wonderer

  • *****
  • 14239 Posts
    • View Profile
-- This user has been suspended and will return on the 3rd of September --

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. - Richard Feynman

1

Mae

  • ***
  • 2344 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2013, 10:10:37 pm »
Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science

(Click "Listen" button.)

Thanks for the link. I've heard his name before, but never watched or read anything from him. I don't think he is right about faith and science being incompatible, and I didn't hear any compelling reasons that justified such a stance in the video. But maybe I'll check out some of his writings later to see if he has better arguments.
http://www.howdoigovegan.com
But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy
-Plutarch

2

Rostos

  • *****
  • 10255 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 12:22:13 am »
Science is built on faith.

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
Isiah 55:8

"For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." - Mathew 23-12

3

ArtD

  • ***
  • 3197 Posts
    • View Profile
    • Science as Natural Theology
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 06:41:18 am »
Science is built on evidence. And it works. That is why you can read this over the Internet. And when a scientist makes a discovery, others test it and if it passes, accept it.

Religion is built on wish-fulfillment and fantasy. Fantasy is why religions don't agree with each other. They don't deal in objective fact.

ScienceAsNaturalTheology.org

4

ixthus116

  • **
  • 15 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2013, 08:25:58 am »
The statement 'science is built on faith' I think referes to three ideas that an atheist foundation to the philosophy of science struggles to understand:

1. The law of induction. What are the laws of physics? They are descriptions of how the natural world works. For example, if an apple falls, they describe its acceleration as being proportional to the resultant force on it. And indeed, that has worked every single time we've tried it, but to say 'because it has happened 100 times out of 100 it WILL happen the 101st time' requires that the philosophical truth is that the world is not going to suddenly change or that it behaves nicely. On a theistic worldview, this is a very comfortable assumption, God sustains the universe he created, but on an atheistic worldview, there is nothing to say that a universe created from chaos and tending towards chaos won't sometimes be chaotic. The law of gravity is only a pattern we observe, to use it to make definitive predictions is philosophically difficult.

2. That the discoveries of human beings are trustworthy. If science has discovered that we are just the result of initial amoeba, random mutations and changing environments- how can we be certain that anything we think has any bearing on truth? Would you trust the mind of a monkey with a truth claim? Probably not. A worldview based on evolution argues that we only have x property because it aids survival. So if that x property is a capacity to do science, should we not say that science is a sociological construct created to help us survive, and if so, how can we trust it to do more than that and help us ascertain truth?

3. The role of free will and determinism. A big problem with an atheist worldview is that there is little rational for concluding that free will is anything more than an illusion. Of the top of my head I can think of Sam Harris, Dawkins and Steven Hawkins who would all argue that free will does not exist and because we are chemicals governed by the laws of physics then we are little more than machines 'dancing to our DNA'. You could argue for quantum physics, but that only brings in chance- no room for conscious decisions. If this is the case, then everything we claim in science we have been preconditioned to claim and it is too much to rise above the stream of determinism and make a truth claim as science does. There is no room for the scientist who looks at the world and tries to work it out intelligently to be sure that his discernments are correct, because he has been determined to think them.

Therefore, atheist scientists tend to have their cake and eat it. They have no reason to say that past evidence is a good predictor of future events, why we should trust the minds of evolved animals or whether we can actually use independent thought to choose between competing ideas or whether we just decide because that is how the clock of the material universe was wound up and now ticks. The ignoring of these problems is 'belief beyond evidence' which is how many atheist scientists like to describe 'faith'.

As for religion, let me say one thing. Clearly you're already on reasonablefaith.org so it's no use me pointing you to a website which clearly presents evidence and arguments for a Christian worldview. However, I do want to address your criticism that religions contradict because they rely on deluded mythical story-tellers. Let me use an analogy from science; take the current quest for Grand Unified Theory (GUT). Some people think string theory holds the answer, some people think loop quantum gravity is the best hope and others would say causal dynamical triangulation theory is where GUT is going to come from. Now, because these theories contradict, are we justified in inferred that *none of them* are true? Of course not, we need to way them up and the evidence that supports each of them, in the way we way up newtonian and einsteinian physics if we were trying to ask whether space and time is relative or not. The same if true of religion. There are many claims, which contradict, but we cannot infer from that that none are true. Especially if we include atheism and agnosticism as worldviews which makes a competing contradictory claims. Rather, we have to look at each one individually, way up the evidence to support it and come to our own conclusion. The Christian tradition even makes the claim that if you earnestly seek Christ and turn to him you will receive the witness of the holy spirit- perhaps a verifiable claim you could test out for yourself?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 08:27:59 am by ixthus116 »

5

ArtD

  • ***
  • 3197 Posts
    • View Profile
    • Science as Natural Theology
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2013, 10:48:00 am »



ixthus116: an intelligent post. Some thoughts.

