Senate Is there a conflict between Religion and Science?

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

  1. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Actually that's really none of my business, as I assume you won't be telling me that I'm going to hell unless I love your wife too.

    The difference is that science is provable, so there is evidence to back up scientific claims.
  2. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Well, that's the how of existence, and I personally have no difficulty leaving that entirely to the realm of logos. Subjective truth is another thing entirely, but no less valid in its own sphere, particularly in relation to the why of existence.
  3. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Just in case Skywalker8921 still believes in the 6000 year hypothesis:

    [IMG]

    You're right, Saintheart, if you say you love your wife, who are we to say you don't? Unless someone were to see you strike her or something, no one would have a cause to object to your claim.

    Which actually brings me to another point. Christians go on and on about how loving their god is, but when you examine the text of the Old Testament, this is clearly not the case. It's like an abused spouse still claiming she loves her abusuve husband.
    Last edited by timmoishere, Aug 8, 2013
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  4. Saintheart Chosen One

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    That's a limb of the problem with Biblical literalism and the nature of some of the texts, not that I'm planning to cover those today.
  5. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    To be fair though, Christianity kinds of distances itself from the cranky and genocidal God of the Old Testament and embraces the much more warm and fuzzy God of the New Testament, which is why it is referred to as "the new covenant".
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  6. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Well, once you declare one portion of the Bible to be untrue, or a metaphor, or no longer valid in today's world, it opens up the door for similarly dismissing the rest of the text.
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Not at all.

    You are making the mistake of taking principles that apply to the hard sciences and applying them to other fields. The world doesn't work that way, especially when you are dealing with historical events. There are many different types of evidence, and not all of them "can be tested by all".

    I've used the example before, but how can you prove that a specific historical event occurred? For example, how can you prove that George Washington crossed the Delaware River on December 24, 1776? The only real evidence of that event we have today isn't testable or provable, because it boils down to the word of people who lived at that time. Even if there were people still living who saw it, all we would have is their word for it.

    And yet, that sort of thing constitutes "evidence" when you are talking about historical events. You can't really test it, or "prove" it in the scientific sense, but you can make a determination based on how reliable you believe your sources are.

    For my religious beliefs it's much the same way. I find my own experiences to be extremely reliable and trustworthy for me. For me, they are clear and reliable as my memories of other events in my life (such as my wedding or the births of my children). For me, that is sufficient for it to be evidence.

    However, for you, that isn't sufficient. You don't consider my experience to be reliable, and that's fine. After all, you have no way to know if I even actually have a wife or children. You don't even have any way to know whether or not I'm a man or woman, or even a person. (After all, I could be a bot programmed to write all of this, or I could be a team of people taking turns writing.)

    My point is that while the hard sciences try to be as completely objective as possible, life is more than just the hard sciences. There are large portions of life that are almost completely subjective. In those areas, you cannot apply a purely objective approach to a fundamentally subjective matter.
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  8. Saintheart Chosen One

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    What, you mean like how the section in the Declaration of Independence where the founders complain about how George III "...has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions." invalidates the part where they declared it as self-evident that all men to be created equal? :p
  9. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Saint, I hope I don't need to go into detail as to why that comparison is, at best, highly fallacious.

    For my own part, I think literalism arguments are daft. I don't understand putting much stock in religious texts, or the verifiable existence of things in it, in either direction of approach. Were, say, time travel to invalidate the whole of every event in a text like the Bible, down to the tiniest detail (Which seems unlikely since, embellishments aside, one would assume at least a modicum of history had to worm its way in there of necessity*), you would, I think, still see followers of that text who would simply declare the whole of it to be metaphor, or parable, or what have you. I don't know if that's a universally held sentiment or simply my own philosophy coloring what I would expect people to do, but I've never been particularly troubled by the question of whether or not there was a Buddha, a Linji, a Bodhidharma, what have you, so I'd like to think most people are capable of coming to grips with such possibilities in the context of their own faith. On the other hand, the continued prevalence of pushes to teach creation "science" would suggest otherwise. So it goes.

    *I mean, have you read Ezekial? Talk to a crazy guy on the street sometime and tell me you don't think someone could come up with that rambling nonsense. If nothing else I'm unflaggingly convinced there was a crazy mystic named Ezekiel who was willing to swear up and down he'd seen flaming saucers in the sky. All praise, he's found the awful truth.
    Last edited by Ramza, Aug 8, 2013
  10. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    I think some of the Bible can be tested for accuracy in the same way we test historical texts. To my knowledge some parts of the Bible have been proven in this way: the existence and crucifixion of a man named Jesus of Nazareth, Pontius Pilate as Roman governor, some of the "plagues" in Egypt (blood filling the Nile was actually some sort of mud that made it un drinkable). The theories for which people here have asked for scientific proof are theories which should be scientifically provable, such as the age of the Earth.

