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The meaning and value of Faith


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The controversy that has dominated this forum need never have been about disagreements over religion. Many Christians have told me they are appalled by what happened in Matthew's class.

However, because religion has entered this discussion, it's important that we understand why many of us are talking past each other.

Right now in at least one of these topics, there is a discussion about Faith. But what is Faith?

As a suggestion, there is a vast difference between Faith as an action and faith as a belief. I've previously reference Paul Tillich's book on the subject.

Let's have a useful discussion this time, without the name-calling and snide remarks. I have Faith that we can, which is why I am posting this.

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The controversy that has dominated this forum need never have been about disagreements over religion. Many Christians have told me they are appalled by what happened in Matthew's class.

However, because religion has entered this discussion, it's important that we understand why many of us are talking past each other.

Right now in at least one of these topics, there is a discussion about Faith. But what is Faith?

As a suggestion, there is a vast difference between Faith as an action and faith as a belief. I've previously reference Paul Tillich's book on the subject.

Let's have a useful discussion this time, without the name-calling and snide remarks. I have Faith that we can, which is why I am posting this.

There is no faith, action nor belief, when common sense has been abandoned.

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The controversy that has dominated this forum need never have been about disagreements over religion. Many Christians have told me they are appalled by what happened in Matthew's class.

However, because religion has entered this discussion, it's important that we understand why many of us are talking past each other.

Right now in at least one of these topics, there is a discussion about Faith. But what is Faith?

As a suggestion, there is a vast difference between Faith as an action and faith as a belief. I've previously reference Paul Tillich's book on the subject.

Let's have a useful discussion this time, without the name-calling and snide remarks. I have Faith that we can, which is why I am posting this.

I think faith is an exercise in what someone understands, especially when what someone understands seemingly contradicts the obvious.

That's how people get on airplanes or go bungee jumping.

I do not think faith should merely be based on what one believes.

That's why people audition for American Idol.

I have no qualms about any religion. They all have elements of philosophy and humanism I find greatly appealing and beneficial to mankind.

I have problems with how people exercise their religion. It is often idolotry or spiritual Prozac done in their religion's name and is often antithetical to their religions.

Religion should be coupled with an enlightened understanding, not an arbitrary belief.

If you "believe" that the Ten Commandments should be placed on every courthouse but cannot at least name all ten of them, you are probably a living example of the problem I describe. You have "faith" but you do not know in what.

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I'll try again, asking it a different way.

Does believing in something make it so?

Does acting on something make it happen?

What do the answers to those two questions have to do with Faith?

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I'll try again, asking it a different way.

Does believing in something make it so?

Does acting on something make it happen?

What do the answers to those two questions have to do with Faith?

Believing in something does not make it so. Could I jump off a building and fly just by believing? No.

Belief *can* give you hope in making something so, despite failure. The Wright Brothers are an example of people who did eventually fly.

The difference lies in how strong your belief and your understanding of reality are linked.

You can't believe in something completely arbitrary and have it be so.

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I'll try again, asking it a different way.

Not a bad idea, since your earlier post only produced the question: What's his point?

Does believing in something make it so?

Probably not, though one interpretation of Heisenberg uncertainty hints otherwise (I don't buy that interpretation, FWIW).

Does acting on something make it happen?

That's a bit ambiguous.

What is the object of faith in the question?

If I act on the faith that balloon-popping will bring me luck and I go pop some balloons, then the popping of the balloons will have happened as an outworking of my faith.

Do I get luck on the basis of my balloon-popping? That depends on the object of faith (is it true or is it not true?).

I'm not sure how else to take that question.

What do the answers to those two questions have to do with Faith?

You tell me.

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Guest Ding Dave

Unfortunately the word faith has been a much abused word when used by the clergy.

There is a real and material difference between using the word faith to mean a reasonable trust, such as the 'faith' you excercise in the airline pilot who will be flying your plane, or the faith you have that your doctor will accurately diagnose your medical problem, or the faith you have that the chair you are about to sit on for the hundredth time will support your weight.

Contast this with the 'faith' that the clergy ask people to excercise when considering their claims. Can this sort of faith be described as a 'reasonable trust'? I don't think so.

When the clergy proclaim to their flocks that 'faith' is a good thing, they often imply that they are using the word in the context of displaying a reasonable trust. This is not the case.

When the clergy use the word faith in defence of their claims, they are using it in an entirely different context. What they are really doing, is asking people to believe certain claims in the absence of sufficient evidence, or in spite of the evidence. This can be very dangerous.

