wrong then one might take that as evidence that the religion’s claims about supernatural matters were also suspect. But regarding the generic claim that one or more supernatural beings exists in our universe (or in some alternate reality that’s distinctly separate from our universe), I don’t think many people seriously expect it to ever be disproved by science. How could science ever test something that is almost by definition not subject to the physical laws of our universe?
    Atheism of the Goofs
    ... Therefore such atheists believe that in the John Stewart Bell experiments upholding the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics, science has made a goof. Unlike the majority of physicists such atheists are willing to sacrifice foundational pillars of physics like special relativity in order to remove the premise of local reality that lie behind John Stewart Bell's famous inequality in order to resurrect physical determinism.
    Okay, I know there are some fringe people who deny indeterminacy, but my impression was that most of them just couldn't stand the thought that things aren't perfectly deterministic. Is there really a substantial body of people who oppose indeterminacy on atheistic grounds?

    God and spirit as a different aspect of reality
    ...
    This view of God and spirituality accepts that modern man no longer has a need for a role of God and spiritual entities as an explanation of objectively observable (physical) phenomena, and that the attempt to make God fit such a role was a mistake, but it also realizes that this was never the most important role for God in the lives of the religious anyway. This view also supports a view of spirituality which can be described in terms of a set of natural laws regarding the realities of human desire.
    This is interesting. Would you care to expand upon it? Are you suggesting that we should not attempt to evaluate the truthfulness or accuracy of a religion through empirical observation?
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  5. #4 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I don't think that there are many people out there who seriously expect science to prove that it is impossible for a god to exist.
    So you would say that most atheists you know about are in the last category? My list is clearly intended to be exhaustive of the possibilities, however, my maxim has been, "people can and will believe just about anything", and the more I talk to different people the more I discover the the truth of this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Okay, I know there are some fringe people who deny indeterminacy, but my impression was that most of them just couldn't stand the thought that things aren't perfectly deterministic. Is there really a substantial body of people who oppose indeterminacy on atheistic grounds?
    This is a valid and debatable objection, that was well worth mentioning for the sake of completeness. I do not really fathom such reasons, these sentiments are as alien and incomprehensible to me as the Calvinism of Reformed Chrisitians. But regardless of the motivations of those who pursue such lines of scientific inquiry, I have have encountered numerous atheists who have nevertheless gone in precisely this direction in their discussions with me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    God and spirit as a different aspect of reality
    ...
    This view of God and spirituality accepts that modern man no longer has a need for a role of God and spiritual entities as an explanation of objectively observable (physical) phenomena, and that the attempt to make God fit such a role was a mistake, but it also realizes that this was never the most important role for God in the lives of the religious anyway. This view also supports a view of spirituality which can be described in terms of a set of natural laws regarding the realities of human desire.
    This is interesting. Would you care to expand upon it? Are you suggesting that we should not attempt to evaluate the truthfulness or accuracy of a religion through empirical observation?
    Well yes. I think it is clear that only a "gaps" or "goofs" reconcilliator would dream that such a thing was possible in general. Otherwise someone who takes both science and religion seriously, like myself who is both a Chrisitan and a scientist, valuing both scripture and science as sources of good information, would simply see scientific evidence as cause to reevalute how scripture should be interpreted. For example, solid scientific evidence that there was no world wide flood might simply be taken as reason to consider the flood to be more of a local event involving the the world as human beings knew it at the time.
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  6. #5 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    For example, solid scientific evidence that there was no world wide flood might simply be taken as reason to consider the flood to be more of a local event involving the the world as human beings knew it at the time.
    Okay, this is drifting a bit off topic, but I can't help myself. Forgive me if I'm mischaracterizing your beliefs, but there's something about your attitude (which is an attitude that many of the more educated, intellectual Christians seem to share) that I've never understood.

    The Bible contains many fantastic claims that, at first glance, appear wildly implausible. It suggests the world and all life was created in seven days, that every species of animal was able to fit onto a boat together and survive a flood that covered the entire surface of the earth, that a divine being appeared to some people thousands of years ago and did them all sorts of miraculous favors. It says that supernatural beings slaughtered people, possessed people, destroyed entire cities, turned people into salt statues, and delivered important messages to various humans. It says that a person was able to raise the dead, make food magically appear out of thin air, heal the sick or injured with a word, walk on the surface of liquid water, and come back to life after being dead for days.

