The Instigator
Tatarize
Con (against)
Losing
23 Points
The Contender
dtclark2188
Pro (for)
Winning
57 Points

The general thrust of Mangani's statement is accurate.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/10/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,240 times Debate No: 6455
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (29)
Votes (13)

 

Tatarize

Con

In the comments to my last debate, Mangani made a number claims. I contend that the general thrust of Mangani's statement is wrong.

Statement as follows.

-------------------------

"Irony is evolution in the bible:

Genesis 3:6-7: Man did not know he was naked and became aware after eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil= Homo Erectus/Habilis, etc. evolves into Homo Sapiens. Both tell of how man "did not know" or "was not aware", and later became or "evolved" into "awareness" or knowledge. His brain grew.

Genesis 3:14: The serpend is cursed and forced to crawl on it's belly= snakelike lizards with legs evolved into serpents- without arms and legs.

Genesis also describes how man became a hunter/gatherer, and then a farmer (Cain). It even goes on to explain how man evolved from organizing in small family units, to tribes, and eventually into kingdoms. All this is compatible (if looked at from the scientific perspective of a non-scientific community explaining the as-of-yet understable and compare it to what we now believe to be true) with science and evolutionary theory. The bible does not contradict science, and to believe so is to believe the Earth is flat. To interpret the bible as literal from a religious perspective is to undo it's value as a source of wisdom. To interpret the bible as literal from a scientific perspective is to ignore that science first sprung from logical inquiry by the religious. Religion, in times past, was synonymous with science, and learning should not separate the two- especially if we believe in evolution."

-------------------------

Mangani does not seem inclined to defend the comments so I've opened it up to others.

Does anybody wish to defend his implication that Genesis is simply figurative language describing great scientific understandings? That religion in other times was synonymous with science? That the Bible does not contradict science? That to read the Bible literally destroys its wisdom? Or anything within the general opinion that the Bible is figuratively true or buried within it are nuggets of the profound.

This should be a debate on general liberal Christian apologetics.
dtclark2188

Pro

Wow, this is tough issue to defend. If it is alright with you Tatarize, I will only defend the idea that the Bible does not contradict science, which you probably will agree with me on. If you would like me to defend the other parts of the initial argument, I will do my best, but, from the way the debate is set-up, it appeared like one might be able to pick and choose which issue was even plausibly defensible.
To state that the Bible contradicts science is a common misnomer. However, although the methods (or the lack thereof) that the ancients used to discern and describe the natural phenomena around them were crude, they still attempted to answer basic questions such as 1) The position and shape of the Earth 2) The age of the Earth 3) The cause of misfortunes, and various other questions that piqued their curiosities. To make the debate simpler, I will focus on the first claim, that the Earth is flat and is in the center of the solar system or the ancient equivalent. Upon initial observation from a first person perspective, it appears as if the Earth is indeed flat. Further, since the stars appear to be above us, and the sun and moon move across the sky, it is easy to understand how someone could mistakenly think that the Earth was the center of all of this celestial activity.
Now, the claim is that these hypotheses contradict modern science. Although it is true that the findings of the ancients are false, and are different from the findings of modern science, it does not mean that the Bible contradicts science quay science. Obviously, it cannot both be true that the earth is flat and round, but the issue is not whether the hypotheses of the Bible are correct, rather, the issue is whether or not the it is incoherent to both understand the Bible and science simultaneously. If one were to claim that the Bible and science are contradictory, it would be like claiming that each time a scientist comes up with a false hypothesis, he has contradicted science. Therefore, the Bible may very well be a very large collection of false hypotheses, but that does not mean that it contradicts science quay science.

(side note to Tataris: I know this is probably not what you were hoping to debate, and if you want to drop the debate, I would understand. I in no way want to defend Mangani's position because it seems, at least from your breakdown, to be indefensible. It could and probably is true that 'religion' stood in for 'science' as we understand it, but that in no way leads one to conclude that there is any scientific truth buried in the Bible. There might be, and are facts, such as "the world appears to be flat," but, as you well know, this fact is in no way leads one to conclude that the Earth, is indeed, flat.
Debate Round No. 1
Tatarize

Con

Thank you for accepting this debate. Given the circumstances I completely agree with your terms. We shall largely ignore the other points and focus on the question of whether the Bible contradicts science.

