Author Topic: "All scientists should be militant atheists"  (Read 8351 times)

SusanDoris

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2015, 02:58:55 PM »
Gonnagle

You obviously havn't been following the Science Radio 4 programmes in the last couple of years - plenty of Science and facts there. Okay, sometimes they try to be a bit too jolly sometimes, but they're not bad. The presenters are atheists - I certainly haven't heard one with a God  belief - but that's as it should be.


And it's all very well reading Stephen Hawking, but you haven't read 'The Magic of Reality' by RD yet, have you?
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Outrider

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2015, 03:01:05 PM »
Just as a aside, science should be for the masses, not just the privileged few, it needs to step out if its lofty towers and reach to the ordinary man in the street.

Science does reach - there are any number of popular science shows, periodicals, internet sites, YouTube channels, Facebook groups and the like.

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Science is seen by many as old and dusty, just like religion, it belongs to them that have a mind for it, but we should all have a mind for it.

Unfortunately, as with maths, the problem is that there is an anti-intellectual bent to the common populace that depicts the rejection of understanding as 'cool', and this occurs at pretty much every level of society: from schoolkids who reject all of learning, through to suburban Mums who joke about their own inability to help with their children's homework as though it were a badge of honour or a sign of normality.

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It has to lose its geekiness, stop flowering it with Latin names, make it approachable for all, stop telling the less educated that they won't understand, scientists have a job to make us all understand.

The latin names are there for a reason - they allow science to transcend national boundaries, to give a common language to naturalists from Bombay to Billaricay. Science does not covet 'geekiness' for itself, it only adopts that guise because it allows it, in the modern world, a modicum of acceptability.

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I don't give a flying spaghetti monster if it is atheistic, I want the facts, understandable facts, so that we can all join in.

Then you need to join the rest of us in pushing back when excellent science communicators like Professor Dawkins, Bill Nye, Dr Krauss and Professor DeGrasse-Tyson explain things that either contradict traditionalists or have consequences that their oil-dispensing backing groups don't like.

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I am not descended from a monkey, I am descended from a monkey like creature.

You can take the man out of the monkey-like creature...

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Hope

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2015, 03:03:25 PM »
Science is methodologically naturalistic, which is practically and functionally equivalent to atheistic. That is to say, whatever beliefs about gods a scientist may hold at other times, when doing science properly there must be an assumption of naturalism/atheism.
And do you actually have any evidence other than the personal opinion of however many people hold this view (which, as we have often heard on this site doesn't count as evidence).

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Given that science is the endeavour to find out accurate and reliable knowledge (scientia, from scire, 'to know' and not credere, to believe) of the way the world is, to infest scientific practice with the belief that everything was purposefully created by a poorly defined (if that) entity doing unknown things by unknown means is to prostitute science. That may be one's belief, but that's all it is - just a belief, with nothing whatever to support it. It has no place in science.
'poorly defined', 'unknown things' and 'unknown means' would seem to fit several scientific theories currently in existence.

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Haldane was an atheist,
I was already aware of that.

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The well-known quote about experimentation continues: "... 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." Exactly so. This is why the majority of scientists are nonbelievers - because they don't compartmentalise and don't flip-flop back and forth between a scientific view of the world and a non-scientific one, which a religious scientist is bound to do.
I would disagree, as would many religious scientists.

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Which is, as I said, doublethink for a scientist.
Again, some thing that not all scientists believe is the case.

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As there was no indication that this was a patchwork of bits taken from a larger article, I assumed that the reference at the bottom was simply that.. In future, if you're going to stitch together extracts from a larger piece, could you please indicate this within the material.
Sorry, Shaker, but academic practice is to make it clear that a quote is either direct quote or a stitching together of elements of an article. 

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I don't need to.
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You certainly don't need to, but it makes your argument less rigid.

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If you'd followed the link you would have found this out for yourself. I'm not here to spoonfeed you. Do your own work.
I'm not asking to be spoon-fed; just that you adhere to normal academic practice.

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I'm not a scientist.
Did I say that you were?  Mind you, your posts over the months have suggested that that was the case.
 

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Apart from the fact that it's a nigh-universally acknowledged facet of the proper scientific working method for centuries, you mean?
So a time-based version of an argumentum ad populum is acceptable?

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Just one of the good things about science is that while nice ideas are nice, everything stands or falls on the strength of the evidence.
Precisely, which is why I do not believe science to be the sole arbiter of reality; the strength of (scientific) evidence precludes me from accepting that view point.
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ProfessorDavey

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2015, 03:04:10 PM »
Just as a aside, science should be for the masses, not just the privileged few
Sure popularising science is important.

