# Should Science be Secular?

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It was suggested that this be put into a new post, so that is what I did.

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Is there an alternative?

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Is there an alternative?

I don't know, is there? That is why I brought this up. Skeptic seemed to support the idea that a 'no-comment' position on religion is the best scientifically because it leaves one more open to other ideas and therefore they have a greater chance of coming to a correct conclusion. (this is of course assuming that a religion can possibly be correct).

I on the other hand think that science should be secular, and by being secular that does not mean ruling out any possibilities.

Religions are systematic belief systems that are usually not backed by evidence and they are usually set in stone. Religion is often associated with 'knowing the truth' instead of finding out the truth and being able to explain it. Therefore, I believe, science should be secular, and separate from religion.

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Sorry, didn't mean to make more work for you. You can close the other thread, it is simply a repeat of what this one says.

No worries. And we can use this thread, as it's got new posts in it

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I don't know, is there? That is why I brought this up. Skeptic seemed to support the idea that a 'no-comment' position on religion is the best scientifically because it leaves one more open to other ideas and therefore they have a greater chance of coming to a correct conclusion. (this is of course assuming that a religion can possibly be correct).

Think of it this way: Suppose you have premises A, B, and C. The probability that all are true (A&B&C) is Probability(A&B&C) = Probability(A)*Probability(B)*Probability©, where the individual probabilities are a number between zero and one. Meanwhile, the probability of only the first two (A&B) is Probability(A&B) = Probability(A)*Probability(B), which is greater than or equal to the probability of all 3 being true. Unless you can conclusively prove, beyond the tiniest suspicion of a shadow of a doubt, that C is true (ie, Probability© = 1), then working with just A&B as your premises is likelier to be true.

I on the other hand think that science should be secular, and by being secular that does not mean ruling out any possibilities.

Well, I guess we're pretty much in agreement then; you're using secular as in "god is irrelevant" rather than secular as in "excluding god". However some people might interpret secular as atheistic.

Religions are systematic belief systems that are usually not backed by evidence and they are usually set in stone. Religion is often associated with 'knowing the truth' instead of finding out the truth and being able to explain it. Therefore, I believe, science should be secular, and separate from religion.

In a sense though science is also a systematic belief system that is not backed by evidence; although science has very few starting premises (such as, the world is observable, consistent, objective). If you study logic, you always* have to start off with rather arbitrary premises, to reach conclusions.

*except for theorems

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Think of it this way: Suppose you have premises A, B, and C. The probability that all are true (A&B&C) is Probability(A&B&C) = Probability(A)*Probability(B)*Probability©, where the individual probabilities are a number between zero and one. Meanwhile, the probability of only the first two (A&B) is Probability(A&B) = Probability(A)*Probability(B), which is greater than or equal to the probability of all 3 being true. Unless you can conclusively prove, beyond the tiniest suspicion of a shadow of a doubt, that C is true (ie, Probability© = 1), then working with just A&B as your premises is likelier to be true.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_inference

The irony is, I think, is that Bayes was a reverend. However, applying bayesian rationality to ideas about the universe, it seems as if postulating about the existence of God is pretty incompatible with modern science.

My point is that is non-atheists bothered to calculate their own probabilities about the existence of God, their priors (prior probabilities) would almost certainly be too high - especially if they were trying to calculate for a specific type of god.

In my informal calculations, the probability of god existing in any meaningful or testable way is very low. If I can't test for something, why should I believe it, or use energy thinking about/believing in/ praying to it?

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Hm, if you're doing it the Bayesian way, I guess you start like so:

1) As child brought up by religious parents, assign a probability to god's existence as roughly equal to the proportion of things your parents told you that seem true. Similar for converted people and your conversations with others

2) Use of a broken likelihood function can now strengthen the belief further. Observe:

-Joe reached his destination safely. Thank God for keeping him safe.

-Joe had an accident on the way. Thank God he was not badly injured.

-Joe was badly injured. Thank God he didn't die.

-Joe died. Thank God, he's now in heaven.

I think it is more likely that a broken likelihood function is affecting things, as otherwise religion would just fade away.

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I think it is more likely that a broken likelihood function is affecting things, as otherwise religion would just fade away.

That fits my point exactly. People don't consciously form Bayesian analysis, but if they did most religious people would start with priors that are too high.

They fall into the god of the gaps/ begging the question fallacies, because they aren't calculating correctly. Lack of contrary evidence strengthens the null hypothesis, rather than lack of evidence weakening it.

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Religions are systematic belief systems that are usually not backed by evidence and they are usually set in stone. Religion is often associated with 'knowing the truth' instead of finding out the truth and being able to explain it. Therefore, I believe, science should be secular, and separate from religion.