-

You believe it a misnomer to make the claim that the Bible contradicts science, it is not. The basic tenets displayed in the bible are the antithesis to the scientific ethic. The basic virtues of science consist of three things.

1) Curiosity.
2) Empiricism.
3) Progress.

While the antiscience ethics typically oppose these same virtues. This basic divide comes from the most fundamental and basic question of epistemology. How do we know what we know? The scientific ethic demands we try things out, fiddle around, and understand.

The early Church was opposed to these virtues, either as demonstratively evil or completely worthless. Curiosity was simply vanity. Anything God wanted you to know he would have told you. If he didn't tell you then you don't need to know. Empiricism was similarly condemned as arrogance and only scripture, revelation, faith-based intuition were valid ways of knowing the only thing you need to know: the scriptures. To accept Empirical evidence as the highest authority which was seen as a rejection of the authority of God. Progress was seen equally as a worthless pursuit. Even if you could progress in your understanding, it would be a waste time because the Bible is all you need to be saved and being saved is all you need.

While the understanding of the world displayed in the Bible is obviously primitive and we should not find fault in that (outside of the supposition that it's a product of divine revelation rather than the product of its time).

-

I must agree that the Earth does look pretty flat when we are walking around on it. The sun, moon and stars do seem to move around the planet. These observations are rather undeniable. However, the fact that the Bible allowed the simplest and easiest observations to creep into the vernacular of the Bible, does not imply for a moment that it is remotely scientific. There's no investigation. There's no curiosity. There's no understanding conveyed. The Bible makes the consistent consistent claim is that you *shouldn't* question such things. It is wrong to question religious dogma. More blessed is he who believes without needing to see for himself. Walk by faith, not by sight!

The Bible is littered with such references. Zacharias is struck mute for doubting Mary's God-assisted pregnancy in Luke. Faith can move mountains and grant wishes in Mark. And James tells is to accept without doubting to avoid being tossed around like stormy seas.

You note that the Bible provides answers for some very basic questions that everybody should ask. However, the Bible doesn't actually try to answer these questions. It simply uses the obvious nature of these, typical the Greek understanding of cosmology, as the basic setting. It doesn't describe the Earth as being flat and on pedestals, rather it in places describes people on mountains so high they could see all of Earth, the four corners of Earth, and Job describes the shaking of Earth's pedestals. It doesn't explicitly say this is how the Earth is. Rather it simply draws from common understanding of an unmoving flat world with heavenly bodies traveling in the firmament.

The Bible doesn't answer the age of the Earth. Usher actually had to go through Genesis and add up the ages of all the people in the Bible to figure out "the date of creation" (October 4004BC, making the Earth 6011 years old as of January 2009). The misfortunes of others were not answered they were told it was God's punishment or the work of evil spirits. This isn't even the obvious result of any observations, rather this is simple terrorism. You are suffering because you're not Godly enough. They simply accepted intuitive things about existence and included those things, in places, into the setting.

I fully accept that it looks like the moon and the sun revolve around the Earth. The stars are look really tiny. The sky doesn't fall. Snakes lack legs. The Earth seems flat. These observations make logical sense. They are intuitive ideas for how the world works. I do not condemn those ideas any more than I condemn our own. There are a number of fairly common ideas for how the world works that are wrong. Why is it hotter during summer? Seeds are really small and trees are really big, where does the plant get the matter it needs to become really big? Why are the oceans blue? How do planes fly? -- The standard answers are almost always wrong, largely because the standard answers aren't very scientific.

