You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 08, 2016, 10:07:42 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Evolution and Religion  (Read 16576 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #75 on: December 10, 2010, 06:37:54 AM »
As a Creationist even if you found one or more other advanced species in the Universe, I agree there are likely some, it would not disprove a Creator. The Bible is utterly grey on the subject and its possible there other species might be free of sin and therefore far more advanced in their existance. I do believe there were may have been offspring of Adam and Eve in the the Garden of Eden before the Fall that could be infered from the account.

When Eve was cursed she would feel pain in childbirth how would she know what that was or experience the pain part as a different state unless she had not had at least one child if not more than one?

I just view the very act of Creation a Miracle and since that places it outside of Natural Law it cannot be proven and should not be considered any sort of science in the sense Evolution is rather is an act of faith, to make it a science demeans Creationism and the Natural Science. I do feel we as Creationists can try to use Natural Science and reason to infer things about Ceationism but this is conjecture not a science, more a pasttime among those that study the Bible.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #76 on: December 10, 2010, 06:44:15 AM »
When Eve was cursed she would feel pain in childbirth how would she know what that was or experience the pain part as a different state unless she had not had at least one child if not more than one?

She might have witnessed the fact that Lilith had a different experience.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #77 on: December 10, 2010, 07:42:20 AM »
One of the things that struck me doing anatomy and biochemistry is how gloriously, wonderfully complex life is. You can fill a wall with the cycles and interactions and pathways needed for but a tiny portion of how a single mitochondrion works, far less how a bacterium goes about its business. We take how 'easy' life is for granted. When elbow-deep in a cadaver, what really struck me is how badly designed we are. To use the watchmaker analogy, your pocket-watch doesn't still have bits of sundial in it.

While I can more or less understand where a YEC view comes from, I find it deeply unappealing. It suggests a capricious and arbitrary God, one that either needs to trick and confuse humans ("Hah! The appendix - that'll really confuse them!") or down-right bastardly (Here you go, child, have hydrocephalus[/url). Yes, before the Fall we were all perfect and great and wonderful. But presumably we still had optic nerves that pointed the wrong way, appendicies, and large piles of garbage in our genomes (by this I mean [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transposon]transposons rather than non-coding DNA).

If God does not need to obey natural laws (Natural Law being something else), why did an all-powerful being choose to paint with so limited a pallet?

This, though, is not to say that you are wrong, stupid, or ill-educated. Rather that we have very different views. You derive spiritual sustinance from yours and I from mine.

Although I am white, British, male, and a lawyer (and therefore my role in history is apparently to enforce my ideas on everyone else via patriarchal hegemony and the gatling gun), I do not think that there is ever a right answer for all people in all places in all times. If you think this way because it is what you have been told, then go and explore the world on your own account and come to your own conclusions. But having said that, if you've come to your views because of your own explorations, then good for you. As a good scientific realist, I am firmly of the view of the cultural embeddedness of knowledge and not at all hung up on mere positivst methodology.

Offline Jude

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #78 on: December 10, 2010, 07:50:33 AM »
Making the same point other people already have in different words:

Appealing to the unlikeliness of human beings developing on earth is not a sound argument against evolution.  Is it unlikely from a cosmic, time-spanning standpoint that human beings came to be in any particular quadrant of the universe?  Yes, but this isn't the only quadrant of the galaxy wherein evolution can possibly occur.  Since it's the result of universal physical laws, evolution could happen anywhere.  When you widen the scope to include the entire universe it's inevitable that life would develop somewhere and trend towards greater success, the fact that it happened here and took the form of human beings is anything but coincidental.

Are the reasons why human beings evolved as they did incredibly complicated?  Yes, but they are not a matter of randomness.  Mutations may occur randomly, but their adoption is a matter of success in the environment.  Essentially that means that life on planet earth has evolved to survive on the varying conditions on planet earth.  That is to say, human beings arose because they were suited for the environment here, not out of some sort of cosmic coincidence.  This is also the same reason why life exists at all on planet earth:  because planet earth is suited for life.

Therefore it's not statistically sound to use the likelihood of finding a planet with life on it in the universe as the probabilistic basis of your judgment of the chance of life on this planet in particular.  When you narrow the odds to earth in particular that's a piece of information which changes the calculation.

