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Michael Shermer Admits Science Is Religion To Him


Michael Shermer writes in the Skeptic column of the December 2005 Scientific American

There are many ways to be spiritual, and science is one, with its awe-inspiring account about who we are and where we came from. “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” began the late astronomer Carl Sagan in the opening scene of Cosmos, filmed just down the coast from Esalen, in referring to the stellar origins of the chemical elements of life. “We’ve begun at last to wonder about our origins, star stuff comtemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness…. Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.” That is spiritual gold.

What the heck kind of happy new age horseshite is that? It sure isn’t science he’s talking about. It’s some kind of religious belief. “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself”… Uh, hey Michael, what predictions does your Cosmos Knowing Itself hypothesis make and how can we test it? I think Shermer has gone off the deep end. Where is Judge Jones when you really need him to separate science from religion?

Zachriel You don't handle rejection well do you? I don't want your private correspondences. Leave me alone. DaveScot

I had assumed my comment was in your spam bin and not for general publication. It was meant for your personal edification so that you could quietly correct your misstatement.

There is a significant difference between the philosophical speculation suitable for a column in a magazine and the publication of original research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. That you conflate the two is telling.

ds: "I’m not sure it was worth fishing this out of the spam bin but I thought it might a good way to point out that the picking of semantic nits is about the best you got."

I take that as a retraction.


ds: " in a hard science journal"

Ho hum. Scientific American is not a "hard science journal". It is a conventional magazine providing a roundup of science news for a scientifically educated readership.

