Mocking religion

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
User avatar
warumich
Clardic Fug
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Tue Apr 20, 2021 4:20 pm

secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 2:02 pm
I'm going to reply to shpalman tomorrow, when I have time for a considered post. But in the meantime, in reference to warumich's post above, I took a short course on philosophy of science taught by Hasok Chang when I was doing my PhD. It was good. I remember he went into temperature.
Ah cool, Hasok was my PhD supervisor. I would of announced that as a coi but I was hoping to have at least a little bit anonymity left here, oh well that boat probably sailed a long time ago.

Shpalman, yes as you might imagine the story is a bit more complicated (and indeed revolves around reasonable questions about whether everyone's water even under the same conditions (what is important there also need to be established first) behaves the same AND whether the mercury we use in thermometers behaves the same (under what exact conditions etc). Something like that... not sure I'll be able to piece it all together again with all its gory details without re-reading the book though.
I've never had a signature, and it never did me any harm

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:19 pm

It's true that all measurement has that kind of problem, I mean it used to be worse when the standard metre and kg were bits of metal in Paris. Now in principle anyone could calibrate themselves based only on physical constants assuming they had millions of pounds to spend on equipment, postdocs, and cryogenics.

We even have a way of defining left and right based on the weak interaction not respecting parity symmetry.
molto tricky

User avatar
El Pollo Diablo
After Pie
Posts: 1989
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:41 pm
Location: FBPE

Re: Mocking religion

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:27 pm

shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:19 pm
We even have a way of defining left and right based on the weak interaction not respecting parity symmetry.
I appreciate the thread has drifted a tad but I'd love to know more about this, as long as it isn't painfully technical
Cinch?
Cinch!
Cinch?
Cinch?!
Cinch*
<Cinch>
-Cinch-
"Cinch"
Cinch.

User avatar
dyqik
Stummy Beige
Posts: 4178
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: Mocking religion

Post by dyqik » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:08 pm

shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:19 pm
It's true that all measurement has that kind of problem, I mean it used to be worse when the standard metre and kg were bits of metal in Paris. Now in principle anyone could calibrate themselves based only on physical constants assuming they had millions of pounds to spend on equipment, postdocs, and cryogenics.

We even have a way of defining left and right based on the weak interaction not respecting parity symmetry.
You can check that your water is Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water with not much more than a mass spectrometer, which solves the problem of whether water is the same water as someone else's. On one axis, the calibration is greatly aided by the discrete masses of atoms, which turns measuring into counting.

Although to a pretty high accuracy, you can just collect rain water and taste it for salts, relying on the fact that other liquids don't fall out of clouds very often. That will give you less uncertainty in the boiling point of water than you'll get from changes in the weather, which can cause about a degree C change at sea level.

Science is all about managing these uncertainties to obtain sufficient accuracy for the relevant purpose, not about absolute certainty.

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:19 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:27 pm
shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:19 pm
We even have a way of defining left and right based on the weak interaction not respecting parity symmetry.
I appreciate the thread has drifted a tad but I'd love to know more about this, as long as it isn't painfully technical
I have this in mind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_experiment
molto tricky

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:25 pm

dyqik wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:08 pm
shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:19 pm
It's true that all measurement has that kind of problem, I mean it used to be worse when the standard metre and kg were bits of metal in Paris. Now in principle anyone could calibrate themselves based only on physical constants assuming they had millions of pounds to spend on equipment, postdocs, and cryogenics.

We even have a way of defining left and right based on the weak interaction not respecting parity symmetry.
You can check that your water is Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water with not much more than a mass spectrometer, which solves the problem of whether water is the same water as someone else's. On one axis, the calibration is greatly aided by the discrete masses of atoms, which turns measuring into counting.

Although to a pretty high accuracy, you can just collect rain water and taste it for salts, relying on the fact that other liquids don't fall out of clouds very often. That will give you less uncertainty in the boiling point of water than you'll get from changes in the weather, which can cause about a degree C change at sea level.

Science is all about managing these uncertainties to obtain sufficient accuracy for the relevant purpose, not about absolute certainty.
The more expensive ones that I had in mind were quantum Hall effect for resistance (in terms of Planck's constant and the elementary charge) and Josephson junctions for voltage (which requires a calibrated frequency so I presume you'd need an atomic clock too).

The kilogram isn't specified by a lump of metal anymore.

Although if you have length or volume measurement facilities you could use a litre of your Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water.
molto tricky

User avatar
dyqik
Stummy Beige
Posts: 4178
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: Mocking religion

Post by dyqik » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:33 pm

Atomic clocks aren't expensive, and you can condition e.g. rubidium standards on GPS time to slave them to a more expensive atomic clock.

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:37 pm

I'm thinking about how you'd do it "from scratch".
molto tricky

User avatar
warumich
Clardic Fug
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:59 pm

Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:49 am
Consequently, from time to time a religious belief comes in conflict with science, and loses. Probably the most famous being the Earth being fixed versus the Earth orbiting the Sun. Insofar as religious beliefs are based on observations, they are leaps to a conclusion which is then very difficult to change as further observations are not considered important, whereas science does not particularly privilege older observations over newer ones. Having decided that the geocentric universe was wrong in favour of a heliocentic one, science had no problem as it gradually decided that even that was wrong and the Sun is just a star.

I forgot I meant to add this. There is no possible evidence that could have decided between a Tycho Brahe type geocentric system and a Copernican one; they are exactly the same in their predictions. Given this, it is reasonable to bet on the system that accords with our current best state of knowledge over the one that overturns everything we know. And that would be the Brahe system: Set within the context of physical knowledge at the time, Brahe's system had a lot going for it, and Copernicus' not that much.

Given that it's still a hundred years before gravity gets explained, the best knowledge at the time was formulated around a, for its time, fairly sophisticated system that postulated a few fairly simple set of natural laws. Heavy things (water, earth) tend towards the centre of the universe, light things (air, fire) away from it. Down here our bodies and objects are made of various combinations of light and heavy substances, leading among other things to our differences in weight - though overall heavy substances dominate in our bodies, that's why we tend to fall to the centre. (Heavenly bodies that appear to circle around the earth rather than fall towards or away from it, were postulated to be made of a fifth type of substance, the famous fifth element). This of course was clearly wrong (suppose I don't need to make that clarification, but I'm starting to get paranoid on this thread), but it was established knowledge at the time and supported by plenty of observational evidence. Note that God doesn't have to come into this (not necessarily at least, of course as 99.9% of people at the time believed in God in practice they found a role for Her).