Creationist logic when refuting evolution tries to calculate the chance of life occurring earth like this:  (Number of planets in the Galaxy that have life)/(Number of planets in the galaxy).  Unfortunately that's not statistically correct even as an approximation because we know that earth is suitable for the development of life by our very existence, where many planets fundamentally are not capable of supporting life due to a variety of factors.  That additional bit of information biases the calculation and renders it incorrect.  The only way to actually know what the chances of life arising on earth were, would be to calculate what the chances of life arising on a planet that is suitable for life would be -- and that's a number we can't even begin to guess at because science simply hasn't progressed to that point.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 07:54:23 AM by Jude »

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #79 on: December 10, 2010, 08:01:08 AM »
While I can more or less understand where a YEC view comes from, I find it deeply unappealing. It suggests a capricious and arbitrary God, one that either needs to trick and confuse humans ("Hah! The appendix - that'll really confuse them!") or down-right bastardly

YEC equals 'young earth creation'?

Offline Jude

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #80 on: December 10, 2010, 09:20:08 AM »
I feel like doing the actual math behind my point above.  Lets say event A is the chance of life evolving on a planet.  We want to know the likelihood of event C occurring, the chance life evolving on planet Earth.  However, we know that planet earth is suitable for life because we live on planet Earth, we'll call this event B.  Using conditional probability the following equation is established:

P(C) = P(A|B) = P(A and B)/P(B)

If a planet is not suitable for life, we know that life will not evolve on that planet.  Therefore knowing a planet is suitable life makes it far more likely that life will evolve on that planet, meaning events A and B are not mutually exclusive, in fact B must occur for A to occur.  Therefore P(A and B) is not equal to P(A)*P(B), and P(A|B) cannot be reduced to P(A) [this is exactly where creationists go wrong in their calculations].  We'll say event D is equal to event A and B, meaning event D occurs when a planet is both suitable for life and life evolves on it.  However, because A is contained within B (every planet that evolves life must be suitable for life, but not every planet that is suitable for life evolves life), D = A.  Substituting this back into the equation we get:

P(C) = P(A)/P(B)

Or in English, the probability of life evolving on Earth is equal to the probability of life evolving on a planet divided by the probability of a planet being suitable for life.

If we guestimate that 1% of the planets in the universe are capable of supporting life (which may be an overestimation given our attempts at finding such planets thus far) and 50% of planets in the universe that can support life do evolve life (which may be an underestimation given that nearly every planet we've found that has the capability for life either has traces of it, possibly once had it, or there is a good chance of it occurring in the future), we get the chances of life occurring planet earth to be equal to 50%/1%, or 50%.  Certainly not the ridiculous number Hunter claimed, even if you use far more conservative guestimations.

In fact, the only way we could end up with a number that is less than a percent is if the chance of life occurring on a planet that is suitable for it is much smaller than the chance of finding such a planet.  That is quite unlikely, in fact I'm willing to bet it's not true.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 09:33:21 AM by Jude »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #81 on: December 10, 2010, 11:21:10 AM »
I feel like we are conflating biopoesis and evolution again. And perhaps that is inevitable as that is what the Christians and others seem to do when making their arguments against evolution. Yet, it is still important to hold these as two separate phenomenon.

-Biopoesis or Abiogenesis is the point at which life arises from not-life.

-Evolution is how we got from there to here.

The exact mechanisms of biopoesis are still a little cloudy and speculative (personally I prefer the RNA World Hypothesis), but evolution is an ironclad theory with a mountain of evidence. It seems likely that this conflation occurs because biopoesis is more conjectural at the moment and seems like an easier target. Thus it is in out best interest to keep the two ideas appropriately separate.

Online Doomsday

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #82 on: December 10, 2010, 09:31:28 PM »
I do not often hear Creationists use the random statement to describe the process.  More often than not I hear people who do not believe in God stating that randomness, chance and luck were involved in what is here today.  Our planet being at its location to support the life here, the conditions being just the way they are a result of chance.  Luck of the draw and repetition leading to an eventual conclusion of “something had to happen.”  Perhaps Creationists are picking at a bad theory or bad wording, but that is the first time I have heard the random argument attributed to them.

The planet is not suitable for us because we are here, we are here because the planet is habitable. Imagine you were an alien in the alpha centauri system. You would probably still be saying "This is all too perfect to be random." But the earth is not perfect, and biologically speaking, we are not perfect.

