Your Heart - Your Brain - Your Life - Don't Waste 'em . . .

John johnhkm at
Tue Jul 20 23:41:59 EST 1999

Bruce Lilly wrote in message <3794B65C.5DFF7958 at>...
>"Jeffrey P. Utz, M.D." wrote:
>> Religion is defined as a cause, principle or system of beliefs held to
>> arbor and faith (Marrium Webster, 10th ed).  Science does definitely fit
>> this definition.
>Nope. Science is a method of determining provisional information about
>observable phenomena. It is not a "cause" or a "system of beliefs" and
>"arbor" nor "faith" have any role in science.
>1. Science and the knowledge obtained via science is available to anyone,
>just the "elect".

Invalid, not all religions talk of an "elect" and even with christian
theology (more arminian\pelagian orientation) the knowledge is believed to
be accessible to all. In Buddhism it's right in front of your face, in
Mayahana and Zen Buddhism there is no knowledge except that discovered one's
self. Eg. Bodhidharma:

A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing at the soul of man;
Seeing into one's nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.

Anyway, scientific knowledge is not available to all, most of us implicitly
trust others and are in no position to independently verify a zilch of what
we take as true.

>2. Anyone with inclination and ability can independently verify the
>[provisional] claims made via science.

Sure, I'll go test relativity tomorrow. But this is an important point, many
religions stress and absolute faith irrespective of inner consistency,
science absolutely relies on this principle and its origins are to be found
in a Greek philosopher Parimedes if my sources are to be believed.

>2a. That is an essential part of the scientific process, where independent
>verification of claims is encouraged. Whereas in religion, any questioning
>dogma is at least strongly discouraged; it it usually labeled "heresy" or
>"blasphemy" and is typically "punished" by torture and/or by murder.

True. But remember that science has its own history of labelling and
burning. Bolztmann, many would not believe Einstein until 1919 eclipse
verification (he received his Nobel for the photo-electric effect). There
are others, but the difference is that over time science recognizes its
errors. The Church does too, it only took until 1992 until the Catholic
Church officially recognized Galileo's rave and it wasn't until 1822 that
they actually condoned the publishing of material relating to the same! Gee,
what's wrong with waiting half a millenium to catch up?

>2b. Note that science only deals with testable claims about observable
>phenomena. Religions purport to be authorities on untestable claims
>unobservable propositions as well as observable phenomena.
>3. "arbor and faith" are characteristic of dogma, which has no place in
>Consult your *Merriam* Webster re. the definition of "dogma".

I have seen plenty of ardor and faith in science thank you. Sometimes that
is the best way to go. Again, the generalisation re religion is not entirely
valid, but I have in mind rather esoteric religions here, the common forms
are full of pap, pretention, and psychotism

>4. Fundamentalist religions in particular, others to a slightly lesser
>claim that their dogma is unchanging and inviolable. Science, per contra,
>progresses by abandoning old models when they are found to be inadequate in
>light of new discoveries; e.g. Aristotelian dynamics was replaced by
>Galilean/Netwonian dynamics, which has subsequently been supplanted by

It's the rate of abandonment that seems to be a problem, perhaps we all have
a little bit of the religious impulse in us.

"If we define a religion to be a system of thought which contains unprovable
statements, so it contains an element of faith, then Godel has taught us
that not only is mathematics a religion but it is the only religion able to
prove itself to be one."

John Barrow - mathematical physicist

"I think it should be granted that philosophy always starts from a
fundamental presupposition: the intelligibility of experience.

"The positive task of the philosopher is to fecudante his analytical skillls
with dreams, and to discipline his dreams with analysis. I cannot provide a
manual of rules and regulations governing this activity. There are no rules
and regulations for being reasonable, and certainly no rules and regulations
for dreaming reasonable dreams. In philosophy, as perhaps in everything
else, one communicates best his deepest dreams by enacting them."

Stanley Rosen, The Limits of Analysis.

Remove XXXX in reply address

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list