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Author Topic: Wouldn't it be Great if there really was a God?
John Brown
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I do not dispute the merits of peer review and sound empirical methods. I never have. Nor have I tried to equate them with anecdote.

>>I do not agree. Even if religion accepts empiricism as a source of evidence, it puts little focus on it. Religion weights it's "knowledge" heavily on personal testimony of anecdotes and coincidences. Science is just the opposite.

I thinking framing it as "religion does this and science does that" misses the point. Individuals seek knowledge. There are some basic ways we go about forming it. When it comes to some domains of knowledge where we cannot rely heavily on empiricism or trust empirical authority it's only because of that method's inherent limitations.

But this does not mean there is no empirical evidence. Nor does it mean we cannot proceed. It only means one thing: we need to be cautious of the limitations and pitfalls of the other methods. But we have to do that anyway because we still use those other methods in domains where more empiricism is used.

>>Christianity makes a claim that I presume you accept as true; "God answers prayer." What is your evidence?

Much personal experience, observation, reason, testimony of a multitude of others I know and trust, and the report of those conducting empirical studies.

My prayer proposition is not as simple as you've stated, but that's beside the point. The point is that I use the same process for forming knowledge about these things as I do more physical things. The models seem to predict reasonably well.

Can I know that I've controlled for all variables and have pinpointed key factors?

No. I said this way in the beginning. I may be attributing causation wrongly. Others may have done that. But this does not bother me. Because the same thing can happen when I use a blend that has more empiricism mixed in it. And the fact that some may get it wrong doesn't mean I will get it wrong all the time.

The key, I think, to approach this reasonably is to not to lump all religious propositions into one huge heap. We would never do that with scientific propositions. NEVER. We look at each individually.

I think it's also important that we recognize the process of forming knowledge. We always use a blend of the methods. There is no pure empiricism in the sense that, as I've stated above, we go out and peer review everything. It's just not done. And yet we can still arrive at great certainties. We should also recognize the limitations and pitfalls of each method.

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Richard Dey
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"... a host of other subsets of psychology"; these are not subsets; they are supersets using the known to map out the unknown (the psyche). Without biochemistry, without neurology, obviously, psychology is nothing. Psyche refers to the unknown, to feelings not knowledge, to soul not body. The term by itself is nonsense, literally without sensation.

What we're studying is the brain -- not the soul.

I'm stet.

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Richard Dey
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Brown:

"... when I use a blend that has more empiricism mixed in it. And the fact that some [?]may get it wrong doesn't mean I will get it wrong all the time."

If one wants a replicable formula, one has to follow physical law until and if that law is overturned or for some reason repealed by the scientific peerage. You've made it sound like a shopping spree for contemporary fashions.

You seem to agree with Popper's evolutionary epistomology. http://www.the-rathouse.com/poptheoryknow.html .

I am not a Popperista. I hold to the processes set forth by Matt, the kind that get funded. Would I send a paper on botanical genetics to a florist for peer review? asking how do you FEEL about this? [Roll Eyes]

Let me put it this way sort of. If one applies physical law to religion, one gets religion. If one applies physical law to physical law, one gets science. If one one applies religious law to either religion or science, one gets religion both times.

Cripes, I can get religion from a ouija board -- but I can't get science from one.

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Richard Dey
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I'm referring, in essence, to the Devonian debate:

As a case study for the philosophy of science, this is an illuminating situation. After Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and its spinoffs in "deconstruction" and "post-modernism," a dominant view in many circles, at least outside of science itself, is that the "truth" of scientific theories is not determined by evidence or empirical data but by social "power" relationships. On that view, a theory is always able to protect itself by interpreting away any evidence against it. "Evidence" is so "theory-laden" that scientists will pretty much see what they want to see, and no empirical datum can simply falsify a theory in the straightforward logical way described by Karl Popper. In these terms, theories may push each other around, but there cannot be a situation where some "objective" evidence simply knocks out any or all of the available theories. ... Neither Kuhn nor Popper could agree with that old "Baconian" view of theories, but Kuhn and deconstructionists cannot allow that an anomaly all by itself could potentially falsify a theory, rather than vice versa. But in the Devonian Controversy, the anomalies overthrew all the theories.

A Review of Rudwick's book on the controversy (1985) (U Chi) http://www.ornery.org/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=009167;p=6&r=nfx

I personally am none of these things but an Alternator (a revised Baconian). Induction (should we call it adduction) and Deduction are best worked alternately, laterallly, hand over hand, climbing two ladders at once.

What I do not agree with in your system is the higher-ape-at-the-typewriter approach to research. Each deductive step must be checked and balanced adductively.