So supporters of the Copernican system had a lot of explaining to do - why did people not fall off the earth and into the sun (Copernicus' centre of the universe)? So accepting Copernicus would have meant abandoning a perfectly reasonable and well established other set of physical knowledge. Given that by the time Brahe was available there was no empirical reason to prefer Copernicus, we have a problem. If you read Galileo (which I would certainly recommend you do because then you can see that him being a cantankerous git was as much a reason for papal censure than his science) you'll see that he spends a lot of time on this problem (not always convincingly according to his contemporary state of knowledge, or even our current one). It was only once we get to Kepler that the Copernican system starts to look less complicated than its alternative, and only once we get to Newton that the falling-off-earth problem gets settled.

Whatever, the main point is that the resistance to the Copernican system was an internally scientific matter rather than one of science vs religion (inasmuch as these two terms did not quite have today's meaning anyway). Yes, the church was by and large defending the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic system, but that had nothing to do with faith or God, and more to do with them taking a perfectly legitimate for the time stance in a scientific dispute. The Aristotelian/Ptolemaic system is/was as incompatible with the scripture as the Copernican one; this was not a dispute over doctrine. Ok, the church taking a dogmatic stance on this to the point of censuring dissenting voices wasn't cool, but this was still a scientific dispute, where one set of scientists were acting like a..eholes (though, Galileo was by all accounts an a..eh.le too).
I've never had a signature, and it never did me any harm

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Wed Apr 21, 2021 4:59 pm

Resistance to the Copernican system was reasonable at the time of Copernicus.
molto tricky

Millennie Al
Catbabel
Posts: 910
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Apr 22, 2021 1:54 am

Martin_B wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 4:36 am
I have no problem with someone who wants or needs to believe in God (or gods) if it helps them cope with life, the universe and everything. As long as they don't try to make me believe in their invisible friend(s) I'm happy for them to continue.
Indeed. (Or force others to do things based on their religion - such as shut shops on their holy days).
To me, religion is the binding together of people with similar beliefs into a bigger unit.
That bit alone makes it dangerous if the beliefs have any consequence. Since the group is held together by the beliefs, to challenge the beliefs is also to challenge the existence of the group, which may prevent false beliefs being discarded.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

Millennie Al
Catbabel
Posts: 910
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:44 am

warumich wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 1:52 pm
How do we best find out about the truth though? Science is the result of a long process of trying to work this out, by trial and error very often, and it's a process that is still in development (e.g. in statistical reasoning I believe people are still arguing about fundamental epistemological questions, s squirrel will know better). But how do we know a particular process is any good? We'd need to check this with the evidence, however how can we trust the evidence if the validity of the process isn't confirmed yet? It's chicken and egg - sociologists call this the "experimenter's regress", the philosopher/historian Hasok Chang called it "bootstrapping". Chang's book may serve as a useful example here. How did we figure out that water always boils at 100 degrees? By checking the thermometer. But thermometers were calibrated using the boiling temperature of water! It was actually quite a vexed problem, ultimately solved, but it was a long and these days quite forgotten process (Chang's book is called "inventing temperature" & highly recommended).
There is no way to know what is the best way to find out the truth. But there's a lot less of a chicken and egg that you suggest. The path to arrive at water always boiling at 100 degrees must have started with a suspicion that there is a property, temperature, and that water boils at the same temperature. To check that, you could make a crude thermometer (e.g. a mercury one) and repeatedly boil water in different size pots and with different size fires to see if boiling always started when the thermometer always gave the same reading (you just mark the spot on the thermometer the first time - I'm not assuming any calibration at all). When you see that you've got something repeatable, you can make a copy of the thermometer and send it to an enthusiastic friend to check that it's not just something special about you. You can then mark other points where other things might be consistent - such as your body temperature. You'll then notice that there seems to be some variation from person to person, especially when they have a fever, suggesting that your personal sensation of hot and cold corresponds with an objective phenomenon. Once you've got to this point, you'll probably have quite a few people interested and you can share results. The you find the complications - one friend consistently finds that their water is cooler when boiling than yours. Eventually someone will notice that this depends on altitute. Someone will try limiting the escape of steam to increase the pressure and find that the temperature increases. And so on. We get a bunch of observations which are a useful description of what is going on. But note that none of this requires a predefined calibration for thermometers. It can all be done by one person making them and comparing them to their master copy. Once people figure out that the purity of the water makes a difference, they can start distilling the water (an ancient technology). Similarly, investigations will reveal other factors which interfere and eventually with lots of careful experiment the best researchers will arrive at a consistent temperature for water boiling in consistent conditions. A description of how to do this can then be used to calibrate thermometers. Or we could just carry on copying a master - as was done for many measurements for a long time.
So, there are good and bad ways of getting at the truth, but the problem is that what is a good process is not apparent immediately. We can go by our senses, but how do we know our senses are reliable? What exactly are our senses? The evidence I perceive with my eyes is strongly felt as real, but then so is the evidence people get from visions or "feeling". We now know that visual evidence is reliable and feeling isn't, but that was a result of 400 years of bootstrapping; cast your mind back to how a perfectly reasonable person might have felt 500 years ago who would need to evaluate the evidence from a vision vs the evidence from their eyes. It is only with a considerable amount of hindsight that we can now dismiss vision as laughable evidence.
The difference is that if you see something with your eyes, I can also see it with mine, whereas if you have a vision I cannot share in it. Even if I personally cannot see something (e.g. not being present, being blind), others can, so there is no uniquely privileged observer. If you allow for a privileged observer, you can never eliminate the possiblility of someone having hallucinations, deceiving themselves, or just plain lying. The discovery of N rays shows how this can happen even to perfectly honest people.

