Re: [asa] Re: [asa] American Phghsical Soceity News--April 2009 (Volume 18, Number 4)

From: <>
Date: Mon Apr 06 2009 - 17:26:50 EDT

I heartily agree to just about everything you wrote below!

In fact, I would go further (I think in Lewisian fashion) to propose that the
more purely "non-religious" a man thinks he is, the more deeply, unknowingly,
and thoroughly he is indoctrinated into his driving worldview. (I know I
shouldn't play so fast & loose with words like ideology/world view/philosophy,
etc. But I think everybody here should know what is spoken of by 'world view'.)
 As Lewis wrote somewhere, --"a man when he is being religious, is not thinking
about religion; he hasn't the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a
later moment) call his activity from outside."

And so the secularists could (ironically) actually begin to have a more credible
claim to at least some objectivity if they just would be done with it and call
their faith a religion (or out of deference to their scorn for the word, grant
them "philosophy"). Then they could at least begin that important activity of
examining "the object". But alas --so far under its enchantment have so many
gone that it has become a substrate invisible to their gaze.

p.s. I agree entirely about your resistance to the non-intersecting models
between science and religion. I think a Venn-diagram look at the picture could
accurately portray "religion" or "philosophy" as the bigger box, and "science"
as a subset entirely within.

Quoting wjp <>:

