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Author Topic: Agnosticism on the rise in the US  (Read 7318 times)

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Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2009, 03:11:08 AM »
Gotta love insults as a defense. Thanks for the fun.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2009, 06:15:34 AM »
 


Pot calling kettle black. You strike with an insult then get angry when someone takes the gloves off? WTH is that? Way I see it, you've gone out of your way to be insulting here. It's only as courtesy to keeping the general peace on the boards that I've restrained myself up to this point.

Thank you for proving my case; many religionists just can't handle a strong debate against their beliefs. You'll just cry foul and say we're being insulting, persecuting you, making fun of your beliefs, etc. Nice little crutch you got yourself there.


P.S. Note that I inserted a 'many' into to above sentence, we wouldn't want any more interpreted 'blanket' statements would we?

Offline Zakharra

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2009, 08:53:24 AM »
 
Quote
To say that science is proceeding with no ethics is way off base. The men who built the first atomic bomb knew damn well what they were doing, but knew if they didn't someone else would; likely the enemy at hand.

 Science by itself has no ethics. None at all. It's the scientists that might or might not have thics. The people who study and research in it that have the ethics. Which makes them, in the end, just people. As ordinary in their own way as anyone. Religious or not.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2009, 01:54:57 PM »



Pot calling kettle black. You strike with an insult then get angry when someone takes the gloves off? WTH is that? Way I see it, you've gone out of your way to be insulting here. It's only as courtesy to keeping the general peace on the boards that I've restrained myself up to this point.

Thank you for proving my case; many religionists just can't handle a strong debate against their beliefs. You'll just cry foul and say we're being insulting, persecuting you, making fun of your beliefs, etc. Nice little crutch you got yourself there.


P.S. Note that I inserted a 'many' into to above sentence, we wouldn't want any more interpreted 'blanket' statements would we?


Too bad I am not part of an "organized religion". Then again, you don't actually work with facts so.

Offline Maeven

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2009, 02:06:34 PM »
Folks...

Please remember that civility is a requirement for discussions here. This thread will be locked if the tones don't change. 


Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2009, 02:16:05 PM »
You're seeing it as hop not a leap as you're willing to throw yourself over the edge with no real guarantees what's on the other side (or the bottom).

The defining difference here is that you see faith as something worthwhile...something to aspire to. To me, it's archaic ideological refuse, but I suppose that's what keeps the world interesting.
Like Science provides anything for what's on the other side? They can't prove it so if you say nothing then it's a belief.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #31 on: March 12, 2009, 03:11:22 PM »
Like Science provides anything for what's on the other side? They can't prove it so if you say nothing then it's a belief.

Ah, but science doesn't say "nothing". Science says there is no observable evidence. I'm not trying to sound disrespectful or start a semantic argument.

I think the difference is key here, that Science does not tolerate faith any longer than is truly necessary. Occasionally you will come upon a precept which fits within the structure of our understanding of the universe, yet can not be proven or disproven with our current technology. Some would make the claim that the afterlife is similarly, a hypothesis that fills a gap in the human condition, upon which the scientific method is unable to be applied due to limitations in our own ability to test it. I would disagree, because frankly, even those scientific theories which we take on good faith are based off of observable evidence.

While it would be wrong to out of hand dismiss the hereafter, the scientific method can not be applied in good conscience upon an unobservable. So, no, science does not provide anything for what's on the otherside, nor should it be expected to, because by it's very nature, it is focused upon things on "this side".

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2009, 03:20:32 PM »
Ah, but science doesn't say "nothing". Science says there is no observable evidence. I'm not trying to sound disrespectful or start a semantic argument.

I think the difference is key here, that Science does not tolerate faith any longer than is truly necessary. Occasionally you will come upon a precept which fits within the structure of our understanding of the universe, yet can not be proven or disproven with our current technology. Some would make the claim that the afterlife is similarly, a hypothesis that fills a gap in the human condition, upon which the scientific method is unable to be applied due to limitations in our own ability to test it. I would disagree, because frankly, even those scientific theories which we take on good faith are based off of observable evidence.

