Does religion have greater “epistemic authority” than science in some areas?

Take a look at this article by Tom Clark at Naturalism.org; it’s about the misguided notion that in some areas faith can give us genuine answers to questions before which science is impotent.   This is the NOMA (“nonoverlapping magisteria”) refrain that we hear constantly from organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the National Center for Science Education, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Are there “ways of knowing” that are not only unique to faith, but provide real answers about the nature of the universe?  I have long thought  that this notion is completely misguided, a conclusion reached in the article. A snippet:

A popular rationale for such respect is that science and religion don’t conflict since science can’t evaluate religious claims about the supernatural; it’s only concerned with the natural, material world. This suggests that religions have epistemic authority when it comes to the supernatural. Some recent statements about the relationship of science and religion make this point:

Science is recognized internationally as the best way to find out about the natural world. But the natural world is not the only thing that human beings ask questions about…[M]ost people believe that there is a universe or world or something beyond or other than the material one, which is populated by gods, spirits, ancestors, or other non-material beings. Science doesn’t tell us anything about this world; this transcendent world is the provenance of religion. – Eugenie C. Scott, Evolution vs. Creationism, p. 47, original emphasis.

Because science is limited to explaining the natural world by means of natural processes, it cannot use supernatural causation in its explanations. Similarly, science is precluded from making statements about supernatural forces because these are outside its provenance. Science has increased our knowledge because of this insistence on the search for natural causes.  – National Science Teachers Association, in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science p. 124

At the root of the apparent conflict between some religions and evolution is a misunderstanding of the critical difference between religious and scientific ways of knowing. Religions and science answer different questions about the world. Whether there is a purpose to the universe or a purpose for human existence are not questions for science. . . . Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.  – National Academy of Science, also in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, p. 58

These statements suggest that faith-based religions, or more broadly, non-empirically based worldviews, might have domains of epistemic competence, for instance in knowing about the supernatural, paranormal or astrological. This in turn suggests that there might be reliable and objective understandings of these domains, lending support to the idea they actually exist. In the last quote above, the National Academy of Science (NAS) contrasts religious and scientific ways of knowing, and says science can’t pronounce on the nature and existence of the supernatural. This implies that religious ways of knowing can, and might be authoritative in confirming its existence the way science is when describing nature. But this is exactly what should not be conceded. By implying non-empiricism might have some epistemic merit as a route to objectivity in certain realms, the NAS and other science-promoting organizations miss the biggest selling point for science, or more broadly, intersubjective empiricism: it has no rival when it comes to modeling reality in any domain that’s claimed to exist.

Note that Eugenie Scott’s quote (she’s director of the National Center for Science Education) clearly implies — if not states outright — that religion is able to tell us something true about the transcendent world.   Really? What is that?  Can it settle the question of whether Jesus or Mohammed was the real prophet? (Note that the Qur’an states flatly that anyone believing  Jesus to be the divine prophet will burn in hell for eternity.)  The “claims” of all major faiths are in direct conflict, so what are the “truths” they tell us?

Thanks for Tom Clark and Ophelia Benson for calling this to my attention. And be sure to bookmark Ophelia’s site, Butterflies and Wheels.

111 Comments

  1. newenglandbob
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Religion has never provided even one answer to any question better than the fourth toe on my left foot.

    There is no conflict between science and religion because religion is nothing but fear, fantasy and wishful aspirations. Non-starters can not win a race.

    I used to be a fan of Eugenie C. Scott, but no longer. She is now too involved in magical woo nonsense.

    • jsfb
      Posted June 14, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      That passage in her book is not an endorsement, but an introduction into a comparative analysis and overview. You word your statement as if she actually endorses magical thinking as practiced by the pseudo-science community. What does “too involved” mean? If you are comparing and contrasting, you need to be “involved” enough to know what the claims and positions are. Maybe you should dig a little deeper and not let one quote lead you to poor quality conclusions.

    • newenglandbob
      Posted June 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      I have heard other correspondence of hers and she seems to be leaning towards accommodationism. I have also heard her criticizing others in speeches.

      • jsfb
        Posted June 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        That is vague enough I can’t know what you mean but it seems a bit far from thinking she believes in the “magical thinking” aspects of these world views. Her task (as a pro-science education activist) is to try and keep politicians from adopting laws that are blatantly idiotic from a scientific point of view. In so doing it would make perfect sense to try and NOT turn them off such that they patently reject her secular arguments on emotional grounds. If you don’t think her strategy has merit ok, but do you actually think she believes that supernatural stuff in some way? Is it her strategy you object to, or that she is hypocritical or something else? I would argue based on her writings she doesn’t believe the supernatural/magical thinking claims, and for her political purposes is simply trying to not be overly confrontational.

      • newenglandbob
        Posted June 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t say she believes in it, I said she is too involved with it.

        If she does not want to be confrontational (your claim, not mine) then she should stop criticizing those who are actually making a difference such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers, Coyne, et. al. These are the people who (IMHO) are helping people see the rational and helping them abandon religion.

      • jsfb
        Posted June 14, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        > If she does not want to be confrontational (your claim, not mine) then she should stop criticizing those who are actually making a difference…
        The non-confrontational reference I made is simply a stance to theists who are in control of school boards etc, not to atheists. Her goals may not be to get people to abandon religion, but abandon mixing religion with science which is far more achievable and pragmatic of her. Would you suggest she stop?
        You never really described what “too involved” in woo actually means. Now, what specific kind of criticism she levies at atheists do you take issue with? Sam Harris certainly has things to say about approaches on the subject, as well as others. EVERYONE is subject to criticism, but what particular issue does she take, that fairies are REAL? If she is running around talking about chakra balancing as a valid endeavor than I’m with you. I think not. Sam Harris talks about contemplative practice as NOT requiring that we pretend to know what we can’t for it to work. Rejecting meditation outright (for example) isn’t necessary according to him. Is that too much woo? Anyway, I think Dawkins himself admitted that his approach probably wouldn’t go well in front of a school board and has acknowledged that there isn’t just one way of addressing magical thinking and its consequences. Ms Scott has a very specific group to which she tries to convince, and taking a similar approach as Hitchens for example would undermine that stance, don’t you think? Maybe you don’t, and you would rather she just shut up?

  2. Colin Walls
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Ignoring things like Gettier clauses we can take a simplistic view of knowledge as “justified true belief”.

    Methodological naturalism provides justification, thought this will always be under-determined by the data. We can’t claim truth since we are using induction, verisimilitude is the best we can do. So we take a modest view of scientific epistemology.

    Religion can claim little in terms of justification or truth, the best it can do is deduction from premisses based on authority.

    And the one thing one should be aware of is “existential import”. One shouldn’t reason about classes such as gods, spirits and non-material beings unless these classes can shown to be non-empty.

    • Posted June 14, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Colin,

      I hear this nonsense all the time about how science can’t claim that it’s theories are true. But if you can claim p, you can claim “p” is true, simply because “p” is true if and only if p. So you must be saying science can’t claim anything at all. But that’s clearly nonsense, as I said.

    • Sir Gnome
      Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, and I wonder how many will acknowledge that these sorts of constraints on scientific knowledge are more critical of and beneficial to scientific inquiry itself than of “religion,” the holy “other” of Atheist derision/book-sales.

      Even outside the domain of logical and observational constructivism, what happens when emerging empirical data itself tends to support a more humble view of scientific epistemology? Does it validate hard-line, fundamentalist religious beliefs? As far as hyperbolic slippery-slope fallacies, hardly. But the nuances are far more important than lay-scientist observers (Atheists) will ever admit, and not the least when the discourse is overwhelmed by so much political and social polarization because of the rote “science vs. religion” wrestling match and its numerous charlatans, demagogues, and transparent bigots (Ditchkins et al).

    • DagoRed
      Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      “verisimilitude is the best we can do.”

      …and to place this comment in context, its worth adding, that this is the best we can hope for in any endeavor — from the most mundane example, like picking up a rock on a path and “knowing” its truly a rock, to the most profound pondering about dimensions outside our 3D perceptions. I think a better point to note is that science is actually capable of establishing truths (even if they are “only” verisimilitudes) as true as any other knowledge we claim to know about our environment, but that everything known through science does not have the same level of knowable conviction connected to it. Its a gray scale from “known” to “unknown” — and science is also very good at knowing what level of comparable conviction of knowledge is appropriate. No other formalized human practice — including religion or any metaphysical noodling — produces this effect as far as anyone can demonstrate.

  3. Posted June 14, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    ISTM that religion gives meaningless answers to meaningless questions. Followers of religion then elevate these meaningless questions to “ultimate” status. They then criticize science for failing to answer these “ultimate” questions.