Offline Acinonyx

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #83 on: December 11, 2010, 12:47:04 AM »
It's very simple: if there's any planet in the universe capable of supporting conscious life, we necessarily have to be on it. If there wasn't such a planet, we'd not be here thinking about it.

It's irrelevant where this planet is and how likely it is to be exactly here. If you throw a bunch of seeds on the floor and then pick out one (lets call it "JIM", you can calculate the likelihood of JIM falling to exactly that spot all you want, but JIM had to fall somewhere. And the reason you're so fascinated with this one seed, JIM, is because you picked it out in the first place. Now we're picking out the earth because we're on it and with our unlimited understanding of space, we attempt to calculate the likelihood of the earth being where it is, thus, supporting life. But that's just silly. The earth might have "fallen" somewhere else in another Big Bang, but as it happened, it fell here. Some planet somewhere had to fall here or to another appropriate place to support life, else we wouldn't be here to discuss it.

If this had happened somewhere else in the universe, a different galaxy and a different planet, we'd probably call the galaxy the Milky Way and the planet earth (and the seed JIM) and the star sun...in whatever language we'd have developed to largely communicate on electronic devices via a global network. The calculation of probabilities is a distraction at best.

However, let's emphasize again that we're conflating other things with evolution. Evolution begins way after that, when life has already arisen. It's tempting to drift into the deliberate mix-ups that creationists stick up with when it comes to evolution, but the first line of response should probably always be the clarification that with talking about abiogenesis and cosmic events, we're leaving the realm of evolution. 

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #84 on: December 11, 2010, 01:31:53 AM »
Well, so far as I am aware the planet did not have to be habitable at all.  To say that a planet, amidst so many uninhabited ones, is habitable through a narrow percentage of chance indicates an interesting occurrence.  The mental exercise of the infinite does not ward off the importance of the singular event that made something different.  That the event or the result do not live up to someone’s notion of perfection is likewise irrelevant. 

The mental exercise is quite simple, but also a bit undeserved.  To state that the question of random versus purposeful creation is trivial due to an infinite number of planets is quite a dismissive rebuttal.  One that does not address the complexity of that question or even brush upon the depths of the answer.  Perhaps this is an example of the point where science and religion cannot reach beyond, the difference between the how and why.  Or maybe the response was meant to be insultingly dismissive of the statement.

As for Creationists plots and confusion, I have none.  I am well aware of evolution and abiogenesis, though I have meet many non-creationists that are not clear on the difference.  The science is unclear so there is confusion and skepticism.  How this translates into Creationists throwing mud into the water I am not sure.  If the specifics of a process are unknown, undefined, untested or unexplained then people insert their own explanations dependent on their beliefs.  This includes professional researchers. 

Offline Acinonyx

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #85 on: December 11, 2010, 12:26:49 PM »
Who said that the infinite number of planets makes that question trivial? At least all was said was that the calculation does not make an argument.

Offline Jude

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #86 on: December 11, 2010, 12:33:29 PM »
Well, so far as I am aware the planet did not have to be habitable at all.
A planet is habitable for life it has certain characteristics.  It has to be in the "goldilocks zone," have an atmosphere, be relatively guarded from certain types of harmful radiation, et cetera.  To say "planets don't have to be habitable" is a really confusing way to put it; based on its characteristics a planet is habitable or not.
To say that a planet, amidst so many uninhabited ones, is habitable through a narrow percentage of chance indicates an interesting occurrence.
It would be interesting but interesting does not imply anything necessarily, plus that's not even true.  Venus was once habitable more than likely before its atmosphere hit the critical greenhouse stage and the planet went into a heat-toxic feedback loop.  It is entirely possible that mars was once habitable.  One of the moons of Jupiter might have bacteria on it.
The mental exercise of the infinite does not ward off the importance of the singular event that made something different.  That the event or the result do not live up to someone’s notion of perfection is likewise irrelevant.
What you're engaging in is called anomaly hunting.  Just because something special occurred doesn't not mean that there's anything mystical behind it.  Are earth-like planets relatively rare?  Yes.  Do we have any reason to believe Earth is unique?  Nope.
The mental exercise is quite simple, but also a bit undeserved.  To state that the question of random versus purposeful creation is trivial due to an infinite number of planets is quite a dismissive rebuttal.
Arguing that because something is rare it was purposely designed that way is baffling logic.  Of course life is predisposed to think that its existence is important, but from a neutral viewpoint, Earth's rarity is counterbalanced by hundreds of thousands of other rare phenomena throughout the universe.  It makes no sense to look at a strange formation of pulsars that we have observed no where else in the galaxy and claim divine creation, so why is life any different?