Humans as a species are quick and good at making intuitive leaps, but that's not science. Science demands testing. It isn't so much accepting the intuition notion that if we drop a 10 pound weight and a 1 pound weight that the 10 pound weight falls 10 times faster as Aristotle so brilliantly intuited. Science actually climbing up the tower of Pisa and dropping the blooming things as Galileo did. Science is asking ourselves that if a plane's wings are shaped to produce lift, why do the still fly upside-down? If oceans reflect the sky, why are they still blue when it's cloudy? If we're 93 million miles from the sun, how much hotter is a couple hundred miles of tilt going to make? If we tied the ten pound weight to the one pound weight would it fall 11 times faster as the 1 pound weight alone or would the 1 pound weight impede the 10 pound weight making it fall slower?

Understanding the understanding of the time is certainly required for addressing the topic. I do not condemn them for their ignorance. I do not regard ignorance as a pejorative. They simply didn't know. However, the Bible is anti-scientific because they didn't even want to test it and the Bible actually condemns the most central virtues of science.

There certainly were scientists who were men of God. Galen, for example, did a fantastic job defending creation from a scientific point of view. When Galen was confronted by the natural evolutionists (they existed in the 6th century and date back to the 2nd century BCE with Anaxamander) he did fantastic work on anatomy to show how complex the human body was and how it was not likely the product of chance forces. He was absolutely right! (Evolution via natural selection is not chance forces at work, rather happenstance is washed away by non-random selection). He defended God with real scientific study. Later work by later anatomists showed some points and observations of Galen wrong and inaccurate, because that's the way science it works. It challenges things. It explores. It learns.

The question then isn't whether the Bible properly implied some intuitive ideas of primitive people. Rather, the question is whether it endorses the scientific ethic and compels one towards understanding; it doesn't. The Bible condemns curiosity and empiricism. It compels one to accept without evidence, reject without consideration, and to avoid doubt like the plague (which is clearly caused by demons).

The Bible contradicts science. It opposes the very fiber of what makes science work and inquiry possible and truth discernible. It isn't simply that the Bible is wrong about what the world is and how it works (and boy is it), rather the Bible doesn't compel one to care about such notions and goes so far as to condemn the very things which could.

You ask us to accept that the Bible may be a large collection of false hypotheses. But being a large collection of false hypothesis does not contradict science qua science. I am compelled to accept that. However, the fact that the Bible condemns the very tools and virtues of science *does* contradict science qua science at the most fundamental levels.

-

Even picking the most narrow scrap of Mangani's statement does not provide one jot of redemption nor tittle of truth.
dtclark2188

Pro

I would like to first make two points of clarification. First, the purpose of this debate is to determine whether or not the Bible, standing on its own, contradicts science, and not, rather, whether or not the early or even later Church opposed or opposes science. Second, the general thrust of Tataris' argument is that the Bible's tenants, as far as inquiry are concerned, are contradictory to the general tenants of science, i.e. "curiosity, empiricism, and progress."

Tataris offers up a number of cases in the Bible where empiricism is replaced in favor of "blind faith." He cites this as evidence that the Bible is, in itself, a contradiction to the tenants of science (see above). However, I think this is a hasty conclusion. It is true that the Bible is full of apparently anti-scientific rhetoric such as someone being struck dumb for doubting, or even being turned into a pillar of salt just for being curious and looking at destruction (and who among us does not stop to look at an accident). However, the problem with immediately concluding that this is in contradiction with science, is that one fails to first examine what the intent of the Bible is. The intent of the Bible is to provide 'evidence' of the existence, love, patience, wrath, etc. of a monotheistic deity. Therefore, when someone is struck dumb for doubting the plan of God, it should not be viewed as an attempt to dissuade everyone at all times to not be curious, rather, it should be seen as 'spiritual evidence' in the ignorant eyes of the ancients.

