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Is religion being picked on?


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Hi friends:

 

As some of you may be aware, it is common for religious apologists and creationists to claim that their views are treated unfairly by those who follow a secular agenda. John Lennox, for example, has said that atheism is wishful thinking in that it is the hope that atheists will never have to meet God. As a result, secularists have a bias against the supernatural and treat it unfairly by censoring it especially in regard to science.

 

Although I am an atheist, I must agree with Lennox in that I do hope I will never encounter his god! Atheists are as human as the religious and have biases and can act irrationally. I know I'm like that. Nevertheless, I do try to keep an open mind and dispassionately consider evidence whether it is consistent with my predispositions or not.

 

So is religion being unfairly excluded from the arena of modern thought? Is any mention of gods automatically to be censored from scientific discourse?

 

Jagella

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So, let me get this straight...   Worldwide, something like 80-90% of every human being on earth is considered religious to some extent. For as long as we have records, religion has been the domina

This seems like just a rewording of Pascal's Wager. It's been thoroughly considered by philosophers and game theorists e.g. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/ Pascal's wager, in its time

Religion should be held to the same scientific standards as any other discipline making claims about the physical world. The religious should not be given special treatment just because evidence might

So is religion being unfairly excluded from the arena of modern thought? Is any mention of gods automatically to be censored from scientific discourse?

 

I think you are misunderstanding science. It focuses on the study of fact. There is no proof god exists thus god cannot be a fact.

 

Religion focuses on belief ie in the absence of fact what do you think happened.

Edited by fiveworlds
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A huge part of the problem is that religion has too many views. Science quibbles over its own interpretation of data, but uses theory to continually refine their explanations, and consensus usually agrees with the one that has the most supportive evidence. There are tens of thousands of religions and sects within those religions. Very few agree on even the basic tenets. I think it's a mistake to treat them all equally as valid, but there isn't a way to determine which has more reasonable perspectives. None of their gods is willing to be observed doing anything predictable so science can measure and study it. They remain supernatural, thus negating the efficacy of science to explain them.

 

The views of the religious aren't being treated unfairly. They aren't being supported adequately enough to withstand a more rigorous approach to reality. IOW, they're complaining about the heat but refuse to leave the kitchen.

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I think it's a mistake to treat them all equally as valid, but there isn't a way to determine which has more reasonable perspectives. None of their gods is willing to be observed doing anything predictable so science can measure and study it. They remain supernatural, thus negating the efficacy of science to explain them.

 

I agree there are a plethora of religions and not all are equally as valid. However, I do think there are at least 2 ways of measuring them.

 

If a religion makes a physical claim (water into wine, or talking dogs) we can seek evidence - or as many of these claims are historical, apply current understanding. Any religion that holds itself above these criteria (i.e. god just did it), is at best useless at describing the physical world.

 

If a religion restricts itself to coming to terms with being sentient and ethics then the measures are far more vague, but still we can still apply some metric, even if it is just 'this group seem happier and do less harm to others'.

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I think you are misunderstanding science. It focuses on the study of fact. There is no proof god exists thus god cannot be a fact.

 

If we use your definition, then we need to know the facts before science gets off the ground. There is no proof that life exists beyond the earth, so such life's existence cannot be a fact?

Religion focuses on belief ie in the absence of fact what do you think happened.

 

 

Yes. That is a problem as far as science is concerned. Nevertheless, I think it might be a good idea to continue to investigate religious claims.

 

Jagella

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If we use your definition, then we need to know the facts before science gets off the ground. There is no proof that life exists beyond the earth, so such life's existence cannot be a fact?

 

That is correct. You can believe life will be found beyond earth but that's religion.

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Jagella: " John Lennox, for example, has said that atheism is wishful thinking in that it is the hope that atheists will never have to meet God." Thanks, I never thought of that. Maybe some atheists.Reminds me of my brother before he died. Claimed to be atheist but followed a sorta religious lifestyle just in case. You know, do unto others, no blasphemy, respect your elders etc. Don't know how or if that might have worked out. Seems atheism has become a sort of religion where the atheists have faith that there is no God.Lack of proof is considered proof I guess.

Ever since the first religions, followers have been claiming to be persecuted and have been..

Religion has an important place in society but scientific methods need not apply.Scientists don't try to aggravate or persecute the religious but their opinions are offensive to religious people whose religion generally requires defending their belief.Say what you believe and let the chips fall as they may.Scientists have been known to be opinionated.

 

Never argue religion with a naked man. Happened at the YMCA locker room.

