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Fri Jun 14, 2013, 11:50 AM

Is the belief that the laws of physics were/can be suspended by a supernatural force...

Is the belief that the laws of physics were/can be suspended by a supernatural force the rejection of Science?

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Reply Is the belief that the laws of physics were/can be suspended by a supernatural force... (Original post)
cleanhippie Jun 2013 OP
Turbineguy Jun 2013 #1
cleanhippie Jun 2013 #5
rrneck Jun 2013 #2
cleanhippie Jun 2013 #6
rrneck Jun 2013 #9
MrModerate Jun 2013 #37
rrneck Jun 2013 #39
MrModerate Jun 2013 #44
rrneck Jun 2013 #46
immoderate Jun 2013 #3
trotsky Jun 2013 #4
durbin Jun 2013 #7
Iggo Jun 2013 #30
rug Jun 2013 #8
hrmjustin Jun 2013 #10
okasha Jun 2013 #11
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #18
rug Jun 2013 #19
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #21
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #22
rug Jun 2013 #23
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #24
rug Jun 2013 #25
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #26
rrneck Jun 2013 #29
goldent Jun 2013 #28
MellowDem Jun 2013 #12
struggle4progress Jun 2013 #13
ZombieHorde Jun 2013 #14
durbin Jun 2013 #15
cleanhippie Jun 2013 #34
eomer Jun 2013 #16
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #20
eomer Jun 2013 #31
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #33
eomer Jun 2013 #38
skepticscott Jun 2013 #36
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #17
Deep13 Jun 2013 #27
durbin Jun 2013 #32
WovenGems Jun 2013 #35
Deep13 Jun 2013 #40
WovenGems Jun 2013 #41
Deep13 Jun 2013 #42
WovenGems Jun 2013 #43
Deep13 Jun 2013 #48
goldent Jun 2013 #45
dimbear Jun 2013 #47
enki23 Jun 2013 #49

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 11:59 AM

1. Not necessarily

The Bible explains things that obviously go against physics in the context of a time when people did not know about the Conservation of energy principle or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The people who wrote the Bible may have meant well, they simply had no other way of explaining the phenomena that they were watching.

Given however our knowledge now, it amounts to a rejection of science to take these explanations of physical events as literal.

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Response to Turbineguy (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:35 PM

5. Yes, I'm referring to people of today.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:01 PM

2. Nah. nt

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Response to rrneck (Reply #2)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:35 PM

6. Why not?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:07 PM

9. Such beliefs,

which are the suspension of disbelief, are what make fiction work. I can go to a movie and actually believe some dude with Donny Osmond teeth is actually a disgruntled super spy kicking the CIA's ass. If the movie (or book or whatever) actually work, they cause the same sort of response that any religion strives for every Sunday. Religion is fiction, just like any other fiction. Unfortunately, most of it is "Harlequin Romance" grade fiction. That kind of crap preys on people's weaknesses and profits from them.

People can believe in anything. Beliefs are just narratives and we can build them around the stuff inside or outside our heads. Granted, a few people build impossible narratives and exist wholly within them. They're delusional. But the vast majority of time people believe in science when they think it will do them any good.

Religions create narratives that reject science and lots of people buy into them much like they go to the movies. Religion is little more than entertainment nowadays. But then again, so is science isn't it? Ever watch some kid get wholly involved in mastering an electronic device or working on a car? Science is all about the physical world, and we build narratives around stuff all the time from brand loyalty to entire careers devoted to sub atomic particles. Science is just as susceptible to the foibles of the suspension of disbelief as religion.

So it seems to me that concerns about the rejection of science in favor of some comforting fiction are, generally speaking, rejections of one fiction for another. Science and the stuff of science are certainly real, but so are the way we feel about them. The common denominator of both is how people feel about them. And neither one would work without the suspension of disbelief.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #9)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 11:52 AM

37. I'm afraid that the temporary, willing suspension of disbelief

 

Which is what you need to enjoy a movie is not at all the same as actual belief in the supernatural. And that pro-supernatural belief which is supposed to last rather a bit longer than your popcorn is a baseline requirement of almost all religions.

Religion may indeed be fiction, but fiction is not necessarily religion.

And demonstrations of science are not synonymous with science itself. Scientific phenomena are completely unaffected by your belief, or by how many or what kind of narratives you may weave. The fact that your personal understanding is murky and incomplete actually lends less weight to your opinion rather than more.

And ultimately, your sloppy solipsism is much too limp to extend itself very far into either the religious or scientific realms. Try again, and use a sharper pencil this time.

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Response to MrModerate (Reply #37)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 01:24 PM

39. I'm on a phone right now but

do you believe in the scientific method? Do you think the scientific method will result in a beneficial outcome? Every time?

