God and cosmology

Well, no, a designer is a non-starter, for the reasons I laid out previously, so we need a large number of trials if the conditions for life are unlikely.

A large number of trials with different physical parameters is an expected consequence of inflation + high energy physics.


Yeah, I don't think you read what I wrote. Please try again.


What? That makes no sense. Nobody is suggesting that this narrow range of parameters is somehow "special", only that even if other ranges of the parameter space exist, it would be impossible for anybody to observe them.

You mean "expected" as like things String Theory "expects"? Anything observational backing this up?

From the wiki on inflation:

At present, however, whilst inflation is understood principally by its detailed predictions of the initial conditions for the hot early universe, the particle physics is largely ad hoc modelling.
and

One of the most severe challenges for inflation arises from the need for fine tuning in inflationary theories. In new inflation, the slow-roll conditions must be satisfied for inflation to occur. The slow-roll conditions say that the inflaton potential must be flat (compared to the large vacuum energy) and that the inflaton particles must have a small mass.[55] In order for the new inflation theory of Linde, Albrecht and Steinhardt to be successful, therefore, it seemed that the universe must have a scalar field with an especially flat potential and special initial conditions.
oh, and Susskind specifically refers to the parameters of our universe as "special". Penrose does the same. I'll show you videos if you don't believe me.
 

Chalnoth

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Who says that religion and science are incompatible?
Pretty much everybody who has thought about it seriously. Religion relies upon divine revelation to determine what is true and false (e.g. many forms of Christianity rely upon the Bible, which is believed to be divinely inspired, to determine the truth or falsity of statements). Science relies upon rigorous investigation and skepticism. Those are two entirely incompatible ways of determining the truth or falsity of statements.
 
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Well, as I said earlier, design isn't even on the table. It's a complete non-starter. I don't think anybody seriously considers the anthropic principle in any way related to design. In serious circles, the only two alternatives considered are whether the specific low-energy physical laws can be uniquely predicted from a theory of everything, or whether the theory of everything is prolific. To me, a prolific theory of everything seems vastly more likely (not least because we already seem to see some evidence of spontaneous symmetry breaking).
Well, since evolution basically threw Pailey's teleological argument out the window, many people tried to shift the need for design to the universe as a whole. How can it be that the laws of physics are just right to allow atoms to form stars which in turn create the elements needed for biochemistry etc (their argument not mine). So people used the anthropic principle as a (scientific) counteragrument. My point was that the anthropic principle in its strong form is no more scientific than the argument for design, and in its weak form doesn't really address the problem. Of course, as I said before, you might argue that there's no problem to begin with.
 

Chalnoth

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You mean "expected" as like things String Theory "expects"? Anything observational backing this up?
Even the standard model of particle physics includes spontaneous symmetry breaking. No need to go to speculative theories about physics beyond the standard model.

oh, and Susskind specifically refers to the parameters of our universe as "special". Penrose does the same. I'll show you videos if you don't believe me.
There are a number of facts about our universe that demand explanation, such as the incredibly small (but apparently non-zero) value of the cosmological constant. What that explanation is is still open, though I strongly suspect a prolific theory of everything, for a variety of reasons.
 

Chalnoth

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How can it be that the laws of physics are just right to allow atoms to form stars which in turn create the elements needed for biochemistry etc (their argument not mine). So people used the anthropic principle as a (scientific) counteragrument.
Well, I'm not talking about what people use in the public sphere here. I'm talking about within the scientific community itself, where design isn't even considered because it's a pointless argument to begin with.
 
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I'm not talking about the public sphere either, I'm talking about philosophy, where the anthropic principle is most commonly debated.
 
Pretty much everybody who has thought about it seriously. Religion relies upon divine revelation to determine what is true and false (e.g. many forms of Christianity rely upon the Bible, which is believed to be divinely inspired, to determine the truth or falsity of statements). Science relies upon rigorous investigation and skepticism. Those are two entirely incompatible ways of determining the truth or falsity of statements.
I love Chuck Berry. I like what John Lennon said about him. "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." If you tried to give science another name, you might call it Francis Bacon. He comes into your post a lot here. First sentence,

Pretty much everybody who has thought about it seriously.
Bacon: "God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world."

Which is what you are doing.

If truth relied only on divine intervention, then there would not be any religious scientists. Nor would deeply religious people like Bacon and Alhazen have laid the groundwork for the scientific method. Neither of us probably know anything about theology/comparative religion so I don't know what all these religions say is the only truth anyway. So that should be, as you say, a non-starter.

The only thing we can do is look at the actions of religious people, because without them, religion doesn't exist. Religion only lives through them. And religious people are a diverse bunch. Just look at American Christians. You got everybody from Ted Kennedy, Francis Collins, Pelosi, Obama, etc.. to Pat Robertson. How about the English? Jane Goodall is a Christian and sees purpose in the life she studies. Richard Dawkins is an atheist and doesn't see any purpose in the life he studies. It is a philosophical view of the world and has nothing to do with science, or hinder science, when done correctly.
 