To more clearly elucidate my point, it is essential that one understands the distinction between mythos and logos. Mythos is the 'knowledge' that is associated with those things we cannot explain, in principle or not, with empiricism. Logos is that knowledge that is concerned with the physical universe, and, more specifically, with those things that concern people on a daily basis. The distinction between mythos and logos is important because 1) the ancients typically understood the distinction, and 2) The intent of Biblical writings is to increase our knowledge of mythos, not logos. Modern fundamentalists typically collapse this distinction, and, therefore, conclude that science is a threat to religion. On the other side, a modern empiricist or metaphysical naturalist will deny the importance or even the sense of the claims of mythos. However, neither side's viewpoint changes the fact that the Bible, by and large, is not concerned with logos, but, rather, with mythos. Those claims that it does put forward as hypotheses, i.e. the shape of the earth, its relation to the heavens, etc. are merely false and hastily drawn conclusions based on the primitive understanding of the time, but are not contradictory to science because if they were then all false hypothesis from Aristotle to Galileo would be contradictory to science. And those claims that seem to be opposed to the ethics of science are not properly seen as being in opposition to science because they do not seek to overturn curiosity or empiricism, but rather, to provide evidence for the existence or intent of a non-physical being within a physical and limited setting. Biblical writings were never intended to be taken as truths in the field of logos, but rather, truths in the knowledge sector of mythos, and it is the fault of the reader, not the fault of the book itself, that leads one to think that the Bible stands in contradiction to science.

It may be a bit of a hasty conclusion to state that at no point did the writers of the Bible despise and try to discredit the proponents of empirical observation. However, I think it more likely that the type of knowledge that the Bible typically attempts to expand is not, in principle, related to the knowledge gained through scientific inquiry. One might not accept this knowledge as sensible or useful knowledge (I know I do not), but that is irrelevant to the question of whether or not the Bible contradicts the tenants of science because there is a clear demarcation of knowledge, and any overlap present can be put to severe scientific scrutiny at will.

To shed light on the possible reasons for the Church denying or coming into conflict with scientific inquiry is that the Church had a vested interest in making sure that the Bible's stories were credible. If it turned out that the world was round, then one would have to wonder how someone could stand on a mountain and see the whole world. The Church had a vested interest in making itself the only legitimate source of knowledge because it allowed them to always be consulted by the powers of the world. However, once one relinquishes the need for political sway and social dominance, it becomes clear that the Bible does not inherently contradict modern science, but, rather, is an attempt to understand the intent of the world around oneself (even if that intent does not exist), and to provide evidence for the existence of that mind that is necessary for intent, i.e. God within the physical understanding of the world at the time.
Debate Round No. 2
Tatarize

Con

My opponent has managed to construct a very original argument which is seemingly as original, as it is hollow and tortured. We are asked to accept on face value that the Bible is written to be figurative and not truth. The core of it is an attempt at non-overlapping magisteria. He argues that religion doesn't contradict science by opposing every virtue needed for scientific inquiry because the book is really myth.

The argument supposes that we are to accept that a book about what punishments we shall receive is for doubting the existence of God is a scientific text because punishments are synonymous with evidence and thus, read as a whole attempts to justify the existence of God. Since God would be a way to see the world anything attempting to justify the existence of God must be scientific.

I'm not sure which aspect is more tortured the religious or the scientific in this attempt to make the two mesh. First off, the virtues of science qua science are firmly established and reading the Bible as an argument for the existence of God via punishments and feats of magic written into a book are no more compelling than claiming that Harry Potter is scientific attempt to show the evils of dark wizardry.

Science is the establishment of truth with regard to the evidence. If we think about something in this way it explains all of these facts and makes these predictions and these predictions checkout. No matter how tortured we make our logic, this is not an acceptable analogy to the Bible. The virtues of science do not contort in such ways. Threats are not empirical evidence, threats for doubts and want for answers are not curiosity, and long dusty stories about genocide and taking of sex slaves are not, in anybody's view, progress. Nothing in the Bible compels us to believe that through a rational understanding of the world and experimentation we can improve our understanding of the world. The Bible is in every aspect a rebuke of scientific ethos, and the fact that in everywhere it has been allowed to dominate the thinking we see an end to scientific thought and scientific inquiry.

I can easily allow you to focus on any shred of Mangani's comment. I can easily accept that false hypotheses are not necessarily bad science. However, when you attempt to suggest that arguments for God are scientific arguments because they make threats against scientific inquiry and that qualifies as evidence, I really need to stop you there. When you try to excuse the fact that the Bible and exalts faith and opposes every scientific virtue by claiming it's a different way of seeing things, I have to stop you there.

