Is Science Becoming a Religion?

  • #26
Andre said:
Great thread Reasonmclucus, I'd liked you to show up a bit more in the Earth section.

I'd prefer to call global warming a cult more than a religion. Delicate difference. There are a lot of similarities.

A. (Anthropogenic) Global warming is as impossible to prove as the existence of a deity.
B. Only blind faith in the climate science respective high priest is required to be good.
C. As we all are convinced that it is true, it becomes true.
D. neither climate change nor deity are falsifiable. Climate change has always been true of course.
E. There is a distinct enemy to fight, Lucifer, the satanic gasses, Exxon, the sceptics.
F. having enemies strenghtens the social bonds, which strenghten the determination to defeat them.

Some literature:
http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote04.html [Broken]
http://www.ncpa.org/hotlines/global/pd040201e.html [Broken]
http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4139

Thanks. I haven't been able to find enough time for forums lately and have been spending some time in political forums. I have found that starting threads is a good way to have other things come up which prevent me from participating in them.


Your use of the word "cult" might be more accurate considering that cults are often narrowly focused. The disadvantage to the word is that the media tend to use it to refer to organizations like the Branch Davidians that are centered around a strong personality.
 
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  • #27
mathwonk said:
no threads on religion.
The thread uses religion in a functional sense in terms of how it uses ideas rather than as specific doctrines of different religious organizations.
 
  • #28
selfAdjoint said:
Absolutely not true. Evoltuionists have tons of evidence for evolution including controlled loaboratory experiments with bacteria and many observed instances of speciation. You can only support non-evolutionary schemes by ignoring this evidence.



see http://www.talkorigins.org/
Have any of these controlled experiments result in some biological entity developing a complex feature such as legs, eyes, etc.?

That is the issue in origin of life. How could biological entities develop sophisticated systems like eyes, ears, brains, etc.? Changes in minor characteristics that might lead to becoming separate species aren't the issue.

The debate is too often structured primarily in terms of whether or not some intelligence might have produced biological life rather than in terms of how life developed. A potential problem in this debate is that an intelligence could produce biological life by structuring the physical system so that biological life would automatically develop when appropriate conditions were met and change in response to changes in conditions.

If an intelligence is responsible for biological life it is likely that the intelligence would not produce life by making complex entities fully formed the way creationists believe. The intelligence would be more likely to establish a process for such development. The process suggested by evolutionists would be one possibility but might require too much direct intervention to be attractive.

The only logical possibility I can see for development of life without intervention of an intelligence would be for some type of cell to be able to both acquire DNA, and possibly change it, and store it in a nucleus until it had accumulated a set of DNA capable of developing into complex multicelled organisms. Bacteria are known to be able to acquire DNA across species lines. Some botanists have suggested that some plants may be able to acquire DNA from other plant species -- one of the arguments against genetically altered crops.
 
  • #29
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explain to me what god/s i made of...or is this unimportant in any religions scheme?
 
  • #30
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Science is similar to religion. It has the same "great expectations" of religions (paradise), it has a form of "prayer" which is "studies, mathematics etc." , it has a somewhat similar look down on common mortals who don't know the high priest art of the scientist. But at least science "kind of works" so it has a much higher practical value.
 
  • #31
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It is more accurate, I think, to say that science is similar to theology, from which it originated, utilising the same methods but altering the underlying asumptions. Religion is something a little different to either, although of course there are no clear boundaries between these three things.
 
  • #32
vanesch
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oldtobor said:
Science is similar to religion. It has the same "great expectations" of religions (paradise), it has a form of "prayer" which is "studies, mathematics etc." , it has a somewhat similar look down on common mortals who don't know the high priest art of the scientist. But at least science "kind of works" so it has a much higher practical value.
Sports is similar to religion. It has the same "great expectations" of religions (paradise), it has a form of "prayer" which is "training, competition etc." , it has a somewhat similar look down on common mortals who don't know the high priest art of the sportsman or woman. But at least sports "kind of works" so it has a much higher practical value.

