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BS: Science and Religion

Mrrzy 26 Jun 09 - 05:54 PM
Dorothy Parshall 26 Jun 09 - 05:44 PM
Dorothy Parshall 26 Jun 09 - 05:41 PM
Amos 26 Jun 09 - 03:16 PM
Stringsinger 26 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM
Amos 26 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM
Bill D 26 Jun 09 - 01:51 PM
Bill D 26 Jun 09 - 01:32 PM
Stringsinger 26 Jun 09 - 01:22 PM
Stringsinger 26 Jun 09 - 01:03 PM
wysiwyg 26 Jun 09 - 12:44 PM
Mrrzy 26 Jun 09 - 12:09 PM
freda underhill 26 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM
Amos 26 Jun 09 - 10:55 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 26 Jun 09 - 06:33 AM
Paul Burke 26 Jun 09 - 01:58 AM
GUEST,TIA 25 Jun 09 - 11:43 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 09 - 09:23 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Jun 09 - 08:05 PM
Stringsinger 25 Jun 09 - 07:24 PM
Joe Offer 25 Jun 09 - 06:40 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 09 - 05:53 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 25 Jun 09 - 05:50 PM
wysiwyg 25 Jun 09 - 05:22 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 09 - 04:24 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 09 - 04:21 PM
Amos 25 Jun 09 - 01:49 PM
wysiwyg 25 Jun 09 - 12:47 PM
Mrrzy 25 Jun 09 - 12:40 PM
Amos 25 Jun 09 - 12:14 PM
Amos 25 Jun 09 - 12:12 PM
wysiwyg 25 Jun 09 - 11:09 AM
Bill D 24 Jun 09 - 11:21 PM
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robomatic 24 Jun 09 - 01:41 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 05:54 PM

I think the next foray into the realm of science is to determine why religion is needed at all. If scientific testing is done in this capacity, then there is a religion vs. science because the goal would be to question religion as to its efficacy. The existing anthropological studies show that the evolutionary benefit of organized religion accrue to the priests/practitioners/intercessors between their personification of the unknown ("god(s)"), rather than to the believers, and that such benefits are large. Evolutionary psychology sees personification as a normal developmental stage in human cognition, so the institutionalizing of such inevitable beliefs as our intelligence grew up, so to speak, to the levels we now consider average for adults, was advantageous compared to societies where such beliefs weren't institutionalized. Thus it allowed for the development of the large city-state we now also call average for humans, despite its relative novelty. The problem is, we really aren't city folk, and we do much better in far less crowded conditions, but then nobody would make any real money.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 05:44 PM

And for you guys:

'The Evolution of God'
By ROBERT WRIGHT
Reviewed by PAUL BLOOM
In his careful yet provocative contemplation of religious history, Robert Wright sees continuous positive moral change over time but denies the specialness of any individual faith.

Sunday Magazine: Questions for Robert Wright


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 05:41 PM

THANK YOU, AMOS! Concise, no monster words. and, of course to me - sensible totally.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 03:16 PM

I still have a problem that the two can be reconciled because of the effects that religion has on society. To exist it must reach beyond the bounds of science to assert itself. I see that without science, many of us would not enjoy the capacity to think and function with an ethical framework, but I don't see religion as a requisite for this.

Those who seek to reconcile them, and I think Joe might be oen of those, often approach theproblem with the postulate that the Infinite lies behind the whole theater of measurable things, like the air that surrounds and permeates a theater building butis no part of the show. Not to overstrain a metaphor. My own sense, a bit different, is that the Infinite is quite capable of taking care of itself, and one may contact it if one is able to do; and that ability depends not on forms and rituals and pictures and words, but on the clear center of one's own spiritual nature and personal integrity.

I of course am not convinced of the importance of an "event" described by the priest since it seems mythology. It well may be important in a negative way because it engendered such adamant violence and authoritarian abuse by its practitioners.

Priests and parents and many other people make a grievous error when they mistake their iconic forms for substance and try to enforce them in order to bring another to some version of the good. It has never worked very well. Myths, reams of ponderings by men long past, incantations and invocations are no substitute for owning your own truth and seeing clearly from it.

I think the next foray into the realm of science is to determine why religion is needed at all. If scientific testing is done in this capacity, then there is a religion vrs. science because the goal would be to question religion as to its efficacy. Until this is done, I see no possibility of any "third way" becoming viable. Even then,this might be tilting at windmills.

It might, but I think a truly open enquiry would find that behind all the foofara and yammerjammer of our louder religions, and the complexity of almost all of them, there may turn out to be discovered some much simpler and clearer thread that (in some way not identified) does bridge individuals to something more embracing than individuals (at least those involved in navigating bodies around) can usually be. That's just what my "nose" tells me, so to speak, and isn't enough to go to church on!!! :D

Thanks to you, too, Frank, for the thoughtful discussion.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM

I still have a problem that the two can be reconciled because of the effects that religion has on society. To exist it must reach beyond the bounds of science to assert itself. I see that without science, many of us would not enjoy the capacity to think and function with an ethical framework, but I don't see religion as a requisite for this.

I of course am not convinced of the importance of an "event" described by the priest since it seems mythology. It well may be important in a negative way because it engendered such adamant violence and authoritarian abuse by its practitioners.