Religion is a big topic, for some it encompasses everything - politics, medicine, poetry, art, and yes even science. You cannot expect knowledge to hide and be afraid to remark on superstition or opinion. You may think religion is small and has little impact in the realm of ideas, but that isn't true for everyone and has been quite the opposite historically. Religious views have changed because of the discussions of informed people, not because of revelation.

To keep knowledge and criticial thinking skills away from religion is to guarantee that it will diverge more and more from reality and reason. Beliefs matter and everyone from every discipline should speak up, if they feel so inclined.

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There is a difference between religion and belief.

Belief is a personal thing.

Religion is a social structure that obliges you to accept a specific belief in a specific way and to act following specific laws (holy laws).

I think belief in itself , or non-belief, is not incompatible with science.

As for religion, I think it is incompatible.

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There is a difference between religion and belief.

Belief is a personal thing.

Religion is a social structure that obliges you to accept a specific belief in a specific way and to act following specific laws (holy laws).

I think belief in itself , or non-belief, is not incompatible with science.

As for religion, I think it is incompatible.

That is more along the lines of what I think.

Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged
Religion is a big topic, for some it encompasses everything - politics, medicine, poetry, art, and yes even science. You cannot expect knowledge to hide and be afraid to remark on superstition or opinion. You may think religion is small and has little impact in the realm of ideas, but that isn't true for everyone and has been quite the opposite historically. Religious views have changed because of the discussions of informed people, not because of revelation.

To keep knowledge and criticial thinking skills away from religion is to guarantee that it will diverge more and more from reality and reason. Beliefs matter and everyone from every discipline should speak up, if they feel so inclined.

I am not saying stay away from religion. What I am saying is that religion has no place in science.

Scientifically, religion is really pointless, if we can, say, explain ghosts then what does it matter a given religion's beliefs in ghosts. I understand religion encompasses a large portion of many people's lives, but that does not make it scientific. Science shouldn't stray from religion, but more religion has no place in science, we shouldn't try to inquire about questions posed by religion, instead, we should try to answer the questions, and ignore the fact that they may be posed by religion.

Edited by toastywombel
Consecutive posts merged.
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Religion appears to be something that is unique to humans. Religion is not something animals can do. To mentally manipulate nebulous religious concepts, one would need a fairly advanced language set. One would not expect animals to have this level of language skills.

If one animal saw another animal running, he might track it, catch it, kill it then eat it. The animal can do that complex physics in his head in an unconscious way. He doesn't need school or computers. But he can't use his imagination to manipulate concepts and ideas, that are detached from his sensory systems. This is purely human.

Religion may have been one of the most critical aspects of human evolution. It represents a new skill set that animals can't do, that gave humans an advantage. Religion played a role in developing the human ability not to be totally dependent on sensory reality, like the rest of the animals. This ability is critical for innovation, since what may be tomorrow, may not be part of sensory reality today.

If one was limited to sensory reality, how can you visualized what is not yet part of reality today, but will be tomorrow? In a more animal world, the innovation would be like a god, that does not exist. This would be discouraged. One would have to make it a reality so the animals can see it, since they lack the extra vision.

For example, say we went back to a time before the invention of the wheel. If it was not there to see, it does not exist in reality to the animal. To even think of the wheel is like thinking of a ghost. The pragmatic is more confined to the animal nature. He would need proof to believe anything. Someone had to detach from the limitations of hard sensory reality of no wheel, to see one. Then he needs to use that abstract vision to construct one from his imagination. Now the animals can see.

It may be harder to construct or show god, compared to the wheel, so the sensory systems of the animals can see. But this skill set helps to open up the imagination so there are no sensory limits. What we might see tomorrow is not limited to what we can't see today.

Edited by pioneer
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Religion appears to be something that is unique to humans. Religion is not something animals can do. To mentally manipulate nebulous religious concepts, one would need a fairly advanced language set. One would not expect animals to have this level of language skills.

If one animal saw another animal running, he might track it, catch it, kill it then eat it. The animal can do that complex physics in his head in an unconscious way. He doesn't need school or computers. But he can't use his imagination to manipulate concepts and ideas, that are detached from his sensory systems. This is purely human.

Religion may have been one of the most critical aspects of human evolution. It represents a new skill set that animals can't do, that gave humans an advantage. Religion played a role in developing the human ability not to be totally dependent on sensory reality, like the rest of the animals. This ability is critical for innovation, since what may be tomorrow, may not be part of sensory reality today.