As far as how the infinite nature of the universe plays into the equation, if the universe is infinite, then we are pretty much guaranteed that life exists elsewhere in the universe, which completely annihilates any entertaining of the idea that Earth is somehow unique.  Given an infinite amount of opportunities, anything will arise multiple times.
One that does not address the complexity of that question or even brush upon the depths of the answer.  Perhaps this is an example of the point where science and religion cannot reach beyond, the difference between the how and why.  Or maybe the response was meant to be insultingly dismissive of the statement.
You're imbuing a why into the question purposely to muddy the waters, is the thing.  Scientific discussion addresses why in terms of "what is the evidence for why this occurred?  As a result of what physical laws could this phenomenon have arisen?"  You ask the question, "isn't this coincidental and seemingly special" with a strong edge of divine implication.  One line of thought is pure speculation based on assuming importance to what is more than likely simple fortune, the other attempts to understand a cause and effect relationship in terms of pre-established ideas.  I'm sure you can ascertain for yourself which line of thought is non-scientific.
As for Creationists plots and confusion, I have none.  I am well aware of evolution and abiogenesis, though I have meet many non-creationists that are not clear on the difference.  The science is unclear so there is confusion and skepticism.  How this translates into Creationists throwing mud into the water I am not sure.  If the specifics of a process are unknown, undefined, untested or unexplained then people insert their own explanations dependent on their beliefs.  This includes professional researchers.
The science of evolution is resolved, whereas abiogenesis is still in a largely speculative, formative phase.  Opponents of evolution who do know the difference between them often continue linking them because they know that conflating an ironclad theory with emerging hypotheticals is a great way to weaken the former.

For theological creationists (which is different than a scientific creationist, a person who tries to assert their religious beliefs into science) should it really matter whether god created the first man or the first single-celled organism, knowing it would eventually evolve into man?  If you can answer "no, it shouldn't matter" to that question, then there's no reason to oppose evolution for religious reasons.  It's as simple as that.

EDIT:  I'd like to add that atheists are just as guilty as theists are in terms of misusing and incorrectly understanding evolution.  I can't tell you how many atheists I've met who believe that evolution directly implies atheism is the only reasonable theistic stance.  This definitely doesn't help the Christian perception of evolution.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 12:42:51 PM by Jude »

Offline mystictiger

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #87 on: December 12, 2010, 11:12:16 AM »
This thread needs more explanatory dance and musical interludes.

Offline dominomask

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #88 on: December 12, 2010, 10:06:21 PM »
You cannot assert that someone else is wrong absolutely, merely within your own paradigm / frame of reference. You and RubySlippers just have a very different idea of what 'proof', 'truth' or 'fact' are. She's described her own epistemology and ontology - that what is written in a series of books is more 'true' than that which we can deduce or induce from observable reality.

The problem here isn't one of rightness or wrongness, but rather of utterly incomensurate paradigms of knowledge. Arguing about such things is fruitless - you might as well try and convince them that their favourite colour isn't what they say it is. Their position will be just as inaccessible to logical critique.

On the one hand, I entirely agree with the spirit of what you are saying.  Generally speaking, some points of view are just irreconcilable, and there's not a lot of point to trying to sit them down with each other.  And with the way that this problem multiplies in forums that are semi-public and mostly-anonymous, well...my ten-foot-pole bursts into flames whenever I try to poke at it.

And still.

Either a person believes in objective reality or not.  Most people who would claim that they do not actually *do*, there are just fewer things that they take as given.  Generally speaking, if you attend to all the basic inconveniences of daily life instead of ascending to your denominational nirvana, you at least pay some lip-service to the notion of an actual, mutual, and predictable reality.  Even knowing that I am wasting my keystrokes, I have to defend that idea.

Whether or not you believe in as-objective a predominant reality as the next guy, and whether or not you believe that that reality is governed by its own impersonal laws or those of a ruling consciousness, it is indisputably possible to find points of mutually undeniable events, and from those to form some consensus on the patterns of behavior of materials that exist outside our own heads. The bible even supports this process.  It describes the defeat of the cultists of Baal wherein the followers of Yahweh actually challenged them to a religious throw-down to see whose deity could actually light a fire if prayed to.  Yahweh answered, Baal did not, and the first "Boo-yah" was heard throughout the land, followed by what I imagine was one bitchin' weenie roast.

