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Ch. 13: Faith 
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Post Ch. 13: Faith
Ch. 13: Faith

Please use this thread for discussing Ch. 13: Faith. :whistle:



Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:27 pm
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In a book with this title, it was inevitable that Burton would get around to talking about "the F word" (as he calls it). He begins by connecting "deeply felt purpose and meaning" (the essence of faith/religion) to the feeling of knowing and associated mental sensations. The feeling of purpose and meaning is one such sensation, and as such is universal. He is far from saying that there is "God" in our circuitry, though, as some have claimed. He simply means that we will, in order to be mentally healthy, find some means of placing ourselves within a something-greater, outside of ourselves. And he believes that if more people were aware that in our belief in gods or in science, we are merely fulfilling an unconscious imperative, we would understand each other better. Religion and science might effect a rapprochement.

He says that for some people, science provides some or all of this sense of meaning. Finding out about the mysteries of ourselves in the universe serves as an inspirational mission for many. Where he does see a problem with science is the inclination of some to stress the lack of meaning and intention, the randomness, of the universe that science supposedly points to. It is no wonder that many people want to reject such bleakness, and will even willfully reject mountains of evidence in order to escape it. Further, this randomness or meaninglessness is nothing more than a personal projection or feeling by whoever articulates it. It cannot be objective. Our minds have no way of rationally assessing randomness or meaninglessness. We must reamain in uncertainty about this.

Burton criticizes Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and others for [/i]their[i] certainty that the autonomous rational mind is real. I feel he is being evenhanded here, but I'd be interested in what others think. He has, by the way, made examples of a creationist and an ID guy as well, so he's trying to be balanced.

He again praises the wisdom of Charles Darwin, pp. 192-195, who he believes had the perfect outlook on this subject of personal certainty.

Here are some illustrative passages:

"If we abandon the belief that the feelings of purpose and meaning are within our conscious control, and see them as involuntary mental sensations closely related to the feeling of knowing, we have a potentially powerful tool for reconsidering the science-religion conflict."

"It is an extrordinary proposition to believe that an intellectual understanding of physical properties can reveal subjective metaphysical truths."

"But reason isn't necessarily capable of summoning a sense of meaning."

"His [Dawkins'] near-evangelical effort to convince the faithful of the folly of their convictions has the same zealous ring as those missionaries who feel it is their duty to convert the heathens."

"How different the science-religion controversy would be if we acknowledged that a deeply felt sense of purpose is as necessary as hunger and thirst--that all are universally necessary for survival and homeostasis. How we express these sensations will be a matter of personal taste and predilection."

"To expect well-reasoned arguments to easily alter personal expressions of purpose is to misunderstand the biology of belief."

"To insist that the secular and the scientific be universally adopted flies in the face of what neuroscience tells us about different personality traits generating idiosyncratic worldviews."

""... we need to acknowledge that the evidence for a visceral need for a sense of faith, purpose, and meaning is as powerful as the evidence for evolution."

"If possible, both science and religion should try to adopt and stick with the idea of provisional facts."



Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:40 am
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DWill wrote:
... "the F word" (as he calls it). He begins by connecting "deeply felt purpose and meaning" (the essence of faith/religion) to the feeling of knowing and associated mental sensations. The feeling of purpose and meaning is one such sensation, and as such is universal. He is far from saying that there is "God" in our circuitry, though, as some have claimed. He simply means that we will, in order to be mentally healthy, find some means of placing ourselves within a something-greater, outside of ourselves. And he believes that if more people were aware that in our belief in gods or in science, we are merely fulfilling an unconscious imperative, we would understand each other better. Religion and science might effect a rapprochement.

Thank you Dwill for introducing these ideas. I find it sad that Burton applies such a reductive approach to both faith and reason. By saying that claims about meaning and purpose are "merely fulfilling an unconscious imperative" he continues his crusade against the possibility of knowledge in the field of faith, and effectively belittles the nascent dialogue between religion and science. Objectively, we are within something greater outside of ourselves. It is called a planet, and humans have the capacity to align our sense of 'meaning and purpose' to objective planetary requirements.

