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God AND Physics?

  1. Aug 27, 2005 #1
    A lot of my physics friends talk of god in such ways that leed me to believe that they believe in him/her/it (whichever) but im not so convinced. It has always been my understanding that it is one or the other, how could one beileve in god when we ourselves understand most of what is happening around us and we are working toward the rest. I mean no disrespect or ill will to any religious poeple but i was just wondering how can you be a man of science and The Church?

    I was just wanting some insight from both sides of this argument

    ( i wasnt quite sure if this thread should even be under this topic but i felt it was most appropriate)
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  3. Aug 28, 2005 #2


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    Science and religion can mix, but usually not well.

    Proof of the God of Miracles comes from Saint Thomas Aquinas, Troubled by the inconsistencies in the church ideology, he, in the 13th cntury, decided to raise the level of theological debate from the vagueness of mythology to the intense rigor of logical thinking. He proposed to solve the questions of God's existance. He even put it in an easy to remember poem!

    Things are in motion, hence there is a first mover.
    Things are caused, hence there is a first cause
    Things exist, hence there is a creator
    Perfect goodness exists, hence it has a source
    Things are designed, hense they serve a purpose

    The first three lines are variations of what is called the cosmological proof, the forth argues on moral grounds; and the fifth is called the teleological proof. Moral proof is by far the weakest, because morality can be viewed in terms of evolving social customs.

    When scientists refer to God in a non-theological way, they are refering to the the God of Order. Einstein, in writing, fondly called him "The Old Man."
  4. Aug 28, 2005 #3


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    Well I personally don't believe they are mutually exclusive. Other people certainly think they are but eh... its weird. Most sensible religious people realize that religion and faith is meant to try to explain things that is impossible for science to explain. I mean science can't really tell us what happened before the big bang (as far as i know its impossible) or if there is a divine being and if life is pre-determined. The reason there is this science vs. religion thing is because some people think that various religious books are out to teach us how the world works. For example, there was some crap about a city wanting to legislate Pi to equal 3 because there was something rather ambiguous in the bible about something being 10 cubits in diameter and 30 in circumfrence. Well some people take this to mean that pi must be 3 and they go off and say it. Some people see these people and they attack them and say God must not exist because they believe the Bible is wrong.

    So this is what you have, one side taking something for what its not suppose to be (a bible as a textbook) and another side opposed to the idea of God. Add in human nature and you just have some stupid ideology war. Some people are just nuts. Even for example, the heads of the Catholic Church don't object to the idea of the big bang. Some people are just looking for fights i guess.

    Like this whole evolution vs. creationism debate. I'm not really sure how the idea that DNA can change means that there is no God. Some people seem to be damn sure though! And of course... if God does exist, im pretty sure he can make the world seem like whatever he wanted it to seem. He made the laws, he can change them I suspect, he can do the impossible. If he does exist... well im pretty sure it can be beyond us to prove he exists if he wants us to not be able to. I just sit back and wait for the answer to come to me. I suppose im not really enthusiastic about dieing but I guess there is a plus side to it! You get the answer to one of the more annoying questions in life. But then again if a certain side is right, we wont really get to know we're right lol.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2005
  5. Aug 28, 2005 #4


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    The question turns on monism, the belief that there is only ONE explanation/cause for anything. If monism is true then one of the following seems to result:
    1) God is the cause/explanation and science isn't
    2) Science tells the cause/explanation and it isn't God.
    3) Science tells the cause/explanation and it is God.

    In item 3, God would be a consequence of scientific analysis, which seems to deny Christian doctrine (faith in things not seen) and Islamic doctrine (God's unknowability), and possibly Jewish doctrine (God's unrepresentability?). So no Abrahamic God. What about Buddhism and Hinduism?
  6. Aug 28, 2005 #5
    To answer the original question, I just do not mix religion and science together at all. One is a matter of knowledge that is proven and the other a matter of faith. There is not point to believeing if you have no faith.
  7. Aug 29, 2005 #6


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    I don't think if I understand you well. You say your physicist friend talk in a way that they believe in God, but then you ask whether it's possible to be a scientist and church man at the same time. Well as you know some people believe in God but they aren't religious.
    Anyway religious people say that if there's a God, for sure he's not left humans without giving them a plan for their lives. So if there's A God, there should be a religion.
    Anyway I don't know why some people say that it is impossible to be a religious scientist. Perhaps we find some false claims in holly books. But whenever we talk to religious people about them they say we still don't know everything about the world and when we discover all the fact about nature and universe, we'll be able to understand the Bible and other holly books. On the other hand they believe in miracles and say God is able to do everything. So it's not strange for them if someone would be born of a virgin.
    I don't think there's anything wrong with it, as long as they don't want to oppose new discoveries. So I really want to know what would be wrong with a religious scientist if they exist.
  8. Aug 30, 2005 #7

    Tom Mattson

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    My my, but haven't you all been busy lately?