That's the thing about reality.  It can be tested, and even the old testament expects it to be believed.  It may take us a while to find the right vantage point or adequate sensitivity of instruments, but it can be seen.

And the thing is, all the branches of science agree on evolution, and not because of some closed-door meeting.  Independently and collaboratively, evolution over millions of years is the strongest, simplest, and most harmonious explanation for hundreds of thousands of observable phenomena. 

A couple things to understand about science...it is not a single discipline.  It is a formal strategy employed across many many areas of inquiry.  If evolution were not astonishingly, even miraculously solid, those independent areas of inquiry would disagree jarringly. 

Take, for a simple example, the shape of the earth.  Every form of observation at our disposal, from actual travel to astronomical observation to views from orbit, agree that the earth is essentially round.  Yes, it's bumpy and slightly ovoid, but there is no form of observation save the emotional certitude of a fringe of devout anti-scientists who would seriously claim that it is flat.  If the earth were not round, the astronauts would disagree with the astronomers or the travelers.  They might view a round disk from just the wrong vantage point, but travelers who had thrown camcorders on bungee cords over the edge would be compelled to disagree and be able to offer evidence, and the astronauts would then be able to go back and try looking from a different angle.  That is how science, as a process, works.  It is fueled by *real* skepticism, the sort that hungers to know and have demonstrable knowledge.  Thomas the doubter was not condemned for wanting proof. 

The fossil record, geology, radiation decay, biology, micro biology, chemistry, genetics, anatomy, embryology, and modern experimentation and observation concretely and unanimously support evolution.  It is simply how our reality behaves.

I do think, as humans, that we are invested with certain emotional qualities that have meaning, but it is a mistake to fervently apply that meaning to the objective world.  You lose your audience even before you lose your argument.  Believe me, I *want* there to be a plan, and a loving creator, and a meaning, and a lesson for every suffering, the same way I want there to be a way for us to agree and for this argument not to hurt people.  But if he's there, he's not in the pyre-lighting business anymore, not interested in solving disputes...or if he is, he's working entirely through science to get the pyres lit. 


Offline Acinonyx

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #89 on: December 13, 2010, 02:22:12 AM »
Quote
EDIT:  I'd like to add that atheists are just as guilty as theists are in terms of misusing and incorrectly understanding evolution.  I can't tell you how many atheists I've met who believe that evolution directly implies atheism is the only reasonable theistic stance.  This definitely doesn't help the Christian perception of evolution.

I spend a lot of time on atheist communities and all I usually hear is that they claim that evolution is more reconcilable with atheism than it is with religion and that for them having understood this mechanism removed the last need for God they had (see author Douglas Adams, for example). Many of them seem to actually find it very important to point out that accepting evolution does not lead right to atheism and clarify that the "God guided evolution" thing might be a possible stance, but they do not agree with it and that it is not a scientific stance. They also tend to disagree with organizations that cater to those religious speakers whose view is definitely not reconcilable with evolution (such as the NCSE), while acknowledging and respecting their work in favor of good science standards. However, the usually make a distinction between that and the claim that evolution leads directly to atheism.

Or in short, there may be some atheists out there on blog-comments, in chat-rooms and on forums who haven't grasped that yet, but most atheists - especially the more famous ones -, if understood correctly, do actually not imply that evolution directly leads to atheism.

Anyway, back on topic:

