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The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
01-18-2010, 02:44 PM
Post: #1
The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
I sometimes worry that people assume I speak only from a scientific perspective. It is true that my reasoning is entirely based on scientific evidence, logic, and reason.

But the truth is, hard scientific fact only goes so far. Evolution is true, abiogenesis is almost certainly true, the big bang theory is almost certainly true. Science tells us this. There's really no arguing with it. Unless you have some grand piece of actually factual evidence to refute these theories, then they should be accepted by all right-thinking people. However, these theories do not deny theism. They do not even deny Christianity or Islam, so long as a bit of metaphorical license is taken with their creation myths. (Incidentally if you do think you have factual evidence to refute these theories, there's a lovely challenge to creationists here, to submit a peer-reviewed scientific article, or even an article rejected from a peer-reviewed publication with notes by the reviewers. Creationists cannot claim to be factually correct if they do not have the courage to actually submit their evidence to scientific review.)

However for myself, those theories are not enough. I personally think a reasonable, logical mind must reject the idea of god himself. Although science cannot disprove god, I believe it shows god to be incredibly unlikely. In addition, I believe the specific versions of god presented by every major religion in the world are inherently contradictory and illogical, and very often highly immoral as well. So I argue for this. I think I'm right. I think any reasonable person will agree with me. But while what I argue is logical and reasonable, it does go beyond the limitations of what science can prove.

Science is limited. It deals only with falsifiable theories that can be in some way tested. Thus, "There is no god" is not falsifiable, since a god might be unobservable. So at that point we must move away from hard science, and instead extrapolate, reasonably and logically, from science.

Note that this is still not belief. It is not belief when you come up with the most logical, reasonable answer based on the facts available. That, in fact, is the opposite of belief, which requires some inherent acceptance in lieu of facts (or, so often in theism, in direct contradiction to facts). But while it is not belief, while it is immensely logical and reasonable, it is not technically hard science.

Technically you can accept scientific discovery and still be a theist. I just find it very silly to do so.

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01-18-2010, 08:30 PM (This post was last modified: 01-19-2010 11:50 AM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #2
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
Science is the study of nature, or time space and matter. The God of three Monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (on a good day I accept Christians' claim to monotheism) is Transcendent, beyond time space and matter. So by very definition, God cannot be studied in a scientific paradigm and science should not have any thing to say about the Transcendent God.

The Holy Quran says, "Eyes cannot reach Him (Allah) but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware." (Al Quran 6:104)

But, I would hate to be your nemesis, as I need you badly to deal with my zealot friends here on this Forum. I think you have made contradictory statements in the above post, "Although science cannot disprove god, I believe it shows god to be incredibly unlikely."

I am second coming of Thomas Paine. If you are a Christian, have you read Age of Reason?
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01-18-2010, 11:42 PM
Post: #3
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
Just as an aside, many Christians are monotheist, to the point of denying the trinity as separate beings, but rather seeing them as different aspects of the same being (this is known as the "Oneness" doctrine in some circles, and is especially prevalent among protestant fundamentalists.) In such a philosophy our understanding of god as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not due to any actual separation on god's part, but rather our human inability to comprehend the whole of god at once.

But that's just an aside. There is only one case in which an incarnate god (that is, a god which is an entity, rather than a pantheistic or truly infinite deity,) would be completely outside of science. This would be the case of a deistic god who began the universe, and then did not interfere with it. This is not the god of the major monotheist (or even polytheist) religions. They have a god that interacts with the world regularly. Therefore there should be some evidence of that god in the physical world, therefore god should, at least in some sense, be detectable with science. Even if science can never understand the totality of what god is, it should at least be able to identify traces of the supernatural as it interacts with our natural world.

And even if god does not interact with our world, at the very least the concept of god cannot contradict reality (which is why those fundamentalists who hold young-earth creationism as a core tenant of their faith are simply wrong.)