Any scientific theory should be beautiful; that means that it should be symmetrical; and that doesn't mean that it should contain equal amounts of truth and falsehood [Wink] . It means that it should fit into the table of elemental truths that we have ascertained.

Religion is not universal; it is parochial. That was my joke to Matt about dropping his balls on Mars. When science is not universal, then it must be overhauled and remodeled. That is not how issues of faith are settled. In the world of faith, when the faith is not universal, we have disagreement -- and not inoften warfare. (Vide: Is Religious Dangerous thread where, to my satisfaction, it was proven inherently dangerous.

Just remember, there are not embarrassing questions [Cool] , just embarrassing answers [Embarrassed] .

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MattP
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quote:
Much personal experience, observation, reason, testimony of a multitude of others I know and trust, and the report of those conducting empirical studies.
A few short questions, comments...

Reason is means by which one interprets and associates evidence. It is not a source of evidence in itself.

How are you distinguishing "personal experience" from "observation?"

What are the others testifying of? How are the multitude of testifiers in your life more correct than the multitude of testifiers of other religious traditions? Can one reasonably explain such testimonies as manifestations of confirmation bias or post-hoc reasoning? Do any of these testifiers base their testimony on the testimony of others in the group? Is not, why not? If so, doesn't that objectively weaken the strength of their testimony?

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John Brown
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I don't believe evidence exists without reason. So for me it's part of the evidence forming process, and so I like to separate it so that I can think about its limitations, pitfalls, and uses.

"Observation" in this instance is seeing what happens to others versus what's happens to me. This is different from them reporting their experiences.

"Testifying" in this sense is the sharing of an experience and the interpretation of it.

This idea of them being more or less correct, I don't lump them all into a category that way and pit them against each other. There are certainly families of models. And I certainly think some models that explain the reported events are better than others. But it's usually on a case by case basis, not by religion.

However, I DO weigh the testimony of some authorities more than others. But this is only because I have accumulated evidence that suggests the authority is trustworthy.

Certainly, some explanations can fall prey to confirmation bias. That's just a pitfall that needs to be recognized. However, this doesn't mean the bias can't be worked around. If you hold the premise that knowledge in religious areas is no different than knowledge in other areas, then you know your models are going to have to change. There are enough repeated disconfirmations that they tend to draw your attention and make you rethink.

For example, there are times when you feel moved by divine communication. If you're honest, you will see that sometimes you say or do things under said influence that turn out to be false. Or others do. I've had this experience. And so it makes you rethink what's going on. I think the key to this is allowing for the fact that you and others are going to make mistakes.

But the existence of confirmation bias does not necessarily falsify anything. It's just a limitation that needs to be addressed.

The same thing can happen with post hoc reasoning. Certainly, this can happen and does. However, again, just because it exists, doesn't mean it's universally applied all the time and inescapable.

Just knowing these fallacies exist, goes a long way in making you think about what's happening.

But there are some things, especially when you repeat them hundreds of times in a variety of circumstances, that become difficult not to see as true causation. There are some singular experiences that strongly resist any other explanation.

Do others base their testimony on the testimony of others? Certainly this happens on many things. They trust so-and-so and accept so-and-so's explanation. End of story. There is no further testing. However, as I explained above, we do this with the practical application of empirical things because at some point we see not reason not to trust.

On the other hand, what often happens is the trusted person's testimony is used as another data point. Instead of it being the primary factor, it becomes an initiating factor--they trust someone enough to think they should try a particular thing and confirm the results for themselves. It's a form of peer review. In many instances it doesn't have the precise controls of science, but it is a test.

So non-scientific methods have their hazards and limitations. But so does science. And science is and can be applied to the religious domain.

I guess the thing I object to most is the false dichotomy of religion and science. Science is a method. Religion is an area of knowledge.

I know, I know: "science" is often used to describe the areas of knowledge where the method is often applied. But science and religion are, nevertheless, two different types of things. Pitting them against each other falsely suggest you cannot use science to develop evidence for religious propositions. It also falsely suggests that science is the only thing at work in the areas of knowledge where its being used, and we've already seen that's not the case.

[ September 29, 2006, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Do others base their testimony on the testimony of others? Certainly this happens on many things. They trust so-and-so and accept so-and-so's explanation. End of story. There is no further testing. However, as I explained above, we do this with the practical application of empirical things because at some point we see not reason not to trust.
The fact that some people believe the right things for the wrong reasons matters not. Authority is meaningless in a discussion of scientific evidence.
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hobsen
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Pilgrims have been visiting Lourdes in search of miraculous healing since 1859, currently at the rate of five million a year. The officially confirmed number of such healings is now 66.