But that rather misses the point - science is usually there to be applied, and it is through its application that it is for the masses. Just think about technology you use, that enhances your life, that perhaps keeps you alive - that makes life easier, more fun, more enjoyable. All that is based on science.

That's how science is for the masses not the privileged few.

Hope

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2015, 03:16:08 PM »
According to the first part of this - Biblical inerrancy - you've had any number of instances of the Christian God influencing reality* - from light shows for Saul on the Damascus road, voices from the burning bush for Abraham, through Jesus' various miracles and onwards. Coupled with the long history of claims of 'miracles' outside of scripture, theistic scientists have to set their work up in the assumption that a deity isn't going to interfere - that's not implying a presumption on their part that it would interfere, just the process of science has to continue as though it doesn't. This is, I think, the point that Shaker is trying to make when he says that Christian scientists have to 'put aside' their faith whilst they do their work.

O.
*Just a quick nit-pick, O - we're not talking about the Christian God here, but the Judeo-Christian God.

But why do they have to 'put aside' anything, especially when the examples you give make up so small a percentage of time as to be statistically insignificant.  As I pointed out in a previous post, the sole assumption that the religious scientists I know have or make is that everything was created and therefore has a purpose, rather than being purposeless.
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Outrider

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2015, 03:19:30 PM »
According to the first part of this - Biblical inerrancy - you've had any number of instances of the Christian God influencing reality* - from light shows for Saul on the Damascus road, voices from the burning bush for Abraham, through Jesus' various miracles and onwards. Coupled with the long history of claims of 'miracles' outside of scripture, theistic scientists have to set their work up in the assumption that a deity isn't going to interfere - that's not implying a presumption on their part that it would interfere, just the process of science has to continue as though it doesn't. This is, I think, the point that Shaker is trying to make when he says that Christian scientists have to 'put aside' their faith whilst they do their work.

O.
*Just a quick nit-pick, O - we're not talking about the Christian God here, but the Judeo-Christian God.

But why do they have to 'put aside' anything, especially when the examples you give make up so small a percentage of time as to be statistically insignificant.  As I pointed out in a previous post, the sole assumption that the religious scientists I know have or make is that everything was created and therefore has a purpose, rather than being purposeless.

I guess that's the point I was trying to make - it's not, to my eyes, so much a 'putting aside' as a not including it in those moments. With the possible exception of the most secluded monks, I'm guessing that whilst believers when asked will say that God is always with them, there are times when they aren't actively conscious of that idea, they are doing other things. Science, of necessity, has to be one of those times.

O.
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Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2015, 03:28:41 PM »
And do you actually have any evidence other than the personal opinion of however many people hold this view (which, as we have often heard on this site doesn't count as evidence).
Evidence for/of what?

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'poorly defined', 'unknown things' and 'unknown means' would seem to fit several scientific theories currently in existence.
Such as?

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I would disagree, as would many religious scientists.
Well they would say that, wouldn't they?

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Again, some thing that not all scientists believe is the case.
Ditto.

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Sorry, Shaker, but academic practice is to make it clear that a quote is either direct quote or a stitching together of elements of an article.
This isn't an academic site.

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You certainly don't need to, but it makes your argument less rigid.
No it doesn't. We're not on an academic forum but we're discussing science nonetheless; what makes the argument less rigid is paucity/poverty of evidence.

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I'm not asking to be spoon-fed; just that you adhere to normal academic practice.
Yet again, this is a normal online message board, not an academic site. We do have at least two professional scientists as members here to my knowledge, one who posts regularly and one who doesn't any more (but looks in occasionally), and neither of them are so rigid as to adhere to "normal academic practice."

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Did I say that you were?  Mind you, your posts over the months have suggested that that was the case.
No, no suggestion of the sort has ever come from me. I try to be well-informed, though.

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So a time-based version of an argumentum ad populum is acceptable?
It's not an argumentum ad populum; it's an argumentum ad what has been repeatedly demonstrated consistently to yield reliable and accurate resultsum. Or something like that.

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Precisely, which is why I do not believe science to be the sole arbiter of reality; the strength of (scientific) evidence precludes me from accepting that view point.
Eh?
« Last Edit: September 10, 2015, 03:30:57 PM by Shaker »
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jeremyp

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2015, 03:53:08 PM »

But why do they have to 'put aside' anything, especially when the examples you give make up so small a percentage of time as to be statistically insignificant.  As I pointed out in a previous post, the sole assumption that the religious scientists I know have or make is that everything was created and therefore has a purpose, rather than being purposeless.

Why are you having such a problem with this?  Perhaps it is in understanding what we mean by "put aside".  When a scientist designs an experiment, he makes an assumption that the processes he is testing are entirely naturalistic and no god will interfere with the results.  That's pretty much it from that point of view.