Now, as logical, reasonable people we must accept the idea that we may simply not have stumbled across this physical evidence yet. This is why we cannot disprove god. But god is very unlikely, because at this point we have at least some basic knowledge of almost everything in the universe. There are still many, many details to fill in, but we've got the basics. We understand particles down to the sub-atomic level, and systems of matter up to the universal level. We have peered into the earliest days of our universe, and we have predicted its eventual end. And yet we have found no evidence of god. None whatsoever. No scientifically valid evidence.

Along with this, we have proven that the universe can exist without god. We know that it is quite possible for the universe to exist as it is today, purely shaped by natural forces since the big bang. New theories of cosmogony present various ideas for how the big bang itself might have arisen, also completely naturally. Quite frankly, modern science has no need of god. God is unnecessary for the universe to work.

When you couple the fact that god is unnecessary with the fact that we have never found any valid evidence of god, the idea of their being a god becomes staggeringly unlikely. Not impossible. But very, very unlikely.

Thus, science cannot prove there is no god. But science can show god to be very unlikely.

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01-19-2010, 09:25 AM
Post: #4
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
(01-18-2010 02:44 PM)GTseng3 Wrote:  Creationists cannot claim to be factually correct if they do not have the courage to actually submit their evidence to scientific review.

Agreed. Creationists are alleging a particular physical state of the universe, one that is potentially testable. The vast gulf between what agenda-free properly conducted scientific investigation shows and what creationists claim only emphasizes the need for legitimate evidence presented and tested in the proper manner of all scientific claims.

(01-18-2010 02:44 PM)GTseng3 Wrote:  I personally think a reasonable, logical mind must reject the idea of god himself. Although science cannot disprove god, I believe it shows god to be incredibly unlikely. In addition, I believe the specific versions of god presented by every major religion in the world are inherently contradictory and illogical, and very often highly immoral as well. So I argue for this. I think I'm right. I think any reasonable person will agree with me. But while what I argue is logical and reasonable, it does go beyond the limitations of what science can prove.

To reject the idea of a god outright, one must be able to specify at least one essential sine qua non attribute of a god that is then shown to be at least highly unlikely. I am not sure that can be done. But this is not to say that any of the descriptions of a god embraced by any major religion have any noticeable merit. It is the gulf between a possible God (switching to single transcendent creator definition signified by upper case) and the notions put forth by the various religions that is problematic.

As an example of that, consider the description of God developed by Thomas Aquinas and the idea of God seen in the Bible or in Catholic practice. They seem like night and day. In religion class when we talked about Aquinas we were told that much of religion needs to be based on faith. It is not derivable from reason alone. (In Catholicism this is considered a virtue. Wink)

To me then the problem is not whether or not there is a God or any kind of god but the absence of any reasonable connection between the kind of God/god that can possibly be admitted as a possibility and any kind of religion.
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01-19-2010, 10:02 AM (This post was last modified: 01-19-2010 11:48 AM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #5
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
I know the Christian belief of "three persons, one substance" and how they want to conceptulize it, but to every Muslim it is irrational, counter-intuitive and contradictory. I think it is same to all other non-Christians also, but they have no motivation to talk about it. At any rate, I play sometimes with "three persons," and at other times with, "one substance," that is the poetic license I have given myself, given the circumstances.

I posted the following today in another thread, but it is very relevant to our discussion here.

According to the Abrahamic faiths God is Transcendent. My personal bias is that the Omnipotent God becomes Personal God by his ability to influence this universe at the Quantum level. When He does so, we mortals cannot perceive it and it does not break any laws of nature! But we can see it in unlikey things happening in the history of the Prophets of God, or the history of life on the planet earth, in most unlikey and spectacular organs and species evolving etc. I have linked an article before, regarding Quantum issues, titled the Indispensible God Hypothesis:

http://www.muslimsunrise.com/dmddocument...df#page=22

Most unexpected and unlikely things are happening at the elemental levels also. I quoted an article before, I think, 'A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?'

http://knol.google.com/k/a-challenge-for...come-from#

I am second coming of Thomas Paine. If you are a Christian, have you read Age of Reason?
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01-19-2010, 11:27 AM (This post was last modified: 01-19-2010 11:28 AM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #6
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
What I have been writing in similar threads is in keeping with the books, Kenneth Miller's, Finding Darwin's God and Francis Collins', Language of God.

