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View Diary: Bill Nye (The Science Guy): Creationism is NOT appropriate for children. (203 comments)

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  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
    Many rationalistic/spiritual belief systems don't even have an account of the supernatural...
    "Spiritual" belief is belief in the supernatural, i.e., belief in that which is not supported by evidence.  Do you not recognize that "spirits" are supernatural and are wholly unsupported by evidence?  There is nothing "rationalistic" about believing in spirits.
    I'm an atheist...
    If you're an atheist that believes in "spirits," then you are not a very good atheist.
    but your continued use of...equivalence between all religious families as though they have equivalent metaphysics, beliefs, and practices...
    I recognize a strawman when I see one and that is not what I have said, nor is it what I have implied.  All religions do share one thing, which is "faith," i.e. belief in something that is not supported by evidence.  That does not, however, mean that different religions believe the same unprovable things as your caricature of my argument implies.

    Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

    by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:12:38 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  And no, what I am telling you is that (0+ / 0-)

      you are wrong, they do not all share "faith" in this sense. You are empirically wrong.

      They share practice. For some religions, faith is a part of that practice, for others it is not. That is not the same thing as faith.

      And your use of "spiritual" is relatively narrow and again, heavily evocative of monotheistic culture.

      Many well-used senses of "spiritual," including in social-scientific discourse (i.e. history, etc.) traffic in the "human spirit" or the "spirit of the law," etc. and mean nothing supernatural by it, but rather evoke the same meaning complex as zeitgeist (spirit of the time), i.e. the collective tendency or the collective intention.

      There is no straw man. You have just drawn a massive equivalence ("they all share faith") and then said that you didn't.

      -9.63, 0.00
      I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

      by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:04:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Show your work (0+ / 0-)
        And no, what I am telling you is that you are wrong, they do not all share "faith" in this sense. You are empirically wrong.
        If I am empirically wrong, there there must be empirical evidence that proves it.  You have not produced any.  Show me a religion that does not rely, at least to some degree, on faith (i.e. the belief in something that is not supported by evidence).  Just because you say such things exist is not empiric evidence.  If a religion does not rely at least to some degree on faith, it would not be a religion.
        For some religions, faith is a part of that practice, for others it is not.
        Name one for which it is not.
        And your use of "spiritual" is relatively narrow and again, heavily evocative of monotheistic culture.

        Many well-used senses of "spiritual," including in social-scientific discourse (i.e. history, etc.) traffic in the "human spirit" or the "spirit of the law," etc. and mean nothing supernatural by it, but rather evoke the same meaning complex as zeitgeist (spirit of the time), i.e. the collective tendency or the collective intention.

        You are making a false equivalence here between "spirit" and "spiritual."  I agree that there is more than one definition for the word "spirit" that is unrelated to the supernatural.  That is not the case with respect to the word "spiritual," which, in the context of religion as we are discussing here, is entirely associated with the supernatural, mostly (but not exclusively) with the concept of an everlasting soul, which is an article of faith.

        And yes, your response to me was a strawman.  You mischaracterized my argument as something different than what I said so that it was easier for you to knock it down.  That is how "strawman" is defined.  Again, just because you say it isn't doesn't make it so.

        Show your work.

        Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

        by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:07:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Easy case: (0+ / 0-)

          Confucianism in some of its strains significantly complicates the picture (and meanings of spiritualism and rationalism) that you have so easily painted.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...
          http://www.philtar.ac.uk/...
          http://www.tandfonline.com/...

          And as you ought to know as an advocate of science, if a single effective falsifying case is found, a hypothesis must be seen as inadequate to empirical reality, subject to either discarding or refinement.

          Not to mention that the your basic ontology of religious practice shows the same monotheistic cultural bias as the rest of your argument. The uniform, textual religion in which the practicing population can be characterized as a single "faith" and in which practices tend to be shared and uniform and codified is precisely a monotheistic tendency, though there are other examples (but even these are in general less hierarchical and textual than monotheistic faiths). So the range of animistic or rationalistic practices and epistemic regimes is far greater across populations than tends to be true for monotheistic faiths.

          But again, it is wrong to overgeneralize. Suffice it to say that there are practitioners across—for example—eastern nontheist/rationalistic religions that have no belief in the supernatural, that are perfectly happy with Enlightenment-style empiricism and epistemology, etc. These also exist in monotheism but the problem is that the largest blocs of monotheism include as a dogmatic tenet the notion of a single "correct" interpretation or understanding of foundational texts, meaning that it is possible to argue that those that are outliers in terms of belief or practice are "not typical of Christians." But the same level of uniformity and the same possibility of framing practice with respect to a consistent internal reference system that is relatively stable and encoded is much less seen in many other practice communities.