The terrorists who flew those planes into the twin towers excercised an unwaivering 'faith' that their beliefs were true. But was it a reasonable faith? I don't think so, and I don't believe any sensible person would think so.

What the clergy are effectively doing when they promote their version of 'faith' as being a good thing, is that they are hijacking the word and then using it to defend ancient dogmas and supersititions which are almost entirely unsupported by evidence. The sectarian violence we are witnessing all over the world at the moment should provide ample tesitimony that this sort of 'faith' is most definitely not a good thing.

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Unfortunately the word faith has been a much abused word when used by the clergy.

There is a real and material difference between using the word faith to mean a reasonable trust, such as the 'faith' you excercise in the airline pilot who will be flying your plane, or the faith you have that your doctor will accurately diagnose your medical problem, or the faith you have that the chair you are about to sit on for the hundredth time will support your weight.

Contast this with the 'faith' that the clergy ask people to excercise when considering their claims. Can this sort of faith be described as a 'reasonable trust'? I don't think so.

When the clergy proclaim to their flocks that 'faith' is a good thing, they often imply that they are using the word in the context of displaying a reasonable trust. This is not the case.

When the clergy use the word faith in defence of their claims, they are using it in an entirely different context. What they are really doing, is asking people to believe certain claims in the absence of sufficient evidence, or in spite of the evidence. This can be very dangerous.

The terrorists who flew those planes into the twin towers excercised an unwaivering 'faith' that their beliefs were true. But was it a reasonable faith? I don't think so, and I don't believe any sensible person would think so.

What the clergy are effectively doing when they promote their version of 'faith' as being a good thing, is that they are hijacking the word and then using it to defend ancient dogmas and supersititions which are almost entirely unsupported by evidence. The sectarian violence we are witnessing all over the world at the moment should provide ample tesitimony that this sort of 'faith' is most definitely not a good thing.

As we might expect, Dave, I completely agree with you. When I capitalize Faith, I am referring to the trust, loyalty, confidence, reliance, etc., that drives people to act for productive ends. When I don't capitalize faith, I am referring to a mere belief without sufficient evidence to justify it.

So Dave and all, what role does Faith play in science?

As a second question along the same lines: In what does a scientist have Faith?

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Unfortunately the word faith has been a much abused word when used by the clergy.

There is a real and material difference between using the word faith to mean a reasonable trust, such as the 'faith' you excercise in the airline pilot who will be flying your plane, or the faith you have that your doctor will accurately diagnose your medical problem, or the faith you have that the chair you are about to sit on for the hundredth time will support your weight.

Contast this with the 'faith' that the clergy ask people to excercise when considering their claims. Can this sort of faith be described as a 'reasonable trust'? I don't think so.

When the clergy proclaim to their flocks that 'faith' is a good thing, they often imply that they are using the word in the context of displaying a reasonable trust. This is not the case.

When the clergy use the word faith in defence of their claims, they are using it in an entirely different context. What they are really doing, is asking people to believe certain claims in the absence of sufficient evidence, or in spite of the evidence. This can be very dangerous.

The terrorists who flew those planes into the twin towers excercised an unwaivering 'faith' that their beliefs were true. But was it a reasonable faith? I don't think so, and I don't believe any sensible person would think so.

What the clergy are effectively doing when they promote their version of 'faith' as being a good thing, is that they are hijacking the word and then using it to defend ancient dogmas and supersititions which are almost entirely unsupported by evidence. The sectarian violence we are witnessing all over the world at the moment should provide ample tesitimony that this sort of 'faith' is most definitely not a good thing.

Well said.

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The controversy that has dominated this forum need never have been about disagreements over religion. Many Christians have told me they are appalled by what happened in Matthew's class.

However, because religion has entered this discussion, it's important that we understand why many of us are talking past each other.

Right now in at least one of these topics, there is a discussion about Faith. But what is Faith?

As a suggestion, there is a vast difference between Faith as an action and faith as a belief. I've previously reference Paul Tillich's book on the subject.

Let's have a useful discussion this time, without the name-calling and snide remarks. I have Faith that we can, which is why I am posting this.

Are you a theologian by any chance? Because you know everything about science, every about American history, everything about the Constitution, everything about how to train your son...Man, you are really smart. You should be very rich. Why do you still live in this town?

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Guest Charles from Vt.
Unfortunately the word faith has been a much abused word when used by the clergy.

