Can you reconcile your faith with science?

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Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Clint on Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:04 am

When having a discussion with a theist, it always baffles me when they try to square their God claims with science. I'd much prefer for them to just ditch science all together and admit that they're not interested about what's real and what's not. At least that would be more honest. When a person makes claims that their God interacts with reality and then attempts to justify this with reason or science, to me its just an attempt to rationalize the irrational. I find that most of the time it ends up with the bending of facts, intellectual dishonesty, contortion of truths, circular arguments, denialism and straw men concepts.

In recent conversations with theists, several of them have attempted to do just that. Square off their faith with science, and to me the above is exactly what folds out. If your version of God does not interact with reality, then there is no way to verify this, and congrats - your God is identical to a God that doesn't exist. But if your God does in anyway intervene or interact with reality, then that is something that is subject to scientific inquiry and can be tested for. When we do analyse these God claims, results are polarized, not one of them turns out to be true.

@Skeptics: What's the most common approach you find a theist you converse with takes? The more honest approach of admitting they don't care if their beliefs are in-tune with reality? Or the dishonest approach of fingers in ears, head in sand when they discover the facts disagree with their God claims?

@Theists: Do you disagree with my statement? Can you in fact successfully reconcile your faith with science?
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:07 am

I'm not sure where to begin, so I'll just use a story.

Two years ago an astronomer from Harvard came to my College to talk about how he reconciled his faith with science. I don't remember much of anything he said since he wasn't much of a speaker. But I do remember one of our biology professors asking him this question, "You are a scientist and a Christian, and it would seem you want to have your cake and eat it too. Do you think science will ever empirically prove the existence of God?" And the Harvard guy looked at him dumbfounded. It took him a few seconds to recollect his thoughts. I was embarrassed.

To think that science can prove or disprove or have anything meaningful to say about God betrays either an ignorance of theology or an ignorance of science.

I'm no scientist, but I read stuff. So that has to count for something. If I were to approach a working definition of science I would say that it's a body of knowledge approached by the scientific method. It is concerned with facts about the physical world. Does a damn good job of it too. But trying to apply the scientific method on God is like trying to play football in a boxing ring. Well, ok, but it's not going to amount to much.

God is ontologically prior to physical existence. He does not exist in time, space, or matter. This is part of the definition of God. If God were to exist in time, space, or matter, he would be like the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny. That is to say, unworthy of worship and a mere fairy tale. If God were Superman I'd be a nihilist. Not just because he'd be unworthy of worship, but because if that were the case meaning would be impossible.

God can be approached with mind or heart but he cannot be approached by a microscope. This does not mean he's not "real." To say so is irrational and hubristic. It presupposes that, for one, we are Gods who can conceive the world in its fullness. Since science is already upfront about its ignorance, and very careful about what it says, it is nonscientific to hold this view (not unscientific, because it has nothing to do with science).

I've heard Richard Dawkins make a point that I wouldn't be a Christian if I was born in China, or parts of Africa. This is true, and I accept that. But this also applies to logical positivism. There's nothing inherently human or true about it. It's not like someone can walk up to me and say, "LOGICAL POSITIVISM!" and I'm compelled to believe it. I am free to reject it and I do. And since I was not born in a house with logical positivists it makes me less likely to hold to such a view.

Secondly, I propose that logical positivism finds itself in the same boat as any sort of religion. Setting aside questions of deities and the miraculous, it is not accepted because of any prior evidence. It creates its own evidence and its own world. Of course such a view seems to make so much sense to the adherent because they are biased by holding it. The problem, as I see it, is that it attempts to prove too much and does not adequately explain the world as it is.

But to get back around, I know I'm going to get tied into "well does he intervene in history? Where are the miracles?" Well, yes. But I'm not too terribly concerned about the occasional deviation of the laws of physics. I'm not prepared to say whether or not, say, Fatima was a miracle (though I don't believe it). I can say I have witnessed miracles, but others would find them mundane. First, we exist. That's mind-blowing to me. Second, there is consistency, why should my MacBook remain on my lap? Why should red remain red? Third, there are many things, not just one thing. Why? But finally, and this one takes the cake, I've seen sinners become saints.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Clint on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:36 am

Thanks for the reply. I'm not really sure you've answered my question though. Well to be fair you kind of attempted; You said that it blows your mind that we exist, that red is red, and that we live on a planet with an amount of gravity that is practical to our needs. (Effectively). ...But really? Personal bafflement isn't an answer, red is a label we stick on the length of a wave of light, gravity - well that can work for you or against you, and if a sinner that becomes a saint constitutes evidence for your God, then is a saint that becomes a sinner evidence for no God? ...I don't think either of us would consider these proper answers.

To quote you:
To think that science can prove or disprove or have anything meaningful to say about God betrays either an ignorance of theology or an ignorance of science.
&
God can be approached with mind or heart but he cannot be approached by a microscope. This does not mean he's not "real." To say so is irrational and hubristic.
Yes and no. 1. My heart pumps blood. 2. Science can neither prove or disprove whether a God exists, nor can it disprove the existence of fairies, unicorns or invisible dragons. But what I said is that it is possible that science can deal with God claims and is why I brought up in the beginning that If your definition of God involves him manifesting in reality in anyway, like every single Christian sect claims, then that is something open to inquiry. Such as a God that answers prayers, can heal people, make the sun stop, raise people from the dead, responsible for the diversity of life, the age of the earth, the when and how all of these were created... anything remotely like that - then that is something that's within reality and is subject to scientific inquiry.

All these types of claims of God manifesting himself within reality, can and have been tested. None of them turn out to be remotely correct.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:49 am

Well to be fair you kind of attempted; You said that it blows your mind that we exist, that red is red, and that we live on a planet with an amount of gravity that is practical to our needs. (Effectively). ...But really?

This is not particularly an argument for God, and I generally dislike arguments for God. But it is a strong indicator that there's something very strange going on. Why can't red change into blue tomorrow? Why can't gravity just give up? Let's say space-time throws the Earth up like a ball on a parachute in Elementary Gym. To say, "well, because of the laws..." or to say, "well, because it works this way" doesn't answer the question. To say they are laws is redundant. Things are consistent because they are consistent. Well, why? And this is an answer science cannot answer because it depends on it. Likewise is the case for God. The question of God is prior to science. Not only is it prior to science but it is a non-empircal reality. Miracles are non-essential, and to be fixated on them is like being fixated on the breasts of your friends lover. They're shorter than he said they were! There is no lover!

I can imagine a world where things aren't consistent, and in fact this was something that took forever to get into human minds. So it does seem strange to me that things would work out like this. In other words, it's miraculous.

If a sinner that becomes a saint constitutes evidence for your God, then is a saint that becomes a sinner evidence for no God?

I wouldn't say so, but it is absolutely troubling. I'm not a Calvinist, you must understand. Calvinists believe in a doctrine called "Perseverance of the Saints" which is usually translated into "once saved always saved." I have a more Eastern Orthodox view of the matter where I believe that a human being works with the grace of God to achieve Sanctification. Without that grace a sinner can't become a saint, theologically, but it is entirely possible for a saint to turn away. For whatever reason.

