Science is a Religion.
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06-01-2012, 12:50 PM
Science is a Religion.
I was having a debate with a muslim friend of mine on skype.
We were talking about how there's no evidence for religious belief and he gave me this Gem of a quote from a muslim apologetics forum.

"Atheist; God is not falsifiable, simply because you require faith in Him.

answer: wouldn't that be neat if everything was falsifiable? Well sadly some things aren't. When a scientist believes in string theory due to it's mathematical harmony; despite that it's not falsifiable, people seem to look the other way. But if a theist believes in God based on a harmony in his world-view, it's like everybody goes: "look at that blind fool..." [Both are faith based, so why the double standards?]"

Aparently hes under the impression that sceintists believe religiously in string theory or any other theory and that justifies belief in god.

and that made me facepalm...





He works under the assumption that scientists believe in a theory beyond evidence and that its a double standard.

A good example against that claim is Einstein's theory of relativity, in which he produced testable predictions and and refused to believe in them until they were actually tested and yeilded results. e.g. expanding universe was verified later on by Hubble.

He doesn't for a moment think about the concept of scientific theory or the scientific method, that when scientists consider something like String theory or any other scientific theory that they do so based on evidence; nobody just comes up with a crazy theory without evidence to support his claim, in the case of string theory its mathmatical and not faith based.

String theory was not privately revealed and has no dogma attached to it, if tomorrow someone comes out demonstrating that string theory is invalid
based on evidence, no rational person would comit to it without reasonable proof, just as no one now comits to outdated theories such as the Cubical Atom and the Geocentric Earth.

The only reason theorists work under the assumption that a certain theory is an accurate model is to produce testable predictions that can verify or falsify that model.

Religion on the other hand works under the assumption that their version of god is the correct one, and when evidence and contradictions in their beliefs discrediting the notion arises, they still cling to it like a child on his mother's teat and then call "double standard" and shout "bigot".

Science corrects itself, it keeps itself in line, it is continually trying to prove itself wrong so it can come up with better and more accurate models of how the universe works. And there are many many theories in the history of scientific understanding that were proven inaccurate and better models were built. One of these theories was the notion put forth in the dark ages that light is emitted from the eye reflects on objects and returns back
was replaced by the more accurate theory that light rays produced from a light source (the sun. light bulb, etc.) reflects off of objects and into the eye.

Anyone wants to weigh in?

"Yeah, good idea. Make them buy your invisible apple. Insist that they do. Market it properly and don't stop until they pay for it." -Malleus
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06-01-2012, 01:44 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
I forgot who, but I've seen someone sum this up nicely. To paraphrase:

If civilization were to start over, with none of the knowledge that we have now, nobody would ever found a religion exactly like an existing one. There may be some other nonsense to take its place, but it will never have the same myths or dogma. On the other hand, people would eventually come to the same scientific conclusions that we have today.
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06-01-2012, 01:54 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
This is something that drives me batty! I HATE when evolution is 'just a theory' to creationists. "Oh, what a lovely, but false, 'theory'!" I see this all the time. Maybe these folks should learn the true definition of theory. It's not a belief, it's a conclusion based on facts.
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06-01-2012, 01:56 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
Hey, JR.

Science is absolutely not a religion.

Now that that's out of the way, we can look at the nuance.

The scientific method is just that, a method. Nothing more, nothing less. It's a way of approaching something. Like needlepoint. Both of them PRODUCE things.

When people say "science" what they typically mean is the master narrative that has been cobbled together using the knowledge that is derived through scientific discourse; the results of experiments using the scientific method. This master narrative, big bang, biology, evolution, math, so on and so forth, is the story that answers the question of, as Daniel Quinn puts it, "how things came to be this way."

There is a single difference between the scientific master narrative and any of the Theistic master narratives. The scientific master narrative gives primacy to the scientific method as a knowledge source. Most of the Theistic master narratives give primacy to revelation as a knowledge source (although there are non-revelatory religions).