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Jagella: " John Lennox, for example, has said that atheism is wishful thinking in that it is the hope that atheists will never have to meet God." Thanks, I never thought of that. Maybe some atheists.Reminds me of my brother before he died. Claimed to be atheist but followed a sorta religious lifestyle just in case. You know, do unto others, no blasphemy, respect your elders etc. Don't know how or if that might have worked out. Seems atheism has become a sort of religion where the atheists have faith that there is no God.Lack of proof is considered proof I guess.

 

I'm sure it helps to justify your own beliefs to claim that atheists use faith the same way as theists. For me and many, atheism is more like not participating in the process. We don't actively disbelieve, we just see no need.

 

Viewed from this perspective, if atheism is a religion, then not-stamp-collecting is a hobby.

 

I'm sorry to hear about your brother. I'm also sorry you chose to view his atheism only in the light of religious practices. You seem to be saying that the Golden Rule, respect for elders, and other ethics points are strictly religious lifestyle choices. I think perhaps he was just a good man who didn't need a god to be a good man.

 

 

If a religion restricts itself to coming to terms with being sentient and ethics then the measures are far more vague, but still we can still apply some metric, even if it is just 'this group seem happier and do less harm to others'.

 

So that's the metric for a realistic belief system? It could apply to a bunch of sedated lab rats as well.

 

For me, it's become about the proper use of rational thought versus emotional thought. Both are necessary for our development, but we use emotional thought far too often. Reason is a better tool to use when describing reality. Emotional thought is often light on data, and relies on guesswork and wishful thinking.

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John Lennox, for example, has said that atheism is wishful thinking in that it is the hope that atheists will never have to meet God. As a result, secularists have a bias against the supernatural and treat it unfairly by censoring it especially in regard to science.

 

This seems like just a rewording of Pascal's Wager. It's been thoroughly considered by philosophers and game theorists e.g. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/ Pascal's wager, in its time was a solid leap forward in philosophical and statistical theory and got a very fair and in depth examination by scientific thinkers when it was put forward. As a result, I would say that in this particular case, the concept was definitely not ignored by scientists, but thoroughly considered, helped advance science at the time, but was ultimately found to be flawed.

 

If, as it would seem, Lennox is putting forth a 400 year old idea that has been thoroughly examined and discarded long ago, then complaining that science doesn't still find it as compelling as he does and subsequently condemning science as dismissive of religion, I would personally say that his argument has little to no merit and in of itself, is trivially dismissable.

Edited by Arete
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So is religion being unfairly excluded from the arena of modern thought? Is any mention of gods automatically to be censored from scientific discourse?

 

I think you are misunderstanding science. It focuses on the study of fact. There is no proof god exists thus god cannot be a fact.

 

Religion focuses on belief ie in the absence of fact what do you think happened.

But science also includes hypothesis, which are the better ideas without real evidence, but with overwhelming circumstantial evidence. :eyebrow:

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This seems like just a rewording of Pascal's Wager.

Actually, I believe Lennox is alluding to the "psychology of atheism" that is espoused by some Christian apologists. The basic claim is that some people have an emotional aversion to the idea of God and reject the idea out of bitterness or wanting to be free of God.

 

While I may not fully agree with such a claim, it does seem to me that atheism can be very emotionally charged. Such emotion can lead to bias and the refusal to fairly consider evidence that may prove one's predispositions to be wrong. I hope that atheists, especially those atheists that may be scientists, will approach the issue of the existence of gods coolly and rationally.

 

Jagella

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So, let me get this straight...

 

Worldwide, something like 80-90% of every human being on earth is considered religious to some extent. For as long as we have records, religion has been the dominant force in civilization, a proto-government, as it were. People who fail to practice their local religion or who think differently are as a general rule ostracized, outcast, and omitted from the groups protection and prevented from sharing in their resources.

 

...and the question is whether or not they're being treated unfairly? Seriously? I know the strain of persecution is strong in many religious narratives, but that's a bit much, wouldn't you say?

 

Similarly, why offer deference to religion when it's completely unearned? I understand the need to be respectful and kind to one another, but if religion or religious people do ignorant things or say something that's remedially false, or tries to claim that they should not be subject to the same level of scrutiny and scientific standards as everything else, then laughing and dismissing the claim is an entirely acceptable response.

 

After all... that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

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Actually, I believe Lennox is alluding to the "psychology of atheism" that is espoused by some Christian apologists. The basic claim is that some people have an emotional aversion to the idea of God and reject the idea out of bitterness or wanting to be free of God.

 

I'm sure that is true of some people. But (because atheism isn't a religion) there is no one reason why people don't believe in God.

 

For me, and many others, the concept is just pointless and irrelevant. Like golf. It is barely even an absence of belief; just complete indifference.

