Say it ain't so

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Say it ain't so

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri May 09, 2008 6:27 am

In his philosophy of religion course, James Hall, professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of Richmond (Virginia), tells the following in his lecture titled Is Evidence Irrelevant to Faith?:
<Geddes MacGregor, a 20th-century religious writer and philosopher, in his book An Introduction to Religious Philosophy [[1959], tells the story of a Sunday school teacher who asks a child to define faith. The child says, “Oh, that’s easy. I know what faith is.” So the Sunday school teacher says, “Okay, what’s faith?” The little boy says, Faith is believing steadfastly what you know ain’t so.”>
__________________

Ken G – May 8, 2008
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by dalehileman » Sun May 11, 2008 4:31 pm

Ken as I felt you were being ignored I was compelled to comment on this subject, dear to my heart. Where deists gain comfort from their faith, the atheists, agnostics, and many pantheists are denied it

So the trick is to be able to entertain conflicting ideas, a rare quality and, I believe, one of the outcomes of Zen; making it possible to achieve the benefits of faith without the core of belief

This is also demonstrated in some detail by William James in Varieties of Religious Experience. For my good journalist buddy Francis, it's an interesting sidelight to note that nature and the love of animals is one of the "substitutes" for religion to gain a feeling of release from the mundane without the need for the sort of blind faith to which the child has reference in Ken's thread

Intelligent design merely represents the ways things would be with or without a God. They appear intelligent merely because each effect follows from a specific cause. Your little kid will, if he isn't brainwashed by his parents, eventually come to realize that the laws of physics would be valid, like mathematics, because they represent what is possible. God simply allows what's possible since She cannot perform the impossible. This is so clear and self-evident that it's hard to understand how anybody can believe in miracles

Except those that are possible

Frances if it's no trouble and if there presently is one, I wonder if you'd mind forwarding this link to the Press' Religion Ed. Thank you most kindly
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by Berale » Thu May 15, 2008 7:09 am

Entertaining conflicting ideas, methinks, is something most human beings do (unconsciously) at least some of the time.

However, real faith is about choosing to believe something that you regard as extremely likely but is impossible to totally prove. (Like, for instance, believing that the sun will shine again tomorrow.)

P.S. I've been told that there's a new listing in the phone book for an Atheists' Prayerline. You dial a number, it rings and rings and nobody answers.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by PhilHunt » Fri May 16, 2008 8:19 am

I will post this link to a BBC story with no comment. Make up your own minds.
The title is 'Vatican says aliens could exist'.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7399661.stm
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by PhilHunt » Fri May 16, 2008 10:07 am

dalehileman wrote: Intelligent design merely represents the ways things would be with or without a God.
Be careful about using the term Intelligent design.
In the US Intelligent Design is a neo-creationist group which has been campaigning for the inclusion of 'alternative' theories for evolution to be taught side-by-side with Darwinism in state schools. In some states such as Kansas they succeeded in having Darwinism taken off the curriculum.
Their website is here: http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/

Richard Dawkins is a vocal opponent to them. His website is here: http://richarddawkins.net/

Read both, weigh up the arguements, come to your own conclusion.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri May 16, 2008 11:06 am

In Kansas, the morons on the Board of Education who decided to include 'Intelligent Design' in the public school curriculum were voted off a couple of years ago and replaced by more level-headed officials. It is incorrect that Darwin's theory of evolution was removed from the curriculum in Kansas. Instead, 'Intelligent Design' was taught alongside it as an alternative to evolutionary theory.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by PhilHunt » Fri May 16, 2008 7:40 pm

Sorry Erik, I stand corrected.
I don't think it's fair to call the board of education in Kansas morons. I actually listened to the entire audio recording of the hearing they held and many of them came across as intelligent people who had unfortunately been dazzled by the smooth talking of the ID advocates. They actually got a broad selection of practising scientists to come and give evidence against evolution theory. Some of the debate was very interesting such as how evolution theory can be demonstrated in minor changes but it is very hard to demonstrate large scale evolution as it is a process of historical speculation and as such they argued that it shouldn't be taught as a scientific fact but as a historical science. All this seemed reasonable enough. The problem starts when the ID team start to use this arguement to introduce their fuzzy science into the classroom.
Evolution is theory which has been debated, observed and argued over by scientists for a long time and as such it has the majority of the scientific community backing it. ID has never been through this kind of debate and it does not make sense to subject our children to not just an unprooved but an undebated-in-the-science-community theory.
As I said though, many of the board seemed like intelligent people who had allowed their personal beliefs to sway them into accepting the minority view of the ID group over the majority view of science.
Also, you could tell from the beginning of the hearing that no matter the outcome of the 'trail' they would have opted for ID, so the board were mainly guilty of wasting hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars on a pointless show trial.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri May 16, 2008 9:53 pm