And there's nothing wrong with visions themselves - the science is in how they are handled. August Kekulé explained that he had hit upon the ring structure of benzene in a daydream. But rather than saying it must be true because it came to him in a vision, he just used it as a hypothesis to be checked against the evidence.
Now things have clearly changed, I wouldn't trust feeling or visions either, and we have more psychological knowledge of what the underlying processes are of having a vision vs seeing with your own actual eyes (knowledge that we have only eventually arrived at by prioritising visual evidence, so again we bootstrapped our way into this). That's fine, but then not every epistemic community will have shared in our 400 years worth of bootstrapping, and therefore while I think we can make good arguments for why our view is right and theirs is wrong, we cannot dismiss theirs as laughable or obviously deficient.
When some other community can cure lots of ailments, build a Channel tunnel, send satellites into space, invent mobile phones, and all the other things we do, then we can examine arguments over whether which community is more right. IFor a community lacking in such obvious and large scale effects in the real world, we can indeed dismiss their methods as laughable or obviously deficient just as we do for homeopathy.
Which to be fair you (Millennie) may not be doing, but my argument is that believing things because of a feeling, a vision or the word of a person you trust is just as much part of an earnest endeavour of getting at the truth as science is.
The earnestness is not in question, but reality cares only about results - not thinge like earnestness or effort.
Science just does it better, because it's become institutionalised as a formal process. But it is still the same kind of thing than other, less successful, attempts at getting at the truth.
Science works even without being institutionalised. Like everything else, it is amplified by having many people do it together. The same applies to religion - if every religious person based their religion on their own personal visions they would make far less impact than when they band together.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

Millennie Al
Catbabel
Posts: 910
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:02 am

warumich wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:59 pm
Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:49 am
Consequently, from time to time a religious belief comes in conflict with science, and loses. Probably the most famous being the Earth being fixed versus the Earth orbiting the Sun. Insofar as religious beliefs are based on observations, they are leaps to a conclusion which is then very difficult to change as further observations are not considered important, whereas science does not particularly privilege older observations over newer ones. Having decided that the geocentric universe was wrong in favour of a heliocentic one, science had no problem as it gradually decided that even that was wrong and the Sun is just a star.

I forgot I meant to add this. There is no possible evidence that could have decided between a Tycho Brahe type geocentric system and a Copernican one; they are exactly the same in their predictions. Given this, it is reasonable to bet on the system that accords with our current best state of knowledge over the one that overturns everything we know. And that would be the Brahe system: Set within the context of physical knowledge at the time, Brahe's system had a lot going for it, and Copernicus' not that much.
Yes, up to a point. But there's a big difference between the position that a new theory is mere speculation and that it is impossible and must be suppressed.
Given that it's still a hundred years before gravity gets explained, the best knowledge at the time was formulated around a, for its time, fairly sophisticated system that postulated a few fairly simple set of natural laws. Heavy things (water, earth) tend towards the centre of the universe, light things (air, fire) away from it.

...

Whatever, the main point is that the resistance to the Copernican system was an internally scientific matter rather than one of science vs religion (inasmuch as these two terms did not quite have today's meaning anyway). Yes, the church was by and large defending the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic system, but that had nothing to do with faith or God, and more to do with them taking a perfectly legitimate for the time stance in a scientific dispute. The Aristotelian/Ptolemaic system is/was as incompatible with the scripture as the Copernican one; this was not a dispute over doctrine. Ok, the church taking a dogmatic stance on this to the point of censuring dissenting voices wasn't cool, but this was still a scientific dispute, where one set of scientists were acting like a..eholes (though, Galileo was by all accounts an a..eh.le too).
Galileo had observed the moons of Jupiter, so the old theory also had a lot of explaining to do too. But the critical factor which makes me condemn the Church is that they wer not interested in finding out the truth. They did not rush to obtain telescopes and improve them to see this new evidence for themselves because they were fundamentally wrong in their attitude that they already knew the truth. In science you can never know that you have the truth - the best is that you know something as being consistent with a lot of evidence, while often we know something is wrong but have to muddle through as best we can and hope we'll figure it out eventually.

And, of course, what people understood by the terms 'science' and 'religion' in the past is not relevant. Those people are not participating in the discussion, so their terminology would have to be translated, just as if they were talking a foreign language (which, of course, they mostly were). And what they thought they were doing is not necessarily what we now know they were doing.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

secret squirrel
Snowbonk
Posts: 495
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:42 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by secret squirrel » Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:30 am

shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:38 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:02 am
Well, that's a detailed summary of why logical positivism isn't "correct" as a way of building philosophy, but it doesn't mean it's completely useless as a way of describing science. It just demonstrates that philosophy isn't science.
I’m not sure what you mean by this. The logical positivists were scientists. For example, Moritz Schlick’s phd was supervised by Max Planck. He communicated with Einstein about relativity. They had the same basic attitude as you, which I see as being something like ‘we scientists basically understand each other and are, in general, talking sense, while those philosophers are clearly generally talking nonsense’. What distinguished the logical positivists was that they set out to prove this, but in doing so ended up proving instead that the attitude was incoherent. Now you can ignore this and maintain it anyway. Nobody can force you to follow an argument if you don't want to. But it does seem a bit, lets say, dogmatic.
Yes, Moritz Schlick had science training, but he then seemed to want to apply that to "fix" philosophy itself, rather than developing a philosophy of science. I contend that logical positivism isn't useless as a philosophy of science. If philosophy can't be fixed, well, that's philosophy's problem.
The point is that logical positivism also fails as a philosophy of science, because it is unsustainable as a theory of scientific knowledge and practice. Of course, the underlying attitude that scientists know well enough what they're talking about, and it doesn't really matter what philosophers are talking about is likely often quite useful for working scientists, but believing in a benevolent god is probably quite useful in a lot of situations too.
shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:38 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:02 am
I think it might already be happening, or indeed have happened, in the way that experiments have actually been designed and performed which rule out certain interpretations of quantum mechanics (i.e. certain kinds of hidden-variable theory) which were previously considered equally compatible with experimental behaviour as described by theory.
It sometimes happens that the background theory changes so that what experiment had previously ruled out becomes ruled in again. I'm not saying this will happen here, but the point is that individual claims are not decided by experiments, but claims, experiments and theories interact with each other in a complex way. But yes of course the fact that 'science' as broadly understood tries to test and refine itself with experiment is obviously significant.