If one was limited to sensory reality, how can you visualized what is not yet part of reality today, but will be tomorrow? In a more animal world, the innovation would be like a god, that does not exist. This would be discouraged. One would have to make it a reality so the animals can see it, since they lack the extra vision.

For example, say we went back to a time before the invention of the wheel. If it was not there to see, it does not exist in reality to the animal. To even think of the wheel is like thinking of a ghost. The pragmatic is more confined to the animal nature. He would need proof to believe anything. Someone had to detach from the limitations of hard sensory reality of no wheel, to see one. Then he needs to use that abstract vision to construct one from his imagination. Now the animals can see.

It may be harder to construct or show god, compared to the wheel, so the sensory systems of the animals can see. But this skill set helps to open up the imagination so there are no sensory limits. What we might see tomorrow is not limited to what we can't see today.

Many interesting posts lately.

One can agree that religion is a human construct. I don't know if that was the meaning of your intervention, but it is the way I understand it.

The peculiar thing is that the light of knowledge that makes humans so different from animals, was not given to humans by God. That was Prometheus job. Lucifer in latin (the one who wears the light). The devil.

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I would posit that both religion and science are tools, invented by humans to perform a function. Science is the tool by which we try to understand and manipulate the physical universe. Religion is the tool we invented to explain things that we can sometimes feel (or think we can, anyway), but not quantitatively measure. Humans are curious critters, if we can think of a question, we'll try to find an answer.

The dam breaks, mommy drowns saving your life. You can use the tool of science to try and answer the questions: What caused the dam to break? How can I build a better one to make sure that this doesn't happen again?

You might fail, by the way, but it's the tool to use to answer these questions.

You can use religion to answer the questions: Why did this happen to Mommy? Why did I live and she die? Again, you might fail, but I don't think science is the right tool to use to answer such questions. Religion can sometimes provide an answer that gives some sense of peace. This is valuable and should not be discounted. Since there may be no answer, it may be that whatever ever answer works, must suffice.

Both tools are useful, both sometimes very good for the job they used for. But don't forget, that I can use the same hammer that was used to build the gas chambers at Treblinka to build a hospital for sick children. It's all in the hand that wields it.

I can also use a saw to pound in a nail. It might work, but it's messy. I can cut a board with a hammer, too, but it's really loud, and never straight. This is what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job. You get an outcome, but it is flawed.

Both science and religion have been wielded well, poorly, and with horrific consequences.

They are different tools, designed for different purposes. They should stay that way.

Bill Wolfe

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Science shouldn't stray from religion, but more religion has no place in science, we shouldn't try to inquire about questions posed by religion, instead, we should try to answer the questions, and ignore the fact that they may be posed by religion.

Science shouldn't be hampered by religion - I agree. That doesn't mean religion shouldn't be trampled upon by science.

