Re: [asa] Empiricism, Faith and Science

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Date: Thu Sep 14 2006 - 09:39:55 EDT

There is not so much to add to what George Murphy wrote,
but it is rather typical talk you will encounter on
skeptic lists. When I worked at condensed matter physics,
I was not so much exposed to this, but now in the biosciences,
I have somehow encountered a lot more of this. Because of
the nature of group dynamics, one does feel rather outside.

It's a bit ironic in a way, because as you move closer and
closer to the very fundamentals questions of life and what
all this means, one would think that humility should greatly
abound, yet in fact, I sense quite the opposite is some cases.

> Regardless of what they say to placate the faithful, most scientists
> probably know in their hearts that science and religion are incompatible ways of
> viewing the world.

It depends. It is quite clear that doctors perform the
operation and that most such things are routine now. But we
can still thank God for having given us sight enough to
develop these tools, and we still depend on God for the
true healing. We have the technology to keep a person alive
much longer than in the day the Bible was written, but how
to live and why is still a very different question that science
has no ability to answer.

 Supernatural forces and events, essential aspects of most religions, play no
role in
> science, not because we exclude them deliberately, but because they have
> never been a useful way to understand nature.

The supernatural is one of the more difficult matters of a
scientist: particularly someone trained in physics. We like
to know how things work, so there is a nature instinct to
search for a mechanism for everything. I think
I would respond like Confucius here: why should we spend time
worrying about how to live in heaven if we cannot figure out
how to live on earth? So if we do not understand what the
world is, how can we hope to understand the supernatural?

Scientific "truths" are empirically supported observations agreed on by
> observers. Religious "truths," on the other hand, are personal,
> unverifiable and contested by those of different faiths. Science is nonsectarian: those
> who disagree on scientific issues do not blow each other up. Science
> encourages doubt; most religions quash it.

He who shouts loudly about questioning authority has never
been forced to really question any actual authority.

 It is clear that religious truths are more personal,
but so what? A personal God should be, I guess, rather "personal".
The thing that should matter is the truth, personal or not.
> But religion is not completely separable from science. Virtually all
> religions make improbable claims that are in principle empirically testable, and
> thus within the domain of science: Mary, in Catholic teaching, was bodily taken
> to heaven, while Muhammad rode up on a white horse; and Jesus (born of a
> virgin) came back from the dead. None of these claims has been corroborated, and
> while science would never accept them as true without evidence, religion
> does. A mind that accepts both science and religion is thus a mind in conflict

It is a delicate matter. At any rate, as George pointed out, the
resurrection did involve
witnesses. Of all the other matters that could come up about the Bible and
all that,
the resurrection is the most central to being a Christian. There are some
things that
do matter, and somehow, I have received Grace enough to come to see it here.
given what we have in hand, these really are questions about how to live, not
science can prove or disprove. I'm only given this one known chance, what am
I to
do while I have that one chance?

By Grace we proceed,

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Received on Thu Sep 14 09:41:15 2006

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