There is a real and material difference between using the word faith to mean a reasonable trust, such as the 'faith' you excercise in the airline pilot who will be flying your plane, or the faith you have that your doctor will accurately diagnose your medical problem, or the faith you have that the chair you are about to sit on for the hundredth time will support your weight.

Contast this with the 'faith' that the clergy ask people to excercise when considering their claims. Can this sort of faith be described as a 'reasonable trust'? I don't think so.

When the clergy proclaim to their flocks that 'faith' is a good thing, they often imply that they are using the word in the context of displaying a reasonable trust. This is not the case.

When the clergy use the word faith in defence of their claims, they are using it in an entirely different context. What they are really doing, is asking people to believe certain claims in the absence of sufficient evidence, or in spite of the evidence. This can be very dangerous.

The terrorists who flew those planes into the twin towers excercised an unwaivering 'faith' that their beliefs were true. But was it a reasonable faith? I don't think so, and I don't believe any sensible person would think so.

What the clergy are effectively doing when they promote their version of 'faith' as being a good thing, is that they are hijacking the word and then using it to defend ancient dogmas and supersititions which are almost entirely unsupported by evidence. The sectarian violence we are witnessing all over the world at the moment should provide ample tesitimony that this sort of 'faith' is most definitely not a good thing.

"Ding Dave" ?? Weird. Is that something like "DingBat" ??

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As we might expect, Dave, I completely agree with you. When I capitalize Faith, I am referring to the trust, loyalty, confidence, reliance, etc., that drives people to act for productive ends.

Like loving one's neighbor?

When I don't capitalize faith, I am referring to a mere belief without sufficient evidence to justify it.

Oh? And where do you draw that line, in principle?

So Dave and all, what role does Faith play in science?

Science takes it as MOL axiomatic that the universe is explicable in terms of nature and nature's laws. There can never be a proof of this as such, so the axiom is accepted on the basis of "Faith" (the convention of capitalizing it rather ridiculous, btw, English convention moves us to expect that "the faith" is the referrent).

As a second question along the same lines: In what does a scientist have Faith?

Why ask about "a scientist"? They are just people. They have both faith and Faith, typically.

This question should pry open discussion of Paul's line of demarcation between "faith" and "Faith" since science commonly teaches things that turn out to be wrong.

Can the belief in the truth of those wrong scientific ideas have been truly justified if the idea turned out to be false?

Over to you, Paul. :)

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Guest Dingo Dave
"Ding Dave" ??  Weird.  Is that something like "DingBat" ??

Sorry. It should have read Dingo Dave. Unfortunately some of the keys on this computer are a little bit unresponsive, and I have a habit of sometimes typing more quickly than I probably should.

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Guest Dingo Dave
So Dave and all, what role does Faith play in science?

As a second question along the same lines: In what does a scientist have Faith?

Interesting questions.

I believe that faith when used in the context of 'a reasonable trust' plays as important a role in science as it does in any other human endeavour. Without some degree of faith that the instruments being used, and the scientist's senses are reliable and trustworthy, the scientific endeavour would quickly descend into some sort of nihilistic solipsism, wherein the scientist would be forced to mistrust any or all of his observations and measurements. However as any competent scientist will appreciate, it is still vital that his instruments be calibrated from time to time against a known standard in order to ensure that errors don't inadvertantly creep into the measurements.

Science cannot endorse the concept of meddling supernatural entities. Otherwise, how would a scientist be able to differentiate between the natural outcome of an experiment, and the possibility that some kind of supernatural entity was capriciously influencing the results?

Science tends to be a very strict taskmaster. One strike and you're out. Many elegant hypotheses have been forced to be modified or even entirely rejected, by the discovery of a single inconvenient fact.

The scientific method generally holds itself and it's practitioners to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. This is why we can confidantly excercise 'faith' that the results of a well constructed and well conducted research program will yield reliable and trustworthy results. Modern science has earned the trust that society bestows upon it, unlike some other routes to so called 'knowlege'.

Dishonest scientists might flourish for a little while, but because other scientists will more than likely be trying to replicate the results of his experiments, it's usually not very long before the fraud is uncovered, and the fraudster subjected to the full ire and ridicule of his colleagues. For any scientist found guilty of serious scientific fraud, this usually spells the end of his career, and rightly so.

Contrast this strict, disciplined approach with the loose and sloppy approach of psychics, astrologers, the clergy, and other 'woo woo' practitioners. Often it's 100 strikes or more and still not out. When people rely upon, and act upon the advice of the 'woo woo' crowd, things can and often do go drastically askew.