I think the next foray into the realm of science is to determine why religion is needed at all. If scientific testing is done in this capacity, then there is a religion vrs. science because the goal would be to question religion as to its efficacy.

Until this is done, I see no possibility of any "third way" becoming viable. Even then,
this might be tilting at windmills.

Respectfully,

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM

Theism is about as non-falsifiable as can be, since it usually posits omnipresence, omniscience, and/or omnipotence in the entity, which places it close to identity with the universe itself, leaving no place from which to test it.

Frank: my iPhone, if stimulated in certain ways by test devices, will tell stories and flash pictures, sing songs, and bring up old traces of past conversations. That is no proof that it is, itself, the source of those pictures and communications, of course. The notion is too ridiculous. My humorous metaphor was intended to make the point that ruling out a separate source of ability and perception, in a nontheistic but spiritually inclusive model, leaves you with a greatly complex task of finding the ghost in the machine's components. And it requires that you reject a good deal of circumstantial evidence and experiential description in order to cleave to your model. Amongst all that experience are a few "white crows" that (it seems to me) are sufficiently robust to refute the proposition that "all crows are blacK" (i.e., all thought stems from chemicals).

Bill: I quite agree that there is a major question at the front end of the whole subject, namely whether human physical structure monitors and causes functions (including thoughts, hopes, imaginings, etc. and the rich matrix of thought in all its forms) or whether there is something to the "separate I" model which informs all belief systems that touch on reincarnation, separation of self from body, and also offers an explanation for some other border phenomena such as apparent telepathic bonds, for example.

Your quibble about affirmative action, Bill, is just grumpy. I did not say that consciousness was exempt from any testing. I said, and have said often before, and say now again, that testing would have to take into account the fact that repetitive behavior is not a characteristic of consciousness and that unlike moilecules, consciousness can self-define, and plastically self-form in ways that no molecular structure can do. Such testing would also have to take into account the phenomena found in thought that include such things as images of the past (correct ones) and self-imposed delusions of the past, both of which are found aplenty in any mind; intention and its impact on perception; imaginary forms and postulated scenarios and their influence on awareness; ability (as distinguished from reactive response to stimuli) and what, if anythihng, increases or decreases it. Not to mention the whole field of "data" and what constitutes mind-data, what sorts or kinds there are, how they work and why they go awry and produce self-destructive or dramatically dysfunctional computations.

SOME of these things will, I suppose, be found to be strongly coupled with biochemical phenomena, as surely as eating lead paint can mess up your brain and make you feel crazy. THe assertion I have a strong inclination to reject is that that "some" is the whole set.

So far as I have seen, no scientific process to date has offered a convincing argument that the wetware complex governs the whole set of "thought", and my sense so far is there is a lot of evidence to the effect that it does not, by a long shot.

For example, the many many cases of suggested healing (placebo effect) where nothing was done to the wetware but the insertion of an idea which nevertheless seemed to stimulate self-correction in the organism, sometimes from major symptoms. Such phenomena clearly militate for a model which includes the seniority of function over structure in ways not yet much addressed by science.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 01:51 PM

And Susan... the article you quote exemplifies my view of how religious views can coexist with science.

It has many layers, as suggested in the article, but at bottom it says: "Since we currently have no way of formally approaching what happened at the very beginning of **everything**, there is no way to contradict someone who simply chooses to accept the idea that some 'metaphysical entity' said "Let there BE..."."

I have problems with that approach, and I can argue that it raises as many qustions as it answers, but it allows one to say:"Well, it simply 'feels' right & better to me, and I like the comfort and institutions following it allow me to pursue."

   It is vaguely similar to liking pie instead of cake...with many more implications.

(I could go on and suggest that I suspect that the very complex workings of DNA & genetic variations in brain chemistry I refer to above actually influence which path folks take......but that is subject to great ..ummmm...research.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 01:32 PM

"But they were not testing consciousness. They were testing mass, energy, inertia, and such. I don't know for certain what tests Einstein did actually. My point was a different one: creating test scenarios for consciousness itself must take into account that it is not the constant, mindless cooperative stuff that moleculart compounds are."

I think, Amos, as I have tried to suggest before, that we have a basic difference in application of language TO concepts here. In your sentences I read a couple of embedded assumptions and premises that begin with the assertion that consciousness IS a separate 'entity' from 'molecular compounds reacting to chemistry & tiny electrical impulses'.
   That is a question, not an unquestioned beginning point. It is one of the curiosities of experience that we find it difficult to approach.
   In Phenomenology, the metaphor often used (well..often in the 2 classes *I* took in Phenomenology) was "trying to run around behind yourself and remotely observe yourself acting & thinking, so as to objectively analyze your behavior & motivations."

The thing is, everyday we see more & more research and papers written showing how chemistry, at the level of DNA, does partly determine how we think and act. Simple things like testosterone levels and certain gene patterns can be statistically connected with various behavior patterns. (Just as smoking cigarettes was connected to lung cancer long before we understood the exact mechanisms).

We DO have ways...more & more... to study that "...mindless cooperative stuff that moleculart compounds are." Even those who work with the manifestations of 'consciousness' (Psychologists, sleep therapists..etc..) are finding they need to keep up on the latest science in order to advance.