Science can neither prove or disprove whether a God exists, nor can it disprove the existence of fairies, unicorns or invisible dragons. But what I said is that it is possible that science can deal with God claims and is why I brought up in the beginning that If your definition of God involves him manifesting in reality in anyway, like every single Christian sect claims, then that is something open to inquiry.

Since we agree that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, I hope to press you a step further. I also contended that science cannot say anything meaningful about God. Think of it as a reverse Logical Positivism. Like I said, this question of miracles is inessential. Since God in his essence is unobservable and nonempirical, science has no leg to stand on. We are, in some way, connected to God through mind. This is how he speaks, this is how we listen, and it's how we wrestle with him. If we wish to speak of God we need to have a rational discussion, not a scientific experiment.

I think you're envisioning God as a superman outside of everything who has to, once in awhile, pop up and do stuff. Like I said, he manifests reality. Reality itself is one of those miracles. Go on, test it. Observe it.

I am entirely open to the possibility of miracles, though I don't know of many that have struck my fancy. And I wouldn't care to debate over any of them. Though I think the Resurrection is a pretty strong miracle. Sadly, there's no one to apply the scientific method to it in any vigorous fashion. Though I think the case that it happened is stronger than the case that it didn't.

Such as a God that answers prayers, can heal people, make the sun stop, raise people from the dead, responsible for the diversity of life, the age of the earth, the when and how all of these were created... anything remotely like that - then that is something that's within reality and is subject to scientific inquiry.

I believe God answers prayers, and have felt it. I believe he can heal people, though I've never seen it firsthand. That's more of a logical deduction than a scientific investigation. Of course he raised his son from the Dead, responsible for the diversity of life? He's responsible for all life. The age of the earth? Make the sun stop? You have a fairly wide brush there. If only I could find one.

Either way, we're getting somewhat offtopic (my fault) so I would like to ask a question. Why can't God be reconciled with science? You've said I should "ditch science all together and admit that I'm not interested about what's real and what's not." You've also said that I'm "rationalizing the irrational." Furthermore, to do this I must engage in, "the bending of facts, intellectual dishonesty, contortion of truths, circular arguments, denialism and straw men concepts." This, frankly, frightens me. I see myself as a fairly rational person. I enjoy reading philosophy and theology every now and again. I'm fairly well versed in logic (I would hope) and I have an open mind (once again, I would hope). Why would believing in God necessarily turn me into a raving fundamentalist from Issac Asimov?

And if I were to grow more pointed.

1. What is rationality?
2. What is reality?
3. Why is something that can't be scientifically tested something that does not exist?


Last edited by SyntheticSylence on Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:50 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Correcting and fine tuning my argument.)
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Clint on Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:25 pm

I don't mean to sound unappreciative, but most of the things you are bringing up are kind of irrelevant to what I'm saying. To me, some of these answers dance around the subject without actually answering it. I know you like your poetic responses :-)

So you're trying to shove a method where it doesn't belong, and was never intended to belong.
So why don't you just say "no", you can't square your faith with science.

You say
Since God in his essence is unobservable and nonempirical, science has no leg to stand on.
and then go on to say
Like I said, he manifests reality.
So, he manifests himself in reality, but he's unobservable and non-empiracal and science can't observe or inquire about it. Well then how do you know he exists? And where by the way did you come by this information? What possible good reason do you have for believing this?

When I'm talking about squaring faith of with science, its about whether you can give an adequete and justifyable reason for the belief in your God. Thinking that a Jew that died and came back to life 2000 years ago is secretly talking to you, might have convinced you, but its no justifiable reason for anyone else to take it seriously. Beliefs that don't manifest them self in the real observable world are nothing more than fantasy. Anything that does, is subject to scientific inquiry.

I'm talking about reality! and in reality when someone claims that there is a big man in the sky (or wherever) responsible for making people rise from the dead, answers prayers, predict the future, or any other similar God claim like this that he interacts with reality, turns out to be incorrect. The ONLY method we have to determine whether a claim is nonsense or not, is scientific inquiry. Science methodology is demonstrably the best and only method we have to determine whats true and what isn't in the universe.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:06 pm

I don't mean to sound unappreciative, but most of the things you are bringing up are becoming irrelevant to what I'm saying.

I think I'm beginning to understand why that would be, so I'll try to hammer my points harder.

So why don't you just say "no", you can't square your faith with science.

Because I don't believe that. You are acting out of a presumption that in order for belief in God to be valid he must be in some way subject to science. I am saying that this is absurd because God is nonempirical. The scientific method was never intended to answer metaphysical questions. We are in the area of discursive rationality.

So, he manifests himself in reality, but he's unobservable and non-empiracal and science can't observe or inquire about it. Well then how do you know he exists? And where by the way did you come by this information? What possible good reason do you have for believing this?

To sadly dabble in cliché how do you know love exists? I mean, come on. You're turning science into this imperializing force. Things can only be valid if they can be applied to observation, but this flattens life and reality and doesn't explain the full force of human experience.

Also, I never said he manifests himself in reality, I said he manifests reality. Big difference. Though I must confess to believing in at least instance of God manifesting himself in reality and that is in the Incarnation. So, how can I know he exists? Three reasons. 1. The Incarnation. 2. Revelation. 3. Discursive rationality, but that brings whispers.

When I'm talking about squaring faith of with science, its about whether you can give an adequete and justifyable reason for the belief in your God.

Oh. See, I interpreted the question as something like... how can you believe Evolution but still believe in Genesis? Or something of that sort. I never considered to think God required some scientific justification. This is alien to me, you don't hear people talking this way in philosophy anymore. So I am somewhat off guard, but luckily the artifice I'm trying to construct still negates this anyway.

Thinking that a Jew that died and came back to life 2000 years ago is secretly talking to you, might have convinced you, but its no justifiable reason for anyone else to take it seriously.

Secretly talking? I'm sorry, but the talking is quite public. I hear it every Sunday, and every time I read the word of God. I've never heard voices, but I have felt things. This is obviously not scientific, but the idea that the only valid evidence is scientific evidence is a bit... small. Eyewitness testimony is trusted more in a court of law than scientific testimony. To strike that out of the picture would be like telling me to prove some geometrical problem without the use of curved lines.

Did you know there are some cultures where people won't believe a word you say about anything unless you claim to be an eyewitness? Some African cultures.

Beliefs that don't manifest them self in the real observable world are nothing more than fantasy. Anything that does, is subject to scientific inquiry.

Wouldn't that negate the study of philosophy? The belief that beliefs don't manifest themselves in the real observable world are nothing more than fantasy is a belief that doesn't manifest itself in the real observable world. Your claim is nothing more than fantasy. I cannot subject it to scientific inquiry.

I'm talking about reality!

