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Author Topic:   Eternal Life (thanks, but no thanks)
jar
Member
Posts: 31453
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 271 of 296 (596620)
12-15-2010 10:32 PM
Reply to: Message 270 by Just being real
12-15-2010 10:23 PM


We know it shall be glorious beyond all comprehension.

Forever?

Sorry but that just sounds dull.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 270 by Just being real, posted 12-15-2010 10:23 PM Just being real has not yet responded

  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 388 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 272 of 296 (596622)
12-15-2010 10:42 PM
Reply to: Message 270 by Just being real
12-15-2010 10:23 PM


Eternal life and other fantasies
Likewise now it is not revealed to us what we shall be like, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him. And it has not even entered into the most wildest imaginations of man, what it shall be like when we are there. We know it shall be glorious beyond all comprehension.

Now there's the problem. That's the type of promise that a snake oil or used car salesman would be embarrassed to utter, yet shamans of all stripes proclaim it without the least hesitation -- or evidence.

"Pay me now, and you'll get your reward in heaven!"

Why should anyone believe a word of it?

If they weren't selling a commodity that people desperately want to have (or think they are getting), those shamans would have been run out of town on a rail hundreds of thousands of years ago when they first started claiming to be able to intercede with the "gods" -- for a price.

Maybe it is time for those shamans to "put up or shut up," eh?


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 270 by Just being real, posted 12-15-2010 10:23 PM Just being real has not yet responded

  
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1250 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 273 of 296 (596626)
12-15-2010 11:21 PM
Reply to: Message 266 by GDR
12-15-2010 3:26 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
Hi, GDR. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I take from that an assumption that science given enough time, could conceivably provide all the answers. As science is a study of the natural world I conclude that Otto is suggesting that there is nothing beyond the material world.

I agree that Otto's statement suggests that given enough time, science could conceivably provide all the answers to the natural world; I also agree that Otto suggests that a full scientific knowledge of the natural world would obviate any belief or interest in the supernatural. I even agree that you have every right to challenge these tenets--but I don't understand why you insist on calling it "science of the gaps." None of the above suggests an appeal to a lack of definitive knowledge in order to protect an endangered belief, which is the essence of the charge of "god of the gaps."

The belief in a completely materialistic or natural world is as much a matter of faith as is my belief in something beyond the natural.

I disagree. A rational man starting without preconceived notions would soon believe in the natural world he inhabits. Whether or not he concludes there is an unseen world, he can see that the natural world's existence is indisputable; he can see that the natural world operates by laws that have applied for time out of mind without exception; he can see that claims about exceptions to those natural laws, religious or otherwise, evaporate under the light of close scrutiny. He can see no ready evidence for any other, unseen world. He considers the above, and posits that there is no world but the natural one, and science is its handmaiden. He has observed clearly and reasoned well to determine that "it's only natural" is a strong, evidence-based theory.

You, however, in the same world and with the same evidence, conclude there is also an unseen world. You have not seen it; you have no evidence for its existence. Indeed, you insist on the importance of maintaining this belief (faith) in the absence of evidence.

This difference means we can have interesting conversations, but it does not mean "The belief in a completely materialistic or natural world is as much a matter of faith as is my belief in something beyond the natural." Your faith is based on internal experiences and states I cannot access; the materialistic view is based on observable supporting evidence--and the lack of confounding evidence--available to all.

Whichever view is ultimately proven correct, they are not both matters of faith. Because a scientist argues her case ardently does not mean she has adopted the hypothesis as a tenet of faith, only that she is as passionate about science as the faithful are about their gods.

However, the two grounds of belief are radically different. Evolutionists and scientists in general may sometimes wax so in support of their theories that it sounds like faith, but it isn't--and, I think, with a moment's reflection, it clearly isn't.

Continuing to claim that scientific theories are actually articles of faith isn't going to further the conversation.


