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  1.  (8121.41)
    Firmly in the atheist camp.

    In regards to tolerance: It's easy to practice in theory, but when people start legislating against things like stem-cell research and same-sex marriage based on religion and school systems start putting intelligent design into the textbooks...

    I'm a patient man, but there are limits.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.42)
    @texture

    That's all very much like the Immateria in Alan Moore's Promethea, isn't it? I love that book. I guess ideaspace does exist; it's a word to describe the accumulated treasure trove of our ideas, all the information and imagination we have at our disposal.
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      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.43)
    I love it when Moore gets into the whole thing of information being a super-weird substance.
    •  
      CommentAuthorMG
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.44)
    @twist
    And yes MG, I do believe in elephants. Oddly enough however I do not believe in unicorns nor talking cats.

    Color me confused by this assertion?
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.45)
    Science answers "how."

    Religion answers "why."

    Making this distinction makes it much easier to reconcile. It also helps to not be fundamentalist when it comes to Christianity.
  2.  (8121.46)
    Science answers "how."

    Religion answers "why."


    Not so much.

    Science answers why as well. Why did the apple fall from the tree? Gravity. A detailed explanation of how gravity works gives you both the how and the why.

    All religion can give you (because God made it that way) is vague platitudes that might actually prevent you from seeking further information and really learning why something works.
  3.  (8121.47)
    rickiep00h:

    Science answers "how."

    Religion answers "why."


    KPatrickGlover:

    Science answers why as well. Why did the apple fall from the tree? Gravity. A detailed explanation of how gravity works gives you both the how and the why.


    Precisely. Religion, meanwhile, invents an answer for why and treats it as proven fact. I think you're giving way too much credit to religion, Rickie. It has imagination, but lacks common sense and falls victim to wishful thinking.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010 edited
     (8121.48)
    Yeah...I'm agnostic.



    Will tread lightly since this topic tends to put target signs on people...

    I'm not fond of what religions do in the name of their gods, essentially going with their own needs and putting a "God said it" sticker on. But the concept of a being or intelligent gas or...something creating us be it part of the world religions or not is something that I'm open to as much as I'm open to the thought that our creation was a happy coincidence of the marvels of science. In the end, I wasn't at the beginning of things (ba-dum-cshh!) and I have no for certain-no-doubt-whatsoever conclusion as to how our universe got here and what happens when we die. We have LOTS of theories. Some more plausible than other. But I can hear all the theories I want and in the end I just don't know for sure. So as a result I read anyways. And read and read and read and question, and theorize and read and so on. Eventually I'll come to my own thoughts but whether I'll be able to prove beyond a doubt that it's correct...well, I don't think I'll be able to do that. We'll see what the future holds, yeah?
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.49)
    Gravity. A detailed explanation of how gravity works gives you both the how and the why.
    At this point, I'm going to make a pedantic distinction: "how" implies a process, "why" implies a purpose. People seek a greater purpose to their lives than "we're random meaningless matter in a cold, unfeeling, purposeless universe that appears devoid of any logic apart from mathematics." That's where religion comes in. Perhaps I should have used a capital W on "Why."

    Andre, I think I give it just enough credit. I'm not saying any of them are valid on a logical scale, and I'm not saying that I necessarily believe in anything other than non-committal without support. It's when people get psychotically vehement about things that I have to part ways with their particular line of thought. This goes for believers and non-believers both.
  4.  (8121.50)
    It's when people get psychotically vehement about things that I have to part ways with their particular line of thought. This goes for believers and non-believers both.


    That's a good philosophy.
  5.  (8121.51)
    Well, pedantic or not, I disagree with your definition of why. But I see where you're going with it, so I won't derail things offer your choice of words.

    However this irrational need to assign a greater purpose or reason to existence has done more to block or slow progress over the last few hundred years than anything else I can think of and it should be resisted as much as possible. The essential problem being that when you let religion answer your "whys", it usually takes away the need for you to know your "hows".