          Good science is never needlessly reductive; it is articulative and elaborative, even in typification or abstraction for theoretical purposes. There is a vast body of literature on religion and religious practice in anthropology, sociology, and social policy.

          Before you advocate for science, you ought to ensure that your positions align with the findings of the research done by the scientists on whose behalf you wish to advocate. Your reductive and oversimplistic assertions (i.e. that all religions are about faith-based belief) contradict, very simply, the academic literature in the social sciences.

          And in case you were going to do the "but social science isn't real science" rant, beware that this also undermines your argument, as the social sciences are legitimized by the same knowledge infrastructure that recognizes and is recognized by the natural sciences, and proceeds from the same Enlightenment project and impulse, seeking to employ the same methods. Even the professonalizations (the professoriate, the peer-reviewed journal, the conference, the monograph, the method of variable-correlation hypothesis building and testing followed by theoretical generalization, etc.) are the same, as is the primary center of professional practice (the research university).

          Science is not about ideology or the separation of "truth" from "falsehood." It is about the description and understanding of empirical cases in all of their detail and nuance in order to be able to carry out instrumentally rational human activity in studied contexts. And there is a great deal of nuance in all empirical cases, whether we are talking the error margins of Newtonian mechanics at extreme scales or religious practice as a social phenomenon.

          Again, it's fine to assert that which can be empirically supported, but to advocate for science when operating ideologically gives rise to the common accusation that science, too, is a religion, merely faith-based. It depends on how you do it—good science is not faith-based. But there is an ideological, faith-based version, and you are close to it.

          -9.63, 0.00
          I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

          by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:47:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  From one of your links (0+ / 0-)

            emphasis added:

            Neo-Confucianism is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy...
            "Philosophy" does not equal "religion," which supports what I said:
            If a religion does not rely at least to some degree on faith, it would not be a religion.
            Try again.
            Again, it's fine to assert that which can be empirically supported, but to advocate for science when operating ideologically gives rise to the common accusation that science, too, is a religion, merely faith-based. It depends on how you do it—good science is not faith-based.
            Show me where I am "operating ideologically" or injecting faith into science.  Here is a hint: I am not in either case.  And you're right, science has absolutely nothing to do with "faith" or it wouldn't be science, just as religion that does not rely at least to some degree on faith is not religion.
            But there is an ideological, faith-based version [of science], and you are close to it.
            Again, no there is not.  Science is wholly incompatible with faith.  There can be no "faith-based version" of science or it would not be science.

            Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

            by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:27:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Furthermore (0+ / 0-)
            Suffice it to say that there are practitioners across—for example—eastern nontheist/rationalistic religions that have no belief in the supernatural, that are perfectly happy with Enlightenment-style empiricism and epistemology, etc.
            There are no "eastern nontheist/rationalistic religions" though there are eastern nontheist/rationalistic philosophies.  And again, "philosophy" does not equal "religion."  You are making the mistake of conflating the two.

            Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

            by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:32:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry, but again (0+ / 0-)

              you are contrary to all literature and working in precisely the moral dichotomies characteristic of monotheistic religions. Do a search for "confucianism" and "religion" on Google of all places (no need to get scholarly here) and note that major governments (including our own) recognize confucianism as a religion. Ask yourself why.

              By your conception only a narrow spectrum of behavior essentially congruent to monotheism and a few others qualifies as that religion. That makes your original argument tautological for any practical purpose.

              But a categorization of your kind is not empirical; is  based on assertions of the groups in question and/or assertions by third parties (i.e. you) about the appropriate definition of "religion" rather than on empirical evidence and observation. To define the phenomenon a priori without research is precisely ideological, rather than scientific.

              Empirical behavior evidences  a spectrum from things that have been schematized as religious to those that have been schematized as nonreligious based on cross-cultural and comparative research, but it is clear that a great deal of behavior qualifies as "religious" in nature, i.e. the practices and behaviors associated with one case can be observed in another (group attendance and self-identification, normative and prescriptive doctrine, shared meaning and ritual that is asserted to be important in a moral, rather than practical sense, evidence of a collective cosmology, even if that cosmology is rationalistic or scientific, systems of explanation that associate normative behavior/tests with social sanction, and the relation of all of this to purposiveness in life choices, etc.)

              There is no "mistake of conflating the two" because there are not two. There are infinitely many.

              But we can say that religious behavior is in evidence across a wide spectrum of social configurations, that some of them are rationalistic in nature, that the ones that are informed by a monotheistic dogma tend to reify categories and traffic in schematic mutual exclusivities, etc. and the ones that don't are on the whole less likely to do these things.

              But again, you are advocating for "science" ideologically, dismissing at the same time precisely what the scientists that study religion in society actually say, and without having read any of them. In essence, you attachment to science is dogmatic, and while advocating for science, you behave essentially in what might be characterized as monotheistic-affinitive speech and assertion patterns.