> It is a mistake, I think, to regard "religion" as a kind of science, yet
> it seems that whenever science and religion are seated at the same table
> this is how Science regards it, judging it to be a "lesser science."
> Neither do I think that science and "religion" can be placed in
> non-intersecting
> realms, like the supposed dichotomy between reason and emotions, or
> subjective
> and objective.
> Instead, I think it better to think of "religion" as prior to science.
> Science cannot take place without "religion." It is the background which
> makes science possible. It may be, as the Duhemian motivation to
> Methodological
> Naturalism (MN) indicates, that there is something of a religious-neutral
> science. However, I think that more entails that there be some (perhaps not
> many) possible religious foundations or backgrounds for science.
> I would suggest that those who believe they live in something like a
> "rational"
> world, free of "superstitions" and "myths" are oblivious to the "world" they
> have
> inherited, breath and have their life in. The vast majority of their lives,
> even thinking lives, is unquestioned, indeed is certain, and given. It is
> how they
> get about and know what it is to be alive, what to do, and what it is to be
> themselves.
> I take this to be an intimate, if not invisible, part of their "religion."
> They simply
> have forgotten to give it thanks and praise, mistaking themselves as master
> and
> creator. They simply have forgotten that they are "existing beings."
> Perhaps science can produce something that is extra-subjective, something
> that has a
> general human perspective, rather than an individual one. But Science is not
> the
> scientist. They have not, I pray, become machines, mere objects. Scientists
> must
> still derive science. They do so in the context of something larger than MN.
> Let me
> call that, for the present, religion.
> bill powers
> On Mon, 6 Apr 2009 11:00:48 -0400, "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Letters
> > Back and Forth on Faith and Physics
> >
> > What was APS News thinking in preparing its February issue? Almost an
> > entire page is boldly devoted to "Faith and
> > Physics"<> by
> > Alaina Levine, highlighting particular religious views of physicists Rabbi
> > Kopelman and Reverend Heller. Why should their views on faith trump news
> of
> > other things physical, as in American Physical Society News?
> >
> > One could expect to read views like these in religious-tract magazines and
> > perhaps even in many Sunday newspapers, but they do not belong in APS
> News
> > unless there are plans to replace the "P" in APS with an "F."
> >
> > Harry A. Schafft
> > Silver Spring, MD
> > ***
> >
> > I read with interest the article on Finding Sanctuary in Faith and
> > Physics<>, by
> > Alaina Levine. Chief among the points made in the article is that there is
> > no conflict between science and religion, as shown by Kopelman and Heller
> > active engagement in both, and that there is no contradiction between
> > them, in fact they can be considered as two sides of the same coin. I
> > agree with the author on the conflict issue. There can be no intellectual
> > conflict between two very different things, one giving limited but certain
> > knowledge, shared by all human beings, the other providing opinions and
> > moral rules, changing in time, changing for different ethnic groups, and
> > all based on faith. I understand that religion and spiritual beliefs can
> > motivate some scientists in their search to explore the beauty of the
> > universe. At the individual level religion can be a strong, and sometime
> > positive, force to motivate a human being, as can be other philosophical
> > beliefs. Epicurus encouraged his followers to study natural philosophy to
> > escape superstition and live with peace of mind. However at the social
> > level-and we should not forget that all that we do has a social
> > dimension-science and religion are very different. In our societies
> > religions are powerful and rich organizations, and their representatives
> > have different motivations in their actions from those of scientists. At
> > the social level religion and science are often in conflict, as shown
> > through past and very recent history. Compare the power and social impact
> > of churches of any denomination with that of the American Physical
> > Society. The bloodiest war in Europe, in terms of devastation and
> > percentage of people killed, was the war of religions between Protestants
> > and Catholics in the 17th century. Which is exactly why I am very happy to
> > be a member of APS, while I am not a member of any church. Near the end of
> > the paper Ms. Levine gives a quote from a 1940 Einstein paper: " ...
> > science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." But
> > in a letter to Eric Gutkind in 1945 Einstein wrote: "... The word God is
> > for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses,
> > the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are
> > nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can
> > (for me) change this."
> >
> > Claudio Pellegrini
> > Los Angeles, CA
> > ***
> >
> > With all due respect to Reverend Heller and Rabbi
> > Kopelman<> (APS
> > News, February 2009), it's a waste of time (mine, other readers), and
> space
> > (yours), to try one more time to rationalize science and religion. It's
> > really very simple logically: if "A" is contained within a circular
> > boundary, then "NOT A" is outside of it! There is physics, and NOT
> > physics, i.e. metaphysics. The former is independent of language, culture,
> > religion-and usually politics! (The Bible falls with the same acceleration
> > as anything else if released in the gravitational field.) The latter
> > clearly is not. Anything contrived by man's primal imagination and fear,
> > those metaphysical "things" outside of the circle, are all logically
> > equivalent: if you accept at all, anything to do with those
> > anthropomorphic male characters up there somewhere, then you might as well
> > accept witches, demons, trolls, fairies (the one for the teeth comes to
> > mind), etc. not to mention Santa Claus among other "things" (the list is
> > endless as I'm sure you can appreciate). And as for the gobbledygook about
> > "how" vs. "why," well-mathematics satisfies the first, again it's just
> pure
> > logic, and the conservation laws answer the second. PLEASE, no more holy
> > rationalizations, just "shut up and calculate" (so to speak).
> >
> > Peter Hansen
> > Torrance, CA
> > ***
> > Profiles in Versatility, Finding Sanctuary in Faith and
> > Physics<> by
> > Alaina G. Levine was very interesting. But I am surprised that neither
> > Rabbi Kopelman nor Reverend Heller touched upon some of the bridges
> > between physics and religion which add strength to their convictions. For
> > instance, if one was to assume that the theory of the Big Bang is correct,
> > then one only has to look at the typical answer that physicists give to
> the
> > question: "What caused the Big Bang?" The standard answer is that a
> > physicist cannot answer that question. As it is the nature of physics to
> > study only what can be measured and since one cannot measure what caused
> > the Big Bang, that is out of the realm of physics. Hence we have come to a
> > bridge between physics and religion or between physics and philosophy if
> > you will. In this case one completes the other. Religion can go where
> > science cannot dwell and the picture is complete.
> >
> > Joseph R. Tatarczuk
> > Poestenkill, NY
> > ***
> > Very glad to read the article "Finding Sanctuary in Faith and
> > Physics"<> by
> > Alaina Levine in the February APS News.
> >
> > The rational views of both Rabbi-Physicist Kopelman and Priest-Physicist
> > Heller are similar and can be summarized as "they do NOT see a conflict
> > between religion and physics."
> >
> > As an atheist since my first day of Sunday school at age 6, my conclusion
> > is similar. For a long time, there have been conflicts between religion
> > and science. But I do not see them as necessary. Science and religion can
> > remain true to their own separate domains without conflict.
> >
> > The essence of religion is to establish a code for human behavior.
> > Examples are the Ten Commandments and philosophical phrases such "Do unto
> > others as you would have them do unto you." This is essentially philosophy
> > which does not have to be based upon anything but acceptance, belief or
> > faith. No data or evidence is necessary. Dinosaurs are not relevant. Flat
> > vs round Earth is not relevant. The motion of the Solar System is not
> > relevant. Religious philosophy should be based on faith and belief,
> > independent of extraneous factors.
> > The essence of science is to compile data about natural phenomena and try
> > to describe them systematically and self-consistently. The ultimate goal
> > is the universal description of all phenomena in this fashion, but that
> > lofty goal is a long way off.
> >
> > Any data and/or theory is under constant scrutiny and reassessment to be
> > altered, changed, expanded, discarded or replaced in response to new and
> > better input or insight.
> >
> > There are no absolute truths in science, only an approach constantly
> > seeking more accurate truths.
> >
> > The two disciplines are in totally separate domains which do not overlap.
> > Conflicts should be avoided by each discipline by remaining confined to
> > its own separate domain. The World would be a much better place.
> >
> > Chuck Gallo
> > Lake Elmo, MN
> > ***
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Received on Mon Apr 6 17:27:34 2009

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