Creationism and other doctrines. Was Mindforth

Sir Charles W. Shults III aichip at cfl.rr.com
Wed Dec 18 20:58:40 EST 2002


"Bruce Rennie" <bruce.rennie at shell.com.au> wrote in message
news:8d821729.0212181630.780c0511 at posting.google.com...

> [My additions]
> Some dictionary Definitions of the word SCIENCE (www.dictionay.com)
>
> 1a). The observation, identification, description, experimental
> investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
> 1b). Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.
> 1c). Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.
> 2). Methodological activity, discipline, or study: I've got packing a
> suitcase down to a science.
> 3). An activity that appears to require study and method: the science
> of purchasing.
> 4). Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.
>
> I would take that science is a methodology that can be used in
> obtaining information. It still takes faith that the methodology is
> valid and appropriate for some range of problems. It cannot handle
> every area of life - human relationships, beginnings, miracles, what
> cannot yet be observed, etc.

    First off, we should agree on some common definitions or this thread might
last for (heh heh) three or four messages...
    Faith as we "science types" are referring to it is "belief that does not
require proof or substantiation".  It is a belief that you cannot reason away or
reason around, it simply exists in the mind of the faithful person generally due
to either indoctrination or some subjective experience.
    The bottom line about faith in this respect is that it does not submit to
dissection or contradiction.  You cannot formulate a test and carry it out,
because usually the event or teaching that leads to this "unreasoning belief" is
something that falls outside of the physical world.
    We hear of miracles and unexplained events, but most are very conveniently
at a great distance either in space or time.  If we were able to examine such an
occurrance in detail and repeatedly, it would soon become clear that either it
was not so unreal or that we were going to have to revise what we know in some
manner.
    It would either turn out to be something that made sense and had a mechanism
we could duplicate or at least understand, or it would turn out that it violated
some basic understanding and we would then pursue it until we understood things
even more than we do now.
    What you seem to miss here is the spirit of the venture- faith requires no
proof.  Science, however, does not require that you believe anything.  Just
follow the steps that we have learned, and it will work.  And if you study the
steps and the reasoning, you will reach a state where you can understand a
thing.
    People without faith in a given religion will find little solace in a
religious text that does not adhere to their beliefs.  It won't "work" for them.
But anyone can pick up a camera, a PDA, or a hand grenade and it will work,
regardless of what they believe.  This is because these are devices that are
grounded in our observations of reality.  Once again, our belief does not
influence their workings.  So "faith" has nothing to do with it.

> [My additions]
> You get go to bed of an evening believing that tomorrow will come, you
> live your daily life believing many things will/will not occur - this
> is all faith. But it is also experiential.
>
> I believe in a personal God (Father - Papa - Daddy if you will) and in
> a personal Saviour (Jesus Christ). This is personal experience (not
> provable by science) and is relationship with my creator. Does that
> restrict me from using science to do various things in my life.
> Science is usable in some areas of my life but not in others - I don't
> use science in my relationships with my wife, my daughter, my sons, my
> God or people I meet on any day.
>
> [end additions]

    Unfortunately, your opinion about science is somehow based on a belief about
science that you have.  Science is a system that increases our knowledge.
Science can be wrong, and when we find out that it is so, we then learn even
more and become more powerful and effective in our ability to alter the world
around us.
    But faith is what it is- you must accept what it is without proof, and that
is the end of the matter.  Faith does not teach you new things about the
universe, it only shapes your opinions.  Science, conversely, does teach you new
things.  Faith did not invent the ball point pen or the polio vaccine, nor did
it make the first microchips.  Science, applied over the course of roughly six
centuries, brought us the knowledge we have today.  I am making allowances for
progress since the Rennaisance, as things moved pretty slowly before then,
mostly due to the influence of the Church.
    So science can be tested, and if we have a disagreement about a certain rule
or effect, war does not break out.  We simply duplicate the experiment and try
to resolve our questions.  It all seems to be pretty gentlemanly overall.
    But faith, on the other hand, being unprovable, leads to the bloodiest
conflicts and wars we have ever known.  If you do not think this is so, just
look at what is happening right now- one group of people with a certain faith
are not happy with what we eat, drink, or wear, how we "allow" women to dress,
and which way our butts point when we pray (if we pray).  Because of their
"faith", they will kill us.  No negotiating, no reasoning, no sense to it.
    Faith seems to get a pretty black eye in this respect, because its
unprovable nature brings people nose to nose over some pretty silly issues, to
the point of bloodshed.  When science has issues, we hit the test tubes and
blackboards and come away enlightened.  When faith has issues, we get nuclear
death, Jihads, Jehovah's Witnesses getting me up at 8AM Saturday, and people
throwing rocks at guys with machine guns.  We get Inquisitions, witch hunts, and
the suppressoin of knowledge (such as Galileo).

