If your conscience needs you to throw a dictionary at it to make it go away, then I hope that works for you. You've avoided the point, however, and perhaps unwittingly, demonstrated it.
My conscience needs no dictionary. If you're going to keep redefining words to make your point, then this discussion is pointless. The term "mythology" goes beyond "belief structure", for reasons I pointed out. Science is a belief structure, but no definition of mythology that the real world uses would classify science as one. But, obviously, in order to turn science into a religion, you have to discard all the differences between them and exaggerate any similarities.
You believe in science, Jeremiah.
The same way I "believe in" this couch. "Believe in" implies acceptance without evidence. Science is based on the study and analysis of evidence. It is supported every time you use your computer, drive your car, or watch TV. Every time a product of science works the way it should, it is another validation of the scientific method. Science is only an approximation, however certain we get, but it is based on checking the approximations against nature.
Do you show a little too much white around the eyes when you preach it?
Do Yankees fans show a little too much white around the eyes when they yell at Red Sox fans? Do politicians show a little too much white around the eyes when they tell people to serve their country? Your argument is ridiculous; how strongly someone defends or supports something is not an indicator that that something is a religion, unless you want to include things as patriotism as a religion. You're focusing on similarities that are not essential parts of the definition of either religion or science, particularly by using me as an example of all scientists, or even all atheists.
Science has fine traditions of saints and apostles, like Newton and Hawking.
Newton and Hawking attained their status through work and effort and by how well their theories explained things in a new, more useful, way. They earned their status just as any other celebrated person does, and it was granted by other people and not divine fiat.
Newton and Hawking are still criticized, despite their status. Their works are refined, tested, and improved. That's how science works, and Newton and Hawking know/knew this. Newton's works were refined by the willingness of others, like Einstein, to criticize his works. Hawking's works are still debated in the astrophysics community, in such areas as black holes and information theory.
Criticizing the works of those before you is how you proceed in science; figuring out how well their theories correspond with the evidence discovered since then is how theories get refined. Even Einstein's works are still tested; remember that satellite sent up to test frame-dragging? Every scientist knew that there was the possibility that the results would not correspond with relativity, and that Einstein would be incorrect. Those who show their predecessors were not right are those who are celebrated in science. Criticizing the works of a saint or apostle, though, would until recently earn you a very warm spot on top of a pile of wood. When's the last time a Mormon got respect from his fellow Mormons for criticizing the works of Joseph Smith?
Scientists, even famous ones, are not held to the standards of "divine untouchability" that saints and apostles are. They are no more saints of science than Michael Jordan is a saint of basketball. This is just another example of stretching terms to draw unjustified parallels.
It has martyrs, like Brahe and Galileo.
Brahe wasn't a martyr of anything except extreme politeness.
Galileo wasn't martyred. He recanted publicly and died under house arrest while excommunicated; not great for him, but hardly martyrdom. Maybe you want Giordano Bruno
Not only were your examples bad, they still don't support your point. People have died for the causes of world peace, civil rights, patriotism, imperialism, Nazism, racism, Communism, and myriad other beliefs. These beliefs are not mythologies or religions.
It has fallen prophets, like Pons and Fleischman.
Pons and Fleischman were not "fallen prophets". They were just wrong. These things happen. Science doesn't even have "prophets". Scientists may make statements about the future, but no one holds them as infallible or divinely inspired statements. Pointing out when a scientist got something wrong is part of science. The scientist so pointed out might not like it, but that is how science is improved. Religious prophets, on the other hand, are untouchable. How do you think a Christian pointing out failed prophecies in the Bible
is going to be treated by his peers?
Is Pete Rose a "fallen prophet" of baseball because of his disgrace? In your zeal to turn science into a religion, you've just redefined religious terms and tried to shoehorn science into them, completely ignoring the fundamental aspects of the terms you're using.
It has morals, like intellectual honesty, accuracy and reproducibility.
Accuracy and reproducibility are guidelines to getting useful results. They are not morals except in a very pragmatic sense. Reproducibility is a way of removing human error. If your results can't be reproduced, it's a good sign you made a mistake somewhere. Results that are inaccurate are much less useful than accurate results. Intellectual honesty is not unique to science, and producing honest results leads to better and more useful results because other people don't have to do more work to undo your dishonesty and find out what really is going on. In any case, what's your point?
That is your supernatural force, for when confronted by the unexplained, you believe that Cause and Effect are in there.
If you'd like to explain how cause and effect are supernatural, be my guest.
And, depending on which philosophers you ask, the inference of cause and effect is inductive as well, based on (numerous, usually) previous observations. (And depending on which quantum mechanics you ask, cause and effect are not absolutes.)
Why does magnetism work? How does gravity exert force at a distance? Why do quarks have spin? We don't really know. But Cause and Effect must be in there, praise the data!