    This sort of thing doesn't seem to happen any more, and our source for all these alleged events is the Bible. Now, if I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that if one of the wild, implausible things that the Bible states to have happened - like, say, the world-wide flood - can be shown through science to have probably never occurred, we should re-interpret the Bible in a way to make it fit with the view of reality that science gives us.

    Okay, that certainly seems reasonable to me. If a document that was written thousands of years ago by a group of people who were by modern standards woefully ignorant of the world, and incredibly susceptible to superstitious magical thinking, comes into conflict with our own careful observations about the world, it seems reasonable to assume that the ancient document is wrong. But once some of the document's wild, fantastic claims have been demonstrated to be wrong, and you have accepted them as wrong, don't you think that this pretty much destroys any credibility that the document might have had regarding all the other wild claims? I mean, why would you continue to think it likely that any of the wild claims in such a document are factually true once you know that some of them are almost certainly false?
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  7. #6 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Okay, that certainly seems reasonable to me. If a document that was written thousands of years ago by a group of people who were by modern standards woefully ignorant of the world, and incredibly susceptible to superstitious magical thinking, comes into conflict with our own careful observations about the world, it seems reasonable to assume that the ancient document is wrong. But once some of the document's wild, fantastic claims have been demonstrated to be wrong, and you have accepted them as wrong, don't you think that this pretty much destroys any credibility that the document might have had regarding all the other wild claims? I mean, why would you continue to think it likely that any of the wild claims in such a document are factually true once you know that some of them are almost certainly false?
    I have been a physics teacher for a while and every textbook I have used has typos, mistakes in the various examples and answers in the back of the book that are plain wrong. Students like to use this as an excuse to just give up, and that is just plain stupid. And this is a case where we are talking about outright errors and where a lot of the errors are actually relevant. The Bible is not a science or history text book and much of its message is given in the form of parables and illustrative stories with a spiritual message, and the details of that spiritual message is subject to a great deal of debate.

    This is not to say that it is not an impressive book even with regards to the content which is not its main purpose. It is actually amazing just how much accurate historical content there is in this book. As a catalogue of the mistakes and sins of a people, the book is really rather remarkable and unique. You know sometimes I wonder where people think the authority of the Bible really comes from (in the epistemological sense), because it is just plain nonsense to think that people accept its authority just because other people do. I come from a non-Christian background and missionaries approaching me with the attitude that I should just believe something because the Bible says so, sounded just plain idiotic, as I am sure that sounds to you. Yet, I am clearly not the first person from a non-Christian background to become Christian and I will not be the last.

    The authority of the Bible comes (in this epistemological sense) from the accurate spiritual content of the Book. The book brings life to the dead. Now I totally understand that you don't see this, and this does not even mean that you spiritually unperceptive, because there are plenty of spiritual and religious people who are not Christian. I think this simply points to a complex spiritual landscape that is perceived in highly diverse ways by different people. This diversity can even be found within a religious group including a Christian one. I see a lot value in all kinds of stories and I read a great deal of science fiction and fantasy. I even called the Chronicle of Thomas Covenant my bible for a while because I saw it as a great piece of existentialist literature. I just happen to see more of value in the Bible than in any of these other books.

    Don't get me wrong, I do think that Genesis has a very clear historical intent, but the first chapters are clearly stories from before written history and could only have been passed down in an oral tradition. Looking at many cultures it is clear that such oral traditions have a tendency to mythic elements. I do think it likely however that the books of Job and Jonah for example are more of an illustrative nature than historical.
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    This work was inspired some time ago when I learned that the Pope and the Vatican supported the Big Bang theory. The Pope even claimed that this scientific theory was "Proof of God and a validation of Genesis.", yet no biblical explanation for this was provided by the Pope or the Vatican. Latter Popes had less praise, but most said it was it was "in harmony" or "did not contradict" Genesis. Here is my attempt to find what the Pope may have seen in the scriptures.

    For this topic I will use NIV Interlinear Hebrew/English Old Testament by Kohlenberger, rather than any of my own translations. This way I can not be accused of twisting the Holy Scriptures as much.

    Because this text is a transliteration rather than a translation, the word groupings and sentence structure are as they would be in Hebrew and not English, but most people should be able to follow it.

    Gen. 1:1
    In beginning - he created - God - the heavens - and - the Earth.

    Like most stories, this is an opening line that sums up what is too follow. Yet there is a little more to it than just that. This line speaks of God, the next line speaks of "and spirit of" "God" Thus I believe that this line refers to God creating "and spirit of" and "the earth" spoken about in the next line. My reasoning will become clear as we proceed.

