Senate Is there a conflict between Religion and Science?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ghost, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Jello, there is something to be said about the fact that not one accepted scientific theory nor engineering method involves religion, so yeah, I'd say science and engineering are non-religion.

    EDIT: There's also an xkcd you're reminding me of right now.
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Feb 19, 2013
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  2. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Of course there is conflict between religion and science.

    Religion is about control, seeking to impose rules and obedience upon those who follow it. Science is about understanding and human liberation (or at least should be).
    Can they co-exist? Of course. It is easy to fit something like religion into science by saying evolution is part of God's plan so Earth is self-sustaining without him having to zap in new species every decade with his uber powers since he's lazy like that.
    Last edited by SithLordDarthRichie, Feb 19, 2013
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  3. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Science isn't about human liberation nor should it be. It is (and should be) about formulating the most accurate model possible of the natural world that can be verified by experiment.
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Feb 19, 2013
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  4. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    Another thing is that Religious faith by nature is relative. If you don't believe in the Christian doctrine where God came to earth in human form (Jesus) then you're doomed, for there is no heaven for those who do not believe in Jesus. I wonder what the Muslims would say about that; well, they would say there is only hell for people rude enough to suggest that a divine God can be materialised in such a way. Buddhists and Hindus are lost for sure.

    Religious and spiritual practices can hold some truths, no doubt about that. But why do they all have to claim that their God is the right God, and everyone else is doomed.
    Every Christian born in the west would have been a devoute Muslim if they were born in the Muslim world. It's so convenient that a person was born in the right culture where they happen to hold the correct belief. Such luck, right? It certainly fulfilles a persons ultimate narcissistic dreams.

    Religion is an anachronism and the "holy books" should be viewed as any other work of literature. They are not special, the stories are simply old myths. Science helped us understand that the Sun is the center of the solar system, that our galaxy is only one among billions. Without science and reason we would still be slaves under a mind-numbing divine dictatorship.

    It is the religious God i'm talking about. I'm not saying that a divine being cannot exist, maybe. But we have to stop claiming this God for ourselves, for our own selfish reasons.

    Science is universal, it either works or not. No scientist claims that his way is the only way. Science is a humbling experience.

    EDIT:

    Actually science and reason has in many ways liberated human beings, it may not be it's intention, but it's a result of the process, searching for truth.
    Last edited by Eternity85, Feb 19, 2013
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  5. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    but what's the point of this without a goal like human liberation and/or advancement? we arent nor will we be nor should be desire to be logical machines devoid of emotional content. even if we were, its hard to imagine us undertaking any action without a goal other than "accuracy".

    i daresay ol' carl sagan, to pick one luminary, would disagree wholeheartedly with you.
  6. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Sure science helps us understand the world (in a better way than "God did it" anyway) but it also advances us collectively and helps us intellectually. We are smarter overall as a species than wer were 200 years ago, our lifestyle now is evidence of that. Understanding disease is to help create cures so as to rid us of such things thus making us stronger and more able to resist what nature throws at us (whether you think we should do that is a different debate entirely), it is not simply about knowing how cancer kills us but how to make it go away.

    Religion does seek to teach moral values and life lessons, but at the expense of personal choice because you let supposedly more learned individuals or higher beings to decide how you should live your life instead of deciding for yourself.
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  7. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Science is about uncovering the truth. Religion is about repeating lies over and over again, even after some of those lies have been proven to be untrue.
  8. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Rogue, you should reread what I wrote. I'm talking about the point of science itself, not one's reason for doing science. Science itself should be devoid of ideological goals, but you're perfectly fine in doing science for whatever reason you want to do. If you insert ideology into science, the method itself suffers.
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  9. Ghost Chosen One

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    Not true.

    But let's keep this thread focused on Science and Religion, there's plenty of other religious threads out there.
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  10. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Yeah, this is what happens when you type on a phone between classes. The word I was going for was "religious" -- many scientists were and are religious. That doesn't mean that they can't be rational.
  11. Saintheart Chosen One

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    That is the philosophical pronouncement on science. The reality, per that book I've mentioned earlier in thread, is somewhat different, particularly in the more nebulous sciences like psychology - not that it's restricted to them. Cyril Burt; Arthur Eddington running Chandrasekhar out of town; eugenics, which was popular in the scientific fraternity fifty-odd years ago; frontal lobotomies for better health, practiced widely throughout the US in the first half of the 20th century.

    All of the scientists promulgating these principles pronounced that their way was correct and savagely defended their findings/beliefs. All pronounced the universality of their findings/beliefs with an infallibility bordering on Papal. That's even before we get to Newton and Leibnitz over the invention of calculus. You can't remove ego from the equation, because science is a human equation like every other field of human endeavour. I'm not saying that people like Dalton, Mendel, or indeed Galileo who all faked their data but subsequently turned out to be right were wrong -- but suggesting science is a high, coldly objective endeavour is reading too much of science's philosophy and seeing too little of how it works in the real, or modern, world.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 19, 2013
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  12. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    What data did Galileo fake, exactly? That's getting thrown around rather casually.

