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    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2010
     (8121.21)
    > I could be misinterpreting, but as opposed to religion, Science is quite limited in scope?

    I didn't mean that science is worse than religion: not at at all; I meant that science is especially good at explaining and modeling certain phenomena, for example the behaviour of railway engines: and conversely IMO it has relatively less to say, that I know of, about other phenomena like for example the life and mind of Saint Francis.

    There was a famous scholar called Jowett, of whom someone wrote (partly in jest of course) in a poem:

    First come I. My name is J–W–TT.
    There's no knowledge but I know it.
    I am the Master of this College,
    What I don't know isn't knowledge.


    I think that science can be like that: people who like science may assume that everything can be understood with science, and that anything which can't be isn't worth considering. There's this passage from LeGuin in which she talks about different modes of speech. One of the modes (which she calls the "father tongue") is the objective mode, and it's good but it's not all there is:

    It began to develop when printing made written language common rather than rare, five hundred years ago or so, and with electronic processing and copying it continues to develop and proliferate so powerfully, so dominatingly, that many believe this dialect - the expository and particularly the scientific discourse - is the highest form of language, the true language, of which all other uses of words are primitive vestiges.

    And it is indeed an excellent dialect. Newton's Principia was written in it in Latin, and Descartes wrote Latin and French in it, establishing some of its basic vocabulary, and Kant wrote German in it, and Marx, Darwin, Freud, Boas, Foucault - all the great scientists and social thinkers wrote it. It is the language of thought that seeks objectivity.

    I do not say it is the language of rational thought. Reason is a faculty far larger than mere objective thought. When either the political or the scientific discourse announces itself as the voice of reason, it is playing God, and should be spanked and stood in the corner. The essential gesture of the father tongue is not reasoning but distancing-making a gap, a space, between the subject or self and the object or other.


    I don't want to put science down, but there is more IMO to the human condition and heritage than only 'science'.

    Take some of the scientific laws for example, like Newton's laws of motion or anything. I suggest that the laws are meaningless unless/until someone comes along and understands them: entertains them: gives them meaning: uses them, discovers how they're applicable.

    But ditto there are religious "laws" or theorums, for example ...

    * There is no God but Allah
    * The Tao which can be named is not the eternal
    * For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
    * Don't lie

    ... and similarly these are meaningless until somebody gives them meaning. But if we give them meaning, then they become knowledge, and are useful.

    > Science starts with a question, and to come up with a question one requires imagination and then determination to pursue the answer using the tools offered by reality.

    Well I think that the 'scientific method' is a cycle:

    * Experimental observations (facts or data)
    * Invent a hypothesis/explanatin/model which fits the observed facts
    * Think of further consequences which would be suggested/predicted by that hypothesis
    * Perform further experiments, to test/examine the suggested consequences
    * Observe further data from the new experiment
    * Repeat as above, using new data to confirm and/or modify the hypotheses; while iterating, select hypotheses according to whether they're simple, whether they fit the facts, and whether they're useful (e.g. predictive).

    Along the way, science develops a vocabulary (including words like force, gravity, field, statistical confidence) which have technical meanings.

    But IMO the body of religious knowledge also has a vocabulary and techniques, some of which (I find) have meaning and are useful.

    > Religion doesn't pursue the answer, it makes one up and starts believing it. Compared to religion, Science has a monumental scope.

    Sometimes religion's topics include "How to socialize with other humans" and "The cause of human suffering and how to alleviate it" and "What were people being taught 2000 years ago that's still worth learning now" and "Why am I here and what will I do now", which is quite a big scope too.
  1.  (8121.22)
    With one gem of a phrase:
    "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

    and another:
    "keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out".

    Think critically, logically, rationally, seek your own proof, and where you can't, discover whose proofs you can trust, to what extent, and why. Learn when your intuition guides you and when it misleads you. Test what you learn, debate what you learn, identify your level of emotional attachment to everything you learn and bear in mind how that can obscure opposing truths.

    It can't help enough to have a proper grasp of probability, factors of error and what various degrees of certainty mean for the application of knowledge. Also it helps having a complete grasp of the full meanings of the words "theory", "hypothesis", "proof" and "evidence" as they apply to scientific literature (these are different and/or more precise meanings than their colloquial ones).
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2010 edited
     (8121.23)
    The scope of science is immense. It's just not as obvious as to what science deals with because its scope is so immense. It's even in baking and cooking, for example, but people don't tend to think of that as science. It's a framework through which to try and understand everything, rather than a set of dictums and fanciful stories cobbled into a framework and used to control people and/or assuage their fear.