    Gen. 1:2
    Now the Earth - she was - formless - and empty - and darkness - over - surface of - deep - and spirit of - God - hovering - over - surface of.

    We take the meaning of the word Earth to mean a planet orbiting the Sun. Is this what the ancients had for the meaning of Earth? Not quite. We know this word does not mean "land" or "the dry land" as these words are used shortly in Genesis. The earth is also a creative force. In the Hebrew text, the earth is clearly female. The Earth is also referred to in other places in the bible and Hebrew tradition as "The Bride of God". So how are we to interpret the meaning of 'the earth' in the original text? I have a scientific answer that fits all of these,"the earth" can be taken as Terra Firma or solid matter. Scientifically it would mean MATTER. All matter.

    Now Gen. 1:2 says that "the earth - she was - formless - and empty - and darkness - over - surface of - deep". What is formless matter? Einstein showed us in his famous equation E = MC^2, Matter without form is Energy. In space, matter tends to form spheres, round balls, in space. Energy is no different, it would form a ball of energy. Just a ball of energy, matter (atoms) do not yet exist, so there is no light only darkness throughout the depths of this sphere of energy.
    The clearly female aspect to "the earth" is also important, it is a female aspect of God. Metaphorically speaking, it is a Goddess archetype. This clears up an important debate latter in Genesis with the creation of Adam and Eve and the use of Elohim, implying more than one God, but I am getting ahead of myself.

    Now for the second half of Gen. 1:2 "and spirit of - God - hovering - over - surface of" A sphere of energy in space, can be described as "hovering" in space. But from the viewpoint of the sphere, space is "Hovering over surface of" the sphere.

    Equating "the spirit of - God" with infinite space is not as great of a leap as it first looks. Infinity implies infinite power, infinite possibilities, infinities of time. In short all that ever was or could be is contained within infinity. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, all rolled up into one. The "I AM" Yet this is only "the spirit of God" and not the totality of God. If we can not fully comprehend infinite space, "the spirit of God", how much harder to grasp the fullness of God which is all things in one.

    "Hovering" is an interesting word choice at this point. Scientifically, hovering is a great way to describe harmonic oscillations. Now this is not about scientific theory per say, so I will not go into great detail as to how harmonic oscillations on a quantum scale can produce scalar waves and the equations showing how such scalar waves create matter. But that one poetic word perfectly describes a complex scientific theory on the creation of matter from energy. "Hovering" also has sexual overtones. A man 'hovers' around a female he is interested in. In male dominate sexual positions, the man can be described as 'hovering over surface of' the female. This passage does not refer to intercourse, but does have sexual overtones between "the spirit of - God" and his bride "the earth", and also describes the scientific method by which matter can be formed from energy. Which leads us too.

    The First Virgin Birth myth in the Bible, at the very start. Energy give birth to Matter. The first particles.

    Gen. 1:3 And he said - God - let him be light - and he was - light
    The first atoms form from these particles of matter, and as a result, the universe is filled with light.

    Gen. 1:4 And he saw - God - the light - that - good - and he separated - God - between the light - and between - the darkness
    With the creation of matter, the energy density within the ball of energy is no longer the same at all locations. It takes a lot of energy to make a small particle of matter. So every time a particle of matter is created, a void in the energy density around it is also created. These atoms were alone, scattered randomly throughout our finite universe.

    Gen. 1:5 And he called - God - to the light - day - and to the darkness - he called - night - and he was - evening - and he was morning - day - first
    We look at the sun in the sky, the world filled with light, we call this day. At night we gaze up into the darkness of space in wonder. So the use of the words day and night is not surprising. The concept of time is another matter.
    There are no planets yet, not even the first suns yet, so a day can not mean the spinning of the earth. So what is a day to God. A being of infinite time. "A thousand years is but a blink in the eye of God" is an important quote to remember. It only takes us a couple of thousandths of a second to blink, so how many times can you blink in a day? Multiply that times 1000 years. We have no concept of time as an eternal God would perceive it.