              This will be my last post in this exchange, as I think I've made all the case that I need to make and we're now just going in circles; other readers can make their own determinations.

              -9.63, 0.00
              I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

              by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:14:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
                Do a search for "confucianism" and "religion" on Google of all places (no need to get scholarly here) and note that major governments (including our own) recognize confucianism as a religion.
                So what matters is not how Confucianism defines itself (i.e. specifically as a philosophy and not a religion), what matters is how our government and Google define it.  Got it.  [rolls eyes]
                There is no "mistake of conflating the two" because there are not two. There are infinitely many.
                That doesn't even make sense!  You are specifically conflating "religion" with "philosophy," those are the "two" I am referring to that you are conflating.  In this context, there are only two things we are discussing, "religion" and "philosophy."  You say there are not two but there are many.  WTF?  Now you are having problems with the very basic concept of counting to two.

                You like to use a lot of big words but you are using them to muddy the water rather than to provide clarity.  Ask yourself why.  This is pretty simple, it is not nearly as complex as you are (I think purposefully) trying to make it.

                I have no desire to debate the finer points of various philosophies.  The bottom line here is that religion is not compatible with science because religion - all religion - requires belief in something that is not supported by evidence.  Whether that's a sky faery, or in the case or religions like Buddhism, belief in an everlasting soul that can be reincarnated from one being to another, it makes no difference.  No faith is valid.

                If a religion does not require faith, then it is not a religion, at least not for the purposes of this discussion.

                There is no need to get any more scholarly than that.

                Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

                by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:08:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Your use of "religion" is, quite simply, (0+ / 0-)

                  tautological. If you define religion to be "that which requires non-scientific epistemology," which is what you have effectively done, then yes, your statement is self-consistent, though certainly not logically necessary: "Religion is contrary to science because religion is that which is non-scientific."

                  But this is not the definition of religion used by the scientists that actually study religion and its influence in society because very large populations consider, e.g. Confucianism to be their religion, and societies and social institutions generally recognize and acknowledge these claims and protect the given practices under religious freedom doctrines.

                  Because you talk about science while contradicting what the scientists in this area say, your argument is not just tautological, but also nominally unscientific by any conventional use of the word "scientific," and thus, self-defeating.

                  Is that simple enough for you?

                  And yes, I am a social scientist, and yes, your definition of religion is heavily influenced precisely by that which you claim to be against.

                  -9.63, 0.00
                  I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

                  by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:48:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I had a feeling (0+ / 0-)

                    that this wasn't going to hold up:

                    This will be my last post in this exchange, as I think I've made all the case that I need to make and we're now just going in circles; other readers can make their own determinations.
                    Let's cut to the chase; do you find belief in something that is not supported by evidence, and in many cases is flatly contradicted by evidence, to be in any way a valid belief?

                    That's a simple "yes" or "no" question that is central to my point (FYI - my answer is no).  It does not require a twelve paragraph answer exploring what "science" or "religion" really means vs. how I am defining it here.  It really is just that simple, you don't need to continue trying to make it more complex than it is or needs to be.

                    I ask because I suspect that despite semantics, we are more than likely on the same page here and if that's the case, there really isn't much point in continuing to fight over the semantics.

                    Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

                    by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 02:00:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Certainly not, which was my point in the first (0+ / 0-)

                      place: by conflating religion and what amounts to theistic belief systems, particularly monotheistic ones, the argument is lost.

                      It does a disservice to religious practice that is precisely rational (again, much of eastern non-mysticist faith, which has hundreds of millions of adherents), while at the same time missing the thrust of the argument (that it is the nature of the belief, not merely the nature of the practice or its very fact) that is at issue.

                      I don't disagree on the epistemic claim, so long as it is made in a logically self-consistent way. But I do believe that words matter; if we are ever to legitimate science and undermine the "science is just another religion" arguments, we can't advocate for science and against other belief systems in ways that repeat precisely what we are trying to critique—assertion without empirical observation or without clear definitions and nuanced understandings of what is actually going on in the real world.

                      -9.63, 0.00
                      I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

                      by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 02:49:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  And, by the way, (0+ / 0-)

                  my entire critique goes away if you just remember my original point and state, instead and more simply, not that you are against religion because it is inherently anti-science (which is a difficult claim to make for the reasons I've outlined) but rather that you are against belief systems that are not scientific.

                  That way you don't find yourself having to make the case that all forms of social behavior commonly recognized by science and policy to be religious are subject to this assessment, which is a difficult case to make and requires that you essentially reject the scientific establishment to do so.

                  -9.63, 0.00
                  I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

                  by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:15:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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