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AKAImBatman's Journal: Did you open your eyes? 34

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In a recent post on the topic of altruism being hardwired into the human brain, I challenged others to think about the theological implications of this. As the article suggested, many people jump to the conclusion that science is disproving the existence of a higher being. I used the exact opposite extreme to point out how silly that is.

Here it is again, but this time with the bolding reversed:

I figured it would be fun to respond with a similarly goofy argument:

It seems to me that if man is hardwired with an sense of altruism and a desire to believe in a super-being, there can be no other answer to this question than the existence of a Creator.

The question is, how many of you got the message? How many of you jumped to disprove a statement that did not need to be disproven in the first place?

Slashdot is composed of some of the smartest people in the world. Yet sometimes the smartest people can close their minds. The truth is that science does not prove or disprove religion. It cannot do that as it only concerns itself with the universe at hand.

Faith-based religion is not science. Let's not treat it as such. But science is not faith-based religion. Let's not make the mistake of mistreating it, either.

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Did you open your eyes?

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  • Personally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <[shadow.wrought] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @06:47PM (#19315515) Homepage Journal
    I have always felt that Science and Religion answer similar, but very different questions, and exist for very different reasons. Other than human fallacies, there is no reason why the two cannot simply amicably co-exist, if not even aid each other to a certain extent.
    • Science deals with "what", faith deals with "why".
      • I call bullshit on this.

        "Faith" is not a quality, it's simply an expression of human naiveness. Religion doesn't give answers to "why", it invents them without logical explanation and then calls for blind belief.
        • What you say is true in a lot of cases.
          OTOH, science has yet to provide any logical explanation for existence, either. When I mentally set aside, briefly, the internal affirmations that drive me, I'm left with a Darwinian outlook that proceeds directly to nihilism.
          Rejection of faith as "blind belief", for me, would be a pretext to support whatever hedonistic motives I "feel" at the moment. All "life" is pure chemistry. Moral equivalence rules. The altruist is "morally" equivalent to the mass murderer,
          • OTOH, science has yet to provide any logical explanation for existence, either.

            That science hasn't explained mass or given a better explanation for existence than the anthropic principle doesn't mean we should invent supernatural beings to explain it. It's no more than a "God of the Gaps". The greeks didn't understand thunder and lightning, and they invented Zeus to explain it. I am confident in our ability, given infinite time, to explain everything. Whether or not we can do so in non-infinite time is still a big question of mathematics :-) But just because science cannot explain ce

            • I am confident in our ability, given infinite time, to explain everything.

              This, too, constitutes a belief system. ;)
              While I have great respect for the human mind, and greater still for all minds acting in concert, these minds remain finite.

              you get ridiculous situations like Creationism vs Evolution where some people continue believing the made-up explanation.

              Concur that the debate is a distraction. If you want to treat the Bible as a poetic, declarative statement about reality, fine. Evolution remains

              • I am confident in our ability, given infinite time, to explain everything.

                This, too, constitutes a belief system. ;)

                Maybe. I tend to see belief or faith when you think something is true with no evidence or rationality behind it other than fallacious ones. My confidence in this case is, I dare to say, more informed and rational.

                I honestly don't feel we've more than scratched the surface of the implementation of life.

                Can't argue with that. But that's the beauty of science: it can change. Change is built into the system. "Revealed" truth is static. Rational examination of a belief system is heavily discouraged. Rational examination of scientific theories is encouraged.

                once you have a clean philosophical slate, you can start building a rational ethical system for yourself

                This, too, constitutes a belief system. ;)

                Not if the statement is informed by perso

                • Then those who created religions were clearly uber-megalomaniacs: they were advocating "universal" system of ethics that everyone should follow... I am only suggesting each person should have his own system of ethics, rationally derived, informed by logic, science and philosophy.
                  I'm not saying you should ignore every teaching of every religion. I'm saying it's possible to analyze and take what YOU think is rational and right in the teachings of various religions or philosophies, leave the extraneous "supe

                  • Oh, they're just leaders. The fact that so many attract large followings says more about the sheepishness of people than it does about the leaders themselves. Broaden your perspective to include politics, culture, and advertising, and I think you'll come away saddened at the lack of critical thinking in the lumpen proletariat.