It sounds like here you're basically criticizing science for believing there are natural explanations for things. Maybe there aren't, but so far we've been doing really really good in that regard, and we'll never know unless we try to find the answers anyway.
Science informs the deeply emotional reactions you have to the world around you.
So do a lot of things. And science also informs your
decisions. The differences in our results are because of the beliefs we have independently of science.
But it is telling that you seem to associate scorn and vitriol with religion.
You heap scorn and vitriol on those who report evidence to you of a religious nature.
No, I don't. I heap scorn and vitriol on those who use bad arguments and bad evidence. That these happen to intersect with religion in places is not my fault. I've gone off on atheists for doing the same thing. I've also gone off on others in matters completely unrelated to religion for the same thing.
You get angry when Christians vote their conscience.
I get angry when people vote for things I feel strongly against. People of all beliefs do that, and it hardly means science is a religion, nor does it invalidate my political beliefs. It means that I disagree with some Christians on such things. I also disagree with some atheists on political matters. (There's a fellow on another message board, who's taught me a lot about reason and philosophical matters, and I greatly respect him. He also has the complete opposite stance than I do on abortion.)
You feel threatened when mothers talk to Congress about violence in video games.
If I do, it is because I feel their arguments are poor, and that usually their recommendations would probably not help much at all while creating new problems.
This is a statement of faith, Jeremiah. Catholics believe in Papal Infallibility, Scientists believe in Human Fallibility.
You mean it takes faith to believe that humans don't know everything? As in, believing that humans are fallible is a belief without evidence? This might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say, and it pains me to say that. At best, you could say that scientists believe in the human ability to discover things about the natural world in a systematic way. The existence of the very Internet you're using to discuss this is just one of many indications that support this notion.
Infallibility is merely a tenet, and by the way, you do believe in it. You believe in the infallibility of the natural universe.
The natural universe is neither fallible nor infallible. It makes no statements. It makes no claims. It exists, and we study its existence. It's like proclaiming an apple to be infallible. You can make fallible or infallible claims about an apple, but an apple makes no claims. No one believes that nature is "infallible", they believe that it exists. Science is the systematic study of nature's identity. If our understanding disagrees with the identity of nature as discovered by new evidence, then our understanding is necessarily incorrect.
But when they change, Nature is never questioned. Merely our understanding.
Why would we question nature when it doesn't conform with our understanding? If physical constants aren't constant, that is a characteristic of the universe's existence. That is how the universe is. The universe is not making claims about itself. The universe is not obliged to obey our claims. If I see a red apple, and conclude that apples are red, and then see a green apple, are you suggesting that apples themselves are fallible because they didn't hold up to my claims? Apples have identity. They have a nature. They have characteristics. Perhaps these characteristics include "if you take them outside the solar system they turn blue", and our knowledge of them is incomplete. An entity's identify is not infallible or fallible; it is what it is. Our knowledge of what it is is where the error lies.
Reproducibility is a tenet of the faith; it cannot be questioned lest the whole church fall apart.
Reproducibility is stipulated because results are necessarily shared with others. It is a method of making sure you've gotten things right, and that your results are not unduly influenced by other factors. Reproducing the experiment in other environments helps remove factors from the explanation. Other scientists might have different cultural or scientific biases, or might make less mistakes. Or they might find flaws in your experimentation or conclusions. It's essentially the same principle as having someone else proofread your English term paper. It is, of course, possible that the nature of the universe is such that the experiment would produce those results only at that specific location in spacetime, and that you were in fact right. But such a fact is rather useless and would contribute little to science.
So we amend the speed of light with "in a vacuum".
Because we learned another of nature's characteristics; that the speed of light can be slowed by passing through some medium, and that it goes fastest in a vacuum. What's your point? Are you saying science should not
correct itself? That, if we're wrong, we should hold ourselves infallible and blame the universe?
The Old Testaments of Newton and Bohr verily must pass away, superseded by Einstein and Feynman.
Duh. That's how science works. Refinement of what came before, with new technologies and methodologies. Your statement, incidentally, is how science differs from religion: aspects of Holy Texts are rarely discarded when the evidence goes against them. At best, the texts are turned to allegory, at worst, the evidence is denied. The self-correction of science doesn't always go perfectly... scientists, of course, are only human, and it's hard to give up a personal theory that's worked so well only to have some snotty upstart from MIT find a flaw in it. But if the snotty upstart has evidence, the scientific community will begin to accept his work. You might have to die first, but it'll happen. In today's scientific community, we've learned from similar mistakes, and the Internet and other communications mean that results can be spread widely even if the old school is criticizing you.