    "Sometimes religion's topics include "How to socialize with other humans" and "The cause of human suffering and how to alleviate it" and "What were people being taught 2000 years ago that's still worth learning now" and "Why am I here and what will I do now", which is quite a big scope too."

    Socialising in science. Psychology, which is a science, will suggest how to, and also why certain ways of doing things has happened in different contexts. As will the science of evolution.
    Cause of human suffering. Well, you can see a huge amount of science aimed at this problem. Why and how to alleviate it.
    2000 years ago. Science tends to replace knowledge where it is redundant. It's not opposed to this.
    Science also looks at the questions of existence.

    Religion offers more absolutes and more comforting answers. It doesn't mean they're correct or valid.
  2.  (8121.24)
    I do not believe that there is anything that religion can explain that science cannot. I think certain philosophies can change outlook and perception, and in doing so, change a perceived experience. However, evolution has led to our intelligence, intelligence begets empathy and forethought, and empathy and forethought give inspiration to be kind to others. "If I were in that postition, I would feel terrible, so I will help that person not feel terrible" and/or "if that happened to me, I would hope that someone would help me, therefore, to keep from hypocrisy, I will help that person" and/or "society will grow more productive and healthy if people help one another, and I am part of that society."

    Regarding science's ability to address morality, here is Sam Harris:

    sorry, can't embed. CLICK!


    Perhaps I should clarify the issues I had been alluding to. I have had experiences when I felt certain sensations or thoughts that originated from a person who was my best friend. These happened often. I did try to make sure that I was not just convincing myself of this, and tested things by writing down the specific time I would be struck with a feeling or taste, and quiz her later as to her whereabouts and activities. I'd call her and ask what she just ate (because I'd had a sudden taste of chocolate hazlenut for no reason), and she'd reply "a roche". One instance worried me, when I tasted blood, knowing it was hers, and envisioning a terrible car crash, I called her frantically. She'd just bit her tongue. She was particularly "loud" and I seemed to be a particularly good "satalite dish", and so our friendship went.

    Do I expect anyone else to take my word for this? Goodness no. I understand how fantastic it all sounds. I wouldn't believe it had I not personally experienced it.

    I have grown to no longer be intrigued and invested in the supernatural and the spiritual. I feel that so many are rip off artists, or want to believe so desperately that they discard far more plausible and realistic truths in preference for the magical.

    Example: a musician friend of mine brought a tape by. His band had been at practice, got a new blank tape, unopened it at the studio, and popped it in the machine to tape themselves playing. When the tape filled one side, it automatically flipped over and started recording the other side. The music recorded on the second side was a droning creepy dirge with cymbal crashes and low thumping drums. It lasted for 15 minutes. It sounded pretty neat. At the very end were some unintelligible drawn out voices. I offered to try and speed it up and fix it to see which song it was, and my friend was adamantly against it. He thought it was demonic. He thought it was otherworldly. He didn't consider that maybe... when the tape flipped, the gears of the player recorded at too fast a speed, so the playback was a one third the proper rate.

    He preferred to believe in the magical. That's ridiculous.

    I don't want to be that musician friend.

    The feeling of a oneness of being, the god-sensation, it's likely a glimmer of comprehension of the immensity of the universe, the fact that we are of it, and that universe was once a singularity. The experiences I had years ago with that best friend of mine? I am much less likely to come to that conclusion now. I'm much more critical and grounded in reality and science. At that moment, though, the experience was very real. It shaped my expectation of what I felt was possible.

    Perspective is one thing, but is it a belief in pseudo-science to think that people who are close, who have spent a great deal of time with one another, could key in to each other in such a way that experience might be shared between them? Is this an experience similar to those who have died and seen heaven, and therefore claim it to be truth? Yes, they did die, they did "see" heaven, but that does not mean that it is a real place, or that they will shuffle off their bodies and exist as individuals long after brain activity has stopped.

    I trust science. Science continues to explain what was once otherwise unexplainable by anything but myth. Where is the line between myths not yet explained, and the imaginary?

    Um...

    I do appreciate and thank everyone who has contributed to this thread. The different perspectives are strange and interesting.
  3.  (8121.25)
    So, I ask you... how do you balance the two?


    You don't. You go with the evidence. The rest is either wishful thinking or social control.
    • CommentAuthorDario
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2010
     (8121.26)
    William George and Andre have already more or less summarised my take on this. The unexplained is just that, unexplained. It makes more sense to go with what proof there is, rather than try to arrive at a conclusion when there's nothing concrete to go on.