I'm not sure it was worth fishing this out of the spam bin but I thought it might a good way to point out that the picking of semantic nits is about the best you got. Get lost. And stop taking up space in the spam bucket. I'd rather see the thouands of ads for online casinos, low interest loans, and viagra than more of your tripe. Thanks in advance for your courtesy. -ds Zachriel
ftrp11, It's not the statement that is repugnant, but they find it hypocritical. But if you are an atheist (and you're not but Sagan was) then what can the word spirituality mean? avocationist
Michaels I don't what about Schermer's statement or Sagan's quote could be repugnant. Granted Schermer is an evolutionist, but this quote says nothing about the mechanisms of the evolution of life. It does refer to the evolution of matter to consciousness; essentially the unfolding of God's plan if one chooses to believe in God (and I do). What in the quote is not proven fact? Are we not made of the same material that stars are? I agree that Sagan's statement is indeed spiritual gold but fail to see how that statement can contradict Christian doctrine regardless of what interpretation you adhere to. Is the question of matter's evolution to consciousness not suppossed to interest me for some reason? Does that interest have to be purely academic? It obviously cannot be. It is often wonder and awe at the world around us that drives scientist's quest for discovery and understanding. The grandest quest of them all cannot possibly be devoid of spirituality. ftrp11
space, "Sorry, but as far as I can tell, an “intelligence” designing the universe does not automatically lead to a Judeo-Christian belief system." DI, Dembski, Dave, and most IDers never said it did. Myself, I have my own personal beliefs in a spiritual, personal realtionship with the Creator. What is being pointed out is the utter hypocrisy of ID critics. They want it both ways. We can be fulfilled spiritually by the divine Cosmos within/without. I think its a reflection of Darwinist trying to make a connection with spiritual people. But in doing so, they're going against their own doctrine and theory in unguided, purposeless life and creating their own religion of scientism and Cosmos-Ism. "“He is within us. We are made in His image. We are here to have a personal relationship with Him.” - Hmmm…Happy old age horseshite?" personal opinions and beliefs... No, this is enternal wisdom by the Ancient of Days. It is based not on human knowledge, but of He that created us. When Christ stated that he is within us if we believe upon him(Son of God, raised from the dead, crucified for our sins), he didn't state it for all of us(including those who reject him), so you're confusing this precept and truth with Cosmo-ism. Christ does not exist in you if you do not accept fully the Father which created him, the truth of Salvation is of the Jews, Torah, Psalms and the Prophets. It is a spiritual rebirth upon acceptance of the Messiah, and in doing so leads to a physical rebirth in actions and deeds, following instructions, increasing the pursuit of holiness to be like Yeshua, loving the Lord thy God with all thy mind, body and heart, adherance to God's instructions. Michael Shermer's comments are new age-y, but have nothing to do at all with clear steps to holiness of a Creator. He's just spouting off a empty spiritual oneness with the universe based upon materialistic principles we're all made of stardust. Whereas God and Christ say we're fearfully and wonderfully made and he knows every hair on our head. He intervenes and states he knows us before we were born and directs our paths. You're conflating true doctrine of a Creator, instructions, precepts, the perceived effects and outcome of change based upon the belief of the one true God and Son of God with that of a touchy-feely Cos-mo-tic experience which has no functional equivalent to live by and is dependent upon individual interpretations, not by the instruction of a Creator based upon the example of an ordained group of people to show the world the Creators actions and truth when they obey and disobey thru history and is proven by historical documents, archeology and scienctific evidence, plus that of prophetic consequences. Its simply not the same in my view. There is no historical docuement of the Cosmos saying, "I am He, you are my chosen people, and by you the world will know me." The cosmos does not instruct people to write its words, perform direct events for large groups of people to free them from bondage and individual highly skilled technical feats in healing, climate change and the will over the hearts and minds of Kings and mankind. Thats enuf for comparison. Other than that, I think its quite a humorous post. Darwinist getting in touch with their spiritual side who are atheist. To bad from my view, he cannot see the truth of Christ or that of the history of Israel as a people upon which the Son of man himself watch carefully the fig tree when it blooms. But that's not related to ID or science. Its my personal views. Michael Shermer can wax eloquently the rapture and beauty of the universe. We all can. But when he brings spirituality into the mix, he's not doing science. And the fact evolutionist want to say their worldview is OK to preach in school, that evolution is hunky dory with Christ, the Bible, Judaism, Islam, etc., is dishonest when not allowing opposing viewpoints and rebuttals to those claims in a forced fed environment. Its government enforced indoctrination along the lines of communist rule with the exception that you can believe in God as long as you believe our scientism. They do not eliminate God, but they create a little god, reducing it by scientific fiat and judicial tyranny over the masses of people who disagree. This is done all in the name of science by a view that is not shared by all people. This is called a Dictatorship by centralized government over State Rights. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers were against and set up the constitution stand firmly against that any single government entitiy could hold sway over the people and states. We have turned away from the original intent of this nations principles and foundation. This is frankly - horse shite indeed and repugnant to anyone with common sense. This is not the elimination of math where 2 + 2 = 5, its the indoctrination of worldviews, scientism and centralized dogmatic control. This in no longer government by, for and of the people. Its rule by a few and its ruining this nations history and our future. Michaels7
A reminder for Shermer:
The question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion follows from the premise or starting point and whether that premise is true. Among the tools [for skeptical thinking]: * Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the "facts." * Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view. * Arguments from authority carry little weight -- "authorities" have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most there are experts. * ...If there's something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian [sic] selection among "multiple working hypotheses," has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy. [Did he actually think that an intelligently designed process of elimination of intelligently-generated ideas was "Darwinian"? :roll: ] * Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours. It's only a weigh station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don't, others will. * Quantify. If whatever it is you're explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you'll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations... *If there's a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) -- not just most of them. *Occam's Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler. * Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our universe is just an elementary particle -- an electron, say -- in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out... -- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995), pp. 210-211. [All italics as in original.] ;-)
Mats, "Tell that to the Darwinian Inquisition." You would probably lump me in the "Darwinian Inquisition (DI)," so I guess I will have to tell it to myself. The DI has no problem with Christianity qua Christianity. The problem is in mixing physics and metaphysics. The DI no more wants to see Astrology taught alongside Astronomy as ID taught in biology and geology courses. It isn't an anti-Christian bias. space
Sorry, but as far as I can tell, an “intelligence” designing the universe does not automatically lead to a Judeo-Christian belief system.
Tell that to the Darwinian Inquisition. ;-) Mats
Dave, I don't think poster #2 was addressing Shermer's remarks, rather the quick denigration of new-age spirituality. The new agers are not hypocritical at all, they are quite upfront about their spiritual approach. I think we'll find that new-agers fit quite well in the ID tent. But Shermer's remarks are just one more bit of evidence that Darwinism and materialism fulfill the human spiritual yearning. It requires faith in the unprovable and the unlikely, chides members for lack of same (arguments from incredulity are a sin) and provokes feelings of awe in something larger that has produced existence and consciousness. It is a nature-worshipping religion as Dembski has suggested, altho not quite the same as prior nature religions, who believed in actual immaterial spirit(s) that animate and govern nature. The religion-marks are there and were from the beginning. It's a wonder we didn't see it earlier. avocationist
“There are many ways to be spiritual, and science is one, with its awe-inspiring account about who we are and where we came from.” Where we came from: blind, purposeless, undirected, meaningless forces. Who we are: the product of blind, purposeless, undirected, meaningless forces that did not have us in mind. This is awe-inspiring and spiritual? GilDodgen
People wondering about your response to Shermer likely haven't read Shermer - the skeptic - before. Like Scott, I laughed long and loud at that line, Dave. By the way, on the other post, congratulations on the traffic. Banninating doesn't seem such a bad policy. Charlie
Dr. Shermer's gibberish demonstrates that logical thought has been eliminated from our society. That is a sad thing. Saxe saxe17
Shades of the first issue of Sci Am! "We shall advocate the pure Christian religion, without favouring any particular sect..." R. Porter, "To the American public," Scientific American 1(1): 1845. c.f. R. Porter, "Rational Religion," Scientific American 1(1): 1845. Mung
"Auuuummmmm.... Be one with yourself, relax and let the cosmos fill your head with happy thoughts we are the stars...." I don't know what Michael Shermer is smokin' in his pipe, but man I gotta get me some of the sh%#. Sounds wic-ked!! ADVERTISEMENT. Are you looking for premium grade AAAAA tripping hallucinogenic? Then look no further than new and improved 'evodeLuSDion'!! We use only the finest 'out-of-this-world' ingredients guaranteed* to send you higher than phyla! Swim with your head in the stars as you unplug your brain and get hooked into our dream world. Available NOW in a College/Highschool Biology class near you! Disclaimer: *Results may vary. We do not take responsibility for loss of judgment and subsequent damage to intellectual property. Side Effect: Fits of rage aimed at ID'ers trying to direct you from Cloud9 to earth are common. ADVERTISEMENT. lucID