As a practical matter induction works most of the time, so we use it. The idea of God-given absolute, never-to-be-changed truth is more a religious idea than a scientific one. Yes, science tries to find the true, but it knows what we have today may be improved or even overturned tomorrow, and it can live with that knowledge.

Much of current science suggests determinism but there’s the so-called hard problem on consciousness yet to be solved.

“They have no reason to say that past evidence is a good predictor of future events . .  .”
No reason? The day-to-day successful functioning of all our society’s technology gives validation to science from moment to moment, not the absolute somewhat ivory tower validation desired by the religious person who wants God-given absolute truth, but the type of practical truth that people base their lives on.

“I do want to address your criticism that religions contradict because they rely on deluded mythical story-tellers. Let me use an analogy from science; take the current quest for Grand Unified Theory (GUT). Some people think string theory holds the answer, some people think loop quantum gravity is the best hope and others would say causal dynamical triangulation theory is where GUT is going to come from. Now, because these theories contradict, are we justified in inferred that *none of them* are true? . . . The same is true of religion. There are many claims, which contradict, but we cannot infer from that that none are true. . . . Rather, we have to look at each one individually, weigh up the evidence to support it and come to our own conclusion. The Christian tradition even makes the claim that if you earnestly seek Christ and turn to him you will receive the witness of the holy spirit- perhaps a verifiable claim you could test out for yourself?”

“The Christian tradition”? Is that the Catholic traditional teaching that “there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church”? Or the tradition (of some Baptist, I believe) that if you’re not baptized by immersion you’re going to hell? Or the Jehovah Witness tradition that only they (and only some of them) get into heaven? Yes, scientists disagree especially about issues on the cutting-edge of science. But they have a method of finding what’s true and eventually weed out false beliefs. Religion on the other hand is forever bound by what their “revelations” say; therefore various religious sects are bound to disagree for as long as they exist.

I’ve earnestly sought to know the truth and come to the conclusion that God exists but that many people aren’t so much interested in the truth as fitting in, and are willing to accept comforting mythologies in place of truth.
ScienceAsNaturalTheology.org

6

JFS

  • ****
  • 8172 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2013, 10:58:33 am »
Quote
I’ve earnestly sought to know the truth and come to the conclusion that God exists but that many people aren’t so much interested in the truth as fitting in, and are willing to accept comforting mythologies in place of truth.

That is a cloudy way of thinking my friend.

If you think that all people who pursue God-belief are just looking to 'fit in', you are very mistaken.  Just see what happens when a kid bows their head in prayer in a high school cafeteria and see what happens.   It definitely wouldn't be the popular thing to do.

What it does provide, is a sense of peace and purpose that fulfills.  I would agree with the fact that it helps you 'fit in' with God. 8)
"Influencing people for the good of myself is manipulation; influencing people for the good of the kingdom is motivation." -Alistair Begg

7

ixthus116

  • **
  • 15 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2013, 01:22:47 pm »

“They have no reason to say that past evidence is a good predictor of future events . .  .”
No reason? The day-to-day successful functioning of all our society’s technology gives validation to science from moment to moment, not the absolute somewhat ivory tower validation desired by the religious person who wants God-given absolute truth, but the type of practical truth that people base their lives on.

This is what I was referring to. Personally I could also live with induction, but I was not arguing the conclusions of science are incompatible with how we live our lives, but that to jump from 'G=mm/r^2" to "this apple will fall when I drop it" requires a theistic worldview. I don't expect it to keep you up at night, but it's worth discussing in a forum like this I think.