Also, when a scientist forms a hypothesis, he automatically assumes that the processes involved are naturalistic.  For example, the successful theories of gravity talk about impersonal phenomena like forces and mass and curved space-time.  Scientists do not consider ideas like angels pushing the planets around or God keeping them on track.  In fact, if I remember correctly, Isaac Newton (theist) once said that (and I paraphrase) God would not create a shoddy universe that needed his intervention all the time.

So when we say scientists put aside their beliefs, we do not mean they stop believing in God but that they temporarily discount any effects he might have in their scientific work. 
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SusanDoris

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2015, 04:00:49 PM »
One can only hope that the number of scientists who also believe in God is diminishing rapidly!
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Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2015, 04:59:29 PM »
One can only hope that the number of scientists who also believe in God is diminishing rapidly!
To be fair it's pretty low to start with, even in atypically religious developed nations such as the USA.
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Private Frazer

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2015, 07:00:57 PM »
One can only hope that the number of scientists who also believe in God is diminishing rapidly!
To be fair it's pretty low to start with, even in atypically religious developed nations such as the USA.
Oh no the ultimate argumentum ad populum gambit.

Is saying most scientists are atheist any more significant than saying most academics come from well-heeled pampered backgrounds or that most Buddhists are not Christians?

Private Frazer

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2015, 07:10:07 PM »

But why do they have to 'put aside' anything, especially when the examples you give make up so small a percentage of time as to be statistically insignificant.  As I pointed out in a previous post, the sole assumption that the religious scientists I know have or make is that everything was created and therefore has a purpose, rather than being purposeless.

Why are you having such a problem with this?  Perhaps it is in understanding what we mean by "put aside".  When a scientist designs an experiment, he makes an assumption that the processes he is testing are entirely naturalistic and no god will interfere with the results.  That's pretty much it from that point of view.

Also, when a scientist forms a hypothesis, he automatically assumes that the processes involved are naturalistic.  For example, the successful theories of gravity talk about impersonal phenomena like forces and mass and curved space-time.  Scientists do not consider ideas like angels pushing the planets around or God keeping them on track.  In fact, if I remember correctly, Isaac Newton (theist) once said that (and I paraphrase) God would not create a shoddy universe that needed his intervention all the time.

So when we say scientists put aside their beliefs, we do not mean they stop believing in God but that they temporarily discount any effects he might have in their scientific work.
That looks pretty fair.

What we have then, theologically speaking, is a God who has bequeathed a universe unusually open to human investigation (science) who will, when the occasion requires i.e. the salvation of mankind will provide a miracle.

Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2015, 07:12:12 PM »
If you want to believe that sort of ... er, thing.
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Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2015, 07:18:06 PM »
Oh no the ultimate argumentum ad populum gambit.
No it isn't. Remember that the AaP is a fallacy becuse it tries to establish that something is the case, or at the very least worth taking seriously, because lots of people believe it. Stating that most scientists are non-believers isn't trying to make any such argument; it's simply a statement of fact.

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Is saying most scientists are atheist any more significant than saying most academics come from well-heeled pampered backgrounds or that most Buddhists are not Christians?
Being an academic doesn't stand in contradiction to any socio-economic background. You can have any kind of upbringing and be an academic because the two things are not incompatible in the way that science and religion are.
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Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2015, 07:23:40 PM »
Not ALL scientists subjects,  clash with their religion.
True enough. The problems - for religionists, not the scientists - start with those scientific disciplines which deny the anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism central to theistic religions. Creationists by definition have great trouble with evolution because of what it tells us about ourselves as a species; fluid dynamics has no such human implications so they're not interested.

If any scientific discipline threatens human self-regard even slightly, some religionist somewhere will take issue with it.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2015, 07:30:13 PM by Shaker »
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Private Frazer

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2015, 10:15:34 PM »
Not ALL scientists subjects,  clash with their religion.
True enough. The problems - for religionists, not the scientists - start with those scientific disciplines which deny the anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism central to theistic religions.

An interesting line to take. I must admit I've never taken to the naturalistic fallacy that your line ( reductionist ) can take.

In any case the motivation for your opposition to human exceptionalism seems to be from wanting to be as innocent as the Bonobo.......I don't think we can share their idyll.

I don't think there are many theists around here who wouldn't entertain the possibility of ET.

Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2015, 11:19:31 PM »
In any case the motivation for your opposition to human exceptionalism seems to be from wanting to be as innocent as the Bonobo.......
No, it stems from being aware of reality. Bonobos, as is well known, routinely have sex with just about any other member of the group, wherever and whenever they feel like it. Up to this point that sounds great, but in bonobo communities that also means adults having sex with the infant members of the group. I don't think bonobos are any sort of model as to "innocence."