The historical evidence suggests to me that Bernadette Soubirous was a conscious charlatan, cynically made use of by church officials engaged in a political struggle in France. But that in itself says nothing about whether healings at Lourdes ever occur, as prayers might still be answered at a site itself fraudulent.

So how would one go about investigating such a reported phenomenon? In principle, given unlimited funds and cooperation, every visitor could be given a thorough medical examination beforehand. But how would one detect all deliberate hoaxes involving cooperation between a doctor and a subject, when five million such examinations must be performed every year? Even apart from excesses of pious enthusiasm, the tourist industry has an undeniable incentive to pay doctors and visitors to commit fraud.

Beyond that, where would one find a control group of seriously ill people who never prayed for healing, as inexplicable healings do take place from time to time? Such persons might even pray involuntarily in a fleeting thought or when sleeping, without recognizing they had done so. And the rarity of such confirmed healings means that the control group also would need to be impracticably large.

So people can believe in such healings or not. But nobody has even suggested doing a reliable scientific study of them, and so many possibilities of fraud exist that nobody should believe such a study anyway.

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Richard Dey
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Brown:

"I guess the thing I object to most is the false dichotomy of religion and science. Science is a method. Religion is an area of knowledge."

You've got these definitions qutie backwards; no wonder you're confusing me! [Confused]

Science is knowledge, that's the standard translation of the Greek word and requires no religious intervention to interpret how we feel about it. The scientific method is the method and the verb and the noun should not be confused; it derives from Bacon's Novum Organum,and deviations therefrom as noted per supra.

Religion is belief; belief requires no method at all, certainly not one 'divined' by any unaccountable priesthood. Most religion today is religiosity, feinged belief. Belief, let alone feigned belief, is not knowledge any more than believing will transform the unknown into what can be known.

If that does not constitute a dichotomy between faith (or belief) and reason (or the scientific method), what does? In any event, what religion precedes science such that it can assume precedence and authority over it?

Your frustrations regarding the divisions of religion and science are all dealt with in White: http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/andrew_white/Andrew_White.html . As for authority, he was a founder of Cornell.

Astronomers don't stand in line for years to wish upon the stars. If you wish upon a star that died out 1 billion years ago, you've wasted your last wish! Celebrating Christmas doesn't authenticate Christianity; indeed it seems more to discount its value. The scientific method is not a wish list.

It is specifically the lack of evidence which renders scientific study of religion nonsensical and a waste of time and money. It's like wishing to study the evidence for Intelligent Design or Unintelligent Design; where is the evidence? The historical record of religion in pulling authoritative rank, in attacking science, and tortoising into reality-avoidance is the primary evidence that religion has to offer, and peer review has chucked it. Not even religionists can agree upon it.

Science is not like religion; it is not impulse buying on a shopping spree; it's not what one believes or has faith in or approves of but what one knows and what one can demonstrate. I give you St Christopher medals. I give you pilgrimages to Lourdes. I give you lawdy-lawdies in a church in a tornado's path.

The scientific method requires evidence and a hearing of the evidence. Religion has only religion as evidence, and that constitutes not religion but religiosity.

Prism! Where are those golden tablets?

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John Brown
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No, I don't have them backwards. I know that "science" IS used to denote "knowledge" as you suggest--it's not a word with one meaning--but it was not originally meant to include only what you want to include. Nor is it meant that way now by many who use the term. Science is knowledge based on the scientific method. But there are other ways we arrive at knowledge. And much of what we claim to "know" through science is actually via trust in authority. I've tried to explain that here. I've tried to use clear examples. Science is a method. Science is also used, as I stated above, to denote those areas of knowledge where we employ the method. But it does not comprise ALL knowledge.

>>The scientific method requires evidence and a hearing of the evidence. Religion has only religion as evidence, and that constitutes not religion but religiosity.

This shows such an incredible lack of knowledge about religion or unwillingness to see what actually happens, that it amazes me.

And now I'm talking to Dey again which I swore I would not do. Alas.

I think this summary is useful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge

And please don't bring up the standard questions about the reliability of wiki. They've performed an empirical study on its reliability and found it as reliable as anything else out there. That should be gospel to you.

[ September 30, 2006, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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MattP
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quote:
And much of what we claim to "know" through science is actually via trust in authority.
This is evidence not for religion or against science and not even for there being some parity between the methods of the two, but for the willingness of individuals to trust authority. Like Adam said, people can believe the right things for the wrong reasons.

The Wiki article you linked demonstrates that one's definition of knowledge is a philisophical position. At the same time you insist that Richard is using an invalid definition of knowledge, you quote an article stating that there is no universal definition of same.

