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Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:02 AM

Who Really Works Hardest to Banish Ignorance? (Science is almost totally incompatible with religion)

Science is almost totally incompatible with religion. I say "almost," but I do not wish that weasel word to be construed as weakness. The only point of compatibility is that there are well-meaning, honest people on both sides who are genuinely and deeply concerned with discovering the truth about this wonderful world. That having been said, there is no actual compatibility between science and religion.

Science's dispassionate stare examines issues publicly, exchanges information openly, discusses awkward points objectively, and builds up a network of interdependent ideas and theories that progressively expose the complex as an outcome of the simple. Religion's inwardly directed sentimental glow reflects on issues privately, exchanges information by assurance and assertion, discusses awkward points by warfare, terror, and coercion, and builds up a network of conflicting ideas that conceal ignorance under a cloak of high-flown yet empty prose.

Science reveals where religion conceals. Where religion purports to explain, it actually resorts to tautology. To assert that "God did it" is no more than an admission of ignorance dressed deceitfully as an explanation. Science, with its publicly accessible corpus of information and its open, scrutable arguments, can lead the wondering to an understanding of the entire physical world. (Below, of course, I shall have to argue that that is the entire world.)

Science respects the power of the human intellect; religion belittles it. Science gives us the prospect of full understanding, for it continues to show that, given time, there is no aspect of the world that is closed to its scrutiny and explanation. Religion disarmingly avers that human brains are too puny to achieve full comprehension. Yet science is progressively advancing toward complete knowledge, leaving religions bobbing about in its wake.


--snip--

Here, though, we must be very careful to distinguish between questions that have been invented and questions that at least seem to be real. Only the latter are likely to lead to true understanding of the world; the former merely expose the psychological condition of individuals and societies who invent them. I am afraid that, in my view, most of the questions that so exercise the religious are of the former, empty kind. Thus, whereas it may seem to be a perfectly legitimate question to ask, What is the purpose of this universe?, in fact that question is a transposition from everyday life. There is no need for this universe to have a purpose: it could be a wholly purposeless accidental entity.


http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=atkins_18_2


Entire article at link.

23 replies, 4361 views

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply Who Really Works Hardest to Banish Ignorance? (Science is almost totally incompatible with religion) (Original post)
cleanhippie Mar 2013 OP
On the Road Mar 2013 #1
Trajan Mar 2013 #4
cleanhippie Mar 2013 #5
skepticscott Mar 2013 #13
Fortinbras Armstrong Mar 2013 #2
Trajan Mar 2013 #3
cleanhippie Mar 2013 #6
backscatter712 Mar 2013 #12
rexcat Mar 2013 #7
cleanhippie Mar 2013 #8
skepticscott Mar 2013 #9
trotsky Mar 2013 #11
skepticscott Mar 2013 #14
mr blur Mar 2013 #10
Phillip McCleod Mar 2013 #22
rrneck Mar 2013 #15
cleanhippie Mar 2013 #16
rrneck Mar 2013 #17
trotsky Mar 2013 #18
cleanhippie Mar 2013 #19
rrneck Mar 2013 #20
Phillip McCleod Mar 2013 #23
dimbear Mar 2013 #21

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:24 AM

1. I Swear to God,

this "scientific atheism" sounds more and more like a religion every year. When your existence depends on criticizing a certain group, you start to resemble that group after a while.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:35 AM

4. Explain the theological underpinnings of atheism

 

I would like to better understand how atheism is like religion

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Response to On the Road (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:36 AM

5. Sure, like LGBTers criticizing homophobic groups is what their existence depends on, right?



When you actually know what it is you are talking about and want to say, come on back.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 01:40 PM

13. Our existence depends on no such thing

 

But feel free to give us a list of the ways that religion has banished ignorance down through history.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:27 AM

2. More atheist bigotry

Why is it that many atheists seem unable to debate with believers honestly. This article is just one more "Believers are idiots by definition and religion is worthless in and of itself" piece of tripe.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:33 AM

3. What is it that atheists fail to honestly debate?

 

please explain

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Response to Trajan (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:37 AM

6. He just like to see how far he can push the envelope with his calls of "bigot" at every turn.

Seems like typical projection to me.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #6)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 12:58 PM

12. More projection than a 16-screen IMAX theater! n/t

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 12:12 PM

7. Since religion is based on opinion...

whereas science is based on observations made in the natural world and reproducible experiments are done there is nothing to debate.

on edit: your ability to project is astonishing!

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 12:29 PM

8. More theist bigotry

Fortinbras Armstrong

2. More atheist bigotry

Why is it that many atheists seem unable to debate with believers honestly. This article is just one more "Believers are idiots by definition and religion is worthless in and of itself" piece of tripe.