Yeah, what is that by the way? Everything that can be observed and tested with the scientific method?

in reality when someone claims that there is a big man in the sky

Let's make something very clear, I do not believe this. Few Christians, if any, believe anything remotely like this. I have already outlined my own Participatory Metaphysics. If I ever misrepresent you blatantly like you just misrepresented me I would hope you call me on it as well.

The ONLY method we have to determine whether the claim is nonsense or not, is scientific inquiry. It is demonstrably the best and only method we have to determine whats true and what isn't.

This is where we're getting caught up, and why you think I'm not answering your questions directly (though I'm trying my best!). I don't believe this, I think it misrepresents science, and misunderstands itself. How do you know it's the only method we have to determine what's true and what isn't? How do you know what's true and what isn't? And why do you think you're standing on some prior, neutral ground from which everything should be proven? You are just as culturally predisposed as anyone else, which is a point I made in the first post which I'm sure seemed irrelevant at the time. But this is why.

This is not Christianity vs. Science. In practice there is no conflict. There are a ton of Christian scientists. The conflict is Christianity vs. Logical Positivism, or something of the sort. This is also why I keep saying the question of God requires discursive rationality. We're in the realm of philosophy not science. To say that it's about science, reality, rationality ect. is to miss the point, and not take the discussion seriously.

It doesn't take the discussion seriously because it's a cheap way to win the argument by claiming ownership of certain terms.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:11 pm

/Back to the original question...

@Clint: Are you familiar with the concept of "memes"? (Or have we talked about them before?) I highly recommend the introduction by Susan Blackmore, on Ted Talks:
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/susan_blackmore_on_memes_and_temes.html

(The second half on "temes" is speculation, but the first half on "memes" is established science.)

In short: We don't really have a rational brain. What we do and say is merely a selection from a vast database of soundbites, moves and rationalisations that we've picked up in life. There is no consistency; it's just random lines and sentences that seem appropriate at the time. Only very few of us try to filter our database to reach some consistency. You and I do that, but most people don't. They can be adamant that 5+5=10 (when they doesn't get the right amount of change) and 5+5 is "unknowable" as soon as God enters the picture.

As for scientists that, like us, try to find consistency: Not every scientist has the knowledge to discard God. A physicist might think that, while God doesn't act on matter, he could act on our conscience. Neuroscientists know better, but might think that God acts on matter. Neither has reason to discard God completely; only together do they have the knowledge that God doesn't act at all.
I personally think that any scientist should have enough information outside his own expertise to discard God as the fairy tale he is - but I accept that they can work without it. Only biologists that don't believe in evolution really deserve our ridicule.

Meanwhile, the discussion has drifted from "How do you square religion with science" to "Does God exist", which is a completely different subject. Perhaps SySy can answer some simple questions where religion and science collide head on:

The Bible says the earth is 10.000 years old and all animals were created at the same time. Science tells us the earth is 4.000.000.000 years old, and life evolved during that time. Which is it? Either the Bible or science is wrong.

What created the earthquake in Haiti? Was is God, or was it plate tectonics?
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:17 pm

Niels, before I go on, this is slightly off topic, but I would like to know what theology you read? Have you read any Barth for instance? Tillich? Milbank? Aquinas? Augustine? Caputo? EDIT: I ask this because you seem so certain about the capacity for reason we theists have.

But I think I'll limit myself to answering your questions on the matter, though I am iffy on the subject of memes.

The Bible says the earth is 10.000 years old and all animals were created at the same time. Science tells us the earth is 4.000.000.000 years old, and life evolved during that time. Which is it? Either the Bible or science is wrong.

The earth is 4,000,000,000 years old, and life evolved. This does not mean the Bible is wrong, it means you read it more like the Church has read it the past 2000 years or so, as opposed to how it was read in reaction to Darwin, and once again around the 1970's with the revival of Creationism in America (thank you Dr. Morris... ick).

What created the earthquake in Haiti? Was is God, or was it plate tectonics?

Plate tectonics. Even if God "caused" it (which I don't believe) he would use plate tectonics anyway.


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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:33 pm

SyntheticSylence wrote:Neils, before I go on, this is slightly off topic, but I would like to know what theology you read? Have you read any Barth for instance? Tillich? Milbank? Aquinas? Augustine? Caputo? EDIT: I ask this because you seem so certain about the capacity for reason we theists have.
I can't be bothered. There's so much more interesting stuff to read...

The earth is 4,000,000,000 years old, and life evolved. This does not mean the Bible is wrong [...]
I read it like it is written. Seven days is NOT 14.000.000.000 billion years, to give just one example. No matter where the Bible came from, who selected it or who translated it: It's simply wrong on this point, and on many others.

Plate tectonics.
Right.

In atheist terms, you believe in a "God of the Gaps". You take science over scripture, but when science doesn't have an answer, you take scripture for granted.

That's fine with me. What I don't understand though, is how you can maintain that the Bible isn't wrong when you clearly take science over scripture. It can't be that badly translated, that 14.000.000.000 years change into 7 days.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:41 pm

I can't be bothered. There's so much more interesting stuff to read...

So it would seem you're not the best judge of the rationality of Christians then.

I read it like it is written. Seven days is NOT 14.000.000.000 billion years, to give just one example. No matter where the Bible came from, who selected it or who translated it: It's simply wrong on this point, and on many others.

I read it like it is written as well. However, I don't read it like a fundamentalist. I read it according to its genre. The Genesis account, for instance, is blatantly mythological. So I interpret it as such. This has been common in Biblical hermeneutics going back to ancient times. This is why reading theology is helpful, especially when you clearly have an interest in questions of theology.

Right.

In atheist terms, you believe in a "God of the Gaps". You take science over scripture, but when science doesn't have an answer, you take scripture for granted.

Not at all, perhaps you're misunderstanding me. Or perhaps I have a misunderstanding of God of the Gaps. I was always told God of the Gaps is assuming that if there is a break in scientific knowledge, that God did it. For example, saying that because there is irreducible complexity there must have been a designer, or some such. Science in its trajectory would find the solution and then the gap is closed, and God has nothing to do.

I am well aware of this danger, which is why I accept what science has to say in physical matters, that is, matters where it is useful. What I am against is attempting to apply science where it doesn't have anything meaningful to say, like questions of theology, ethics, metaphysics... This isn't God of the Gaps, it's understanding science properly.

And I'm, frankly, a tad baffled as to when you think science will give an answer to, say, why there are many things and not one thing.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:14 pm

SyntheticSylence wrote:
I can't be bothered. There's so much more interesting stuff to read...

So it would seem you're not the best judge of the rationality of Christians then.
I wasn't specifically talking about Christians; I was talking about humans in general. In 45 years I've had enough direct contact with all sorts of people to speak about them.
Part of my thoughts about human rationality is based on the science of memes: You don't have to take my authority on the mess people store in their brains.


I read it like it is written as well. However, I don't read it like a fundamentalist. I read it according to its genre. The Genesis account, for instance, is blatantly mythological. So I interpret it as such.
There are (violent) disagreements over the interpretations of what's mythological and what's not. If anything, those disagreements prove that the Bible is not a good source of knowledge: It's open to too many interpretations.

