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Links for 2007-02-17

13 replies on “Links for 2007-02-17”

I think the science diagram needs to replace ‘Bad idea’ with ‘perform another experiment until you find one that supports your model’. Bad science, I suppose, but possibly more representative of how real science works. Even Newton was known to cross out results which didn’t agree with his theories of gravity.
What’s that quote attributed to Einstein, when asked what his reaction would be if Eddington’s solar eclipse experiment hadn’t measured the deflection of light by the Sun? Something like “Then the experiment would be wrong. The theory is correct.”

Ah, look. Another diagram wherein the creator does exactly what he’s accusing religion of doing – ignoring facts that contradict what he’s trying to say.
Further proof that irony is the fundamental force of the universe…

“it might be missing a ‘go to war and kill people to uphold your religious beliefs’ box.”
I was about to say the same thing. They don’t just ignore conflicting evidence. They torture & kill people with conflicting evidence. And they extort money to promote their system too.
Excellent flow chart though!

1st of all:
That is just silly, ignorant bigotry. Science is the world as it is, while religion is where you want it to go. Believing in a science is believing in a description of the world. Believing in a religion is believing in a world to aspire.
It’s funny to me how “as I get older I get less interested in the intellectual paradoxes that language allows us to get lost in, and more interested in affecting the world around me” sounds a lot like that Jesus fellow.
3rd thing:
Einstein was a humanist, a scientist and a religious. So let me end with quoting Einstein – “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

Except that both diagrams express a wantonly insufficient account of the complexities and contingencies of both religion and science and therefore repeat the very mistakes you wish to avoid.

Daniel, I’m sorry that you feel that way, but really whatever definition of religion you’re using is so loose as to be almost meaningless to me. If you are prepared to clarify your position on what you mean by religion then maybe that would be useful and I could respond more effectively, but in the meantime I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Religion is about where you want the world to go? Well, you could also phrase that as ‘ethics’ or ‘morality’ or ‘humanism’ or ‘philosophy’. I’m afraid I think of religion as meaning more than an inquiry into value and why we do the things we do. There are a bunch of other things that do that as well, andin my opinionrather more effectively. Religion requires somewhere some quality of faith in the unprovable, and normally in some form of supernatural presence or force that is often claimed to be outside of science and experience. Religion also comes with an enormous repository of legacy beliefs that it is generally considered inappropriate to directly question and interrogate. I find that scandalous.
So yes, I agree that human beings should engage in a process of trying to work out how to act and behave and what it means to be human. However, I see much more value in doing that on the basis of reality than on the basis of a hypothetical divine entity and several thousand years of trust in a religious text.
With regards to your second point, I’m afraid that’s just stupid. A whole bunch of people probably feel the same way about language, it doesn’t mean that they’re right in all the other aspects of their thought or belief systems. Lots of people you wouldn’t want to be identified with have been religious. To say that you shared a god with someone does not mean that you are likely to share believes in torture or violence or conquest or persecution.
Nor does the fact that religion is a bunk of archaic rubbish that we’re unfortunately stuck with mean that I don’t have respect for people who stood up and preached loving thy neighbour and humility. I have equal respect for Ghandi, for example.
And finally yes, there have been and will continue to be religious scientists. Unsurprisingly, they are in the minority. Perhaps more surprising for you might be how woolly their conceptions of god are and how often they stand for very little more than, “a belief in the wonder of the universe and its complexity”. Here, in fact, is a quote from Einstein that may or may not blow your mind:
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

To Pete – I totally agree that philosophy and science are supposed to follow the same paths, but I’m afraid I think that process ended rather a long time ago. Now it seems that great theories of the past are celebrated as much if not more than contemporary thought, and examined as such. Philosophy in university is now as much a course on ‘History of Philosophy’ than an exercise in discovery or exploration. Moreover, philosophy has been increasingly disconnected from empirical measurement as the sciences have diverged and wandered off on their own. Philosophy now, particularly continental philosophy, fulfils a useful and interesting role in destablising apparent certainties and finding edges to knowledge, but gets dangerously close to arguing that logic, argument and the enlightenment project must be abandoned in the face of that which lives at the edges of rationality, which might as well be an unknowable god hovering outside the world, allowing us brief fever dreams of reality. Unsatisfying and flawed.

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