Quote:
He says that for some people, science provides some or all of this sense of meaning. Finding out about the mysteries of ourselves in the universe serves as an inspirational mission for many. Where he does see a problem with science is the inclination of some to stress the lack of meaning and intention, the randomness, of the universe that science supposedly points to. It is no wonder that many people want to reject such bleakness, and will even willfully reject mountains of evidence in order to escape it. Further, this randomness or meaninglessness is nothing more than a personal projection or feeling by whoever articulates it. It cannot be objective. Our minds have no way of rationally assessing randomness or meaninglessness. We must remain in uncertainty about this.
There is a good interview here with Stephen Weinberg about his famous comment that the more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless. He went on to say "if there is no point in the universe that we discover by the methods of science, there is a point that we can give the universe by the way we live, by loving each other, by discovering things about nature, by creating works of art. And that -- in a way, although we are not the stars in a cosmic drama, if the only drama we're starring in is one that we are making up as we go along, it is not entirely ignoble that faced with this unloving, impersonal universe we make a little island of warmth and love and science and art for ourselves." This 'island of warmth', in Weinberg's term, although subjective, has a strong objectivity about it as well. By creating meaning we give vision and direction to our lives, and in evolutionary terms that is essential.

Quote:
Burton criticizes Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and others for their certainty that the autonomous rational mind is real. I feel he is being evenhanded here, but I'd be interested in what others think. He has, by the way, made examples of a creationist and an ID guy as well, so he's trying to be balanced.
This sort of 'balance' is like the balance between truth and error. Dawkins does have a real autonomous rational mind, and has applied it brilliantly to zoology and evolution. The trouble as I see it is that he builds a spurious metaphysics on the top of his legitimate science. His skills as a scientist do not justify his philosophical claims about meaning and purpose. I argued in the myth thread that British empiricism has a slew of unexamined assumptions, and I think there is something imperial and mythic in the haughty way Dawkins attacks religion without seeing its evolutionary benefits. To date, I don't think any religionists have mounted a strong case against Dawkins. The reason, as I see it, is that members of the institutional church are unwilling to admit the truth of his atheistic observations about false superstitions. Dawkins is providing a useful forensic task in identifying the obsolete content of much faith, but his enthusiasm gets the better of him when he sees faith itself as invalid.
Quote:
He again praises the wisdom of Charles Darwin, pp. 192-195, who he believes had the perfect outlook on this subject of personal certainty. Here are some illustrative passages: "If we abandon the belief that the feelings of purpose and meaning are within our conscious control, and see them as involuntary mental sensations closely related to the feeling of knowing, we have a potentially powerful tool for reconsidering the science-religion conflict.""It is an extraordinary proposition to believe that an intellectual understanding of physical properties can reveal subjective metaphysical truths.""But reason isn't necessarily capable of summoning a sense of meaning.""His [Dawkins'] near-evangelical effort to convince the faithful of the folly of their convictions has the same zealous ring as those missionaries who feel it is their duty to convert the heathens.""How different the science-religion controversy would be if we acknowledged that a deeply felt sense of purpose is as necessary as hunger and thirst--that all are universally necessary for survival and homeostasis. How we express these sensations will be a matter of personal taste and predilection.""To expect well-reasoned arguments to easily alter personal expressions of purpose is to misunderstand the biology of belief.""To insist that the secular and the scientific be universally adopted flies in the face of what neuroscience tells us about different personality traits generating idiosyncratic worldviews."""... we need to acknowledge that the evidence for a visceral need for a sense of faith, purpose, and meaning is as powerful as the evidence for evolution.""If possible, both science and religion should try to adopt and stick with the idea of provisional facts."
Thanks again Dwill, these are really interesting quotes. The 'personal taste' line is totally relativistic. The argument seems to be that in the past people have been unable to develop an objective faith so the whole project is impossible. Again, this is invalid reasoning. Who is to say that a future reconciliation of science and religion is impossible? Surely it is necessary for our survival as a species on this planet to identify a common agreed purpose for human evolutionary success? Such a purpose might be 'provisional' in that it is just a human construction, but use of evidence creates scope for objectivity even in this area. Of course things are provisional up to a point, but where do we draw the line? Our planet orbits the sun. Fact. DNA is the stuff of life and the engine of evolution. Fact. Once we move to the frontiers of science there is conjecture and speculation, but science has both a proven core of objective knowledge and an unproven margin, including the sandpit where Dawkins and Dennett argue with religion about metaphysics.



Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:28 am
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"... we need to acknowledge that the evidence for a visceral need for a sense of faith, purpose, and meaning is as powerful as the evidence for evolution."