My motto on science is: "Science may not have all the answers - but it supplies all the answers we have". There may be other sources of knowledge, but I see no reason to include the Bible. I've read it, and if it needs that much interpretation and weaseling to make sense, then I'm not interested.

What I am against is attempting to apply science where it doesn't have anything meaningful to say, like questions of theology, ethics, metaphysics... This isn't God of the Gaps, it's understanding science properly.
I agree - but when I want to know about ethics, why would I reach for a Bible instead of an episode of Star Trek? The Bible tells me that I don't deserve to live, for various reasons. You may cherry-pick your bible and leave out such commandments, but the commandments are there. I prefer ethical sources that don't contain such mistakes.

And I'm, frankly, a tad baffled as to when you think science will give an answer to, say, why there are many things and not one thing.
I only ask "why"-questions when they are appropriate - which is one of the consistencies I strive for. Both your "why"-question and its answer are not welcome within my framework of memes.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:39 pm

I wasn't specifically talking about Christians; I was talking about humans in general.

You seemed to say that those with working, reasonable minds are atheists. If that wasn't your intention I apologize.

There are (violent) disagreements over the interpretations of what's mythological and what's not. If anything, those disagreements prove that the Bible is not a good source of knowledge: It's open to too many interpretations.

Have you heard of George Lindbeck? He wrote a book called The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age. It made a big splash in theological circles in the 1980's. In it he sketches out three theories of doctrine. The first is Propositional. That God writes the Bible and gives certain commandments and truths which must be adhered to. And he sketches out the problems here (and, of course, this is a modern invention). The second is Experiential. This is the belief that we all somehow experience God and that doctrine is a way to act out or give words to this experience. And then he sketches out the problems there. The third is the Cultural-Linguistic approach which I really like (though I have some problems with Lindbeck). He says that doctrine presents a narrative and a roadmap for truth. In other words, we are not told from on high what we must do. If that's the case the Bible is a really poor way to do it. How do you get doctrine out of the Psalms? How do you get doctrine out of JOB!? What the Bible does is provide the words, ideas, and images with which to speak of God and to speak of that reality.

If you think the Bible set out to explicate historical or scientific truth you should do some research. It'd be really enlightening! There's a reason Herodotus is considered the first historian, with all of his flaws, and not Moses (or "Moses"): there was no "History" until then.

I've read it, and if it needs that much interpretation and weaseling to make sense, then I'm not interested.

If you're trying to read the Bible as a scientific text, of course you're going to be all confused and disinterested.

I agree - but when I want to know about ethics, why would I reach for a Bible instead of an episode of Star Trek?

Because Star Trek is a poor way to learn about ethics. I mean, seriously, no money? What the hell was Roddenberry thinking?

But seriously, so much out of Star Trek is Christian anyway, or, I should say Christian influenced. Post-Christian to be precise. Christianity invented many things, like how we conceive the dignity of the human person and modern individuality. These things came from the Bible, which contained some really explosive stuff at the time (and continues to contain really explosive stuff).

For instance, in the Passion accounts we learn that Peter wept. We feel sad for Peter, or should. He betrays his Rabbi, the one he called Lord, just like Jesus said he would. It's a tragic moment. This was absurd at the time, you didn't write tragedies about commoners! You never showed them crying, and if you did someone was laughing at them. They were less than human, in a way. The Bible changed all that.

So if you want one reason to use the Bible I'd say this: it has transformed the culture radically and there's so much more to it that we have yet to understand or abide by. Like the Sermon on the Mount. A lot of our morality gets its context from the Biblical story. In fact, I'd argue, a lot of our morality gets its context from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

That, and there's the whole it being inspired thing. I don't wish to beg the question, so I'll just say that the Church universal accepts it, the Church universal is protected by the Holy Spirit and is the Body of Christ, and has granted it authority. It's authority does not come from itself, but from those who give it authority.

I only ask "why"-questions when they are appropriate - which is one of the consistencies I strive for. Both your "why"-question and its answer are not welcome within my framework of memes.

Why is my question inappropriate?
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Clint on Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:43 am

The earth is 4,000,000,000 years old, and life evolved. This does not mean the Bible is wrong, it means you read it more like the Church has read it
To me this kind of summarizes your entire argument. With this type of rationalization, you could take any book you want, cherry pick the words and meanings, then mutate and mould what's actually written to assign any meaning you want to it. I could do that right now to any fantasy book that is totally fiction and completely misrepresents reality, then go and twist, bend and contort the pages to come up with a 'realistic view of our universe'. Would I be correct in believing this book does actually represent the world we live in? no. Would I be correct I believing that the characters in this book are real? no.

You seem like your in this feedback of confusion where you see the workings and methodologies of real world science, but you just can't let go of this damn book that you've been indoctrinated into believing. This book isn't real. And to accommodate this, you bend over backwards to do exactly what I've described above. Twisting and contorting what the bible actually says to fit the pseudo-reality you've manifested in your head to then derive completely obscure meanings.

I'm really battered that you keep saying that science isn't equip to dealing with such things. If your God only operates outside of the natural world and outside of reality, your effectively resorting to saying science can't disprove your God - and no body gives a hoot as that's not where the burden of proof lies. This always falls back to what possible good reason do you have to know he exists and how by the way did you come across this information?

...This is why I brought up at the beginning; does this 'entity' manifest itself in the natural world in anyway. If it can effect and manifest itself in reality to effect change. Then that's something that we can observe! ...What action could God possibly do that is identifiable in reality, in which science could not observe?
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:16 am

SyntheticSylence wrote:
I wasn't specifically talking about Christians; I was talking about humans in general.

You seemed to say that those with working, reasonable minds are atheists. If that wasn't your intention I apologize.
I know some atheists with reasoning minds. I know no christians with reasoning minds.

[...] so much out of Star Trek is Christian anyway, or, I should say Christian influenced. Post-Christian to be precise. Christianity invented many things, like how we conceive the dignity of the human person and modern individuality. These things came from the Bible[...]
[the Bible] has transformed the culture radically and there's so much more to it that we have yet to understand or abide by. Like the Sermon on the Mount. A lot of our morality gets its context from the Biblical story. In fact, I'd argue, a lot of our morality gets its context from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.
These are claims that can be examined by science. Where' your evidence for any of the claims?

(By the way: I consider most of your writings preaching. I don't read them; at best I scan through them. I will not reply to them. Perhaps Clint reads them and makes writing them worth your while, but as far as I'm concerned: Don't bother.)

I only ask "why"-questions when they are appropriate - which is one of the consistencies I strive for. Both your "why"-question and its answer are not welcome within my framework of memes.