    @Fan

    Take some of the scientific laws for example, like Newton's laws of motion or anything. I suggest that the laws are meaningless unless/until someone comes along and understands them: entertains them: gives them meaning: uses them, discovers how they're applicable.

    But ditto there are religious "laws" or theorums, for example ...

    * There is no God but Allah
    * The Tao which can be named is not the eternal
    * For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
    * Don't lie

    ... and similarly these are meaningless until somebody gives them meaning. But if we give them meaning, then they become knowledge, and are useful.


    You're equating scientific laws which correspond directly to underlying principles of how the universe works to socially constructed laws formulated by people for the purposes of maintaining a religious narrative structure, or used as a general moral guide. They're clearly two different understandings of what a 'law' entails, as used in two entirely different respects.

    Do you genuinely believe that the laws of thermodynamics are no more useful or informative than, say, "thou shalt not make graven images", merely because they're both referred to as 'laws' and have to be put into context so people comprehend their meaning?

    Along the way, science develops a vocabulary (including words like force, gravity, field, statistical confidence) which have technical meanings.

    But IMO the body of religious knowledge also has a vocabulary and techniques, some of which (I find) have meaning and are useful.


    I really don't see what your point is with this. The fact that both science and religion have their own particular vocabularies and techniques doesn't then suggest that religious techniques are equally well-equipped to allow one to make any valid discoveries about the nature of the universe. You've only stated that they both have their own vocabulary and techniques: so what? There are no doubt a whole range of other things that do, which clearly do not merit a mention here. Hip-hop has its own specialised vocabulary and techniques too, but as far as I'm aware, no one has seriously argued that Snoop Dogg is an immensely knowledgeable thinker on a par with Alan Turing in light of this.

    Essentially, you've remarked on some superficial and rather broad characteristics science and religion share, and have then inferred from that that the two must therefore be alike at a deeper practical level, and bear similarly useful and enlightening information about the world. Hardly a compelling argument.
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2010
     (8121.27)
    There's also an expanded written version of what Sam Harris was saying.
  4.  (8121.28)
    All I know is I'm not particularly "religious" but Alan Watts is awesome. Oh, and the Tao Te Ching is also amazing. Sorry I couldn't add more to the discussion but things start getting very murky beyond that and...I don't want to oppose my will like that. I know I know, it'd just be expressing my opinion but I still feel like that would be pushing it, given the delicate nature of all this.
    • CommentAuthorchris g
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2010
     (8121.29)
    Great discussion, Rachel/guyz. I would like to opine but then I remembered I more or less expressed my feelings on the subject in this Space Shark episode.
  5.  (8121.30)
    "Throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be... not magic." Tim Minchin, "Storm"

    I'm an atheist, but I'm not a scientist, and I didn't come to atheism through science. Not dissing science, it's clearly the only reliable way of arriving at objective knowledge. The results of it are fascinating, I've read a fair bit of popular science, but I don't have much of a science education and I don't really have the right sort of brain for it. I'm an artist and storyteller, and I've come to believe that storytelling, in ways I can't reliably articulate, is absolutely fundamental to the way the human mind works, the way we understand things. Something about learning without having to experience, something about metaphor, suggestion and direct access to the subconscious, something about giving a shape to ideas and experiences the better to lodge them in the brain. Science is the best way of arriving at knowledge, but you have to be trained to be a scientist, to overcome instinctual ways of understanding, which are functional but not necessarily right, and understand things in a scientific way. Someone without that training only has their instincts. They need a narrative. Most good popular science books explain science in narrative form. On the other hand, religion is narrative, so gets a direct line into the human mind in a way that science doesn't.

    The thing with Dawkins... he thinks everybody's playing science. He's right about most things, but because he's a scientist, looking for objective knowledge via the scientific knowledge, he thinks everybody's looking for the same thing, just using inferior methods. Explaining origins and natural processes is only a side-effect of religion. I understand the religious impulse, in a sort of intuitive way anyway, because I feel it. I spent a large part of my teens and early twenties as an evangelical Christian, and there's still part of me that would like to find something I can believe in. But, out of a desire to draw comics, I taught myself to write stories, and one side effect of that is it undermines the willing suspension of disbelief. You can't help seeing the artifice of storytelling. So these days I look at religious texts and can no longer see them as any kind of revealed truth - they're products of the storyteller's art.