I have a slight problem with this, but slap me if it would be easily answered by reading the book. I haven't read the book, but maybe I can play devil's advocate.

I believe there is evidence for evolution, as there is evidence for a visceral need for a sense of faith, purpose, and meaning. I think that the need for these things motivate us to accept conclusions about reality prematurely. An answer that includes faith, purpose, and meaning will be accepted very readily. It doesn't matter whether or not that answer is true or false.

Sorry to interrupt, I'm going to make another thread in the philosophy section on this so you guys aren't taken off track.



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Robert Tulip wrote:

I find it sad that Burton applies such a reductive approach to both faith and reason. By saying that claims about meaning and purpose are "merely fulfilling an unconscious imperative" he continues his crusade against the possibility of knowledge in the field of faith, and effectively belittles the nascent dialogue between religion and science. Objectively, we are within something greater outside of ourselves. It is called a planet, and humans have the capacity to align our sense of 'meaning and purpose' to objective planetary requirements.

Robert, could it be that his "merely" made it seem as though he was slighting meaning and purpose? I don't react to his reductiveness as you do, though I see your point of view. If the need to find meaning and purpose is contained within our circuits, I'm rather glad to accept this, as it doesn't limit the field to any particular form of belief about how we carry out that purpose, find that meaning. It doesn't appear to me to be a bad reductiveness. You appear not to like the relativistic flavor of all this, if I'm not mistaken. You prefer to continue to work towards a particular vision that we all could agree on. I guess the difference between us is that I don't see, based on a few thousand years of haggling and bloodletting, that we ever should expect to believe the same things.


Quote:
There is a good interview here with Stephen Weinberg about his famous comment that the more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless. He went on to say "if there is no point in the universe that we discover by the methods of science, there is a point that we can give the universe by the way we live, by loving each other, by discovering things about nature, by creating works of art. And that -- in a way, although we are not the stars in a cosmic drama, if the only drama we're starring in is one that we are making up as we go along, it is not entirely ignoble that faced with this unloving, impersonal universe we make a little island of warmth and love and science and art for ourselves." This 'island of warmth', in Weinberg's term, although subjective, has a strong objectivity about it as well. By creating meaning we give vision and direction to our lives, and in evolutionary terms that is essential.

Burton cites Weinberg as a proponent of the meaninglessness science leads some to. Burton's point is that Weinberg's declaration of meaninglessnes is but a personal vision of his. It is in no way a verifiable fact about the universe. We don't have to accept it, and so don't have to take up the existentialists' stance of last resort. We should behave as Weinberg says anyway, not just in response to a meaningless universe.

Quote:
Dawkins does have a real autonomous rational mind

Well, this is one of Burton's hobby horses. None of us possess the ability to detach from our minds and thereby escape the influence of bias and thought distortion, he asserts.
Quote:
Thanks again Dwill, these are really interesting quotes. The 'personal taste' line is totally relativistic. The argument seems to be that in the past people have been unable to develop an objective faith so the whole project is impossible. Again, this is invalid reasoning. Who is to say that a future reconciliation of science and religion is impossible?

Yes, again, it is a relativistic view. But the reconciliation between science and faith he foresees will actually be easier to effect if it does [/i]not[i] depend on agreement on a particular worldview. Rather, we would all accept the differences that arise in our views through our differences in genetics, experience, and environment. Thanks for your thoughts.
DWill



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Interbane wrote:
".
I believe there is evidence for evolution, as there is evidence for a visceral need for a sense of faith, purpose, and meaning. I think that the need for these things motivate us to accept conclusions about reality prematurely. An answer that includes faith, purpose, and meaning will be accepted very readily. It doesn't matter whether or not that answer is true or false.

Others who are reading the book please jump in if I'm off track here. Burton does not, at bottom, believe there is a reality out there that we can agree on, at least on matters involving complex perception. That would be why he is not particularly bothered by the tendency of faith, purpose, and meaning to cause us to "jump at conclusions." He does, though, assert that we need to know that our "certainties" on these matters are only our personal visions, if we cannot or will not subject them to empirical testing.
DWill



Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:53 pm
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Like RT says, great choice of quotations!

Burton: "If we abandon the belief that the feelings of purpose and meaning are within our conscious control, and see them as involuntary mental sensations closely related to the feeling of knowing, we have a potentially powerful tool for reconsidering the science-religion conflict."