    Gen: 1:6 And he said - God - let him be - expanse - between - the waters - and let him be - separating - between - waters - from the waters
    Gen. 1:7 So he made - God - the expanse - and he separated - between - the waters - which - from under - to the expanse - and between - the waters - which - from above - to the expanse - and he was so
    Gen. 1:8 And he called - God - to the expanse - sky - and he was - evening - and he was - morning - day second
    At the very start we looked at how 'the waters' relate to energy and matter. In these lines we have God organizing our finite universe. Grouping atoms together to make the first suns. Suns creating even more complex matter within their cores. The separation of matter and energy as it is orgainised in ever more complex atoms. Complex atoms from stars are needed to form planets, next on Gods to do list.

    Gen. 1:9 And he said - God - let them be gathered - the waters - from under - the sky - to - place - one - and let her appear - the dry ground - and he was - so
    Gen. 1:10 And he called - God - to the dry ground - land - and to gathering of - the waters - he called - seas - and he saw - God - that - good
    At last, planets. Dry land bordered by seas. And god saw that this was good so he moved on to the next step. Also note that the land is also clearly female. The first 'Mother Earth' archetype? I believe it is meant to show that "the dry land' was the Bride of God, Energy/Matter in another form. Now she is the 'Mother' of life on our planet named after her, the earth.

    Gen. 1:11 to 1:19
    First God has the land "let her produce" offspring. Another "Virgin Birth" perhaps? First simple plants, then trees. Before going farther the seasons, a varying climate, and the basis for our concept of time is established.

    Gen. 1:20 to 1:25
    The first animal life is in the seas. Next listed is birds, some of the last descendants of the great reptiles. Then mammals and insects are listed. Of course we do not know if they considered the order of the list important or not. So debate over this point will continue no doubt.

    The Virgin Birth of Adam and Eve.

    Gen. 1:26 Then he said - God - let us make - man - in image of us - in likeness of us - ...
    The spirit of God and his Bride the earth is why this is in the plural form. Man is both Matter and Spirit, Flesh and Soul, Yin and Yang. It is a 'Virgin Birth" in the same manner that "the dry land" gave birth to many forms of life, or the manner by which "the spirit of God" and "the earth", energy, gave birth to matter. This theme is repeated with the account of Shara, Abram's wife, up to the story of Jesus and his birth.

    I had planned on covering more ground and in greater detail, but this post has grown overly long.
    I may cover other parts of Genesis in a separate thread at some time.
    This should generate some response for awhile at least.

    But I do think it shows that a scientific theory does not need to be at odds with the Bible or religion in general.
    Most versions of the Big Bang model, W.S.M. theory, and several others all would fit within the translation above.

    Charles
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  9. #8 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I have been a physics teacher for a while and every textbook I have used has typos, mistakes in the various examples and answers in the back of the book that are plain wrong.
    But your physics book does not (I assume) make any fantastic claims. Rather than a physics book with typos, a better analogy would probably be a history book that claimed Merlin used magic powers to defend Britain from the Normans, Christopher Columbus fought giant sea monsters during his voyage to North America, and that 10 billion Confederate soldiers were killed during the Civil War. If you came across such a history book, how much faith would you have in anything in it that couldn't be independently verified? Even the book's ordinary, non-fantastic claims that would normally seem plausible would probably be suspect, since clearly it's not a trustworthy source.
    The authority of the Bible comes (in this epistemological sense) from the accurate spiritual content of the Book.
    But how do you know that the spiritual content is accurate?
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  10. #9 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    But how do you know that the spiritual content is accurate?
    This is largely a matter of an internal sense of 'rightness'. This is what makes spiritual matters seem to shaky, subjective, and wrong to the average scientist.
    The above average scientist, theist or atheist, routinely uses the same sense of 'rightness' to form a view on a new hypothesis, or to decide the route her expeiments should take. The scientist then confirms that gut-feel 'rightness' through experiment. The theist confirms it through experience.
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  11. #10 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    This is largely a matter of an internal sense of 'rightness'...The theist confirms it through experience.
    What sort of "experience" could "confirm" a religious belief?

    Yeah, clearly there are all sorts of experiences that could confirm a religious belief; making fantastic things happen through prayer, etc. But since that sort of thing doesn't seem to happen, I assume you're talking about some sort of subjective, internal experience on the part of the believer.
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  12. #11 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    What sort of "experience" could "confirm" a religious belief?
    The experience of living.

    I am not being deliberately obscure. It is the act of living, according to ones spiritual beliefs, that will confirm, or question, the validity of those beliefs for the individual.