Why is my question inappropriate?
Asking "why" presupposed an intent. There's no intent in the wavelength of colors, or in our perception of these wavelengths, or in gravity. You might ask "What causes this", but asking "why" should be reserved for the actions of those that do have intent.
In a discussion with an atheist, I wouldn't mind: I'd know he uses "why" as "what caused". When talking to Christians, I know my opponent will switch meanings whenever it suits him, so I ask for more formal language.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:26 am

Clint wrote:To me this kind of summarizes your entire argument. With this type of rationalization, you could take any book you want, cherry pick the words and meanings, then mutate and mould what's actually written to assign any meaning you want to it. I could do that right now to any fantasy book that is totally fiction and completely misrepresents reality, then go and twist, bend and contort the pages to come up with a 'realistic view of our universe'. Would I be correct in believing this book does actually represent the world we live in? no. Would I be correct I believing that the characters in this book are real? no.

You're constructing a strawman. Of course you read different books different ways. You accept this, you wouldn't read a fantasy novel the same way you read a work of non-fiction. You read each book according to genre. So, for instance, I don't believe that there are ogres living in castles waiting to grind my bones into bread. That is pretty blatantly fiction. This does not mean that a novel about an ogre in a castle gives me no truth. It doesn't mean there's no message there. And I think that's where you get caught up.

I do not read the Bible as a history book, or a science book. I read it as a holy book. That entails a different hermeneutic. Now, I'm not an exegete, I have a friend who does that a lot more than I do, I'm more interested in the philosophy side of theology. I won't be able to go into all of these details, but I give the example of Job. This is obviously not a work of history. For one, it seems to present itself as a play. For two, the way it opens is the hebrew (or I think ancient mesopotamian) equivalent of "Once upon a time..."

Furthermore, Job does not impart doctrine. It is a story, self contained. I'm sure you've read it (I know Niels has), so you know how it never seems to come to a conclusion. The best answer I can determine is that God is God, and the direct experience of God is all the answer we need to problems of suffering. But what it does is go through different arguments and doctrines and attempts to set the record straight. It creates a grammar in which to speak of the problem. This is how scripture operates.

You're interpreting things like a fundamentalist, which is a conservative reaction to modernity. It fails to interpret scripture properly in line with the Tradition of the Church.

Clint wrote:You seem like your in this feedback of confusion where you see the workings and methodologies of real world science, but you just can't let go of this damn book that you've been indoctrinated into believing. This book isn't real. And to accommodate this, you bend over backwards to do exactly what I've described above. Twisting and contorting what the bible actually says to fit the pseudo-reality you've manifested in your head to then derive completely obscure meanings.

And if you will allow me the same bluntness, you seem to be dogmatically opposed to any epistemology that is not in your cultural linguistic matrix. You are absolutely certain of the truth of your claims, but when I give you a chance to defend yourself you go back to your same line of attack. Why can things only be explained through science? Why are non-scientific claims nonsense? My entire argument is prefaced by the simplicity of this worldview. The reason why you are so frustrated, and in my opinion losing this argument, is because you have taken the strategy of a creationist. When presented with reason you choose to return to doctrine and say it more emphatically.

I have another question, why can't religion evolve according to the findings of science?

Clint wrote:I'm really battered that you keep saying that science isn't equip to dealing with such things. If your God only operates outside of the natural world and outside of reality, your effectively resorting to saying science can't disprove your God - and no body gives a hoot as that's not where the burden of proof lies.


I'm reminded of an example G.K. Chesterton gave. He said he wanted to write a story about a boy who lived in a valley and wanted to go and fight a giant. So after training, he gets his sword and shield and leaves the valley on his quest. But the farther away he gets the clearer it becomes to him that he lives on the giant.

In a similar way we exist on God. There is no way to experiment it because the miracle is our own existence. You can't form an experiment that says anything intelligible because, as I said, the entire question is non-empirical. As far as I understand, your point appears to be that if God exists he must perform miracles. If he didn't perform miracles he either wouldn't exist or we wouldn't have a reason to believe he exists. This is an unsound argument. I say he acts upon the world by constantly creating it. The fact we exist is evidence of his existence, he is pure, unbounded, being. This is a philosophical case, not a scientific one.

I only require one miracle for my faith, and that is the Resurrection of Christ. Something I believe to be a historical fact. And like I said, no amount of science can be applied to this since it happened in the past.

And this obsession you have with testing God scientifically is not scientific in origin, it is philosophical. Which is why I keep trying to ask you about it.

Clint wrote:what possible good reason do you have to know he exists and how by the way did you come across this information?

It's subjective. I can't point to some external something and say this proves God. In fact, the idea of an external something is kinda funny to me. Does this mean there's a little man inside me that's internal? I think this split confuses matters more than it helps. God is more of an idea, or a verb than a thing, or a noun. This is not to say he doesn't exist, but I wouldn't say he has substance. He has personality, but I wouldn't say he has a body (outside of the person of Jesus Christ). It would seem to me the only reasonable way to approach such a definition is through either discursive reason or mysticism.

So, in short, I've felt God. And I feel God. God has ensnared me with beauty. This is an entirely appropriate response.

Clint wrote:What action could God possibly do that is identifiable in reality, in which science could not observe?

This gives me a chance to quickly summarize what I said above. Creation. Because it's too big to experiment.

Niels wrote:I know some atheists with reasoning minds. I know no christians with reasoning minds.

So then my point still stands. You are hardly the best individual to make such a claim.

Niels wrote:These are claims that can be examined by science. Where' your evidence for any of the claims

That Christianity influenced morality? This much is obvious to a studious reader of history. I don't feel the need to go into many specifics. If you are knowledgeable of Greco-Roman morality you'll know there was a giant leap in late antiquity and the middle ages. About as large, if not larger, as the leap in the Enlightenment.

As for the Resurrection, the Church suffices. I think given the evidence we have the Resurrection, oddly enough, makes the most sense. Furthermore, I believe the Gospels to be based on eyewitness accounts. Have you read Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham? He makes a pretty compelling argument. Based on scientific studies the differences in passion accounts are relatively similar to differences in eyewitness accounts in general. The names used in the Gospels occur with the same relative frequency as names in the day. The Gospels have random details that one wouldn't find in regular writing from the period (one reason why Gospels are taken to be a genre all to their own). And Gospels will randomly name people who have nothing to do with the narrative. Like in Mark, we learn who the sons of Simon of Cyrene are. He contends this was a method of sourcing. If you want to know where this story came from, ask these guys.

Niels wrote:(By the way: I consider most of your writings preaching. I don't read them; at best I scan through them. I will not reply to them. Perhaps Clint reads them and makes writing them worth your while, but as far as I'm concerned: Don't bother.)

Haha! Have you ever come across the word kerygma? It's big in theology circles right now, it's a greek word meaning proclamation, heralding, or preaching. This is exactly what the Gospel is at its essence. This is also what you guys are doing. You are preaching to fundamentalist Christians, or perhaps the choir. You are drawing up a narrative of life. And that is all there is, narrative. The question is which narrative makes the most sense, and is the most tasteful.

Either way, I'm not intending to preach, it's a side effect. But it's a shame you're not paying attention because I am making an argument, I'm trying to make it clear, but no one seems to bother with confronting it. Your own kerygma seems to do just fine.