Here I'm just saying that the line between verifiable science and "metaphysics" may shift with time, and ideas which were previously considered metaphysical can become testable.
Ok, we agree on this at least then.
shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:38 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:02 am
Still waiting for them to make testable predictions, or even post-dictions, i.e. derive the properties of real particles from simpler principles in the case of string theory. (What I mean is, the Standard Model currently has a whole load of parameters which you just have to put into it, like the particle masses and coupling strengths and that... string theory wouldn't be helpful if it said that the masses and couplings came from the shapes of higher-dimensional spaces and you just have to put in the same number of parameters to describe those spaces.) What do you mean, "multiverse"? The Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics? (In the sense that this is an interpretation, it needs to be set up in such a way as to fit the theory we already have and not do anything differently, which would stick out as being wrong, i.e. it "hides" in a manner which is no better than God-of-the-gaps.) Or the idea of lots of universes with different fundamental parameters and ours is the "working" one? Again, it's hard to imagine how you would go about testing that hypothesis. And the scientific attitude is that if it makes literally no difference to anything we do, then, meh.
By the multiverse I mean this.
Well it doesn't seem to me that there's anything to argue against. That blog already explains the problems with string theory and the multiverse.
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
It seems like here your argument is to deny that people like Ed Witten, Sean Carroll etc. can possibly have a point.
It's generally better if you post the point that the people could have, and not the names of the people who possibly have a point.
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
But to do this you're asserting some philosophical positions which are, far from being universally accepted, precisely the ones that are under debate. I mean, I'm not saying you're wrong, but there are some big problems with trying to found science on 'testability', and the string theorists believe they are 'doing science' despite not producing much in the way of testable hypotheses, as you say.
Well, sure that they started with a sincere desire to "explain" existing data with a "simpler" model (i.e. fewer free parameters) which could hopefully lead to testable predictions allowing it to be ruled in or out. (Like kind of what happened when all the different hadrons became understood in terms of bound states of just three quarks and three anti-quarks.) But now it seems that all the work done in string theory is self-referential and unlikely to ever make it back to reality. Doesn't mean it's wrong mathematically. Just means it's very hard to justify as a valid and useful description of what's behind particle physics.
I'm not trying to do an appeal to authority here. I'm not saying that you and Woit must be wrong because Witten is more famous than you. What I'm saying is that e.g. Woit has been having this argument for coming up to 20 years, which strongly implies the existence of an opposing school of thought. It's not up to me to arbitrate on who is correct, or to make the string theorists' arguments for them (though if I had to guess, I'd say it was based essentially on the fact that mathematical elegance has often in the past turned out to be a good guide to building theories which end up being 'confirmed' in the future). My only intention is to point out that the people you and Woit disagree with are high profile physicists, not fringe cranks. The fact that you can disagree about the very nature of science with these people demonstrates that important disagreements exist within the mainstream physics community.
shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:38 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
Is the scientific attitude really that 'if it makes no difference to anything we do, then meh'? What about research into the earliest moments of the universe and the like? What about biological research into classifying species? I'm not a physicist, or a biologist, so please excuse me if my examples are not quite right, but it does seem to me that many scientists are motivated by a desire to know, to paraphrase Aristotle, irrespective of whether it produces some tangible result in the world or not.
I'm not saying that if it makes no difference to human experience then it's useless. "Research into the earliest moments of the universe" involves gathering data from cosmology or particle physics experiments because it's that experimental data which allows the scientists to develop and/or choose between and/or refine the theories. If a theory is completely indifferent to any experimental data which might show up, then what does the theory actually tell you?

Sure, we want to know, and as I've tried to explain we try to develop the simplest model we can so that we can try to understand, but in the end that model has to meaningfully interact with experimental data. I do believe, call it a dogma if you like, that the way to tell which theory is correct lies in getting more data about reality.
Right, but the difficult question is what constitutes 'meaningful interaction'. If you have a fixed theory of something, and a fixed set of assumptions about what your measurements represent, then this is reasonably straightforward (in theory at least). But we're also in an evolving process of changing our theories and the assumptions behind them. It's quite common for people to learn new things by thinking hard about what they already know, and not by gathering more data. Also, some ideas seem to not be founded directly on experience in an obvious way. E.g. Plato's argument that we understand the concept of equality even though we never see true equality in the world. The string theorists attempt to better understand the universe by developing mathematical theories, but these theories are rooted in experimental data (maybe distantly). You can argue that it's too far from experiment, but that's an argument to be had with them and not me, because my understanding of string theory is almost zero.

shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:38 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:02 am
There's a lot of things thrown together in there. Trying to get "hard" results out of "soft" sciences, the problems of theorists getting carried away with their theories...

In contrast to philosophers trying and failing to figure out what 'basic statements' to start with, trying to figure out what postulates to build a physical theory on is the whole point. Ideally you want the simplest ones which let you build an interesting enough model that simulates and predicts some aspect of reality. The idea of staying simple isn't just an aesthetic choice: a model built up with lots of very specific postulates is more vulnerable to any one of them being invalidated by new data (or alternatively, postulates which literally make no difference to the outcome are just unnecessary). But of course a very simple one just won't be able to reproduce the experimental data you want to understand. We like to then imagine that the postulates and parameters of this more-or-less working model then give us Insight into what's going on in our experimental system.
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by contrasting the physicists approach to postulates with that of the philosophers. We're talking philosophy of science here, not German idealism. Contrary to your reply to someone else a bit earlier, philosophers of science aren't going out of their way to make things more complicated. Just like physicists in the early 20th century didn't set out to confuse everyone's notions of time and space out of perversity. It turns out that when you think about things hard enough, you realize they are more complicated then they originally appeared.
We're talking about philosophy of science now, but wasn't logical positivism an attempt to apply scientific principles to philosophy itself?
Logical positivism involved a few dozen people with varying interests over a good couple of decades, so they got a lot done. But even in their general philosophical work, their intention was to state things as clearly as they could. The saw themselves as in direct opposition to the likes of Heidegger.
shpalman wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:38 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:40 am
shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:02 am
Yes, most people compartmentalise, or alternatively are free to choose any interpretation as long as it has no bearing on any observable consequences. They might believe in god and the power of prayer but go to the doctor anyway. Religion may have once been a way of explaining the world but now we have better ways, and religion is left to fill in the bits which literally don't matter. Of course, as soon as science arrives to fill in one of those gaps, god has to retreat from it.
Our best physical theories are pretty bizarre though. I mean, there are still a hell of a lot of gaps. A lot of parameters and initial conditions had to be 'just so' or close to it for any of this to work out. This isn't really an argument for the rationality of religion as such, but to me it's completely understandable that a person could feel that something important is missing from our understanding. Religion seems to offer a way to make sense of the universe, while science, though offering better and better explanations of how it works, gets further away from sense on a human scale.
Sure they're bizarre, but whenever anyone has said "that can't be right because it would lead to <counter-intuitive result> and that's counter-intuitive" someone else has found a way to do the experiment and demonstrate that it really is right, and it really is counter-intuitive (until you spend enough time with the theory that you get better intuition, at least). That also shows that those theories aren't particularly relevant to the everyday human experience, or else we'd have developed intuitions for them by now.