  4. rideforever
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Science might be great but it hasn’t discovered everything yet.

    Should a man who was living 10,000 years ago make no conclusions about the world because no scientist has research it yet ? Of course not, he didn’t wait for science to “discover” anything, he just lived. Reminds me of the idea that the Americas didn’t “exist” before the Europeans “discovered” it.

    There is a clear difference between the idea that Science can discover all there is, and that Science HAS discovered all that there is. Evolution is 4,000,000,000 years old and the Indus Rev was 100 years old … I think you are asking a bit much of Science to have worked everything out at this point.

    Scientists currently suppose that there may be 11 dimensions present. So what is happening in the other 7 that we cannot directly experience because our sensory organs only detect 4. Maybe incredible things are happening in the other 7 dimensions, energies, communication, who knows what.

    Who are you to say there is nothing there, spiritual people think there is something beyond the basic 4 dimensions … why don’t we just call that a working hypothesis.

    Spirituality is just a process of trying to understand your life and not putting false barriers up … like “I am not interested because science hasn’t discovered it yet” – I mean, just go back to watching the TV. You aren’t interested in anything.

    And spirituality is a search for yourself. Many people don’t reflect on their lives … for instance it is easy when looking in the mirror to say “that’s me”. But it’s not; actually your body is an ecosystem of many organisms. So at the very least it’s not JUST you, it’s you and a lot of other organisms. Common mistake. And what exactly are you ? Your body ? Your mind ? Your consciousness … it’s intersting to think about … it puts a different slant on things. Spirituality is intersting isn’t it.

    But you don’t sound like you are interested, because you are waiting for someone else do tell you who you are and what your life is (a ‘scientist’ perhaps). Rather than taking ownership for your life and looking for yourself, inside yourself, and make systematic conclusions about what you find.

    Or … do you want someone to tell you who you are ?

    “Science” – well a lot of people hate religion and use science to blow the big Religions out of the water. That’s just anger, not “science”. Yes Religions are bad, and for the same reasons as your “science” … in that people want Religions or Science to tell them who/what they are without looking for themselves. If that’s the level of your interest in your life, you don’t deserve an answer – get off your butt.

    Your discussion on Truth uses a lot of long words. What Truth exactly are you looking for – to win an argument ? That’s just ego. If you want to know the Truth about your Life perhaps you would switch the computer off, sit down and think about your Life … welcome to Spirituality.

    • Ged
      Posted June 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      “Science might be great but it hasn’t discovered everything yet.”

      Did someone make that claim? I can’t figure who you are aiming this at?

      “Rather than taking ownership for your life and looking for yourself, inside yourself, and make systematic conclusions about what you find.”

      What does that even mean?

    • Posted June 14, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      “But you don’t sound like you are interested, because you are waiting for someone else do tell you who you are and what your life is (a ’scientist’ perhaps). Rather than taking ownership for your life and looking for yourself, inside yourself, and make systematic conclusions about what you find.

      Or … do you want someone to tell you who you are ?”

      That sounds like a definition of religion to me.

    • andyo
      Posted June 14, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Sigh… yes, we don’t know everything… but we DO know A LOT.

      Most supernatural claims already are at odds with what we DO know. You wanna give credence to those, you gotta give the same credence to the claim that pretty much all we know about physics and nature is wrong. Do you? Where’s the evidence for that?

      And the string theory gambit (now a fad it seems, quantum mechanics doesn’t cut it anymore with woo) is disingenuous. Why aren’t string theorists and other 11-dimensionists proposing the same things as you do? Where are the quantum physicists supporting Deepak Chopra?

      The reason more dimensions are being proposed is not out of thin air. Extra dimensions are needed precisely because they know what should happen in them that we don’t see in the detectable dimensions.

    • Hameer
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:59 am | Permalink

      Well said rideforever. For most people on this and the RD.net website, it’s about winning arguments to appease their egos and to convert people in to atheism, no different from evagelically fervent believers. No one wants to sit still and ask life’s deepest questions.

      It’s funny how they equate the notion of something beyond materialism philosophy as being akin to believing in unicorns but higher dimensions and multiple universes are okay because they support the current physical models in physics; even though they may be gibberish at the end of the day they are considered seriously. But the notion of a Mind behind the universe is laughed at. Hilarious!

      I am an agnostic and I think Coyne is being silly. I wish Steve Gould was alive, he would have enjoyed blasting these naive militant atheist.

      Peace out.

      • DagoRed
        Posted June 19, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Oh Goodie! The cheerleaders and whores are arriving…

  5. Barry Trask
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Have you noticed that these non-testable “truths” to which religion supposedly provides insight are so often called “higher truths”? That really bugs me. I have taken, in my correspondence with the faithful, to referring to them as, at best, “lower truths”–not actual truths, but some sort of inferior grade of “truth” the reliability of which cannot be tested. There is of course a simpler word, “falsehoods,” but that’s harder to work into the discussion…

    • newenglandbob
      Posted June 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Barry,

      Stephen Colbert calls it ‘truthiness’. I like the term because it implies that is not the truth.

  6. Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    “Religions and science answer different questions about the world. Whether there is a purpose to the universe or a purpose for human existence are not questions for science.” (Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, p. 58)

    That’s the place where I always smack into the wall. Those questions – whether there is a purpose to the universe or a purpose for human existence – are questions either for everyone or for no one. They are for everyone in the sense that anyone can answer them. They are for no one in the sense that anyone can answer them.

    In other words the answers are just made up – they’re just stories – they’re just speculative. Anyone can do that, and the results are correspondingly unreliable. Make up an answer if you want to, but don’t expect anyone to treat it as valid or universal or even persuasive.

    The implication of course, just as in the Eugenie Scott excerpt, as Jerry says, is that such questions are not for science but they are for Something Else and therefore the Something Else has some kind of expertise in the subject that science lacks. But there is no such expertise. The questions are purely speculative of their nature and no one has any genuine expertise in answering them. Pretend expertise, yes, but the real thing, no.

    Thanks for the plug, Jerry!

  7. Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Ophelia,

    And that’s the sense in which I said they are meaningless. If all, answers are good, then all answers are bad.

  8. Posted June 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Bald ape,

    Quite so. It’s just that there are so many ways to say it, and (perhaps) the more ways one says it the more chance it has to sink in.

  9. Posted June 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, the denser something is, the harder it is to get things to sink into it ;-)

  10. Posted June 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I’d also quibble with the usual but mistaken characterization of science as empiricist – it isn’t, no more than it is rationalist. Hypotheses are *made up*, not somehow magically induced from data. The “empirical” (really, factual) component of science comes in the check of these.

  11. Mr DArcy
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Science is a process, albeit sometimes flawed, carried out by human beings with all their failings. That’s why peer review is so important. The hypothesis that Mohamed flew off to heaven on a winged horse, or that Jesus walked on water are completely untestable. And very probably untrue. Certainly, I put them in the fantasy bracket.

    The bald facts have shown that science, as a process, has produced far more knowledge for humankind, than any religion has ever done. What is “beyond” the natural world is a process of thoughts going on inside a human brain and no more. Or let’s see the evidence otherwise!

  12. keddaw
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    We do not know for definite that the sun was not pushed around the earth at the time the Egyptians believed it, but evidence suggests it probably wasn’t.

    Similarly, we have no way of knowing if religious experiences (visions, touch of the holy spirit etc.) are real from another, untestable, dimension, but if we can show that it is POSSIBLE that these visions can be recreated from purely natural stimulation of the brain then does it not make it more plausible that all religious experiences were naturalistic occurrences within the brain?

    While science cannot invalidate any religious/pseudo-scientific event it can always provide a much more likely natural explanation.

  13. gma
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Science is by definition at odds with any form of superstition (anything not supported by verifiable and falsifiable evidence and this therefore includes religions, alchemy, astrology, …).

    All religions make claims about the “purpose of life”.

    Evolution is a purpose-less process and there is no evidence of any supernatural being that religions claim could give purpose to our lives. Our brains have evolved to the point where we can give purpose to our lives, although a large percentage of mankind seems stuck in their primitive man-made religions.

    In addition, it is absurd to claim that a god (which one?) created the universe 13.7 billion years ago, our planet 4.5 billion years ago, humans some 200,000 years ago, all with us in mind … to let our sun in a couple of billion years from now absorb our planet thereby destroying all life that “she/he/it” (abbreviated to Shit) so purposefully created. Some design! Not!

    Religions and gods are manmade and science has all rights and the duty to call them out as superstition that keeps most of us hostage to dark-age thinking.

