Bifurcation of the mind

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  • #26
I prefer the Catholics view of Creation, that God invented the Universe and everything was a natural progression of the starting conditions of the Universe, Science wouldn't have any problem with this or indeed anything to say.

Creationism is a strange beast because it only really exists in any widespread form in the US as far as I can tell, even fundamentalists in the UK seldom believe the Earth is 10,000 years old. Most don't even believe in old Earth creationism, ie that the Earth could possibly be millions of years old and God made the Earth and the animals etc.

I really don't think it is necessary for scientists to give much of a nod towards creationism or intelligent design for that matter, unless it's to defend its own assertions; how as a scientist do you argue with people who will quite happily maintain that either: God put dinosaurs there to test us, or that geological science is in error, or that the reason we see billions of billions of stars is because of some closed universe theory with some patently absurd preconditions and so on. Or even that God changes the experimental results as in radio carbon dating.

I mean really is there any point of discussing the rational with those who chose not to approach science with anything like a rational idea or theory? It's probably as useless trying to convince them that the Universe is roughly 15 billion years old as it it is that God doesn't exist. I really wander sometimes why Richard Dawkin's bothers, it's not like he's going to convince anyone who is not already convinced they are delusional anyway.

I mean if I said for example that a pink rhinocerous created the Earth about 5 billion years ago and let all the animals flood out from his enormous mouth? No one would take me seriously, so why bother with creationism? It's hardly any more cogent.

I can understand how some people might work in science and pick and chose their beliefs about evolution, fine if you want to do this, at least you're adding to science, the creationists who are out to destroy evolution - great take your best shot - but those who are out to put their message into science classes or to claim that science is absolutely wrong aren't really worth the effort, and frankly it amazes me they're taken seriously at all.:confused:
 
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  • #27
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It takes a theory to make anything out of any observation.
That's probably true.
In one of Feynmann's books he speaks of the "electron theory". He said that electrons were a theory because no one had ever seen one. Surely he knew of scintillation counters which spark when struck by an electron. Why was he unwilling to call the spark an electron? I think he was making a distinction between what he saw and what he "knew". I do too.
 
  • #28
Gokul43201
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In one of Feynmann's books he speaks of the "electron theory". He said that electrons were a theory because no one had ever seen one. Surely he knew of scintillation counters which spark when struck by an electron. Why was he unwilling to call the spark an electron? I think he was making a distinction between what he saw and what he "knew". I do too.
I'd like to see the exact quote before I believe any of that. I'd have to know it's true if I am to respond.
 
  • #29
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I'd like to see the exact quote before I believe any of that. I'd have to know it's true if I am to respond.
This site recounts the story. The original is in the book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman"
http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52377.html

In _Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman_, Richard Feynman tells a
wonderful story about a philosophy seminar that he attended, in which
the participants were discussing Alfred North Whitehead's theory of
'essential objects'. After they'd been talking for a while, someone
asked Feynman if he thought that an electron would be considered an
'essential object', according to Whitehead's definition. Feynman
hadn't really been paying attention, so he decided to ask a question
of his own, which would help him figure out what they'd been talking
about.

He asked: "Is a brick an essential object?" He was going to ask a
followup question - "Is the _inside_ of a brick an essential object?"
- and then argue that an electron is like the inside of a brick, in
the sense that we _know_ that they exist, but no one has ever really
seen one. (You can't see the inside of a brick, because if you break
the brick in two, you just have two new bricks, and you can only see
their outsides!)
 
  • #30
Astronuc
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In _Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman_, Richard Feynman tells a
wonderful story about a philosophy seminar that he attended, in which
the participants were discussing Alfred North Whitehead's theory of
'essential objects'. After they'd been talking for a while, someone
asked Feynman if he thought that an electron would be considered an
'essential object', according to Whitehead's definition. Feynman
hadn't really been paying attention, so he decided to ask a question
of his own, which would help him figure out what they'd been talking
about.

He asked: "Is a brick an essential object?" He was going to ask a
followup question - "Is the _inside_ of a brick an essential object?"
- and then argue that an electron is like the inside of a brick, in
the sense that we _know_ that they exist, but no one has ever really
seen one. (You can't see the inside of a brick, because if you break
the brick in two, you just have two new bricks, and you can only see
their outsides!)
Isn't this limiting 'observability' to 'see-ability', i.e. only direct observation counts, and indirect observation doesn't?

One could 'see' inside a brick with X-ray tomography, or doesn't that count. One could determine the mass of the brick and knowing the density (determined from experiment) of the material determine that the brink must have an inside of the same substance.
 
