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It would be worth having a science vs religion discussion if evidence still mattered, but…

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From SCIO: Scholarship and Christianity at Oxford,

Application Deadline: 15 September 2017

Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities II, 2017–19, is a significant opportunity for up to 25 early- to mid-level career faculty members from the CCCU and across the globe to experience an enhanced summer programme aimed at developing interdisciplinary skills in Science and Religion.

The Oxford-based seminars, which will take place from 1 to 29 July 2018 and from 30 June to 28 July 2019, will focus on the development of interdisciplinary skills and understanding central to the field of Science and Religion, within the unique setting of Oxford. Social and natural scientists will join those in the humanities to explore established and emerging Science and Religion issues, guided by eminent scholars in the field, in a respectful and research-rich learning environment. The seminars aim to train a new generation of leaders in Science and Religion. Campus activities at the participants’ home institutions will develop young scholars, support conversations across the wider student body, and help campus leaders to engage with current issues in Science and Religion. A roundtable in Oxford for presidents of participating institutions and a colloquium in North America for the senior academic officers, chief student development officers, and chaplains will seek to foster further engagement with a wide range of institutional leaders. These complementary project elements will shape participants and their institutions for years to come. More.

From what some of us can see, the subject is a waste of time unless we take into account the speed at which science is hurtling into post-modernism. Science vs. religion battles used to turn on questions of evidence but evidence is a concept science is moving away from.

So it’s really just going to be a conflict between people who doubt naturalism as a ruling philosophy and people who seek to impose it, irrespective of evidence.

See also: Nature: Stuck with a battle it dare not fight, even for the soul of science. Excuse me guys but, as in so many looming strategic disasters, the guns are facing the wrong way.

How naturalism rots science from the head down

The multiverse is science’s assisted suicide

and

Question for multiverse theorists: To what can science appeal, if not evidence?

18 Replies to “It would be worth having a science vs religion discussion if evidence still mattered, but…

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    “…the subject is a waste of time…”

    Agree.

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    For example, science is about trying to figure out how the biological systems function under different conditions.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Dionisio at 1 and 2, post-modern science and post-modern religion should get along just fine because both can be made up as one goes along.

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    It’s not a waste of time for the purposes of the organizers. This is a training session for young anti-religion warriors. Madame Mao would be proud.

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    There is no move to abandon traditional standards of evidence in science although it’s a useful story if one’s purpose is to undermine the credibility of science in the eyes of the public.

    As for stories about a war on religion or Christians becoming an oppressed minority, is it necessary to remind you that there is not a single admitted atheist in Congress? Or that the chances of an admitted atheist being elected to high public office in this country are currently in the snowball-in-hell’s range? If anything, it is the Christians who have been the oppressors rather than the oppressed and there are at least some who would like to retain and even extend that privilege.

  6. 6
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Severely @ 5

    If anything, it is the Christians who have been the oppressors rather than the oppressed and there are at least some who would like to retain and even extend that privilege.

    Except the atheists who murdered some hundred millions in the 20th Century, and at the top of the list of targets for oppression and death were Jews and Christians. Naturally, not those hundred millions, and those atheists, and those Christians.

  7. 7
    News says:

    Seversky at 5: In the United States, it would come down to a question of whether atheists are popular, not whether they are oppressed:
    Article 6, Clause 3 Constitution,

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    Atheism may be like some condos: easier to buy than sell

  8. 8
    ET says:

    There is no move to abandon traditional standards of evidence in science although it’s a useful story if one’s purpose is to undermine the credibility of science in the eyes of the public.

    And yet evolution by means of blind, mindless processes, ie natural selection and drift, doesn’t have any evidentiary support. Yet it is being passed around as a scientific concept.

  9. 9
    critical rationalist says:

    Again, you are conflating moving away from a specific, mistaken role that evidence supposedly plays, with “evidence doesn’t mean anything”. It’s ridiculous.

    This is no different than saying morality must come from God, otherwise their is no morality.

    While it’s true that Emperisism was an improvement, as it promoted the use of emperical observations, it got the role it played wrong. The contents of theories are tested by observations, not derived from them.

    There are no sources knowege that we can appeal to, as a means of last resort, that will not lead us into error. Emperisism merely traded one supposed authority, divine revelation, authorative rulers, etc., for another, human experience. Both are equally mistaken.

    But, by all means, feel free to explain how that would work, in practice. Please be specific. I won’t be holding my breath.