So anyone with a personal feeling and philosophy about the world around them is a crackpot?

Compare for a second:
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” - Happy new age horseshite...

"He is within us. We are made in His image. We are here to have a personal relationship with Him." - Hmmm...Happy old age horseshite?

DS : "Where is Judge Jones when you really need him to separate science from religion?"
- He will be around when someone starts trying to teach this in science class...

They're a crackpot when they're Michael Shermer, The Skeptic, happily exposing his science-is-spiritual beliefs in a science journal. He's supposed to be a skeptic adhering to the scientific method to expose this stuff as metaphysical wool gathering and here I find him blithering about his own personal metaphysical beliefs in a hard science journal. Non sequitur. Shermer is worse than a garden variety mystic. He's a hypocrite. -ds robc
Call the ACLU!!! Science is too religious to allow in our schools! TomG

I find this to be a rather bizarre comment. I understand that you receive a lot of criticism about ID. That certainly might make you defensive. But why such a snarky attack on spirituality?

Shermer, quoting Sagan, isn't proposing a theory, here. He is describing reality (one that, to the best of my knowledge, both ID proponents and critics agree on):

1. Humans are constructed of the same basic builing blocks as the rest of the cosmos. 2. Humans reside within the cosmos and are part of it. 3. To the extent that humans can contemplate the cosmos, one can say that the cosmos is contemplating the cosmos.

"What the heck kind of happy new age horseshite is that?"

As for this, is there something about ID that discredits "happy new age horseshite?" Sorry, but as far as I can tell, an "intelligence" designing the universe does not automatically lead to a Judeo-Christian belief system. Even if ID proponents were correct that life on Earth was created by, and modified by, an
"intelligent" metaphysical entity, that would not rule out any number of "happy new age" religions followed by polytheistic pagans and crystal wearers.

If you don't see the problem with a major ID critic waxing on about cosmic spirituality in a science journal then I don't know what to say to you that wouldnt' be perceived as a snarky attack on your critical thinking ability. -ds space
What the heck kind of happy new age horseshite is that?



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