I know there's a balance, I see it when I swing past.
-J. Mellencamp

Real things always push back.
-William James


This message is a reply to:
 Message 266 by GDR, posted 12-15-2010 3:26 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 274 by Coyote, posted 12-15-2010 11:55 PM Omnivorous has acknowledged this reply
 Message 278 by GDR, posted 12-16-2010 2:20 PM Omnivorous has responded

    
Coyote
Member (Idle past 388 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 274 of 296 (596628)
12-15-2010 11:55 PM
Reply to: Message 273 by Omnivorous
12-15-2010 11:21 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
A rational man starting without preconceived notions would soon believe in the natural world he inhabits. Whether or not he concludes there is an unseen world, he can see that the natural world's existence is indisputable; he can see that the natural world operates by laws that have applied for time out of mind without exception; he can see that claims about exceptions to those natural laws, religious or otherwise, evaporate under the light of close scrutiny. He can see no ready evidence for any other, unseen world. He considers the above, and posits that there is no world but the natural one, and science is its handmaiden. He has observed clearly and reasoned well to determine that "it's only natural" is a strong, evidence-based theory.

You, however, in the same world and with the same evidence, conclude there is also an unseen world. You have not seen it; you have no evidence for its existence. Indeed, you insist on the importance of maintaining this belief (faith) in the absence of evidence.

Following up on my previous post:

There are those who will offer to sell folks "eternal life" with no evidence whatsoever that they can provide it, and -- given the alternative -- there are a lot of folks willing to buy into that notion.

It is certainly the oldest con game in history.

But that con has provided a living for shamans for a couple of hundred thousand years, and shows no sign of yielding to rationalism no matter how many advances science makes.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 273 by Omnivorous, posted 12-15-2010 11:21 PM Omnivorous has acknowledged this reply

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 17394
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 275 of 296 (596630)
12-16-2010 12:46 AM
Reply to: Message 269 by Just being real
12-15-2010 10:23 PM


Just being real writes:

Imagine the intensity of that love growing and blossoming more and more for an eternity.


More isn't necessarily better. When things have a definite end, we appreciate them more.


"I'm Rory Bellows, I tell you! And I got a lot of corroborating evidence... over here... by the throttle!"

This message is a reply to:
 Message 269 by Just being real, posted 12-15-2010 10:23 PM Just being real has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 387 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 276 of 296 (596634)
12-16-2010 2:35 AM
Reply to: Message 270 by Just being real
12-15-2010 10:23 PM


Yes absolutely!! And that is what we are taught in the scriptures. We will have all of or memories from here. But the afflictions we endured now will pale like a candle to the sun in comparison to the glory we will experience then.

I mentioned more than just my memories.

Well I think this is a really skewed point of view. It's like a baby in its mothers womb saying it doesn't want to be born and live for the next 70 years or so because it will have forgotten all about the warm comforts of its life in the womb it enjoyed for the last nine months.

That prong of the dilemma is one in which I declare 'I don't care'. Much like the baby doesn't care about a business contract that will turn sour 50 years after it gets born.

Likewise now it is not revealed to us what we shall be like, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him. And it has not even entered into the most wildest imaginations of man, what it shall be like when we are there. We know it shall be glorious beyond all comprehension.

That's not a particularly compelling argument right now though, is it?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 270 by Just being real, posted 12-15-2010 10:23 PM Just being real has not yet responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 277 of 296 (596684)
12-16-2010 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
02-04-2009 9:33 AM


If I do grow, then I change. This is good. I like changing - I am a different person now, then when I was six years old and I am different from when I was eighteen. The me aged eighteen can be said to be 'dead' since it doesn't really exist any more. It has been replaced with me aged twenty eight.

Nah, I don't like this. You're still you. You can't be anything else but you, yourself. You change, changing doesn't make you not-you.

You can't say that you didn't do something because it was you when you were 18 that did it, no... you still did that.

If I have eternal life and I grow and change, I will be so radically different by the age of five hundred, what difference would it make to my twenty eight year old self if that five hundred year old person exists?

You'll still be you so it'll still make a difference to you, just not the person you once was.

So if I do change over time: I don't really care if I have eternal life. It makes no difference since I will eventually no longer exist and a different person will exist.