In my opinion, it's time for scientists to reclaim the word faith from the purveyers of ancient dogmas and superstitions, and put the word to use the way it should be used, ie. as a reasonable trust.

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Interesting questions.

I believe that faith when used in the context of 'a reasonable trust' plays as important a role in science as it does in any other human endeavour. Without some degree of faith that the instruments being used, and the scientist's senses are reliable and trustworthy, the scientific endeavour would quickly descend into some sort of nihilistic solipsism, wherein the scientist would be forced to mistrust any or all of his observations and measurements. However as any competent scientist will appreciate, it is still vital that his instruments be calibrated from time to time against a known standard in order to ensure that errors don't inadvertantly creep into the measurements.

Science cannot endorse the concept of meddling supernatural entities. Otherwise, how would a scientist be able to differentiate between the natural outcome of an experiment, and the possibility that some kind of supernatural entity was capriciously influencing the results?

Science tends to be a very strict taskmaster. One strike and you're out. Many elegant hypotheses have been forced to be modified or even entirely rejected, by the discovery of a single inconvenient fact.

The scientific method generally holds itself and it's practitioners to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. This is why we can confidantly excercise 'faith' that the results of a well constructed and well conducted research program will yield reliable and trustworthy results. Modern science has earned the trust that society bestows upon it, unlike some other routes to so called 'knowlege'.

Dishonest scientists might flourish for a little while, but because other scientists will more than likely be trying to replicate the results of his experiments, it's usually not very long before the fraud is uncovered, and the fraudster subjected to the full ire and ridicule of his colleagues. For any scientist found guilty of serious scientific fraud, this usually spells the end of his career, and rightly so.

Contrast this strict, disciplined approach with the loose and sloppy approach of psychics, astrologers, the clergy, and other 'woo woo' practitioners. Often it's 100 strikes or more and still not out. When people rely upon, and act upon the advice of the 'woo woo' crowd, things can and often do go drastically askew.

In my opinion, it's time for scientists to reclaim the word faith from the purveyers of ancient dogmas and superstitions, and put the word to use the way it should be used, ie. as a reasonable trust.

Excellent answer, in my opinion. William James wrote that at the core of religion is a Faith that there is an unseen order, and that living religiously means trying to conform to that order.

Is it fair to say that scientists operate from a Faith that there is an order in things, which is hidden to them at the hypothesis stage, but may be revealed by experimentation and data analysis?

Is it possible to be as awestruck by scientific discovery and the possibility of further discovery as people of traditional religious faiths are in the things they believe in?

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According to the theory of the big bang the universe exploded from a single point

and then space itself expanded because there was no such thing as preexisting space to expand into and so stars, planets, solar systems, and galaxies have been traveling out in every direction ever since.

Everything has been flying away from everything else for at least 15 billion years, and on one small obscure planet, an anomaly, an accident occurs, a chance combination of carbon and nitrogen atoms fuse into a single cell, a spec of organic life witch leads to increasingly complex and evolving forms struggling for existence and what develops over the course of millions of years is a creature walking on its hind legs with free will, that’s us.

That such an accident occurred from absolutely nothing is even more absurd than the idea that someone or something created it, so if you want to find God maybe you shouldn’t look in scripture but out at the planets the stars the universe and then at the world we live in.

Under the sea there are creature with tendrils and suckers, with stems for mouths, with poisonous stingers, there’s a fish called the “hatchet fish” that electrically lights its anus to blind predators sneaking up from behind, and this blinding light comes from a colony of luminescent bacteria that live in the fishes rectum, all part of gods plan… I guess.

Joe Frank

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Interesting questions.

I believe that faith when used in the context of 'a reasonable trust' plays as important a role in science as it does in any other human endeavour. Without some degree of faith that the instruments being used, and the scientist's senses are reliable and trustworthy, the scientific endeavour would quickly descend into some sort of nihilistic solipsism, wherein the scientist would be forced to mistrust any or all of his observations and measurements. However as any competent scientist will appreciate, it is still vital that his instruments be calibrated from time to time against a known standard in order to ensure that errors don't inadvertantly creep into the measurements.

Dingo Dave! You're so much better posting on this topic! Above average!

It's worth pointing out that all measurements (against a standard) are approximations.

Science cannot endorse the concept of meddling supernatural entities. Otherwise, how would a scientist be able to differentiate between the natural outcome of an experiment, and the possibility that some kind of supernatural entity was capriciously influencing the results?

Quite right. Invisible space pixies might be responsible for all causation, but they will be ignored by science regardless of the potential validity of the explanation. Generally this is an outworking of Occam's razor.