Given that you disagree on the meaning of the term, then perhaps the discussion should not be of what the term means, but of what the term means to each of you. You cannot claim that religion and science follow the same path to knowledge if you disagree on the meaning of knowledge.

If your personal definition of knowledge includes beliefs obtained through inspiration, revelation, prophesy, tarot cards and tea leaves, then please understand that the skeptical amongst us may shake are heads and say "OK, but where's the REAL evidence?"

Is your purpose here to debate semantics or discuss the evidence for the supernatural. I'm much more interested in the latter and find the former particularly distracting.

If the truth of religion can be determined objectively, then why do so many children of Catholics grow up to be Catholic, while most Mormon kids grow up to be Mormons? Isn't the propensity of individuals to adopt the religious traditions of their culture an indicator that religion, itself, is an aspect of culture?

Surely millions of sincere prayers go out every year from individuals seeking the true path. Why is the predominant answer one that places them in the congregation of their parents, friends, neighbors, or the missionaries that visited them recently? Why so many Christians in America and so many Buddhists in Thailand?

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John Brown
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You're right. A debate about semantics is not interesting.

>>At the same time you insist that Richard is using an invalid definition of knowledge, you quote an article stating that there is no universal definition of same.

Yes, exactly. What I hoped to do is not have a semantic debate, but challenge the thinking that knowledge = science. I believe it's more complicated than that. In the end, you may not accept my view of how we form knowledge, but I do hope it's clear that if we do limit the definition strictly to the practice of science, it means that we know, individually, very little.

I know many here want to strongly disagree with that idea. I'm perfectly fine leaving this hanging. I don't think we need to come up with a generally accepted lexicon. But I do think it's important to think about how we form knowledge because if you're unwilling to accept anything but science as evidence, then there is no point in continuing our conversation.

You suggest that "revelation" cannot be "REAL" evidence. I think I understand the bias--kooks, fruits, frauds, and the general progress of knowledge. But I don't think we need to be so wary that we out-of-hand reject other evidence. This is especially the case when we're not talking about trusting someone else's revelation or reading of the tea leaves, but in recognizing our own.

Here's what I mean.

If I drive along a road and hit a calf at 1 AM in the morning, which I did about two weeks ago, then I can reasonably say I KNOW that I hit a calf. I can point to the dents in my car etc. and tell others about it.

Is it possible that I was delusional and can't trust my senses? I haven't taken any medication stronger than Ibuprofen for years, so I can't say it was drugs. I haven't had any history of "hallucination." I wasn't asleep at the time. Are there other explanations? Sure. But they strain reason. I couldn't find the calf, but the rancher did. I'd broken its back leg.

So I can say with certitude that I hit a calf at about 1 AM on such-and-such a morning. I know this thing. It happened to me.

Now others may think I'm lying, others may not trust me, but I'm not concerned with them. I don't need peer review to replicate the events. It is NOT the scientific method. You can't even apply that method here. It is a form of empiricism if we accept the definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism. If we don't like to call it that, then let's call it something else. But I strongly doubt anyone here would say that I was being foolish for saying I know this thing happened.

In fact, in many instances we'd say we were acting with cowardice if we let others silence our report.

So let's apply this same method of forming knowledge to religious things. Let's say I see an angel or a waking vision. Said angel comes with the glory etc., so I'm not mistaking him for Bob who lives next door. Let's say that I haven't been taking drugs, have no history of any mental illness, wasn't dozing. Let's say I hear clear communication from some other being. What's the explanation?

Aliens!

No, it's the US Army in a super-secret X-files experiment! No, it's Marty coming back from the future.

Sure.

Or maybe the angel is what he says he is.

Should I say I don't know this? It's not arrived at by the scientific method? Of course, not. I saw, I heard, I was there--it happened to me. I think this illustrates that personal experience becomes a very strong method of knowing.

Now, I haven't seen an angel. I don't want to mislead anyone here. I'm using this as an example. I'm starting with it because I think it's compelling and because if it doesn't count as evidence of angels to the individual who experienced it, then we probably shouldn't move on.

So before I do go on, let me ask--would this count as evidence, not to you and me, but simply to the individual beholding the angel? Would you agree that after this, the person should be able to say I KNOW angels, or at least AN angel, exists?

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Yes, exactly. What I hoped to do is not have a semantic debate, but challenge the thinking that knowledge = science. I believe it's more complicated than that. In the end, you may not accept my view of how we form knowledge, but I do hope it's clear that if we do limit the definition strictly to the practice of science, it means that we know, individually, very little.
This may be true, but knowledge which does not come from the scientific method is considerably less trustworthy than that which does.