I think dominomask makes a good point pointing out that it's not just one discipline that confirms evolution (again and again), but a whole multitude of them... which is how it should be because it's a very global theory that could be refuted by any of these disciplines. Maybe it's also important to point out that scientists tend to not have an agenda - it would not matter if evolution crumbled in favor of another, more successful theory that makes a better explanation of the evidence and refutes Darwin's idea. Well, it would matter, as it would be a very big thing, but much like gravity vs. relativity, this would be accepted (maybe with some struggle, because it's hard to move such a mountain of evidence to a new location) and open new areas of investigation. And like relativity didn't kill Newton's reputation, neither will a new mechanism to replace evolution kill Darwin's. There's nothing to lose from a new global theory of where species come from, only new exciting areas of research opening up and a change of direction, new calculations and interpretations - a lot of work to be done, a lot of new enthusiasm to apply. However, at the moment, it does not look like that's going to happen - wherever we look, we only find more evidence for evolution, and nothing to refute it. All I am saying is that one should keep in mind that scientists will remain open about evolution, despite the unlikelihood of it ever being refuted. So any of these displines could make a legal objection to evolutionary theory, if only they had the evidence - and whoever would achieve that would have a lot to win from it (at least a Nobel Prize). It's not really conceivable that all these discipliones and the hundreds of thousands of scientists attached to them agree for any other reason than that they're simply congruent with evolution.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #90 on: December 13, 2010, 09:09:51 AM »
Quote
The fossil record, geology, radiation decay, biology, micro biology, chemistry, genetics, anatomy, embryology, and modern experimentation and observation concretely and unanimously support evolution.  It is simply how our reality behaves.

I agree with this entirely.

But.

We have a shared epistemology that certain types of creationist do not. The above sciences are secondary to what is written and divinely revealed. Or in the alternative, they do not refute the contention that the world was indeed created 6,000 odd-years ago with the appearance that it is in fact far older.

Offline dominomask

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #91 on: December 13, 2010, 11:23:46 AM »
I agree with this entirely.

But.

We have a shared epistemology that certain types of creationist do not. The above sciences are secondary to what is written and divinely revealed. Or in the alternative, they do not refute the contention that the world was indeed created 6,000 odd-years ago with the appearance that it is in fact far older.

I hear what you're saying...I'm talking more about the process of trying to talk to individuals rather than reconcile an abstract viewpoint.  Those times I've made any progress in getting a creationist to understand where I'm coming from and to concede that there are places that we can agree, these are the basic ideas I've tried to get across...with respect, obviously.:)

But yeah, on a purely theoretical level, there's no reconciling "The Bible is absolute truth" with "Scientific observation is absolute truth".  I'm not arguing that those two things aren't mutually exclusive.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #92 on: December 13, 2010, 01:23:01 PM »
But yeah, on a purely theoretical level, there's no reconciling "The Bible is absolute truth" with "Scientific observation is absolute truth".  I'm not arguing that those two things aren't mutually exclusive.

One quick interjection: the problem is rather reconciling the Bible as literal truth with science. It is still possible to regard the text as absolute truth (in the sense of being complete, perfect, and ultimate) without interpreted the whole of it literally. The trend towards literalism is a recent, dogmatic development, rather than anything inherent in the text.

Offline Salamander

  • Knight
  • Enchanted
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2010
  • Location: Unitd Kingdom
  • Gender: Male
  • This is some personal text. There are many like it, but this one is mine!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #93 on: December 13, 2010, 03:07:30 PM »
One quick interjection: the problem is rather reconciling the Bible as literal truth with science. It is still possible to regard the text as absolute truth (in the sense of being complete, perfect, and ultimate) without interpreted the whole of it literally. The trend towards literalism is a recent, dogmatic development, rather than anything inherent in the text.

I can't really agree with you on that one, Alice. The problem being this:

The traditional (pre-scientific revolution) way of interpreting the Bible was, as I understand it, Hermeneutics. In hermeneutical interpretation, the aim was to recover the original or intended meaning of the text, which may be literal, or equally may be metaphorical. Factors that might be considered included the terminology of other relevant Bible passages, the social position and temporal location of the writer, the apparent purpose of the text, and so on.

But along comes the scientific revolution, and with it an entirely different form of knowledge. The question becomes: how can this new knowledge be squared with the Bible? One reaction was to simply say that the Bible represented a body of knowledge similar to scientific truth- i.e. unambiguous, factual and literal- this path leads to fundamentalist literalism. The second alternative is to say that where there is apparent conflict, then the Bible must be read metaphorically.

But this is completely different from Hermeneutics. Instead of trying to recover the original meaning, what's happening is that the Bible is being fact-checked against another exterior body of knowledge, which is more-or-less explicitly conceded as being superior. After all, it's the Bible that gets fact-checked against Science, and not the other way around. So in what sense can the truth of the Bible be called absolute? Surely, its become contingent truth.