    This is a bad thing.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.52)
    The essential problem being that when you let religion answer your "whys", it usually takes away the need for you to know your "hows".
    That's essentially it, yes. When your basic tenet boils down to "A wizard did it," it sets a dangerous precedent for how you deal with the world, from science to issues like economics, war, politics, and so on. At the same time, I think it provides a nice cover for people who are genuinely toxic people, and allows them to explain away pretty much anything. So I'm totally on board with you in that regard.
  6.  (8121.53)
    Firmly in the atheist camp.

    In regards to tolerance: It's easy to practice in theory, but when people start legislating against things like stem-cell research and same-sex marriage based on religion and school systems start putting intelligent design into the textbooks...

    I'm a patient man, but there are limits.


    Exactly. Thinking that this bronze age rubbish is applicable to the 21st century reality is richly deserving of mockery and doing everything you can to make it the law of the land is deserving of disdain.
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      CommentAuthorcelan
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.54)
    @Rachel
    This is a great question...and on my mind of late as well. I guess the short answer is: I struggle with it.
    I too have experienced weird things (whilst very sober.) I guess how I'm framing it lately is sort of along the lines of that Samuel Johnson quotation: "All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it." In other words, I feel like my interaction with the material world generally requires atheism whilst the ethical world seems to require something else beyond that...not god necessarily but at least a position that has to lead to a more profound basis for the injunction to Be Nice. I would echo the previous comment about Buddhism...it is sometimes described as a "science of mind"...and so even as I have become more entrenched as an atheist, I have found the rationale of Buddhism to very compelling.
    I would also inject as possible items for this discussion: Peirce's Fallibilism, the notion of gods as "enduring values"...and the distinction between pantheism and panentheism, etc.
    • CommentAuthorlucien
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.55)
    The Musical Brain

    In this doc, that i just finished watching on Bravo, a neuroscientist decides digging music is not enough and tries to analyze it scientifically. To this end he chucks Sting into an MRI machine and gets him to think about music, compose music, and listen to various types of music, all the while recording what takes place in the model of Sting's brain that i'm guessing is supposed to have a greater "reality" than his actual brain or his experience of it's processes, or, for that matter, said neuroscientist's experience of the products of Sting's brain processes.
    The upshot seems to be that Sting's brain responds differently to music he likes than to music he doesn't, and that while composing music in his head there is more activity between the brain's hemispheres than is observed in more amateur musicians.
    Also included is some twat who developed software that analyzes hit music throughout the year and can generally tell you if your song is going to be a "hit" or not, but which cannot tell you ways to improve your song into what may well be a hit.
    Posting this here because the comments by the various musicians at the end of the doc speak in terms of their music having a "spiritual" value to them, and because the doc speaks to the subject being discussed in terms of how well science can model an act of creation that those doing the creating prefer to model in spiritual/emotive terms rather than scientific terms.
    It seems to me that most of the "atheists" have so far been rightly shitting on organized religion and the monkeys that buy into it to the exclusion of all other evidence, while perhaps falling into a similar trap themselves in wanting to disregard any possible validity in both the various "wisdom" or "spiritual" traditions that history has to offer us, and the human experiences that are more easily modelled in a non-scientific symbol structure.. to my mind, these traditions have more to do with understanding a process of creation, akin to that of making music, rather than with forming an inherently corrupt and flawed power structure that feeds on and inspires ignorance and prejudice. A power structure that can just as easily be based on precepts of science as that of "religion."
    anyway, i could bang on about this shit for longer than anyone would want to listen to. hopefully this adds something constructive to the discussion.
    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     (8121.56)
    Serious question: how do you decide which scientific theories you don't understand and can't test yourself to accept?

    Personally, quantum mechanics makes about as much sense to me as the concept of god does. I don't understand any of the mathematic proofs behind many scientific theories, I've never seen an atom(except maybe while on lsd), hell I don't even know if could say I really understand stars, before the big bang? - it is a mystery! And so forth, on and on. In general, I am more accepting of science writing it off as me being too stupid to understand. Most religious texts seem fine if taken as metaphors and in historical context, but most of it makes no sense to me and I disregard it as I don't see an application to my life.