Art is similar to religion. It has the same "great expectations" of religions (paradise), it has a form of "prayer" which is "studies, expositions etc." , it has a somewhat similar look down on common mortals who don't know the high priest art of the artist. But at least art "kind of works" so it has a much higher practical value.

Politics is similar to religion. It has the same "great expectations" of religions (paradise), it has a form of "prayer" which is "voting, manoeuvering etc." , it has a somewhat similar look down on common mortals who don't know the high priest art of the politician. But at least politics "kind of works" so it has a much higher practical value.

[...]
 
  • #33
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No doubt you are right about the stupidity of George Bush. But the idea he is religious in some way is clearly absurd. Your three bullet points suggest that you must have a strange idea of what religion is. Do you mean Bible-belt creatonist Christianty? If so please don't generalise from such a small and atypical sample.
 
  • #34
mathwonk
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sorry. late night rash post.
 
  • #35
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Wikipedia has an interesting essay about science and religion.
 
  • #36
Canute said:
It is more accurate, I think, to say that science is similar to theology, from which it originated, utilising the same methods but altering the underlying asumptions. Religion is something a little different to either, although of course there are no clear boundaries between these three things.
Good point. In early civilizations the same individuals handled both religion and science. The religious leader was also the healer, literally. The "shaman" knew what plants, etc. could be used to treat various medical problems. If the society paid attention to the stars, it was the religious leader who was the astronomer. Even the Greeks had the same basic group dealing with religion/philosophy and what we call science(although some of them did tend to emphasize theoretical discussions over actually examing physical reality.)

Primitive societies didn't have the necessary economic strength to support two separate groups of intellectuals. Europe developed an economy that could support more intellectuals allowing development of two different groups to investigate religion/philosphy and examination of physical reality. The European economy even had the ability to support multiple religious groups with leaders who didn't have to have another means of support.

By the late 19th Century some of those who studied physical reality(i.e, scientists) decided they could determine religious truths simply by physical studies, which is in and of itself a religious belief. Some religious leaders also decided they could make definitive statements about physical reality.

Some scientists decided they could, just be examining physical artifacts, determine if God created the universe/life or it just somehow happened. Some religious leaders decided that they could explain how God created life just by reading Genesis, which merely says God did it without saying how.
 
  • #37
Andre said:
Wikipedia has an interesting essay about science and religion.
Thanks for the link. I'll try to find time to read the complete essay this weekend.
 
  • #38
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I think we are mistaking religion as a possible substitute for science. I think that it is in fact just a theorum. An early an rather crude attempt to explain the world around us. It has since it's creation been overtaken by more realistic and substantiated theories but because of it's lousy substantiation it cannot possibly be disproved so it still sticks around.
 
  • #39
Nerro said:
I think we are mistaking religion as a possible substitute for science. I think that it is in fact just a theorum. An early an rather crude attempt to explain the world around us. It has since it's creation been overtaken by more realistic and substantiated theories but because of it's lousy substantiation it cannot possibly be disproved so it still sticks around.
Empirical science is a better way of studying physical reality. Empirical science uses repeated experimentation and observation to verify concepts. Unfortunately some who study physical reality want to go back to reliance on faith that certain concepts are valid.

For example, empirical science cannot verify how life might have come to exist or even if it developed on earth rather than being brought here from some other planet. Incidentally, there are groups who believe that their ancestors came from another planet. Most of the basic explanations for origin of life/the universe that are supported by "scientists" originally developed in religion.

North American accounts talk about one species changing to another. The Hopi accounts talk about past mass extinctions caused by fire and ice each of which has gained some support among "scientists". The idea of the Big Bang was originally mentioned in the work "The Secrets of Enoch" which is probably the original source of the Genesis account of creation.
 
  • #40
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reasonmclucus said:
The idea of the Big Bang was originally mentioned in the work "The Secrets of Enoch"
This is untrue. Fundamental ideas of the Big Bang include, but are not limited to: the idea that there is a spacial expansion that has been occuring for an extended period; the principle that the redshifting that occurs to an object's light should be a function of its distance from the observer; the idea that the universe has changed as time has progressed consistent with what is known about modern physics.

