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Old 09-18-2011, 05:38 AM
tom tom is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 67
Default Re: Not the same

I'll reply to both of your replies in one place to keep it more simple to follow.

Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
So bottom line, religious beliefs are OK when they don't go against current scientific knowledge even though they admit the presence of the supernatural which intervenes on occasion.
Well, I was deliberately trying not to wade too far into the broader question of what's "ok", for both politicians and ordinary citizens. But religious beliefs do not require one to reject science (either by alleging conspiracy, or merely ignoring evidence) when they merely admit the presence of supernatural intervention.
As to whether it's "ok" to reject science - the conversation would be interesting, but it's the sort of disagreement that is usually resolved over months or years rather than a few paragraphs of conversation. I do believe it's a bad thing, and yes, I think it's especially a problem when politicians believe that evidence doesn't matter as much as ideology, or that there's a conspiracy of many thousands of scientists doctoring millions of data points because of some secret agenda.

Assuming that many of your beliefs differ from mine, I think this thread could start to break into ten smaller ones at this point, but I'll take a small step in that direction anyway with the caveat that I'm not so much trying to offer a decisive argument so much as stating my position. I think Rick Perry's refusal to consider the possibility that he oversaw the execution of an innocent man, and his efforts in preventing an investigation into that matter, reveal a man who puts ideology before reality. In utilitarian terms, it's just one dead man, but one man executed by the state is a much greater moral atrocity than one man dying in a car crash or even murdered in his home. And he said openly that he thinks there's a conspiracy of scientists on climate change, which I think is crazy. (I should note that I believe "Climate-gate", to which he is almost certainly referring, is a manufactured scandal.) I don't see his ability to confidently believe whatever he wants, reality be damned, in both cases to be a coincidence. Neither of those cases are religious, but one does involve "ignoring science", and it would be easy to get into examples that are more directly related to religion with him.

Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
But then there's this...and I must go. These little interventions don't leave any trace? There is no little piece of godly kleenex left at the scene? Or is that the way God works? He leaves no trace. Is that possible?
It depends on what kind of trace you're asking about. If Jesus really performed miracles in front of large groups of people, that's a trace that leaves its mark in written and oral records. Yet we have no way of showing those traces have supernatural origins. If we're talking about the hypothetical creation of a universe with the appearance of age, then no, not necessarily. If we're talking about (for example) God doing some small violation of the laws of nature tomorrow (say making some rocks fly around in circles before dropping on the ground), then it leaves its trace but not in a way that would be testable as "supernatural". If we're talking about the ID stuff, it seems in principle possible to me that there would be something that biologists would be forever at a loss to explain. But as I said earlier, it's outside of the purview of science to call that "supernatural". It's just unexplained.

Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
So, under your definition, the person who believed that the earth was fully formed as we see it today -6000 years is not disputing science in any way. I have to disagree. And here I go back to the uniformitarianism issue. We know that certain processes must have taken place in order that the earth appear as it does today. Those are processes we can observe and measure. The person who says that those processes didn't take place in the time it would take them to take place and instead, in the twinkling of an eye, is certainly disputing science.
He is disputing the model of the world/universe that science gives us, but he's not really disputing any specific scientific evidence. I would prefer to say that he's just completely bypassing scientific models in a way that doesn't lock horns directly with science. If he is disputing science, he's doing so in a very different way from creationists/ID theorists.

It's late and I have to finish this, but two closing points:
1. I think part of our disagreement has developed into a primarily semantic one, which I see as progress.
We know that certain processes must have taken place in order that the earth appear as it does today.
We "sort of" do. One might argue that we technically only know what the present day evidence says. That is, it's possible to imagine a universe in which there's an "Earth" identical to ours at this very moment, but which was created by a god yesterday, as in my earlier example. The scientists on this "Earth" would be thinking, observing, and claiming the same things as scientists on our Earth. Do they "know" that certain processes must have taken place in the same way that we do?

Ok apologies for the lack of brevity or clarity... way past my bedtime.

Last edited by tom; 09-18-2011 at 12:20 PM..
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