Science tends to be a very strict taskmaster. One strike and you're out. Many elegant hypotheses have been forced to be modified or even entirely rejected, by the discovery of a single inconvenient fact.

On the other hand science might let a bad or incomplete hypothesis float by for decades before getting around to correcting the record.

We were wrong, but now we've fixed it. So you can believe what you're being told again.

The scientific method generally holds itself and it's practitioners to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

Follow the money.

This is why we can confidantly excercise 'faith' that the results of a well constructed and well conducted research program will yield reliable and trustworthy results. Modern science has earned the trust that society bestows upon it, unlike some other routes to so called 'knowlege'.

Even when they're always changing and tweaking their theories? :)

Even though they disagree on tons of stuff?

Dishonest scientists might flourish for a little while, but because other scientists will more than likely be trying to replicate the results of his experiments, it's usually not very long before the fraud is uncovered, and the fraudster subjected to the full ire and ridicule of his colleagues.

Here's some food for thought:

http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/92prom.html

For any scientist found guilty of serious scientific fraud, this usually spells the end of his career, and rightly so.

Contrast this strict, disciplined approach with the loose and sloppy approach of psychics, astrologers, the clergy, and other 'woo woo' practitioners. Often it's 100 strikes or more and still not out.

Psychics and astrologers are commonly self-employed, if I'm not mistaken. Who's supposed to fire or ostracize them?

As for clergy ... they frequently lose their jobs, but on the other hand the average preacher will do a better job interpreting the Bible than the average scientist.

Is this a comparison or an ad hom?

When people rely upon, and act upon the advice of the 'woo woo' crowd, things can and often do go drastically askew.

In my opinion, it's time for scientists to reclaim the word faith from the purveyers of ancient dogmas and superstitions, and put the word to use the way it should be used, ie. as a reasonable trust.

I guess you can join Paul and run around capitalizing it.

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Interesting questions.

I believe that faith when used in the context of 'a reasonable trust' plays as important a role in science as it does in any other human endeavour. Without some degree of faith that the instruments being used, and the scientist's senses are reliable and trustworthy, the scientific endeavour would quickly descend into some sort of nihilistic solipsism, wherein the scientist would be forced to mistrust any or all of his observations and measurements. However as any competent scientist will appreciate, it is still vital that his instruments be calibrated from time to time against a known standard in order to ensure that errors don't inadvertantly creep into the measurements.

Science cannot endorse the concept of meddling supernatural entities. Otherwise, how would a scientist be able to differentiate between the natural outcome of an experiment, and the possibility that some kind of supernatural entity was capriciously influencing the results?

Science tends to be a very strict taskmaster. One strike and you're out. Many elegant hypotheses have been forced to be modified or even entirely rejected, by the discovery of a single inconvenient fact.

The scientific method generally holds itself and it's practitioners to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. This is why we can confidantly excercise 'faith' that the results of a well constructed and well conducted research program will yield reliable and trustworthy results. Modern science has earned the trust that society bestows upon it, unlike some other routes to so called 'knowlege'.

Dishonest scientists might flourish for a little while, but because other scientists will more than likely be trying to replicate the results of his experiments, it's usually not very long before the fraud is uncovered, and the fraudster subjected to the full ire and ridicule of his colleagues. For any scientist found guilty of serious scientific fraud, this usually spells the end of his career, and rightly so.

Contrast this strict, disciplined approach with the loose and sloppy approach of psychics, astrologers, the clergy, and other 'woo woo' practitioners. Often it's 100 strikes or more and still not out. When people rely upon, and act upon the advice of the 'woo woo' crowd, things can and often do go drastically askew.

In my opinion, it's time for scientists to reclaim the word faith from the purveyers of ancient dogmas and superstitions, and put the word to use the way it should be used, ie. as a reasonable trust.

Are you familiar with the story of how Annie Sullivan "gave" language to Helen Keller? On the basis of no evidence, Ms. Sullivan acted to open a child's mind to language, and against all apparent odds succeeded. By no accident, the film recounting the story is titled "The Miracle Worker."

Does this say anything about Faith?

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Guest Dingo Dave
Are you familiar with the story of how Annie Sullivan "gave" language to Helen Keller? On the basis of no evidence, Ms. Sullivan acted to open a child's mind to language, and against all apparent odds succeeded. By no accident, the film recounting the story is titled "The Miracle Worker."

Does this say anything about Faith?