You will be different but you'll still be you. You can't say that you will no longer exist.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Modulous, posted 02-04-2009 9:33 AM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 282 by Modulous, posted 12-17-2010 4:26 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4983
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 278 of 296 (596691)
12-16-2010 2:20 PM
Reply to: Message 273 by Omnivorous
12-15-2010 11:21 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
Omnivorous writes:

I disagree. A rational man starting without preconceived notions would soon believe in the natural world he inhabits. Whether or not he concludes there is an unseen world, he can see that the natural world's existence is indisputable; he can see that the natural world operates by laws that have applied for time out of mind without exception; he can see that claims about exceptions to those natural laws, religious or otherwise, evaporate under the light of close scrutiny. He can see no ready evidence for any other, unseen world. He considers the above, and posits that there is no world but the natural one, and science is its handmaiden. He has observed clearly and reasoned well to determine that "it's only natural" is a strong, evidence-based theory.

I disagree. Of course we can look at the natural world and see that the "natural world operates by laws", but that begs the question of; 'who is the law-giver'. It always seems to me that the fact that natural laws exist make the existence of a law-giver more probable than the belief that there isn't one. (JMHO ) If there then is a law-giver, it would make sense that that law-giver would have the ability to suspend the laws.

Mind you, I don't see miracles in quite that way anyway. Personally I look as the miraculous as being a case of God's dimension interacting with our own. In other words, if we could perceive all of reality, what we now call miracles we wouldn't perceive as miracles at all.

Omnivorous writes:

However, the two grounds of belief are radically different. Evolutionists and scientists in general may sometimes wax so in support of their theories that it sounds like faith, but it isn't--and, I think, with a moment's reflection, it clearly isn't.

Continuing to claim that scientific theories are actually articles of faith isn't going to further the conversation.

I didn't mean to imply that. I agree scientific theories are not a statement of faith. However, when scientists make claims about things that are outside the purview of science, such as that the material world is all that there is and that there is no external intelligence, then that is a statement of faith and not a scientific theory. I think that this is what Otto did, which is why I used the term "science of the gaps" which is not meant in any way to denigrate science or scientists.

Edited by GDR, : emoticon

Edited by GDR, : typos


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 273 by Omnivorous, posted 12-15-2010 11:21 PM Omnivorous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 279 by Omnivorous, posted 12-16-2010 7:57 PM GDR has responded

    
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1250 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 279 of 296 (596767)
12-16-2010 7:57 PM
Reply to: Message 278 by GDR
12-16-2010 2:20 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
Thanks for the reply, GDR.

GDR writes:

Of course we can look at the natural world and see that the "natural world operates by laws", but that begs the question of; 'who is the law-giver'. It always seems to me that the fact that natural laws exist make the existence of a law-giver more probable than the belief that there isn't one. (JMHO )

Meh, law-giver...I should know better than to refer to the physical properties of the only known world as laws in discussions with a religious person.

You know the drill: If I must look behind the curtain for the operator of this world, I must imagine the curtained rooms may recede forever. It's like spelling Mississippi--hard to know when to stop.

Okay, to work.

GDR writes:

I didn't mean to imply that. I agree scientific theories are not a statement of faith. However, when scientists make claims about things that are outside the purview of science, such as that the material world is all that there is and that there is no external intelligence, then that is a statement of faith and not a scientific theory. I think that this is what Otto did, which is why I used the term "science of the gaps" which is not meant in any way to denigrate science or scientists.

Well, I'm glad you did not mean to denigrate scientists. They are a wolfish lot, and would no doubt have poked holes in your pocket protector and packed it with leaking pens. Their depravity knows no bounds.

Let's set Otto aside. I'm more interested in the question in general than Otto's remarks.

So a scientific theory is not a science of the gaps argument, but a scientist's opinion about a spiritual realm is? Then is your expression of faith in an unseen world also automatically a "god of the gaps" argument because you can offer no evidence?

At first blush, you seem to be saying that should an elderly scientist, say, reflect on his life's work and conclude, "You know, I can't prove it, but I think this world is probably all there is," he's making a "science of the gaps" argument.