   If as you suggest, "The intent is to test, and in order to test, the proposition must be capable of failing (or passing) the test.", then the very step of giving consciousness BOTH a 'status' independent from molecules AND exemption from testing (by definition), seems to me to be a linguistic form of "affirmative action". It gets its promotion apart from any firm standard for qualification.
....as I said above somewhere, it resembles "Platonic Forms" resurrected (and dressed up in the Emperor's 'spare' new clothes.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 01:22 PM

Susan, I need to thank you for bringing this discussion as a thread. It is really important for atheism to get a fair hearing not based on blind intolerance or a "how-dare-you" attitude on the part of "believers".

As I have stated earlier, there are different kinds of atheists. One thing they seem to have in common, however, is the idea that religion needs to be tested for its validity as a positive social force in society. This assumption has always been asserted for many years as a kind of social "law" and I think it needs to be tested.

If you apply scientific testing to religion, you find that the premises with all of the world's religions are incompatible with a relativist scientific view. Absolutes are a part of "faith" or belief. None of them can be scientifically proven.

The accusation of "intolerance" given to atheism shows that the adoption of any new idea is met with this, such as racial equality, women's equality, gay rights or the futility of war. Any new idea that runs counter to a popular belief is always going to be challenged by this charge. And yet when the charge is reversed, cries of unfair are raised.

I think it's time for atheists to be allowed to express what they believe and not be suppressed by the religious community. The burden of proof still lies with the believer and if and when a plausible one is offered, I am open-minded enough to consider it.
So far, that hasn't happened and history is not on its side.

The irreconcilable problem is that the adoption of absolute religious principles is inversely proportional to the means used in the relativistic exploration of science.

Respectfully,

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 01:03 PM

Amos, I like your answers because they are thoughtful. But I must respectfully disagree with some of the premises.

". Butif you can't conceive of a test which COULD falsify the proposition, then you have an unfalsifiable assertion and no way to test it. My use of "intentional falsification" was a bad choice of words. The intent is to test, and in order to test, the proposition must be capable of failing (or passing) the test."

this is true. In short, you can't prove a negative. (Logical fallacy)

As regards EInstein, etc., having creative responses in solving problems, I have no disagreement. But they were not testing consciousness. They were testing mass, energy, inertia, and such. I don't know for certain what tests Einstein did actually."

They are finding in evolutionary psychology and neuroscience that "consciousness"
can be measured by "mass,energy, inertia and such" as applied to the brain.


"My point was a different one: creating test scenarios for consciousness itself must take into account that it is not the constant, mindless cooperative stuff that moleculart compounds are."

In quantum mechanics they are finding that the laws of the universe are not constant,
cooperative and the molecular compounds on the quantum level are unpredictable
and fly in the face of assumptions of Relativity.


" It is quite a challenge, therefore, to meet a standard of replicabililty in applying science to consciousness. It does not matter what the tritium in a table-top fusion experiment thinks, if there is any. IF you are testing a subject for remote viewing, itmatters a great deal."

Science is not just limited to testing "tritium in a table-top fusion". It is today about testing the assumptions of the human brain and how it operates. It's a lot closer
to measuring "human experience and consciousness" than is usually supposed.



"The quantum phenomena youo refer to seem to reflect (as far as I have read) the consciousness of the experimenter as an unwitting influence int he experiment. If this is a problem in particle behaviour, it seems to me it would be a much greater one in studying consciousness."

Here, I agree. But that "consciousness" in the experimenter can be tested and that is the exact role of science. That "consciousness" may be accurate or inaccurate but without the
tools of science, this can't be determined. I maintain that with the tools of science these assumptions can be tested as to what "consciousness" is.

"I do not by any means think that consciousness cannot be addressed by science, but the science involved would require an understanding of the difference between insensate object study and dealing with living thought itself, THis is not beyond the broad intellectual principles of good science, but it is hopelessly out of reach of the crude material protocols most scientists are used to."

I think this is less and less true as we learn more about the brain. Living thought, we find, can be manipulated by scientific tools. Today, a study of oxytocsin or dopamine can explain certain feelings of love in human beings. The ethical consideration here is that this can be manipulated by stimulating brain centers or using drugs.

"As to the brain being the origin of thought, I think this is about as likely (as I have said before) as discovering that cellphones have infinite numbers of stories hidden inside them somewhere, as an explanation as to why every time you talk on one, a new and different conversation comes out. It makes a lot of sense, because otherwise you would have to postulate some remote unseen entity connected to the phone by some invisible means, sending an invisible flow of information to it, which is really silly. The answer must be in the wires, capacitors and PCBs of the phone."

I think that the analogy breaks down because it dismisses the human interaction with the machine. There are reasons why certain conversations take place regardless of the transmitting machine. No scientist would accept that the answer is in the wires, capictors and PCB's. Here we enter the realm of sociobiology, neurobiology, evolutionary psychology and related sciences.

Good conversation. Enjoy talking with you.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 12:44 PM

God and Science Don't Mix
A scientist can be a believer. But professionally, at least, he can't act like one.


By LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.

-- J.B.S. Haldane

"Fact and Faith" (1934)



Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in several exciting panel discussions at the World Science Festival in New York City. But the most dramatic encounter took place at the panel strangely titled "Science, Faith and Religion." I had been conscripted to join the panel after telling one of the organizers that I saw no reason to have it. After all, there was no panel on science and astrology, or science and witchcraft. So why one on science and religion?