Except that I do not know how they rationalize to themselves the belief in the mysteries of Trinity, Eucharist and Incarnation, which I find logically untenable.

Additionally, there is historical evidence including in the New Testament, that Jesus did not die on the True Cross. If we genuinely negotiate these differences then Islam and Christianity will become the same religion!

I am second coming of Thomas Paine. If you are a Christian, have you read Age of Reason?
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01-19-2010, 04:27 PM
Post: #7
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
On the contrary, I would argue that there is no such thing as a sine qua non attribute of god that can in any way be testable or falsifiable. Although this might be because my imagination is superior to that of your average theist. But I can imagine many different gods (indeed, as an occasional fantasy author it's one of the things I consider myself very good at.)

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01-19-2010, 05:37 PM
Post: #8
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
(01-19-2010 04:27 PM)GTseng3 Wrote:  On the contrary, I would argue that there is no such thing as a sine qua non attribute of god that can in any way be testable or falsifiable. Although this might be because my imagination is superior to that of your average theist. But I can imagine many different gods (indeed, as an occasional fantasy author it's one of the things I consider myself very good at.)

First the definiton of what you want to test, then the test mechanism. To say that a god is very unlikely means that you have some definition of god in mind. It does not have to be rigourous, but it needs to have something more than just the word. Otherwise you are debating whether any snarks are boojums.
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01-19-2010, 06:09 PM
Post: #9
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
But that's my point. We may as well be debating whether any snarks are boojums (great reference, by the way). There is no evidence for any higher being. Yes, you do have to define "god". But frankly I think this will be a broad definition. My general definition of god is a being of such inherent power that it can alter natural law (i.e., perform miracles). For all our power through technology, we cannot do such a thing.

Now, there is no evidence that anything in the universe can alter natural law. It is highly unlikely that any such being exists. And by highly unlikely, I mean "almost certainly impossible". But at the same time, its impossibility is not scientifically provable. The definition of a being that can perform miracles is inherently untestable, because the only way to test it would be to observe a miracle, which by nature is the least likely thing that could possibly happen (since it defies natural law).

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01-20-2010, 08:41 AM
Post: #10
RE: The difference between scientific acceptance and atheism
(01-19-2010 06:09 PM)GTseng3 Wrote:  But that's my point. We may as well be debating whether any snarks are boojums (great reference, by the way). There is no evidence for any higher being. Yes, you do have to define "god". But frankly I think this will be a broad definition. My general definition of god is a being of such inherent power that it can alter natural law (i.e., perform miracles). For all our power through technology, we cannot do such a thing.

Now, there is no evidence that anything in the universe can alter natural law. It is highly unlikely that any such being exists. And by highly unlikely, I mean "almost certainly impossible". But at the same time, its impossibility is not scientifically provable. The definition of a being that can perform miracles is inherently untestable, because the only way to test it would be to observe a miracle, which by nature is the least likely thing that could possibly happen (since it defies natural law).

If we use the traditional definition/proof of God as the Creator and Sustainer of the univers, then altering natural law becomes a test of the relevance of whatever God there may be. If humans are of importance to God, then one would expect miracles to take place from time to time on behalf of humans. If humans are not of importance then there would be no reason for God to alter his own normal way of operating, that is, natural law.

One can debate all day whether the existence and orderliness of the universe is a proof of the existence of a Creator/Sustainer. But in the absence of any evidence that such a God give a hoot about humans, religion becomes moot.
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