    What isn't provable at all were the so-called miracles plus the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Which is why people who don't think he's divine, are not taking too well at being told they're "wrong" with no proof offered other than one ancient book which says that he's divine.
  11. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    The issue though KK is that there should be no real difference in the methodology used to ascertain the veracity of certain claims. Regardless of whether you claim that X happened on Y date or X is the son of Y god who created the world and everything in it, they are both propositions which can and should be analysed in a certain way.

    Whilst I agree with everything you say in the first three paragraphs of your post, I am somewhat dubious about how you then tie all of that to your convictions regarding the reliability of your religious beliefs. As you say, when you are examining an historical event, it is really an exercise in ascertaining the reliability of the sources which provide the evidence for that event. You look at how many sources you have, whether those sources witnessed the event, whether their written accounts were recorded contemporaneously with the event or recorded later and whether the various sources generally agree on the details of the event. You then have to look at the objectivity of the sources, is there any bias or any foundation for bias?

    This methodology can be applied to the George Washington example and presumably you will have sources other than George Washington himself to examine. If there are three accounts all recorded contemporaneously by three independent persons with no obvious bias or reason to lie about it, then you can weigh the reliability of that evidence and apply some level of probability that the event actually happened and in the manner which was recorded.

    However,with regard to your religious beliefs, the evidence which you cite is limited to your own experiences. On this basis, @timmoishere is correct in that there is definitely scope for confirmation bias to be considered when analysing the reliability of your evidence, as there are no other independent sources to examine which might eliminate this bias as a problem.

    There are certainly certain aspects of life which are largely subjective, particularly with respect to emotions such as love and hate and loyalty. But historical events and religious claims based upon scripture are all claims which can and should be examined using the same methodology and level of scrutiny.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 8, 2013
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  12. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Confirmation bias is a big factor when it comes to reliability of personal experiences. As far as I am aware, all accounts of folks experiencing God are at a personal level, which is one of the most unreliable ways of determining truth out there. Even if a thousand people all experience God on an individual level, it's still unreliable. However, if God appears before a thousand people simultaneously, and everyone has an identical account of what happened, then the reliability of the event increases drastically.
    Last edited by timmoishere, Aug 8, 2013
  13. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Such as the Miracle of the Sun, perhaps? Between 30,000 and 100,000 people present, witnessing broadly speaking the same event -- including non-believers several miles away and separated from the crowd, a rather significant "control group" in context. Note in the article how each objection made to the supernaturality of the event has holes in it. And note that experiences varied of the event.

    One might note that when it comes to observation, it's not terribly reliable if an event produces an identical account of observation in all details from each person who witnesses it. Human perception and memory does not work like that. If anything an identical account would be more suggestive of collusion, mass hallucination, or indeed mass hysteria than genuine observation. The similar experiences at Fatima, though, are significant. And Stanley Jaki makes perhaps the most penetrating observation of all: if the event was natural and meteorological in nature, it's pretty impressive that three uneducated peasant children no older than ten from the rural backblocks managed to predict it and/or cause it to take place on cue.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Aug 8, 2013
  14. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    You know, Vallée suggests a UFO was the explanation, one which has just as much supporting evidence as the miraculous case, and yet for some reason I notice you've chosen to omit what should, under your criteria, be a perfectly valid alternative explanation. After all - not everyone recalls seeing a UFO-like phenomenon, but that can simply be attributed to the way human memory works. Visiting aliens could very easily have subconsciously implanted the knowledge of their coming into the minds of those children - that process would also explain their descriptions of prior visions, perhaps it takes a bit to work the bugs out.

    In fact, the only place where Vallée's explanation really differs from the miraculous is that Vallée doesn't have to presuppose an allegedly benevolent God would choose to make himself known to some random idiots in Portugal rather than millions of people dying meaningless deaths on the battlefield a few hundred miles away.

    Edit: One last point - in crowd generated estimates are consistently erroneous, I would not accept those attendance figures at face value.