I think one point of contention here is that we need to recognize the difference between experimental and historical science.

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John Brown
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>>This may be true, but knowledge which does not come from the scientific method is considerably less trustworthy than that which does.

I will freely admit that in many instances this is the case. In others, as the cow example above, science is no more trustworthy. In fact, it doesn't even apply. But I certainly concur that the scientific method is a marvelous tool for what it does. I love it and would not want to live hundreds of years ago when it was not in wide use.

>>historical science

Can you explain what you mean by this?

[ October 02, 2006, 12:12 AM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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John Brown
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Back on knowledge, I think this is an interesting article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_knowledge#Acquiring_knowledge

As is this portion of the same: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_knowledge#Practical_limits_for_obtaining_knowledge

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MattP
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quote:
Is it possible that I was delusional and can't trust my senses? I haven't taken any medication stronger than Ibuprofen for years, so I can't say it was drugs. I haven't had any history of "hallucination." I wasn't asleep at the time. Are there other explanations? Sure. But they strain reason. I couldn't find the calf, but the rancher did. I'd broken its back leg.

So I can say with certitude that I hit a calf at about 1 AM on such-and-such a morning. I know this thing. It happened to me.

Several points:

* Is it a reasonable assertion that a cow would be found in the place where you struck one?

* Is there any physical evidence to support your claim?

* Do you have a motivation for manufacturing such a story?

* Is it important that I beieve your cow story? What are the positives/negatives to believing or not believing you?

quote:
So let's apply this same method of forming knowledge to religious things. Let's say I see an angel or a waking vision. Said angel comes with the glory etc., so I'm not mistaking him for Bob who lives next door. Let's say that I haven't been taking drugs, have no history of any mental illness, wasn't dozing. Let's say I hear clear communication from some other being. What's the explanation?
* How do I know you were concious?

* How do you know you were concious?

* Is there any physical evidence? Where is the "farmer with the injured cow" in this story?

* Did this happen during a time of severe distress for you? Any family members recently pass away?

* Do you have a motivation for seeing an angel? Does seeing an angel affirm or contradict your beliefs at that time?

* Do you have a motivation for saying that you saw an angel even if you did not? Does doing so increase your standing amongst friends, family or congregation?


quote:
Now, I haven't seen an angel.
Oh. Well, that doesn't help. You claim to have hit a cow but you've manufactured an angel story that may or may not have happened to someone else. I have your word on the cow but only your word of someone else's word (in the best case) on the angel story.
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John Brown
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Matt,

I'm not talking about beliving others. Knowledge is an individual thing. I'm talking about ME knowing somthing. So I expressly did NOT ask if this is a valid evidence for YOU to believe me. I'm asking you if it's reasonable for ME to say I KNOW I hit the cow. What you believe about my experience is beside the point.

Please answer the question about whether you think this is a reasonable way for me (not you), or any individual, to know something--direct, first-hand, non-scientific, experience. In your view can I say I know I hit the cow? Can the angel beholder say he knows he saw an angel?

[ October 02, 2006, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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Richard Dey
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Brown:

In Massachusetts, hitting a calf -- even a maverick on the road -- is a vehicular offense. Not even supposing the calf has no replaceable value, The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruel to Animals, which has The Great & General Court by the blue ballocks, will require that a forensic report be filed with the accident report which you are obliged to file -- including a full statement of its scientific method of investigation. Belief me (?), the MSPCA will not be interviewing angels; it will be investigating the calf and your fender.

Notwithstanding our inability to agree upon useful terms of debate, you have yet failed to produce evidence by which my evidentiary process is useable. The scientific method may be applied to science or religion with satisfaction and make a determination of what is known and what is not. Your method can be applied to religion with some satisfaction I presume -- but not fulfill the more-stringent requirements of science.

If you are satisfied with belief rather than knowledge, you can sing:

Jesus loves me, this I know
because the Bible tells me so.


But no matter how much you believe it, believing doesn't make it so. That was the great leap forward made by the classical Greeks; they demanded to know by the ability to replicate the process of knowledge. They sought keys to eliminating conjecture and presumption and belief that they might better know nature.

What you have described to me as 'knowledge' is, in the Greek sense, mere 'opinion' for it there is no such thing as personal knowledge inside a court of public opinion. Knowledge must be knowable by anybody who seeks it by the same method. I know that you have said you hit a calf in the road; I don't know it but only that you've said that you know it. There's knowledge there, but not all of it.