  14. fsm65
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Just because you can ask a question, doesn’t mean its worth answering, or even whether an answer exists. Like “is the invisible unicorn pink?” – a completely meaningless question.

  15. Ichthyic
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    …religion is able to tell us something true about the transcendent world. Really? What is that?

    Indeed. Just a little over a week ago, I was over at Panda’s thumb asking the same question.

    The answers I received inevitably were circular in nature. IOW, you wouldn’t even be asking questions like: “Will my dog go to heaven?” if a religion espousing a fictional heaven, and a fictional soul, didn’t exist to begin with.

    so, after several pages of being ad-hominemed at by John Kwok, the answer is that there is none. There are simply no useful questions any specific religion can answer that aren’t based on questions the mythology of the religion itself raises.

    Religion simply cannot, based on its structure, answer any questions about the observable world around us.

    Obviously, this in and of itself, is one of the reasons why science even exists, and the scientific method has replaced religious dogma.

    • James Sweet
      Posted June 15, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I think there are valid *subjective* questions that can only be answered by non-scientific epistemologies, e.g. finding individual purpose and meaning.

      That said, most actual religions are piss-poor at providing decent answers to those questions… For instance, it’s difficult to point to how I “know” that I love my wife (it’s definitely not via science!), but religion doesn’t have much to offer me here either. My reasons for getting married may have had more to do with passion than intellect, but at least it wasn’t because I prayed about it! Yech…

      • Ichthyic
        Posted June 15, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        the issue of feelings of love might not be the best one to relegate to being non-answerable by science.

        IIRC, there have been several studies looking at the evolution of human emotions, dating all the way back to Wilson’s time, and the evolutionary psychology folks have had even more to say on the topic of late.

      • James Sweet
        Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        You misunderstand me. Science is probably the best tool if you want to objectively explain why people feel love. Science cannot tell me that I love my wife. The latter is purely subjective, and while I suppose in theory one could approach it with a science-based epsitemology, I think that would be unwise.

        I mean, seriously dude, when you think you are starting to fall in love, do you go see a doctor to test the dopamine levels in your bloodstream to see whether you are right or not??? heh, I hope not…

        Do you understand what I am saying?

  16. Posted June 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I highly recommend the book “Under The Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer.

    An amazing document and story that will show you the dangers of faith.

  17. Michael Gray
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    “Accomodationism” is the art of lying by omission, (or explicit commission), for perceived short-term political gain against one’s protagonists.

    Some folk do not mind lying in order to advance their long-term cause by sacrificing their short-term integrity.

    I am vehemently against this stance, for 3 main* reasons:

    1) It has been proven to not work.
    4,000 years of this toadying has not achieved any notable advances.

    2) Robust confrontation of the superstitious claims that translate to an effect on reality have worked.
    Coyne has gained more advantage with his no-bullshit approach in the last handful of years, than have the spineless bleatings of the limp accomodationists.
    As I have asked elsewhere: How long do these accomodationst want to have an effect? ANOTHER 4,000 years?
    May the FSM give me strength!

    3) I find it personally morally repugnant that I might be forced to lie, and sacrifice my personal integrity, in order to placate those despicable slime-ball low-lifes whose doctrine compels them to happily thrust eternal torture upon me.

    ____________
    * Of course I have many other very valid reasons for my stance, but if one is able to glibly gloss over these main 3, I fear for their humanity.

  18. sailor1031
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Okay, one more time. Religion is NOT a way of knowing anything. Religion is based on a set of myths and fables made up as explanations for the existence of the world. These tales are made up precisely because the religious do NOT know any truth. The alleged existence of a “spirit” realm is entirely unproven. It cannot be seen, it cannot be detected in any way. To say it exists is merely to express a belief founded upon nothing at all other than the wish that it exist.

  19. ProGod
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I wonder if you have ever thought that your attack on creation is a direct attack on Allah and makes you a kafir. Islam believes that Muslims defending Allah by eliminating kafirs, go to heaven. So please be advised that attacks on Allah will not be received well in the new world order.

    see http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate/kafir.html

    • Posted July 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      This is not news. We already know islam is a religion of violence.

      And I do not care what muslims think. There are no gods, and no allah.

      Threats of violence do not make lies true. Atheists will not be intimidated by such threats.

  20. God Retardent
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic,but I attended the Museum of Natural History in New York
    at the weekend to look at the new human evolution exhibit.
    Great exhibit,well worth going to see but what a embarrassment at the end.
    There was a short movie with Ken Miller. Eugenie Scott(NCSE) and Francis Collins.all groveling to the religious.
    Sorry TOE seems to offend you faith,sorry about the facts and evidence for TOE. But you can still belief in TOE and be religious,just like us
    WTF, why are they apologising for science? When will this religious ass kissing end?

  21. Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I realize that accommodationism, NOMA, however you put it, can be honest.

    But on the whole, in the practical sense, it tends to lead to the dishonest notion that somehow certain human capacities are “non-natural” or “non-material.” This also is something that the IDiots exploit, the sense that somehow our “intelligent designs” are produced beyond “nature” or “the material world.”

    This stems in part from ideas like “morals” are not derivable from the “natural world,” which, in the prescriptive sense, they simply are not. However, the idea that any explanation of morals would need to (or properly could) refer to anything but the “natural world” is absurd.

    The problem turns on language, then. We don’t consider “numbers” or “morals” to be “the products of the natural world” because in many ways they are simply contingent fictions, and, more to the point, it is not convenient to think of them as “products of the natural world.” Yet in the deeper epistemic/epistemological sense they are surely as much a part of the “natural world” as anything that comes from evolved organisms.

    I believe that NOMA tends to survive on entirely inappropriate beliefs about science and the “natural world,” then. While it doesn’t actually entail the belief that anything goes beyond the “natural world” (the “perceptible world” would be more appropriate), it really doesn’t mean anything unless it is supposed that phenomena such as “mind” actually do reach beyond proper scientific subjects.

    Thus accommodationism rests upon that distortion of science and of scientific epistemology–not theoretically, but in actuality.

    Glen Davidson

    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

    • Michael Kingsford Gr
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 4:57 am | Permalink

      …I realize that accommodationism, NOMA, however you put it, can be honest…

      WTF?
      How can short term LYING by omission be classified as ‘honest’?

      Words fail me.

  22. James Sweet
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The distinction that is being missed — and this is so, so very important — is the difference between “truth” and “value”.

    I think that there are non-scientific epistemologies that are “valuable”, even though they do nothing to illuminate objective truth. For instance, to me it is quite clear that my infant son is one of the most attractive and smartest babies the world has ever seen. I place a lot of value in this belief, even though I don’t think I can present any empirical evidence of its veracity. There’s lots of other things that I subjectively “know” based on unscientific epistemologies. As long as I don’t expect anyone else to believe it, I think that’s quite healthy.

    It’s okay to say that some unscientific beliefs — and potentially even religion, if properly corralled — have *value*. It’s just not okay to say that they have *authority* or *truth*, nor to pretend for a second that they have an ounce of objectivity.

    • Posted June 15, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Your definition of *value* is no different from *personal opinion*. I can’t see how this is “so, so very important”.

      Call a spade a spade.

      • James Sweet
        Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Um… yeah, I think that’s what I said.

        When you establish your personal preferences, e.g. in terms of the music you like, the food you like, the people you love, etc., do you conduct a randomized double-blind study to determine whether you actually hold that opinion? Of course not. Science is useful for understanding in general why people like certain music, certain food, love certain people, but it’s a piss-poor tool for you to sift out your own personal affinities.

        Anyway, what I referred to as being “so very important” is the distinction. I do happen to think that it’s important to the human experience to have subjective preferences (is this really a controversial statement????) but that’s not what I was referring to.

        The reason I think the distinction is important is to avoid the “Spock” trap for skeptics/nontheists/etc. When we utterly dismiss alternate epistemologies, without acknowledging that subjective feelings/opinions are not just okay, but are a fundamental part of being human, we are going to far — not because I think we will miss out on the subjective, but because I think one who fails to acknowledge the subjective runs the risk of losing track of which is which.

        To be clear, I’m not disagreeing with Coyne… I’m building on this idea. Irrational epistemologies are worthless when it comes to objective truth — I mean, that’s almost by definition. But that does not mean that irrational epistemologies are worthless, period, and we would be wise to keep this in mind.

  23. thegodguy
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear contributors,

    The only theology undertaking BOTH a genuinely inclusive, unified approach to religious doctrine and can respond to science is that of Emanuel Swedenborg.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

    • Michael Kingsford Gr
      Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      That was a joke, tight?