I ended up being one of two panelists labeled "atheists." The other was philosopher Colin McGinn. On the other side of the debate were two devoutly Catholic scientists, biologist Kenneth Miller and Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno. Mr. McGinn began by commenting that it was eminently rational to suppose that Santa Claus doesn't exist even if one cannot definitively prove that he doesn't. Likewise, he argued, we can apply the same logic to the supposed existence of God. The moderator of the session, Bill Blakemore, a reporter with some religious inclination, surprised me by bursting out in response, "Then I guess you are a rational atheist."

Our host was presumably responding to all those so-called fundamentalist atheists who have recently borne the brunt of intense attacks following the success of books like Sam Harris's "The End of Faith," and Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion."

These scientists have been castigated by believers for claiming that science is incompatible with a belief in God. On the one hand, this is a claim that appears manifestly false -- witness the two Catholic scientists on my panel. And on the other hand, the argument that science suggests God is a delusion only bolsters the view of the of the fundamentalist religious right that science is an atheist enemy that must either be vanquished or assimilated into religion.

Coincidentally, I have appeared numerous times alongside Ken Miller to defend evolutionary biology from the efforts of those on various state school boards who view evolution as the poster child for "science as the enemy." These fundamentalists are unwilling to risk the possibility that science might undermine their faith, and so they work to shield children from this knowledge at all costs. To these audiences I have argued that one does not have to be an atheist to accept evolutionary biology as a reality. And I have pointed to my friend Ken as an example.

This statement of fact appears to separate me from my other friends, Messrs. Harris and Dawkins. Yet this separation is illusory. It reflects the misperception that the recent crop of vocal atheist-scientist-writers are somehow "atheist absolutists" who remain in a "cultural and historical vacuum" -- in the words of a recent Nature magazine editorial.

But this accusation is unfair. Messrs. Harris and Dawkins are simply being honest when they point out the inconsistency of belief in an activist god with modern science.

J.B.S. Haldane, an evolutionary biologist and a founder of population genetics, understood that science is by necessity an atheistic discipline. As Haldane so aptly described it, one cannot proceed with the process of scientific discovery if one assumes a "god, angel, or devil" will interfere with one's experiments. God is, of necessity, irrelevant in science.

Faced with the remarkable success of science to explain the workings of the physical world, many, indeed probably most, scientists understandably react as Haldane did. Namely, they extrapolate the atheism of science to a more general atheism.

While such a leap may not be unimpeachable it is certainly rational, as Mr. McGinn pointed out at the World Science Festival. Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of most of the world's organized religions. As Sam Harris recently wrote in a letter responding to the Nature editorial that called him an "atheist absolutist," a "reconciliation between science and Christianity would mean squaring physics, chemistry, biology, and a basic understanding of probabilistic reasoning with a raft of patently ridiculous, Iron Age convictions."

When I confronted my two Catholic colleagues on the panel with the apparent miracle of the virgin birth and asked how they could reconcile this with basic biology, I was ultimately told that perhaps this biblical claim merely meant to emphasize what an important event the birth was. Neither came to the explicit defense of what is undeniably one of the central tenets of Catholic theology.

Science is only truly consistent with an atheistic worldview with regards to the claimed miracles of the gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Moreover, the true believers in each of these faiths are atheists regarding the specific sacred tenets of all other faiths. Christianity rejects the proposition that the Quran contains the infallible words of the creator of the universe. Muslims and Jews reject the divinity of Jesus.

So while scientific rationality does not require atheism, it is by no means irrational to use it as the basis for arguing against the existence of God, and thus to conclude that claimed miracles like the virgin birth are incompatible with our scientific understanding of nature.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that these issues are not purely academic. The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.

Perhaps the most important contribution an honest assessment of the incompatibility between science and religious doctrine can provide is to make it starkly clear that in human affairs -- as well as in the rest of the physical world -- reason is the better guide.

===

Mr. Krauss, a cosmologist, is director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University. His most recent book is "Hiding in the Mirror" (Viking, 2005).


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 12:09 PM

Interesting article here - something about how a scientist can be a believer but professionally, better not act like one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: freda underhill
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM

Meditation can be a very structured and analytical process. Pursuing steps, going through a process, peeling away layers to find out what's inside. developing huge focus and intense concentration to the point where the mind sort of turns itself inside out and doesn't exist anymore. it's only at that point that a wider awareness, consciousness, whatever is experienced. this becomes like a cosmic mind navel gazing at itself. it's a completely paradoxical process.

this is not achieved by projecting a vision or fantasy, it's more by an initial mental elimination of distraction followed by a disciplined almost mathematical process of concentration.

This process does not have any relation to a concept of a God being as a moral leader with a gender and personality. It's like the universe, or life, is a big, breathing, vibrating conscious organism, and for some moments of indefinable time, an eggshell is peeled off and you're part of it, and perceiving out of the universe instead of out of that brain that lies behind your eyes inside your skull.

until someone can figure out how to put a receptor in the brain to observe and measure such and experience, it is a story. unless enough people learn how to do it, so that it becomes accepted, just like everyone knows what eating a custard tart is like, and don't need a laboratory to prove that it really is vanilla.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 10:55 AM

Frank:

Good points. But letme clarify a coupleof my views.