    I reflect on the common root of the words experience and experiment.
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  13. #12 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am not being deliberately obscure. It is the act of living, according to ones spiritual beliefs, that will confirm, or question, the validity of those beliefs for the individual.
    I was hoping for some specific experiences that you think a person might have that could confirm a religious belief. Just saying "the act of living" is meaningless. Clearly there are many experiences that a person might have while living. Many of them will not be related to religion in any way.
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  14. #13 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    This is largely a matter of an internal sense of 'rightness'...The theist confirms it through experience.
    What sort of "experience" could "confirm" a religious belief?
    The experience of living.
    Yes thats right.

    For a literary reference let me refer you to an intriguing written work by the founder of pragmatism, Charles Sanders Pierce, called "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," in which he makes a rather extensive comparison with the way that a scientist knows things just as Ophiolite has done.

    P.S. In fact Ophiolite's responses makes me wonder if he has read it.
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  15. #14 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am not being deliberately obscure. It is the act of living, according to ones spiritual beliefs, that will confirm, or question, the validity of those beliefs for the individual.
    I was hoping for some specific experiences that you think a person might have that could confirm a religious belief. Just saying "the act of living" is meaningless. Clearly there are many experiences that a person might have while living. Many of them will not be related to religion in any way.
    The second great founder of pragmatism, William James wrote a book entitled "The Varieties of Religious Experience", but clearly if you are looking for some objective evidence of spritual truths you are barking up the wrong tree.
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  16. #15 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am not being deliberately obscure. It is the act of living, according to ones spiritual beliefs, that will confirm, or question, the validity of those beliefs for the individual.
    I was hoping for some specific experiences that you think a person might have that could confirm a religious belief. Just saying "the act of living" is meaningless. Clearly there are many experiences that a person might have while living. Many of them will not be related to religion in any way.
    I specifically said that I was not being deliberately obscure, while having very little expectation that you would understand what I meant.
    Everything we do is imbued with a spiritual/philosophical/religious aspect. This remains true whether we wish to acknowledge it or not. Thus the 'success', or 'failure' of our toal living experience is a reflection of the quality of our spiritual/philosophical/religious paradigm.

    In fact Ophiolite's responses makes me wonder if he has read it.
    Never. I can't even fake a passing acquaintance through reading of it second or third hand. I've added it to my list of books to read if I live past eighty. My thoughts, as set out above, fall into the category that I call 'self evident', but I doubtless arrived at them through faith, then the application of life experience, followed by rigorous, critical analysis. 8)
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  17. #16 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am not being deliberately obscure. It is the act of living, according to ones spiritual beliefs, that will confirm, or question, the validity of those beliefs for the individual.
    I was hoping for some specific experiences that you think a person might have that could confirm a religious belief. Just saying "the act of living" is meaningless. Clearly there are many experiences that a person might have while living. Many of them will not be related to religion in any way.
    I specifically said that I was not being deliberately obscure, while having very little expectation that you would understand what I meant.
    Everything we do is imbued with a spiritual/philosophical/religious aspect. This remains true whether we wish to acknowledge it or not. Thus the 'success', or 'failure' of our toal living experience is a reflection of the quality of our spiritual/philosophical/religious paradigm.

    In fact Ophiolite's responses makes me wonder if he has read it.
    Never. I can't even fake a passing acquaintance through reading of it second or third hand. I've added it to my list of books to read if I live past eighty. My thoughts, as set out above, fall into the category that I call 'self evident', but I doubtless arrived at them through faith, then the application of life experience, followed by rigorous, critical analysis. 8)
    You say you aren't being deliberately obscure but that isn't making the point any easier to understand - are you saying that if your life unfolds with some amount of "success" then that is a validation of the religious/spiritual beliefs you incorporated into your life to help achieve that success? Or is my characterization off for some reason?
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    You are at least half right. However, I think you need to be very careful as to how you interpret 'success'. I do not mean this in the sense of financial, political, or career success. I mean it in the sense that ones sense of 'rightness' increases.
    I sense you are uncomfortable in assigning any value at all to such 'perceptions'. If so, this is unfortunate, since your very unease is an example of exactly what I am talking about.
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    Isn’t the fact that different people come to such contradictory conclusions with that sort of “investigative technique” pretty clear proof that it’s not reliable? What makes you think that your subjective, internal experiences are any more accurate at revealing truth than all the people whose internal experiences lead them to conclude something else?