    Also, by the way, Newton vs Leibnitz is a political argument between mathematicians, not a science argument. And for that matter, the larger point should be that, while individual scientists do sometimes make overly grand claims (not all of them, but some of them), the point isn't how scientists behave, it's about how science works when done right. Maxwell's equations, or Newton's law of gravity, work when applied right, weather or not you accept it. And that's the point of that quote, I'd think. It's about the method, rather than the method. Especially as religion tends to hold to a set of rules and then try to preserve them as much as possible, as a broad institution. It's about preservation rather than improvement.

    I'd also think NDT doesn't intend to parse this stuff much, as back a few months ago, he'd said that he doesn't have too much tolerance for people that always talk about the philosophy of science without ever getting out there and looking for answers.
  13. Saintheart Chosen One

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    It's from Alexandre Koyré, a science historian. The experiments reported in Two New Sciences to determine the law of acceleration of falling bodies, for instance, required accurate measurements of time, which appeared to have been impossible with the technology of 1600. According to Koyré, the law was arrived at deductively, and Galileo's experiments, reported in some detail as if actually performed, were merely illustrative thought experiments. That would amount perhaps not to faking his data but certainly faking the experiment. There are also questions about his sunspot observations, but as those are omissions of data rather than fakes as such it's probably appropriate to give him the benefit of the doubt on that.

    I won't belabour the point, but I think it's pretty clear by now that science as it should be applied is not how, in reality, it is applied in practice. I notice you queried Galileo and Netwon, but skipped over all the other examples I put, not that they are exhaustive - they are merely the luminaries who can be established to have worked towards pre-formed conclusions rather than following the strict scientific method of data -> hypothesis -> experiment -> reproducibility. Possibly it's dangerous to work from argumentum ad ignorantiam, but if that's the somewhat loose approach of some of science's leading names, what does that say for the remainder and the field of science at large? The simple fact is that there's no prestige or value in reproducing another scientist's experiments, so the vast majority of "new" research is not tested by an independent source. There's also a multitude of scientific journals, so it's relatively easy to plagiarise another's work, as the Alsabti case demonstrates. The very fact that Newton and Leibnitz wound up in an argument over who got to claim the invention of calculus demonstrates, at a very real and human level, how high-minded scientific ideals can be suborned to individual ego. If science was a pure, snow-white search for knowledge for its own sake, then logically Newton and Leibnitz should not have given a damn who was credited with the invention: calculus could not be trademarked. The truth of it is: the prestige of discovery is massive, overwhelming Newton's ego in this case, and it has overwhelmed other egos over the course of scientific history.

    I'm also sensing a certain "Who cares, they guessed right, so what does it matter that they massaged their numbers?" To which the answer is: sure, they guessed right - nobody disputes that. But if "the ends justify the means", why should we hold up scientific method as a sacrosanct method? Why is it only the luminaries get to break the rules and get away with it? Would Mendel, or Galileo, or Dalton survive the scrutiny of their peers just on the justification "Hey, I cheated a bit, but I got the right numbers?" Unlikely. Why don't we just let people guess their way to preconceived conclusions and be done with the idea that it's meant to be gather the data and then make a hypothesis that you can test which explains it?

    If you need a more modern and controversial example, Andrew Wakefield: his experiments "proving" MMR causes autism got published in the Lancet, something that according to scientific theory as philosophised should not have happened. From memory it took them 12 years to withdraw that article. And in the meantime it's been fuel for a lot of idiots not to vaccinate and, in my view, a lot of unnecessary deaths. Of course, you can say "Yeah, but we got it right eventually" - well, how many lives were acceptable collateral damage to the preservation of the current scientific method? How many lives were lost because eugenics was thought of as orthodox or even reliable science?

    It is a similar complaint levelled at Christianity when people point to Christians not living according to the fundamental teachings of Jesus, e.g. love one another as I have loved you. The standard response is "Yeah, but that's not all Christians, the vast majority stick to Christian teachings, so it's all good." Science goes for exactly the same excuse when one of its number is caught in fraud: "Yeah, but the scientific method found him out, the vast majority stick to scientific method, it's all good." Freakonomics gave a penetrating answer to that: where there's an asumption of purity, and an incentive to cheat, the odds of someone cheating are increased, not lessened.

    I'm not going for point-scoring about religion or science here, I'm merely pointing out that each involves fallible human beings, and it's dangerous to think that science as a discipline is inherently incorruptible, or that fraud or deceit are caught and exposed in the scientific fraternity more than they actually are. Indeed the opportunity for fraud or deceit in science lies from its philosophical views that experiments ought be reproduced and ought be peer reviewed. In the real world of science as practiced, it doesn't happen that way. Look up the full case of Alsabti on that score: twenty papers published on cancer, of all things, none called into question until he was well into a medical career.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2013
  14. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Well it's a good thing that's not the most controversial position Alexandre Koyré ever took up for which several studies have produced strong evidence to the contrary of, or boy that would be a bad source to...