Some of the 'just so' stuff does maybe hint that there ought to be a theory behind it which avoids any need for "fine tuning" but postulating a whole load of super-symmetrical partners for the Standard Model which are always visible in the next experiment at CERN but never the current one, isn't very satisfying either. But that's not the direction to go in if you want to make sense of things on a human scale. Like I said, most of us don't even need most of the Standard Model.
Yes, reality does appear to be counterintuitive. Not just the the results of particle experiments, but also things like the way human brains work, and what happens when bits of them don't work properly. When I talk about the human scale, I mean that a lot of people want to find some order and meaning in the universe, and this kind of hard science seems to take meaning away. I can understand that people find something missing from the explanation that e.g. containing complex structure is a necessary step in the universe's transition from low entropy to high entropy. While I don't think religion rationally follows from these desires, the belief that drives many scientists to search for order in the chaos (as distinct from learning to manipulate the chaos for tangible benefit) seems to be similarly irrational. Though on the other hand, both are perfectly rational, as humankind cannot bear very much reality.

Interesting link btw.

User avatar
Martin_B
Dorkwood
Posts: 1028
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:20 pm
Location: Perth, WA

Re: Mocking religion

Post by Martin_B » Thu Apr 22, 2021 8:08 am

secret squirrel wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:30 am
The point is that logical positivism also fails as a philosophy of science, because it is unsustainable as a theory of scientific knowledge and practice. Of course, the underlying attitude that scientists know well enough what they're talking about, and it doesn't really matter what philosophers are talking about is likely often quite useful for working scientists, but believing in a benevolent god is probably quite useful in a lot of situations too.
But at least Bruce is also in charge of the sheep dip.
"My interest is in the future, because I'm going to spend the rest of my life there"

User avatar
warumich
Clardic Fug
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:35 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:44 am
The earnestness is not in question, but reality cares only about results - not thinge like earnestness or effort.
Reality doesn't give a damn about anything because it's not sentient, look at who's anthropomorphising now... but seriously, I felt I needed to make that point because somebody, maybe even you, earlier on said that religion doesn't care about the truth or something similar. So earnestness is important if we want to evaluate people's actions, of course not if it's about the results.
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:44 am
When some other community can cure lots of ailments, build a Channel tunnel, send satellites into space, invent mobile phones, and all the other things we do, then we can examine arguments over whether which community is more right. IFor a community lacking in such obvious and large scale effects in the real world, we can indeed dismiss their methods as laughable or obviously deficient just as we do for homeopathy.
Again, I never said these things aren't important in our decision making on what to believe and what not, I do feel you're sometimes arguing against a caricature that you made up, not what I said. I said science has figured out ways of getting at the truth better than other or previous attempts, hence channel tunnels, but we got to this point only by 400+ years of piecemeal improvements in how science is done; if it was easy we would have had mobile phones much earlier. As for other communities now, if they dismiss obvious scientific results I also think they are plain wrong (as to laughable, maybe, but laughing is not a good communication strategy, so I'd avoid that). If you read my posts I thought I'd been clear about that, but maybe not. However there are plenty of things religions believe that don't contradict any science (like resurrection as a one-off miracle, this is not something we can put to an experiment), which I, like you, may think are unlikely, but there's no point being an arse about it either. And as to how we evaluate whether this sort of thing is likely depends on our background assumptions (or priors if you will), so it's not necessarily laughable.
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:44 am
The difference is that if you see something with your eyes, I can also see it with mine, whereas if you have a vision I cannot share in it. [...]

How do we know that there is no privileged observer effect in eyesight? How did we know visions are not shared? How did we even figure out that all these things are important distinctions? As I'm scared I'll be misread again, I'm not saying this isn't the case, but there are plenty of assumptions you are making that are reasonable now, but needed to be reasoned out first, and that process wasn't easy or straightforward. You're still judging this from a position of hindsight.

I'm not sure why you wrote an essay about how the temperature problem can be solved, it obviously was solved, only it took 200 years rather than 2 days because it's a more vexed problem than you give it credit for. Bigger minds than you or I have failed to find a quick resolution for it. If you're interested I can really only recommend Chang's book, he went through archives, personal correspondence, read 200 year old journal articles and even recreated experiments.
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:02 am
Yes, up to a point.
Hooray, we agree on something! I did not argue that the suppression was justified.

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:02 am
But the critical factor which makes me condemn the Church is that they wer not interested in finding out the truth.
Ah there we are, it was you... well you see, I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that - the suppression was clearly bad and misguided, but we can't conclude from that that they were uninterested in the truth - rather they thought they were defending it, however unreasonable that defence was. Not that I think we can't condemn them for being unreasonable, as you write, so we only partially disagree here. But also it's not that they ignored the evidence from telescopes, it's that they didn't trust the evidence from telescopes, and wanted to see some evidence that the telescope really does portray what Galileo claimed they portray. It's possible that Galileo saw artifacts that resulted from the telescope itself, rather than real things out there. In order to really adjudicate on this, we'd need a further developed theory of optics and sh.t that just wasn't available at the time (now Galileo had, with hindsight maybe, the better arguments on this, I agree, because he could point the instrument to a church tower to demonstrate that it really does enlarge rather than invent things, but the debate revolved around whether objects on earth really do compare to objects in the heavens, and on this point the at the time firmly established Aristotelian physics claimed they can't. Since Galileo went against established knowledge, he had the higher burden of proof, in modern parlance). Again, it was not so much a church vs Galileo thing, but more a one set of scientists against another set of scientists, where the church just happened to take a particular side (and then of course unreasonably stuck to it for far too long).