  • #31
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One could 'see' inside a brick with X-ray tomography, or doesn't that count.
You probably answered your own question with those scare quotes.
 
  • #32
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Someone who endorses Intelligent Design is not a scientist. A scientist uses scientific methodology to increase the body of knowledge, not to decrease it using unscientific speculations that might have the power to damage more than a century worth of scientific discovery in the eyes of the general public. Intelligent Design is certainly not science, and as a result, people who endorse it is not scientists.

Do I think that a scientist is less worth as a scientist if he is religious? No. Do I think that a scientist who brings in religion into scientific methodology and areas that have substantial evidence to support it or as a result of his or her religion refuses to acknowledge the evidence? Definitely.
 
  • #34
Kurdt
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:rofl:

What ,on earth,"Dr." does stand for in front of his name?
If he just had a B.S. that would be more fitting.
 
  • #35
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Someone who endorses Intelligent Design is not a scientist.
Would you say that someone who endorses love is a scientist? Love is not science. Intelligent Design is not science.
 
  • #36
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Would you say that someone who endorses love is a scientist? Love is not science. Intelligent Design is not science.
I'm not sure that I understand your post correctly.

Yes, I consider someone who uses scientific methodology to increase the body of knowledge on the evolutionary background on or types of biochemical reactions occurring during the events linguistically described as 'love'.

I do not consider someone who uses the romantic description of love in explaining celestial mechanics a scientist because he or she is not using scientific methodology. I would say that someone who denies evolution or biochemistry and tries to promote the romantic version of 'love' instead is not a scientist, that is correct.

If this does not answer your question, can you please clarify it for me?
 
  • #37
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I would say that someone who denies evolution or biochemistry and tries to promote the romantic version of 'love' instead is not a scientist, that is correct.
That answers it pretty good, thanks. I'm not sure what you mean by "deny biochemistry" though.
 
  • #38
Gokul43201
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You probably answered your own question with those scare quotes.
This is exactly the problem with talking science informally. When we use words like 'see', which are everyday words used outside of their scientific definition, we have to enclose them in quotes when we are describing a well-defined phenomenon that is outside the non-scientific connotation. To a scientist, seeing with photodetector made of organic molecules (and signal transmitters) tuned to be sensitive between about 400 and 700nm is no different than seeing with an x-ray detector made of inorganic materials (and electronic components) that are sensitive to much higher frequencies.
 
  • #39
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This is exactly the problem with talking science informally. When we use words like 'see', which are everyday words used outside of their scientific definition, we have to enclose them in quotes when we are describing a well-defined phenomenon that is outside the non-scientific connotation. To a scientist, seeing with photodetector made of organic molecules (and signal transmitters) tuned to be sensitive between about 400 and 700nm is no different than seeing with an x-ray detector made of inorganic materials (and electronic components) that are sensitive to much higher frequencies.
And yet Feynman made a distinction and so do I. I said we probably would never agree on what an observation is.
 
  • #40
arildno
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And yet Feynman made a distinction and so do I. I said we probably would never agree on what an observation is.
It doesn't follow from this, however, that anything goes, and hence, personal convictions of the existence of God have any place within our assemblage of observations.
 
  • #41
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I think its refreshing to see scientists that arent stuck in an antireligious mindset, just as it is refreshing to see religious people that arent stuck in an antiscience mindset. The two extremes are equally damaging to science.
 
  • #42
Gokul43201
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And yet Feynman made a distinction and so do I. I said we probably would never agree on what an observation is.
Yikes! Please do not use your interpretation of Feynman's conversation with non-physicists as a reproduction of his scientific definition of an observation. And that too, from a book written for a general audience.

Moreover, if you actually look through a copy of Surely... you'll see immediately that the passage you quoted before is a paraphrase of the portion from the book - it is not a real quote.
 
  • #43
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I think its refreshing to see scientists that arent stuck in an antireligious mindset, just as it is refreshing to see religious people that arent stuck in an antiscience mindset. The two extremes are equally damaging to science.
Do you really think so? I'm curious about specific scientists that are antireligious, who have done as much damage to science as the religious authorities have.

From the trial of Socrates for poisoning the minds of the youth by having them question the traditional Greek gods, to the desecration of Copernicus' grave and persecution of Galileo (and censorship of all scientific work for the next 2 centuries that referenced any of Galileo's results), to the ousting of Leclerk from the Sorbonne, to the slandering of Darwin and Bertrand Russell (to say nothing of all those other scientists like Descartes and Newton who had to keep any works that clearly opposed scripture unpublished, out of fear of persecution), we've know of hundreds of cases where science-opposing religious authorities have caused immense damage to science. Can you provide comparable examples of religion-opposing scientists that have caused "equal" damage?
 
