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Old 06-25-2007, 08:55 AM   #31
Kate
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Could be.......Track #10 may hold an answer.

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Old 06-25-2007, 09:11 AM   #32
Lily
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Irreligious wrote
Faith? Singular? It's a fallacious question. What exactly is science supposed to say to the erudite Roman Catholic? The Evangelical Baptist who believes in a young earth? The traditional Muslim who believes that the creator of the universe gave men license to beat their wives? The practioner of Voodoo who sincerely believes in demonic possession? What kind of cacophonous discussion would that be? Perhaps, the different members of the faith community ought to try speaking to each other first. You know, get their story straight.
You really might like the McGrath article I alluded to up above, somewhere. It doesn't make sense to start discussing the minutiae, until we have the big picture clarified.
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Old 06-25-2007, 09:17 AM   #33
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"If You Ask"

[chorus]
If you ask for my forgiveness
If you call my name I will come
If you ask for my love I will give you some

Someday I know you will understand
Someday you'll finally realize
What you're doing to yourself

:/

I'm stumped, Kate.

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Old 06-25-2007, 09:45 AM   #34
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Lily wrote
It doesn't make sense to start discussing the minutiae, until we have the big picture clarified.
My point, precisely. But that's a discussion to be had amongst theists, and not those of us who exist outside that box.

And just so you know that I'm not blowing you off, I did read the McGrath article, until I got here, where he quotes H.W. Griffith-Thomas:
Quote:
[Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.
I'm not a scientist, as I've said many times before, but neither do I speak the above language. Sincerely, I can't begin to parse what it's supposed to mean.

"So many gods, so many creeds! So many paths that wind and wind, when just the art of being kind is all this sad world needs."
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Old 06-25-2007, 10:13 AM   #35
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Irreligious wrote
...
And just so you know that I'm not blowing you off, I did read the McGrath article, until I got here, where he quotes H.W. Griffith-Thomas:
Quote:
[Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.
I'm not a scientist, as I've said many times before, but neither do I speak the above language. Sincerely, I can't begin to parse what it's supposed to mean.
Well, skip over it. The entire article is interesting and the discussion that followed (also available) was interesting too. There was even an atheist there!

The point that McGrath makes clearly and, I think accurately, is that Dawkins presses science all out of recognition when he tries to use it to support his atheism. I think what AM does really well in this lecture is impress on all his audience the need to recognize the limits of both science and religion. That he can do so while being so generous in his assessment of Dawkins as a scientist and a writer is, I think, really refreshing. No name-calling or insults there!
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Old 06-25-2007, 10:55 AM   #36
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Lily,
Can you please elaborate what you mean by your use of the word "generous"?
Quote:
Lily wrote
He is very generous in his praise of Dawkins as a scientist and a writer.
and
That he can do so while being so generous in his assessment of Dawkins as a scientist and a writer is, I think, really refreshing.
Note: Bolding mine

Are you saying simply that he is praising Dawkins a lot, or are you implying that he is overstating Dawkins' abilities?

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 06-25-2007, 11:16 AM   #37
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nkb wrote
Lily,
Can you please elaborate what you mean by your use of the word "generous"?
Quote:
Lily wrote
He is very generous in his praise of Dawkins as a scientist and a writer.
and
That he can do so while being so generous in his assessment of Dawkins as a scientist and a writer is, I think, really refreshing.
Note: Bolding mine

Are you saying simply that he is praising Dawkins a lot, or are you implying that he is overstating Dawkins' abilities?
He heaps lots of praise on Dawkins. He was blown away by some of Dawkins' early work and still values him as a scientist. He is not persuaded by him as a philosopher, however, and makes a good case rebutting Dawkins' "scientifically grounded" atheism.
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Old 06-25-2007, 11:22 AM   #38
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Lily wrote
He is not persuaded by him as a philosopher, however, and makes a good case rebutting Dawkins' "scientifically grounded" atheism.
I don't think McGrath makes a good case at all. Science and atheism are quite compatible, as science is not the least bit concerned with ill-defined deities that it cannot test. Science is merely a tool for uncovering how the natural world works. If gods are above nature, what the heck is science supposed to have to say about them?

"So many gods, so many creeds! So many paths that wind and wind, when just the art of being kind is all this sad world needs."
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Old 06-25-2007, 11:58 AM   #39
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Having read the article, I'm not convinced. Dawkins' case, as he has repeatedly stated, is based on Russell's "Blue China Teapot" argument (better known to us as the FSM reductio ad absurdum) which McGrath fails to rebut so far as I could see. He implicitly states that many adults don't go along with it, but that isn't a rebuttal. It isn't even a counterargument.

