On Fridays, the National Public Radio (NPR) show "Talk of the… - AdrianG — LiveJournal
|Date:||November 22nd, 2004 05:38 pm (UTC)|| |
It is always up to the individual to be objective and diligent about the pursuit of and application of knowledge, and i don't see evidence that scientists are any better at that than anyone else.
Actually, I suspect you saw some evidence that scientists, on average, are better than most people at being objective and diligent about the pursuit of knowledge when you posted this entry. The computer you used to post this entry is heavily dependent on a very complete and counter-intuitive field called "Solid-State Physics". Solid-State Physics is something of practical off-shoot of another complex and counter-intuitive field call "Quantum Physics". Science could not have made progress in those fields unless the scientists responsible for that progress had been strongly committed to scientific principles. As someone who has taken a class about Solid-State Physics, I can tell you that this field is a remarkable achievement of science.
Understand, I'm not saying that scientists are always objective and diligent. Even if we exclude the misconduct of "creation scientists" like Duane Gish, scientific misconduct probably occurs every day. Still, science has an imperfect but excellent method for separating good work from bad. This imperfect method takes time and often begins by leaning towards the wrong answer, but over time it usually finds its own mistakes.
You are correct to say that evolutionary theory is incomplete, but it is a good faith (in the legal sense of "good faith") scientific effort, and it is a much more mature field that "creation scientists" would have you believe. It is only incomplete in the sense that science is never really complete. There is still and will likely always be continued work on subtle details of evolutionary theory. Despite dishonest claims by "creation scientists", there is no serious scientific controversy over whether or not evolution really occurs.
I think "Creationism" and "intelligent design" as scientific theories are frauds and simply aren't comparable to evolutionary theory. Note that qualifying these statements to limit them to science is deliberate; I'm not suggesting that religious beliefs in divine creation or in intelligent design are frauds. But I am saying that when people claiming scientific credentials dress these religious beliefs up as science and submit them as challengers to evolutionary theory, I think those people have perpetrated a fraud against both science and religion and I think they are guilty of scientific misconduct. While I admit that not all scientists are honorable people, I think that NO
"creation scientists" are honorable people. I think "creation science" is a cynical con game designed to defraud moderate Christians just as much as it is designed to attack science.
Insofar as you are simply talking about belief in divine creation and intelligent design as religious beliefs, I agree that they are just different starting points.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2004 04:06 am (UTC)|| |
"Actually, I suspect you saw some evidence that scientists, on average, are better than most people at being objective and diligent about the pursuit of knowledge when you posted this entry. "
Here you are idealizing scientists as being 'better' than 'most people'; as if scientists themselves are not people. You have to compare things on the same level. What we are discussing is why some ideas are better than others. Ideas are better than others when they are more connected to things, more useful.
Objectivity, as I use the word, is equally relevant to science and religion. Knowledge is apprehended in levels. At each stage, you can see clearly everything that led to and supports your current stage of knowledge. In other words, you know what you know and what it can be used for.
As it exists today, science is not pure and it is not an entity that can be 'attacked.' Neither is religion. These are conceptual categories. Constructs of your mind mixed with emotional attitudes derived from a sense of identity as a scientist or perhaps just a rational person. These frauds and cheats are just people being people, certainly not being objective, but if you know more than them, they are no danger, right? Or does the possibility of people believing the wrong thing frighten you? Why?
Scientists, theologians, diplomats, and soccer moms who make our world better have to access more of reality than is available through a single set of glasses. That is why, as you observed, many scientists are also religious.
There are 'scientific' values (principles) that when applied to investigations of the unknown, yield a certain result. Similarly, other principles govern the emotional and sensory aspects of life and they also yield results in predictable ways. Combining them, the general quality of being increases, and that person can be more effective at certain things. Understand more, invent things.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2004 05:06 am (UTC)|| |
Here you are idealizing scientists as being 'better' than 'most people'; as if scientists themselves are not people.
I must say that I am mystified by this characterization of my remark. Are you sure you read it carefully?
Objectivity, as I use the word, is equally relevant to science and religion.
It's hard to know what to do with this statement. Certainly, under the common understanding of the word, objectivity does not seem important to most religions that I'm aware of, although the set of religions that I'm aware of is small. In particular, in Christianity, religious knowledge seems to come from authority. If there is any evidence to suggest that objectivity is a core value of Christianity, I am unaware of it.
On the other hand, objectivity is valued in science. Surely the tendency in science to reduce data to quantities which can be measured is evidence of of the value science places on objectivity.