Niels wrote:Asking "why" presupposed an intent. There's no intent in the wavelength of colors, or in our perception of these wavelengths, or in gravity. You might ask "What causes this", but asking "why" should be reserved for the actions of those that do have intent.

I in no way presupposed intent, it's a serious philosophical question that the west has puzzled itself over for centuries. It is entirely possible there is no intent. It is entirely possible there is an atheistic answer (in fact I'm sure there are a few). Saying "because" isn't an answer. My intent was to show that science has nothing at all useful to say regarding ontological questions. God belongs, in some sense, to ontology. Your answer was not scientific in nature, it was philosophical. No matter how unpersuasive I find it.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:38 am

The bullshit is piling up faster than Clint and I can shovel it away. Let's point out just some of the problems with SySy's "arguments":

- He mentions God as a "creator" while denying creation itself;
- He attributes ethics to the bible without looking at any other possible causes;
- He defines god as an emotion (like love), then adds attributes that do not belong to emotions;
- He thinks that his emotions should convince us of the existence of something that's not an emotion;
- He calls himself a Christian, but denies the Christian doctrine;
- He does the usual cherry picking from the bible.

As such, he would be a good example of what this topic is about - if we could be sure there is some reasonability in his mind. Let's check whether there is:

@SySy: Consider the following scenario. A house has burned to the ground. A woman that was sleeping in the house has been saved from the flames. We know that several people were at the scene: Some firemen, a spouse, a rescue dog and a paramedic.
Who has saved the woman from the flames?
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:43 am

Niels wrote:- He mentions God as a "creator" while denying creation itself;

How do I do that? I reject a literal six day creation, but I do believe that the universe is created by God, and every second it is created by God.

Niels wrote:- He attributes ethics to the bible without looking at any other possible causes;

That's not the topic. If the thread's title was "how do you reconcile your ethics with the Bible" then we could have a more robust discussion. For now it was a brief aside.

Niels wrote:- He defines god as an emotion (like love), then adds attributes that do not belong to emotions;

Actually, I've defined God as being, love, I could go on to define him as event, as the infinite qualitative distinction, the perpendicular from above... God is undefinable, this is why Christianity refers to God as "mystery."

I quite like the Via Negativa. When attempting to learn more about God, eastern philosophers decided it would be easier to say what he is not rather to say what he is. Because God is so far above us, as part of how he's defined, that a full definition is impossible. Which is why I can be certain that God is not some cosmic superman.

Niels wrote:- He thinks that his emotions should convince us of the existence of something that's not an emotion;

If you had read what I said carefully it follows, though I imagine you don't quite understand what I'm saying. Regardless, I think this makes more sense than saying we should rely on science to have something meaningful to say about a nonphysical entity.

Niels wrote:- He calls himself a Christian, but denies the Christian doctrine;

I in no way deny Christian doctrine. I affirm the creeds, I affirm the councils. What I reject is fundamentalism as I believe it to be a twisted and distorted reaction to modernity. There is a distinction here, and it's very important.

Niels, you're a smart guy, I wouldn't deny that. But your lack of knowledge in theological matters, particularly in the history of Christian thought, is making you look bad. You seem to be under the impression that everything Ray Comfort says about Christianity is true. Given how much he mangles science (I mean, a banana, really?) how likely is he to mangle theology?

The answer is very likely.

Niels wrote:A house has burned to the ground. A woman that was sleeping in the house has been saved from the flames. We know that several people were at the scene: Some firemen, a spouse, a rescue dog and a paramedic.
Who has saved the woman from the flames?

I'd guess either the rescue dog or a fireman. I doubt they'd let the spouse back in. Though this is off topic.

To get back on topic this is what I think is the real point of discussion. I keep trying to bring us back to this but I get random questions I feel compelled to answer, so I'll be as direct as I can.

This is what I believe Clint's argument to be: There is an insurmountable distinction between faith and science. One cannot reconcile one's faith with science without giving into logical fallacy and the like. This is because if God existed he would act within the world and could be identified and studied by modern science. Since science can't do this the chance that God exists is closer to nil.

Is this accurate?

If I were to schematize the argument I believe it would look something like this:

Science \/ Faith
~Faith
Δ Science

Very simply. But why science? To schematize another argument...

If God existed then he would be studied by science.
God is not studied by science
Δ God does not exist.

You go on to make this argument.

If God existed he would act in the world in ways discernible by science.
God does not act in the world in ways discernible by science.
Δ God does not exist.

But there are two problems with that argument. First of all, there are ways to act in the world that are not phsyical. Second of all, God's essence is still not physical, you'd only be seeing strange stuff happening. Which we see anyway. Either way, it neglects the possibility that God acts upon everything, and everything is his doing. Furthermore, it neglects the possibility that any noticeable action would be inessential to the personhood of God.

It's the second argument where we have the biggest difficulty. I disagree with the premise. I don't think something doesn't exist if science can't study it. I think there are other avenues, and I think to say so is hubristic and flat out wrong. What I've been trying to ask for is another argument which states why science is the sole arbiter of truth. All I get is more pounding, being told I'm saying bullshit, and some lines about how all we have is science. Well, yeah, why?

And don't beg the question.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Clint on Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:35 am

After reading your last one and a half threads, I'm sorry to say that most of it has ended up as preaching. The reason why i say 1.5 of your threads is your last two paragraphs finally cut the preaching nonsense out and actually finally gave me a ‘to the point’ answer.

In response to your previous post:

How in any way, shape or form can you reach to the conclusion that we are preaching? What we're trying to do is break things down nice and simply for you, but you just can't seem to come up give a single straight answer. Instead I get preaching and dancing around the question with pseudo metaphorical non-answers!
(but the last two paragraphs of your recent post I do applaud you).

I do not read the Bible as a history book, or a science book. I read it as a holy book.
Whether or not I consider that holy is another issue for another thread – thats morality. I don’t consider those books holy at all. Regardless, a holy book can still be incorrect historically, and in a fiction category. Calling it ‘holy’ doesn’t change a thing about its credence of its representation of reality or history. You should be glad there isn’t a shred of evidence towards the bible as an accurate representation of history or reality actually. The world we live in would be a very different place.

you seem to be dogmatically opposed to any epistemology that is not in your cultural linguistic matrix
No. I'm all up for accepting anything, that has a valid reason to believe it. Just asserting to me that you feel something, is good enough evidence for you to consider God to be real, and not just real, but the creator of everything, and for me to believe it too. It’s absurd. Until you give a single valid reason as to why I too should believe any of this. It can be dismissed a long with people who worship Mohammed, Buddhists, fairies, Hindus, the flying spaghetti monster, leprechaun worshipers and any other fictitious character. As most intelligent people do actually do. My cultural linguistic matrix you call it, i’d prefer to call it a filter on my mind, that cuts through the garbage out there and lets in factually confirmed information.

because you have taken the strategy of a creationist.
A favourite one of the moderate Christian. Being passionate about something, doesn't make you a fundamentalist. I demand evidence in order to believe something, and the more rigour the evidence is, the better. I care about whats true and whats demonstrably true. I am also passionate about defending our best idea of truth against people who want to diminish it with bronze age myths concucted up by a histerical desert dwelling tribe thousands of years ago. I personally want my beliefs to reflect reality. Do you? ...A creationist is a crackpot, that's stripped themselves of their moral authority, their decency and their humanity, in order over look reality so they can walk lock step with some arse of an authority.