Your apostles are not infallible in the Catholic sense, I will concede. But even when the old passes away, are they not kept in remembrance? Are their models still not studied, because, although patently false, they serve as useful approximations? We still teach physics using algebra, as if there existed such things as straight lines and uniform rigid bodies. We still teach Bohr's model of the atom, because it explains and predicts a lot of useful stuff in chemistry.
The use of earlier theories as useful approximations is continued because the old theories worked. That's why they were accepted in the first place. But they are also not infallible in any sense; that's why they had to be refined in the first place. You sum it up in your last sentence; they are used as useful approximations. Newton was wrong, but his theories still work just fine for non-relativistic equations, provided you don't need excruciating precision. But the later refinements are still taught, and used in situations where the old results are known to not work. Bohr's model is useful if you're doing chemistry, but its successor models are still pointed out, and you certainly can't use it nowadays for particle physics. I fail to see what your issue with this is.
Like any religion, it has sloppy thinkers. Many smoothly go from "you cannot prove a negative" straight into "there is no god".
A) Not quite true. You can prove a negative if it entails a logical contradiction. This is one of the basic forms of mathematical proof. Many arguments against gods are based on finding contradictions among the claims about a certain god made by its followers. The Problem of Evil is a famous example of this. Granted, this only applies to gods who have enough definition to find a contradiction; deists usually have little to worry about in this regard. But atheists admit this. And most gods that come up in conversation fall into this category.
It is possible to argue -- and, indeed, it happens a lot -- that god such-and-such is beyond logic. But people who make this claim rarely elaborate on what it means to be beyond logic. To quote from another forum: Which of the following logics does God transcend: sentential, predicate, modal (K, S4, or S5), temporal, intuitionist, paraconsistent, or dialetheistic? Does the logic which God transcends involve axioms, rules of deduction, a mixture, or a natural deduction approach? Finally, where does the transcendence fail? In completeness? In consistency? In translation?
They also forget that their own claims are based on logic: if you have the premises "If I believe in him, God will let me into Heaven" and "I believe in God", the conclusion "I will go to Heaven" is based on the rule of inference of Modus Ponens. Is God beyond this logic as well?
B) You can still make a confident claim of non-existence even without 100% absolute certainty. We can't disprove the Loch Ness Monster by contradiction; it could still possibly exist. But we can make arguments to its nonexistence, and eventually attain enough certainty that we can say "there is no Loch Ness Monster".
* All the known sightings are either known to be frauds or are likely instances of human error.
* There is no good evidence to support the existence of Nessie: only blurry photos and second-hand anecdotes.
* A sonar search of Loch Ness revealed nothing.
* Loch Ness is not big enough to support a breeding colony of Nessies.
And so on. In light of these, we feel confident in denying the existence of Nessie. The same things are the reasons why atheists do not believe in God, and if you had studied atheists and their arguments you would know this.
Science has yet to devise instruments that can pierce the veil of the afterlife, so many firmly proclaim that when the lights go out, you feed the worms and nothing more.
As with Nessie, the claim of non-existence of the afterlife is made without 100% absolute certainty, but a confident and informed certainty nonetheless.
* Near-death experiences
are known to vary widely, and are more than likely hallucinatory. They are heavily influenced by the surrounding culture's religious beliefs: Western NDEs feature bright lights; Indians report meeting the Hindu god of death and a divine bureaucracy:
Here we see that NDErs from different cultures also give different reasons for why they are sent back. Western NDErs are often 'sent back' in order to take care of immediate family or for some assumed purpose unknown to them; NDErs from India report meeting clerks in an impersonal afterlife bureaucracy who process the dead and send them back because they have been sent the wrong person due to paperwork mistakes.
Unless each culture gets its own afterlife, it is reasonable to assume that NDEs are simply hallucinations influenced by the experiencer's religious beliefs, and not evidence of an afterlife.
* Many notions of the afterlife are tied into other religious beliefs; arguing against a religion would entail arguing against its afterlives as well.
* Lack of evidence. This is especially important in contexts where one's belief in deity influences where your afterlife is. A deity moderating the afterlife has better ways of convincing humans of the existence of that afterlife -- and by association, himself -- than centuries-old stories indistinguishable from other religious mythology or hearsay, or experiences that could easily be confused with oxygen-deprivation hallucinations.
* There is increasing evidence
that functions of the brain, including consciousness, arise from natural processes which end upon death. It is always possible that these processes are reproduced after death in some spiritual realm where consciousness continues, but there is no evidence to support that notion, and I see no qualms in denying that claim.
You yourself have gone from "science is an inductive process" straight into denouncing Christianity because you refuse to permit your understanding of the Bible to be redacted.