We can't help but feel the need for meaning and purpose: or, rather, we need the feelings of meaning and purpose. Is his point to show that religious people simply can't help themselves in seeking meaning and purpose...and scientific atheists should stop buggering them about it? Or, does he also want the scientific atheist to accept their own involuntary drive for meaning and purpose...and thereby see the power of religious-like behavior in their own worldview?

What if these feelings actually corresponded to something outside of our mental sensations? In other words, these feelings exist, not simply because they lend themselves to homeostasis and degrees of flourishing...but because they point toward and refer to a reality that actually does impart meaning and deliver purpose to existence. This means that the religious crowd isn't simply exhibiting involuntary mental sensations when they pray to their God...but, instead, are experiencing genuine meaning and actual purpose because their God is not simply in their head or genes: but really delivering what it is that God delivers...meaning and purpose, and other things too.



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Dissident Heart wrote:
L
We can't help but feel the need for meaning and purpose: or, rather, we need the feelings of meaning and purpose. Is his point to show that religious people simply can't help themselves in seeking meaning and purpose...and scientific atheists should stop buggering them about it?

Yes, one of his points is that atheists and religious people share the drive for meaning and purpose, and that a difference in the expression of this drive should not upset either party so much.
Quote:
Or, does he also want the scientific atheist to accept their own involuntary drive for meaning and purpose...and thereby see the power of religious-like behavior in their own worldview?

His comments on Richard Dawkins would make me think so, though he is does not say what you do explicitly.
Quote:
What if these feelings actually corresponded to something outside of our mental sensations? In other words, these feelings exist, not simply because they lend themselves to homeostasis and degrees of flourishing...but because they point toward and refer to a reality that actually does impart meaning and deliver purpose to existence. This means that the religious crowd isn't simply exhibiting involuntary mental sensations when they pray to their God...but, instead, are experiencing genuine meaning and actual purpose because their God is not simply in their head or genes: but really delivering what it is that God delivers...meaning and purpose, and other things too.

Isn't that the trillion billion dollar question? Darwin considered a question like this and concluded that he had to remain agnostic (that's in Burton's book). But I think that if we listen to what the complexity theorists like Stuart Kauffman are saying, we might find a scientific justification for believing that meaning and purpose are not just in our heads. I haven't gotten very far with him yet, but hope to.
DWill



Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:44 pm
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Post Dawkins v Burton
DWill wrote:
Burton does not, at bottom, believe there is a reality out there that we can agree on, at least on matters involving complex perception. That would be why he is not particularly bothered by the tendency of faith, purpose, and meaning to cause us to "jump at conclusions." He does, though, assert that we need to know that our "certainties" on these matters are only our personal visions, if we cannot or will not subject them to empirical testing.DWill
Dwill, your comments here indicate the frustrating ambivalence about the status of knowledge in Burton's viewpoint. It seems frankly ridiculous to say there is not a complex reality that we can agree on, even though it is true that there are very many people who hold adamantly to falsehoods. The slipperiness here is not about the meaning of truth, rather it is the way people can elide and glide around a debate about the nature of objectivity. Richard Dawkins has an excellent comment on these issues in his book River out of Eden:
[quote]There is a fashionable salon philosophy called cultural relativism which holds, in its extreme form, that science has no more claim to truth than tribal myth: science is just the mythology favoured by our modern Western tribe. I was once provoked by an anthropologist colleague into putting the point starkly, as follows: Suppose there is a tribe, I said, who believe that the moon is an old calabash tossed into the sky, hanging just out of reach above the treetops. Do you really claim that our scientific truth- that the moon is about a quarter of a million miles away and a quarter the diameter of the Earth



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[i]R.Dawkins: I was once provoked by an anthropologist colleague into putting the point starkly, as follows: Suppose there is a tribe, I said, who believe that the moon is an old calabash tossed into the sky, hanging just out of reach above the treetops. Do you really claim that our scientific truth- that the moon is about a quarter of a million miles away and a quarter the diameter of the Earth



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Post Re: Dawkins v Burton
Robert Tulip wrote:
your comments here indicate the frustrating ambivalence about the status of knowledge in Burton's viewpoint. It seems frankly ridiculous to say there is not a complex reality that we can agree on, even though it is true that there are very many people who hold adamantly to falsehoods. The slipperiness here is not about the meaning of truth, rather it is the way people can elide and glide around a debate about the nature of objectivity. Richard Dawkins has an excellent comment on these issues in his book River out of Eden:

Robert, if you can, it would be best to obtain the book, as to some extent I am probably putting words into Burton's mouth. I don't think he used the phrase "complex reality," for example. What I meant by it is more like "worldview," I think, and yes, I think different worldviews, whether they are most influenced by religion or science, will always characterize the human race.