I assume the scientifically illiterate atheist then is constitutionally incapable of making a "science of the gaps" argument when he states his native disbelief. I drew my own atheistic conclusions at age 10, and science played no role. Once I learned a good deal more about science, did my statement of disbelief then become a "science of the gaps" argument?

I can't think that is what you mean. Do you mean that an attempt to use science's popular authority to discredit the possibility of a spiritual realm is guilty of a science of the gaps argument? I can see your point, and even agree, if so, but for the most part even atheist scientists tend to limit themselves to observing that we don't need God to account for phenomena in the natural world.

Some among them will note that they see no reason to believe in something for which there is neither evidence nor necessity. But very, very few, if any, would go on to say that science shows--or ever could show--there is no God.

Many science-minded folk believe that in a world of better science and better education, religion would wither away; I disagree. I think religion's roots are in areas deeper than our ancient ignorance.

I'm imagining a conversation. It's my message, so I get more lines.

I tell you than I am an atheist; there is no god, only this marvelous universe. Eventually, I say, as our knowledge and understanding grow, we will cast aside gods altogether the way we long ago discarded human sacrifices and temple prostitutes.

Was that a science of the gaps argument?

You disagree. You tell me that your faith in God is strong, and you are certain that a spiritual realm exists. Science is great, but it can have nothing to say about the existence of God.

Was that a god of the gaps argument?

Well, I reply, that is so. On the other hand, science has failed to detect Him, despite concerted attempts to see all that can be seen around us. I can provide no proof of God's nonexistence, but there is certainly no evidence to the contrary. I trace religion's roots back to the superstitions of hunter/gatherer groups and tribes; I note the staggering array of religious beliefs, both between and within religions. I conclude, then, that considering the complete lack of positive evidence, the known primitive origins of religious belief, and the lack of any unity among God's proponents on earth, that the hypothesis that there is no world but this one is reasonable. That is my scientific hypothesis until a better one comes along or God pulls back the curtain.

Am I guilty of a "science of the gaps" argument here?

I appreciate your patience; I am trying to understand when the "science of the gaps" charge applies and when it does not, as well as when a scientist's opinion should be considered a tenet of faith.

I'd imagine that a scientist is as free to make claims about existence beyond the material world as anyone else, as long as she does not also claim that science can demonstrate her belief--and, as I noted above, a vanishingly small number of idiots would make that statement.

So Mary, quantum mechanic extraordinaire, at her first interview after winning the Nobel Prize, responds to her interviewer's query by saying that, no, she isn't religious at all; in fact, it is her firm belief that there is but one world, and this is it. Lately, she finds that the deeper she looks into the structure of the universe, the more certain she becomes. God is a hangover of our social evolutionary past, and the sooner we toss Him off the sleigh, the better.

Did Mary, QME, make a science of the gaps argument?

Would you want to characterize her statements as tenets of faith?


I know there's a balance, I see it when I swing past.
-J. Mellencamp

Real things always push back.
-William James


This message is a reply to:
 Message 278 by GDR, posted 12-16-2010 2:20 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 280 by GDR, posted 12-16-2010 9:44 PM Omnivorous has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4983
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 280 of 296 (596786)
12-16-2010 9:44 PM
Reply to: Message 279 by Omnivorous
12-16-2010 7:57 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
Omnivorous writes:

You know the drill: If I must look behind the curtain for the operator of this world, I must imagine the curtained rooms may recede forever. It's like spelling Mississippi--hard to know when to stop.

Love your writing style. Actually the concept is pretty simple. Didn't you see the "Wizard of OZ"? There was just one operator and one curtained room. Simple eh?

Omnivorous writes:

Well, I'm glad you did not mean to denigrate scientists. They are a wolfish lot, and would no doubt have poked holes in your pocket protector and packed it with leaking pens. Their depravity knows no bounds.

I thought that scientists were the only ones to use pocket protectors. Why would you even suspect I would have such a thing?

Omnivorous writes:

So a scientific theory is not a science of the gaps argument, but a scientist's opinion about a spiritual realm is? Then is your expression of faith in an unseen world also automatically a "god of the gaps" argument because you can offer no evidence?