This may be a bit of a tangent, but this thread is already far off anyway. The Aristotelian/Ptolemaic system was, as I already wrote, on the face of it quite incompatible with scripture, and the church for the whole of the middle ages was absolutely fine with it. In fact, they canonised scholars, like Aquinas, who popularised it and wrote long tracts on how scientific (as it was then) knowledge can be accommodated with scripture. Why did things work out differently this time round? Most likely this was at least partly a consequence of the different social and political position the Church was in at the time, with the reformation raging in Europe at the time and the Turks threatening to overrun the Balkans and god knows where they'd stop. Catholicism was in a very precarious position and we only know with hindsight that they managed to hold on and thrive. As we know with almost all petty nationalism, in times of threat we retreat into dogmatism; the Tory flag waving and Churchill worshipping for example is a sure sign that all is not well in Britain. Added to that the church did in fact go to great lengths (considering their circumstances) to accommodate Galileo as a scientific contribution and differentiate it from the doctrinal - it was Galileo's refusal to take this olive branch that led to the trial. Maffeo Barberini, or pope Urban VIII, was in his pre-pope days a friend and supporter of Galileo so there was an element of personal betrayal involved, particularly when Galileo presented his opponent's views through an intentionally dumb character called "Simplicius" in his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.
I've never had a signature, and it never did me any harm

Millennie Al
Catbabel
Posts: 910
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am

warumich wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:35 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:44 am
The earnestness is not in question, but reality cares only about results - not thinge like earnestness or effort.
Reality doesn't give a damn about anything because it's not sentient, look at who's anthropomorphising now... but seriously, I felt I needed to make that point because somebody, maybe even you, earlier on said that religion doesn't care about the truth or something similar. So earnestness is important if we want to evaluate people's actions, of course not if it's about the results.
I'll try to rephrase it. The person doing something may be earnest, but the results they get do not depend on their earnestness. They depend on whether the person is applying a procedure which works. If the procedure does not work, then we can criticise that independent of criticising the person applying it (though we might criticise the person who chose to use that procedure, of course).
However there are plenty of things religions believe that don't contradict any science (like resurrection as a one-off miracle, this is not something we can put to an experiment), which I, like you, may think are unlikely, but there's no point being an arse about it either. And as to how we evaluate whether this sort of thing is likely depends on our background assumptions (or priors if you will), so it's not necessarily laughable.
It's always possible to come up with exceptions which are hidden away in some unobservable time or place. But that also means that any such proposed exceptions should have a very strong justification. Otherwise we can all just make up whatever nonsense we like and tailor it to suitable gaps.
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:44 am
The difference is that if you see something with your eyes, I can also see it with mine, whereas if you have a vision I cannot share in it. [...]
How do we know that there is no privileged observer effect in eyesight? How did we know visions are not shared? How did we even figure out that all these things are important distinctions? As I'm scared I'll be misread again, I'm not saying this isn't the case, but there are plenty of assumptions you are making that are reasonable now, but needed to be reasoned out first, and that process wasn't easy or straightforward. You're still judging this from a position of hindsight.


We know these things from observation - not reasoning. It is not possible to reason them out. We know there is no privileged observer because people describe what they see and other people agree or disagree that they see the same thing - such as whether a dress is blue/black or white/gold. From such disagreements we can understand how people's differing subjective experiences are actually parts of the same objective reality. (And if something is not part of a shared objective reality it can be safely ignored). Use of observations is necessarily hindsight because the observation must preceed the conclusion built on it.
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:02 am
Yes, up to a point.
Hooray, we agree on something! I did not argue that the suppression was justified.
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:02 am
But the critical factor which makes me condemn the Church is that they wer not interested in finding out the truth.
Ah there we are, it was you... well you see, I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that - the suppression was clearly bad and misguided, but we can't conclude from that that they were uninterested in the truth - rather they thought they were defending it, however unreasonable that defence was.
I didn't say that they were not interested in the truth. I said they were not interested in finding out the truth. This is a key difference between science and religion. They had a belief and since it was held religiously rather than scientifically, it was not open to be challenged. It was already perfect, so there was no more finding out to be done. Scientifically held beliefs are always subject to evidence to the contrary, Nothing is so certain it cannot be challenged and there is no reason why a crank shouldn't waste their own time on a crackpot theory.
Not that I think we can't condemn them for being unreasonable, as you write, so we only partially disagree here. But also it's not that they ignored the evidence from telescopes, it's that they didn't trust the evidence from telescopes, and wanted to see some evidence that the telescope really does portray what Galileo claimed they portray. It's possible that Galileo saw artifacts that resulted from the telescope itself, rather than real things out there. In order to really adjudicate on this, we'd need a further developed theory of optics and sh.t that just wasn't available at the time (now Galileo had, with hindsight maybe, the better arguments on this, I agree, because he could point the instrument to a church tower to demonstrate that it really does enlarge rather than invent things, but the debate revolved around whether objects on earth really do compare to objects in the heavens, and on this point the at the time firmly established Aristotelian physics claimed they can't.
If the theory said that heavenly objects are totally unlike earthly ones, what possible evidence could have convinced them that the telescope was showing what it appeared to show?

And, of course, once you have a telescope you can look at lots of things in the heavens and see other deviations from the old theory.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