Nothing is mentioned in the book of enoch about any of these things. Therefore, the big bang is clearly not mentioned.
 
  • #41
vanesch
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reasonmclucus said:
Empirical science is a better way of studying physical reality. Empirical science uses repeated experimentation and observation to verify concepts. Unfortunately some who study physical reality want to go back to reliance on faith that certain concepts are valid.
Purely empirical science is just as silly an activity as purely theoretical armchair science: the first one just fills laboratory notebooks without ever trying to formulate general principles, and the second one just generates general principles which are unverified experimentally. That's why true science is the combination of "pure armchair theory" combined with "empirical lab science".
To keep the whole endeavour interesting for the kids, we tell them we're trying to find the meaning of live, the universe and everything and make nice posters of that - this is what science has in common with religion: communication propaganda ! Usually religion is better at it.
However, science is better at falsifying wrong ideas. Religion never learned to cope with that: formulate general principles, derive measurable consequences, do experiments to falsify them ; repeat.
The result of this iteration for a few hundred years now resulted in some general principles of which we know they work well within a certain scope, which give us a certain picture of the world from which to make nice posters for the kids, and of which we know that they are incomplete. That's just good enough to let us fantasize about the meaning of life, the universe and everything, without knowing for sure.
And 500 years from now, that will still be the case, with more advanced general principles, of which we STILL don't know if they are universally valid, but of which we know that they have a large scope of validity. And which will allow us to make even nicer posters for the kids, explaining them the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
But there is one fundamental difference between science and religion, and that's the following: a general idea, no matter how nice, that doesn't work in the lab, is put aside. Maybe not immediately on the first experiment (the experiment can be wrong, one may have overlooked something...) but if it is systematically found wrong, it is put aside.
That never happens in religion. There, the experimenter is burned.
 
  • #42
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To echo Vanesh, here's a quote from a great physicist:

The ultimate goal of physics is to describe nature and predict phenomena. It is impossible to do this starting with a priori theories; we would be stymied after a few steps, and every error would be compounded and would send us further from the right path. On the other hand, using experiments alone, we would soon be lost in a bewildering array of disconnected facts without any hope of making sense of them. It is the combination of theory and experiment, brought about by the use of mathematics as a language, that permits the astounding results physics has attained. It is Galileo's immortal accomplishment to have clearly understood the power of this alliance and to have indicated ways of achieving it.
[p. 61, Chpt. 4, From X-Rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and their Discoveries, Emilio Segrè, (1980)]
 
  • #44
Locrian said:
This is untrue. Fundamental ideas of the Big Bang include, but are not limited to: the idea that there is a spacial expansion that has been occuring for an extended period; the principle that the redshifting that occurs to an object's light should be a function of its distance from the observer; the idea that the universe has changed as time has progressed consistent with what is known about modern physics.

Nothing is mentioned in the book of enoch about any of these things. Therefore, the big bang is clearly not mentioned.
Enoch mentioned the basic event of an bursting of a black hole. Other concepts that have been associated with the concept of a Big Bang are not essential to the concept itself. There was an article in Scientific American this past winter by someone claiming that people who didn't support his concept of "cosmic expansion" somehow didn't understand physics itself which is ridiculous.

A black hole wouldn't need to "explode" or "expand" to produce the universe. A spinning black hole could become destabilized and begin releasing jets of material in a spiral fashion.

There are two possible explanations for the perceived red shift of light from distant sources. One is that it indicates the relative motion of the source of the light to the earth at the time of emission. The other is what is sometimes called the "lazy light" explanation -- the distance between light pulses or waves increases over very long distances.

There is no way to verify either theory. A common misinterpretation of the first explanation is that the greater red shift of the most distant galaxies indicates the rate of expansion of the universe is increaing when simple math indicates the data shows any expansion must have slowed over time. The red shift would indicate the velocity at time of emission and thus a decline in velocity as time increases would indicate expansion has slowed.
 