He seems to be basing his case on the well worn argument that, in the absence of evidence, theism and atheism are on an equal footing. I don't think any atheist here would agree with that. We would argue that atheism is the philosophical default condition.

Specifically, McGrath tries to rebut Dawkins on the following:
Quote:
Dawkins asserts that Darwininism has made God redundant or an intellectual impossibility. To accept a Darwinian worldview entails atheism. Although this theme permeates Dawkins' writings, it is explored in particular detail in The Blind Watchmaker.
McGrath argues, correctly, I think, that Dawkins hasn't shown Darwinism proves God an intellectual impossibility. But, by Russell's argument, redundancy will do nicely, thank you.

Quote:
Dawkins asserts that religious faith means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence, which is totally inconsistent with the scientific method.
As far as I can see this is faith by definition. If we have evidence we call it belief or knowledge. We can argue this if you want, but if you're going to claim you have evidence (in your case, Lily, I know you believe you have a historical case) then I would parse it as <your religious belief> consists of <faith + some other evidential component>, not, as McGrath would have it, <your religious belief> consists of <faith, which includes evidence>.

Quote:
The reason that belief in God remains widespread is due to the effectiveness of its means of propagation, not the coherence of its arguments. This propagator is variously referred to as a `meme' or a `virus', which infects otherwise healthy and sane minds.
This may or may not be true regardless of the truth or otherwise of religion. Dawkins characterises science as a meme as well. I don't think he's ever used meme in anything but a neutral way, as a theory of how ideas - any ideas, true or false - spread. There are issues with memetic theory as McGrath points out (although there is some interesting evidence, that McGrath ignores, that the spread of ideas can be modelled using equations from epidemiology, which makes memes rather more than a bad analogy) but it doesn't matter as far as the arguments for or against religion are concerned. I think McGrath has been misled by Dawkins' virus analogy to the judgement that because it's a virus, it has to be bad, and because Dawkins characterises religion as a meme, he is using memes as an argument agianst religion.
I can see where McGrath gets this idea, because Dawkins, given half a chance, will use anything as an argument agianst religion, but I don't think that's the case here.

Quote:
Religion presupposes and propagates a miserable, limited and deficient view of the universe, in contrast to the bold, brilliant and beautiful vision of the natural sciences.
I'd agree with Dawkins on this but I suppose it's an aesthetic judgement. If you are an atheist then of course religion seems pokey, medieval and limited, but only if you're already an atheist, and I think Dawkins is aware of this. I suppose if you are already an atheist it's an argument for active atheism, and I think this is where Dawkins is going with this one.

Quote:
Religion leads to violence, lies and deceit, and its elimination can therefore only be a good thing for the human race.
I don't care whether this is true or not. It is irrelevant to any argument for or against the truth of atheism that I can see.
For the record, historically I don't think religion has made humans behave any worse, or any better, because we're primates who indulge in primate behaviour with or without a supernatural excuse. But I do think that if we have any hope of mitigating those aspects of human behaviour we find abhorrent then we need to understand humans in philosophical, neurological and psychological terms, not religious ones.


So, basically, I don't think McGrath actually addresses Dawkins' root argument, only some philosophically superficial consequences and side issues.

Anyway, awaiting your thoughts on Kuhn.....

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Old 06-25-2007, 12:22 PM   #40
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a different tim wrote
Nah, I'm game. Paradigm shifts (existence of) is a historical issue that bears on the topic of the thread. Lily's a historian. It's fair enough as far as I can see.

You could argue the case either way. You could claim that the citations index is unlikely to contain any papers that precipitate genuine paradigm shifts, for example, but I think given the way the sandpile model fits the data the onus is now on the Kuhnians to demonstrate that paradigm shifts actually exist (for people who don't know what I'm talking about go via the link on post 17). There might also, as I said, be some Godel type proof (e.g. demonstrating mathematically the possibility that semantically incommensurable theories can be abstracted from the same data set) that I am unaware of. Rhino knows about that stuff. Calling Rhino!
It seems to me that "paradigm shifts" only look like they exist to people who aren't actually involved in the work. Nobody remembers all the near misses, or the mountain of work that backs up the big ideas but was published as a curiosity or in some obscure journal. The large breakthroughs happen with a huge base of less inspiring, but still necessary material beneath it. It's like building a house and only recognizing that it exists after the roof is on.

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Old 06-25-2007, 12:50 PM   #41
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Lily wrote
I stumbled across a lecture given by Alister McGrath in 2004 earlier today. I just finished reading it and found it very interesting. It is called Has Science Eliminated God: Richard Dawkins and the Meaning of Life". He is very generous in his praise of Dawkins as a scientist and a writer. About the answers he proposes to the "big" questions, McGrath has some reservations.