What's important to note is that BOTH master narratives use OTHER methods to derive knowledge; to fill in the blanks as it were. Brian Greene will be the first person to tell you that not all physicists think that string theory can even be considered science. It makes mathematical sense, but it does not purely satisfy the scientific method. A physicist in Greene's PBS documentary "The Elegant Universe" suggests that string theory has to be considered a matter of faith, not science (this is what your Muslim friend was getting at). But despite its many detractors, string theory has nonetheless made its way into the scientific master narrative (the degree of penetration is absolutely debateable).

What's important, in terms of how human society functions, is that all cultures have a master narrative. Human beings understand reality through story. That's not a hippy dippy thing to say, demonstrably, that's just how cognition works.

So it's absolutely correct to say that the scientific master narrative will allow for change based on new evidence; new knowledge derived through scientific discourse. The speed at which this new knowledge is accepted and incorporated into the master narrative is not as rapid as the idealists would have us believe (it took forever for people to accept the idea of black holes as an off the cuff example), but for sure that mechanism exists. It's incorrect however to say that revelatory master narratives are incapable of changing based on scientific discovery. They absolutely can. But they give primacy to revelation. So when new science conflicts with old revelation, they default to revelation. For the same reason, when old revelation conflicts with new science, the scientific master narrative defaults to science.

So the inescapable truth is that all cultures use master narrative but that different cultures use different methods to arrive at those master narratives.

What has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt (a man at Harvard University studied this years ago) is that when it comes to the master narrative a given culture is using, both the content of the master narrative and the manner in which that content is derived are irrelevant. What is important is that everyone agrees to enact the same master narrative; that everyone is rowing in the same direction.

So when people say that scientific master narratives are BETTER than religious ones, it’s actually demonstrably false. Any culture can thrive with any master narrative so long as they’re all on board.

So to come back to the OP, science is absolutely not a religion, but there is a scientific master narrative just as there are religious ones and yes, despite the primacy of the scientific method, faith still does play a role in the scientific master narrative. Not a huge role, but it's there.

Now before I get strung up by my toes, I have to make something clear. I'm an Agnostic. The method that I use is slightly different than both scientific master narratives and revelatory master narratives. My master narrative is Agnostic. My method was outlined by Thomas Henry Huxley himself:
Quote:Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle... Positively the principle may be expressed as in matters of intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.

My method, the Agnostic method, is by far closer to the scientific method than it is to revelation. In fact, it relies absolutely on the scientific method because it requires demonstration. The difference is that Agnosticism demands neutrality in the absence of a conclusive demonstration. Thus, necessarily, the discourse, knowledge and master narrative are different.

The Theistic master narrative says there is a God because he revealed himself.
The scientific master narrative says there is no God because there's no proof of one.
The Agnostic master narrative says it's impossible to know whether or not there is a God because it can't be proven one way or the other.

A final point. Ideology exists. End of story. Hegemony naturalises ideology and sutures the contradictions present in it. The relationship between discourse, ideology, hegemony and interpolation is just another part of human cognition. We cannot think or act without these things. We can try to be aware of them (this is Plato's plea in The Republic), but we are always simultaneously a product of and an agent of ideology. That is inescapable (Plato's conclusion). Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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06-01-2012, 02:17 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
(06-01-2012 01:56 PM)Ghost Wrote:  The Theistic master narrative says there is a God because he revealed himself.
The scientific master narrative says there is no God because there's no proof of one.
The Agnostic master narrative says it's impossible to know whether or not there is a God because it can't be proven one way or the other.

I see where ur coming from but i have to say i disagree.
Faith doesn't play a role in the science, because faith in itself is defined as "belief without evidence", theres no compulsion to believe in string theory without evidence but one can work under the assumptions that it is correct to produce testable preditions and until it yields results there is no reason to believe in it as an accurate hypothesis.

Just like i would say that i believe that the earth is orbiting the flying spaghetti monster inside the sun and not the sun itself, Theres no reason to give me credibility on that matter if i do not provide evidence for it, my faith in the FSM sun Model is faith based and should be treated as such.