                    Oh I know. The uber-megalomaniac moniker was just a hyperbole to contrast with your comment.

                    We need to replace religious teaching with teaching critical thinking. Then maybe we'll find demagogues have less effect on people.

                    • We need to replace religious teaching with teaching critical thinking.
                      As the sage noted: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
                      Subsequently, the peeps were again enslaved.
                      Thus, Devo answered the sage: "Freedom from choice is what you want."
                      In the contemporary dialogue, there is as much fascism on the left as the right. So maybe the terms 'left' and 'right', themselves, should be scuttled.
          • by plover (150551) *

            When I mentally set aside, briefly, the internal affirmations that drive me, I'm left with a Darwinian outlook that proceeds directly to nihilism.

            Can you not function as a nihilist? Does despair drive you to adopt these affirmations? I think this article should come as good news to you then, because this is an honest chemical reason for you to elevate society, rather than a rationalized philosophy created under false pretenses to stave off madness.

            Perhaps this is why we as a species developed this ple

            • Can you not function as a nihilist? Does despair drive you to adopt these affirmations? I think this article should come as good news to you then, because this is an honest chemical reason for you to elevate society, rather than a rationalized philosophy created under false pretenses to stave off madness.

              Hm.

              I think articles like these give a ray of hope -- as long as it "feels good" to elevate the species as a whole, some of us will keep doing it. Especially if the final end leads to a "return to our comp

              • by plover (150551) *
                Oh, sure, "blame it on chemistry" is just as much a rationalization as anything else, I'm not arguing that. But I think Occam's razor suggests grasping for metaphysical meaning is a lot more complex (and therefore a lot less likely) than accepting that a few chemical signals make you feel good about helping others.

                In case you couldn't tell, I'm a "happy nihilist," or perhaps that's the same thing as a "humanist" (I don't know, I really haven't studied Humanism.) Either way, I've accepted that this is it

                • In case you couldn't tell, I'm a "happy nihilist," or perhaps that's the same thing as a "humanist" (I don't know, I really haven't studied Humanism.) Either way, I've accepted that this is it -- we really are nothing more than the sum of our atoms and charge states. There's no salvation or punishment beyond the grave. No deep truths, we're pretty much just animated chemistry labs.
                  But as a member of society, I still do believe in the concepts of "good" and "evil", at least as they pertain to society, just

                  • by plover (150551) *

                    I always get the feeling this approach is trying to have it both ways.

                    No, it's much simpler than that. I see things only one way. Just as the Christians are so sure they're right, and the Moslems are so sure they're right, and the Jews are so sure they're right, and the Hindus and the Mormons and the Zoroastrians and the Wiccans, I'm equally sure I'm right. The difference is I don't need to pile complex unprovable metaphysical philosophies on top of my "better living through chemistry" approach. All I

                    • Excellent. Now, back to the translation of your sig...
                    • by plover (150551) *

                      Now, back to the translation of your sig...

                      Ha! I'm not a Latin speaker, nor have I ever taken Latin. I kind of hacked this together from "sed quis custodiet ipsos custodies?" ("but who is watching the watchers?") and I hoped it would transliterate to "but who will debug the debuggers?" But Latin has no nouns nor verbs for debuggers, and so I've taken random advice from people around the net trying to tweak the forms of the words. My first cut was something like, "sed quis debugiet ipsos debuggers," but

                    • I thought you might be meaning that. Truth is, I had two years of Latin in High School in the mid-80s. I'm completely unqualified to advise you on your translation.
                    • by plover (150551) *
                      OK, so I fessed up. What does your sig mean?
                    • Are we not men? We are Devo.
                      The Romans put the -ne particle on the first word to signal a question, and used the verb to end the sentence.
                      The whitespace (in all modern Western writing) is due to Charlemagne, so I should punt them ASCII 32s for greater authenticity. ;)
                    • by plover (150551) *
                      OK, I get it now. I was confused thinking viri was the meant "life" or "alive" because I had once heard "virus" meant "little life", which was completely wrong -- virus actually means "poison" or "toxin". (The word I was actually thinking of was vivi.) So I went looking just now and I found that viri is the plural of vir, meaning "men".