Why is it that many theists seem unable to debate with non-believers honestly. This post is just one more "Non-believers are idiots by definition and non-belief is worthless in and of itself" piece of tripe.

I changed three words on your post to make point, which is likely to go right over your head, that it appears that you are the one dealing with your own bigotry. Your hatred of those who do not share your beliefs and your religion is widely apparent and neither liberal or progressive.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 12:40 PM

9. You've been flinging accusations of "bigotry"

 

based on an alleged quote by Richard Dawkins that you can provide no evidence for, and the supposed failure of atheists here to repudiate that "quote". Try being honest yourself for a start, then we'll talk. Prove that you didn't just make that up.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #9)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 12:45 PM

11. If only his religion had some kind of rule...

that commanded him to refrain from bearing false witness.

But evidently it doesn't, so he can just pull out his fictitious Dawkins "quote" whenever he wants, and attempt to shout down others with his screams of "BIGOTRY!"

And as usual (sadly), the liberal, tolerant believers who claim to want civil discussion and dialog remain silent and on the sidelines.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #11)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 01:43 PM

14. Oh, I'm sure the group's self-appointed civility scolds

 

will be back to work soon..on someone not in their little clique.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 12:44 PM

10. Grow up.

 

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 09:13 PM

22. *some* believers *are* 'willful idiots'.. but only by definition.

 

and in and of itself religion has no intrinsic value. it only has value to *some* human beings.

to sum.. sounds about right.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 02:24 PM

15. People keep thinking they detect a "religion of science or atheism"...

Somewhere on the borderline between the invented and the real lies the question of the human spirit and its associated qualities, such as love and aesthetic appreciation. I grant that these qualities, or at least their physiological appurtenances, exist. The question, then, is whether science can elucidate them.


If science can, it has a lot of catching up to do. We've been elucidating that aspect of the human condition for a very long time. Certainly not as long as our efforts to understand and control the world around us, but apparently the need to wrap some sort of aesthetic or spiritual narrative around the mechanics of existence occurred as an important part of the development of the species. Certainly the requirements of aesthetic priorities continue today as an integral part of our physical existence on the planet.

Form follows function, and part of the function of any tool we have ever used is its potential to propel us into an uncertain future.

There is no evidence that it cannot, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that it can without resorting to supernatural importations. Love is a complex emotion, involving genetically controlled responses, hormonal excretions, and intellectual reflections and considerations. Science can elucidate such a condition, even though it will probably never purport to be able to predict whether one individual will fall in love with another...


Atkins offers us an optimistic expectation that science will be able to measure and quantify the human spirit, but is still unable to offer any hope that quantification will produce predictability. And he does it by denying the need for any evidence that it can accomplish that goal. Such an optimistic expectation of success using an appeal to ignorance sounds a lot like an expression of faith. Especially after a five paragraph paean to the virtues of science over religion. I guess science truly works in mysterious ways.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #15)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 03:35 PM

16. Good points. Sam Harris addresses this in The Moral Landscape

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/143917122X/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/186-8251126-1786439


I think you will find he gets right to the heart of what you are talking about.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #16)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 03:48 PM

17. Downloaded to Kindle.

Between that gadget and Amazon "one click" I'll never find time to make the money to pay for the shit.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #17)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 03:54 PM

18. Ain't that the truth.

BAM! Instant library. "Hey, what happened to the balance in my checking account?"

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Response to rrneck (Reply #17)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 04:07 PM

19. I tried to read on my nook color, but I prefer actual paper.

Something about holding the book on my hands and turning actual pages.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #19)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 04:23 PM

20. Yep.

I got the Kindle for fiction, which I consider disposable, and had planned to keep buying nonfiction books but it doesn't seem to be working out that way. It's starting to look like now that only only books that I am really sure will stay in the "permanent library" like art books with colorplates or authors that seem to have the potential for serious sociocultural longevity. From what I've seen of Harris, he's not there yet. But he is interesting and he has a habit of being right about a lot of stuff. He might make it out of the "cloud" and onto the shelf yet.

The plus for the Kindle is it's portability. At the moment I have about a dozen books "on deck" not including the entire Harvard Classics (got that one for three bucks). Many of the greatest classics can be had for free. And I can prop the Kindle up without having to hold it, leaving me free to eat and read at the same time under less than optimum lighting conditions, a luxury greatly appreciated by my favorite coffee joint.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #15)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 09:18 PM

23. nicely said. i for one am increasingly interested in what 'art' looks like without

 

all the historical religious baggage that has patronized that borderline.. in both meanings, patronized.. for as long as the rich have pretended to be religious.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 09:00 PM

21. I love multiple choice questions and in this case banishing ignorance would be a bad business choic

For one of your answers

Just a helpful hint.

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