  10. 10
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @ 9:

    If we we’re speaking of exclusive empiricism as a general worldview rather than a technique; then, sure, it’s mistaken. Naturalistic materialism lives in this trap. We’re all surrounded by a great unknown.

    But empirical science is, not surprisingly, an empirical tool; and, without it, is pointless. You can wander away from the evidence in search of new paths; but, in the end, you need to map out how they connect to known paths in a way that others can follow; if you can’t, you should strongly contemplate the possibility that you’re practicing sophistry.

  11. 11
    Dionisio says:

    News @7:

    “Atheism may be like some condos: easier to buy than sell”

    Apparently that’s the case.

  12. 12
    Dionisio says:

    critical rationalist @9:

    You may want to check your spell checker:

    Did you mean “empiricism”?

  13. 13
    critical rationalist says:

    @localminimum

    But, by all means, feel free to explain how that would work, in practice. Please be specific. I won’t be holding my breath.

    Still waiting.

  14. 14
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @ 13:

    By analyzing the empirical data and proposing predictive mathematical models that fit, and adjusting/contextualizing/generalizing them as data that doesn’t fit the model is found.

  15. 15
    critical rationalist says:

    By analyzing the empirical data…

    We start out with a problem when analysis reveals empirical observations conflict with one or more of our current theories.

    Note: It may be just as well that our empirical observations are mistaken, as opposed to the theory that supposedly conflicts with those observations. This is because empirical observations are themselves theory laden. For example, observations of neutrinos in the OPERA experiment was based on a theory of how to configure various equipment in a way that would make accurately measure the speed of neutrinos. When observations suggested they were traveling faster than the speed of light, it was discovered that equipment was not actually configured in a way that matched that theory. So, the theory that the equipment was configured correctly was in error, rather than the theory in question, that supposedly conflicted with observations.

    We do not find mathematical models carved on mountains, or find “tags” attached to observations, with explanation for how the world works, printed on them. So, the contents of our theories cannot come from observations.

    Nor can we mechanically derive theories via analysis of data. But, by all means, feel free to explain how this would work, in practice. Please be specific.

    Let me guess, we can mechanically derive theories via the analysis of data because, “that’s just what some designer must have wanted”?

    and proposing predictive mathematical models that fit

    We conjecture (make educated guesses) as to what models or theories might solve the problem in question. Sure, you might conjecture a theory while observing the phenomena in question, just as you might conjecture a theory while on a lunch break observing your sandwich.

    Our theories are guesses about how the world works, in reality, that are specifically proposed to solve the problem in question. We use the unseen to explain the seen.

    and adjusting/contextualizing/generalizing them as data that doesn’t fit the model is found.

    We criticize our theories in an attempt to find errors they contain and discard them. In the case of science, this also includes empirical observations. This is the role of empirical observations plays. When new observations conflict with our theories, we end up with a new problem to solve, and the process starts all over again.

    Errors might go uncorrected for years, decades or even never, if we stop trying to criticize our theories. This is because the content of our theories do not come from any external source. What is scarce is not empirical evidence, but good theories that explain that evidence.

    IOW, the growth of knowledge is the result of variation controlled by criticism of some form.

  16. 16
    LocalMinimum says:

    We start out with a problem when analysis reveals empirical observations conflict with one or more of our current theories.

    Start of another work day.

    Note: It may be just as well that our empirical observations are mistaken, as opposed to the theory that supposedly conflicts with those observations. This is because empirical observations are themselves theory laden. For example, observations of neutrinos in the OPERA experiment was based on a theory of how to configure various equipment in a way that would make accurately measure the speed of neutrinos. When observations suggested they were traveling faster than the speed of light, it was discovered that equipment was not actually configured in a way that matched that theory. So, the theory that the equipment was configured correctly was in error, rather than the theory in question, that supposedly conflicted with observations.

    All accounted for by (competent) professionals.

    We do not find mathematical models carved on mountains, or find “tags” attached to observations, with explanation for how the world works, printed on them. So, the contents of our theories cannot come from observations.

    Nor can we mechanically derive theories via analysis of data. But, by all means, feel free to explain how this would work, in practice. Please be specific.

    Did you just infer the human mind is not a mechanical device? Or are you saying that theories are created blindfolded to actual data, like whacking a pinata (after being dropped off in some random part of the neighborhood the party is in)? Or both?

    We conjecture (make educated guesses) as to what models or theories might solve the problem in question.