User avatar
warumich
Clardic Fug
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:05 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
I'll try to rephrase it. The person doing something may be earnest, but the results they get do not depend on their earnestness. They depend on whether the person is applying a procedure which works. If the procedure does not work, then we can criticise that independent of criticising the person applying it (though we might criticise the person who chose to use that procedure, of course).
The anthropomorphism comment was a bit mean, sorry, I know what you were trying to say (though incidentally I'm fascinated how easily we all seem to fall into speech patterns like this, it's almost like we find it difficult to express causes without agency). But that was all kind of my point, we need to criticise procedures not people. Apart from that criticising the procedure is not always as easy as that, again if things were that obvious we'd have had Renaissance mobiles.
Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
It's always possible to come up with exceptions which are hidden away in some unobservable time or place. But that also means that any such proposed exceptions should have a very strong justification. Otherwise we can all just make up whatever nonsense we like and tailor it to suitable gaps.
Indeed. My point is that what counts as a strong justification is in the eyes of the beholder. I keep coming back to Bayesian reasoning here as an analogy, it depends on what your prior probabilities are, and if you start with the belief that miracles are possible, then this is not quite so obvious. It's not as if people come up with any old nonsense, these tend to be things that fit into the general worldview. And even so, I think my point that there is no need to be an arse about it stands - if people believe that and there is no evidence against it and has no other negative consequences, why bother?
Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
We know these things from observation - not reasoning. It is not possible to reason them out. We know there is no privileged observer because people describe what they see and other people agree or disagree that they see the same thing - such as whether a dress is blue/black or white/gold. From such disagreements we can understand how people's differing subjective experiences are actually parts of the same objective reality. (And if something is not part of a shared objective reality it can be safely ignored). Use of observations is necessarily hindsight because the observation must preceed the conclusion built on it.
I'd still think that reasoning needs to be part of it, because observation by itself is not going to help us out if the validity of the observation is under question. If you go to a Pentecostal service and talk to people, you'll see that people are remarkably consistent in describing their experience of being possessed by the Holy Spirit. I can see why they'd think there is some objective reality behind it. Not that I agree with that, but all I'm saying is that it is not that easy, and it took centuries for our current understanding of what is likely real observation and what is a psychological artifact to crystallise out.
Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
I didn't say that they were not interested in the truth. I said they were not interested in finding out the truth. This is a key difference between science and religion. They had a belief and since it was held religiously rather than scientifically, it was not open to be challenged. It was already perfect, so there was no more finding out to be done. Scientifically held beliefs are always subject to evidence to the contrary, Nothing is so certain it cannot be challenged and there is no reason why a crank shouldn't waste their own time on a crackpot theory.
Ok, but then I would argue (have been arguing) that the "not interested in finding out the truth" is also not correct. It also looks to me like you're trying to define your way out of trouble because "since it was held religiously rather than scientifically, it was not open to be challenged", looks like you mean to say that something is religious by virtue of not being open to challenge (and vice versa for science). Trouble is that this does not align with sociological or historical evidence of religion as a phenomenon (or come to that, science). But sure if that's what your definition is, there can be no argument, because any counter-example is then not real religion for you. Your trouble is that this might work fine for Pentecostalism maybe, but you'd then have to concede that the Lutheranism I grew up surrounded by (or come to that, the medieval Islam or Catholicism) are not religions.

Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
If the theory said that heavenly objects are totally unlike earthly ones, what possible evidence could have convinced them that the telescope was showing what it appeared to show?
Not much, no - I'm not a specialist in Renaissance science, so I can't tell you on top of my head how the issue was eventually resolved (despite having Galileo's book on my desk for consultation here, but he only presents one side of the story), but I think it was a gradual coming round to his point of view since the Aristotelian system started crumbling in other places too, which lowered their priors in the course of the next century or so. There was afaik now clinching evidence or gotcha-moment. But this just demonstrates how difficult it is to reach the right conclusions from the evidence you have been given, even for intelligent and scientifically minded people.

I keep mentioning the historical and sociological evidence. You don't accept that without a fight either, which is probably as it should be. What possible evidence would I need to bring up to persuade you?
I've never had a signature, and it never did me any harm

Millennie Al
Catbabel
Posts: 910
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:28 am

warumich wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:05 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
It's always possible to come up with exceptions which are hidden away in some unobservable time or place. But that also means that any such proposed exceptions should have a very strong justification. Otherwise we can all just make up whatever nonsense we like and tailor it to suitable gaps.
Indeed. My point is that what counts as a strong justification is in the eyes of the beholder. I keep coming back to Bayesian reasoning here as an analogy, it depends on what your prior probabilities are, and if you start with the belief that miracles are possible, then this is not quite so obvious. It's not as if people come up with any old nonsense, these tend to be things that fit into the general worldview. And even so, I think my point that there is no need to be an arse about it stands - if people believe that and there is no evidence against it and has no other negative consequences, why bother?
In Bayesian reasoning you will converge to the truth unless your prior probability is 1 in which case your unshakeable faith will remain. I don't see religions converging on truth: I see then clinging on to silly ideas until external changes become overwhelming. And I don't mean that the religions change due to being convinced that they were wrong by argument or evidence - I mean that other factors, such as losing believers or politics do it.

And while there are some apparently harmless religious beliefs that do not directly have harmful consequences, their persistence provides a model for other beliefs to get judged against. It's bad mental practice.
Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
We know these things from observation - not reasoning. It is not possible to reason them out. We know there is no privileged observer because people describe what they see and other people agree or disagree that they see the same thing - such as whether a dress is blue/black or white/gold. From such disagreements we can understand how people's differing subjective experiences are actually parts of the same objective reality. (And if something is not part of a shared objective reality it can be safely ignored). Use of observations is necessarily hindsight because the observation must preceed the conclusion built on it.
I'd still think that reasoning needs to be part of it, because observation by itself is not going to help us out if the validity of the observation is under question. If you go to a Pentecostal service and talk to people, you'll see that people are remarkably consistent in describing their experience of being possessed by the Holy Spirit. I can see why they'd think there is some objective reality behind it.
Well, firstly people are remarkably consistent in describing Sherlock Holmes or Santa Claus, even though they're fictional. One of the skills that people develop in dealing with others is evaluating whether or not something is true or the other person is mistaken or lying.

But secondly, it's entirely possible that there is some objective reality behind it - just not a supernatural one. If different people are subjected to a similar stimulus (e.g. drugs, sleep deprivation, stress) they may well have similar hallucinations if there is something about the brain which favours them.
Millennie Al wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:24 am
I didn't say that they were not interested in the truth. I said they were not interested in finding out the truth. This is a key difference between science and religion. They had a belief and since it was held religiously rather than scientifically, it was not open to be challenged. It was already perfect, so there was no more finding out to be done. Scientifically held beliefs are always subject to evidence to the contrary, Nothing is so certain it cannot be challenged and there is no reason why a crank shouldn't waste their own time on a crackpot theory.
Ok, but then I would argue (have been arguing) that the "not interested in finding out the truth" is also not correct. It also looks to me like you're trying to define your way out of trouble because "since it was held religiously rather than scientifically, it was not open to be challenged", looks like you mean to say that something is religious by virtue of not being open to challenge (and vice versa for science). Trouble is that this does not align with sociological or historical evidence of religion as a phenomenon (or come to that, science). But sure if that's what your definition is, there can be no argument, because any counter-example is then not real religion for you. Your trouble is that this might work fine for Pentecostalism maybe, but you'd then have to concede that the Lutheranism I grew up surrounded by (or come to that, the medieval Islam or Catholicism) are not religions.