Cripes! Even god demands the foreskins of his enemies. Everybody has a right to demand proof before even the most-obvious fact is granted the august rank of 'knowledge'.

What I'd like is some evidence to support the claim that gods or even one little god exist. Surely the evidentiary process for determining if gods exist is not less rigorous than the evidence required for itsy-bitsy subparticles.

Until then, it would seem to me that the belief in personal deities is so personal that it shouldn't be mentioned in public -- let alone preached, for it is a demand that others believe what one believes on faith and with no respect for the many ways we come to know.

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John Brown
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Dey,

I'll say it again. This is not about proving something in court or to other people. That is an entirely different issue. The question is whether *I* can say *I* know I hit the cow.

[ October 02, 2006, 02:21 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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MattP
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quote:
In your view can I say I know I hit the cow? Can the angel beholder say he knows he saw an angel?
They can say whatever they want.
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John Brown
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Matt,

You're dodging. A simple yes or no will do.

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Richard Dey
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Brown:

NOBODY but nobody is saying that you don't have a right to say anything you want or, providing that you define your terms of arugment, to argue any point you wish. That ceased to be the issue.

You disagreed with my terms of argument, but instead of restricting your argument to your definitions, you said, basically, this is where we disagree and continued on as if my definitions had been swept off the table. You said I wasn't a scientist so I didn't have a right to define the term 'science'.

I was obliged to defend my definition. You got houghy that I'd have the temerity to do so.

I refused all philosophical definitions of science on the grounds that they were historically ambiant and not-yet decided within the realm of philosophy. You refused to allow scientists to define science by trumping them with philosophical argument. I rejected that. I said, scientists should be allowed to define their own science -- preferably without philosophical fustication.

Meanwhile, we continued the argument at hand, to wit:

* Is god knowable?

You suggested that the supernatural was knowable because you and your authority figures had personal knowledge of the supernatural.

I suggested that your definition of 'knowledge' did not sufficiently constitute knowledge as defined by science.

In short, you hadn't read White on the matter.

Would you care for a crumpet?

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by John Brown:
Matt,

You're dodging. A simple yes or no will do.

The data is insufficient. The cow guy - probably yes. It's a rather mundane event with physical evidence to support it. The angel guy - I would need WAY more information. The questions I posed earlier were some of the questions I'd ask myself should I have such an experience.

Even if I could determine that what I experienced was supernatural, how in the world could I know that:

a) It was an angel. Does seeing something that looks like our contemporary concept of an angel constitute seeing an angel?

b) That angels are good. Even the bible says that Satan can take a pleasing form. And the bible and similar texts are the only authority that angels are good. One must agree that the bible is authoritive before one can even agree with the angel=good axim.

c) That the angel's message was true. Who says the angel is telling me the truth? It may be satisfying to hear that your loved ones are in heaven or that your prayers have been heard, but it's still hearsay, just coming from a glowing blob of glory rather than from another human.

An event that cannot be explained by science as an individual understands science and as that individual interprets their experience do not, automatically, become evidence for a particular religious viewpoint or even knowledge of what occured during the event.

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John Brown
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>>An event that cannot be explained by science as an individual understands science and as that individual interprets their experience do not, automatically, become evidence for a particular religious viewpoint or even knowledge of what occured during the event.

This reply is puzzling. Since when was I ever talking about a particular religious viewpoint?

I'm trying to establish that direct experience (non-scientific, but empirical evidence) is one sufficient source for someone to say he knows something.

Sure, you might question your senses and want to make sure it's real. I understand that.

But I find it a bit curious that you'd say, all things being equal, sure, I know I hit a cow, but you just couldn't say, sure, I saw an angel.

No, for some reason this is just automatically out of the question. I wonder why that is.

Let's do another thought experiment. How do you perform science on the fact that I'm married to my wife? You look at state documents. Oh, wait. That's not science. That's simply looking at papers. And what if the papers are gone? Well, I'd better not say that we ever were married--I probably should question the very idea I was married. Or what about that I have four daughters? What if my daughters are all dead and I have no records and neither does the state. And there's no DNA guy around. Should I then begin to question my knowledge--no I really didn't have four daughters because I haven't had any peer review, haven't performed a test?

It's ridiculous on the face of it.

And yet this is what you're demanding of religious things.

It seems to me that you (and Dey) are not only unwilling to discuss evidence for religious things, you're unwilling to even consider the possibility of it. Methods that are just fine in other arenas are rejected in this one. It's a double standard. You seem so obstinately and unreasonably wedded to a particular opinion about religion that it's going to be difficult to move forward in any meaningful way.