  • #44
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Do you really think so? I'm curious about specific scientists that are antireligious, who have done as much damage to science as the religious authorities have.
Yes i think its poison from the inside.

Can you provide comparable examples of religion-opposing scientists that have caused "equal" damage?
The vile treatment of ID is of course a shame on science and any scientist involved in it. I remember a guy was mistreated by some smithsonian people for publishing an article about ID.
Also i think Dawkins and other people whove spoken out against religion and used science as a tool have turned many people against science. Exaggerating the facts also damages the reputation of science. I dont know specific numbers, but ive read that a significant number of people in the USA think evolution is garbage.

And suppose ID is true, and suppose the universe and life were created, who knows how many decades (or centuries) antireligious sentiments have managed to stall scientific progress. We dont have the privilege of hindsight yet.
 
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  • #45
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Yikes! Please do not use your interpretation of Feynman's conversation with non-physicists as a reproduction of his scientific definition of an observation. And that too, from a book written for a general audience.

Moreover, if you actually look through a copy of Surely... you'll see immediately that the passage you quoted before is a paraphrase of the portion from the book - it is not a real quote.
Give me a break Gokul43201, I said where the original could be found. It appears that you read it. Is it not as I indicated? He calls electrons a theory because no one had ever seen one.

If you do an experiment in which electrons hit a scintillation counter and you write up the results for a journal, what do you write:

1. In 1 hour I saw 5 electrons hit the scintillator.

2. In 1 hour I saw 5 flashes in the scintillator.

I argue for the second one. The problem with the first one is that it mixes theory up with fact. Surely no scientist can be faulted for reporting the actual observation.

By reporting that mesosours are observed to be 65 million years old, you may feel that you have put young earth creationists in their place. Now you can say that they are not criticising theory, they are criticising observed fact. But what have you done to the army of dedicated scientists who worked so diligently to get the real facts and come up with the great theories that honestly went into that number?
 
  • #46
russ_watters
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I didn't read this thread initially because I don't know what "bifurcation means [ :redface: ], but....
I don't know how someone can believe simultaneously that something they are studying is millions of years old, having occurred on a planet they believe is only 10,000 years old. It seems at least a little dishonesty must be involved, either in what he is willing to admit to the public about his beliefs, or in what he is trying to force himself to believe.
I agree.

My boss is a strange bird who holds some very strong religious beliefs, yet somehow manages to be a pretty good engineer. I've learned to avoid discussions with him where this might be an issue, but every now and then one sneaks up on me. He looks for alternatives to Relativity because he doesn't like the Big Bang (no, he doesn't own a gps receiver....), and once he brought a creationist leaflet into the office. Gawd, it was awful - lies, misrepresentations, misdirections - you know, the usual. It is amazing to me how someone who on other subjects appears almost brilliant can have such cognitive dissonance/"doublethink".

I don't really have an answer to your question, but I think (in his case, anyway) it really is just cognitive dissonance and the power of belief. I liken it to Pons & Fleischman of cold fusion - they didn't set out to be frauds, but the power of their desires and beliefs (in themselves, in this case) overrode their scientific sense. Eventually they crossed-over, but that may have been mostly a matter of being trapped by their own mistakes and not being strong enough to break away from them. Bob Park's book "Voodoo Science" discusses where that line is and how it gets crossed. It's a toughie, though.
 
  • #47
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It doesn't follow from this, however, that anything goes, and hence, personal convictions of the existence of God have any place within our assemblage of observations.
I don't see how you could confuse my statements as implying "anything goes". I am saying the exact opposite. You should not report that you saw something unless you actually saw it. Experience is the yardstick by which to measure. Nothing goes unless it measures up.
 
  • #48
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The vile treatment of ID is of course a shame on science and any scientist involved in it.
Complete horse puckey! There is nothing scientific about ID. The day they can present solid evidence supporting their speculation rather than the "It's just too hard for us to understand the actual evidence" view that they currently argue with is the day they'll earn credibility among scientists.
 
  • #49
Moonbear
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... I don't know what "bifurcation means ...
It means splitting in two. :smile:
 
  • #50
verty
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The vile treatment of ID is of course a shame on science and any scientist involved in it.
The only point that needs to be made is that ID is not science. Criticisms of the relevance of science are perfectly acceptable, but pretending that something unscientific is scientific is not. ID does not belong in science textbooks and it does not belong in the science classroom. I don't see anything wrong with having it appear in a religion classroom.
 

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