  24. shadowshide
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Science is able to and does and has examined the “supernatural”. The problem is not with science, it is merely a method to determine how and why things work or are a certain way. It is able at any point in time to say what it knows, how well it knows it and what is does not know.
    Religion, pseudoscience, astrology are all merely examples of either an inability to think or a disinclination to think. None of them provide a definite answer to any question. They do not even get to the hypothesis stage. They can only state what they think they know, do not consider how well they know it and there is of course nothing that they think they do not know.
    If religion would put forward a consistent and coherent hypothesis of god, then science can investigate its logic, reason, predictions and evidence. This applies to all the rest of the lazy thinking areas (pseudoscience, creationism, astrology etc.)
    Science is examining more and more religious claims and disproving them. It has always done this (galileo et al). Now science is starting to examine the “safe” areas such as prayer, and has found that prayer is ineffective.
    Of course at the end of the day, you make a lot of money lying to people, so religion, pseudoscience etc. will probably around for a long time yet. Science will, however, continue to erode it.

  25. Diogenes22
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Tom Clark is making a bad mistake by assuming that the comments he quotes, from Eueenie Scott, the NSTA, and others, imply or suggest in any way that those individuals show respect for or belief in the supernatural.

    I am a life-long heathen with little respect for religion and definitely no belief in god etc. (Anyone ever notice that every one of these beliefs of religion cannot be falsified?)

    To those who think the statements of Ms. Scott et al show respect for religion, I suggest this: re-read them, with the mindset that these are neutral, almost factual statements *which do not suggest that there is anything at all to the claims religion makes about the supernatural*. I’ve written material like this myself, deliberately using ambiguity (but writing accurately and honestly) to allow partisans to draw their own conclusions.

    It could be that those statements are intended to be ambiguous so as not to alienate believers. Or for some other reason. The statements Tom Clark quotes, do not imply belief in or respect for anything supernatural.

  26. MatthaiTheAfairyist
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    To nitpick, Islam does accept Jesus as prophet. Islam can’t accept any sons of Allah, however, being rabidly monotheistic.

  27. Hameer
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    For most people on this and the RD.net website, it’s about winning arguments to appease their egos and to convert people in to atheism, no different from evagelically fervent believers. No one wants to sit still and ask life’s deepest questions.

    It’s funny how they equate the notion of something beyond materialism philosophy as being akin to believing in unicorns but higher dimensions and multiple universes are okay because they support the current physical models in physics; even though they may be gibberish at the end of the day they are considered seriously. But the notion of a Mind behind the universe is laughed at. Hilarious!

    I am an agnostic and I think Coyne is being silly. I wish Steve Gould was alive, he would have enjoyed blasting these naive militant atheists.

    Peace out.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Hameer,

      Your first paragraph is an outrageous accusation, so you should either prove it or retract it.

      Your point about unicorns vs ‘higher dimensions and multiple universes’ does not take into account that there are valid mathematical possibilities for the latter. Additionally, most scientists do NOT take the latter as a given ‘fact’ but as possibilities, unlike religionists who ‘know’ they are correct.

      Also, scientists always allow the introduction of evidence to try to change their minds, unlike religionists whose minds are rigidly made up no matter the evidence.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        People like Paul Davies don’t compare “God” to unicorns. I think its a shameful tactic by atheists to trivialize the most profound question of life!

      • Hameer
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        The “fine tuning” of the universal constants is a consistent with a POSSIBILITY of a rational Mind behind the Universe. Its not any less possible than “multiverses”, “hidden dimensions” and “vibrating strings” (which may all be dead WRONG). Why the arrogant sarcasm when philosophically discussing God?

      • jsfb
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        > The “fine tuning” of the universal constants is a consistent with a POSSIBILITY of a rational Mind behind the Universe.
        The problem with that logic is EVERYTHING is consistent with a POSSIBILITY of a “rational Mind behind the Universe”. The simplest way is “the Mind” got things going with all physics we can ever detect and then stays out of it. (A deistic view)
        The scientific hypotheses that are as yet just ideas are based on prior constraints (body of theory) of what we know works, and must also be consistent with all the prior evidence. It isn’t an arbitrary guess but falls out of the existing working physics. Various free parameters must be determined with NEW experiments to see if they work etc. The problem is that the solutions aren’t unique without more data. However, unlike these, “a Mind” is NOT falsifiable, so it is meaningless to use it as explanatory. It’s a god of the gaps.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        >>However, unlike these, “a Mind” is NOT falsifiable, so it is meaningless to use it as explanatory. It’s a god of the gaps.<<

        Fair enough, "God" is not (yet) falsifiable, perhaps never will be. But neither are (and perhaps never will be) multiverses, higher dimensions and vibrating strings.

        As Lawrence Krauss correctly says, Science is NEUTRAL. To try and associate it with atheism or religion is perverted to say the least. Faith and no faith is ultimately a philosophical issue not a scientific one. It is a personal call. NOMA is an ingenious solution to those who are both scientists and religious.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      PS: Gould did a lot of damage to science with his punctuated equilibrium, spandrels, attack on sociobiology and often his dense, confusing and obfuscational writings where people took opposite views of what he said!.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Gould was a GENIUS little understood by dogmatic atheistic scientists. Plain and simple. After all, what else can you expect from evangelical atheists?

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Gould failed to realize that religion has no authority whatsoever.

        Once again, Hameer, you are applying nonsense accusations. I think you are the one being evangelical here. Its not pure and simple – Gould was wrong and most of the scientific community reject his philosophizing.

  28. Hameer
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectua] grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance. NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions.” (Steve Gould)

    Amen!

    If radical atheists cannot digest the fact that we live in an inherently pluralistic world with diverse viewpoints, then they need to go live on Mars. The world doesn’t need fanatics, be they religious or secular.

    Peace out.

    • jsfb
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Realize though that any claim religion makes about anything that intersects with our natural world, becomes open to scientific question/analysis. This is a major problem atheists have with religion in that they don’t stay on their side of the fence as it were. Bringing it out of a private matter into the public sphere (such as law) especially when it crosses a naturalistic boundary (naturalistic claims like a resurrection etc), IS an overlap with science. That isn’t NOMA is it?

      • Hameer
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        I beg to differ.

        If a scientists like Miller believes in issues of ressurrection, virgin birth etc does that violate NOMA? I don’t think so as Miller is accepting that as part of his faith, not as a result of scientific reasoning. It is a philosophical issue not a sciencetific one. “miracles” by definition violate natural laws defying all scientific explanations, so its pointless rebutting miracles using science. It can be argued for or against on philososphical basis. And while there is no scientific reason to believe in miracles, it does not violates the scientific method if one does believe in miracles as a result of his FAITH. It’s a totally different magisterium hence NOMA stands.

      • jsfb
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 7:28 am | Permalink

        You need to think a little harder it seems. How you come to make a natural claim about the world is NOT the same thing as the claim itself. Any phenomena that occurs in our natural world or is claimed to happen is a valid scientific question. Religion regularly steps into the natural world with such claims, so it overlaps with science. HOW it decides to come to those claims is irrelevant to considering the assertions themselves. The idea that natural relationships we see get violated can be looked at scientifically. “Miracles happen” due to an interventionist personality is certainly a claim about the natural world that has martial effects on it. The claim that a particular miracle happened is a FOUNDATION of some beliefs that if it didn’t happen, invalidates the whole thing. That is some serious overlap because routinely people in some faiths depend on the idea that the natural world is materially changed as a result of their prayers etc. The mere assertion that God exists and interferes with natural processes is a SCIENTIFIC question. If it were NOOVERLAPPING there wouldn’t be such a feature. Science has solutions for many medical conditions, plenty of religious adherents believe GOD will take care of you instead. We can test which method works better over time. How is that NOT an overlap? How does philosophy shrink cancerous tumors for example?

      • Hameer
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        I disagree jsfb,

        If there is a ‘God’ and a miracle did occur (by either God acting on quantum possibilities of nature OR by ways science cannot yet or never will fathom), then it is pointless to debate that issue scientifically as science can never know. It becomes a philosophical issue and for people like Miller, a religious conviction (which is his call to make and does not interfere with Science as an enterprise).

        Science deals with what IS, not necessarily what OUGHT to be or what CAN’T BE, especially if we are talking of a transcendental God who is the very fabric and source of “reality” as we know it.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Hameer, you might think it is pointless but that is what science is all about: investigation, observation, hypotheses, etc. Questioning things is not pointless.

        So magnanimous of you to decide for all that Miller is allowed to discuss an issue, but not others. How simply tyrannical.