 

While I may not fully agree with such a claim, it does seem to me that atheism can be very emotionally charged.

 

So can golf. Or mathematics. <shrug>

 

 

I hope that atheists, especially those atheists that may be scientists, will approach the issue of the existence of gods coolly and rationally.

 

I am as cool about it as I am about stamp collecting or spelunking. But I don't see where rationality comes into it. Should I also "rationally" consider the existence of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy?

Edited by Strange
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I hope that atheists, especially those atheists that may be scientists, will approach the issue of the existence of gods coolly and rationally.

 

Jagella

Not a problem.

Just as soon as there's some evidence for God we will be happy to consider it coolly and rationally,.

Until then I will treat it like the existence of fairies at the bottom of my garden- i.e. not worthy of serious thought.

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Worldwide, something like 80-90% of every human being on earth is considered religious to some extent. For as long as we have records, religion has been the dominant force in civilization, a proto-government, as it were. People who fail to practice their local religion or who think differently are as a general rule ostracized, outcast, and omitted from the groups protection and prevented from sharing in their resources.

 

...and the question is whether or not they're being treated unfairly? Seriously? I know the strain of persecution is strong in many religious narratives, but that's a bit much, wouldn't you say?

 

Are you asking me or the apologists? If the religious are being treated unfairly, then that's wrong even though they may have been unjust to others.

 

Similarly, why offer deference to religion when it's completely unearned?

 

If deference is unearned, then don't offer it. At the same time I say give them the chance to earn respect.

 

I understand the need to be respectful and kind to one another, but if religion or religious people do ignorant things or say something that's remedially false, or tries to claim that they should not be subject to the same level of scrutiny and scientific standards as everything else, then laughing and dismissing the claim is an entirely acceptable response.

 

If anybody says something that is false, then expose it as false. If they refuse to be scrutinized, then let them know that you cannot accept what they say until they allow their claims to be scrutinized. You are free to laugh and dismiss claims, but that's not my approach.

After all... that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Of course you can dismiss any claim. You have no burden of proof, but if evidence is offered, then fairly consider it.

 

Jagella

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If deference is unearned, then don't offer it.

Indeed. I fully agree, yet that's basically the stance most of us take which you are here now challenging (or asserting that apologists are challenging).

 

At the same time I say give them the chance to earn respect.

They've had like 3 or 4 millenia to do this already. I'm pretty sure waiting until next Tuesday isn't going to make much difference.

 

but if evidence is offered, then fairly consider it.

Again, I fully agree. Now, what evidence has been offered, exactly?
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But science also includes hypothesis, which are the better ideas without real evidence, but with overwhelming circumstantial evidence. :eyebrow:

 

A hypothesis is an educated guess that something is a fact. For instance if I do cook something 1000 times then I could be pretty sure something is fact. But in order for it to become a fact other people have to be able to replicate your experiment and find the same or similar results. For instance I could say that what I need to make a sponge cake is a small list of ingredients. However what if I forgot the necessity for air? What would happen if I mixed a sponge cake in a methane filled space?

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Not a problem.

Just as soon as there's some evidence for God we will be happy to consider it coolly and rationally,.

Until then I will treat it like the existence of fairies at the bottom of my garden- i.e. not worthy of serious thought.

I don't know of any evidence for any gods that I find convincing, but the apologists claim they have evidence. What is or is not credible evidence is an issue in itself.

 

What bothers me about this issue is that science itself may get a bad reputation as being narrow-minded and elitist if it is seen as having an atheistic agenda. I hope you agree that science has no authorities. If censorship and dogma are some of the ill effects of religion, then such ills should have no place in science either.

 

Jagella

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I don't know of any evidence for any gods that I find convincing, but the apologists claim they have evidence. What is or is not credible evidence is an issue in itself.

 

What bothers me about this issue is that science itself may get a bad reputation as being narrow-minded and elitist if it is seen as having an atheistic agenda. I hope you agree that science has no authorities. If censorship and dogma are some of the ill effects of religion, then such ills should have no place in science either.

 

Jagella

I think you are mistaken- the definitions of evidence are clear enough- there just isn't any for God.

 

Science has a very clear agenda- finding out what is supported by evidence.

There's nothing intrinsically elitist about it. Anyone can do an experiment and, if it overturns a previously held belief in science then science will cough, splutter swear a bit (we are human, after all) and, eventually, accept the truth.

If, on the other hand someone shows religion to be wrong, or even just says that it might be, they risk getting killed for it.

 

Now, remind me- who was being "picked on"? Oh yes, I remember now- the ones who kill the unbelievers.

Did you think that through before you asked?

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On the subject of evidence, readers might like to consider, for example, the argument from design.