Falsifiability is the standard approach for assessing a model or hypothesis. Scientists don't mess with theistic explanations, for example, because they are not falsifiable, in other words testable in such a way that they can be proven false. If they can be so tested, and the test supports the hypothesis, then that's a point for the truth of the hypothesis. Butif you can't conceive of a test which COULD falsify the proposition, then you have an unfalsifiable assertion and no way to test it. My use of "intentional falsification" was a bad choice of words. The intent is to test, and in order to test, the proposition must be capable of failing (or passing) the test.

As regards EInstein, etc., having creative responses in solving problems, I have no disagreement. But they were not testing consciousness. They were testing mass, energy, inertia, and such. I don't know for certain what tests Einstein did actually. My point was a different one: creating test scenarios for consciousness itself must take into account that it is not the constant, mindless cooperative stuff that moleculart compounds are. It is quite a challenge, therefore, to meet a standard of replicabililty in applying science to consciousness. It does not matter what the tritium in a table-top fusion experiment thinks, if there is any. IF you are testing a subject for remote viewing, itmatters a great deal.

The quantum phenomena youo refer to seem to reflect (as far as I have read) the consciousness of the experimenter as an unwitting influence int he experiment. If this is a problem in particle behaviour, it seems to me it would be a much greater one in studying consciousness.

I do not by any means think that consciousness cannot be addressed by science, but the science involved would require an understanding of the difference between insensate object study and dealing with living thought itself, THis is not beyond the broad intellectual principles of good science, but it is hopelessly out of reach of the crude material protocols most scientists are used to.

As to the brain being the origin of thought, I think this is about as likely (as I have said before) as discovering that cellphones have infinite numbers of stories hidden inside them somewhere, as an explanation as to why every time you talk on one, a new and different conversation comes out. It makes a lot of sense, because otherwise you would have to postulate some remote unseen entity connected to the phone by some invisible means, sending an invisible flow of information to it, which is really silly. The answer must be in the wires, capacitors and PCBs of the phone.

;>)

Warm regards,


Amos


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 06:33 AM

""No, you deny the suggestion, and you rebut or attempt to rebut it. "Refute" is a much higher standard, which has to be assessed by someone else.

Thanks for the English lesson, Dave.

Kind of fits in with standard Mudcat operating procedure.

When you don't have an answer to WHAT someone says, lecture him on the minor errors he may have made in saying it.

I thought this was about science and religion, not grammar and syntax.

Silly me, I'll go look for something that more befits my meagre command of my NATIVE language.

Bye Now.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Paul Burke
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 01:58 AM

You can't have looked at a lot of serious science, TIA. It's often tedious to read and packed with long words and convoluted sentences and diagrams. Literary genii like Darwin, Asimov, Stephen Gould and so on are sadly few and far between. That doesn't invalidate the science, just distances it from the informed public.

As for testing consciousness, in fact there's a lot of work going on in that, that shows (unsurprisingly perhaps) that it's a very strange beast- it is discontinuous (so in fact you or I are not conscious for much of the time, even when awake), it keeps changing- what you perceive is a bit like a story that you tell yourself, and it changes in the telling, that it isn't instantaneous, but takes time to develop, and so on. Much of this can be measured and quantified, in seconds, units of change etc. So, as a science, it's definitely started.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: GUEST,TIA
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 11:43 PM

Hate to be over-simplistic. But, when the words get big, and the sentences long, I get very nervous. Scientifically testable assertions can be stated with in simple words, and simple sentences. As soon as I have to diagram a sentence, and look up the words to repsond to a post or an assertion, I think we have entered the realm of religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 09:23 PM

Durn, Dave...if you hadn't been a court reporter, you could have been a great Philosopher....


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 08:05 PM

Don(Wyziwyg) said, in part:

I absolutely refute the suggestion of intellectual laziness, and equivocation.

No, you deny the suggestion, and you rebut or attempt to rebut it. "Refute" is a much higher standard, which has to be assessed by someone else.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 07:24 PM

Hi Amos, you have hypothesized that:

"The problem is that the burden of scientific proof can be just as circular as the phenomenological angle, because in practice if not in theory, the discipline of scientific experiment is geared around intentional falsification, and the durable replicability that is to be taken for granted in material systems."

I don't agree about the notion of intentional falsification. This is certainly not a scientist's goal. As to being circular, scientific proof is verifiable whereas notions of phenomenology are in no way materially viable.


"To require consciousness to conform to such testing standards requires the presumption that conscious will likewise have no considerations, creative responses, decisions, etc. about the test conditions"

Again, I must disagree. Einstein and Newton had creative responses to the solutions of problems which lead to testing and verification. Much of these responses were based on a conscious knowledge of their subject from the rigors of scientific training and work.


"--yet thew very nature of life in conscious form is to have such considerations and percpetions. So the demand for "scientific" proof becomes self defeating by ignoring the nature of the subject. The consideration of an electron or molecule does not mnatter in the smallest degree in an experiemnt, while the consideration of awareness in an experiment on consciousness makes every difference in the world."


Again, I must disagree. The consideration of an electron or molecule in how it behaves makes every difference in the science of quantum mechanics. Earth shattering information comes from this discipline which disturbed even Albert Einstein. The nature of any subject can be established through scientific discipline even when it involves the
modes of perception or how we think. If it's not scientific in practice it becomes mere
conjecture. We know more today of how the brain functions due to science and its application to psychology. This intimates how our "awareness" functions and as the study of the brain progresses, we know more about how we perceive and the implications of
that.