        Science deals with what IS, not necessarily what OUGHT to be or what CAN’T BE, especially if we are talking of a transcendental God who is the very fabric and source of “reality” as we know it.

        The first part of that statement is completely wrong – science NEEDS to question to come up with testable hypotheses. The latter part of your statement shows that you are a theist but are hiding because you can not show a transcendental god due to NO evidence at all. You end up with one of the biggest piles of nonsense about your ‘reality’ of a god. Now we see your true colors.

      • jsfb
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        > I disagree jsfb,
        Of course you do, however you ignore the basic concept that religion by it’s very nature makes claims not ONLY about what OUGHT to be, but what IS about natural influences and how people . This is overlap. How is claiming that praying to influence natural events not overlapping with a scientific magisteria?

      • jsfb
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        * sorry, some edits didn’t complete in my last post but the meaning should be clear I hope.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      NOMA has been proven to be a false premise. Gould did not understand at all that religion has no authority on moral values. It has no standing and no reason to pronounce that it knows anything about how one should conduct one’s life.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Well religious mythology aside, religion has a history of extreme barbarism as well as the most profound moral examplery. The ascribed words of Jesus in the Gospels do serve as a guide on moral conduct in addition to most relions’s emphasis on the sacntity of human life and the importance of goodness and virtue. So Gould was right to point out that historically morality and values falls under the magisterium of religion and not science. Science is another magisterium all together.

      • Posted June 17, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        What jsfb and NewEnglandBob said.

        Hameer – you are factually wrong.

  29. shadowshide
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Hameer,
    You are posing questions and making statements, that you state have no proven answer or no proven or logical explanation and don’t need evidence.
    On what basis should I believe anything you say is true, real or correct. Just because you say so (faith) or just because someone else says so (faith)???
    If you are happy to believe any nonsense people speak just because they say they belive it (faith), carry on. You will learn nothing.
    Me I prefer logic, reason and evidence.

  30. Sir Gnome
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Hameer,

    Your posts show thoughtful retrospection and consideration of the logical implications of arguments about religion and science. But this only begs the question, why are you discussing such matters with “Atheists”? Supercilious, I know, but time spent commenting on these sites is time better spent studying the works of far less polarizing or dogmatic perspectives…

    • Posted June 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      You have it backwards.

      Dogmatic means not changing your ideas in the face of new evidence. Atheists are in no way dogmatic – because all we are saying is to theists is “show us the evidence that supports you assertions”, and “here is the evidence that you are mistaken”.

      It is the religionists who are dogmatic. The target of our anger is at this dogmatism.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Dogmatic as an adjective means “uncompromising, unyielding, inflexible, rigid”.

        That’s what radical atheists are , as they assert over and over that the materialistic philosophy is the only valid philosophy because its what we can come in to contact with via our senses. Any thing else is simply “not possible”. They have to have evidence even though they fail to realize that if the “transcendental realm” exists, it cannot be “scientifically investigated” because ultimately it is beyond the physical and the senses. Its like asking a 2 dimensional being to conceive of a 3 dimensional object and universe – its impossible.

        Yet they keep on chanting “evidence…unicorns…evidence… fairies” just like mad men.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        As usual, Hameer is slinging nonsense, putting words in the mouth of others. This is the tactic of people who have no standing and are losing an argument.

  31. shadowshide
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    You seem to be saying you are believing in things that you cannot ever know whether they exist or not. Or whether they have any validity or not. Why bother, when there is so much you can learn about and know.

  32. Sir Gnome
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Hameer-

    Well I warned you, now you’re on your own. The Atheists have it—somehow inductive reasoning can affirm itself without referring to prior, abductive assumptions, and no less than by asserting evidence that exists well outside the horizon of positivist scientific reduction. Somehow. Somehow in spite of centuries of modern philosophical progress since Hume—believing makes it so!

  33. Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Hameer and Sir Gnome – Let’s step back a bit to some first principles. It might help.

    You know you exist. And you have senses to detect some “outside world”. Assuming there is an objective outside world (avoiding extreme solipsism) the only reliable way to detect stuff outside our bodies is through our senses. “Personal revelation” is an unreliable means to determine the cause of events – we need something more.

    From when we are born we make “mental models” to get about in the world, based on our sensory data. Due to the repeatable nature of our experiences we discover there is a consistency about our world. The trick is to get an accurate mental model, that most consistently explains and predicts what is happening out there.

    But you must know that some people hold belief-systems that you strongly disagree with. In fact, some of these people are locked up in prisons and psychiatric institutions based on the bizarre and dangerous nature of their beliefs! How do we avoid their mistakes, and avoid delusions ourselves? The best and most powerful method developed to date is the scientific method – described by Richard Feynman as “what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves”. And the proof of the pudding is in the eating – science delivers – as evidenced by just about everything around you in our modern society.

    You say the “transcendental realm” is beyond the physical and the senses. But theists are constantly claiming real-world effects from this “transcendental realm”. Religion can’t have it both ways – either the “transcendental realm” has physical effects or it doesn’t. Your analogy of dimensionality is pertinent, because a 2-dimentional being IS able to detect a 3-dimentional being – as the 3D creature could pass through the 2D realm and be detected in cross-section. There is NO equivalent detection of the effects of any god.

    To throw away the need for evidence for an assertion is to allow yourself to be fooled. And it is not dogmatic to refuse be fooled, just as it is not dogmatic to refuse to be deliberately injured or infected.

    The “mad men” are the deluded ones whose mental models do not align with objective reality – those who stopped listening to their senses and started listening to non-sense.

    • Sir Gnome
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes, yes, yes—all well and good, even if I don’t agree with the fact that you are suppressing the prior assumption of objective “absolutes” (Kant’s “ding-en-sich”). What I find troubling, as this anti-Existential “new” Atheism thing grinds on, is the viciously antagonistic nature of the discourse. Are there Atheist philosophical perspectives worth exploring in relation to contemporary “Analytic” philosophy? Absolutely! (Whether or not their use of evidence is highly suspect.) But the thing is that so many other things have co-opted the discourse (in some instances outright bigotry and anti-religious demagoguery), that a true and earnest examination of things like “science” and “religion” can’t even occur (for one, because we are already speaking of them in terms of reified, mythical totalities). I’m definitely still agnostic and highly suspicious of this “new” Atheism thing; but were I an Atheist, I would definitely consider the forces surrounding and controlling the discourse itself, rather than its contents, because they seem completely divorced from the actual contents of an *actual* philosophical discourse. In light of the cultural binaries framing the whole matter as some Atheism/science v. Religion/Christianity WWF match, doesn’t that seem like a more informed trajectory for analyzing the subject? Doesn’t that sound more interesting and worthwhile than attacking religion as some dialectical “other”?

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        No, it doesn’t.

        I come to atheism not from a philosphical approach, as most philosophy seems to me nothing more than a form of rarified personal opinion. A much more rigorous view come from information and systems theory – to do with how you get information from “out there” as accurately as possible into this “black box” for subsequent processing into a coherent and consistent data structure with explainatory and predictive powers.

        Yes, there are distinctions to do with deductive and inductive reasoning, but that is just the nature of the limits of what is in principle knowable. It says NOTHING about god.

        Objecting to the tone and not the content (“the viciously antagonistic nature of the discourse”) shows that you are not adressing the central issue of the atheists objections to religion (namely the existence or not of god, and why anyone should think any religion to be true).

        It also ignore the history of deliberate deceptions by the religious camp, the continuous repetition of debunked assertions, the endless strawman arguments, the ongoing lack of any evidence for any real-world claims (e.g. the power of prayer, faith healing, morally superior, etc, etc, etc), the encroachment of narrow interpretations of religion into public life, religious restrictions on medical advances, and so on, and so on. Can you understand why atheists are angry?

        Fuck philosophical discourse!!!

  34. Sir Gnome
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Cyberguy:

    Are you seriously taking a philosophical position against philosophy, but don’t see the contradiction? Even in light of this, you still think Atheism—at least in its contemporary form—isn’t informed purely by ideology? I keep hearing this astounding anti-intellectualism from Atheists, and it is just psychotically self-rationalizing. “Psychotically” sounds pretty hyperbolic, even to me, but not so much once you take account of Atheism’s obsessive ranting about “religion,” Atheism’s object of ressentiment, when it can’t seem to define itself apart from deriding religious folks. Huh. Hope we never meet.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      There is no obsessive ranting about “religion”.

      Atheism is not informed purely by ideology.

      “Anti-intellectualism” – where did that come from? You imagination, certainly.

      You sling untruths Sir Gnome. Straw men, ad hominems, fiction.

      Theists have no substantial arguments as Cyberguy pointed out. You conveniently ignore that and all real arguments.