> >   Calling science "faith" flies in the face of logic, it's not magic and
does
> > not require hand-waving nor missing stone tablets that someone, sometime,
> > said they believe they saw.  Show me a miracle that is rigorously repeatable
> > (not just something we don't understand yet, like a baby) and I'll show you
> > the science that can explain it.
>
> [My additions]
> You misunderstand miracles - these can be non-repeatable events that
> can defy all the rules or they may fall in the rules but are not
> explanable as to why they happened at that point in time.
>
> Some people will call some of these things co-incidence, others will
> call it intervention, and others will call it nonsense.
> [end additions]
> >   This "faith" nonsense (in the purest sense of the word "nonsense") has
> > caused more grief and suffering than even our worst scientific debacles to
> > date.  We're better off without it (that is an opinion).
>
> [John's response]
> Dennis, what you are missing is that you are in fact expressing
> "faith" when
> you express the concept of "observable" and "repeatable".  I.e., you
> are
> expressing FAITH that an observable, repeatable phenomenon is in FACT
> both
> observable and repeatable.
> [stuff removed]
> [end of John's response]

    Faith has nothing to do with a real phenomenon- whether we observe it or
not, it happens.  Once again, our personal belief will not influence the events
in any way, unless we directly act to do so.  Observable and repeatable are
hallmarks of reality.  If I drop this book, it will fall every time.  If somehow
it failed to fall one time, I would learn something from that fact.  It would
imply that either there was some other rule or force operating that we normally
do not see, or that somebody was pulling a fast one.
    Here is where the dichotomy between science and faith rears it head- in
science, we would examine the phenomenon and learn from it.  Faith simply says,
"hey, look, a miracle" and goes about its business.  Nothing learned.

>
> "Sir Charles W. Shults III" <aichip at cfl.rr.com> wrote in message
news:<Mk1M9.402921$fa.8360994 at twister.tampabay.rr.com>...
> >     "Faith" is exactly the opposite of "verifiable".  Matter of faith are
> > matters of decree and belief, and no experiment can be devised to test the
>
> [my response]
> Is it?

    Not sure what your indefinite article is referring to here...

>
> Again some dictionary definitions
>
> 1). Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a
> person, idea, or thing.
> 2). Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
> See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
> 3). Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's
> supporters.
> 4). often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure
> belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
> 5). The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
> 6). A set of principles or beliefs.
>
> So by 1). and 6). belief in Science is an act of faith. It gives you a
> set of tenets by which you can live or work or whatever.

    But once more, you do not have to believe in science for science to work.
It is independent of your state of mind!  You do not have to believe in the
results of your scientific inquiry- although, you walk off a cliff using faith
to keep you safe at your own peril.  Science is completely divorced from your
beliefs, just as reality is.  That is what sets it apart from faith.

>
> Arguments of this nature simply get people hot under the collar and
> eventually lead nowhere. And everyone will still fall back on what
> they believe (experiential or intellectual).

    Yes, but a reasonable person will examine what they believe and be willing
to admit that they might be wrong.  In faith, they will not admit the possibilty
of error, because doing so is a "loss of faith".