    Edit 2: No, actually, another point - nearly every "eyewitness" account was collected over 30 years after the fact. By a priest. And despite all of this kooky crap going down we don't have a single photo of the actual phenomenon. We just have lots of on the scene reactions. It's curious to me that not one of the photographers on the scene attempted to photograph something so spectacular. Unless, of course, none of the photographers noticed anything interesting aside from the crowd's reactions.
    Last edited by Ramza, Aug 8, 2013
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  15. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

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    I wouldn't put too much stock in so many people seeing the same thing at once--even if it were a deity. The problem with mass events like that is that witness testimony can be influenced by other people and one person seeing one thing gets spread then that person 'sees' the image, and then the next and the next, etc. Our psyche is faulty and so is our ability to walk in lock-step with whatever the general consensus is. So even if that event took place the witness accounts are highly faulty. There was also the case of the dancing sickness where, IIRC, 400 people just started dancing and some died.

    Am I then to conclude that they just had a really fancy piece of music that was playing on a loop? Was it god or some other mass-hysteria? The devil? No, one of the more likely reasons that I've read was that they had ergot poisoning. As for the 'Miracle Of The Sun' I'm not swayed by that as people...well..are people, and they'll do anything for some recognition, to prove their faith, or to make some money. So even if their stories are genuine, they're tainted for the fact that it was a spontaneous event that could've likely been caused by anything other than what the witnesses ascribe it to.
  16. Saintheart Chosen One

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    I didn't omit it, Ramza. Vallee's suggestion is right there in the Wikipedia article.

    It's also a bit rich to say just becaue De Marchi was a priest that he therefore skewed his results. By that approach any skeptic who investigates an event is predisposed against the possible truth of what took place and therefore their evidence is not to be trusted. And it might be noted that no skeptics -- such as Kevin McClure -- have ever specified exactly how large the inconsistencies they reported from the event are. De Marchi, the priest, concedes differences. McClure doesn't concede corroborations and doesn't say how large the inconsistencies are beyond a sweeping statement they're the biggest he's ever seen. You expect that kind of generalisation from religious tryhards, not sceptics.

    As to photographs: photographers did try and take photos of the Miracle of the Sun as it was in progress. At least one photograph still exists, published in L'Osservatore Romano, 1951 IIRC, and it's as murky and hard to see as you'd expect from a camera pointed straight at the sun. Bearing in mind, of course, they weren't exactly carrying Canon Eoses with split-second camera shutters able to correct for brightness. Here's the type of cameras that were around circa. 1910. So I don't know how much of a shot you would've gotten out of a stock 1917 camera pointed straight at the sun.

    As to crowd estimates: you tell me. The shots at least indicate several thousand people visible or present. I'd be happy with 30,000 people, which is the lower estimate, or frankly 2,000 people if it came to that.

    It's also a straw man to ask why that particular field. What rather more matters is that an event of that magnitude has to be looked at seriously. And again, it doesn't answer the question of predicting precisely when by a bunch of kids.
  17. Saintheart Chosen One

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    If it was ergot poisoning, which includes mania but not hallucinations, it was ergot poisoning of several thousand people at once, on cue, and including cadres of people who didn't believe in God several miles away and who weren't even thinking about the event at the time. And there's no reports of mass vomiting which would have preceded the CNS reactions They've already debunked ergot poisoning as a cause of the Salem witchcraft behaviours; I see no serious research to suggest it happened at Fatima.

    And it wasn't a spontaneous event. That's the whole point. The three kids had predicted a miracle at that place and time, which is why you had several thousand people turn up. I'll accept a natural and meteorological explanation for the phenomenon, certainly, but predicting it ahead of time is rather impressive.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Aug 8, 2013
  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Apologies in advance for the double post, my ISP is freaking out if the posts get too long. Consequently I had to manually split my reply up:

    The context in which you presented the article is specifically in response to the inquiry:
    Thereby suggesting you consider the Miracle of the Sun to be such an event. You claim that "each objection" has holes in it - notably excluding the divine interpretation from such a critique - but per your own criteria Vallée has none whatsoever. I am tremendously keen to see where the UFO holes are.
    That is exactly the approach I'm suggesting, actually. As one of my professors aptly put it - "Work this out on your own. Don't trust me, I might be lying." Potential biases on the part of the investigator who, again, as you failed to address, is working some 30 years ex post facto, should absolutely be taken into consideration in any evaluation of any event - but especially in the evaluation of such an ostensibly unprecedented phenomenon. Or to put it another way: if an expert UFOlogist claimed that he had amassed a tremendous amount of research confirming a saucer crash in Roswell, New Mexico, would you believe him?
    Last edited by Ramza, Aug 8, 2013
  19. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    No, I think it's a pretty good question considering the angle you're presenting this from - if I'm supposed to look at this event as evidence of God, why is "all-loving" God such a magnificent jerk?