    • Posted June 18, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      > Are you seriously taking a philosophical position against philosophy, but don’t see the contradiction?

      No, I’m taking a “philosophy does not add new or useful value to the argument about god, because information theory is a much better way of thinking about it” position against it.

      > Even in light of this, you still think Atheism—at least in its contemporary form—isn’t informed purely by ideology?

      Atheism is NOT informed by ideology, just a disbelief in god. What ideology?

      > I keep hearing this astounding anti-intellectualism from Atheists, and it is just psychotically self-rationalizing. “Psychotically” sounds pretty hyperbolic, even to me, but not so much once you take account of Atheism’s obsessive ranting about “religion,” Atheism’s object of ressentiment, when it can’t seem to define itself apart from deriding religious folks. Huh. Hope we never meet

      LOL. Sounds like you just lost an argument to me. It seems to me that you are one seriously confused individual. You should simply change you mind and become an atheist – then you will find things make a LOT more sense!

      • Sir Gnome
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        Or you could just save everyone the time and where a sign that says, “I dropped out of community college, my bigotry is toxic, my absolutism absurd, and I live with my parents.” Kind of like the one Sam Harris wears, but made out old, discarded campaign signs.

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Oh fuck – I hadn’t thought of that!

        So god is real after all. Good argument!

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        “where a sign”???????

        From someone who talks about education? Priceless!!!

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        For what its worth – I am university educated, and am not dogmatic or ideological. My certainty is not born from arrogance, but from deep thinking over many years.

        My atheism can be summed up by:

        There is no evidence for god, therefore the default working assumption is that god does not exist.

        But I am perfectly open to be persuaded otherwise, however you need to use a rational thought process to convince me. Evidence would do it.

        If you don’t, I am at full liberty to attack your ideas as much as I like. Because your ilk have had 2,000 years to prove your point and you so far have failed to come up with the goods.

        Time to put up or shut up. No prisoners.

  35. Hameer
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Cyberguy,

    Haven’t you heard “Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence”. Period. No you may chant the Dawkins Song of “unicorns and fairies” but that is just because you want to sleep well at night. Dawkins is a great biologist but he makes a very poor philosopher. Sorry!

    Carl Sagan was better when he said “evolution does not prove atheism. It is consistent with atheism, but it does not prove atheism”. There are many notions of God that are quite compatible with evolution and science in general. But the radical atheists want to make war not peace. They are, what the Koran would refer to as (even though I am not a Muslim): “those who like to make mischief in the land”.

    I mentioned: “Its like asking a 2 dimensional being to CONCEIVE of a 3 dimensional object and universe – its impossible.” not about being able to “detect” its presence. A 2D being will “detect” a 2D aspect of a 3D object but will have no CONCEPTION of a 3D object or universe. Similarly, to a theist/deist/agnostic, these physical universe can be worked with and tested as a possible “creation” of transcendental “God”, but you cannot test “scientifically” the transcendental realm (if it exists) because you are like the 2D being confined in a 2D world. How the hell are you going to test the properties of the 3D realm with your 2D tools? Impossible.

    I am not against being an atheist (I was one for 7 years). I am against one being a RADICAL FUNDAMENTALIST atheist. Thats the problem because we live in a pluralistic world and we need to accomodate and understand one another. We can fight injustice and ignorance in the name of religion, but we need not throw the baby with the bathwater because to 90+ % of people religion and spirituality is important, just as for atheists science is important.

    • jsfb
      Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      > How the hell are you going to test the properties of the 3D realm with your 2D tools? Impossible.
      That is the basis for methodological naturalism but I DOESN’T IMPLY you can make any positive claim about what is impossible to test (i.e. the 3d world in ur analogy). Yet, religion does just that and expects to be respected in THEIR particular flavor no less. It is possible GUESS and be right (very unlikely of course), but there is NO WAY to KNOW if you ARE; yet each religion claims their specific guesses ARE correct and attempts to influence others on that basis. That is a huge error in all that is reasonable. If you accept reason for any religious arguments, you need to apply it uniformly, if you reject it you need to reject it uniformly. Cherry picking is an error. You can’t have your cake and eat it but religion seemingly wants all cakes and is a glutton too. That is hardly NOMA.
      Atheism isn’t a thing to “prove”, it is a reasonable default position when lacking evidence.
      Your radical fundamentalist term needs to be defined. If you mean that to exclude being a fundamentalist an atheist MUST accept and give credence to YOUR GUESS as a right to intrude on others rights (legally for example) then I think all atheists are fundamentalists in your view. If you mean they acknowledge the infinitesimal chance your GUESS is correct I think almost all atheists wouldn’t deny that about any unfalsifiable claims in any religion (sorry yours isn’t special in that regard). The last and most rare case is a claim of 100% certainty there are no gods which I think is an error to assert. Is THAT what you mean by fundamentalist?

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, Hameer, but your slinging of names and nonsense and sayings that you obviously do not comprehend just does not cut the mustard. You need to learn how to discuss using logic. You pathetic insistence that since a majority believes something makes it correct. Slavery used to be favored and so was oppression of women. Are you too blinded to see the similarities? Your same arguments over and over is so tiresome.

  36. Hameer
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    *You pathetic insistence that since a majority believes something makes it correct. Slavery used to be favored and so was oppression of women.*

    2 points here:

    (1) I didn’t say that because the majority believe in ‘God’ makes it necessarily correct. I said its a possibility which can never be ruled out by science and it is everyone’s PERSONAL RIGHT to make that call.

    (2) To equate belief in God with Slavery and Oppression of Women is LUDICROUS and STUPID to say the least.

    • shadowshide
      Posted June 19, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      “A possibility which can never be ruled out by science”

      Science cannot address something as ill defined as god. There are so many versions of the definition of what god is (probably as many as there are believers in god.
      If you put forth specific definitions such as omnipotence etc, then logic, reason and science can address it.
      And if you can’t define god then the concept is just hot air.

      “it is everyone’s PERSONAL RIGHT to make that call”.

      You can only make that call on behalf of yourself. Unfortunately religion abrogates the right to make that call for everyone else (even legally), denying them their PERSONAL RIGHT. But I guess god told them to do it, so it must be ok.

      “To equate belief in God with Slavery and Oppression of Women is LUDICROUS and STUPID to say the least”

      You must be kidding here.

      Apartheid in South Africa, was based on christian principles by people who believed in god. Pure Slavery.

      Woman are oppressed by those who believe in god, in quite a number of governments in the world. The worst at oppression also happen to be lead by people who believe in god. But I agree that not everyone who believes in god necessarily supports slavery and oppression, but too many do.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        >But I agree that not everyone who believes in god necessarily supports slavery and oppression, but too many do.<

        Good. Then what we need to get rid off is injustice, intolerance, ignorance and barbarism in religion, not God and spirituality (that is something each individual has to choose, not something to be dictated by radical atheists who are being the bully trying to push believers in to their closet).

        Freedom from religion comes with freedom of religion. Both religious people as well as atheists need to respect that. While religious people are slowly and faintly showing signs of some improvement, atheists are becoming more radical and intolerant by the day! The new atheist movement is almost fascist when it comes to its "God-phobia" issues, hence the totalitarian slogan "Imagine no religion". Pathetic.

      • Posted June 19, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Hameer

        “Haven’t you heard “Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence”. Period.”
        Haven’t you heard of Occam’s Razor? E.g. It makes no sense to propose the existence of an object to explain something, if it can be explained equally well without.

        “No you may chant the Dawkins Song of “unicorns and fairies” but that is just because you want to sleep well at night. Dawkins is a great biologist but he makes a very poor philosopher. Sorry!”
        This is a great example of “The Courtier’s Reply” when someone points out that the Emperor has no clothes (You should make yourself familiar with this. See http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/the_courtiers_reply.php). Because you are using the Courier’s Reply I feel nothing but contempt for the weakness of your arguments.

        I don’t get one thing – why are you and Sir Gnome going on about philosophy all the time? As though philosophy were the ultimate means of understanding. I think philosophy makes some useful points, but much of it has very little usefulness to to subject of god, and of how to discover how the universe really works. The constant quoting of long-dead philosophers is just an appeal to authority. Much of philosophy is nothing more than opinion and hand waving, lacking any sort of rigour. For example, the philosphy of post-moderism is itself an anti-intellectual, reality-denying fraud. And it is not “anti-intellectual” to say so.