While it would be wrong to out of hand dismiss the hereafter, the scientific method can not be applied in good conscience upon an unobservable. So, no, science does not provide anything for what's on the otherside, nor should it be expected to, because by it's very nature, it is focused upon things on "this side".
Then it's observations are one-sided (no pun intended) death and what does or doesn't lie beyond is a part of nature. It therefor needs to be observed, or attempted.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2009, 04:18:39 PM »
Then it's observations are one-sided (no pun intended) death and what does or doesn't lie beyond is a part of nature. It therefor needs to be observed, or attempted.

No.

Perhaps it is one-sided, but the purpose of science is to observe and attempt to understand the world and phenomena around us, not to confirm our beliefs. To expect it to prove or disprove the existence of something we suspect exists because of faith and nothing else, is unfair. That's not what science is there for, and it isn't how science works. If there were an observable quantity to the afterlife, then yes, science would be obligated to pursue it.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2009, 05:15:54 PM »
No.

Perhaps it is one-sided, but the purpose of science is to observe and attempt to understand the world and phenomena around us, not to confirm our beliefs. To expect it to prove or disprove the existence of something we suspect exists because of faith and nothing else, is unfair. That's not what science is there for, and it isn't how science works. If there were an observable quantity to the afterlife, then yes, science would be obligated to pursue it.
I thought science was all about confirming beliefs. Newton: I think that this apple was attracted to my head because there is a force that attracts them proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.

So by what you say, science is merely choosing not to observe what, it doesn't want to.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2009, 05:23:54 PM »
It can be.

It can also be about observing repeated patterns of behaviour, and trying to come up with some rules to explain them.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2009, 05:56:45 PM »
It can be.

It can also be about observing repeated patterns of behaviour, and trying to come up with some rules to explain them.
Well it has to start with someone believing that there is a pattern.

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2009, 06:41:14 PM »
I think you're arguing about two definitions of the same word:

Belief:
▸ noun:  any cognitive content held as true
▸ noun:  a vague idea in which some confidence is placed

Are two defintions of belief, with rather different meanings. Science follows the second, faith follows the first.

A better word for how the scientific method works would be a Hypothesis rather than a belief.

Hypothesis:
▸ noun:  a tentative theory about the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena.
▸ noun:  a proposal intended to explain certain facts or observations
▸ noun:  a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence



:)

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2009, 06:46:42 PM »
Anything held as true. No both religionand science hold their beliefs to be true, and both have an idea in which confidence is placed.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2009, 06:54:04 PM »
Quote
I thought science was all about confirming beliefs. Newton: I think that this apple was attracted to my head because there is a force that attracts them proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.

So by what you say, science is merely choosing not to observe what, it doesn't want to.

I'm afraid that this is inaccurate in no less than four ways.

I thought science was all about confirming beliefs.: No, that's ordinary induction. One study - a bit anecdotal, in my opinion - tested how non-scientifically trained people find patterns by giving them sets of words and numbers. Some of the sets contained genuine patterns, while others were randomly chosen.

The researchers found that nonscientists, in discussing their reasoning, would do the following:

* Come up with a pattern.
* Look for every piece of evidence that could confirm it.
* Ignore all evidence against it.

While it's hard to get out of this pattern of thinking, the purpose of peer review, training in working with hypotheses, and scientific competition is to encourage people to knock down their own ideas and the ideas of others if there's evidence against them.

Science is not about confirming beliefs. In the Popperian view, it's about falsifying inaccurate models until we get closer and closer to the truth, even if we never reach it precisely.

Newton: I think that this apple was attracted to my head because there is a force that attracts them proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.:

No, he observed large amounts of astronomical data, worked on the hypotheses of his predecessors, and ended up creating an entire branch of mathematics (along with Leibniz) in order to make sense of the behavior of the planets... and even then, he had reservations and doubts about this idea of "action at a distance."

So by what you say, science is merely choosing not to observe what, it doesn't want to.

Inaccurate on two counts:

1) "Science" is not a person; it's a tool, and does not make decisions. Scientists are people, some of whom are spiritual, some of whom are religious. Many great scientists had a mystical/supernaturalist bent, including Kepler and Newton. But eventually, future scientists learned from their experiences that this tended to lead to mistakes. For example, Kepler assumed that a perfect God would create perfectly circular orbits, which stalled understanding of elliptical ones. And let's not even get started on alchemy, a system that worked fine until you actually tried to explain things.