Burton attempts to stay away from philosophy, so he is not concerned with the status of knowledge. He tries to make his whole argument rest on how the brain works. It is from his belief that our brains incline us to find out the meaning and purpose of our lives, that he comes to his stance that there will inevitably be a great variety of expressions of the sense of meaning and purpose. Richard Dawkins is also an example of this variety. If some religious beliefs are unscientific, there is no harm. (He says, regarding how we treat others' religious beliefs, "Above all, do no harm".) And if a scientific worldview might lead to a view of the universe as random and meaningless, then it is no wonder that many take refuge in unscientific beliefs.

Richard Dawkins, and others, have made it their mission to crusade against "falsehoods", as you call them. That leaves me a little cold, but it is certainly thier right to do so.

Burton advocates admitting our uncertainty. He says there is a difference between absolute and "99.99% certainty." Since the findings of science are provisional, we are never absolutely certain and should say, for example, "I believe that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming."

I can't help thinking you have a slightly skewed view of what Burton is trying to say in the book. Empirical testing, for example, is not something he throws in to "weasel out" of an all-knowledge-is-relative view. It is the important factor that separates claims that rest only on a personal "feeling of knowing", from those that have been substantiated. He is promoting rationalism and science when he describes this. It is just that science is not all the world for him, in sharp contrast to someone like Dawkins.
DWill



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Dissident Heart wrote:
I think the important distinction missed by both Dawkins and his anthropologist colleague is NOT the tools and methods that measure the distance and width of the moon. But, instead, what does the moon mean, its significance, place and purpose in the overall narrative that envelopes and mobilizes each community.
Dawkins does not consider these ways in which his fetishized methodology has little to say in the matter:

Although I put myself on the scientific/rationalist end of the continuum, I accept that there are other dimensions to
knowing or understanding that may not be covered within the scientific paradigm. There are other uses to which the materials of our world can be put; and just as you say, what makes a big, crucial difference is the function of those materials for individuals or for a community. For this reason, it doesn't make sense to me--is not even logical--for a belief or understanding to be invalidated solely because science has disproven some part of it. I don't even understand why anyone would think he needs to be the arbiter of "truth" between two visions. I know someone might object to this statement by saying, "No, science is more than a vision; it is substantiated fact." But although science does consist of statements in the process of being substantiated, the adoption of a scientific worldview is something different and does deserve to be called a vision.



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Dissident Heart wrote:
I think the important distinction missed by both Dawkins and his anthropologist colleague is NOT the tools and methods that measure the distance and width of the moon. But, instead, what does the moon mean, its significance, place and purpose in the overall narrative that envelopes and mobilizes each community.
Thanks DH, this discussion of the moon is a good path into the problem of certainty regarding complex topics. Do you really think the anthropologist missed your point? I probably didn't express myself very clearly before, but what I would like to say is that we need to consider scientific and mythic thinking together. Unless we consider the mythic meaning against a scientific framework, we are going back to a pre-modern belief system, and this is a dangerous and unproductive approach. Dawkins sees this and expresses an all-or-nothing polemic on behalf of knowledge against belief. I would rather say that the moon as a material object only acquires meaning in its use as a cultural symbol in a framework of belief. The problem is how to integrate 'moon as fact' and 'moon as value' into a coherent world view. I would rather that we start with a material understanding and build a spiritual understanding upon it, rather than seeing matter and spirit as incompatible alternatives.
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Dawkins does not consider these ways in which his fetishized methodology has little to say in the matter:- One community keeps a substantial portion of its population locked away, never able to see the moon: they are subterranean workers forced to mine minerals for ruling tribal members...these miners who never see the moon are simply expendible slave labor to be worked to death, bodies disposed like garbage, kept alive with the most minimal of care. - One community stages a fabulous feast and celebration during the season of the "harvest moon": all the fruits of their summer toil in the fields have been harvested and a festival of distribution and sharing of food is participated by all the members...dances are performed for the moon, songs are sung to the moon, and poems recited, artworks displayed and ancient dramas performed for the moon - One community sacrifices huge amounts of its shared goods and accumulated wealth for the purpose of reaching the moon: they make it a budgetary priority to develop the technology and mission to send a few of their members to the surface of the moon...they accept that much will not be accomplished on the earth for the success of this mission...projects that could feed, house, clothe, and educate large portions of their population are abandoned for the greater cause of sending two or three to the moon...they are in contest with other communities and think that by reaching the moon first, they will attain superiority and domination.
This is a useful way to illustrate the spiritual emptiness of modernity, with its fetishism of the nation-state. Describing science as a fetish draws out the irrational emotional component of anger with which Dawkins rejects unscientific thought. The Wikipedia discussion of fetishism can usefully be applied to Dawkins' discussion of the moon, in that fetishising its material objectivity