    Edit:
    I mean, we're talking about objective reality here. Either people get reincarnated when they die, or they do not. Either there was a fellow named Jesus who had divine power that allowed him to manipulate reality, or there was not. Either Zeus, Athena, and the rest of the Greek Pantheon exist, or they don’t. Either you get 72 virgins for blowing yourself up in a suicide attack, or you don't.

    So, what reason do you have to believe that your subjective sense of "rightness" is any more accurate than that of any of the people throughout history whose religion felt utterly and totally right to them? They all relied on the same "instrument" for investigating religious fact that you do, and they reached different conclusions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    You are at least half right. However, I think you need to be very careful as to how you interpret 'success'. I do not mean this in the sense of financial, political, or career success. I mean it in the sense that ones sense of 'rightness' increases.
    I sense you are uncomfortable in assigning any value at all to such 'perceptions'. If so, this is unfortunate, since your very unease is an example of exactly what I am talking about.
    Why are you telling me what I am and am not comfortable with? I made absolutely no indication of my personal beliefs in my post, all I am trying to do is understand what you are saying because you are using *extremely* vague terms which demand at least a bit of clarification - I was using "success" in whatever way you were, although I have no idea what you meant by it. Changing the term to "rightness" doesn't really help as that is just as vague. The point I am tempted to make if what I think you are saying is anything like what you *are* saying is that I am not sure how you can attribute this "success" or "rightness" to the religious viewpoint you hold. There are many people who I imagine achieve similiar levels of success and rightness with completely different beliefs. Although, I hesitate to make any point at all since you are not being terribly clear in your terminology.

    EDIT: If by rightness you mean how confident you feel that your religious beliefs are true, then you are correct in that I place very little value on that and Scifor Refugee addressed that. What makes your sense of rightness any more accurate than anyone elses?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Isn’t the fact that different people come to such contradictory conclusions with that sort of “investigative technique” pretty clear proof that it’s not reliable?
    Reliable for what? Mathematical modeling of objectively observed phenomena? No. But for deciding how to live your life no matter what self righteous busybody feels ordained by the divine or by reason to tell you that you are a moron for doing so? Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    What makes you think that your subjective, internal experiences are any more accurate at revealing truth than all the people whose internal experiences lead them to conclude something else?
    Because it is my life and not theirs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    If so, this is unfortunate, since your very unease is an example of exactly what I am talking about.
    Why are you telling me what I am and am not comfortable with?
    Neutrino is right, you are making an unwarranted assumption. All you see are words on a screen. This could be bot, a Trekkie who thinks he's a Vulcan, or even someone with brain damage (or congenital defect) in the part of their brain that gives most of us the capability of feeling unease. Perhaps Neutrino really is a purely logical being, just pretending to express emotion in his posts.
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    Neutrino, I have developed considerable respect for the quality of your posts and your clarity of thinking. However, in this thread you are in danger of pissing me right off for your singleminded determination to keep your eyes shut.
    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Why are you telling me what I am and am not comfortable with? I made absolutely no indication of my personal beliefs in my post,
    Get a ****ing grip. Nowhere, I repeat nowhere in my posts have I told you what you are comfortable with. Is that clear? I very distinctly and deliberately said I sense. i.e. it is my perception that...., I suspect that...., it seems to me that....etc. This is a usage that inherently and systematically admits to its own potential fallibility. Your command of English is such that you should not have made such a basic (and annoying) error.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    What makes your sense of rightness any more accurate than anyone elses?
    Stop assigning this sense of rightness to me. Nowhere in my posts have I stated that I had any such sense of rightness. I spoke of it exclusivley in the third person. I was describing for you a phenomenon that exists and that you had, apparently, difficulty in comprehending.

    The sense of rightness is absolutely irrelevant for specifics, such as those raised by sciforefugee, but for generalities of spiritual/moral perspective. You cannot use this sense of rightness in any meaningful way, for example, to confirm the reality of the resurrection. You can, however, use that sense of rightness to confirm the symbolic significance of the concept of the resurrection.
    Individuals who attempt to justify their convoluted, specific, (some might say whimsical) religious beliefs through the sense of rightness, are either dumb, or extremely skilled in self deception.
    Those who reject the use of this sense of rightness in every aspect of their lives are either dumb, or extremely skilled at self deception.
    As previously noted, this ability to assess what feels right is an inherent part of the human psyche and is employed routinely by any scientist worth his salt, whether he is aware of it or not. (You have heard of hunches, haven't you?)