Offline Jude

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #94 on: December 13, 2010, 03:47:24 PM »
I'm not sure metaphorical or non-literal truth even exist.  A metaphor is by its very definition symbol of something else.  The underlying message that the metaphor symbolizes is what is true or untrue, not the metaphor.  And if a passage is not intended to be taken literally, then it is a metaphor.  The problem is that interpreting metaphors is an inexact process.  Metaphors are completely relative to the person analyzing them, which is the opposite of absolutism.  It's largely a question of what the observer takes from the metaphor, not really what the metaphor says, because it can be made to say anything.

The truth that science attempts to ascertain (e.g. absolute truth -- this is largely a matter of nomenclature and demarcation so arguing if relative truth is an oxymoron or not is hardly useful) is not relative to the observer; truth describes trends and facts that are ever present.  You may give the example of relativity, superposition, and Schrodinger's cat as a counter to that, but the very fact that those probabilistic inexact principles are known means truth has prevailed because the trend is known even if the exact position or state is not.  You cannot take scientific truth and make it say whatever you wish without applying incorrect logical principles.

Hermeneutics was an attempt at boiling down the metaphorical account of the bible to the "truth" that those metaphors were intended to represent by way of context, linguistic, and historical clues.  In that way I don't think it's radically different from the concept of non-literalism that most Christians employ today (if at all), but then it again it's not much different from literalism either.  In both cases you assume that there is some fundamental nugget of truth in all of the bible, just that the bible takes you on a journey to get there as opposed to directly telling you.

Fundamentalists don't like the idea that the bible has to synthesized into something coherent before it can be applied because that synthesis weakens the dogma and the overall force of the religion by decentralizing its tenets into various interpretations of them.  I also think Salamander hit on something in his reply:  since the advent of the scientific method mankind has been successful in accumulating evidence and analyzing trends to the point that we've been able to make absolute statements about reality that pass the test of comparison with reality remarkably well.

I think the religious resent that; they want their faith to have the same property and be held with equal esteem as reason.  Just take a quick look at popular culture and you'll see a variety of examples that make a virtue of faith and a vice of evidence-based, non-magical thinking.  Belief, whether it's well-founded or not, has been elevated in our culture for some reason.  Nearly every science vs. religion post on this forum even has taught me something:  the religious, on the whole, absolutely want science denigrated to the point that its conclusions are treated with just as much esteem as religious ideas.  They constantly attempt to equate the two.

As has been said before, there are many things science cannot do.  Science explains the way the world works, not why it works that way.  I don't think it's constructive to ask whether science or religion offer more to humanity, I don't care what the answer is and I don't see why anyone should, but I think it's absolutely valid to ask which is better for certain applications.  Just as I wouldn't use science to ask why it's wrong to steal (I would defer to philosophical or religious concepts), it makes no sense to trust practical knowledge granted by thousand year old religious texts over scientific theories.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 03:55:44 PM by Jude »

Offline Salamander

  • Knight
  • Enchanted
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2010
  • Location: Unitd Kingdom
  • Gender: Male
  • This is some personal text. There are many like it, but this one is mine!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #95 on: December 13, 2010, 04:45:43 PM »
As has been said before, there are many things science cannot do.  Science explains the way the world works, not why it works that way.  I don't think it's constructive to ask whether science or religion offer more to humanity, I don't care what the answer is and I don't see why anyone should, but I think it's absolutely valid to ask which is better for certain applications.  Just as I wouldn't use science to ask why it's wrong to steal (I would defer to philosophical or religious concepts), it makes no sense to trust practical knowledge granted by thousand year old religious texts over scientific theories.

Does it make any more sense to use a thousand-year-old religious text for ethical guidance?

I would say not.

The scientific revolution was paralleled by the dissociation of theology from philosophy. The study of ethics now takes place outside of the sphere of religious discourse, and has done so since at least Mill. Religious morality boils down to what's called Divine Command Theory, or some variation of it- "Bad things are bad because God says so." Quite apart from this being a crude and superstitious approach to morality, it offers no hope of giving anyone guidance at all. God does some quite horrific things in the Bible, and if God does them, then aren't they okay?

As for the "why?" question, as in "Why does the Universe Exist?", that's usually a matter of someone ascribing teleology to the exterior natural world. Which is very straightforwardly a category error- teleology is a subjective human property. People have purposes, human institutions have purposes, possibly some other animals have purposes too (it's arguable). But mountains, stars and galaxies do not have teleology, and saying that they do is an exercise in anthropomorphism- the projection of human qualituies upon the inanimate world.