I'm not sure that I would class Annie Sullivan's actions as being based on no evidence Paul. Helen Keller was a human being after all. I would agree that Sullivan persisted with Keller against what would have seemed at the time to be all reasonable odds. However, I don't see anything miraculous about it, in that no laws of physics were violated by her actions.

I do believe that it says a lot about one caring human being's 'faith' in human nature, and in our innate human ability to recognise patterns and regularities even in the face of tremendous obstacles such as the ones Helen Keller had to overcome in order to learn her communications skills. I see the story as a wonderful testimony to what can be achieved by the sheer persistance and hard work of a very empathetic and caring individual such as Sullivan obviously was.

Let's face it. No amount of prayer and supplication would have achieved the same results as Annie Sullivan achieved by her natural solution to a very natural problem.

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Guest Dingo Dave

Bryan wrote:

On the other hand science might let a bad or incomplete hypothesis float by for decades before getting around to correcting the record.

We were wrong, but now we've fixed it. So you can believe what you're being told again.

As you know, science tends to be self correcting. At least scientists are honest enough to admit that they were wrong if new evidence comes to light which justifies their change of opinion.

Richard Dawkins tells a story which illustrates the principle just about as well as anything I've ever read. It goes like this;

"Far from being over-confident, many scientists believe that science advances only by disproof of its hypotheses. Konrad Lorenz said he hoped to disprove at least one of his own hypotheses every day before breakfast. That was absurd, especially coming from the grand old man of the science of ethology, but it is true that scientists, more than others, impress their peers by admitting their mistakes. A formative influence on my undergraduate self was the response of a respected elder statesmen of the Oxford Zoology Department when an American visitor had just publicly disproved his favourite theory. The old man strode to the front of the lecture hall, shook the American warmly by the hand and declared in ringing, emotional tones: "My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years." And we clapped our hands red. Can you imagine a Government Minister being cheered in the House of Commons for a similar admission? "Resign, Resign" is a much more likely response!" - 'Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder' Richard Dimbleby Lecture, BBC1 Television, November 12th, 1996

Can you recall any prominent mainstream glergyman, either past or present, who so graciously accepted a public correction about one of his most highly cherished, but ultimately mistaken ideas? Sorry, but I can't.

To the best of my knowlege, no prominent religious leader has ever displayed the same sort of magnanimous spirit, or a remotely similar level of sincere gratitude for having been shown to be wrong.

Hell, it took the Catholic Church over 300 years to apologise to Gallileo for getting pissed off at him because he publicly showed them that they were mistaken about something far more fundamental than any 'long standing' mistake a modern biologist is likely to make.

Follow the money.

You'd be crazy not to. (Metaphorically speaking of course)

Even when they're always changing and tweaking their theories?

Even though they disagree on tons of stuff?

You still rely on radar don't you?

Psychics and astrologers are commonly self-employed, if I'm not mistaken. Who's supposed to fire or ostracize them?

Their customers.

As for clergy ... they frequently lose their jobs, but on the other hand the average preacher will do a better job interpreting the Bible than the average scientist. Is this a comparison or an ad hom?

The clergy can justifiably be described as 'afterlife insurance salesmen'. They are employed to sell celestial junk bonds. They have enormous flocks which do not seem the least bit adverse to being regularly fleeced, even on such a flimsy basis as 'pie in the sky' promises and unsupported claims.

The average preacher interprets his Bible the way his particular religious leaders tell him they want it to be interpreted. Otherwise a clergyman will quickly find himself in the unemployment queue. I've seen it happen to a close family friend with my own eyes.

University Bible scholars rarely interpret the Bible the same way a clergyman will preach it from the pulpit to his true employers (His congregation).

I guess you can join Paul and run around capitalizing it.

It needs to be capitalised in order to help people recognise the difference between what amounts to an honest sales presentation, compared to an ad hoc sales-pitch for a worthless scam.

Preachers are there primarily to sell their post-mortem 'time share plan' for their organisational employers, and not to question their higher authorities.

For goodness sake, wake up and smell the coffee.

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Guest Dingo Dave

I attempted to post this 3 days ago, along with several other postings, but so far both it and they have been lost in cyberspace. What is going on at KOTW?

Bryan wrote:

On the other hand science might let a bad or incomplete hypothesis float by for decades before getting around to correcting the record.

We were wrong, but now we've fixed it. So you can believe what you're being told again.

As you know, science tends to be self correcting. At least scientists are honest enough to admit that they were wrong if new evidence comes to light which justifies their change of opinion.