    You suggest I am not speaking clearly. I suspect Mitchell has no problem discerning what I am talking about. That suggests that for once the communication failure may lie more on the side of the listener than the speaker. [A condition I normally consider to be highly improbable.]
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Why are you telling me what I am and am not comfortable with? I made absolutely no indication of my personal beliefs in my post,
    Get a ****ing grip. Nowhere, I repeat nowhere in my posts have I told you what you are comfortable with. Is that clear? I very distinctly and deliberately said I sense. i.e. it is my perception that...., I suspect that...., it seems to me that....etc. This is a usage that inherently and systematically admits to its own potential fallibility. Your command of English is such that you should not have made such a basic (and annoying) error.
    Oh come on now. So if I fill a post with comments like "I sense you have a problem with reading comprehension" you wouldn't think that I am at least implying you have a problem with reading comprehension? I don't think so. Excusing a comment because you used the words "I sense" or "Perhaps it is the case that" is just a semantic excuse. This is all beside the point though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Stop assigning this sense of rightness to me. Nowhere in my posts have I stated that I had any such sense of rightness. I spoke of it exclusivley in the third person. I was describing for you a phenomenon that exists and that you had, apparently, difficulty in comprehending.
    I don't care whether we're talking about YOU or not, and I would think that YOU could tell that in my post. Whether I mean YOU specifically or YOU in a general sense is completely irrelevent to the POINT of "What makes A's sense of rightness more accurate than person B's". If YOU doesn't apply to YOU then don't answer for YOU - answer in a general sense.

    The sense of rightness is absolutely irrelevant for specifics, such as those raised by sciforefugee, but for generalities of spiritual/moral perspective. You cannot use this sense of rightness in any meaningful way, for example, to confirm the reality of the resurrection. You can, however, use that sense of rightness to confirm the symbolic significance of the concept of the resurrection.
    Individuals who attempt to justify their convoluted, specific, (some might say whimsical) religious beliefs through the sense of rightness, are either dumb, or extremely skilled in self deception.
    Ok, then we don't disagree here.

    Those who reject the use of this sense of rightness in every aspect of their lives are either dumb, or extremely skilled at self deception.
    As previously noted, this ability to assess what feels right is an inherent part of the human psyche and is employed routinely by any scientist worth his salt, whether he is aware of it or not. (You have heard of hunches, haven't you?)
    I think we at least in part agree here as well. I don't think anyone is capable of completely rejecting what their sense of "rightness" tells them.
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    Okay, so we can all agree that the best way to determine how to live your life is to listen to your "inner voice." That's pretty ******* obvious, isn't it? I thought we were talking about matters of objective fact.

    If your "religion" consists of simply living the way that you "sort of get the feeling" you should live, then no, your religion will never come into conflict with science. But that's only because you aren't making any actual claims beyond claims about the best life for you personally. If you want to actually make any claims about objective reality (like the claim "god exists") you now face the challenge of justifying why you think a person's "inner voice" should be considered a reliable source of information and explaining why your particular inner voice is more accurate than the inner voices of all the people who disagree with you. Simply saying "because it's my life" doesn't work if you are making objective claims. I'm not sure you could even really call any belief system that doesn't make objective claims a "religion", since at the very least a religion must by definition make claims about some sort of supernatural deity, force, or reality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Okay, so we can all agree that the best way to determine how to live your life is to listen to your "inner voice." That's pretty ******* obvious, isn't it? I thought we were talking about matters of objective fact.

    If your "religion" consists of simply living the way that you "sort of get the feeling" you should live, then no, your religion will never come into conflict with science. But that's only because you aren't making any actual claims beyond claims about the best life for you personally. If you want to actually make any claims about objective reality (like the claim "god exists") you now face the challenge of justifying why you think a person's "inner voice" should be considered a reliable source of information and explaining why your particular inner voice is more accurate than the inner voices of all the people who disagree with you. Simply saying "because it's my life" doesn't work if you are making objective claims. I'm not sure you could even really call any belief system that doesn't make objective claims a "religion", since at the very least a religion must by definition make claims about some sort of supernatural deity, force, or reality.
    Your thoughts are a jumble here. It is not just about making objective claims. How do you make objectives claim about how people should live their lives? We have other words for that and "sticking your nose into other people's business" is among the more polite and friendlier versions. It is not just the nature of the claims but also the subject matter. The limitations are NOT just those of religion but also those of science. Scientific methods are quite quite effective and appropriate when the subject matter is objective (and repeatable) observations. But the plain fact is that life cannot be reduced to objective observations let alone repeatable observations.