Religion tends to turn smart people stupid. It's what happens when you enslave your thinking to other people's dogma.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri May 16, 2008 11:52 pm

It's a stupid scientist goes down the majority view trail.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by Berale » Sat May 17, 2008 12:29 am

I don't mind being regarded as stupid by a majority who happen to be mistaken.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by PhilHunt » Sat May 17, 2008 2:12 pm

This is not a case of who is right and who is wrong. This is a case of what is right for the education of our children.
If I am a free thinking individual who happens to believe that the world is round without taking the time to prove it, that is my view. Likewise, if I am a free thinking individual who happens to believe the world is flat and riding on the back of a turtle, I'm free to think this. The problem occurs when our children's education is affected by these opinions. As a society we need some form of control to stop our children from receiving, or not receiving information which will be useful to them in their adult life as useful functioning individuals in a useful society.
The very reason why some of you come here is to ask about the correct forms or origins of the English language. Now imagine if it was all a free for all. Imagine if when PhilWhite tells me that the correct form of the past tense of 'see' is 'saw', I decide that it is 'seen'. At present it is easy to reach for a dictionary to correct this view. Now imagine if I am able to lobby for the introduction of 'seen' as the past tense of 'see' to be taught side by side with the accepted form in schools because I have personally seen some people using 'seen' as the past tense and I myself use it that way therefore it must be an acceptable form. This is a minority view based on personal belief which has not been proven in any way. How many of you would accept this type of bullying?
Scientists have in the past held incorrect views of the world which have later been replaced by more correct views. This is natural and the new idea is accept after it has been accessed by the majority of authorititive people in that field after scrutiny. The difference between this and the Kansas hearing is that the ID group are not offering a proven or even well formed view of evolution. Their entire campaign hinges on the finding examples which cast doubt on evolution and then presenting this as science. At best it is shoddy science and while it may open up an interesting debate on the current theory of evoution is does not offer an alternative, verifiable theory. Hence all they are is a skeptic group who at best could campaign for the revaluation of evolution theory in the light of new findings, which will require peer group analysis before entering main stream education, instead of using this arguement to lobby for the teacing of untested minority opinion side by side with the majority view.
The ID group then try to cast doubt on evolution by calling it 'religion' because it is founded on belief in a theory and as such is the same as any religion. Again, this view is short sighted because evolution is not a belief system but an attempt to explain an observable reality through reasonable thought. Religion on the other hand requires a suspension of reasonable thinking in an attempt to offer a theory as to how we got to where we are.
I find the ID attempt to subject evolution theory to scientific analysis and then attempt to class it as a belief laughable considering they would not allow the same scrutiny to be given to religion itself. Imagine if religion was put on trial in Kansas in the same way and they had to find justification as to why it is taught in school based on scientific analysis.

Which brings me onto the BBC article I posted.
The Vatican's chief astronomer has said that he believed there was probably intelligent life beyond earth but that it was put there by God. This claim sounds like the colonising words of Christians of past year who would settle on an island and convince the local tribes that their Gods were actually false and there was one true God, the Christian God. Usually this was achieved through force or through superior technology. The Vatican's claim is obviously made from the stand point of a superior race. Now, imagine if we were visited by an intelligent life form and it was far more advanced than us. Where would that leave us? We are the inferior race so whose God would be adopted? I think it's safe to say that if the superior race had a God, theirs would win the day. This would also cast doubt on the claim that God made us in his likeness. If this were true then why would he make a superior race NOT in his image but reseve his image for an inferior race?
Until we discover intelligent life no-one should be trying to lay claim to its existence.
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Re: invisible pink unicorns

Post by zmjezhd » Sat May 17, 2008 3:17 pm

In Kansas, the morons on the Board of Education

But if it wasn't for that Board, the truth of the FSM would never have been revealed to the majority of non-believers. (Although, some older ignostics remember Bertie Russell had gone over this ground with his wonderful Celestial Teapot.)
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by Berale » Sat May 17, 2008 4:27 pm

PhilHunt wrote:Religion on the other hand requires a suspension of reasonable thinking
Perhaps there are religions that do that. My God does not require me to suspend reasonable thinking, it was he who gave me my brain and he expects me to use it. And by the way, there are plenty of cases of people (intelligent people) who used their brain to try and disprove the case of the Christian faith and found themselves, to their surprise, accepting it. There is a book called Who Moved the Stone, for example, which looks into the resurrection. That's just one book that springs to mind.