I keep mentioning the historical and sociological evidence. You don't accept that without a fight either, which is probably as it should be. What possible evidence would I need to bring up to persuade you?
Provide a few examples of what we would agree were religions changing their beliefs due to an intellectual process of considering evidence. For example, a religion which decided that women could be priests before society had already made a huge movement towards equality, or changing position on homosexuality, racism, or something like that. Not change because the religions was forced to follow society, or it was forced to by the king, or the new emperor - change by considering evidence.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

secret squirrel
Snowbonk
Posts: 495
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:42 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by secret squirrel » Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:44 am

This is such a weird argument. When have scientific institutions taken the lead in social issues? The Royal Society didn't have any female fellows till 1945. It has never had a female president. Historically, 'scientific' stances on issues such as race have often reflected base prejudice as much if not more than that of the Church. Opposition to slavery was more often founded on considerations emerging from religious convictions than the 'science' of the day, for example.

On the other hand, if you're interested in what would more commonly be regarded as scientific issues, then the Church and its thinkers also has a long history of taking physical evidence into account (though yes they also cared a lot about scripture, and also writings by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle). The medieval Church was extremely interested in astronomy, for example. This article has some interesting discussion about the interplay between scripture, Greek philosophy, and observation and scientific reasoning in the middle ages.

User avatar
warumich
Clardic Fug
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:18 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:28 am
Provide a few examples of what we would agree were religions changing their beliefs due to an intellectual process of considering evidence. For example, a religion which decided that women could be priests before society had already made a huge movement towards equality, or changing position on homosexuality, racism, or something like that. Not change because the religions was forced to follow society, or it was forced to by the king, or the new emperor - change by considering evidence.
Well yes, as squirrel said, and as I have noted in previous posts, the medieval catholic church has not only tolerated Aquinas, but even canonised him. They were almost the only sponsor of intellectual activity for most of the period and theology changed frequently to accord with scientific advances. I don't understand why that is not good enough for you. As for women priests, as squirrel notes, it's not as if any other institutional setting, religious or secular, covered themselves in glory.

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:28 am
In Bayesian reasoning you will converge to the truth unless your prior probability is 1 in which case your unshakeable faith will remain. I don't see religions converging on truth: I see then clinging on to silly ideas until external changes become overwhelming. And I don't mean that the religions change due to being convinced that they were wrong by argument or evidence - I mean that other factors, such as losing believers or politics do it.
First, I don't actually think people do Bayesian calculations when assessing what to believe, however it shows that coming to different conclusions when considering the same evidence is perfectly rational. And yes though people would converge, this is a process that takes time and several iterations, even if people are perfect Bayesians. Which is more or less what we've been seeing, people do come round eventually. But you don't accept that, because you think that this only happens due to being forced by "other" factors or something, for whose existence you have produced no evidence. But when you write about "silly" ideas, you're pre-judging, obviously they are not silly from the perspective of the people who hold them. That's the whole point.
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:28 am
Well, firstly people are remarkably consistent in describing Sherlock Holmes or Santa Claus, even though they're fictional. One of the skills that people develop in dealing with others is evaluating whether or not something is true or the other person is mistaken or lying.

But secondly, it's entirely possible that there is some objective reality behind it - just not a supernatural one. If different people are subjected to a similar stimulus (e.g. drugs, sleep deprivation, stress) they may well have similar hallucinations if there is something about the brain which favours them.
Santa Claus has nothing to do with this. I'm talking about people going into a trance or whatever happens and then attribute the experience to something they already believe exists, it makes perfect sense particularly when other people appear to have similar experiences. Now why exactly is a supernatural reality behind it not possible? What feat of logic are we using here?

Incidentally, if children believe Santa Claus exists because people they trust tell them so, and they see snowy footprints going out of the chimney on Christmas morning, and if they believe that their parents couldn't possibly be so mean as to make the whole thing up, then it would be rational to believe that Santa came. Our children are being deceived, but they're not naturally stupid. They're wrong, but justified in their belief. That's all I'm claiming for religion.
I've never had a signature, and it never did me any harm

User avatar
lpm
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3474
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: Mocking religion

Post by lpm » Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:36 am

Religions are not internally consistent. The correct analogy would be Mum telling a plausible story about Santa Claus but Dad telling a different plausible story about Santa Claus. Doesn't take smart kids too many years to figure out something's gone wrong somewhere.
What ever happened to that Trump guy, you know, the one who was president for a bit?

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:51 am

lpm wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:36 am
Religions are not internally consistent. The correct analogy would be Mum telling a plausible story about Santa Claus but Dad telling a different plausible story about Santa Claus. Doesn't take smart kids too many years to figure out something's gone wrong somewhere.
In Italy, Christmas presents are brought by the baby Jesus, who appears in the nativity scene crib at midnight. Because of course Santa Claus doesn't exist.
molto tricky

User avatar
dyqik
Stummy Beige
Posts: 4178
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: Mocking religion

Post by dyqik » Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:25 pm

shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:51 am
lpm wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:36 am
Religions are not internally consistent. The correct analogy would be Mum telling a plausible story about Santa Claus but Dad telling a different plausible story about Santa Claus. Doesn't take smart kids too many years to figure out something's gone wrong somewhere.
In Italy, Christmas presents are brought by the baby Jesus, who appears in the nativity scene crib at midnight. Because of course Santa Claus doesn't exist.
Shirley it's the Baby Jesus™ who gets the presents, not gives them?

Also, if we're being rigorous, gets them some time after the day itself, which is a handy get out if you've forgotten to get a gift for a religious fundamentalist in your family.

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 5361
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:59 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:25 pm
shpalman wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:51 am
lpm wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:36 am
Religions are not internally consistent. The correct analogy would be Mum telling a plausible story about Santa Claus but Dad telling a different plausible story about Santa Claus. Doesn't take smart kids too many years to figure out something's gone wrong somewhere.
In Italy, Christmas presents are brought by the baby Jesus, who appears in the nativity scene crib at midnight. Because of course Santa Claus doesn't exist.
Shirley it's the Baby Jesus™ who gets the presents, not gives them?
Just regifting the ones he gets which he doesn't want.
molto tricky

Post Reply