  • #45
vanesch said:
But there is one fundamental difference between science and religion, and that's the following: a general idea, no matter how nice, that doesn't work in the lab, is put aside. Maybe not immediately on the first experiment (the experiment can be wrong, one may have overlooked something...) but if it is systematically found wrong, it is put aside.
That never happens in religion. There, the experimenter is burned.
Real scientists recognize that they can make mistakes. In fact sometimes making a mistake may a good way to find the correct answer in the long run because the "mistake" provides an initial way of looking at what is being studied. Some complex mathematical equations can only be solved by making an initial guess and then using the error to move toward the correct answer.

As Bill Russell once pointed out about athletes: "Athletes who don't make mistakes are probably not trying hard enough." The same applies to scientists.

Unfortunately some scientists fail to recognize that scientists can make mistakes especially when initially studying some phenomenon when data are limited. This is the situation I mention regarding embryonic research. At one time it made sense to believe that embryonic cells were needed to produce new cells. However, research during the last 15 years has demonstrated that adult stem cells can be used to produce replacement cells and don't have the potential problems of rejection of foreign tissue. Some do not know how to accept this new information because they take a religious approach to science -- initial assumptions are facts and should be blindly accepted.

Religion likes things simple and easy to understand and looks for miracles and magic. A single magical one size fits all cell that can become anything anyone wants it to be and cure any disease. Science accepts complexity and recognizes that one size fits all seldom does. Different situations may require different solutions.
 
  • #46
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Amen, Amen, and Amen.

reasonmclucus said:
Real scientists recognize that they can make mistakes. In fact sometimes making a mistake may a good way to find the correct answer in the long run because the "mistake" provides an initial way of looking at what is being studied. Some complex mathematical equations can only be solved by making an initial guess and then using the error to move toward the correct answer.
Amen!

reasonmclucus said:
As Bill Russell once pointed out about athletes: "Athletes who don't make mistakes are probably not trying hard enough." The same applies to scientists.
Again, Amen!

reasonmclucus said:
Unfortunately some scientists fail to recognize that scientists can make mistakes especially when initially studying some phenomenon when data are limited. This is the situation I mention regarding embryonic research. At one time it made sense to believe that embryonic cells were needed to produce new cells. However, research during the last 15 years has demonstrated that adult stem cells can be used to produce replacement cells and don't have the potential problems of rejection of foreign tissue. Some do not know how to accept this new information because they take a religious approach to science -- initial assumptions are facts and should be blindly accepted.
And, once again, Amen!

reasonmclucus said:
Religion likes things simple and easy to understand and looks for miracles and magic. A single magical one size fits all cell that can become anything anyone wants it to be and cure any disease. Science accepts complexity and recognizes that one size fits all seldom does. Different situations may require different solutions.
Yes, but by definition: the simplest must be the most complex.
 
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  • #47
brunardot said:
Yes, but by definition: the simplest must be the most complex.
Right. Unfortunately some don't realize that. Embryonic cells for example, are complex which may explain part of the problem with some of them producing cancerous cells. Scientists once believed that an individual received half the DNA from one parent and half from another. Then the cell began developing.

Recent research indicates that DNA received from parents is in a compact form. It has to be modified during the embryonic stage. One modification they have discovered, in addition to turning individual genes on or off, is the addition of sections of what once were referred to as "junk DNA" called retrotransposons. This process should be understood before attempts are made to try to convert embryonic cells into cells for use in adults. Instead embryonic cell researchers want to jump right in and make embryonic cells appear to be specific adult cells without waiting to understand the process.

For example, what causes these retrotransposons to be inserted where they are inserted. Is it determined by an "instruction" in the DNA itself or is it caused by the chemical environment in which the embryo is developing. If the latter, then mixing human embryonic cells with mice cells might result in this DNA being inserted in places appropriate for mice rather than humans.
 
  • #48
Icebreaker
A scientist who think another is wrong does not declare war with one another. That is why science is not becoming a religion.
 

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