    How do you make an educated guess independent from data?

    Sure, you might conjecture a theory while observing the phenomena in question, just as you might conjecture a theory while on a lunch break observing your sandwich.

    Our theories are guesses about how the world works, in reality, that are specifically proposed to solve the problem in question. We use the unseen to explain the seen.

    and adjusting/contextualizing/generalizing them as data that doesn’t fit the model is found.

    We criticize our theories in an attempt to find errors they contain and discard them. In the case of science, this also includes empirical observations. This is the role of empirical observations plays. When new observations conflict with our theories, we end up with a new problem to solve, and the process starts all over again.

    Errors might go uncorrected for years, decades or even never, if we stop trying to criticize our theories. This is because the content of our theories do not come from any external source. What is scarce is not empirical evidence, but good theories that explain that evidence.

    In so many words. Yeah, sure.

  17. 17
    critical rationalist says:

    All accounted for by (competent) professionals.

    All observations are theory laden. That means you cannot extrapolate observations without first putting them in some kind of explanatory framework. You have to interpret them though a theory, which doesn’t come from observations, etc.

    It’s unclear how being a “(competent) professional” allows them to derive the contents of a theory from observations. While they possess more background knowledge about the problem at hand, if they already possessed the knowledge of how to solve the problem, they wouldn’t have a problem. (With the exception of having the problem of possibly having forgotten it, lost it, etc.)

    Did you just infer the human mind is not a mechanical device? Or are you saying that theories are created blindfolded to actual data, like whacking a pinata (after being dropped off in some random part of the neighborhood the party is in)? Or both?

    I’m pointing out that no one has formulated a “principle of induction” that provides guidance as to which of our past experiences should continue. That is, it would need to provide a step by step process that we could apply to observations to derive the contents of a theory. This is not possible because the actual contents of a theory isn’t “out there” for us to observe, in the form of a equation carved on a mountain, or via an attached “tag” that you can simply “read” the contents of a theory from.

    IOW, there is no set of steps that a scientist, or anyone else, can apply that allows us to take observations and derive the contents of a theory from them. You need a problem to solve and pre-existing background knowledge from which to start, from which you make conjectured theories about how the world works, in reality, that solve that problem.

    But, again, feel free to explain how that would be possible, in practice. Please be specific.

    Observations reveal problems, not solutions. They are used as criticism in the form of empirical tests. They do not contain the contents of our theories. Nor does background knowledge we refer to come from observations because they too are theory laden. So, I’m not suggesting we are completely “blind” swinging at a piñata.

    How do you make an educated guess independent from data?

    That’s not what I just described. Data tells us there is a problem. We have data in the form of background knowledge, which is based on other conjecture theories, etc. We have data of what previous guesses have failed. We have data about what logical argument that can cause us to reject conjectures before we even bother to empirically test them. And we creatively mutate, recombine, modify, etc. background data in ways that are not out there for us to observe.

    The better question is, how do you derive the contents of a theory (the part where the educated guess actually comes into play) with data in the sense I described above? What are the steps?

    Note how I keep reeling the issue back to the very specific aspect of the contents of a theory and you keep making generalizations.

    Again, If you try to actually take that idea seriously and write down a list of steps, you will discover a step that you cannot fill in. IOW, that idea doesn’t survive criticism.

    This is in contrast to merely suggesting that must happen somehow since, if we didn’t, there couldn’t be any knowledge, as you conceive of it. Apparently, that gap isn’t a problem? We can actually derive the contents of theories from observations because “that’s just what some designer must have wanted?

  18. 18
    Heartlander says:

    Seversky@5-Or that the chances of an admitted atheist being elected to high public office in this country are currently in the snowball-in-hell’s range?

    Peter Stark was the first openly atheist member of Congress, as announced by the Secular Coalition for America. Stark acknowledged that he is an atheist in response to an SCA questionnaire sent to public officials in January 2007.

    On September 20, 2007, Stark reaffirmed that he was an atheist by making a public announcement in front of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, the Harvard Law School Heathen Society, and various other atheist, agnostic, secular, humanist, and nonreligious groups. The American Humanist Association named him their 2008 Humanist of the Year, and he serves on the AHA Advisory Board. On February 9, 2011, Stark introduced a bill to Congress designating February 12, 2011 as Darwin Day as a culmination of collaboration between Rep. Stark and the American Humanist Association. The resolution states, “Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement… and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Stark

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