 

Design -- or apparent design, if you prefer -- in nature is regarded these days, by those of a more scientific persuasion at least, as evidence supporting the theory of natural selection. But for centuries prior to Darwin the very same observation (design) was seen as powerful evidence for the existence of a designer -- yes, by scientists too! So what are we to say about all this:

 

(i) The appearance of design in nature still constitutes evidence for the Designer (God) theory, but the same observations now confirm the natural selection theory to an even higher degree.

 

In that case, why is John Cuthber telling us there is NO evidence for God (see posts 15, 20)

 

or

 

(ii) The appearance of design in nature never did constitute evidence for the God theory. It was only taken to be evidence by proponents of the theory.

 

In that case, how can we be sure the putative evidence supporting the theory of natural selection is not in precisely the same boat? i.e. we take it to be evidence but it is, in fact, no such thing.

Edited by Reg Prescott
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I agree that such intolerance is abhorrent, but haven't some atheists committed the same crimes against those who disagree with them?

Have atheists committed crimes? Yes, of course. Only a fool would argue otherwise, but the point you're trying to make is ultimately an irrelevant red herring.

 

You're basically comparing atheists who commit crimes in general against theists who commit them specifically in the name of their religion or belief system. Apples and oranges.

 

The challenge, as I'm sure you understand, is that atheism is not itself a belief system. It is not an ideology or worldview or religion any more than bald is a hair color or not collecting stamps is a hobby. The term atheist is not descriptive of a persons ideology in any way. It tells you nothing other than the person doesn't believe in god or gods. Full stop. End program.

 

Further, one cannot commit a crime in the name of atheism any more than one can commit a crime in the name of non-belief in the tooth fairy or lack of belief in puff the magic dragon. The concept is absurd on its face.

 

You know what we do see, however, and with heartbreaking despair-inducing regularity? Crimes and atrocities committed precisely because of ones religious beliefs, ideology, or the fact that they have differing worldviews from some other religious group or tribe (think Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ISIS, the crusades, etc.)

 

Unfortunately, the only response I suspect you can offer to this is a No True Scotsman fallacy when defining religion or a strawman fallacy when defining atheism, neither of which are terribly helpful or convincing.

 

In any case, I'm not saying that the religious are being picked on. I'm just investigating the claim.

"There's simply no polite way to tell people they've dedicated their lives to an illusion."

― Daniel C. Dennett

Edited by iNow
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Jagella, getting back to your opening post...

 

 

As some of you may be aware, it is common for religious apologists and creationists to claim that their views are treated unfairly by those who follow a secular agenda. John Lennox, for example, has said that atheism is wishful thinking in that it is the hope that atheists will never have to meet God. As a result, secularists have a bias against the supernatural and treat it unfairly by censoring it especially in regard to science.

 

I'm not a Creationist. I'm not religious at all, and not even particularly sympathetic to their agenda. I would say this though: There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that their views ARE treated unfairly by the scientific community and her devotees. Kudos to yourself, Jagella, for drawing attention to the issue.

 

I'm a United fan myself. But if in order to secure victory against City, United must resort to unscrupulous tactics, I'll boo them off the park every time.

 

It's disheartening to see over and over again, on Internet forums such as this one and elsewhere, Creationist critiques of evolutionary theory routinely dismissed, often without any analysis, as "not good science". We're never told exactly what the criteria for "good science" are, alas, otherwise these pesky Creationists, you, me, Peter, Paul, and Mary might ascertain these things for ourselves objectively without having to appeal to the soi disant "good science" guru for arbitration.

 

We're not told what the criteria are for good reason: several centuries of attempts to demarcate good science from non-science, pseudoscience, metaphysics, bad science, or whatever have not succeeded. There is no universally agreed upon set of criteria for what constitutes good science.

 

I also suspect that if precisely the same critiques -- irreducible complexity, say -- were leveled by Stephen Jay Gould rather than some fellah from the Discovery Institute, no doubt some in the science community would challenge the critiques, but no one would tell SJG he's not doing good science.

 

Here's a link to a very relevant essay, “Science at the Bar—Causes for Concern”, by Larry Laudan that you and others might enjoy, Jagella, if you're not already familiar with it.

 

http://faculty.washington.edu/lynnhank/Laudan.pdf

Edited by Reg Prescott
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When someone provides the evidence for the existence of God that will stand up in court , you will have a valid point.

 

This seems like another non sequitur, John.

 

Theories of God are not examined in a judicial court. Neither are theories of science. Why the double standard?

 

And which "point" exactly are you referring to? I don't believe the validity of any of the points I've raised depends on the existence of God being provable in a courtroom.

 

Why not address them one by one?

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