Pretty much everybody who has thought about it seriously. Religion relies upon divine revelation to determine what is true and false (e.g. many forms of Christianity rely upon the Bible, which is believed to be divinely inspired, to determine the truth or falsity of statements). Science relies upon rigorous investigation and skepticism. Those are two entirely incompatible ways of determining the truth or falsity of statements.
Wrong.

Atheism is a religion which does not rely on divine revelation.
 

Evo

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Regarding God and cosmology:

I am an agnostic that tends towards atheism but have found myself defending religion on more than one occasion. My issue with your prototypical, every-day atheist is not that I believe he/she is wrong, rather my issue is with their argument.

If the argument is ever pushed into the "origin of the universe," the atheist inevitably will cite the Big Bang or will use some other grand cosmological argument to prove the non-existence of God. They'll start talking about string theory, multiple universes, blah blah... The person is obviously a layman on such an issue and is simply parroting what he/she heard last week on the Discovery Channel.

Now, clearly, clearly, the atheist is accepting the truth of these cosmological arguments completely on faith. He/she has NO idea how physics arrived at those (speculative) theories and has never tinkered with a single equation. They are completely ignorant to all of science except, apparently, they can sweep away God by citing theoretical physics. They cannot believe that a man walked on water, but can believe that multiple universes exist. Ok... They both sound equally fanciful to me.

It would be a safe estimate to say that most people are laymen when it comes to these theories, but yet, if it is branded with "science," they will all accept it with almost no question. It seems that the popularizations of theoretical physics have just as much sway over these people as a preacher does with his/her congregation.

Now, please do not misunderstand my writing. The atheist I have mentioned is the average kid at the local coffee shop or bar that I've argued with before, not a trained scientist. Further, I am not trying to say that these theories are wrong or are nonsense, I am just pointing out that your average atheist is wielding arguments that they believe true only because somebody told them they were true, which -- ironically -- is exactly the kind of submissive mentality that they claim to hate.

I am not advocating strict empiricism. I'm not the guy who refuses to believe in atoms just because I can't see them myself. What I am advocating is a little bit of healthy skepticism.

Finally, I do not think it is science's job to either prove or disprove God, and I firmly believe that any scientist who actively tries is a deluded fool. If the theists say that there is a God, the burden of proof falls on them; hence, science should not waste its time with this "disproving God" drivel. While science can spur interesting problems in both philosophy and theology, neither philosophy nor theology belong in the natural sciences.
 

DaveC426913

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How is it not?
Quite simply, an atheist does not hold any beliefs on faith.

You are thinking atheists say "I believe there is no God". They do not; they simply say "I do not believe there is a God". It's not the same thing.



As an aside, I wonder how many atheists would be delighted to be proven wrong....

[Personal speculation]
See I don't think atheists want there to not be a God. What they want is truth, whichever outcome it is. If God were proven to be true, that would actually be the best possible outcome for an atheist, since they can now know the answer to the God/no God mystery.

Note that it also means any given athiest is not a card-carrying atheist; they would immediately update their world view to match the facts. A rare case where being "fickle" is a virtue.

And that's why it's not a religion.
[/Personal speculation]
 
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Quite simply, an atheist does not hold any beliefs on faith.

You are thinking atheists say "I believe there is no God". They do not; they simply say "I do not believe there is a God". It's not the same thing.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion

re⋅li⋅gion  /rɪˈlɪdʒən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA
–noun 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
7. religions, Archaic. religious rites.
8. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow.


Would atheism not fall under the bolded descriptions? Or is the definition of 'religion' too broad?
 

Gokul43201

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chalnoth said:
But without any evidence whatsoever, it makes the statement "a god exists" an unreasonable one to hold.
By the rules of physics yes. By the rules of theology no. There are religions which are based on the fundamental belief that there are truths in the universe which cannot be proved and must be accepted on faith, and faith alone, and that only by accepting certain statements without any evidence or rationale, can one be saved.
By your own construction (t-q), within the religions you speak of, the existence of a god (if that is one of the "truths" you refer to) is to be accepted on faith alone, and can not be deduced through reasoning. Ergo, it is unreasonable.
 

Evo

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How is it not?
Oxford dictionary

www.askoxford.com

religion

• noun 1 the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. 2 a particular system of faith and worship. 3 a pursuit or interest followed with devotion.

The best explanation I've seen for a theist to understand that an atheist simply doesn't care and doesn't believe is here.

The broader, and more common, understanding of atheism among atheists is quite simply "not believing in any gods." No claims or denials are made — an atheist is just a person who does not happen to be a theist. Sometimes this broader understanding is called "weak" or "implicit" atheism. Most good, complete dictionaries readily support this.

There also exists a narrower sort of atheism, sometimes called "strong" or "explicit" atheism. With this type, the atheist explicitly denies the existence of any gods — making a strong claim which will deserve support at some point. Some atheists do this and others may do this with regards to certain specific gods but not with others. Thus, a person may lack belief in one god, but deny the existence of another god.