I refuse to permit my understanding of the Bible to be redacted...? Those four or five years I spent as a fundamentalist Christian don't count, I guess. One of the side effects of going to a strongly Christian private school. I read about how evolution was so wrong and I couldn't wait to show all those scientists the errors of their ways. I would worry myself sick, thinking that God would send me to hell for not having the confidence to preach to my family, who were all Catholics and condemned to hell. I would get into debates in IRC rooms, denying that the contradictions in the Bible were really contradictions and covering my ears when people pointed out that rabbits don't actually chew cud
. And then I graduated high school, and stopped being exposed to fundamentalism every day. I calmed down from my fundie high. I read science books and websites, all pointing out that the creationism claims I so loved had been debunked years before, in some cases decades before. The evolutionary explanations made much more sense. And I read about how textual analysis showed how Genesis had multiple authors. I read about the history of Christianity, and the apocryphal texts, and historical analysis of texts. I read criticisms of Christianity I'd never read before, and saw that there were some good points. I realized that it made no sense for God to write a book full of apparent contradictions and then not explain them. Why would God create so much confusion about little things like Jesus' grandfather when a few simple sentences would have explained the whole thing? Didn't he know that these things would lead people away from him? Why didn't Heavenly Quality Control catch them? No one I knew had an answer to that, other than "It pleased God to be thus", or "God deliberately wanted some people to disbelieve and end up in hell", which is not only morally offensive but also contradictory to that whole all-loving thing. In the end, I came to the conclusion that Christianity was not the way. I hadn't believed in any other gods to begin with, and I saw that many of the criticisms of Christianity applied to Islam and Judaism and other religions. Now I'm an atheist.
So I did let my understanding of the Bible be redacted. Just not in the way you like.
You have a hypothesis that you really, really want to make fit.
Yes, Chalain, I really want
there to be no god. I really want
to go through life without an unfailing, unstoppable companion by my side to help me when I'm down. I really want
to die and have my consciousness and sense of self stop existing completely and irrevocably. I really want
to tell my family that I find their Catholicism wrong. I really want
to be considered the enemy of America and an unworthy citizen by the majority political powers. My atheism is not based on some pre-existing desire to disbelieve. It is based on accepting a trail of evidence that led into a position, one that I initially found distasteful.
But, tell me, Chalain, since we're talking about people doing anything to make their hypothesis fit...
How, exactly, do you reconcile the problem of Joseph's father? Is it Jacob or Heli, and how do you know? I think we've been over this one before
. (You never did get back to me on that.)
Or, if you feel like discussing something more central to Christianity, please do what no apologist has done yet and provide a narrative of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection that convincingly encompasses all the contradictions and problems therein
, along with an explanation of why God would allow the details surrounding the most important event of his religion to be muddled and confused to such a degree that it would make people turn away from it.
That's a torch and a sliderule in your hands, Jer.
Are you going to claim that science is a religion simply because some people such as myself used it as part of their conversion to atheism? Science played a part in regards to evolution and Biblical archaeology, but those were not the significant causes of my conversion. The major factors were theological in nature, questions about God that I'd never heard and have never heard answered, such as why an omnipotent and omniscient God would use an imperfect method like a book to spread his word, when he knew the imperfections in his work would lead people away from his work and him, and into hell.
It walks and it quacks. All I'm saying is, it's a duck.
Your entire argument calling science a religion is based on:
* Redefining religious terms like "mythology" and "saint" and trying to shoehorn science into those definitions, not realizing that in doing so you have redefined these terms to be trivial. Calling any notable or respected scientist a "saint of science" is to remove all the religious connotations of the word and turn it into a mere synonym for "person of note". I'm sure the Catholics will be quite pleased to hear about Robert de Niro, "Saint of Acting" or Ron Jeremy, "Saint of Porn".
* Ignoring the fundamental philosophical and methodological differences between the two things. Science is based on inference from evidence, and the continual testing to make sure those inferences are correct. Religion is based on revelation and faith; things are accepted without questioning or testing, they are taken as, well, gospel. Did anyone check Joseph Smith's work before it was incorporated into Mormon canon? In science, to question is required. In religion, to question is heresy. These are fundamental differences that can't be brushed under the carpet.
Many religious people accept science without calling it a religion. They see it as what it is, a systematic study of nature. To them, science is complementary, not contradictory, to their religious beliefs. The Jesuit who originally proposed the Big Bang, Georges Lemaître, was one such individual; he felt that both science and religion were ways to the truth, and he got a Ph.D. in physics and attended seminary in order to have his bases covered.
Various remarks in your post, especially towards the end, seem to reveal an ulterior motive: You're not arguing against science, you're arguing against atheism, using science as a proxy. Since atheism in and of itself has no mythology, you've taken the appreciation for science that many atheists have, in order to find something to rail at atheists against. Taking down those smug atheist bastards by trying to show that their beliefs are a religion, the very thing they rail against. In the process, though, you've ignored the definitions and religious connotations of your terms and apparently not read much philosophy to boot.