Good one. I had to sit back and ponder on that. I think that in a sense theological opinions are not unlike scientific theories with the difference being that there is no empirical test for things theological.

I would use the term 'science of the gaps' in a case where an individual attempts to use their science to argue for an atheistic position as opposed to someone who just makes the statement that there is no god as a statement of belief.

I think that Dawkins’ memes would be an example of that. No one has ever seen a meme, or found mathematical evidence for a meme. Dawkins came up with memes as an argument against theism with no scientific evidence, yet with the implication that memes have a scientific basis. It is one thing for someone to say that our moral code comes from our socialization which is a statement of faith, in the same way as it is when I say that I believe our moral code comes from God, but it is something different entirely if someone suggests that their position comes from scientific knowledge.

Another example might be abiogenesis. Let's say that tomorrow some brilliant scientist comes up with a solution for how the first cell was formed. That's fine as far as it goes, but if he then uses this discovery to start making a case for why abiogenesis occurred, I would then say that he has gone beyond science and is using his/her science to fill in the gap for which he/she has no evidence.

Omnivorous writes:

At first blush, you seem to be saying that should an elderly scientist, say, reflect on his life's work and conclude, "You know, I can't prove it, but I think this world is probably all there is," he's making a "science of the gaps" argument.

No, he is just making a statement of belief.

Omnivorous writes:

I assume the scientifically illiterate atheist then is constitutionally incapable of making a "science of the gaps" argument when he states his native disbelief. I drew my own atheistic conclusions at age 10, and science played no role. Once I learned a good deal more about science, did my statement of disbelief then become a "science of the gaps" argument?

No, for the same reason

Omnivorous writes:

I can't think that is what you mean. Do you mean that an attempt to use science's popular authority to discredit the possibility of a spiritual realm is guilty of a science of the gaps argument? I can see your point, and even agree, if so, but for the most part even atheist scientists tend to limit themselves to observing that we don't need God to account for phenomena in the natural world.

I believe Dawkins does it and I think that Hawking recently did, although I haven't read that most recent book.

Omnivorous writes:

Some among them will note that they see no reason to believe in something for which there is neither evidence nor necessity. But very, very few, if any, would go on to say that science shows--or ever could show--there is no God.

There seem to be a number that hold to the idea that because there is no empirical evidence for any external intelligence that the obvious conclusion is that we should believe that such an intelligence doesn't exist.

Omnivorous writes:

I tell you than I am an atheist; there is no god, only this marvelous universe. Eventually, I say, as our knowledge and understanding grow, we will cast aside gods altogether the way we long ago discarded human sacrifices and temple prostitutes.

Was that a science of the gaps argument?

That is your belief or opinion. My belief/opinion is that as our knowledge and understanding grow we will continue to learn more and more about the one who created us.

Omnivorous writes:

You disagree. You tell me that your faith in God is strong, and you are certain that a spiritual realm exists. Science is great, but it can have nothing to say about the existence of God.

Was that a god of the gaps argument?

No. It's faith. As to the last part, although I don't think that science can empirically prove the existence of God, I do think that we should use the results of our science to help construct our theological views.

Omnivorous writes:

Well, I reply, that is so. On the other hand, science has failed to detect Him, despite concerted attempts to see all that can be seen around us. I can provide no proof of God's nonexistence, but there is certainly no evidence to the contrary. I trace religion's roots back to the superstitions of hunter/gatherer groups and tribes; I note the staggering array of religious beliefs, both between and within religions. I conclude, then, that considering the complete lack of positive evidence, the known primitive origins of religious belief, and the lack of any unity among God's proponents on earth, that the hypothesis that there is no world but this one is reasonable. That is my scientific hypothesis until a better one comes along or God pulls back the curtain.

Am I guilty of a "science of the gaps" argument here?

No because you are agreeing that science can't disprove the existence of god and you are forming an opinion based on what you know.

I'll try another angle. It seems to me that theists are expected to argue with one hand tied behind their back. If I were to say that the fact that there is no scientific evidence for abiogenesis is evidence for an intelligent designer I would be accused of using a 'god of the gaps' argument, and an atheist can just say that it is simply that science hasn't yet discovered the answer, and that answer seems to get a free ride.