Richard Dawkins tells a story which illustrates the principle just about as well as anything I've ever read. It goes like this;

"Far from being over-confident, many scientists believe that science advances only by disproof of its hypotheses. Konrad Lorenz said he hoped to disprove at least one of his own hypotheses every day before breakfast. That was absurd, especially coming from the grand old man of the science of ethology, but it is true that scientists, more than others, impress their peers by admitting their mistakes. A formative influence on my undergraduate self was the response of a respected elder statesmen of the Oxford Zoology Department when an American visitor had just publicly disproved his favourite theory. The old man strode to the front of the lecture hall, shook the American warmly by the hand and declared in ringing, emotional tones: "My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years." And we clapped our hands red. Can you imagine a Government Minister being cheered in the House of Commons for a similar admission? "Resign, Resign" is a much more likely response!" - 'Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder' Richard Dimbleby Lecture, BBC1 Television, November 12th, 1996

Can you recall any prominent mainstream glergyman, either past or present, who so graciously accepted a public correction about one of his most highly cherished, but ultimately mistaken ideas? Sorry, but I can't.

To the best of my knowlege, no prominent religious leader has ever displayed the same sort of magnanimous spirit, or a remotely similar level of sincere gratitude for having been shown to be wrong.

Hell, it took the Catholic Church over 300 years to apologise to Gallileo for getting pissed off at him because he publicly showed them that they were mistaken about something far more fundamental than any 'long standing' mistake a modern biologist is likely to make.

Follow the money.

You'd be crazy not to. (Metaphorically speaking of course)

Even when they're always changing and tweaking their theories?

Even though they disagree on tons of stuff?

You still rely on radar don't you?

Psychics and astrologers are commonly self-employed, if I'm not mistaken. Who's supposed to fire or ostracize them?

Their customers.

As for clergy ... they frequently lose their jobs, but on the other hand the average preacher will do a better job interpreting the Bible than the average scientist. Is this a comparison or an ad hom?

The clergy can justifiably be described as 'afterlife insurance salesmen'. They are employed to sell celestial junk bonds. They have enormous flocks which do not seem the least bit adverse to being regularly fleeced, even on such a flimsy basis as 'pie in the sky' promises and unsupported claims.

The average preacher interprets his Bible the way his particular religious leaders tell him they want it to be interpreted. Otherwise a clergyman will quickly find himself in the unemployment queue. I've seen it happen to a close family friend with my own eyes.

University Bible scholars rarely interpret the Bible the same way a clergyman will preach it from the pulpit to his true employers (His congregation).

I guess you can join Paul and run around capitalizing it.

It needs to be capitalised in order to help people recognise the difference between what amounts to an honest sales presentation, compared to an ad hoc sales-pitch for a worthless scam.

Preachers are there primarily to sell their post-mortem 'time share plan' for their organisational employers, and not to question their higher authorities.

For goodness sake, wake up and smell the coffee.

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I attempted to post this 3 days ago, along with several other postings, but so far both it and they have been lost in cyberspace. What is going on at KOTW?

Looks like a one-man show. The guy's probably busy. He's interested in what Paul posts, so Paul gets pretty good service (de facto priority), but the rest of us will end up waiting when the volume overwhelms our host.

As you know, science tends to be self-correcting.

Isn't that just a nice way of saying that science is frequently wrong? :rolleyes:

At least scientists are honest enough to admit that they were wrong if new evidence comes to light which justifies their change of opinion.

Too bad that doesn't stretch to the public schools, where scientific facts that turn out to be false may get taught as if they are perfectly true.

Richard Dawkins tells a story which illustrates the principle just about as well as anything I've ever read. It goes like this;

"Far from being over-confident, many scientists believe that science advances only by disproof of its hypotheses. Konrad Lorenz said he hoped to disprove at least one of his own hypotheses every day before breakfast. That was absurd, especially coming from the grand old man of the science of ethology, but it is true that scientists, more than others, impress their peers by admitting their mistakes. A formative influence on my undergraduate self was the response of a respected elder statesmen of the Oxford Zoology Department when an American visitor had just publicly disproved his favourite theory. The old man strode to the front of the lecture hall, shook the American warmly by the hand and declared in ringing, emotional tones: "My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years." And we clapped our hands red. Can you imagine a Government Minister being cheered in the House of Commons for a similar admission? "Resign, Resign" is a much more likely response!" - 'Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder'  Richard Dimbleby Lecture, BBC1 Television, November 12th, 1996

Can you recall any prominent mainstream glergyman, either past or present, who so graciously accepted a public correction about one of his most highly cherished, but ultimately mistaken ideas? Sorry, but I can't.