    You are free to dismiss and ridicule things that don't fit into this narrow region of the applicability of the scientific method and you are free to let others tell you how to live your life according to what they want to call science, if you choose. But most people are quite convinced that they have a better way to understand and live their lives. I cannot stop you from thinking that I am delusional for believing in God and neither you nor I can stop Christians from thinking that you are "going to hell" because you don't believe in God.

    Frankly the discussion of the truth value of the content of "religious" claims pretty much stops there unless you share some of the same presuppostion. The most you can do is discuss whether some of this content has internal logical consistency. For people who have not thought things through it is not difficult to find inconsistencies but these are also the people who are not likely to care. But for those who do care it is just not that difficult to find the presuppositions and the arguments to make their own thinking quite consistent. This is what makes the efforts of those people to convert the world to their way of thinking more a matter of salesmanship than anything else
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    mitchellmckain, I never claimed that science can provide answers about subjective matters like how any given person should live their life, behave, or treat others, and I never disputed that religion is able to provide such answers. If you want to use you "inner voice" and your subjective, internal experiences to determine how to live your life, that's great - I wouldn't fault you for it.

    I am talking about objective claims, like the claim that a god or an afterlife exist. By definition a religion must make some sort of objective claim about deities, supernatural forces, ect. Otherwise it's just a secular moral code, moral philosophy, or whatever you want to call it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I am talking about objective claims, like the claim that a god or an afterlife exist. By definition a religion must make some sort of objective claim about deities, supernatural forces, ect. Otherwise it's just a secular moral code, moral philosophy, or whatever you want to call it.
    Yes but since these have nothing to do with things that are objectively observable, there is simply no way to judge the objective nature of such claims. For secular society and secular judgements all we have is a secular moral code and secular moral philosophy and the best such protects everyones right to pursue the more subjective aspects of their existence without interference, insofar as that is possible (i.e. in so far as their pursuit does not infringe the same rights of others).

    Here let me imagine a possible senario of what reality may actually consist of, just as food for your thought. Suppose that in the very instant of death our time sense slows to a stop and we therefore experience an infinity of time in just that one second and the nature of our experiences during that time is ruled by our desires in such a way that it turns out that everything religion tells us turns out to be 100% true about that last "one second" of our existence. Furthermore suppose that this experience is utterly inaccessible to any observation by other people. Where then are your objective claims in any of this? I think it is quite possible for religion to be 100% true without the truth of any objective claims playing any role in it whatsoever. Talking about whether this actually happens being an objective claim is useless if there is in fact no way of verifying whether it is true. Everyone simply has to wait and see for themselves.
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  29. #28 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Don't get me wrong, I do think that Genesis has a very clear historical intent, but the first chapters are clearly stories from before written history and could only have been passed down in an oral tradition. Looking at many cultures it is clear that such oral traditions have a tendency to mythic elements. I do think it likely however that the books of Job and Jonah for example are more of an illustrative nature than historical.
    They do not need to have been passed down in an oral tradition.

    Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].

    If you look at exodus, there was angel activity accompanying Moses and the Israelites, (a cloudlike pillar assciated with an angel led them, etc.)
    God's angels, (possibly ufo aliens) could have told the creation story and the time following it to Moses. In which case he got it from a reliable source and the Bible's account of creation is more accurate than any other account in other cultures.
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  30. #29 Re: The reconcilliation of science and religious beliefs 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost7584
    They do not need to have been passed down in an oral tradition.

    Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].

    If you look at exodus, there was angel activity accompanying Moses and the Israelites, (a cloudlike pillar assciated with an angel led them, etc.)
    God's angels, (possibly ufo aliens) could have told the creation story and the time following it to Moses. In which case he got it from a reliable source and the Bible's account of creation is more accurate than any other account in other cultures.
    Yeah the question of angels (God's or the devil's) or aliens is exactly the problem. The possibility that the story came without a direct link to actual observers, is just noise because then who knows where the story came from and what truth it may have. I am not even sure that God's involvement insures anything because all He may be concerned about is that the story teaches us something that we must learn.

    Anyway the "told by angels" senario would certainly be more consistent with the whole magical interpretation of Christianity, where God is a necromancer with the power of command, whose words makes things appear out of nothing without thought or effort, but in my mind this conception is not very different from the whole Zeus and mount Olympus thing, with a god that is not much more admirable than that either.
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