As it exists today, science is not pure and it is not an entity that can be 'attacked.'
There is something going on in school boards across the country that I'm inclined to describe as an attack on science. I'm open to suggestions on how to talk about it, but it seems like you are simply trying to define words so that they aren't useful to talk about these events. I don't think I agree with the point you are making, and in any case, defining words so that the other party can't say what's on his mind hardly seem like a good way to facilitate an exchange of ideas.
Or does the possibility of people believing the wrong thing frighten you?
Surely you are turning the problem on it's head. My objection is that these religious extremists are attempting to exclude a mature and well established field of science from public schools because THEY
are afraid of people believing things that offend their religious sensibilities. These religious fanatics can believe whatever they want, but I am not inclined to concede to them control of our public schools. For most of recorded history, when Christianity has been free to suppress contrary ideas, unspeakable evils have been the result.
Combining them, the general quality of being increases, and that person can be more effective at certain things.
It would be nice if combining ideas always led to good things. I am not at all convinced that introducing religion into science can do anything but harm. But setting that concern aside, for a moment, do you understand that we are talking about a set of religious fanatics who have been trying to ban the teaching of evolution in school for nearly a century? Do you understand that giving those people more power is not going to result in one big happy family of diverse ideas for us all to enjoy?
I must say that it is difficult to even understand what you were trying to say throughout most of you comment. It seems like you may be avoiding any precision of language in the discussion, and I am concerned that the issues at hand can't really be discussed unless different concepts are kept properly separated. You seem to be claiming that there are not meaningful differences between religion and science, and I hope you'll pardon me for being blunt, but any such claim is simply dead wrong.
I think you genuinely meant to communicate a point of view, here, but I am concerned about the semantic games that I think I see going on in your comment, and I am worried about whether or not we can find enough common ground, within this topic, to carry out a meaningful discussion.
|Date:||November 23rd, 2004 07:21 am (UTC)|| |
Hmmm... Yes, I am aware of the other meanings of objectivity, though I thought including a more specific usage would be helpful.
I agree in the essential points you bring up here with respect to handing over control to religious Fundamentalists of any denomination. You are quite right, unspeakable evil has been the result of placing power in the hands of uneducated and unscrupulous people. What I didn't elaborate on was the human tendency to usurp power for short term personal goals, which is equally possible with power derived from scientific advances as it is power from church or state. I don't trust anyone.
"You seem to be claiming that there are not meaningful differences between religion and science, and I hope you'll pardon me for being blunt, but any such claim is simply dead wrong."
No, I'm claiming that both are extremely useful, and that life cannot be fully engaged without both. It is up to the individual to integrate the experiences of same, which takes mental and emotional discipline.
Perhaps I am being as dogmatic about individualism as these Christians are about creationism; I find that when I know the truth about a given matter; I don't care anymore what others think. Apparently you do, and that is something I will have to live with, haha. I actually kinda like it when some people don't believe me, because I know I can take advantage of their stupidity later... a character flaw, perhaps?
We certainly seem to enjoy the use of words, don't we? ;)
|Date:||November 23rd, 2004 07:11 pm (UTC)|| |
I'm claiming that both are extremely useful, and that life cannot be fully engaged without both.
Hmm... I don't think I agree with that, as stated, but it could be that our disagreement is more about words than essence. I think we might at least agree that there are things outside of science which are important, and that religion often touches on those things. Spirituality is an awfully imprecise word for those things, and I worry that is has connotations that I don't want for the purposes of this discussion, but I can think of no good alternative, for the moment, so I will use it. It seems to me that religion often touches on spirituality mainly as a means to its real end, and that real end is to gain control over people by claiming monopoly authority over spirituality. It may be that some religions don't do this, but I am concerned that by saying that religion is what people need, I might be encouraging people to satisfy this need by going to the power mongers in those religions that use that tactic.
Do you see why I'm concerned about this way of putting things? I'm not sure we actually disagree on the essential point.
I don't care anymore what others think. Apparently you do, and that is something I will have to live with, haha.
I think we all have a tremendous capacity for mental self-indulgence and even self-deception. I don't think any of us can learn to think well without testing our ideas against the sensibilities of others. It is the habit of anticipating criticism of our ideas that makes us more careful at thinking, and it is mainly experience that teaches us what types of criticism we might expect.
We certainly seem to enjoy the use of words, don't we? ;)
I hope so, since this is a text based medium. 8-)