                      Alles ist klar.

      • by theckhd (953212)
        Keep in mind that it wasn't always this way. Early on, faith dealt with both "what" and "why," because science wasn't advanced enough to explain the "what" part. This is why we have creation myths in most religions, and why most ancient religions had myths to explain the source of natural phenomena.

        As science advanced it became able to explain more and more of the "whats," shifting them from the faith domain to the science domain. This is the origin of all the great battles, if you want to call them that
        • by theckhd (953212)
          I should probably add that "what" and "why" aren't the best terms to use for this distinction, since as a physicist I think that science explains "why" in the sense that it finds the underlying physical processes that cause the "what." But I've stuck with it to keep it consistent with the parent.

          A better set of terms might be "why" and "for what purpose" for science and religion respectively, since generally in Physics we don't usually attribute a purpose to physical laws.
          • A splendid point.
            Considering the "for what purpose" aspects of reality forms a good feedback loop (my undergraduate degree was control theory).
            Speculating wildly, I'm not confident that physics will ever discover the "rock bottom" of reality. My gut feel is that the reality we perceive bubbles up from an infinte regress of smaller components. Because God hold His cards close to His chest.
            Nevertheless, let us keep digging, for therein lies entertainment.
  • How about this:
    Atheists think science disproves religion. Which is logically impossible. Therefore, atheists are unreliable as interpreters of science.
     

    Faith-based religion is not science. Let's not treat it as such. But science is not faith-based religion. Let's not make the mistake of mistreating it, either.
    If we could only also not treat faith-based science as science.
    • by br0ck (237309)
      Does a Christian attempt to disprove the existence of Zeus, pink unicorns, all the teachings of the Dharmic religions like reincarnation and karma, or even Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? The answer is no. The reason is because most Christians were raised with a certain set of beliefs that dismiss these things as illogical and silly. Atheists are generally the same way and aren't wont to spend their time trying to disprove things that obviously do not exist.

      Now say you have an agnostic scientist that want
      • Does a Christian attempt to disprove the existence of Zeus, pink unicorns, all the teachings of the Dharmic religions like reincarnation and karma, or even Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? The answer is no.

        That's right. Because it's much more useful to prove them.

        (crowd: say what?)

        Bear with me for a moment. Far too often, perfectly good history is thrown away as myth rather than separating the fact from fiction. In many cases, the fictional account becomes the accepted one. (e.g. It was accepted by many th

  • Of course hard-wired morality is compatible with ID. If I was designing a sentient being, I'd make it feel good to do good.

    Another interesting article I saw recently said that researchers have found that people with high testosterone get pleasure from seeing angry faces. That suggests that testosterone hard-wires for bad behavior. Interesting, no?
  • Slashdot is composed of some of the smartest people in the world.
    Are we on the same Slashdot? .org, right?
  • Slashdot is composed of some of the smartest people in the world.

    Given that any story here on any scientific topic instantly devolves into a stream of "But I thoght teh world was only 6000 yeares old hahahaha!" (OK, that, and generic, clueless complaining about patents)...

    I'd question 1) "the smartest people in the world" and 2) the need for you to troll on that particular topic.

    • 1) "Some" of the smartest people. Not *the* smartest. Certainly, Slashdot has its share of idiots, but it also has a lot of very intelligent folks hanging around. :-)

      2) From the article:

      The research enterprise has been viewed with interest by philosophers and theologians, but already some worry that it raises troubling questions. Reducing morality and immorality to brain chemistry -- rather than free will -- might diminish the importance of personal responsibility. Even more important, some wonder whether t

  • I've always thought that if there was a Creator, science is a great way to explore the playground he/she/It left here for us. Some of the greatest naturalists and explorers (Muir, Audubon, Emerson) agree on this point. As someone with a background in logical argument, I also question the sanity of anyone thinking a single article "proves" or "disproves" the existence of a deity, and suggest to many that we expand our view of what a deity may be. No matter how hard we try, we still haven't found the central

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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