A "third realm" is still a speculative theory which has not been tested yet. When it has,
then we will see that there is not a point where it divorces itself from science.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 06:40 PM

Back when I was a student in a Catholic seminary in the 1960's, I heard a quote that really struck me - but I haven't been able to find it since. It might have come from Galileo; but then again, maybe not. Anyhow, it went something like this:
    There are God's works, and there are God's words. If they contradict each other, then perhaps we do not understand God's words correctly.
I see God as the creator of the rules of science - and I believe that creation took place through wonderful, miraculous, NATURAL processes. When preachers attempt to deny the well-proven findings of science, I tend not to believe the preachers.

But I would think that thinking religious people and thinking scientific people should be able to get along quite well - it's the mindless ideologues on both sides that cause the conflict.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 05:53 PM

You ask a lot, Susan....(quick generalizations are much easier than specificity..) I'll have to reflect upon my cogitations on my insights! (Oh..yeah...that IS meta-cogitation....it may require a beer.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 05:50 PM

""I have posted & explained maybe 20 times here that such assertions are careless and self-serving equivocations on the concept of 'religious'!!""

I absolutely refute the suggestion of intellectual laziness, and equivocation.

The characterisation of people with a faith as deluded, foolish, etc. IS exactly analogous to the characterisation of scientists and atheists as infidels, or lacking moral compass etc.

Both generalisations ARE pursued with equal fervour, and both are hard wired into the psyche of their adherents, so a description of them as "religious" fits one side equally well as the other.

It may not be the dictionary definition, but usage is a less certain thing. How many times have you heard someone say he cleans his teeth religiously after every meal?

I would contend that my use of the word in THIS context is both apposite, and accurate.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 05:22 PM

...sometimes an 'insight', physical OR metaphysical, sits & burbles for awhile before it takes clear form...

BILL! Say on! Tell me a few?

:~)

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 04:24 PM

(Oh...and I'm reading some of Minsky before I comment...I see the whole book is there))


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 04:21 PM

4. Are you guys getting anything out of all this?
Sure... a clearer idea of the issues...and it helps ME to focus & express my own thoughts.

5. If so, is it measurable?
ummm... not is specific units.

6. Can you say what you got out of the last round (thread on the topic)?
More of the same... it never ends, as human thinking never ends (and sometimes an 'insight', physical OR metaphysical, sits & burbles for awhile before it takes clear form.

7. Has any of it enlarged your view?
Indubitably...(when talking to Amos, I even learn new words for concepts)... I am currently making sure I have 'heuristic' properly embedded, and taking in "magisterium".
But I suspect that's not the type of answer your question was looking for.

8. If so, how and what?

The link and names posted just above (and others in previous threads) help clarify just what is involved in 'formal' discussions in the literature.
A GREAT deal of these discussions involve making sure we are even using the same definitions of the issues, and not just continuously talking past one another. It is a bit easier in real time, as one can stop & check in a few minutes rather than hours or days apart...but on the other hand, it is possible to stop & think and look up stuff rather than tossing off a quick remark. (I am always suspicious of an answer 3 minutes after I take 30 minutes to compose 4 paragraphs of explanation... )


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 01:49 PM

Well, then :
4. Are you guys getting anything out of all this? YEs

5. If so, is it measurable? No

6. Can you say what you got out of the last round (thread on the topic)? YEs

7. Has any of it enlarged your view? Yes

8. If so, how and what? Unquantifiably.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 12:47 PM

That would be great, Mrrzy, thanks.

Amos-- those new numbers were not qualitative-type questions, but quantitative.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 12:40 PM

WYSIWYG, I think either you or i will have to take the time to get the numbers - I might have some (time, that is), this weekend...


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 12:14 PM

Here's a classic example from Marvin Minsky's "The Emotion Machine". In it he asserts that every aspect of thought and emotion is the reuslt of turning certain "resources" in the brain on or off in different combinations.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 12:12 PM

I should think it would be clear that if I were not enjoying this discussion, I would not continue it.

Bill, your point is well made, and I plead guilty to asserting a generality. However, just for example, if you look at Skinnerian reasoning, his effort to reduce all mental processes to S==>R complexes is a classic example. Marvin Minsky is another, although he is less dedicated to S-R than he is to software subroutines. To me, looking at this torturous analyses, the simple use of ability and perception is like the elephant in the parlor that no-one talks about. Very Victorian.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 11:09 AM

Really asking:

4. Are you guys getting anything out of all this?

5. If so, is it measurable?

6. Can you say what you got out of the last round (thread on the topic)?

7. Has any of it enlarged your view?

8. If so, how and what?


Please use the numbers-- help me out.


Thanks,

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 11:21 PM

"...proving that there is no ability but mechanism."

but... MY point was that no one I know, and no one in this thread that I can remember, is making such a assertion. Are we discussing these ideas among ourselves, or do I have to answer for 'someone who takes the most extreme view' about them?

*I* am not asserting that level of claim, but merely asking for restraint in degree & nomenclature from those who assert the opposite.

I am not playing Hitchens to your Pope Benedict, but trying to show where & why care needs to be taken.