I'm fully prepared to talk about evidence for religious things. I'm fully prepared to shine a bright light upon my experiences and ask difficult questions, perhaps modify what I think I know. Alas, it seems you are not.

[ October 02, 2006, 07:26 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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MattP
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quote:
This reply is puzzling. Since when was I ever talking about a particular religious viewpoint?
Well, your example was an angel. Angels are primarily the domain of Abrahamic religions. Not many Wiccans or Buddhists that believe in an angel myth.

quote:
I'm trying to establish that direct experience (non-scientific, but empirical evidence) is one sufficient source for someone to say he knows something.
The experience that you described is not knowable and I pointed out as much. The person saw an angel. How do they know they saw an angel? What does an angel look like? What does another entity, trying to impersonate an angel, look like? Yes, the person knows they saw something. Do they know what they saw? Heck if I (or they) know.

quote:
No, for some reason this is just automatically out of the question. I wonder why that is.
Because I have experienced no situation that contains any of the elements of the angel story and there are unsupported assumptions in the story. I've enough experience with cars, cows, and physics to accept the feasibility of the cow story.

quote:
How do you perform science on the fact that I'm married to my wife?
Again, another mundane situation with which I have experience.

Also, I don't really have an interest in the veracity of the marriage claim or the cow claim. Whether it happened or not doesn't really matter to me, so the burdon of proof required to accept it's truth is very low. If I'm wrong, then... nothing.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Angelic visits, if legitimate, represent important events that can not and should not be ignored. People give up their jobs, break ties with family, or commit to donate 10% of all future income based on such events or others' claims of same. That is why even a personal experience that appears to be one would require an excess of strutiny. By what method can I determine what an angel looks like? If that simple question cannot be answered then no, I cannot KNOW that I saw an angel.

quote:
I'm fully prepared to shine a bright light upon my experiences and ask difficult questions, perhaps modify what I think I know. Alas, it seems you are not.
Please. You asked me to answer these questions and I've done so honestly. I'm sorry if you are displeased with my answers or if they disagree with what you believe to be the only reasonable conclusions.

[ October 02, 2006, 09:27 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
>>historical science

Can you explain what you mean by this?

With experimental science, claims can be reproduced and tested independantly in a lab. In historical science, you have to accumulate evidence and infer what happened based upon the existing record. You can't recreate history in a lab.

In your example of the cow, you have physical evidence in the form of damage to your car, and cow bits everywhere. It is reasonable to conclude that you hit a cow with a high level of certainty. To claim that you can't truly know that you have done so is semantic nonsense.

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KnightEnder
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How would it mess with free will if God prevented birth deffects? If there had never been one we would never even know they could occur. And surely 'God' could tweak the science?

KE

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wakeup
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hello everybody in America
did you know that the 911 was mass murder
do you know how building 7 went down
do you know that fire does not bring down any steel building??
anyone?

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John Brown
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>>How would it mess with free will if God prevented birth deffects? If there had never been one we would never even know they could occur. And surely 'God' could tweak the science?

I don't know that it does. But saying that God could surely tweak the science presumes he can do anything without constraint, achieve all objectives without constraint. Heck, if that were the case then what in the world are we doing down here? Just put us in heaven and let's have a party. I truly believe if God could do anything willy-nilly, then he's malovelent or apathetic, because he doesn't. What I think is that God cannot. The scriptural history leads me to believe in benevolence over some wacky form of omnipotence.

[ October 03, 2006, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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John Brown
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>>Yes, the person knows they saw something. Do they know what they saw?

>>Because I have experienced no situation that contains any of the elements of the angel story and there are unsupported assumptions in the story. I've enough experience with cars, cows, and physics to accept the feasibility of the cow story.

>>Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

It seems from these statements that you're simply wanting to be cautious, maybe exceedingly cautious, but you're not excluding personal experience as a valid source of knowledge in religious things. Is that correct?

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John Brown
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>>In historical science, you have to accumulate evidence and infer what happened based upon the existing record. You can't recreate history in a lab.

Would an example of this be some parts of the theory of evolution? We can't recreate and test much of it. We have recreated evolution within a species--bacteria, fruitflies, etc. And our inferences predict what we find in rocks etc., but we're not actually seeing tests that recreate all of the postulated events. Is that an example? Or explanations of the mounds out in eastern Washington being from mega floods from some huge dam that was created by succeeding ice ages? We don't recreate the event, but we come up with an explanation that accounts for what we see?

[ October 03, 2006, 09:59 AM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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Richard Dey
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¶ Angels. The 1st known angels are amongst the Sumerians in the form of guardian angels. Anybody could have one -- if he wanted.