2) If credible, reproducible evidence of divine or supernatural activity appeared, scientists would be the first ones to want to investigate. Being remarkable, such a find would be subject to increased scrutiny and skepticism, just as extreme natural results are, but it would be investigated.

Whenever I hear a claim that "scientists have ignored the latest PROOF OF GOD," I suspect that somebody else has an interest in that proof not being looked at too closely. Take the recent alleged find of an overlapping human/dinosaur track. Investigators noted that the track's features suggested an impossible weight distribution, a hitherto unknown species of dinosaur that, incidentally, has a lot in common with a forgery, and very odd behavior from the people who reported the find.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2009, 06:58:36 PM »
Science is independently provable though. Given the same circumstances, the same results should occur, whether or not a person believes.

Religion tends to be unprovable, and requires the faith of the believer.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2009, 07:09:49 PM »
I'm afraid that this is inaccurate in no less than four ways.

I thought science was all about confirming beliefs.: No, that's ordinary induction. One study - a bit anecdotal, in my opinion - tested how non-scientifically trained people find patterns by giving them sets of words and numbers. Some of the sets contained genuine patterns, while others were randomly chosen.

The researchers found that nonscientists, in discussing their reasoning, would do the following:

* Come up with a pattern.
* Look for every piece of evidence that could confirm it.
* Ignore all evidence against it.

While it's hard to get out of this pattern of thinking, the purpose of peer review, training in working with hypotheses, and scientific competition is to encourage people to knock down their own ideas and the ideas of others if there's evidence against them.

Science is not about confirming beliefs. In the Popperian view, it's about falsifying inaccurate models until we get closer and closer to the truth, even if we never reach it precisely.

Newton: I think that this apple was attracted to my head because there is a force that attracts them proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.:

No, he observed large amounts of astronomical data, worked on the hypotheses of his predecessors, and ended up creating an entire branch of mathematics (along with Leibniz) in order to make sense of the behavior of the planets... and even then, he had reservations and doubts about this idea of "action at a distance."

So by what you say, science is merely choosing not to observe what, it doesn't want to.

Inaccurate on two counts:

1) "Science" is not a person; it's a tool, and does not make decisions. Scientists are people, some of whom are spiritual, some of whom are religious. Many great scientists had a mystical/supernaturalist bent, including Kepler and Newton. But eventually, future scientists learned from their experiences that this tended to lead to mistakes. For example, Kepler assumed that a perfect God would create perfectly circular orbits, which stalled understanding of elliptical ones. And let's not even get started on alchemy, a system that worked fine until you actually tried to explain things.

2) If credible, reproducible evidence of divine or supernatural activity appeared, scientists would be the first ones to want to investigate. Being remarkable, such a find would be subject to increased scrutiny and skepticism, just as extreme natural results are, but it would be investigated.

Whenever I hear a claim that "scientists have ignored the latest PROOF OF GOD," I suspect that somebody else has an interest in that proof not being looked at too closely. Take the recent alleged find of an overlapping human/dinosaur track. Investigators noted that the track's features suggested an impossible weight distribution, a hitherto unknown species of dinosaur that, incidentally, has a lot in common with a forgery, and very odd behavior from the people who reported the find.

Please do not argue semantics and writing. I know  well science is not a person. That's why it's called personification. I know Newton did more. I was boiling it down because the apple is merely easier to explain. No science requires belief. They have to believe something is out there to observe. Then they apply the scientific method.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2009, 07:11:25 PM »
'Same circumstances' being a little dicey sometimes.  Incredibly small errors creating vastly divergent results is almost a requirement in certain sciences.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2009, 07:13:49 PM »
Well, true, but I think you understand the point I was aiming at.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2009, 07:15:14 PM »
Science is independently provable though. Given the same circumstances, the same results should occur, whether or not a person believes.

Religion tends to be unprovable, and requires the faith of the believer.
My point is that every bit of science takes even the smallest amount of faith.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2009, 08:34:46 PM »
Quote
Please do not argue semantics and writing. I know  well science is not a person. That's why it's called personification.

"Science as a person" is not a harmless personification. It is a dangerous personification, and no game of semantics. People who treat Science as something to be capitalized, or as something that can be acceptably and usefully personified, generally fall into two camps:

* The first camp: People who use a generalized, personified Science as a dartboard. "Look at the crimes of Science!" "What has Science done?" Or, as above, "Science is merely choosing not to observe." This is harmful, because it avoids citing specific people and cases, but it's no different from generalizations about religion, political parties, or cultures.

