Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Science and Faith Dialogue

  1. Jan 7, 2006 #1

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Do atheist scientists such as Richard Dawkins merely knock down "straw men"?

    Following an article in the Radio Times:
    Madeline Bunting, in the major British secular newspaper "The Guardian": No wonder atheists are angry: they seem ready to believe anything
    Garth
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2006 #2

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Richard Dawkins is perfectly correct; religion does pose a serious threat to the world.

    Religious individuals today demand that I respect their belief in an entity they have absolutely no evidence of existing. They could equally well have demanded of me that I should respect a madman's conviction that he is Napoleon or a teapot.

    Effectively, what is demanded of me is to respect that other humans choose to throw away their reasoning faculties. I'll never respect them for doing this. Period.
     
  4. Jan 7, 2006 #3

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A good example of Bunting's argment from that 'Guardian' link perhaps?
    Garth
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2006
  5. Jan 7, 2006 #4
    In science it is generally fairly clear what the official line is, and what is the work of crackpots. This is not so in religion, and as a consequence many arguments put forward in support of a religious viewpoint are pretty daft. I think that Dawkins' arguments aren't particularly persuasive - he doesn't seek out sensible theological arguments to battle against. However, I can't say that I really blame him for this - what is the point of putting together a rational argument if the majority of your opponents are not particularly rational. Hence I can understand why his viewpoint is more of 'Enough of this nonsense!'
     
  6. Jan 7, 2006 #5

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Again, a good example of Bunting's thesis.

    Yes, there are crackpots all over the place, but there are also deep thinking theologians who wrestle, and have wrestled for hundreds of years, with the deep issues of meaning and purpose in a capricious and painful world.

    There may indeed be many irrational opponents, but engage with the rational ones instead; they may not be shouting so loud, but that is all the more reason to listen out for them! Rejecting the "straw men" irrational arguments, which are so easily dismissed, does no credit to a worthwhile polemic.

    Garth
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2006
  7. Jan 7, 2006 #6
    One can ask why Dawkins tends to see the crackpots as representative of religion. I think that the answer is probably that they are the ones who pester him the most.

    More to the point, why does the media see Dawkins as representative of atheism. After all, promoting it isn't his 'day job'.

    My answer to that would be that academic philosophers, who should be the people to look at such questions, are failing in their job and make things more obscure rather than clarifying such issues for the general public.
     
  8. Jan 7, 2006 #7

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A very good point.

    Garth
     
  9. Jan 7, 2006 #8

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Islamic astronomers didn't use the Quran when mapping the heavens.
    In fact, that book (as well as the Bible) is utterly worthless as a guide or source of information in such studies.

    So, I don't see the relevance of this counter-"argument".
     
  10. Jan 7, 2006 #9

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You can argue that the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all with an understanding of God as a law giver were predisposed to search for laws in nature as well as in ethics and morality. There may have been other influences too from their faith culture as I suggest here.

    Garth
     
  11. Jan 7, 2006 #10

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Sure you can argue that, but when it comes to ethics and morality your argument is simply wrong. Those issues has preoccupied all cultures, and your insinuation that this is not so is a typical chauvinist attitude.
    Secondly, if you haven't noticed it already, the notion of "God as a law-giver" makes the actual search after laws not already given by God into a rather subversive activity.

    As for searching after laws of nature, that was expressly forbidden by all these three religions, so they certainly do not deserve any credit for the eventual discovery of such laws.
     
  12. Jan 7, 2006 #11

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Of course they have preoccupied all cultures, I have not said otherwise. However the concept of Torah was/is fundamental to the Jewish faith and was inherited in a revised form by Christianity and Islam.
    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
    Galileo Galilei
    Well I have a good knowledge of the Christian Religion and a working acquantance with the other two - and I have never come across any such prohibition, instead I read "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" Mark 12:29-30 quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I use my mind to discover the laws of nature, which IMHO I see as God's laws of creation.

    Garth
     
  13. Jan 7, 2006 #12

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    You know perfectly well that that citation of Galileo shows that the dominant intellectual climate he lived in was hostile towards free-thinkers like him, on basis of their interpretation of holy scriptures.

    He had to defend himself against accusations from the Church establishment that he was an intellectual subversive through his studies.

    Since you are commanded to love God with ALL your mind, that doesn't leave much space in your mind for critical thinking, does it?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2006
  14. Jan 7, 2006 #13

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That is an interesting point - you obviously believe that "to love God with ALL your mind" is inconsistent with critical thinking - whereas I do not.

    Garth
     
  15. Jan 7, 2006 #14

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Well, you're not actively having thoughts of loving God when doing any sort of scientific research, or, for that matter, any other normal mental activity.

    Thus, your mind is not fully occupied with loving God.
     
  16. Jan 7, 2006 #15

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I disagree, I believe that a person can love God by studying his works in creation. For example, it is well known that in his astronomical research, Kepler only wanted to, as he put it, "think God's thoughts after Him."

    Garth
     
  17. Jan 7, 2006 #16

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    If Kepler had said anything differently, he would have shared the fate of his mother.
     
  18. Jan 7, 2006 #17
    This is a pathetic argument! Science has always made it known that it doesn’t have all the answers, I only wish religion would step up and say the same about the scriptures they force down the throats of their followers; that they are not divine and the word of God.

    I find it odd that Richard Dawkins would concede this point. I think she may be twisting his words here, because as far as evolution is concerned we are very much freak chances of evolution in an indifferent universe.
     
  19. Jan 8, 2006 #18

    PerennialII

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The extreme arguments, both from science and religion, appear as much fallacious .... faith and science don't need to step on each others toes so there is room for both.
     
  20. Jan 9, 2006 #19

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Why should one make room for faith? :confused:
     
  21. Jan 9, 2006 #20

    Garth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The theist interprets the Anthropic concidences ("The world is as it is because we are. Stephen Hawking), apparently necessary to make this unverse propitious for life, by saying:"The universe is as it is because God made it so".

    The atheist replies: "That 'argument' may satisfy you because you have faith, I don't. Show me your God and I'll believe you, but you cannot. No, the probability that this universe is propitious for life may be a million to one but there are a million or more other universes (Living in the Multiverse Steven Weinberg) and we are in this one because we can be in no other - it is a selection effect."

    To which the theist responds: "That 'argument' may satisfy you. Show me one of these other universes and I'll believe you, but you cannot. You have faith; it is just a matter of what you are prepared to put your faith in."

    Garth
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Science and Faith Dialogue
  1. Faith in Science (Replies: 38)

Loading...