    One thing about storytelling. Humans, as a social species, need to be able to reconstruct the personality and intention of others from what we observe of their behaviour. We take in what they do and say, process that subconsciously, and arrive at an understanding of what kind of person they are, whether we can trust or rely on them, and predict how they might act in a given situation. When they do something we didn't predict, we think of them as acting "out of character". Storytelling either informs that ability, exploits it, or some combination of the two. That's how we're able to read a novel or watch a film and talk about the character development of the protagonist. But it has a side-effect - we attribute personality and intention to things that don't have them. From children's books with anthropomorphised animals and inanimate objects - I saw a cartoon on TV recently with a lightbulb that opened it's eyes when it was turned on and closed them when it was turned off - to sentient robots and computers in science fiction. The ancients attributed personality and intention to the weather, the sea, the sun and all sorts of natural phenomena and made little-g gods, sprites, nymphs, fairies and so on. Monotheists, more abstractly and sophisticatedly, attribute personality and intention to existence itself, and thus we have God with a big G. And thus I'm an atheist, not because science explains the origins of the universe, life and so on better than the Bible, but because I've come to the conclusion that gods are the product of the way the human mind works.
    •  
      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.31)
    The notion of "IdeaSpace", of mental power (combined mental energy as in sigil magic, or mental connection/communication between close and attuned people, etc) these are things I do not discard as being implausible.


    These ideas hold an appeal, just like the notion of the cosmos holds appeal... I suppose the feelings I get from listening to Brian Cox talk about the known universe must be somewhat on a par with spirituality, but I agree with the contributor above who says that science and religion are not really equivalent ideas.

    Certainly when I first read about memes, which was after reading The Invisibles, I had a sense of 'conversion' - that this was a new way of looking at the world. Since then, I've had a much keener interest in science, particularly the science of consciousness, and astrology. I don't see things like 'Ideaspace' and sigil magic as incompatible with memetic theory and astrology - quite the opposite. But I am no scientist, and I can't really show my work. It just feels right, and seems to have symmetry... therefore if I did profess it to be my 'beliefs' per se, I'd be no better than a blindly faithful religious person.

    I can be a fairly outspoken critic of religion, and a passionate advocate of science, but I would not like to claim that I was definitively correct about either point of view. I'm at best ill-informed, at worst completely ignorant. That doubt, that ability to self-analyze and, as others have mentioned, keep an open mind, is an important characteristic - one that comes from a secular tradition rather than a religious one.

    I have no patience with the concept of 'tolerance' of other religions. Quite simply, if you believe that your God is bigger than someone else's, then no amount of tolerance is going to make you less of a disagreeable asshole. Tolerance implies a truce rather than a settlement. Having absolute, incontrevertible beliefs (whether in science, magic or religion) is a deceased paradigm and a relic of an earlier age. I believe we in the twenty-first century have a moral obligation not just to tolerate the ideas of the fanatical, but to openly oppose them. We have to lead by example - how can we expect totalitarian religious states to modernise if we still pander to the idea of religious absolutism?

    I for one feel very priveleged to have grown up in a society that taught me to think critically, to analyse, and to examine evidence... the only people I know who have religious views were either indoctrinated very young, or are in some way seeking a crutch to get them through life. I would never blame them for or begrudge them that, but I won't ever allow anyone to proseletyze within earshot without speaking up. I see that as my responsibility. I guess that makes me a moral relativist? Like Hassan-i-Sabbah allegedly said:

    Nothing is true, everything is permitted.


    Religious texts are often very beautiful and illuminating. However, IMHO, there's no reason to start a religion over them.
    •  
      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.32)
    Religion offers more absolutes and more comforting answers. It doesn't mean they're correct or valid.


    Exactly.
  6.  (8121.33)
    @PatrickBrown
    You should perhaps distinguish between scientifically gained knowledge, and the scientific method. Scientific knowledge can often seem cool and interesting, like you find it, but because it's advanced so far, it's often also remote and abstract. On the other hand, everybody uses the scientific method in weak forms unconsciously in their everyday lives whether they realise it or not.
    A very simple example to show how mundane the scientific method can be:

    observation: "this door is closed" experiment: "try to open the door" result: "the door won't open" hypothesis: "the door is locked" experiment against hypothesis: "unlock the door then open it" result: "door opens" theory: "locked doors don't open".
    Note the difference between hypothesis and theory. A theory is a hypothesis with a decent body of proof to back it up, in this case, "locked doors don't open". It's also something that is constantly being tested against new experiment so that it gets reinforced when the result is positive ("the door won't open again, and is locked again"), and modified when the result is unusual ("locked doors do open when the door-frame is damaged in the right way"). It can be completely refuted if you find a fully working, properly made locked door that magically opens normally, but I doubt you will.