* The second, more dangerous, camp: "Of course, this experiment is slightly unethical, but think of the gains for Science!" These people aren't as common as Hollywood would have us believe, but they exist, I've met some, and they repulse me.

Rhetorical devices are fine, until they cause us to oversimplify a problem and forget the human motives involved - as in the next case:
 
Quote
I know Newton did more. I was boiling it down because the apple is merely easier to explain.

Misleading. Your implication was that Newton had a belief, and sought out evidence to justify it. It was the opposite - he had evidence, sought out a rule to explain it, and never entirely believed it himself in the end.

Quote
No science requires belief. They have to believe something is out there to observe.

* Science may require belief in an external world. Some people call this the one dogma of science: The Real World Is Out There, or TRWIOT. But that's... that's not much of a stretch, is it? Believing in some kind of external reality, even one that can never be fully described?

It's arguable, in fact, that a person can believe in a subjective universe, or a nonexistent one, and still do science. They'd just treat it as a game of perception, though, rather than a search for knowledge.

Quote
Then they apply the scientific method.

Scientific Method? What's that?

The common description of the scientific method taught in schools is very far from the truth. There is no one scientific method. Some scientists observe without prior hypothesizing. Some hypothesize without much in the way of experiment, but use math to support their logic. Some experiment with no prior hypothesis in mind. All of these approaches can be valuable.

Science isn't a single Scientific Method, but rather a giant toolbox of methods.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2009, 10:28:51 PM »
My point is that every bit of science takes even the smallest amount of faith.

I'm sorry. Clarify faith please.

I hate to break out the dictionary like Apple, but I think I have to here. Do you mean by faith "Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing" which in the case of science is based off of observable data and consistent outcomes, or do you mean "the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will"?

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2009, 10:35:12 PM »
noun:  any cognitive content held as true
 noun:  a vague idea in which some confidence is placed

Both apply to science and religion. In one shape form or fashion. If we're going to start arguing semantics.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2009, 12:13:45 AM »
Quote
a vague idea in which some confidence is placed

Not a good definition of belief. That's closer to "held ideal," and even that isn't necessarily vague. And what if one only puts "25% confidence" in an idea? 49%? 51%? Is that a belief?

A better set of definitions:

Belief: Anything one considers true, or likely to be true.
Knowledge: Any belief that is both justified and true. (If we deny the existence of a vantage that gives us truth, we can replace "true" with "likely to be true.")
Faith: Any belief that is either held independent of justification, or justified largely by subjective or unreproducible means.

Science requires belief and also requires some faith, in that the statement "I exist and the world exists, too" can never be objectively justified. The basic principles of logic that we consider true a priori also require faith. However, almost all religious and philosophical stances, with the exception of those that declare that the world doesn't exist, add additional articles of faith into the equation. This does not mean that they are wrong, but it does mean that our world's faiths generally require more than the baseline level of faith. That's why they're called faiths.
 
A scientist can embrace any of these faiths, but that is not a part of science. Science begins with the smallest amount of faith possible, and then gives all further statements about nature the trial by fire. In this respect, although both science and religion require faith, science requires fewer points of metaphysical faith. Declaring that all knowledge is equally uncertain because "everything takes faith" is a favorite ruse of those who wish to put decades of experimental study in the same position as the words of the palm-reader next door.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2009, 12:14:11 AM »
noun:  any cognitive content held as true
 noun:  a vague idea in which some confidence is placed

Both apply to science and religion. In one shape form or fashion. If we're going to start arguing semantics.

Semantics? I'd prefer we didn't actually, but while we're here... that's the definition of BELIEF, not faith. And your point was "that every bit of science takes even the smallest amount of faith". So assuming you meant belief, what you're trying to say now is that science requires belief?

... of course it does. No one ever claimed differently.

What was claimed was that belief in science does not exist in a vacuum! In short, it is believed, because it is observed to be true and has been proven to be consistent. While belief as it applies to religion as far as I know boils down to gut feeling. Is there more to substantiate it?

I'm not attacking your faith, really, I'm not. But you're telling us that the fact science can't document and study an afterlife you feel reasonably certain exists without observable evidence is somehow a shortcoming of scientific method.

What's your alternative?