    We don't host discussions about specific religions here, either pro or con. I've just given this thread a giant enema, and I expect it to stay dogma-free from now on. I could have issued enough warnings to get a few of you banned, but I refrained. But if this thread turns into another Christian debate, I will go back and issue them.

    Now don't make me turn this car around! :grumpy:
  9. Aug 30, 2005 #8
    While I certainly support the policy, I don't know how one can discuss religion without being specific. Perhaps it would be better not to discuss religion at all?

    In our culture, any debate about religion is a debate about Christianity. I have never seen an American or European atheist debate with a Muslim. And of course many atheists happen to be Buddhist!
  10. Aug 30, 2005 #9

    Tom Mattson

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    We do, in fact, have a ban on religious discussion here at PF. This thread probably should not have been allowed to proceed, but unfortunately we missed it. :redface:

    However, for the sake of the precious few philosophical points (such as those made by Mk and selfAdjoint), I didn't delete the whole thread.

    We do allow philosophical discussions of the general concept of god (ontological, cosmological, teleological arguments; idealist metaphysics; etc.)

    So on that note, let me throw in my $0.02:

    I think that the question of the coexistence of god and science is trivial. If "god" is taken to be an all-powerful, creative, intelligent being, then in principle I don't see how it could be in conflict with any scientific knowledge. I mean, this god (no matter whose god it is) could simply choose at any moment to suspend natural law and cause what humans would recognize as a "miracle".

    I really don't see how this discussion is philosophically interesting, but hey that's just me.
  11. Aug 30, 2005 #10


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    So finally you saw this thread! :cry: I was surprised that nobody hadn't closed this thread and somehow happy! Becaus you even don't let we talk about religion in general, but this thread was about a specific religion! :bugeye:

    I agree with that. And well I think this thread was a good experience. I always thought why you don't let us to discuss religion, although I knew it would be something like fighting instead of discussing. The problem is that I don't know why people can't let each other to believe in whatever they want. We're human and we're free to think in a way we want. And un/religious people should learn to be tolerant of each other.
  12. Aug 31, 2005 #11
    There are inherent limitation to the questions science can ever answer. I don t belief in god, but i can understand why people might find comfort in one.
  13. Aug 31, 2005 #12
    Strange that you do have a ban on religious discussion. Science and its methodologies are quite religious after you go back to about the 3rd or 4th definition of religious. You say that if God is all-powerful etc... then you don’t see how it could be in conflict with scientific knowledge, then Im guessing the ban is just for practicals considerations ie the typical arguments between purely first definition religious minded people and strictly science-minded types. I agree its huge waste of server space to keep these kind of one-sided arguments on file, but I guess I don’t see how either side is any worse than the other. Both mindsets that create (re-create) the arguments Im referring to are closed to large extent. One says OnlY SCIENCE such as I/WE understand it, the other says ONLY RELIGION such I/WE understand it. Personally I cant see why its difficult to acknowledge from a scientific mindset that if it is a consideration (such as religious) that it must be something that can at some point be put into scientific terms. Perhaps those specific terms haven’t yet been established,(perhaps we should have a little patience and realize that just because we haven’t explained something doesn’t mean we wont or cant) but in that notion, is the challenge. From a religious mindset I cant see how one can avoid considering that if all things that exist are the work and will of a supreme being or GOD, and that science clearly does exist at least to some extent, then all of the rest of it (science not considered valid) must in some way be valid, unless one is to believe that there exists phenomena ( from physical to mental etc) that is not valid and not created by the God. Thats a huge contradiction to the original premise and there must be a solution. Finding the solution is the challenge.
    All of everything that we can consider no matter what the angle of our perspective exists in the realm of mind. The bottom line problem that I assume is responsible for the prejudiced ban on religion is a perspective, or perspectives that are somehow closed.

    So isn’t creating a ban closing some point of consideration or perspective? It seems that in that somewhere are the grounds for similar problems.

    If server space consumed by redundant debating is a problem perhaps selective and strict termination of such conversation based on certain established conditions should be used instead. What do you think?
  14. Aug 31, 2005 #13
    (I hope discussing forum policies on religion doesn't qualify as religious debate)

    I agree with you that, from my understanding of the forum rules, this thread shouldn't be allowed. But I don't understand why you deleted most posts and kept the whole thread. I see nothing in the remaining posts that is less religion-laden than whatever else was left.