    Your mind and everybody else's are full of unconsciously held theories about the way the world works, so simple and mundane that you never contemplate them directly. I'm willing to bet that these are just as fundamental to human communication and life as storytelling is, and as you mentioned yourself, stories can (and very often do) contain hypothesis and theory, even if they're fictional.

    If you think about it, what you've written about narrative as a fundamental mode of human communication is a hypothesis based on observation, an interesting one that I also agree with, but that agreement between us and any others who share it isn't enough... to properly ground it in reality and turn it into a full theory, it needs to be (and can be) constantly tested against and supported by experiment and data gathering.
    This is what Dawkins means when he asserts that science should be everyone's game. It's a way of formalising the flow behind our everyday methods of discovering truth about the world, and as such, everyone does it without realising. It helps immensely to be able to know formally how to proceed after an interesting hypothesis like yours that's more abstract or complex than "the door is locked", and the scientific method shows the way. The scientific community also provides a platform for gathering and publishing results, so you can check the literature and see if anyone else has had the same ideas, and what they've discovered about them, or publish your own, and see how your peers receive it.

    I guess the question is whether narrative and storytelling is encompassed within the scientific method, or whether they're something that overlaps. I believe that it's a matter how broadly you apply the terms (semantics is a tricky bitch), but then, that's a hypothesis isn't it XD
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.34)
    > You're equating scientific laws which correspond directly to underlying principles of how the universe works to socially constructed laws formulated by people for the purposes of maintaining a religious narrative structure, or used as a general moral guide.

    I don't think I'm "equating", exactly, because there are differences; but I did try to suggest they have some properties in common: they're statements, people teach them, they're intended to describe some phenomena (albeit not all the same phenomena) from different points of view, and (and here's the important thing) different points of view can (to different extents) be informative about different aspects of reality/knowledge/people.

    > I really don't see what your point is with this.

    I thought Rachel was asking people in general (therefore including me in particular) whether and how they "balance" seemingly "incongruent" points of view (of which she said there were "two").

    I may have mistaken her question: she clarified later that she'd been thinking of some specific, paranormal experiences of hers (which I'm not competent to talk about); but, her first post was phrased as a second-person question: "how do you ...?"

    > Essentially, you've ... inferred from that that the two must ... bear similarly useful and enlightening information about the world. Hardly a compelling argument.

    Well, I'm sorry to disagree, but I don't think so: not quite. Instead:
    * Different laws *can* (not, "must") bear different types of useful information
    * I'm not saying that the amounts nor types of usefulness from different laws are equal ("similar")
    * I tried to state this as an *observation* from my own experience: not as a logical "inference"

    I'm a bit dismayed that it's controversial.
    • CommentAuthorTwist
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.35)
    I have no patience with the concept of 'tolerance' of other religions. Quite simply, if you believe that your God is bigger than someone else's, then no amount of tolerance is going to make you less of a disagreeable asshole.


    Texture: YES!!! And that, as far as I'm concerned also goes to shoving your* atheistic views down a religious persons throat and vice versa. As long as you're not hurting anyone believe in what you want or don't, but don't be an asshole about it.

    *General "your" not actually a shot at you personally.

    My friend is Atheist and I'm Pagan (for the easy definition) and he often refers to what I do as a long winded "talking to invisible guys, airy fairy, voodoo thing" and its amusing for me because he doesn't insist he's right and I'm wrong. I certainly wouldn't dream of insisting I was right, but it gets very frustrating when people turn around and snark and those of us with "beliefs" like we're a bunch of ungrounded nut jobs. At this point in time science can't prove or solve everything and anything. In the future it might be able to, but that's then and this is now.

    My beliefs and practices add something to my life that I find of value, and I don't particularly care if science agrees with them. What I really can't understand is why that is so upsetting to people. I'm not hurting anyone, and I certainly do not care to convert people to my way of thinking. A little bit if manners on behalf of some people on both sides of the argument would probably not go astray however.

    I can understand it from the viewpoint of the USA where the nut jobs are trying to get intelligent design into public school syllabus and I'm actually dead set against any religious teachings in schools outside of the necessary (explaining why the Muslim kids have to have prayer breaks etc). I think it is really wrong to indoctrinate children to a belief system that they can not possibly understand at that age.