    More random thoughts:
    -It is important to look at who is funding a scientific study. I no longer look at nutrition studies and just go with what works after so many years of bogus studies.
    -I wonder how much of the science of today will be seen as ridiculous or if we are reaching a critical mass in knowledge?
    -That we now have 8 planets in our solar system is one of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of science.
    -Science VS. Religion, who has better marketing?

    @lucien I don't want to derail the thread, but music certainly saved me from organized religion!
  7.  (8121.57)
    @jonah
    "Personally, quantum mechanics makes about as much sense to me as the concept of god does."

    But I could demonstrate a visible (and surprisingly counter-intuitive) aspect of quantum mechanics with a small lightbulb and some cardboard. I doubt anyone could do the same for God. It's a perfect example actually, since quantum mechanics is something nobody understands intuitively, it's an area of science in which all we have to go on is the results the experiments give us, and the maths we extrapolate from that. It's like the direct opposite of faith: all observational feedback, no gut-feeling, no blind belief, only belief in what you can see and confirm, even if intuitive understanding is beyond you. Of course, for someone who's never experienced the observational feedback, it might as well be faith, but again, you can learn about quantum mechanics if you like, hear about the experiments second hand, discover that our knowledge of quantum mechanics has allowed us to create working technology that you use every day (your computer for example). I guess miracles caused by God may potentially exist as well, but you can't learn exactly how they underpin the way your processor works.

    The best thing you can do is read as much of the popular (and non-popular) science literature as you can, educate yourself as fully as you can, and decide for yourself. Find out if the scientific consensus on something is split, understand the manner in which scientific theories are replaced by new ones, and how useful the various old ones remain (or don't) despite having been replaced/refined.

    An added note to your random thoughts:
    It's important to look at the source of your scientific information. Be wary whenever you don't see the scientist's names ("scientists say" for example), whenever the original survey isn't referenced or linked. "bogus studies" may in many cases be "bogus reporting".
  8.  (8121.58)
    But I could demonstrate a visible (and surprisingly counter-intuitive) aspect of quantum mechanics with a small lightbulb and some cardboard. I doubt anyone could do the same for God.


    Thank you.

    It seems to me that most of the "atheists" have so far been rightly shitting on organized religion and the monkeys that buy into it to the exclusion of all other evidence, while perhaps falling into a similar trap themselves in wanting to disregard any possible validity in both the various "wisdom" or "spiritual" traditions that history has to offer us, and the human experiences that are more easily modelled in a non-scientific symbol structure.


    These are all things the brain does. Biology. Nothing magical about it. As natural a process as having sex. And we know pretty much everything about sex as well thanks to science and reason.

    Does the knowledge that these both are completely unmagical lessen the (biologically created) pleasure we gain from both music and sex? I doubt anyone sane would say "yes"
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      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2010 edited
     (8121.59)
    wanting to disregard any possible validity in both the various "wisdom" or "spiritual" traditions


    The point is, as Paul points out very well, that this 'wisdom' of which you speak is just opinion, no matter how valid or valuable it is. Religion can not and never will be provable or objectively verifiable - whereas science, even the freaky stuff like quantum foam, gets more demonstrably 'true' with each new iteration of theory. AND, unlike religious claims, scientific claims have no need of absolutism - when something in science is accepted as fact, it always comes with the corolllary 'to the best of our current knowledge.' That's why agnosticism was never an option for me.

    The best and most useful spiritual philosophies nearly all boil down to 'be nice to each other' - they just reiterate this point with various degrees of savagery (cf. the Christian concept of Hell-as-punishment), bribery (cf. Zen Buddhism - 'meditate to escape and trasncend suffering') or, in many many cases, exquisitely meaningful and resonant prose. Although it can be comforting, romantic, frightening, or tempting to believe, no spiritual knowledge or piece of wisdom I have ever come across can be verified in any way. That isn't to say I reject it - just that I treat it as what it is - fiction - and not what it claims to be... gospel.

    These are all things the brain does. Biology. Nothing magical about it.


    If I poked the right bit of your brain with an electric wire, I could make you see God.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2010 edited
     (8121.60)
    > Although it can be comforting, romantic, frightening, or tempting to believe, no spiritual knowledge or piece of wisdom I have ever come across can be verified in any way.

    I hope you might enjoy this article.