Quote
“The Christian tradition”? Is that the Catholic traditional teaching that “there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church”? Or the tradition (of some Baptist, I believe) that if you’re not baptized by immersion you’re going to hell? Or the Jehovah Witness tradition that only they (and only some of them) get into heaven?


This is just what I'm talking about,

One needs to work out whether one can ascertain truth from sources such as human authority, scripture, experience and natural theology/rationality. Different sects put different weights on different things and therefore come to different conclusions, but this is no different to different scientists investing in different theories at the 'cutting edge'

Quote
Yes, scientists disagree especially about issues on the cutting-edge of science. But they have a method of finding what’s true and eventually weed out false beliefs. Religion on the other hand is forever bound by what their “revelations” say; therefore various religious sects are bound to disagree for as long as they exist.

I would argue that when the religious sect no longer exists is when the false belief is weeded-out. That's precisely the point. It just takes a much much longer time in religious circles because people have more than an academic investment in the ideas and often religions can survive culturally even when the belief has been discredited. But this largely misses the point, we as individuals do not face the issues of a group of religious people, my point is that just because there are contradictions does not mean none of them are true, but rather leads us to the idea that we should investigate claims and work out for ourselves which one is true. For example, I am fairly confident in asserting that the Mormon church does not have the ability to infallibly set the moral code, because it has infallibly set it and then infallibly contradicted itself (on the issue of polygamy). Similarly, I see contradictions between catholic scripture and practice (1 Timothy 4)- my point being that you can way up, as you did, what 'revelation' is true and what's not.

Quote
I’ve earnestly sought to know the truth and come to the conclusion that God exists but that many people aren’t so much interested in the truth as fitting in, and are willing to accept comforting mythologies in place of truth.

I feel the 'fitting in' bit has already been dealt with, but I would like to point out that the Bible agrees with you on the mythology point:

2 Timothy 4: 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Overall, it's up to you to decide how you see absolute truth, but for your own sake don't claim science ascertains it perfectly on the shaky philosophical foundation of atheism and don't throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to theology.

8

Keith_

  • ***
  • 4114 Posts
  • Be neither credulous nor skeptical. Be objective.
    • View Profile
Re: Jerry Coyne on the Incompatibility of Faith and Science
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013, 04:02:43 pm »
Saying faith is incompatible with science is utter nonsense.  Without the faith that prior works are accurate, new findings in science would never begin. Science requires having faith.  But science overturns previous beliefs of science taken as true on faith with breathtaking regularity.

Cosmology:
Newton's Law -> Theory of Relativity
Einstein (Eternally static universe) overturned by discovery of the Big Bang
Hubble's Law (red shift and distance) overturned by the discovery that distant objects are accelerating.
The last of these occurred very recently!  Another recent occurrence is a gamma ray blast that contradicts 50 years of progressively developed scientific thought.

Christians should, IMHO, feel delighted by the fact that science overturns science far more often than science  causes theologians to worry. 

One of the easy mistakes to make in youth is to believe (on faith) that what you are taught in school is static.  When you are in your 50's as I am, you will find, as I did, that much of what you were taught in school as if it were fact is wrong. Here just a few examples from my life:

DNA, not proteins determine heredity - Watson and Crick mid 50s.
Hubble's Law was found wrong - the universe is expanding, new explanation is dark energy.
Psychologists no longer advocate talk methods that go on for years, it doesn't work.
About half of my college astronomy course material turned out to be wrong.
None of the planets are made from the stuff I was taught that they were.
I was taught there was an upcoming ice age.
Beginning ~33 years ago I was taught the ice caps would be gone by now (S. one is actually growing).
I was taught there are nine planets. This was so far off they threw out Pluto to avoid future embarrassments.
College sociology: men and women differ psychologically only because of their upbringing - now known wrong.
HS textbooks: early embryos of fish, people, etc. all look the same -  not true, drawings were a fraud.

There are hundreds more examples of things I was taught that turned out to be completely wrong. As a life long scientists I've had to get use to this.  It isn't slowing down. 

It is an easy mistake of faith for young people to believe that the science they are taught as fact in schools and universities is true knowledge.  A lot of it will be overturned and change, as has been happening for centuries.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 04:04:44 pm by KeithS »
Eccl.1:9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.