    Rachael, rambling aside, when the friend I refer to above first came to the realization he didn't believe in anything someone pointed out to him that being an Atheist did not somehow suddenly stop you being a spiritual person. Spirituality and religion are not mutually inclusive things. I'm not sure if that helps at all, and I really can't elaborate as someone who has always been spiritual and religious to a point.

    Science can not be reconciled with religion and spirituality per se. You can accept that science doesn't deal with the latter two and stop believing in them. You can accept that science doesn't deal with the latter two and decide to stick with one or both of them as something that science hasn't gotten around to dealing with quite yet (this is my personal view on it) which leaves you with room to change your views further down the track if it does start to deal with various parts of it. The only time its an issue is when people are daft enough to put religion and spirituality before proven science (for a simple example: people who pray for the healing of cancer without seeking medical attention).

    I'm not sure if any of this is useful or helpful, but its a view from the other side of the looking glass so to speak.



    And yes MG, I do believe in elephants. Oddly enough however I do not believe in unicorns nor talking cats.
  7.  (8121.36)
    Paul, you're absolutely right about the validity and utility of the scientific method (in fact, when I wrote that Dawkins was "looking for objective knowledge via the scientific knowledge" I meant to write "via the scientific method" but forgot to proof read it). My point was that people who are religious didn't arrive at their beliefs through the scientific method, or even scientific motivations. They didn't decide to investigate our origins, formulate a hypothesis, test it against the data, and conclude that, say, Genesis was the best explanation. People come to religious belief for other reasons, mostly, I think, boiling down to wanting to believe they matter to the universe, and stuff like creation myths just come with the package.

    Your "weak" scientific method that people use without realising it is true up to a point, but I think we live by irrational assumptions at least as much as reliable observations - and we really don't like testing our assumptions, that's why you have to be trained to use the scientific method. As I understand it, to convert a hypothesis into a theory, you have to do your damnedest to disprove it, and if it survives your best efforts un-disproven then you can accept it as a theory. That's completely against human nature. You come up with an idea, you want to prove it, and you look for evidence that supports you and ignore evidence that doesn't. It's called "confirmation bias" and it's responsible for every superstition, prejudice and dodgy ideology going. The advantage religion has - in terms of its own survival and propagation, as a "meme" if you like - is that it bypasses learned things like the scientific method and piggybacks on instincts that are less under our conscious control.
  8.  (8121.37)
    texture:

    I have no patience with the concept of 'tolerance' of other religions.


    Tolerance doesn't require you to like or approve of the thing tolerated. It just requires you not to persecute or discriminate against people because of what they believe. I don't think that's unreasonable. If a religious person is vehemently opposed to atheism and argues against it forcefully, even viciously in the press, but doesn't demand laws against it or refuse to employ atheists, he's being tolerant.
  9.  (8121.38)
    @PatrickBrown
    Agreed, we're irrational in many ways, and that's where formal knowledge of the scientific method helps. But in many ways we're also animals with a naturally sceptical, questioning, experimenting bent, so it seems like you're in danger of falling into the trap of applying a false dichotomy here and over-simplifying the picture: seeing specific irrationalities and translating them into a fundamental irrationality.

    I think contemplating the true ratio of irrationality to rationality found within an average human is a pretty tricky thing to do, and will vary from individual to individual, but examples of both types of behaviour can be readily found. The important thing here, as far as I'm concerned, is that we all have the potential to use reason to overcome confirmation bias, instinctual behaviours, false pattern recognition, and many other forms of irrational or magic thinking. The fact that we have the ability to override our unconscious bias with conscious thought is enough to refute the idea that scientific rigour is "completely against human nature" as you say. That it exists at all means we, collectively, have a propensity towards it (no matter how marginal).
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.39)
    What is ideaspace? Looking at the word I can imagine what it might mean, but I never heard it before. Is it a bit like the collective unconsciousness?
    •  
      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.40)
    Moore on ideaspace:



    With regards to my comments on tolerance - I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you have any set of beliefs which exclude the possibility of others' beliefs being potentially true, you are living in the past (in my opinion). It's not beliefs per se that are wrong - it's believing that they are mutually exclusive. It's not enough for a (for example) Catholic person to say that Muslims are entitled to their beliefs but are still wrong... we have to lead by example, to create a world where no-one has the right to 'truth' any more. As a race, the human race, we need to be better than that.

    I really agree with a lot of what Paul says about the scientific underpinnings of modern thought. I think the scientific principles of theory and objective proof are far more relevant to modern life than anything that any religious text can tell us.