(if my metaphor is weak, blame the lateness of the hour and Obama being on ABC discussing health care... *grin*)


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 11:06 PM

...which was post # 400!



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 11:04 PM

Skinner, who is dead now, was the Father of Stimulus-Response Behavioral psychology.

But the individual names are not the point. The point is the bizarre loop of ability being put to the task of proving that there is no ability but mechanism.

I don;'t know how much more simply I can put it.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Riginslinger
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 09:52 PM

I think that's Big Fuckin' Skinner!


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 09:32 PM

Skinner? Not exactly a current practitioner of psychobabble... the others I will have to read about.

In fact, I will have to re-read your comment to see if I even get the gist of the assertion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 08:20 PM

You want names? Really?

I could go on at length. Crick comes to mind, as does Sachs, and Holmes Rolston, Skinner, and a half-dozen others who have bent over backwards to explain with great understanding how mechanism produces non-understanding mentality. I do not have the time at this moment to reconstruct a list for you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 06:26 PM

(thanks for fixing my italic error)

"...people using analytical skill, imagination, and intelligence to disprove the existence of analytical or imaginative ability.

And who is doing this? That's a pretty heavy accusation of 'people'. It may be a bit of an exaggeration of what is really being done by those who recommend care in these issues.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 05:41 PM

The real point is not what you do with the content of someone's experience, but how you treat the fact that it was perceived at all! This point never ceases to amaze me--people using analytical skill, imagination, and intelligence to disprove the existence of analytical or imaginative ability. I know the rebuttal that they are only arguing that these things are biochemical--extensions of physics only--not that they didn't exist.

But the point is still amusing to watch creative powers used to disallow the existence of creativity.

At the center of all the noise, where signal becomes perception and perception becomes understanding, you are still facing a different range of event than any particle displacement or charge distribution can cause.

But I also appreciate that when you are firmly locked int he big sandbox, everything looks like sand to you.



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 04:28 PM

"To require consciousness to conform to such testing standard..."

That is not really the issue. No one...(well, not I).. am asking 'consciousness' to be tested in the same way as in a chemistry experiment. I know that the defining characteristics og being human include the ability to 'imagine' and create concepts that are not susceptible to 'measurement' in the same way the decay of Cesium atoms are. The error is in losing track of what they ARE in our assumptions when we try to discuss them. It is a subtle, but pervasive thing we do when we assume that if we have words for something, it sort of magically acquires its own 'reality'.
   Much of this tendency is driven by the natural reluctance to 'demote' certain personal 'experience' to 'mere' dreams or flawed memory or drugs..(whether naturally produced or ingested).

Note...I said "natural" reluctance! Of course people want their memories to be reliable and reflect reality! We know that sometimes memories are flawed...but we accept some and reject others based on feeling and intensity and....well, times when they 'seem' to be similar to others' reports.

Skeptics are those who shrug and say..."maybe so, maybe not..."


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 03:51 PM

Actually, I think it can be demonstrated fairly rigorously, but not proven scientifically. There's a big gap between the two, you are right. The problem is that the burden of scientific proof can be just as circular as the phenomenological angle, because in practice if not in theory, the discipline of scientific experiment is geared around intentional falsification, and the durable replicability that is to be taken for granted in material systems. Six molecules of the same element will behave as they should in a test setup no matter whether they were originally mined in Nevada or Siberia or Punjab. They won't have any creative responses to the test setup. They won't care if they pass or do not, whether they are admired or not, or viewed skeptically or not. THey certainly won't decide to be a certain way on the spur of the moment.

To require consciousness to conform to such testing standards requires the presumption that conscious will likewise have no considerations, creative responses, decisions, etc. about the test conditions--yet thew very nature of life in conscious form is to have such considerations and percpetions. So the demand for "scientific" proof becomes self defeating by ignoring the nature of the subject. The consideration of an electron or molecule does not mnatter in the smallest degree in an experiemnt, while the consideration of awareness in an experiment on consciousness makes every difference in the world.

THis is just one of the reasons why I suggest that a third realm is in fact in play, and being hobson-jobsoned to force-fit one or the other pigeonhole while actually belonging to neither, being its on non-overlapping magisterium.



A.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 02:23 PM

Amos, I think to establish your case you will have to prove it scientifically. Otherwise
it's just speculation. "Insight" is up for grabs these days. Everyone claims it including our former president that thought with his gut.

There is no reasonable "third way" at this point. The polarity between religion and science is too vast. One dictionary definition describes religion as a cult, church or denomination.
You might want to try to redefine it but I don't think it will be an agent for clarity.

"Religious" could be loosely defined as an adherence to a principle on "faith". I tend to think of that faith as being misty. I think there is a historical precedence for the idea that if mankind matures, the preservation of the species could take place through a kind of enlightenment but I wouldn't characterize that in any way as religion.

I have heard the phenomenological argument many times and it is circular. You can't prove it because it can't be seen. It's a concept only. Therefore who is to say it exists?
The only verification can come through one's personal experience which may be counted or discounted depending on how reasonable you think it is. Back to the drawing board,
you have to prove it exists.

Richard Dawkins may be the natural heir to Charles Darwin.