The Bible is antiscience because it opposes every scientific virtue. Where those virtues are exalted science makes progress, suppress them and you suppress science. The Bible is in clear contradiction. Faith is praised while inquiry is scorned. The Bible standing on its own, rebukes scientific ethics.

I submitted the positions of the Early Church fathers specifically because they would necessarily be close to and coherent with the view of the Bible. I submitted a number of clear examples in the Bible of these positions being expressed unambiguously. On the other side, there is not ever a good word given towards the understanding of natural phenomenon or towards skepticism.

The utmost difference between the scientific and the non-scientific is the difference in epistemology. How do we know what we know. Ultimately religions break down at some or many points to the issue of faith: accept what I say without regard to the evidence. Whereas scientific inquiry ultimately rests on the evidence. While these lines can get fuzzy, but they are always there and always important. The Bible ultimately is a document about faith and exalts faith as a virtue, whereas science necessarily must regard faith as a vice and a corruption of any true way of knowing.

The division given between mythos and logos is an acceptable one, and strikes nicely at the core of the argument itself. Whereas logos clearly falls into the scientific realm, mythos falls into the religious realm. This is combined my opponent to explain that the Bible is largely mythos. But somehow mythos manages to migrate into the scientific realm because modern empiricists are wrong to deny the importance? This gaping hole is consistent throughout the argument.

The book is myth and therefore not contradiction with science. The book opposes every scientific virtue and every necessary prerequisite of science, but is rendered non-contradictory by supposing that the Bible is false?

The argument being offered is that there's science based knowledge and myth-based knowledge. Modern fundamentalists accept that myth-based knowledge is best and science-based knowledge wrong if disagreeing with myth-based knowledge. Whereas modern scientists accept science-based knowledge is the best way of knowing and everything is subject to review and evidence. However, such a view is wrong and they both fall into the scientific sphere because... you say so?

I do not see why the distinction between myth-based knowledge and science-based knowledge suddenly fuzzes to allow your argument that myth is really science too to become coherent. The objection was never that the Bible contained false views of the world. That's obvious to anybody. Rather the Bible is opposed to the very nature of science and is simply a book of myth with the natural world largely as the setting.

The truth or falseness of a hypothesis doesn't make it scientific or not. Science is a process and the Bible is opposed to that process in very fundamental ways. If the book is a book of myth rather than a book of logos, then praytell, how does reading it as a book of myth rather than a book of science make the fault lie with the reader?

The differences in virtues with the Early Church were not simply notions of protecting themselves. That certainly could be a part of it, the objections were far more stately than that. The Early Church fathers regarded such progress as impossible or evil even if it could be achieved. This was not because they were worried about being wrong but rather they were worried about people doing something other than dedicating themselves to the scriptures. If the Gospels are all you need to be saved, and being saved is all you need. Why are you going to waste time and energy doing anything else? It wouldn't be until about Aquinas that the religious community started to worry that science might disprove their religious notions.

If one ignores the need for the Church to keep political power and reads the Bible as is, how does it "become clear" that it doesn't inherently contradict science? You argue it's an attempt to understand the intent of the world and the mind of God, but attempt to skirt the core issue that it does this by constructing myth whole-cloth. How is that an attempt to understand if the entire thrust of the text is this is how the world came to be, then we are told repeatedly to never question it.

Even focusing on this tiny scrap of the principle argument, I don't see how you redeem anything. You agree that the Bible is myth, and that the Bible is opposed to the virtues of science qua science, but somehow magic these two together to conclude that the Bible is not in obvious contradiction to the very notion of science? Bad observations are forgivable but opposing the inquisitive nature of science in general is not.