        “Carl Sagan was better when he said “evolution does not prove atheism. It is consistent with atheism, but it does not prove atheism”. There are many notions of God that are quite compatible with evolution and science in general. But the radical atheists want to make war not peace. They are, what the Koran would refer to as (even though I am not a Muslim): “those who like to make mischief in the land”.”
        Carl Sagan was right. But my argument is not based on evolution (did I mention it?). I will say it again – there is no evidence for god, therefore the default working assumption is that god does not exist. If you think I am making mischief by arguing against bad thinking, then tough luck. If that is your opinion, then I oppose you and think you stupid.

        Your earlier point that “They [atheists] have to have evidence even though they fail to realize that if the “transcendental realm” exists, it cannot be “scientifically investigated” because ultimately it is beyond the physical and the senses” is a brain-dead argument. You cannot keep insisting on the existence of something that does not affect us, cannot be measured or detected – in other words is identical in all its properties to something that does not exist!!!

        Then in another breath you say ” “miracles” by definition violate natural laws defying all scientific explanations, so its pointless rebutting miracles using science.” So you try and have it both ways, as this “transendental realm” DOES intrude into our world, thereby in principle making it detectable. And you also demand respect for such a viewpoint!!!

        “I mentioned: “Its like asking a 2 dimensional being to CONCEIVE of a 3 dimensional object and universe – its impossible.” not about being able to “detect” its presence. A 2D being will “detect” a 2D aspect of a 3D object but will have no CONCEPTION of a 3D object or universe. Similarly, to a theist/deist/agnostic, these physical universe can be worked with and tested as a possible “creation” of transcendental “God”, but you cannot test “scientifically” the transcendental realm (if it exists) because you are like the 2D being confined in a 2D world. How the hell are you going to test the properties of the 3D realm with your 2D tools? Impossible.”
        You are flatly wrong. Mathematics allows us to work with multidimensionality easily. Any creature (either 2D or 3D) seeing a thing appear out of thin air and disappear again could deduce that something just passed through their world using a higher dimension to travel through. Modern physics uses these concepts all the time. You are asserting that something is impossible, when you clearly do not know what you are talking about.

        “I am not against being an atheist (I was one for 7 years). I am against one being a RADICAL FUNDAMENTALIST atheist. Thats the problem because we live in a pluralistic world and we need to accomodate and understand one another. We can fight injustice and ignorance in the name of religion, but we need not throw the baby with the bathwater because to 90+ % of people religion and spirituality is important, just as for atheists science is important.”

        Your name-calling shows how weak your position is. As someone wrote over on Pharyngula: “I still think it’s hilarious that you have to actually pick up a gun and shoot someone to be considered a ‘militant’ believer, but all you have to do to be a ‘militant’ atheist is write a book”.

        I can, and will, argue against a bad idea (namely religion and other superstitious thinking) as long and hard as I want to. If you don’t like it, that is your problem not mine.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 19, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        And more nonsense from you Hameer. The fascism is NOT from atheists but as it has been for millenia, comes from theists. You are again dishonest in your statements and I am tiring of your nonsense.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      To equate belief in God with Slavery and Oppression of Women is LUDICROUS and STUPID to say the least.

      I didn’t do that and you are intellectually dishonest to suggest I did. I was referring to the majority position. I expect this kind of nonsense from your posts.

  37. Hameer
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    testing… i m having difficulties posting on this site

  38. Hameer
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    To cyberguy,

    Well Occam’s Razor can work both ways (i.e. against as well as in favor of God). It depends on your point of view. For e.g. the extremely mind-boggling FINE TUNING of the Universal Constants is so precise, that most scientists invoke a multiple, perhaps infinite, universes to accomodate chance to play a role. But tell me, which is more extravagant, an eternal Consciousness behind it all or an infinite card deck of multiple universes? Based on Occam’s Razor to explain the fine tuning of the Cosmos, I would choose an eternal Consciousness (aka God) as the simplest and least extravagant explanation compared to multiverses. Watch out, Occam’s razor cuts both ways.

    As for Philosophy, it IS the ultimate means to understanding and speculating. It is more grand than Science which is a minute subset of Philosophy called “Natural Philosophy”. Philosophy is VAST and RICH and it accomodates science.

    If you agree Carl Sagan was right why are you still being stubborn? He also said in his ‘Baloney Detection Kit': ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE. Therefore the lack of evidence for God is not evidence for God not existing. Are you that weak in your reasoning?

    Also, lets consider a scenario: If a Supreme Consciousness does exist in a transcendental realm and interacts with the physical universe via interaction with the quantum waves of possibilities (and this is a theoretically possible scenario if we follow the Idealist interpretation of the Observer Effect in Quantum Mechanics – see “The Self Aware Universe” by physicist Amit Goswami for details), there would still be NO WAY for Science to detect and confirm that because it is all probabilistic and uncertain. Your insistence that Science MUST detect the effects of God is naivety at its best.

    Another point I want to mention: just be careful you radical atheists don’t end up being violent fanatics because of your anger, just like the Jacobins (atheists!) in 17th Century France were, when they KILLED Catholics for their religious beliefs. Remember, as Alistair MacGrath correctly points out, the problem is not with religion per se but with human nature, so atheists are not immune from being murderous fanatics as history has shown us.

    • jsfb
      Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      > Well Occam’s Razor can work both ways …
      Your appeal to a parsimony cracks me up. Any infinite being/entity with a mind AND the ability to implement and bend all of our observed physics to it’s capricious will would necessarily be more complex than what we can already successfully model using nothing more than mathematics.

      It is sadly funny that you defend NOMA and then appeal to violating it with your grand philosophy bit.

      > Your insistence that Science MUST detect the effects of God is naivety at its best.
      If you claim a God exists and expect ANYONE to accept it without taking your word for it than yes, it must be detectable in principle.
      Your silly example is just a god of the (ever shrinking) gaps argument wrapped in a bit of quantum mechanical language.
      How you can keep going in circles and think you are actually getting anywhere is beyond me.

    • Posted June 20, 2009 at 1:45 am | Permalink

      “Which is more extravagant, an eternal Consciousness behind it all or an infinite card deck of multiple universes? Based on Occam’s Razor to explain the fine tuning of the Cosmos, I would choose an eternal Consciousness (aka God) as the simplest and least extravagant explanation compared to multiverses.”

      Positing an pre-existing intelligence is not the “simplest and least extravagant” explanation. Intelligence is a complex thing, not simple. It gets into obvious problems of recursion because the exactly same questions of origin can be asked about this proposed consciousness. I doesn’t actually explain anything, is untestable, unfalsafiable, and unnecessary. And the not-so-subtle problem of HOW this intelligence could do this is never explained.

      If you don’t like the many-worlds interpretation (neither do I) there are others, such as Hawking and Hertog’s idea which builds on Feynman’s sum over histories, and combines string theory with “no boundary initial conditions” on the universe. This hypothesis easily accounts for the so-called “fine-tuning” and is also TESTABLE, unlike your preference of “goddidit”. (see “Populating the landscape: A top-down approach”: http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=PRVDAQ000073000012123527000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes).

      Just because you don’t like one hypothesis, that is no reason to reject them all and flee into mysticism and superstition.

      “If you agree Carl Sagan was right why are you still being stubborn? He also said in his ‘Baloney Detection Kit’: ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE. Therefore the lack of evidence for God is not evidence for God not existing.”

      I agree with Carl. However there are an infinite number of things that we can conceivably imagine that we also have no evidence for. I am glad to know that you believe in all of them!!!. Otherwise how do you pick and choose from this infinite array of potentially non-existent things and choose one – namely your particular definition of god? Your little quote-mine does not actually help you, and is no support of god. What you are saying is that you have a low BS theshold and that you will believe anything that has an absence of evidence.

      “If a Supreme Consciousness does exist in a transcendental realm and interacts with the physical universe via interaction with the quantum waves of possibilities…, there would still be NO WAY for Science to detect and confirm that because it is all probabilistic and uncertain. Your insistence that Science MUST detect the effects of God is naivety at its best.”

      So are you really saying that science cannot detect anything that is probablistic? Or that god is affecting the universe in ways that look EXACTLY as if he is not affecting the universe, and looks EXACTLY as if he does not exist? But he does really.

      What a tiny gap you have put your god into! Where’s the burning bush, the cities laid waste, the peoples smited, the floods? How the mighty have fallen.

      “Another point I want to mention: just be careful you radical atheists don’t end up being violent fanatics because of your anger, just like the Jacobins (atheists!) in 17th Century France were, when they KILLED Catholics for their religious beliefs. Remember, as Alistair MacGrath correctly points out, the problem is not with religion per se but with human nature, so atheists are not immune from being murderous fanatics as history has shown us.”