    ... Oh.

    Saint, I respect that you're trying to tell people that science isn't the sacrosanct philosophical institution popular science writing has made it out to be, but you really need to double check your facts. Koryé is the egregious example, but multiple times in your longer statement you make references to the prevalence of plagiarism without, I think, really understanding what the bulk of science plagiarism actually looks like (Hint: it consists of a five-ten people being on a paper that only two of them wrote) nor, due to the age of your sources, do you acknowledge the antiplaigiarism databases that are beginning to spring up thanks to electronic journal article archiving technology and efficient crawling algorithms.

    I will never, ever dispute the claim that there has been some stinky **** in the scientific community throughout its history, but in an attempt to polish the glass you're leaving a lot of streaky marks. :p

    Edit: Oh, and to address the OP's original thrust, no, I don't think there is, but I'm a scientist who's religious, I'm sort of biased. :p
    Last edited by Ramza, Feb 20, 2013
  15. Saintheart Chosen One

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    ...Wait, what were we talking about again? :p

    EDIT: And I also said "advances" in hard math's a lot harder to fake than, say, psychology, so you get the Scientific Method (Conditional) Tick of Certified OK :D :D
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2013
  16. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    WELL WE AIN'T TALKING ABOUT LOVE, SAINT

    YOUR LOVE IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE

    ... Wait, crap, Senate thread. So we're talking potential conflicts between religion and science but we've completely derailed into the philosophy of science because... because, I guess. I just figured I should give the original topic a bit of cursory nodding since I'm jumping in on not the OP topic at all. :p
    Last edited by Ramza, Feb 20, 2013
  17. Saintheart Chosen One

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    I would respond with something witty, but (a) I can't access youtube links at work (b) I don't want to get edited. :(

    (c): No, there isn't a conflict. On this one I agree with the criticisms made of "The God of the Gaps" - either God's in all of it, or none.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    I'm not sure it'll be a shocker that I went to those two, as my background is astronomy, and so Newton and Galileo are the two I'm most familiar with. I'm not in much of a position to comment on, say, Mendel, as it's outside my field by some deal.

    You can sense what you'd like, but that's never a claim I'd pushed.

  19. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    I did not claim that science is always good; there are such a thing as bad science and corrupted scientists, but good science will tell us what works and what does not work. Religion would claim miracles, science could show us that these so called miracles were not in fact miracles, they could explain what happened and how. There is a conflict between Religion and science, because religion just won't let go. Religion keeps mixing in with politics and they claim that without religion there would be no morality. All these things are wrong and they need to let go, their time is over. The catholic church promoted for a long time the message that condoms should never be used, even when the HIV virus was running rampant all around the globe and particularly in Africa. These are the consequences of certain religious beliefs and without the knowledge provided by science, religion would do a lot more damage than it has already done. There is a conflict, but most people don't want to admit it.

    About Aquinas and Augustin; well, I respect them for their efforts, but their minds were still poisoned by religious doctrine and the holy scriptures. Forget the books, just forget about them. They have nothing to tell us about the reality of the world. Religion is based on scriptures, if you take away the bible then what is christianity? The scriptures are the problem, because they are regarded as facts and they contradict scientific discoveries like evolution. There is a conflict, we can't deny that.

    SummerDreamer, i'm not wrong and my post was related to the discussion. There is a conflict between reason and belief and what I mentioned is a direct result of blind belief in holy scriptures. This is a problem of religion, you can't deny that. It's funny how all the religions are distributed around the globe. Can you honestly say that you see no pattern here?
    [IMG]
  20. Saintheart Chosen One

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    EDIT: On second thoughts, and since it's just going to get into arguments that by definition nobody can resolve, never mind.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2013
  21. Saintheart Chosen One

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    EDIT: Lurkwise as above. :)
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2013
  22. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Eternity, I'd disagree that religion claims miracles, necessarily. Deism is certainly religion, but it also doesn't really claim miracles, for example. And I'm sure there are other situations that take similar sorts of stances. Or even individuals whose personal interpretations of religion mean that they are religious, but not in a way that conflicts with science. On some level, religious claims taken as axiomic statements that only effect ethics, morality, and a broader meaning of life don't conflict with science. The closer it is, in effect, to philosophy, I think the less it clashes with science because the nature of the claims it makes become increasingly limited.
  23. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    no, i think you should reread the post you originally responded to because it was pretty clear he wasnt talking about the practice of science but in fact its purpose, as imbued by the humans that utilize it
  24. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    He said "science is about," not "humans do science because." Perhaps you yourself need to enroll in the jaypee do things good school?
  25. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Feb 20, 2013