If religion isn't fiction, what is it? The "baseline requirement" of the bulk of religion seems to be that believers show up on Sunday, tithe, and enjoy the show. Since the baseline moral behavior of the overtly religious seems to be at or below that of non believers they appear to be leaving the fiction on the floor with the empty popcorn box.

If demonstrations of science are not science, what are they?

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Response to rrneck (Reply #39)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 06:40 PM

44. Sure I believe in the scientific method . . .

 

But the outcome of application of the scientific method is science, not benefit. Benefit -- or disaster -- comes afterward, and generally involves other actors.

As for myself, I certainly consider religion to be fictitious, which isn't at all the same thing as fiction. And even if the majority of people sitting in pews or prostrate on their prayer rugs are insincere and merely there for 'the show' -- something that is inherently unknowable -- that doesn't alter the fact that religion demands belief.

Does religion itself result in a beneficial outcome? I suppose it does sometimes, by way of providing a platform for the transmission of societal values, the healthy effects of fellowship, and the ability to concentrate resources so they can be directed to good works.

For me, the price of religion is way too high, though -- surrendering my brain to fairy stories is just too big an ask.

And demonstrations of science? They're shows too. And no more science itself than 'Jesus Christ Superstar' is religion.

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Response to MrModerate (Reply #44)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 10:35 PM

46. Fiction vs. fictitious

Well, that's a distinction without a difference.

If science is morally neutral, are scientists exempt from moral responsibility for the product of their research? That's a pretty nice place to be; the freedom to do your thing without having to consider the ramifications of your actions. Would the scientists who develop a better hair conditioner merit the same accolades as the scientists who develop clean energy? Do I really need to trot out questions about nuclear fission, herbicides, sarin gas, deep water drilling, and Olestra?

Maybe I'm not going far enough up the science food chain. If science, real actual honest to dog pure science, is the discovery of how the universe works apart from whatever applications that follow, what the hell is it good for? I'm as fascinated as the next guy about string theory, the size of the universe and dark matter, but I can't see any of that shit with my own two eyes. A meteor came within a million miles of the planet. Whoopie. A particle so small it takes a machine twenty miles long to detect it's existence. Hooray. If science only exists to produce "gosh facts" it's little more than entertainment itself. And if that's all scientists think they're doing they can buy their own fucking test tubes.

So if science is the practice of a specially trained individual engaged in the discovery of natural laws that require esoteric knowledge and equipment to verify, it starts to sound pretty shamany to me. I really don't need some dude in a white coat to tell me about all kinds of stuff I can't see myself for the sole purpose of inspiring me with the wonder of the universe. I can get that with a sunset. I mean, if that's his objective he's just trying to sell me something I've already got, which is what religion has been doing for thousands of years.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:02 PM

3. If you believe in fiction, you can do anything.

 



--imm

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:30 PM

4. Not if you make it part of your belief system that the natural laws of the universe...

can be suspended in order to make the rest of your beliefs possible. Ta da, then everyone else who doesn't share your religious beliefs is rejecting science, but you are not.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:44 PM

7. So any belief in any god would require one to willfully suspend

 

one's understanding of the laws of nature.

By definition, a belief in anything "super"- natural, requires that one make precise and willful exceptions to the laws of physics or other natural laws governing the universe.

Looks to me like believers in a god reject science every time they imagine or think about or pray to their god.

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Response to durbin (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 12:30 AM

30. Well, yeah.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:55 PM

8. No.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #8)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:21 PM

10. +1

 

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Response to rug (Reply #8)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:27 PM

11. +2

nt

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Response to rug (Reply #8)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:22 PM

18. -3

 



kidding!

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #18)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:24 PM

19. +4

 

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Response to rug (Reply #19)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:39 PM

21. shucks i was hoping for the fibonacci sequence.

 

a perfect square? really?

predictable.

kidding!

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Response to rug (Reply #19)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:42 PM

22. btw if you're grasping for a comeback..

 

..try..

'it just felt so Natural'

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #22)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:44 PM

23. Gimme a sec

 

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Response to rug (Reply #23)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:46 PM

24. take 2

 



wheeee!

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #24)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:46 PM

25. It's positively ethereal.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #25)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:52 PM

26. luminiferous even. beautiful.

 

thx for that. it really mellowed me out, man.

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Response to rug (Reply #25)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 11:27 PM

29. That was cool. Thanks. nt

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Response to rug (Reply #8)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:17 PM

28. +1.6

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:52 PM

12. Yep...

And it requires a bit of intellectual dishonesty and cognitive dissonance as well. Of course, it's the only time many religious people will reject reality in favor of the supernatural, because believing it is easy compared to applying it. Now, the parents that reject medical care for their children based on supernatural beliefs are no different overall, they're just being intellectually honest and consistent.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:17 PM

13. The notion that the laws of physics could be suspended by a supernatural force

is obviously not a scientific notion, since science by definition does not countenance the supernatural: science represents an effort to investigate and understand the natural world by using only natural methods and by crafting exact and predictive descriptions of that world based on the results of the investigations


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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:28 PM

14. I view this as an exception.

I assume many believers in first world countries believe that science is a valid process for figuring out how the universe works, but that there is also an exception that we can't completely understand.