I recommend it to any of you who are interested in the subject. I am pretty certain you will enjoy it: http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/...h/lecture.html

Edited to add:

ADT, thanks very much for your last response! If you happen to see this message, I want to assure you that I am not only not ignoring what you wrote about Kuhn but you inspired me to go back and read him again, as well as dig out my old philosophy notes-- as soon as I have digested this mess of data, I will write a proper response to your message.
Lily, do you agree with this definition of faith, attributed by McGrath to W. H. Griffith-Thomas (1861-1924), " a noted Anglican theologian"

"[Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct."

And have you heard of Jan Henrick Schon? He tried to do some difficult experiments, and he was certain they would work. But they didn't. However, he had a conviction of the mind, based on [what he thought was] adequate evidence, and so he falsified his data, probably as a result of his convictions continuing as a confidence in his heart or emotions (based on conviction). All this was of course crowned in his willful act to write phony articles, because to him they were not phony, he just didn't have the scientific proof he needed. He did, however, have faith, and because he really believed he thought it was ok to present what is in actuality fraudulent data. Schon made the mistake of confusing arbitrary invented knowledge with actual scientific evidence. It turns out that the only evidence that is in fact adequate can be tested, whereas the "adequate" evidence needed for faith not only can't be tested, but need not even be real.

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Old 06-25-2007, 01:38 PM   #42
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a different tim wrote
Having read the article, I'm not convinced. Dawkins' case, as he has repeatedly stated, is based on Russell's "Blue China Teapot" argument (better known to us as the FSM reductio ad absurdum) which McGrath fails to rebut so far as I could see.

<much good stuff snipped>
Anyway, awaiting your thoughts on Kuhn.....
I can't do either this comment or Choob's any justice right now-- I have spent the better part of the day trying to make sense out of the biggest mass of faked statistics any human has ever had to deal with. I don't think I can deal with any more problems right now.

I liked McGrath's insistence that science can only go so far-- but at the end of the day we still have to organize our lives in some fashion. How we should do so is another question and it is not one that science can answer. This is hardly a new insight but I liked the way McGrath (himself scientifically educated) approached it. I think I will reread the lecture with your criticisms in mind and see what else I get out of it.

As far as Kuhn is concerned, there is a bit I want to say about him (or, rather about his ideas as (mis)appropriated by some philosophers and apologists)-- but I will write a message about that later. I will say for now that I understand how seductive the notion is that we are all speaking from our different "paradigms" and that we are talking past each other in trying to settle issues of science vs faith. However, this move comes at a cost that I am not willing to pay. Particularly when applied outside of science--to cultures, religions, etc. it seems to me that this kuhnian misappropriation removes our ability to bring critical judgment to bear on them. Thus, who am I to object to genital mutilation? Polygamy? The death penalty? Etc.

But I digress. I must do a little more reading and a lot more thinking.
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Old 06-25-2007, 01:42 PM   #43
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Old 06-25-2007, 02:04 PM   #44
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actually, cow belches are loaded with methane, a greenhouse gas that helps deplete the ozone layer...and there's a lot of cows in the world.

to many, if you ask me....but the worst are the ones that post in this forum....

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected....That they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly.
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Old 06-25-2007, 03:19 PM   #45
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Quote:
Lily wrote
I can't do either this comment or Choob's any justice right now-- I have spent the better part of the day trying to make sense out of the biggest mass of faked statistics any human has ever had to deal with. I don't think I can deal with any more problems right now.

I liked McGrath's insistence that science can only go so far-- but at the end of the day we still have to organize our lives in some fashion. How we should do so is another question and it is not one that science can answer. This is hardly a new insight but I liked the way McGrath (himself scientifically educated) approached it. I think I will reread the lecture with your criticisms in mind and see what else I get out of it.

As far as Kuhn is concerned, there is a bit I want to say about him (or, rather about his ideas as (mis)appropriated by some philosophers and apologists)-- but I will write a message about that later. I will say for now that I understand how seductive the notion is that we are all speaking from our different "paradigms" and that we are talking past each other in trying to settle issues of science vs faith. However, this move comes at a cost that I am not willing to pay. Particularly when applied outside of science--to cultures, religions, etc. it seems to me that this kuhnian misappropriation removes our ability to bring critical judgment to bear on them. Thus, who am I to object to genital mutilation? Polygamy? The death penalty? Etc.

But I digress. I must do a little more reading and a lot more thinking.

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