¶ Neither evolution nor the fast formation of the Grand Canyon or whatever is science; these are theories to be applied to the scientific method. They are presently under study in science because, unlike religion -- which answers everything and asks nothing because it knows everything [Roll Eyes] , science has a reliable means of evaluating the likelihood of these theories.

Don't claim for science claims that it doesn't make.

The reason that evolution is taught in schools and not religion is fundamentally because evolution has been offered on the altar of evaluation, and survives the dissection; religion refuses to submit to such close examination because it refuses to drop its drawers.

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John Brown
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Dey, Dey, Dey...

So evolution is still under hot debate in the scientific community? Or are you suggesting now that science is a method, not what we know? I thought that's the point I was making.

[ October 03, 2006, 10:47 PM: Message edited by: John Brown ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"I thought that's the point I was making."

Yes, but do you KNOW that was the point you were making? [Wink]

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John Brown
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<laughing>
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Richard Dey
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[Big Grin]

Science is a noun, not the method. Going around sciencing somethingmight be thought unseemly [Wink] , perhaps even improprietous! Is it a parts-of-speech confusion we're having?

Science is the object. The scientific method (i.e., the adductive/deductive method) is the means to obtain the knowledge if any is to be had. If it is determined to be knowledge, then it is science -- scientifically tested science.

Science doesn't need the pope's approval. AS I've suggested, a pope's approval renders the research moot. It has to be researched all over again!

"When science and religion are agreed," said Dr Bill Boner, "we have what is known in the laboratory as a Code Red! Anybody with any common sense will evacuate at once!" -- The Boner Boys in Bonervaria --

The Greeks devised an atomic theory, a quadrite theory, even a kind of string theory; those were theories, not science. They did not have the means of measuring subparticles but they intuited them -- as it turned out later, rightly.

When I said that science has a means of determining the likelihood of something or other, that means was 'the scientific method' first introduced modernly by Bacon -- but it is a method devised by the classical Greeks, that same method abandoned by Christianity and lost to us between 0323-1625 in the 1300 years of "faith" known as The Dark Ages.

Imagine human beings having to go backwards nearly 2000 years to reconnect with their intellectual evolution -- an optimistic, foresightful, ongong progression that religion couldn't compete with, so it gained control of the western world and forbade it!

Religion isn't only dangerous, it was always dangerous.

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kenmeer livermaile
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But to scient is a verb, inn't it? In some dead language? Of course, in a dead language, all verbs are merely nouns, having lost their git up and go.

I think we shuld refer to 'ensciencing' just as we say someone has been 'ensorcelled'.

Hoo doo voodoo? You do!

Who know 'to know'? Me no gno!

BOO!!!

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Richard Dey
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I don't remember it, Oz. Scire, to know, past particle stem would be scient I suppose. If somebody does something knowingly, he's a scienter; so yes, you're basically right.

Judge: And when you hit the cow, Mr Brown, you knew that you had hit the cow?

Brown: Yes, your honor. I knew at once that I'd hit the cow.

Judge: And did you stop safely on the side of the roadat the scene of the accident, leaving your blinkers on for traffic in both directions, and determine certainly that you had hit the cow?

Brown: Hell no, Judge! I hit the cow intentionally in the middle of the field!

Judge: Clerk, please note that the defendent is the scienter in this case ...

Dey: Your pardon, your Honor.

Judge: (Sigh ...) Yes counsel ...

Dey: The counsel for the defense requests, Your Honor, that the cow be listed as a scienter, Your Honor. She was hit by the car.

Judge: Could the defendant please identify the co-scienter in this case ...?

Brown: Yes, Your Honor. She's sitting in the front row with a cast on her leg.

Judge: The chair recognizes Miss Borden, well known to this court as an habitual vagrant and woman of the night.

I think where Brown has gone awry here is in using the word science for [/I]scientism[/I], which yields scientist, i.e., somebody who practices scientism (not science), i.e., a practitioner of the scientific method.

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Would an example of this be some parts of the theory of evolution? We can't recreate and test much of it. We have recreated evolution within a species--bacteria, fruitflies, etc. And our inferences predict what we find in rocks etc., but we're not actually seeing tests that recreate all of the postulated events. Is that an example? Or explanations of the mounds out in eastern Washington being from mega floods from some huge dam that was created by succeeding ice ages? We don't recreate the event, but we come up with an explanation that accounts for what we see?
For the most part, yes, although evolution isn't entirely inferential as you pointed out. We have recreated the process in a lab with e.coli, for one example, and a significant part of it involves the study of living organisms. But, a very large part of evolution is indeed historical in nature.
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John Brown
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I see how it's being used then. Thanks.
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