This is just an assumption, and may not reflect the actual views of any believers.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:31 PM

15. Three (maybe four) posters seem to say "no" to the question.

 

Interesting that no reason or further explanation was offered. Just one word.

Not a rejection of science, just a momentary suspension of the natural laws, perhaps.

Perhaps it's a "cafeteria-style" science those posters subscribe to: accept whatever science you want whenever you're hungry for it, ( I have a toothache, I'm going to a dentist, after which I will thank my god(s) for dentists) and reject the rest of what's offered out there on the science buffet when not hungry for a logical explanation of the world; at those moments, choose from the "God did it/god makes it happen" menu, instead.

A convincing position? Not to me.


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Response to durbin (Reply #15)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 11:01 AM

34. With those posters you mention, they are demonstrating their hatred of me.

They are simply being contrary because it was ME who posted the OP. much like teabaggers and RW republicans oppose everything the Prez does only because of who he is.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 05:38 PM

16. In what respect, Charlie?

I don't believe you're talking about the laws of science, which are an attempt by humans to construct a set of explanations for which no observations can be found that aren't explained by them. The laws of science are constantly changing and anytime a repeatable observation that seems to break them is discovered then scientists get to work trying to find a new set of laws of science that can explain all known observations, including the newly discovered ones.

Instead I think you're talking about laws of nature, meaning some laws that are built into nature itself and that humans may likely never fully discover.

A belief that a supernatural force can suspend the former, the laws of science, clearly doesn't make any sense. If a phenomenon occurs and happens to be observed, then science would routinely go about the business of trying to adapt its laws to encompass the new observation. There isn't any entertaining by science the idea that some observation might have special standing as supernatural - all observations are equal and in need of explanation.

For the latter it's an interesting question. I'm out of time right now but may post more thoughts later.

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Response to eomer (Reply #16)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:34 PM

20. the distinction isn't that stark.

 

science is the modeling of laws that exist in nature. either the model is predictive and sticks, or it's luminiferous aether. not even in the dictionary anymore. the laws of 'physics' are the object in nature being modeled.. what actually happens regardless of the accuracy of any model.

at this point, there's a tiny corner of what happens nature that can't be almost perfectly explained by physical theory. biology is a different.. messier, squishier, more taxonomic question.. but the laws of physics?

regardless, the question was about belief.. whether anyone *believes* god can suspend the laws of physics.. that hard objective reality that leads to the deaths of 100% of people who think they can fly from the Gorge Bridge on the wings of angels.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #20)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 06:48 AM

31. It's a distinction of definition, which is the starkest kind.

Whatever difference there is, large or small, between our description and the underlying laws we attempt to describe is not relevant and actually cannot be known.

And the question wasn't whether anyone believes that but rather whether believing it is rejection of science.

In my opinion to believe that may be nothing more than carelessness with definitions. I think it's necessary to clarify the semantics first and then see what remains.

If by "nature" we mean everything that exists, in any form and in any realm, and if by "law" we mean something that is of necessity and can never be violated, then there is by definition no such thing as a supernatural force. Any thing that can exert force is part of nature and the means by which it exerts force will, by definition, be covered in the laws. Sorry, God, this means you.

So I think that believing that is more of a rejection of logic than of science.

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Response to eomer (Reply #31)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 10:16 AM

33. it's not a useful distinction and historically inaccurate to boot..

 

..which is why i have a difficult time making it.

the 'laws of physics' are the 'laws of natural philosophy' .. those are synonymous terms. natural philosophy studies nature, and forms theories .. models .. of that nature.

the only really useful distinction of definitions in the OP question is between 'natural' and 'supernatural', not between 'nature' and the 'laws' we human beings observe in nature.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #33)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 12:51 PM

38. It's an essential distinction for the OP's question.

If a "law" that is nothing more than a human attempt at description is violated then the description is flawed and needs to be rewritten.

The belief that the OP is talking about would be that there are laws that are part of nature but that there's something beyond nature that can suspend them. To make sense, such a belief would need to have a coherent definition of what it is to be beyond nature and yet still exist. Why would such an entity not be part of nature if it exists? Why would its ability to exert force not be part of the laws of nature?

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Response to eomer (Reply #31)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 11:50 AM

36. Exactly...the very concept of the "supernatural"

 

is at odds with logic, however handy it may be to refer to it. Even if things like ghosts, demons, angels or gods appear to be able to violate physical laws, that's all it would be...appearance. Such events would simply reflect aspects of physical laws that we simple carbon-based bipeds don't have a handle on yet. If physical laws are actually being violated, that tells us that what we are experiencing is not reality.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:21 PM

17. i just wish folks were as eager to pay $10+ to..