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I

The dam breaks, mommy drowns saving your life. You can use the tool of science to try and answer the questions: What caused the dam to break? How can I build a better one to make sure that this doesn't happen again?

~~~

You can use religion to answer the questions: Why did this happen to Mommy? Why did I live and she die? Again, you might fail, but I don't think science is the right tool to use to answer such questions. Religion can sometimes provide an answer that gives some sense of peace.

While I agree to most of your points, I must strongly disagree here. The selfish thing to do may be to reason away what happened via God and be sad, but that hardly fixes anything. Your initial questions of "what caused the dam to break and what can I do to prevent this from happening again" is surely an infinitely better choice - otherwise you condemn someone in the future to undergo what you're going through, or worse.

Science shouldn't be hampered by religion - I agree. That doesn't mean religion shouldn't be trampled upon by science.

I believe this should be true, only vise versa. A lot of scientists who try to rationalize religion are or were once religious themselves and looking for answers, hardly reasonable to tell someone practicing a faith not to seek answers.

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if religion is a belief then science is also a belief. like the way we cant prove any existence of God but with the assumption that God exists we can determine our ways to life science also doesnt prove its assumptions but only through its assumptions determines the way in which nature tries to go. so see both are important. conflict arises due to our ignorance only.

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Your initial questions of "what caused the dam to break and what can I do to prevent this from happening again" is surely an infinitely better choice - otherwise you condemn someone in the future to undergo what you're going through, or worse.

Interesting. But what if the same person asks all four questions? It's not like there's a limit. And I'm not sure there even is a choice--even for an individual--as to what questions we have. Sometimes, they just show up.

Science is unlikely to provide an answer to "Why am I here?" And religion ain't too likely to answer "How can I build a better dam?"

That there is more than one tool in the toolbox, was one of the points I was trying to make.

Bill Wolfe

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I would posit that both religion and science are tools, invented by humans to perform a function. Science is the tool by which we try to understand and manipulate the physical universe. Religion is the tool we invented to explain things that we can sometimes feel (or think we can, anyway), but not quantitatively measure. Humans are curious critters, if we can think of a question, we'll try to find an answer.

The dam breaks, mommy drowns saving your life. You can use the tool of science to try and answer the questions: What caused the dam to break? How can I build a better one to make sure that this doesn't happen again?

You might fail, by the way, but it's the tool to use to answer these questions.

You can use religion to answer the questions: Why did this happen to Mommy? Why did I live and she die? Again, you might fail, but I don't think science is the right tool to use to answer such questions. Religion can sometimes provide an answer that gives some sense of peace. This is valuable and should not be discounted. Since there may be no answer, it may be that whatever ever answer works, must suffice.

Both tools are useful, both sometimes very good for the job they used for. But don't forget, that I can use the same hammer that was used to build the gas chambers at Treblinka to build a hospital for sick children. It's all in the hand that wields it.

I can also use a saw to pound in a nail. It might work, but it's messy. I can cut a board with a hammer, too, but it's really loud, and never straight. This is what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job. You get an outcome, but it is flawed.

Both science and religion have been wielded well, poorly, and with horrific consequences.

They are different tools, designed for different purposes. They should stay that way.

Bill Wolfe

Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.

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Interesting. But what if the same person asks all four questions? It's not like there's a limit. And I'm not sure there even is a choice--even for an individual--as to what questions we have. Sometimes, they just show up.

Science is unlikely to provide an answer to "Why am I here?" And religion ain't too likely to answer "How can I build a better dam?"

That there is more than one tool in the toolbox, was one of the points I was trying to make.

Bill Wolfe

Unfortunately, in this set of tools, only one of them is going to better protect people in the future from a glaringly obvious recurring effect - in this case, science would tell us to build a better dam or move the inhabitants so they stop dying everytime it breaks. It's great that one or two people can alleviate the loss of family members or friends by thinking of a higher power, but sometimes you're just not ready to let them go to something so easily preventable.

Science should be secular especially in this example, given that

And religion ain't too likely to answer "How can I build a better dam?"
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Religion is a purely human thing. Religion creates an inner perception of an alternate reality that does not need to be connected to what the sensory systems can see. Science, on the other hand, attempts to make its mental constructs reflect sensory reality.

Religion helped train the human mind to see what is not physically manifest. Religion creates a mental gymnastics where anything is possible. Science trained the human mind to see what is, based on physical constraints. Religion helped train the human mind for the prerequisite of innovation. The mind needs to first go to a place that does not yet exist in reality. Science doesn't deal well, with this front end, since the inception process does not satisfy the scientific method.

"Be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by a renewing of your mind"

Religion is not about physical restrictions for the mind and imagination, but about freedom of the mind. Someone with their own personal savior (inner voice) becomes a unique entity. Practical reality, such as with science, has laws and rules which conform us into a herd. There is no such thing as personal science, which would make us unique. One is constrained to uniformity and restricted from using too much imagination. The exception is innovation which is sort of like personal science. That is where the skills set evolved by religion becomes useful to science.

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Unfortunately, in this set of tools, only one of them is going to better protect people in the future from a glaringly obvious recurring effect - . . .

Science should be secular especially in this example, given that

I consider it a given, that one person could have both spiritual (religious) questions and scientific questions at the same time.

My Religion tool is shiny, almost pristine. I don't need a God, I don't particularly want a God, and have my own moral index from a 'I don't want to hurt anyone who doesn't try to hurt me.' perspective.