Also the scientific narrative doesnt say with absolute certainty that god doesnt exist, it merely rejects claims that have been made about god by religions due to lack of evidence [burdain of proof] and states that also god/gods are unfalsifiable they are highly impropable.

Id like to pick your agnostic brain a little bit though,
What do you believe?

"Yeah, good idea. Make them buy your invisible apple. Insist that they do. Market it properly and don't stop until they pay for it." -Malleus
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06-01-2012, 02:44 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
Hey, JR.

I agree. Faith is belief without evidence. But as I said, there is a clear differentiation, at least to me, between the scientific method and the scientific master narrative that it contributes to. The master narrative relies heavily on the scientific method as a source of knowledge, but it does not, nor can it, rely on it exclusively. Sometimes, people just have to fill in the blanks in order to function. So to clarify, faith isn't present in the scientific method; however, it is present in some degree in the scientific master narrative.

So you're right, the reason string theory is even in the scientific master narrative in the first place is because there was mathematical evidence provided. It stems from that and absolutely not from revelation. But then one must contend with the reality that it is not a purely scientific idea.

Even as an Agnostic, I say that everything must be demonstrated for me to have a position, but nothing is that absolute. Of course there is intuition, matters of faith and straight up guesses in my master narrative.

There's no reason for someone who demands evidence to give you credibility. But the credulous would absolutely give you credibility. And if, somehow, your claim satisfied the demands of revelation, then Theists would give you credibility. And if you were just so damn persuasive that people put their faith in you, then they'd give you credibility. For myself, I think you're full of crap Cool But the real point is that if that idea was actually the centre of a given culture's master narrative, then it would be fine. They would thrive. And they wouldn't care what you or I thought.

I mean, I think it's safe to say that you and I both expect to live long lives. But God forbid, knock wood, whatever ya gotta do, we might both die tomorrow. But we both expect to live. Does that make you less of a scientist and me less of an Agnostic? No, it makes us humans.

You're right. The scientific master narrative does not say God doesn't exist; it rejects positive claims about God. That's very true and thank you for calling me out on my lazy language. But there is a plurality of master narratives in the world. There are many that are "science based". The anti-Theist narrative absolutely rejects the existence of God.

As for what I believe, there's a 17 page slobberknocker thread from months back. But the short form is this: Using Schrödinger's cat as my basis I believe that God both exists and does not exist simultaneously and that this condition will never change because humans will never observe God because we will never be able to prove the existence or non-existence of God because the supernatural is immeasurable using the laws of the natural universe because, by definition, it is above and beyond the natural. I believe it's impossible to answer the God question; however, I also believe that it's irrelevant. What we can observe and what we do know is that people do or do not believe in God and it is that belief that informs their thoughts and actions. If God does intervene in our lives, we'll never know so that's also irrelevant. I also believe in memetics and by extension, that all cultures are made up of memes; that they’re memeplexes. The only thing that matters is whether or not the cultural traits that are the result of phenotypic memetic expression are adaptive or maladaptive.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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06-01-2012, 02:57 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
If science were a religion, we wouldn't have any buildings that were engineered correctly and often would crumble in upon themselves, hurting people inside who had the "faith" that god helped the builders construct the building. - Science doesn't rely on authority or faith or gullibility. It stands on it's own merits and is useful in determining the facts of life versus the fantasy going on inside someone's head.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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06-01-2012, 03:20 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
Science, it works bitches XD

"Yeah, good idea. Make them buy your invisible apple. Insist that they do. Market it properly and don't stop until they pay for it." -Malleus
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06-01-2012, 04:31 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
"Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color." -Don Hirschberg

"Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." -John F Kennedy

The way to see by Faith is to shut the eye of Reason.” -Benjamin Franklin

It has been a long time. How have you been?
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06-01-2012, 04:40 PM
RE: Science is a Religion.
Hey, Rahn.

It's interesting that you point that out because the flying buttress, an indispensible and utterly ubiquitous architectural support structure, was invented to allow stone Cathedrals to have vaulted ceilings. To me that just illustrates the relationship between religion and science. They're not as estranged as portrayed.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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