> Even Albert's comment shows his belief
>
> [Quote from previous message]
> Evolution doesn't belong here. It is a scientific theory, not
> a matter of faith.
>
> You have been brain washed.
> Living in the US, by any chance?
> --
> Albert van der Horst,Oranjestr 8,3511 RA UTRECHT,THE NETHERLANDS
> [end quote]
>
> The concept of evolution is a philosophy which has spawned a variety
> of conflicting hypotheses. The biggest opponents of any of the various
> evolutionary theses have been other evolutionists. The whole argument
> sits in the realm of the past and cannot (from all that has been
> expressed over the years) be repeatably tested or provide a predictive
> set of outcomes. It is an attempt at an explanation of things we can
> see. But it is not what I would classify as science but as philosophy.

    Here we differ clearly- "evolution" is an ongoing process, and is used on a
daily basis in many laboratories.  It is an observed, real phenomenon and there
is no question about that.  But you are mixing two issues here- the issues are
"what evolution is" and "did life evolve".
    We must separate these two and clearly point out that evolution does exist,
does work, and is proven.  We cannot prove that life evolved, because we did not
witness it, but we see enough evidence that it seems very reasonable.  That is
the nature of a hypothesis.  But what is very crucial here is that before the
theory of evolution came about, there was no reasonable explanation other than
"some really smart, really powerful being just made it that way."
    That is no explanation- it is a fiat.  I inherently do not trust some person
or organization who says to me "just trust me on this" and attempts to
discourage me from finding my own answers.  That smacks of control and agenda.
    Science allows us to seek the truth- faith often obscures or hides it.  And
certainly, religious leaders do this actively to their own benefit.

> I could say the same for "The Big Bang". A whole zoo of unverifable
> hypotheses that attempt to explain observation but the predictive
> results do not seem to be attainable, at least not at our current
> level of technology. Yet there are theories that could be tested in
> the laboratory that explain galaxy formation that do not start from
> the idea of a big bang.

    However, there are many observable phenomena that point pretty clearly to a
single instant in our distant past where everything in the universe was very hot
and very small.  And most interesting is the fact that testing this idea results
in new facts that we did not know before.  That is what makes the big bang
theory a powerful tool.
    Right or wrong, we have learned volumes from assuming it to be true and
assuming it to be false.  In the end, it still answers the most questions
easily.
    But when some person just says, "this smart, powerful guy waved his hands or
spoke the magic words and it all appeared", it leaves a very hollow feeling in
the part of the mind called "reason".
    I am not saying that God creating it all in a wave of his hands is
impossible- because if there is an omnipotent being, then all bets are off.
What I am saying is this- from what we can see, it appears that the universe
started out as a single very hot, dense point of energy.  And believe it or not,
the theory in indeed predictive.  We are already seeing the granularity of
information that had to be a feature of the early universe.  That came from
Claude Shannon's information theory and the assumption that the big bang is a
fact.

> I personally believe that all of creation is in the hands of the
> Creator. This is a matter of faith. The infinite is not comprehensible
> to the finite. I take delight in idea that all of creation has been
> made for us and is an example of the magnificence of God, even though
> we have have screwed our planet into the ground through our choices
> and our decisions.
>
> [end response]

    And of course, you are free to believe that.  But this belief will teach you
nothing about reality.  The day to day operation of the universe is aloof of our
individual thoughts, psychoses, and beliefs.  Thank God (or whatever) for that;
because I would not want the stuff in my head influencing the world around me in
any discernable way!  And I trust myself far more than I trust most other
people...

> > belief system involved.  On the other hand, we can most certainly devise
tests
> > and experiments to see how reality performs, and this does not require
blind,
> > unsubstantiated belief.  Anyone anywhere can do the experiments, and they
will
> > get consistent results.
> >     In faith, you must believe.  Reality does not care if you believe or
not, it
> > will still follow its rules.
>
> [my response]
> Yet you express that Reality is as you believe - is this not faith

    No, I express that reality usually acts as I expect it, based on experience.
I do not express any belief here, only what has been observed.  Observation
builds expectation.  Whatever rules reality has, whether we are aware of them or
not, those rules will be followed.  It requires nothing on my part- whether
belief, science, or ignorance- to do what the rules permit or dictate.
    I am simply an observer, but I have learned through my experiences and those
of others, what to expect and how to affect change in my world.  It may all
change tomorrow, but that is the way things are.

Cheers!

Chip Shults
My robotics, space and CGI web page - http://home.cfl.rr.com/aichip







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