    Oh, and one last thing:
    From the perspective of serious counterargument, this one's easy: they didn't. Which is why a bunch of people stood around like idiots in the rain for a few hours, and then quickly interpreted the sun coming out as the phenomenon they had been waiting for, because the alternative - that they'd been standing around like idiots in the rain for a few hours waiting for bugger all - was decidedly unappealing.
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  20. Saintheart Chosen One

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    The UFO holes lie in the fact there's yet to be any reproducible evidence of a complex, sentient lifeform in the universe other than ourselves. It's not the same thing as discussing God.

    You also seem to be saying I'm putting the Miracle of the Sun forward as proof of the existence of God. I'm not. Read over the past few posts I've made. I'm only suggesting it as an interesting interpretation of the suggestion that having several thousand people reporting much the same event is an increase in verifiable evidence.

    That would depend on the quality of the evidence to hand.

    Of those two, McClure has a potential bias against a supernatural explanation for the event and De Marchi has a potential bias for. De Marchi, however, has better evidence to hand: he conducted the interviews with the eyewitnesses. McClure does not have that advantage, and nor do we have the advantage of McClure's specifications of the inconsistencies in the evidence. I also don't see any evidence of anyone who said De Marchi took them out of context. I grant you the evidence De Marchi or McClure are using is 30 years old, but the sheer scale of that evidence is a point in favour. And it's not quite correct to say the only eyewitness testimony comes from 30 years down the line: it doesn't. There are references to the event from Leopoldo Nunes, a Portugese historian, who was also present, among others he describes as "some of the most illustrious men of Letters, Arts or Sciences of the day, almost all non-believers, who had come out of simple curiosity."

    If the photograph was completely washed out, then I don't see why. You're not supposed to believe anything. As it is, contemporary newspapers did publish eyewitness accounts of the event. One was O Seculo, which was anti-clerical, pro-government; remember Portugal was an atheist government at that point. The writer of the original article was Avelino de Almeida, who was himself an atheist, and who again was present.

    No, it's not a good question. See above.

    Rather disappointing for the argument, then, that the children conveyed a message that the miracle would take place at midday. Which it did (take place at midday, that is. Miracle's an open question). Portugal's clocks by order of the government had been shifted forward by 90 minutes, matching the new practice of the UK and Germany who had started daylight saving the previous year in 1916. Thus the event taking place at 1:30 p.m. local time, midday actual.

    Not to mention that an unbeliever who'd attended to demonstrate how wrong the deluded masses were would not have the same motivation to justify his attendance; quite the opposite.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Aug 8, 2013
  21. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Still waiting on the disproof of the UFO hypothesis. Really, I want to know why it's not UFOs using your own criteria, which are pretty plainly designed to let me fill in God. Never mind, I see you edited in that. Which is good, I was veering towards busting out the BÖC again, and while I like the BÖC their relevance to the debate is questionable at best. :p

    With the exception of Kevin McClure (Who you seem weirdly convinced I care about in the slightest), you have cited nothing except testimonials collected by DeMarchi himself. Nearly every. Single. Source. In that bleeding Wikipedia article links to his investigation. The predictions are DeMarchi. The time is DeMarchi. The newspaper excerpts are DeMarchi. I find it curious that Mr. de Almeida appears to be using quotation marks around the word danced but seems to probably been quote-mined.

    Or rather, I did. Until I found out the quote was from DeMarchi.

    Except they hadn't. Portuguese clocks were only advanced an hour, as a rudimentary glance at histories of DST in Portugal makes pretty clear.

    Which seems like a bit of a gotcha until we go ahead and check the 1:30 figure.

    Oh, it was DeMarchi. I'm surprised and stuff.
    Last edited by Ramza, Aug 8, 2013
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  22. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Fair enough on the time shift. On the other hand, I wish I spoke Portugese, because then we could have a look through back issues of O Seculo and see what it said about the event. That would be about as close as you could cut it to the event, leaving aside De Marchi.
  23. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    :p

    In any case I, ironically, kind of agree with your thrust here regarding demands for evidence, although I don't think I agree for precisely the same reasons you do.

    And certainly not when it comes to claims of miracles which for some reason really get my blood a-boilin'.
    Last edited by Ramza, Aug 8, 2013
  24. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    If only God had foreknowledge of the technological revolution which was to come He could have held off on the Great Fatima Reveal until the invention of mobile phone cameras.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 8, 2013
  25. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Interesting points about the Miracle of the Sun. Actually, what is most intriguing to me is that I had never heard of this event before. You would think that in my formative years going to church, someone would have mentioned it. Or at least you would think it would be brought up as a point of discussion in all the religious debates I've been a part of in the past decade.

    Anyway, the simplest solution to that supposed miracle:
    [IMG]
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