Omnivorous writes:

So Mary, quantum mechanic extraordinaire, at her first interview after winning the Nobel Prize, responds to her interviewer's query by saying that, no, she isn't religious at all; in fact, it is her firm belief that there is but one world, and this is it. Lately, she finds that the deeper she looks into the structure of the universe, the more certain she becomes. God is a hangover of our social evolutionary past, and the sooner we toss Him off the sleigh, the better.

Did Mary, QME, make a science of the gaps argument?

Would you want to characterize her statements as tenets of faith?

I get your point but in this case I'd say yes. She is essentially saying that science is doing away with the possibility of the existence of a god(s).

I know that atheists get upset when you talk about their beliefs as faith but as for your last question I would say yes.

I gotta say I love your insights and writing style. I'd love to sit down over a beer with you. Incidentally, my wife was born in Hartford, although she grew up in Boston. I eventually rescued her and brought her safely up to Canada.

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 279 by Omnivorous, posted 12-16-2010 7:57 PM Omnivorous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 281 by Omnivorous, posted 12-16-2010 10:12 PM GDR has not yet responded
 Message 283 by Omnivorous, posted 12-18-2010 5:24 PM GDR has not yet responded

    
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1250 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 281 of 296 (596788)
12-16-2010 10:12 PM
Reply to: Message 280 by GDR
12-16-2010 9:44 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
I'm enjoying our exchange more than anything I've done here at EvC for a while. I recalled from the time before my hiatus that one could have a civilized conversation with you, and I'm delighted it is still so.

Though I'm tempted to reply just a little now to the substance of your post, it's far too late to respond in full.

My wife and I spent ten years in Boston before moving to Connecticut in 1994. I loved Boston.

On the other hand, I've always thought of Canada as a kinder, gentler America, unexposed to the mutagenic gases that engulfed the USA years ago.

I'll sleep on your reply and get back to you tomorrow.


I know there's a balance, I see it when I swing past.
-J. Mellencamp

Real things always push back.
-William James


This message is a reply to:
 Message 280 by GDR, posted 12-16-2010 9:44 PM GDR has not yet responded

    
Modulous
Member (Idle past 387 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 282 of 296 (596817)
12-17-2010 4:26 AM
Reply to: Message 277 by New Cat's Eye
12-16-2010 1:39 PM


You're still you.

Tautology.

You can't be anything else but you, yourself

Tautology.

You change, changing doesn't make you not-you

What do you mean by 'you'? See Message 8 for potentially relevant thoughts on this issue.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 277 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-16-2010 1:39 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-20-2010 11:52 AM Modulous has responded

  
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1250 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 283 of 296 (596970)
12-18-2010 5:24 PM
Reply to: Message 280 by GDR
12-16-2010 9:44 PM


Re: What is 'science of the gaps'?
Sorry for the slow reply. Life.

Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for taking the time to respond to hypothetical cases. I think they're useful. I'll reply to your cases as well, though not so much concerning particular persons--I don't want to get sidetracked into parsing their words and works here and there. I think we can focus on clearer cases of our own devices.

GDR writes:

Omnivorous writes:

You know the drill: If I must look behind the curtain for the operator of this world, I must imagine the curtained rooms may recede forever. It's like spelling Mississippi--hard to know when to stop.

Actually the concept is pretty simple. Didn't you see the "Wizard of OZ"? There was just one operator and one curtained room. Simple eh?

Heh, let's give that analogy a few passes through the shredder and put it out of its misery:

Yeah, and, depending on your perspective, the operator turned out to be either an old fraud or a fallen engineer, in either case using smoke and mirrors to lead a superstitious populace.

and

Dorothy was dreaming.

GDR writes:

Omnivorous writes:

Well, I'm glad you did not mean to denigrate scientists. They are a wolfish lot, and would no doubt have poked holes in your pocket protector and packed it with leaking pens. Their depravity knows no bounds.

I thought that scientists were the only ones to use pocket protectors. Why would you even suspect I would have such a thing?