 

..to suspend *belief* for a couple hours..

..as they are to suspend *disbelief*.

but then we are a rationalizing animal, not a rational one, so it's normal on the bell curve of modern life.

gullible is as gullible does.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 08:09 PM

27. Not if believers can prove it actually happens.

So how's that going?

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #27)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 08:14 AM

32. a few thousand years and still counting

 

Last edited Sat Jun 15, 2013, 09:39 AM - Edit history (2)

nothing but some story about some guy who came back from the dead after his crucifixion

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Response to durbin (Reply #32)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 11:24 AM

35. Right

And no magic done since. Why not? Occam's Razor says....

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Response to WovenGems (Reply #35)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 03:24 PM

40. Oh, there have been stories of miracles since then.

Historians have to take such stories seriously for the purpose of putting together the basic perspective of, for example, people living in the Middle Ages. When a medieval monk discusses land transfers from the nobles to the monastery in one paragraph and the dragon he saw in the next, a historian cannot assume there is a separation between what modern people consider real and fantastic, since the writer made no such distinction. As far as that monk is concerned, both land transfers and dragons were real.

Nevertheless, science looks for objectivity: things that are real independently of the constructed world views of specific people. So, "it's real to me" is another way of saying, "I made it up, but am not aware of it."

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #40)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 04:27 PM

41. Seperation

That be sociology. And is a type of science but not one we would use to authenticate any abnormal event as being caused by magical means.

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Response to WovenGems (Reply #41)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 05:00 PM

42. Except the sociologist brings her own cultural constructs to whatever the project is.

There's no escaping that. So called scientific racism existed because racism was so engrained in social norms that scientists just could not image a world where there was no races or hierarchy among them.

Still, the need for a singular, logically consistent description of reality is a modern idea. Medieval people had no trouble thinking that mutually exclusive conclusions were both correct. So is the idea that the theory must come from the evidence and not preconceived ideas.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #42)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 06:29 PM

43. Medieval

This isn't then. We know far, far more than could ever have realized. We know don't even consider the impossible when problem solving. No need to.

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Response to WovenGems (Reply #43)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 01:49 AM

48. No, now is decidedly not medieval.

Science,including scientific medicine, engineering, and industry, is definitely a product of the modern age.

A lot of good and bad things are entirely modern. The modern perspective is that the world can be understood by humans (a huge realization) and that observing the world is the way to do it and that religious values are somewhat compartmentalized to avoid contradictions. People in the Middle Ages had a lot of good values and qualities, qualities that might serve us better than the values of capitalism which we have internalized. Scientific inquiry, however, was not one of them. Indeed, that there are new things to learn by examining the world or the night sky would never have occurred to them. They thought they understood everything. Religion was not a belief or a theology so much as a set of assumptions that amounted to a constructed reality where Christianity explained everything.

What really makes science incompatible with either modern or medieval Christianity (two very different things, BTW) is that there is a reality beyond our mental constructions. Religion is based on a cultural construction, a narrative of how we see the world and universe. Science insists on disregarding those assumptions and devising tests to find actual facts. So they can never be compatible.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 07:07 PM

45. I'd say such a belief

would be coupled with a belief that our laws of physics are incomplete.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 11:07 PM

47. The usual argument is that the really good miracles happened before the laws of physics were passed,

and they're not retroactive.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Jun 17, 2013, 12:46 PM

49. Practically: yes. "Supernatural" anything is a rejection of science. Hume covered that.

Science is the measurement and prediction of the universe's behavior. By their very nature, we can't measure or predict miracles. For any given sort of event, if you can measure it or predict it, it isn't a miracle. Back to Hume: "No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish...."

If something seems to happen that seems to contradict our models of the universe, we have to decide whether we were wrong about either the event or the model, or whether the miraculous actually happened. We know for a certainty that we can, and often are wrong. We don't know miraculous can happen at all.

Another way to put it: You'd need to have an estimate of the base-rates of miracles to establish the likelihood of a particular event being a miracle rather than a mistake. We need to establish many particular events as being miracles rather than mistakes to get an estimate of the base-rates for miracles. This is an obvious circle. This is impossible.

The impossibility comes about because of the definition of miracle. It assumes that the universe, at least sometimes, operates by the complicated logic of the brain of an organism, rather than the comparatively simple logic of physics. To assume that actual miracles are possible is to assume that some portion (for an omnipotent god, the entirety) of the universe is ultimately unknowable. Or at least, very difficult, until we find a way to study and predict the behavior of gods. Sometimes we try to do exactly that. One thing that we've established is that the prayers of Christians do not observably affect the behavior of any miracle-makers when the prayers are being carefully observed.

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