There is no way to experiment it because the miracle is our own existence.
&
your point appears to be that if God exists he must perform miracles.
No. Existence is proof of existence. Life is proof of life. You can not get from a natural phenomenon and leap all the way to a invocation of the super-natural. The only way you can make that connection, that God is the causation of reality, or God is the causation of the universe is EVIDENCE. and you simply don't have any. All you have is this 'feeling', that you ascribe to something else you can't explain. That’s never good enough to believe something.

You class God as everything, anything and nothing at the same time. For one, I don't believe you really think that. Two, this God you describe that apparently exists in some pseudo-reality and/or all around us that somehow you can feel, must be doing a very bad job as a growing number of people can't feel what you feel, and the majority of Christians don't share your view either. Is this God playing games with people? Does he want people to not believe in him/her/it? Does he/she/it punish people after they die if they don't feel his/her/its 'magic touch'? - Don't answer that question.

When you say God is Love, thats just re-labeling something we already have a label for ...we call it ”love”! Same as for when you say God is nature, god is energy, or what ever. There are labels for all these things already. Why would you ever worship Christians view on these things. But you don't even do that. A God that is not observable, does not manifests in this world, and hasn't left a single shred of evidence for his existence, is indistinguishable for a God that doesn't exist. You work your way towards an explanation of a God, that actually is already explained by natural means, without invoking pseudo-talk. Congrats!

It's like the same old ice in glass analogy. I've got two glasses on the table. One has no ice in it, the other has magical invisible ice. Which one has the magical invisible ice? That one has the magical invisible ice. Can't you feel that magical invisible ice in that cup? Oh - I can. It guides me to make decisions, it is the true creator or the universe. Am I talking nonsense - yes. When you look at it subjectively, there is no difference between the two glasses. The glass with magical invisible ice in it, is indistinguishable from the glass with no ice in it. This in an analogy, is your God.

Your describing nature and whats happened in nature, then just unnecessarily labelling it “God” and then you commit the crime by saying it’s the Christian God – while the Christian doctrines describe a very different God. It doesn’t make sense.

Ok.
what possible good reason do you have to know he exists and how by the way did you come across this information?
So, in short, I've felt God. And I feel God. God has ensnared me with beauty. This is an entirely appropriate response.
How is this in any way an answer to my question?

What about Muslims, they feel Mohammed - is that evidence for Mohammed and the Koran? What about Aboriginals, they feel mother earth and that tells them giant lizards made the land? Other African tribes feel their own tribalistic God like presents. They all dictate entire different definitions than your belief does. Does that mean that their correct. No, and in short - none of them, including your sect Christianity, are correct. Yes you feel something, but that feeling, or simply desiring something to be true is NOT a good justification to believing that it is actually something in reality. The brain is a complicated entity, and is one I thing you should research more. And the sooner people wake up for this delusion, and get over these hysterical beliefs that the God of Abraham is the creator and ruler of our universe, the better the world will be. Your giving credence to a very cruel book.

Ocams Razor. If we can explain something with a natural cause, why tag on supernatural baggage. And if its currently unexplained, that’s all it means, its unexplained. It doesn't mean someone, somewhere that has a feeling, has the answer.

Truth is not subject to opinions, tradition, scripture or authority! ;-)

(ill answer the last 2 paragraphs you wrote in a next post just to break it up – but i warn you, I’m getting tired of rehashing points)
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:43 am

@SySy: The problem with your arguments is that you jump to conclusions. Whenever there is not enough evidence to draw any conclusion, you seem to think that anything goes. That's why I asked you about the burning house: To see if you'd have solid reasoning skills when God is not in the picture. You failed the test: My scenario lacks evidence. There is nothing to be concluded from the scenario.

Likewise, there is no solid evidence that:
- Our ethics are derived from the bible;
- A God of any sort exists.

I'm afraid that, when you talk about Science or its method, you don't know what you're talking about.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Clint on Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:17 am

You’ve got my argument incorrect. Which is why you have a problem with it. No one says a God specifically does not exist – we (or science) don’t deal in absolutes. We say that there is no reason to believe one exists. There’s a difference.

The best way I can summarize my argument (which brings it back to the topic)
There either is a God or there isn’t. More to the point; there either is a valid reason to believe in a God or there isn’t. A God that does not manifest itself in reality to effect observable change, a God that operates outside of reality, may exist – I admit. Science cannot possibly disprove this. But if that’s the case, you cannot possibly have a justifiable reason to believe that this God exists. Feelings and desires are not justified reasons. Existence is proof of existence, life is proof of life. The occurrence of a phenomenon is proof of that specific phenomenon occurring – independent of the source!. The ONLY way you can get to the source and confirm that, whatever it is, is actually the source, is with evidence and scientific inquiry.

Now, if your God does manifest in reality, and does effect observable change, than this is something that is open to scientific inquiry and observation. Period!

This is important: What other possible method do we have to determine what is true and what isn’t? Science is demonstrably the best & only method we have! The scientific methodology has been adapting, refining and improving its methodology for centuries and will continue to do so. What other methodology do we have as human beings, to determine where abouts on the scale of ’whats probably true’ and ’whats probably not true’, we put things and/or claims?


I’m going to also have to ask you (& myself) if we can keep posts shorter and to the point – the long winded responses I can imagine would make it difficult for another person to join in. Concise to the point posts please. I too will abide :-P Thanks
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:00 am

I'm going to reply to Clint's last post first because it's the relevant one.

You’ve got my argument incorrect. Which is why you have a problem with it. No one says a God specifically does not exist – we (or science) don’t deal in absolutes. We say that there is no reason to believe one exists. There’s a difference.

If your version of God does not interact with reality, then there is no way to verify this, and congrats - your God is identical to a God that doesn't exist.

But regardless, this doesn't change things at all. My entire disagreement with you is saying that science is the only good reason to believe that anything exists. I think this is blatantly false. And I'm asking for a good argument to support his assumption. You have yet to approach this. Which is why I keep asking.

What other possible method do we have to determine what is true and what isn’t?

Discursive reason. What we're using right now. Something that is far more applicable than the scientific method. The scientific method cannot prove itself, that is circular. It requires a foundation, that foundation is discursive reason. God is not approached by science, he is approached by νουσ.

Am I getting my point across yet or will we keep having to play this kabuki?
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:08 am

Niels,

You've already admitted you don't read my posts, so I'm finding it hard to understand why you bother. Since you skim you don't understand what I'm saying. So you keep saying bizarre and off the wall things that are not relevant.