      Not the old Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler canard again! That has been soundly refuted so many times, and you dig it up again. This tired old claim is so demonstrably false:

      • Hitler was never an atheist. He was born into a Catholic family, and he never renounced his Catholicism.

      • Stalin was an ex-seminary student, who used his country’s ingrained subservience to religious authority to further his dictatorial aims.

      • Mao’s mother was a devout Buddhist and wanted her son to have a religious career. He became a devout Marxist instead.

      • Pol Pot, who attended the École Miche, a Catholic school in Phnom Penh, may have become an atheist, but his crimes were not driven by that.

      Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were all Marxist-Leninists.

      All three dictators attempted to control religion to suppress any alternative viewpoint that might threaten their own political personality cults. Their brand of communism was essentially a secular religion that required subservience to “the state” instead of a god.

      Your thinking is factually wrong, your arguments lack integrity, and your opinions are seriously screwed.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 20, 2009 at 4:12 am | Permalink

      As for Philosophy, it IS the ultimate means to understanding and speculating.

      This is another example of Hameer’s fanatical, dogmatic closed-mindedness. His mind is made up, don’t confuse him with logic. This is indicative of a radical non-thinker.

      How you can keep going in circles and think you are actually getting anywhere is beyond me.

      This is what theists like Hameer always do. He has serious ‘belief in belief’ despite logic, evidence and critical thinking.

      Your thinking is factually wrong, your arguments lack integrity, and your opinions are seriously screwed.

      And this is on his better days. His ‘unresoning’ processes are just like Ken Ham or William Dembsky.

    • Posted June 20, 2009 at 4:41 am | Permalink

      Hameer

      Another factual error you made when you wrote: “just be careful you radical atheists don’t end up being violent fanatics because of your anger, just like the Jacobins (atheists!) in 17th Century France were, when they KILLED Catholics for their religious beliefs.”

      The Jacobin movement during the French Revolution were “foes of both the Church and of atheism”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobin_Club)

      No wonder we atheists treat people like you with contempt. Your arguments are bloated with dishonesty.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 6:06 am | Permalink

        Why are you trying to ignore the reality that atheism can easily become a dangerous ideology if you don’t calm doing your anger towards religion. If some can kill in the name of God, one can kill in the name of scientism and atheism. Your belief that no one has hated and killed in the name of atheism and that can never happen, is delusional at best. You just want to blame religion not realizing the problem is ultimately not religion but human nature and hence atheism and secularism can easily become a vehicle for tyranny.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 6:12 am | Permalink

        More irrelevant nonsense from the theist and ‘belief in belief’ dishonest, non-thinker Hameer.

        Atheism is NOT an ideology. You need to learn the meaning of words, Hameer.

      • jsfb
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        Non belief is a passive stance not an ideology, it simply is a default position when lacking evidence. It isn’t dogma, it isn’t anything. “In the name of ” I smite you sounds ridiculous because it is. If a person “might” kill, adding won’t make it any more likely to happen. In contrast, dogma and supernatural certainties about the existence of moral lawgivers can easily be a pathway for otherwise good people to do bad things.
        Not all unsupported claims are created equal in terms of critical focus. Jainism for example is far more benign than the monotheistic views thus you don’t see atheists taking a lot of time criticizing them despite belief in things like invisible “pudgala”.
        Non belief cannot itself justify overt actions upon others, other reasons must be used.
        In any event ” can lead to killing” in no way deals with the validity of the claim that a particular god (or any) exists or not. It’s a red herring.

      • jsfb
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Sorry for the needed Update: I used a html tag form for [nothing] which was deleted so here are the relevant corrections:
        “In the name of [nothing] I smite you sounds ridiculous because it is. If a person “might” kill, adding [nothing] won’t make it any more likely to happen

        In any event ”[x] can lead to killing” in no way deals with the validity of the claim that a particular god (or any) exists or not. It’s a red herring.

      • DagoRed
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Hameer wrote: You just want to blame religion not realizing the problem is ultimately not religion but human nature…and hence atheism and secularism can easily become a vehicle for tyranny

        What you imply here is that humans cannot avoid tyranny because its part of our nature. You call yourself an agnostic, but you clearly share the view of the Abrahamic faiths, that sees the flaws found in human history not incidental to actions, beliefs, and ideologies of the times, but actually see all these failures as being embedded, somehow, in our nature. That is a tremendously defeatist attitude and there is no evidence to believe such a poor view of humanity has any warrant. Perhaps, if Abrahamic religions didn’t spend so much time convincing people that humans are low, vile, and worthless creatures, a significant segment of humanity (including yourself) would realize that tyranny (or any other ‘fault’) is not part of our human nature but an aberration of it. Tyranny, being your example, arises only when people are heavily stressed, such as when they feel trapped and pushed into corners, and they turn in desperation to those that tell them to simply have faith in their particular brand of ideology, and then allow these charlatans unbridled access to power.

        If tyranny were truly part of human nature, we would not find tyranny itself to be a flaw, Fascism, rather than democracy, would likely be the idealized government of choice, and slavery wouldn’t be considered immoral. If you were more thoughtful, you would realize what you wrote above is precisely the opposite of the truth. Among the many forms of tyranny mankind has turned to in its many moments of desperation, religion stands among the most common. If you were more thoughtful, you would realize that it is the nature of religion, not humanity, to be tyrannical. Moreover, you would also realize, if you were intellectually honest at all, that it is precisely human nature that attempts to banish tyranny from the world, rather than desiring to flounder within it. Your thinking that “atheism and secularism can somehow easily become a vehicle for tyranny” simply reflects your complete failure to understand that central to these ideologies is the very human nature to fight tyranny itself. In fact, in the case of secularism, fighting religious tyranny is precisely its goal. To think they are just as prone to tyranny as religion is a sad commentary that also reflects your misguided and poor view of human nature itself.

      • Posted June 21, 2009 at 1:26 am | Permalink

        DagoRed is correct.

        The christian view of human nature is that we are all inherently sinful – stemming from the original sin committed by two non-existent humans, Adam and Eve.

        This view of human nature is demonstrably false, as shown by various experiments done by Michael Tomasello, co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

        “From when they first begin to walk and talk and become truly cultural beings, young human children are naturally cooperative and helpful in many — though obviously not all — situations. And they do not get this from adults; it comes naturally.”

        (http://storybank.stanford.edu/stories/for-kids-altruism-comes-naturally-psychologist-says)

        And some of this altruism has its roots in our shared ancestry with other apes. “Experimental evidence reveals that chimpanzees will help other unrelated humans and conspecifics without a reward, showing that they share crucial aspects of altruism with humans”

        (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625085134.htm)

        Hameer writes “the problem is not with religion per se but with human nature, so atheists are not immune from being murderous fanatics as history has shown us.”

        Hameer is so wrong on so many levels, that he really is one twisted individual.

  39. Luke Vogel
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Coyne,

    ~”Note that Eugenie Scott’s quote (she’s director of the National Center for Science Education) clearly implies — if not states outright — that religion is able to tell us something true about the transcendent world.”

    Actually, that’s false. You really have no shame.

  40. Randy
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Logical rationality leads inevitably to radical skepticism. You cannot prove there is an external world or that your senses are reliable. If some propositions are accepted as true without being proven, why are some more acceptable than others and on what basis? What is the criteria for determining truth and how do you know its true without begging the question? Science is based on faith in inductive reasoning, which Hume demonstrated is unreliable at best. Science is practically useful in manipulating the world around us, but that has no logical bearing on its ontological truth. Spirituality has helped many live nobler, more fulfilled lives and therefore is useful in at least as important of a sense as science. Evil things have been done in the name of both science and religion (eg, Nazi eugenics) but that is irrelevant to whether they are true or on balance contribute to human life in a positive way. Science adopts methodological naturalism because no one has developed a better alternative. Arguing that science has then somehow proven metaphysical naturalism is to beg the question since that was an assumption made at the beginning of the scientific enterprise. Scientists should stick to practicing science and developing new scientific theories and not pontificate about things they know nothing about. Just because you know a lot about one little aspect of human life doesn’t make you an expert on everything.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Congratulations, Randy – every single sentence of that post is either wrong or total nonsense.

      • Randy
        Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        If you’d like to prove that, I’d be happy to listen but if you just want to blow me off based on your opinion, you’re no different than the people you think you’re superior to. Philosophers have been using logic to try to solve these questions for thousands of years without sucess. Do you really think you’ve accomplished what none of the best minds in human history could do?

  41. NewEnglandBob
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Randy, it is you who thinks he is superior by trying to refute 400 years of progress due to science, logic and rationality with not one bit of fact or evidence. Produce some or shut up. No one needs to ‘discuss’ what you say until you do.


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