I think there might be a trend toward moral evolution through evolutionary psychology but
I can't prove it. I can only speculate. The fact that we as a species have not yet destroyed each other I offer as some kind of proof but it seems as though countries, politicans,
authoritarians (including preachers et. al.) are working hard to disprove this.

What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan? (Fanning the flames of Jihad,
which once again shows the futility of religion.)

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 01:50 PM

"...belief is inversely proportional to education and income class."

I think the general graph goes that way, but it ain't a smooth line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: robomatic
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 01:41 PM

According to the Dawkins book, actual surveys of scientists reveal that most are in fact atheists, the 'in fact' covering a point that, still according to Dawkiins, he has scientific friends and associates who are titular church or synagogue goers, but have told him they do not believe.

He also says that belief is inversely proportional to education and income class.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 01:37 PM

and Amos...

"...phenomenological set of events which, while not material, are nevertheless actual, include individual insight, for example (not the brain waves, but the insight itself)

Can you guess that this reasoning gets, from me, a similar complaint?

"Not material, but still actual" is close to a paradigm example of what I am getting at. Calling 'insight'--the concept-- part of one class of 'actuality' is just Plato revisited, and not taken seriously in Philosophy these days....it is a linguistic class, and when restricted to this, is perfectly relevant to certain discussions.
Used as you suggest, it clouds....not clarifies... the attempt to discuss what can be studied & investigated by anything resembling 'scientific method'.

(I'm struggling to remember and construct the argument as my old professor, Gerald Paske, would say it.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 01:24 PM

""Sounds to me as though the atheists, and the scientists,are EVERY BIT as religious as the believers, ...."...etc. ad nausuem

I have posted & explained maybe 20 times here that such assertions are careless and self-serving equivocations on the concept of 'religious'!!

Those who keep saying similar things need to look up 'equivocation' and take it to heart. If you muddy a useful word by stretching its meaning to cover everything YOU wish it to mean, you end up with useless language which defines little....(sorta like 'folk' has been treated)

Pretending to criticize something by sticking in YOUR definition, then showing it's 'weak', is simply bad reasoning. This is closely related to the 'straw man' fallacy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 12:18 PM

As to a spiritual awareness, I see no scientific basis for that assertion. It falls into the category of a belief system which is subjective and thereby unverifiable.

Then you have missed my point altogether, Frank, in your haste to express a point of view you have probably expressed hundreds of times over the years. The phenomenological set of events which, while not material, are nevertheless actual, include individual insight, for example (not the brain waves, but the insight itself), and many others. My point is that at least a third magisterium is perfectly conceivable covering this class of events.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: robomatic
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 12:10 PM

The problem ( which is not really a problem ) with NOMA is that science keeps chipping away at the boundries of the other side.

AND DAWKINS IS STILL BREATHING


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Subject: RE: BS: Science and Religion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 11:46 AM

"Whereas of course the scientists and atheists are much more tolerant, referring to believers as "DELUDED", or perhaps "LOONY", and many other pejoratives which cast doubt on their sanity."

So, religion is the answer to intolerance?

"Sounds to me as though the atheists, and the scientists,are EVERY BIT as religious as the believers, but in a diametrically opposed direction."

No, they are just suspicious of those who purport that they have answers. They are not religious in the slightest. It's difficult for people who are religious to have an understanding of those who are not. It's like smokers who just don't understand that
non-smokers don't want it and hence accuse them of being somehow prudish.

"WHAT, pray is the exact difference between a fanatic who insists that there is a God, and another fanatic who insists there is not?"

In my experience, I have not found most atheists to be fanatic about their point of view.
It usually works the other way around. Most atheists I know insist on proof of a god which seems reasonable to me. I don't think most atheists are adamantly opposed in a fanatical way to those who believe in a flat earth or Santa Claus.

"Neither has ANY objective proof for his point of view."

If you discount scientific proof, then you would be correct. So far, scientific proof has not revealed any god. The anger of those who are religious belies their objectivity.
I don't think most atheists that I've met are fanatically opposed to religious people as people.


"Neither has ANY respect for the other."

No this is not true. You can have respect for other humans beings without buying into
their ideology or belief system.

Each is UTTERLY convinced that HE, and only HE, is INDISPUTABLY RIGHT.

No, it's just that the burden of proof is on the believer, not the skeptic.

"ME? I DON'T KNOW! The difference is that I am prepared to ADMIT that I don't know."

I'm prepared to accept an empirical view based on scientific methodology that shows conclusively that there is a god.

"Neither of the two I mentioned above will EVER do THAT."

Not true. Atheists that I know are open to the idea that science may show something like this some day in a unified field theory (TOE) although this doesn't imply any divine deity.

"I have my beliefs, which are personal, and I NEVER ASK anyone to subscribe to them, much less INSIST! You may all believe whatever your hearts desire, but DON'T ever come to me and tell me you KNOW my beliefs are intrinsically wrong, because YOU DON'T."

Your beliefs are of course your own business. I can't really evaluate them because you haven't made them known. But religious people do all the time. We know too much about religion proportional to its value. Most atheists, for example, that I know have more knowledge about scriptures than those who purport to believe in them.

This topic reveals anger rather than rational discourse, usually.

As to a spiritual awareness, I see no scientific basis for that assertion. It falls into the
category of a belief system which is subjective and thereby unverifiable.

I have to say that I respect religious people as people and not because of what they purport to believe.

Frank


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