You assume there is no evidence, but this is the entire point of my argument, that you are arbitrarily defining evidence in an unlogical and irrational way. If you wish to disprove this I suggest you pay careful attention to what I say and respond directly. As for now, you're dogmatically insisting on your belief system, as is Clint. A secondary point of my argument.

I am not here to make a case for Christianity, I am here to show you that you sit on a house of cards.

Furthermore, I never said our ethics are based on the Bible. I said that the Gospel changed existing ethics, to dispute this would be foolish.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  Niels on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:21 am

SyntheticSylence wrote:Furthermore, I never said our ethics are based on the Bible. I said that the Gospel changed existing ethics, to dispute this would be foolish.

You said:
But seriously, so much out of Star Trek is Christian anyway, or, I should say Christian influenced. Post-Christian to be precise. Christianity invented many things, like how we conceive the dignity of the human person and modern individuality. These things came from the Bible
My point stands: There is no evidence for this claim. I've read enough apologist bullshit to be confident that you're not going to provide it either.

I'm not interested in your reasoning, your beliefs or your person. I was hoping to use you as an example of what this topic is about, but you failed the test. That pretty much ends any interest in you.

I do have an interest in in this forum, which is an atheist forum. I care about this place, and therefor I will let no christian bullshit pass unchallenged. Get used to it.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:31 am

Niels,

So the generation of contemporary ethics is the same thing as the contemporary conception of the dignity of the human person and individuality?

I'm going to assume you didn't read me carefully and ignore this.

EDIT: And my point is not that you don't have a right to be here. My point is that you don't have the knowledge base required to have the dialogue you think you should have with me. You think you're calling bullshit when in fact you're proving that you haven't read any theology.
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Re: Can you reconcile your faith with science?

Post  SyntheticSylence on Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:45 am

Clint,

How in any way, shape or form can you reach to the conclusion that we are preaching?

Because you don't make a case for anything. You assert something is true, and when I say I disagree you repeat it in bold. You seem to think the only reason I don't agree with you is because I don't understand. This is the error of Creationists and political ideologues. I disagree because I don't think you can make a good case to support your assertions. I'm trying to get you to support them but I keep getting off track because people ask me about whether I believe the Bible or whatever.

You just can't seem to come up give a single straight answer. Instead I get preaching and dancing around the question with pseudo metaphorical non-answers!

I think I'm answering very directly. What I'm not doing is answering you with the answers you expect. Your first post makes this obvious enough to me. There are only two options, either I accept science and believe there is no God, or I accept that I don't accept science and I'm an irrational whatever. I think you're setting up a false dichotomy, and honestly I'm having trouble trying to be more blunt about it.

This is why I made the point of saying I don't read the Bible as history, or science, I read it as a holy text. This entails a certain hermeneutic, holy books are not read like regular books. They never have been. To read scripture as a literal historical text is actually a modern invention. I don't believe in talking snakes or asses. I believe that these are mythological stories imparting truths in ways they can only be imparted. This is not some off the wall, crazy, liberal, moderate, wishy washy answer. This is the old hardened core of the faith. Read Aquinas, Albertus Magus, Peter Lombard, Augustine, George of Nyssa, Athanasius, Origen... This is how they interpret scripture.

So you're missing the point, and this is out of ignorance. I am very direct about this, Christianity does not hold answers as much as it holds the questions. It shows us how to live in the world. Your own belief system is doing the same to you. It's telling you all books must be read literally. It's telling you I'd be foolish to read scripture as something other than fictional or non-fictional.

This is why I say you're dogmatically opposed to any epistemology that is not in your cultural linguistic matrix. Your response suggests to me you didn't understand what I was saying. An epistemology is a philosophy of knowledge. What is knowledge? How do we attain knowledge? What is truth? ect. You just told me that your epistemology allows you to determine epistemology. This is hilarious. Also, you keep making a category mistake (well, a few, but I'm going to focus on this one). You seem to believe God is some cosmic superman. I don't know how more plain I can be to say that he isn't, never has been, and this is a modern invention that distorts scripture and the theology of the Church.

I am not a moderate Christian, and I'd like to know where that comes from. But regardless I should explain why I said you use the strategy of a creationist. I'm not saying it's because you have passion, I'm saying it's because you aren't directly answering any of my questions. Apparently I am the one that should be interrogated because I have crazy mixed up views. This is what Creationists do, they are absolutely certain of the Bible's literal truth (which I think is faulty) and when they are questioned they don't bother answering in any intelligible way, they throw accusations. OH! DARWIN STARTED THE HOLOCAUST! And crap. Not saying you're as bad as them. I'd much prefer you to a Creationist. But this is definitely a strategy they employ.

Your next paragraph proves that whole bit about dogmatic insistence, so I'm not going to bother too much with it. But I will say that if you are in love with someone, you don't perform a scientific study to make sure you're right. You know it. There are questions that science by definition cannot deal with. Ontology, Epistemology, Theology. To believe this is a category mistake.

I suggest you read Aquinas. What I am saying is not out of the norm, in fact, it is accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, it is also accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is also accepted by much of the Anglican Communion. What I am giving you is what the Christian Church has believed about God through the centuries. Furthermore, God grants free will. I am not a Calvinist. And this is a question of ontology.

Also, you misunderstand the whole God is love thing. It's an analogy. God is not literally love, the Church has never held that. I don't hold that. But God can be analogized to love. Same thing when I say God is Being. Not that God is literally being, but he is analogized to it. God cannot be fully expressed or understood, this is also something that has been accepted in Christianity throughout the ages.

And your analogy makes no sense. You seem to have this belief my God is doing nothing, but I keep saying he supports existence, and you like ignoring this. Ontology. Metaphysics.

What about Muslims, they feel Mohammed - is that evidence for Mohammed and the Koran? What about Aboriginals, they feel mother earth and that tells them giant lizards made the land? Other African tribes feel their own tribalistic God like presents. They all dictate entire different definitions than your belief does.

There are also multiple theories in physics, many of them conflicting. I suppose this proves physics is a load of crap. Regardless, I don't believe Muslims, Aboriginals, or African tribes are totally wrong. Muslims are VERY close, African tribes tend to convert to Christianity easily because they already have the idea of a monotheistic God. I'm not claiming that I have the absolute truth either. I'm claiming revelation. And if I were having a discussion with a Muslim it'd be a different discussion.

But let's talk about your delusion, I find this sentence downright hilarious.

Truth is not subject to opinions, tradition, scripture or authority! ;-)

What does that even mean? And furthermore, it's our limits which create us. You reject God, that makes you an atheist, I affirm God, reject the rejection, making me a theist. It is because of the ground I can walk. We need limits, and we need rules. This is why you like the scientific method so much. You subject all truth to it, which I think is wrong.

You are a product of your tradition, your scripture, your opinions, and your authority. Truth is only intelligible when subjected to a particular tradition.

(I apologize for the length, couldn't help it.)
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