There are also some intelligent scientists around who take the Genesis account as true and do not accept the theory of evolution. I don't mind that evolution is taught at schools, what I mind is that it's taught as though it is more than just a theory.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by trolley » Sat May 17, 2008 6:48 pm

I think it is important to remember that Intelligent Design and Creationism are not the same thing. Also, evolution is more than just a theory. It is a fact, borne out by the fossil record. Biological organisms evolve from generation to generation , through mutation and survival of the fittest. Does evolution exclude the possibility that there may be a higher power working from behind the curtain? Hell, no. Not on my watch. The idea that a random lightening bolt struck a pile of primordial goo and created life where there was none before is as wild as the notion that everything is controlled by some master puppeteer. If you don’t have options, you can’t make choices.
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Re: Say it ain't so

Post by PhilHunt » Mon May 19, 2008 11:47 am

Berale wrote:
PhilHunt wrote:Religion on the other hand requires a suspension of reasonable thinking
Perhaps there are religions that do that. My God does not require me to suspend reasonable thinking...

There are also some intelligent scientists around who take the Genesis account as true and do not accept the theory of evolution.
I am not being offensive when I say suspension of reasonable thinking. This is just a statement of fact.
If I told you that my next door neighbour can raise the dead you would quite reasonably not believe me yet a belief in religion as written in the Bible requires us to suspend reasonable thinking and believe that there were some people, saints for example, who were able to bring back the dead, speak to spirits and angels, survive decapitation, foresee the future etc...
A belief in miracles, which is part and parcel to belief in religion, requires a suspension of belief in the laws of nature. To believe that a person with cancer can be cured through radiotherapy is a belief based on scientific testing. A belief that that self same person can be cured through prayer is irrational and not based on any scientific basis. In fact a test was carried out by the Templeton Foundation http://www.templeton.org/ in an attempt to prove that prayer worked.
They selected 3 groups of patients recovering from operations.
Group 1 were prayed for but were unaware of it.
Group 2 were not prayed for.
Group 3 were prayed for but were aware of it.
The results for recovery in the patients of group 1 and 2 were the same but interestingly group 3 showed significantly lower rates of recovery than the other two groups.
The test had many flaws but the results certainly did not bolster religious claims that prayer aids physical recovery.

As to scientist who believe in Genesis; again, this requires them to disregard all evidence to the contrary and to believe that a book, written by many different men and at different times, mistranslated and massively edited in the middle ages, somehow represents the real truth of our origins.
I read one story about a scientist who had a crisis because what he was learning in science seemed to contradict everything he read in the Bible. One day he went through the Bible and cut out all the sections which could not be true according to his learning in science and he was left with a slim volume. he then decided that he had to make a decision, either to believe everything in the Bible or to believe science. He chose the Bible. This is not a rational decision as he decided to disregard the actual evidence presented to him in favour of irrational thinking. So in response to the fact that many scientists believe in Genesis as fact, this doesn't mean anything. Many people believe the holocaust never existed but I don't pay them credence.
trolley wrote:I think it is important to remember that Intelligent Design and Creationism are not the same thing. Also, evolution is more than just a theory. It is a fact, borne out by the fossil record. Biological organisms evolve from generation to generation , through mutation and survival of the fittest. Does evolution exclude the possibility that there may be a higher power working from behind the curtain?
I stated that ID was a form of neo-creationism. They argue that the gaps in the fossil record show that there was no smooth transition from one species to another and thus that the theory is false.
Micro-evolution is prooven fact. Scientists have observed this type of evolution in our life times. The chaffinches of the Galapagus islands are the most studies species in the world and evolution of body size, beak size etc in response to change in habitat has been observed. This is one way that micor-evolution has been proven.
Macro-evolution, how we got from a fish species to mamals for example, is more difficult. The fossil record can show intermediates but it is unable to show the entire evolutionary cycle. The obvious reason why it is so difficult to do so is that fossils are not so easy to come by. A fossilised animal must be one that had fallen into a boggy terrain, not been eaten by other animals and not gone rotten through exposure to air. Obviously this is a very rare occurance and it is for this reason fossils showing all the intermediate phases are hard (impossible) to come by. For this reason, macro-evolution will always remain a hotly contested topic.
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