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I don't think there are many theists around here who wouldn't entertain the possibility of ET.
That's relevant to what, precisely?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 09:07:22 AM by Shaker »
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Outrider

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2015, 09:39:12 AM »
Looking at rats brains under a microscope to try and cure diseases isn't going to clash with religion.

Except that one of the main reasons to look at rat brains under the microscope is to learn more about our own brains, which is predicated on the idea that we are evolved from common ancestry - many, many religious people have an issue with that idea.

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Some scientists have mundane jobs that don't involve religious questions.

Except that non-scientific religious people are bringing their religion into scientific discussions such as climate change.

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Nothing in quantum mechanics conflicted with his Christianity.

Nothing in quantum mechanics conflicts with some Christianities... with others it does.

O.
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Outrider

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2015, 09:42:15 AM »
In any case the motivation for your opposition to human exceptionalism seems to be from wanting to be as innocent as the Bonobo.......

Even presuming the 'innocence' of Bonobos, the motivation for opposition to human exceptionalism is the evidence that humanity is not something distinct from nature, but merely another defined element of it.

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

New Atheism - because, apparently, there's a use-by date on unanswered questions.

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Gonnagle

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2015, 10:25:20 AM »
Dear Outrider,

Many religious people have a problem with common ancestry!!

Given that about 90% of the population are religious and add to that the fact that most religious scientists are well educated, many is definitely the wrong word.

And just to add, the scientist who was in charge of mapping the human genome is a born again Christian makes this thread a bit daft.

Ripping the mask off nature to see the face of God.

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Outrider

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2015, 10:58:47 AM »
Many religious people have a problem with common ancestry!!

I know, it baffles me, too! :)

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Given that about 90% of the population are religious and add to that the fact that most religious scientists are well educated, many is definitely the wrong word.

Is it? I'm not saying most, though I suspect it depends which sample set you take. Even if we only consider the Western world, where we have a reasonable expectation of a first world education, ~45% of Americans don't believe that humans evolved. By any measure, 45% of the population of the US qualifies as 'many'.

Within the scientific fields, specifically, I suspect that number is much lower, but you and I are both of the opinion that scientific understanding should be spread out wider - this is one of the areas hampering that.

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And just to add, the scientist who was in charge of mapping the human genome is a born again Christian makes this thread a bit daft.

Not really - the discussion is about how and where religion interferes with scientific practice and understanding. The fact that someone can be a pioneer in a religiously contentious scientific area and still be religious themselves shows that the cognitive dissonance doesn't preclude capacity, but the findings and the fact that his findings so inflame fundamentalists shows that there are some religious sentiments - within the same nominal faith - that aren't compatible with science.

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Ripping the mask off nature to see the face of God.

Ripping the mask off nature to see the face of nature - if you think your nature came from God, you're going to see the echoes of god in there, but that's in the eye of the beholder, not in the evolved eye on the dissection table.

O.
Universes are forever, not just for creation...

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Private Frazer

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2015, 06:00:01 PM »


Ripping the mask off nature to see the face of nature - if you think your nature came from God, you're going to see the echoes of god in there, but that's in the eye of the beholder, not in the evolved eye on the dissection table.

O.
But you are still wanting to see the face of a unity.....In your case Nature. What if there isn't ultimate unity in nature?

Maybe Atheist scientists are, like the monotheists,pantheists and Platonists and goodness knows who else are after 'The One' 'The unified'.

Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2015, 06:02:21 PM »
But you are still wanting to see the face of a unity.....In your case Nature. What if there isn't ultimate unity in nature?
There goes the deepity alarm again!
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Private Frazer

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2015, 06:33:16 PM »


Not really - the discussion is about how and where religion interferes with scientific practice and understanding. The fact that someone can be a pioneer in a religiously contentious scientific area and still be religious themselves shows that the cognitive dissonance doesn't preclude capacity.
There is no cognitive dissonance.

Shaker

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Re: "All scientists should be militant atheists"
« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2015, 06:41:28 PM »


Not really - the discussion is about how and where religion interferes with scientific practice and understanding. The fact that someone can be a pioneer in a religiously contentious scientific area and still be religious themselves shows that the cognitive dissonance doesn't preclude capacity.
There is no cognitive dissonance.
No there isn't - cognitive dissonance is holding two contradictory and incompatible ideas and feeling discomfort because of it.

What we have here is cognitive dissonance's half-brother, doublethink, which is holding two contradictory and incompatible ideas and suffering no discomfort.
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