Offline Jude

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #96 on: December 13, 2010, 04:54:12 PM »
Does it make any more sense to use a thousand-year-old religious text for ethical guidance?

I would say not.
As a non-religious person, of course it doesn't make sense.
The scientific revolution was paralleled by the dissociation of theology from philosophy. The study of ethics now takes place outside of the sphere of religious discourse, and has done so since at least Mill. Religious morality boils down to what's called Divine Command Theory, or some variation of it- "Bad things are bad because God says so." Quite apart from this being a crude and superstitious approach to morality, it offers no hope of giving anyone guidance at all. God does some quite horrific things in the Bible, and if God does them, then aren't they okay?
I agree that you can talk about ethics separate from religion.  I even think it would be better for the human race to do so.  However, I don't think "divine command" really sums up how any modern religious thinker conceptualizes morality.  It isn't "god says its bad so it is," that's a very primitive way of viewing religious ethics, it's more like "god knows better than humans, god knows this is bad, therefore I trust the knowledge god has imparted on me."
As for the "why?" question, as in "Why does the Universe Exist?", that's usually a matter of someone ascribing teleology to the exterior natural world. Which is very straightforwardly a category error- teleology is a subjective human property. People have purposes, human institutions have purposes, possibly some other animals have purposes too (it's arguable). But mountains, stars and galaxies do not have teleology, and saying that they do is an exercise in anthropomorphism- the projection of human qualituies upon the inanimate world.
I think there's a very good chance that you're right, but we both know that if I ask "why" enough, we'll eventually end up at a point where you're using subjective or inductive logic to back up your statements, thus they are not really ironclad facts:  they're just your personal philosophy that many would call a religious atheistic theory.  I think your perspective has a better chance of representing objective reality however.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 04:55:28 PM by Jude »

Offline Salamander

  • Knight
  • Enchanted
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2010
  • Location: Unitd Kingdom
  • Gender: Male
  • This is some personal text. There are many like it, but this one is mine!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #97 on: December 13, 2010, 05:13:54 PM »
I agree that you can talk about ethics separate from religion.  I even think it would be better for the human race to do so.  However, I don't think "divine command" really sums up how any modern religious thinker conceptualizes morality.  It isn't "god says its bad so it is," that's a very primitive way of viewing religious ethics, it's more like "god knows better than humans, god knows this is bad, therefore I trust the knowledge god has imparted on me."

Hmmm...sorry but I can't see that's there's much of a difference between those two statements. Maybe it's just me... ::)

Quote
I think there's a very good chance that you're right, but we both know that if I ask "why" enough, we'll eventually end up at a point where you're using subjective or inductive logic to back up your statements, thus they are not really ironclad facts:  they're just your personal philosophy that many would call a religious atheistic theory.  I think your perspective has a better chance of representing objective reality however.

Yes. Obviously I was putting down my own philosophical position. Basically, I agree with the analysis of Levi-Strauss (see especially The Savage Mind), which is that religious thinking consists of projecting human attributes and institutions onto the natural world as a way of explaining it. Magical thinking is doing the opposite- projecting natural-world categories on to humans. So for example:

Religious: God the Father = Projection of the human institution of the family on to the cosmos.

Magical: We are the Bear clan, they are the Eagle clan = Explaining the differences between human groups in terms of the differences between animals.

Offline Jude

Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #98 on: December 13, 2010, 05:56:45 PM »
Interesting dichotomy, but I don't think it's entirely accurate.  There are a lot of religions that incorporate magical elements if you use that definition.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 05:59:02 PM by Jude »

Offline Salamander

  • Knight
  • Enchanted
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2010
  • Location: Unitd Kingdom
  • Gender: Male
  • This is some personal text. There are many like it, but this one is mine!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Evolution and Religion
« Reply #99 on: December 13, 2010, 06:15:40 PM »
Interesting dichotomy, but I don't think it's entirely accurate.  There are a lot of religions that incorporate magical elements if you use that definition.

Absolutely, and Levi-Strauss would be the first to agree with that. The labels apply to ways of thinking rather than historical-cultural institutions. However, the names on the labels aren't arbitrary or coincidental. Religions mainly use religious thinking, with some magical elements. Magical practices (e.g. totemism) uses mainly magical thinking, with some religious elements. The urge to project human purposes on to the natural world is a clear example of religious thinking, and is found in all of the religions that I know anything about.