Actually, only engineers are formally licensed to have pocket protectors; unlicensed lab scientists and high functioning techs are informally tolerated, while physicists and mathematicians are allowed only chalk--which they grind to dust in frustration, thus requiring no pockets whatsoever, being impecunious besides and not to be trusted with keys. I guess it seemed natural to assume scientists would first think to target what is most dear to them, that sweet, illicit pocket protector. If you don't have one, look to your firewalls.

GDR writes:

Omnivorous writes:

So a scientific theory is not a science of the gaps argument, but a scientist's opinion about a spiritual realm is? Then is your expression of faith in an unseen world also automatically a "god of the gaps" argument because you can offer no evidence?

Good one. I had to sit back and ponder on that. I think that in a sense theological opinions are not unlike scientific theories with the difference being that there is no empirical test for things theological.

Fair enough. Let me rephrase the question: Then is your expression of faith in an unseen world a "god of the gaps" argument because that argument's validity depends not on evidence--or even the possibility of evidence--but rather on its absence? That is, all arguments that invoke faith are not arguments at all but, rather, necessarily, expressions of uninformed opinion.

Well, that sounds harsh.

GDR writes:

I would use the term 'science of the gaps' in a case where an individual attempts to use their science to argue for an atheistic position as opposed to someone who just makes the statement that there is no god as a statement of belief.

But don't you use your faith to argue for a theistic position? I agree that God cannot be disproven by science, but I disagree that it's an abuse of science to note how it informs a belief or to explain how a life in science both reflects and shapes one's views.

GDR writes:

Omnivorous writes:

So Mary, quantum mechanic extraordinaire, at her first interview after winning the Nobel Prize, responds to her interviewer's query by saying that, no, she isn't religious at all; in fact, it is her firm belief that there is but one world, and this is it. Lately, she finds that the deeper she looks into the structure of the universe, the more certain she becomes. God is a hangover of our social evolutionary past, and the sooner we toss Him off the sleigh, the better.

Did Mary, QME, make a science of the gaps argument?

Would you want to characterize her statements as tenets of faith?

I get your point but in this case I'd say yes. She is essentially saying that science is doing away with the possibility of the existence of a god(s).

I know that atheists get upset when you talk about their beliefs as faith but as for your last question I would say yes.

Consider Mary, QME, again. She didn't say that science could or should weigh in on theology; she responded to an interviewer (they inevitably ask these sorts of things of Nobel laureate physicists), who inquired whether her work had brought her closer to God. She replied frankly that, no, quite the contrary. She made no claims about the competence of science to determine God's existence.

You seem to want to call her case one of "science of the gaps" because her mantle of fame and authority as a Nobel laureate lends weight to her atheistic position. But both preacher and physicist have beliefs informed by their work, quite aside from formal theological or theoretical propositions, and surely neither is guilty of any sort of logical or rhetorical error when sharing those beliefs (or speculations), especially when asked.

So I think you're too hard on Mary.

GDR writes:

I think that Dawkins’ memes would be an example of that. No one has ever seen a meme, or found mathematical evidence for a meme. Dawkins came up with memes as an argument against theism with no scientific evidence, yet with the implication that memes have a scientific basis.

Dawkins is certainly happy to attack theism, but my recollection, and Wiki's, is that Dawkins "coined the word "meme" in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches." I don't recall his using the concept of memes to attack theism, but I haven't read all his work.

GDR writes:

It is one thing for someone to say that our moral code comes from our socialization which is a statement of faith, in the same way as it is when I say that I believe our moral code comes from God, but it is something different entirely if someone suggests that their position comes from scientific knowledge.

I think your lines are blurring. A statement that our moral codes come from our socialization is in general an opinion; if the proposition is a scientific one, it's an hypothesis and requires evidence. Do you really contend there is no evidence for the socialization of moral codes? Maybe you mean to say that moral codes "come" from a God who is the font of all moral law, that without God any moral code would be relative, arbitrary, unanchored? When a scientist says moral codes "come" from socialization, she is describing an observed mechanism by which societies preserve and transmit culture, including moral codes. Do scientists need to made a God disclaimer with each hypothesis? That seems a bit excessive.