If religion works to answer the 'Why did mommy die saving me?' question, I say. . .no harm done. There is probably no more real answer than: "She cared about your life more than she cared about her own. And she'd do it again in a heartbeat." I've got kids (and grandchildren), and I understand that statement without question. If Religion answers it as: 'It's part of God's plan." or even "She's in heaven with the Angels." I don't care. If it brings peace, it's fine. It's done the one good thing that religion has ever done. . .explain the unexplainable.

So it doesn't matter which tool saves more people. The same person can use one to feel better, while they use the other to build a better dam.

I agree that you get more bang for your buck with science, but the two are separate, should be separate, and any attempt to mix them is one of those BIG MISTAKES.

And it's happening way too much.

Bill Wolfe

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I consider it a given, that one person could have both spiritual (religious) questions and scientific questions at the same time.

My Religion tool is shiny, almost pristine. I don't need a God, I don't particularly want a God, and have my own moral index from a 'I don't want to hurt anyone who doesn't try to hurt me.' perspective.

If religion works to answer the 'Why did mommy die saving me?' question, I say. . .no harm done. There is probably no more real answer than: "She cared about your life more than she cared about her own. And she'd do it again in a heartbeat." I've got kids (and grandchildren), and I understand that statement without question. If Religion answers it as: 'It's part of God's plan." or even "She's in heaven with the Angels." I don't care. If it brings peace, it's fine. It's done the one good thing that religion has ever done. . .explain the unexplainable.

So it doesn't matter which tool saves more people. The same person can use one to feel better, while they use the other to build a better dam.

I agree that you get more bang for your buck with science, but the two are separate, should be separate, and any attempt to mix them is one of those BIG MISTAKES.

And it's happening way too much.

Bill Wolfe

Well okay so you try to find answers from a Religious perspective and everyone has a happy, accepting moment, that is great.

But if you can scientifically explain why mommy died 'saving me' you can understand exactly what caused the event and take precautions to prevent mommy from dying again in the future. Maybe making the area where 'mommy' drowned gated off, or drained? Or you know maybe designing a better, faster health care system or or offer protective-health suits.

I think it is good to be spiritual and at one with your beliefs. This can prove helpful in accepting situations like the example above, but often religion is a specific matrix of beliefs, a system, an ideology, and even though spirituality may sooth the soul, science has a special place as the separation of man from our animal brethren (just joking). But seriously its logos vs pathos vs ethos, religion for the most part is Pathos and maybe sometimes Logos. And although pathos can seem to inspire, to give life, it has a dark side and can take it away. While ethos is what really teaches us the lessons, credibility, usually is implying someone who has earned respect.

You probably don't understand the above at all its gibberish, but its okay I am sure you got the friendly gist of the message

Edited by toastywombel
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Science is a large area of study. There are aspects of science that are a done deal, such as the chemical make-up of water; H2O. We can all agree. But there are also areas of science, such as cosmology, where we pretend this is a done deal, by proving what we wish to prove. If we assume big bang, we can show some proof. If we don't like that, we can also show proof. It can't be both at once, even if we can give proof to two or more that are mutually exclusive.

The question becomes, how so we reconcile reality, when more that one version of reality can be backed by science using math and what appears to be proof? If we go secular, do we vote for reality? Does the most money win? Does it have to do with advertising and popularity? Does politics help by shifting funding to what brings it the most benefit.

Religion comes in to help people deal with secular motivations, since not all motivations necessarily end with the same result. If the goal is to gain political power, one needs to know where the most votes will come from; popularity. It is always easier, with the biggest army. If the goal is money, some theories are more resource intensive and/or show the promise for more future products. If it is military, some theories show the promise of the new biggest gun. Other times, the choice is defensive. If I wish to move up the company ladder, I can not bite the hand that feeds me or upset the boss. It would be dumb not to run with the herd even if I sort of side the other way. I will blank that out and over compensate.

If we could find scientists with nothing to gain and nothing to lose, who only seek the truth, we may get a completely different answer. We may need to use ethics to make sure the consensus is looking for truth and not making decisions based on some advantage.

Manmade global warming was manmade. Notice the play on words, which made the whole thing a clever ad campaign. They told the truth of the con, but made you think it meant something else. This alternate reality, supported by science, contained the potential for many to gain a lot of new advantages. We were ready to buy carbon credits, by force of gun, for fun and profit. Ethics only mattered after they got caught. The consensus would have kept the game going all the way to slicing the pie.

With religion, one has to find peace with god, making it harder to hide within alternate reality using personal motivations. The secular only has to hide this from the other humans. This makes it easier to hide. Religion can be an inconvenience. Those obligated by truth, eventually put the pie on the face of consensus science and helped return science back to objective reality. Scientists are only human and fall for the same things non-scientists fall far. Secular is not motivated by truth alone.

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Religion is much more than a tool.

Religion is a social establishment. It puts people under the same laws. These laws are made unbreaklable by the fact that they were established by a deity, not by any human. It is most often the first and last reason for people to respect any form of central civil government, like kings and other emperors (& Constitutions in some cases). Religion is also a cultural establishment, it makes recognizable people from other people, making it by this way a defense system (& sometimes an offensive system). Religion is part of the economic power and in some case part of the military system. And surely there must be many other aspects of religion I forget here.

IMO the fact that religion proposes explanation for unknown physical phenomenas is only a side effect. It is not the main purpose of religion, it is a must do. Religion just cannot avoid this part of the game.

The only conflict with science is due to the fact that religion cannot step back easily, because it would be like admitting that God was wrong.

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