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Post Re: Dawkins v Burton
DWill wrote:
different worldviews, whether they are most influenced by religion or science, will always characterize the human race.
Fair enough, but I would still join Dawkins in campaigning in favour of world views that are based on reality, especially regarding a scientific approach to planetary evolution, while disagreeing with him about the limits of the real. Impossible views can only be justified as poetry, not as science.
Quote:
If some religious beliefs are unscientific, there is no harm.
Would you include the Reaganesque view that Christianity is on a mission from God to bring on Armageddon in the Middle East?? And what about the way unscientific Catholic doctrine has created a haven for pedophiles? Or the blind hatred in some Muslim quarters towards modernity? Clearly unscientific religion is extremely dangerous.
Quote:
Burton advocates admitting our uncertainty. He says there is a difference between absolute and "99.99% certainty." Since the findings of science are provisional, we are never absolutely certain and should say, for example, "I believe that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming."
Well, with the greatest of due respect, Burton is wrong. Evolution is absolutely 100% certain.



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Post Re: Dawkins v Burton
Robert Tulip wrote:
Fair enough, but I would still join Dawkins in campaigning in favour of world views that are based on reality, especially regarding a scientific approach to planetary evolution, while disagreeing with him about the limits of the real. Impossible views can only be justified as poetry, not as science.

It's the campaigning that tends to bother me, and the certainty of self-appointed experts such as Dawkins that their claims to reality are the right ones in all respects. Their claims about reality are incomplete if they think that science equals reality. Look, ignorance will always exist. I, also, can't help seeing denial of the evidence for evolution as ignorance, and I would fight to keep any teaching of "alternate theories " out of the schools. But let's not commit the error of demonizing others for what they do or don't believe. Diversity is much more than a matter of skin color or ethnic background. When I hear such vehemence expressed about what others wrongly believe, I see troublesome features of intellectuals cropping up.

I wonder what you mean by disagreeing with Dawkins about "the limits of the real."

Impossible views cannot be justified as science, you're right. In general, I think people don't make this claim for religious beliefs. Creation "science" is an obvious exception. Clearly, when creationists try to get into scientific debate, their arguments deserve to be shot down.
DWill wrote:
If some religious beliefs are unscientific, there is no harm.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Would you include the Reaganesque view that Christianity is on a mission from God to bring on Armageddon in the Middle East?? And what about the way unscientific Catholic doctrine has created a haven for pedophiles? Or the blind hatred in some Muslim quarters towards modernity? Clearly unscientific religion is extremely dangerous.

It can't be shown that it is any unscientific content that is responsible for the harm. The uses to which people put beliefs is a separate matter. You also have to take into account that for the great majority of those who say they hold one "unscientific" belief or another, their behavior shows no dangerous aberration. But now I'm getting into the by-now familiar, and tired, argument that has been going on in these forums forever, it seems.
DWill wrote:
Burton advocates admitting our uncertainty. He says there is a difference between absolute and "99.99% certainty." Since the findings of science are provisional, we are never absolutely certain and should say, for example, "I believe that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming."

Robert Tulip wrote:
Well, with the greatest of due respect, Burton is wrong. Evolution is absolutely 100% certain.

Robert, would you agree, though, that by the rules of science, Burton is correct? You see no reason to concede any ground whatsoever to your opponents, but must you not continue to regard evolution as not disproven?
DWill



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