    This is just my personal opinion, but I don't see any post here that is not addressing "philosophical" points from a Western/Christian perspective. Where is Nirvana mentioned? Reincarnation? Karma? Enlightenment? Shouldn't a philosophical debate on religion address those religious concepts just as well?

    In other words, the god of the bible, right? See what I'm saying?

    Neither do I. If God can be whatever you want, then the concept is meaningless and not worth talking about.
  15. Aug 31, 2005 #14

    If there is a god then it cant be whatever anyone wants it to be, it can only be what it is. Abandoning an arguement out of frustration or of thinking its futile is understandable, but its certainly not in the direction of arriving at a solution, unless its temporary. Perhaps a tempory solution is all thats desired here.
  16. Aug 31, 2005 #15


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    Sure, if you start out with the promise anything goes (everything's possible, which the positing of the all-powerful God implies), then of course, nothing can ever be in "conflict" with scientific knowledge either.

    In fact, crocodiles that turn blue and climb into trees to sing might exist as well.
    What a wonderful world that would be! :smile:
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  17. Aug 31, 2005 #16

    Tom Mattson

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    Yes, that's my point. That's why I think this is trivial.

    As for the comments from Vossistarts and Johann:

    It's OK to discuss our policies, but it should be done in the Feedback and Announcements Forum. All I'll say in response to your posts is that we used to have a Religion forum (it's archived, in case you want to thumb through it). It didn't work out so well, so now we don't host that sort of thing here anymore.
  18. Aug 31, 2005 #17

    Les Sleeth

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    I see another possbility.

    If the "one cause" is some uncaused, forever-existing "base substance" that possesses dynamics which might spontaneously form consciousness, and if that consciousness were to evolve for zillions of eons, then it might learn to work with its own "base substance" in creative ways. And if one of the things it learned was to generate a long series of steps which establish what we now call "physical," then science is the explanation for all the steps that lead from physicalness to the point of generation, but isn't the explanation before/after that. Even then, if it is as I suggest, God (if you want to call the evolved consciousness that) is only the cause and explanation to the point of its own origin, and then we are back to the monistic concept that something neutral possesses dynamics which can accidentally cause consciousness to form.

    Well, it gets more interesting and less trivial if God is not all powerful, but is instead a consciousness that had a beginning and has evolved over a vast period, and if the unfolding of our universe (particularly in the corridor from the Big Bang to now on Earth) reflects the same sort of evolutive dynamic which developed the evolved consciousness. Since the universe is law-bound, we'd have to assume the creationary consciousness is as well. And while we don't need the concept of a creationary consciousness to explain how physics works, we might need it to explain certain aspects which are too creatively formed to be explained by any known physical principles (like the origin of life and the emergence of consciousness in biology).
  19. Sep 23, 2005 #18
    Think about this: the "founding fathers" of modern science were deeply religious theists, not atheists. Why, for instance, would a rational investigation of nature be successful? Because a rationally orderly God created the universe. (Nature consistently operating in mathematical patterns would especially be confirmative for this belief.) Indeed, many of the founders of modern science were Christians trying to demonstrate that humanity lived in an orderly universe.

    Consider what Eugene Wigner says in his oft-quoted paper The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences:

    A theist can be a physicist easily (as Newton was) because theism straightforwardly explains why we find sophisticated mathematical patterns imprinted in the universe.
  20. Sep 23, 2005 #19


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    For sure someone's beliefe has nothing to do with his job. But the question is whether physicists can accept what religion says about universe ?
  21. Oct 10, 2005 #20
    In my opinion the logical ordered universe is more of an indication that God didn't create it than that he did. Most scientists who believe in God see the hand of an intelligent designer in its logic and order, I feel just the opposite. Most religions were created when the laws of the universe weren't known and it was believed to be a place of magic and chaos. I think that model fits a creator much better than the logical universe that we know today. Take the concept of heaven for example. It is inherently just the opposite of the ordered universe, a metaphysical place. Why would the creator create an orderly logical universe when it could create an analog of the concept of heaven for his soul forge? It's like attributing bathroom graffiti and the Mona Lisa to the same artist.

    Religion has evolved to accept science over the years but as we know more and more of the universe, religion is rebelling against science because they are becoming incompatable in the fanatical (read that born again and fundamentalist) religious view. You can see that happening everywhere but worst of all for the world here in the US. The cause I think is that deep down, fanatics have doubts about their beliefs and they react by trying to stifle anything that challenges those beliefs, namely science like evolution, and try to impose their beliefs on others. Fanatical religion is a sickness, a disease and it's spreading. :devil:
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2005
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