Not off the top of my head, but on the other hand I can't recall any scientists, either, other than the one you cited from Dawkins. Can you?

I think this is interesting.

Instead of merely conceding the point, you fashion a comparison between Religion and Science in order to make the latter appear better by comparison. You cite a single example from science and then proceed to give me the burden of proof for, as it were, restoring the image of religion that you have sought to implicitly attack.

To the best of my knowlege, no prominent religious leader has ever displayed the same sort of magnanimous spirit, or a remotely similar level of sincere gratitude for having been shown to be wrong.

Heh. And the attack continues.

It looks like there are 50 nobel prize winners just among Jews.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewis...l_Prize_winners

Where do I find a similar list of "prominent" "mainstream" Christian leaders?

In fact, most "mainstream" Christian leaders do not even engage in theological theorizing and debate (come to think of it, Benny Hinn supposedly graciously admitting being wrong about Trinitarian dogma, but I can no more vouch for his sincerity than Dingo Dave can vouch for the sincerity of Mr. Lorenz.

Hell, it took the Catholic Church over 300 years to apologise to Gallileo for getting pissed off at him because he publicly showed them that they were mistaken about something far more fundamental than any 'long standing' mistake a modern biologist is likely to make.

That's a misrepresentation. The Catholic Church did not punish Galileo for his theory. Indeed, the Church was instrumental in enabling scientific research in Galileo's day. Indeed, the pope at the time welcomed Galileo's initial findings not unlike the saintly scientist from Dawkin's evangelical tome.

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Is...ileoAffair.html

You'd be crazy not to. (Metaphorically speaking of course)

There's financial incentive for bad science. Did you look at the article concerning scientific fraud?

You still rely on radar don't you?

That and revelation. ;)

Their customers.

The customers seem to be failing in the charge you have given them. Perhaps you should legislate their decision for them?

<sorry, but I think you've gone off-topic and overlong with the attack the church diversionary tactic>

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Guest Dingo Dave

Bryan wrote:

The Catholic Church did not punish Galileo for his theory. Indeed, the Church was instrumental in enabling scientific research in Galileo's day. Indeed, the pope at the time welcomed Galileo's initial findings not unlike the saintly scientist from Dawkin's evangelical tome.

I guess that's why they threatened him with torture, forced him recant his views, and placed him under house arrest for all those years. If that's an example of welcoming new information, then I'd hate to see the flipside. I guess that it was lenient compared to what they did to Giordano Bruno just a few years earlier.

In fact, most "mainstream" Christian leaders do not even engage in theological theorizing and debate (come to think of it, Benny Hinn supposedly graciously admitting being wrong about Trinitarian dogma, but I can no more vouch for his sincerity than Dingo Dave can vouch for the sincerity of Mr. Lorenz.

You're comparing the con-man and shameless fraudster Benny Hinn, with Konrad Lorenz? Now I've heard just about everything.

There's financial incentive for bad science. Did you look at the article concerning scientific fraud?

There's more of a financial incentive to promote pseudoscience and 'woo woo' doctrines such as astrology and theology, to gullible suckers. Benny Hinn didn't become a multi-millionaire by being too scupulous with the truth did he?

The customers seem to be failing in the charge you have given them. Perhaps you should legislate their decision for them?

Not legislate; Educate.

However, come to think of it, if people working in just about any other industry made the sort of unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims such as psychics, astrologers and the clergy make, they would quickly find themselves looking down the barrel of legal action against them for fraud and/or misrepresentation.

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Guest Keith-Marshall,Mo
Bryan wrote:

I guess that's why they threatened him with torture, forced him recant his views, and placed him under house arrest for all those years. If that's an example of welcoming new information, then I'd hate to see the flipside. I guess that it was lenient compared to what they did to Giordano Bruno just a few years earlier.

You're comparing the con-man and shameless fraudster Benny Hinn, with Konrad Lorenz? Now I've heard just about everything.

There's more of a financial incentive to promote pseudoscience and 'woo woo' doctrines such as astrology and theology, to gullible suckers. Benny Hinn didn't become a multi-millionaire by being too scupulous with the truth did he?

Not legislate; Educate.

However, come to think of it, if people working in just about any other industry made the sort of unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims such as psychics, astrologers and the clergy make, they would quickly find themselves looking down the barrel of legal action against them for fraud and/or misrepresentation.

Has anything regarding religion ever been proven? Anything at all? Just curious.

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