Unfortunately, misunderstandings arise because many theists imagine that all atheists fit this most narrow, limited form of the concept of atheism. Reliance upon dishonest apologists and cheap dictionaries only exacerbates the problem. So, when someone identifies themselves as an atheist, all you can do is assume that they lack belief in the existence of any gods. You cannot assume that they deny any gods or some particular god — if you want to find out about that, you will have to ask.

Why do these errors occur? Why do some theists insist that the broader sense of atheism simply does not exist? Possibly some theists feel that since they are claiming the existence of their god, then anyone who does not agree with them must be claiming the exact opposite — a serious misunderstanding of not only basic logic but also how human belief systems operate.
continued...

http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/a/whatisatheism.htm
 
... 3 a pursuit or interest followed with devotion. ...
Doesn't this apply to atheism?

I realize that they don't care about and don't believe in God, but is a diety necessary in the definition? Judging by the third entry it's not.
 

Evo

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Doesn't this apply to atheism?
No, because an atheist doesn't care, has no interest, doesn't think about...

Did you read the article I posted, that will explain the misconception theist have about atheists.

I think some people mistake a true atheist for someone that is anti-religion, not the same thing.
 

Gokul43201

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Definition 3 would put many of my hobbies and most of my work under the religion column. I consider that too broad (or circular, if you then have to carefully define the word 'devotion'). Oxford has three definitions for 'devotion', two of which concern religion, but the third applies perfectly to my hobbies and work.
 

apeiron

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I think some people mistake a true atheist for someone that is anti-religion, not the same thing.
I think it has to be admitted that fundamentalism has a way producing fundamentalism - its the social version of the law of action and reaction. So the response to fundamentalist religion has been the emergence of a fundamentalist science - people like Dawkins funded to push an institutional view.

This sets up boundary maintenance mentality that, for example, makes it more difficult to be a systems scientist in this day and age. You either have to sound like an orthodox reductionist or you get lumped with the "unscientific" infidel.

Fundamentalism of any stripe narrows the mind.
 
Atheism for most people is just a fact of life, not something they think about and define themselves by. So, I would say that most atheism is not a belief in most cases.

A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
However, I would say the new atheism movements like Dawkins leads, are a religion or creed. It is not simply an absence of belief in God, but a pro-active alternative belief system with its own values and dogma. Atheism is becoming more organized, profitable, and dogmatic. Sound familiar? It is also largely centered on group think.

This type of atheist, like the communist and the Christian, is convinced that time is on his side and the world is ripe for conversion.

I agree with EO Wilson who said:

"The three great religion categories of today are Marxism, traditional religion, and scientific materialism."
 
I think it has to be admitted that fundamentalism has a way producing fundamentalism - its the social version of the law of action and reaction. So the response to fundamentalist religion has been the emergence of a fundamentalist science - people like Dawkins funded to push an institutional view.

This sets up boundary maintenance mentality that, for example, makes it more difficult to be a systems scientist in this day and age. You either have to sound like an orthodox reductionist or you get lumped with the "unscientific" infidel.

Fundamentalism of any stripe narrows the mind.
Funny thing is, for all of Dawkins' chest beating about science and evidence. He has produced so little for his own work. Memes anyone? Extended Phenotype? None of these things are even testable. Dawkins reminds me of Freud, he just talks. Tells stories. Gives explanations that can't be tested. His favorite are these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-so_story

Oh, and the gene isnt the unit of selection(reductionism at its finest), so the premise of most of Dawkins' work is wrong anyway.
 

Gokul43201

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Fundamentalism of any stripe narrows the mind.
Could you define fundamentalism, and for extra clarity, whatever you would call the opposite of fundamentalism?
 

Gokul43201

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However, I would say the new atheism movements like Dawkins leads, are a religion or creed. It is not simply an absence of belief in God, but a pro-active alternative belief system with its own values and dogma.
I haven't read any of Dawkins' books, so am unschooled in his religion. Could you please let me know what the fundamental beliefs/doctrines of his movement are?
 
I haven't read any of Dawkins' books, so am unschooled in his religion. Could you please let me know what the fundamental beliefs/doctrines of his movement are?
Basically that atheism can save the world. It is the best, most moral, and most advanced lifestyle for humans to embrace. And those who dont embrace it should be smeared. Which is what the movement is all about. Demonizing the other side. Sounds familiar again, huh?
 

apeiron

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Funny thing is, for all of Dawkins' chest beating about science and evidence. He has produced so little for his own work. Memes anyone? Extended Phenotype?
Spot on. His talent is as a populariser - the doyen of a new vocation, the "science communicator". Like any good PR person, he latches on to brand message.

Memes is an excellent example of where he is actually weak as a scientist. It was doubly egregious that he was trampling over existing science - ie: Vygotsky and social constructionism.
 

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