GDR writes:

Another example might be abiogenesis. Let's say that tomorrow some brilliant scientist comes up with a solution for how the first cell was formed. That's fine as far as it goes, but if he then uses this discovery to start making a case for why abiogenesis occurred, I would then say that he has gone beyond science and is using his/her science to fill in the gap for which he/she has no evidence.

That sounds okay at first blush. But how deep can the "how" he discovers go before it becomes a "why"? Say part of his discovery is the extraterrestial origin of some components of that first cell--that space is filled with the stuff of life, and it falls on planets like dandelion seeds, and grows where it finds the right conditions. Randomly.

Is that a "how" or a "why"?

GDR writes:

Omni writes:

Some among them will note that they see no reason to believe in something for which there is neither evidence nor necessity. But very, very few, if any, would go on to say that science shows--or ever could show--there is no God.

There seem to be a number that hold to the idea that because there is no empirical evidence for any external intelligence that the obvious conclusion is that we should believe that such an intelligence doesn't exist.

Well, I understand your point about the absence of evidence not being evidence of absence; logically sound, but somehow not consoling when you have searched the entire town for a decent red ale. Eventually, you begin to suspect there is not one decent draught of red ale in the whole damned town. The logical ice may be thin, but the practical thirsty man looks for another promising town.

GDR writes:

I'll try another angle. It seems to me that theists are expected to argue with one hand tied behind their back. If I were to say that the fact that there is no scientific evidence for abiogenesis is evidence for an intelligent designer I would be accused of using a 'god of the gaps' argument, and an atheist can just say that it is simply that science hasn't yet discovered the answer, and that answer seems to get a free ride.

Part of the problem is that your beliefs are not evidence-based. So when you propose to folks whose beliefs are based on evidence that one particular lack of evidence has special evidential significance, you're likely to elicit

Perhaps we can hammer out formal definitions of "god of the gaps" and "science of the gaps" arguments. The exchange of cases was useful but lengthy. If you agree, I'll draft my own definition for "god of the gaps" arguments, while you tackle the "science of the gaps". I suspect we won't finally agree on either, but it would be interesting to identify what, precisely, is left in dispute.


I know there's a balance, I see it when I swing past.
-J. Mellencamp

Real things always push back.
-William James


This message is a reply to:
 Message 280 by GDR, posted 12-16-2010 9:44 PM GDR has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 284 by Modulous, posted 12-18-2010 6:37 PM Omnivorous has responded

    
Modulous
Member (Idle past 387 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 284 of 296 (596973)
12-18-2010 6:37 PM
Reply to: Message 283 by Omnivorous
12-18-2010 5:24 PM


What is the topic of the gaps?
Perhaps we can hammer out formal definitions of "god of the gaps" and "science of the gaps" arguments. The exchange of cases was useful but lengthy. If you agree, I'll draft my own definition for "god of the gaps" arguments, while you tackle the "science of the gaps". I suspect we won't finally agree on either, but it would be interesting to identify what, precisely, is left in dispute.

Sounds like a great idea for an OP, he hinted unsubtly


This message is a reply to:
 Message 283 by Omnivorous, posted 12-18-2010 5:24 PM Omnivorous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 285 by Omnivorous, posted 12-18-2010 8:33 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

  
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1250 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 285 of 296 (596986)
12-18-2010 8:33 PM
Reply to: Message 284 by Modulous
12-18-2010 6:37 PM


Great Discussion
Well, our topic is much better than the one we forgot.

If GDR agrees, perhaps we could move our "gaps" discussion to date into a Great Debate thread, though it seems we are more likely to have a Great Discussion. I'm pleased with the tone we've maintained (more exceptional for me than GDR, I know), and I think our discussion to date is useful as background and lots of fun.

How about:

Arguments from the Gaps: What Are They, Who Makes Them?


I know there's a balance, I see it when I swing past.
-J. Mellencamp

Real things always push back.
-William James


This message is a reply to:
 Message 284 by Modulous, posted 12-18-2010 6:37 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 286 by GDR, posted 12-19-2010 3:55 AM Omnivorous has responded

    
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