The Bible is in contradiction with science.
Mangani's statement is not accurate (even this fragment of the whole).
dtclark2188

Pro

My opponent has misconstrued the general thrust of my argument, which may be of my own doing. I am not claiming that the "evidence" provided for the existence, intent, etc. of God given in the Bible ought to be seen as scientific evidence. On the contrary, I think there is a clear dichotomous rift between the pursuits of science and the pursuit of understanding through myth, even if that understanding is not based on fact. The point I was trying to make is not that the knowledge the Bible places before a person is scientific, far from it because the observation is not repeatable, a hallmark of the scientific method. I was essentially trying to demonstrate that the type of knowledge, however vacant, that the Bible attempts to present is presented with mythical evidence set within the limitations of physical space, which is why we see such obvious misconceptions such as the Earth being flat, etc. Thus, my opponent has incorrectly categorized my attempt to demarcate the arenas of knowledge (mythos and logos) as an attempt to mesh the two together, something I wholeheartedly do not wish to do. But before we move on, let us explore some of the generalizations my opponent has made about the nature of science, which will hopefully show why a demarcation is necessary and proper between the knowledge sought by science and the knowledge sought by the Bible.

My opponent asserts that science has some sort of goal in mind, or that it is progressive. Further, my opponent claims that "science is the establishment of truth with regard to the evidence." I think these claims are accurate to an extent, but the terms 'progressive' and 'truth' within the scientific realm are, at best, ambiguous.

To understand why 'progressive' is a bit premature, let us first look at the term 'truth,' specifically within the scientific realm. A common and useful tool to understanding the movement of objects through space is to think of space as Euclidean. In other words, if you have a point, and you draw a line through that point, then there is only one other line in space that is parallel to the first. Within Euclidean geometry, this statement is just as true as, a square has four sides, a triangle contains 180 degrees, etc. However, what happens when we use a different geometry? Let us suppose (and trust me, many mathematicians and cosmologists have) that space is not Euclidean, that in fact, it is spherical. Once space becomes spherical, the concept of a parallel line is nonsensical. Which of these concepts is true? Is it true that lines or parallel or not? The answer is, of course, that each statement is true. Truth is determined by sentences, and the structure, and even the truth content of a sentence is determined by the language one is using. Therefore, if I am speaking in Newtonian language, then it is indeed true that objects in motion stay in motion on a straight line unless acted upon by another force. However, if I am speaking in relativistic terms, then this statement is not entirely true, and if I accept the cosmological idea that the true vacuum we exist in is indeed spherical, then the concept of a line as we know it goes out the window. The point I am making is that truth is relative to the language and system one is using.

Now, with this understanding of truth in mind, it becomes obvious that 'progress' is a misnomer because there is nothing to be progressed towards aside from established goals that humanity places before itself, such as, "the truth of the evolution of man" or "the truth of string theory," etc. Therefore, to claim that the 'nature' of science is the pursuit of truth through evidence, is not entirely accurate. A more accurate description would be that science is a method that concerns itself only with those claims that can be verified using empirical evidence, and has produced many utility increasing technological advances through this pursuit.

Once one understands that there is a already a demarcation of 'truth' and 'progress' present in science itself, it becomes simple to see why such a demarcation between science and religion is necessary. The Bible is not contradictory in the same way that Newtonian and Einsteinian physics are not contradictory. Newtonian and Einsteinian physics provide tools that have a certain utility depending on the goal, each containing 'truths' that are verified through rigorous empirical tests. The Bible, contrarily, is not even concerned with the same knowledge as science (aside from the 'claims' made in the Bible about the structure of the Earth etc. that have more to do with ancient notions, but can be seen as "false hypotheses"). Rather, the Bible is concerned with attempting to explain human existence through the supposition of a God, a moral code, etc. and it does this through the use of myth. To claim that this is somehow "contradictory" to science is absurd because the two are not even related. As my opponent claimed, the issue is epistemological.

Therefore, the claim that the Bible is opposed to science is as silly as the opposite statement. The two entities are after very different ends, with one being revealed metaphysics, and the other being an increase in utility made possible by a 'better' understanding of the mechanisms of the universe. What Tataris is essentially claiming, which is true, is that metaphysical naturalism or metaphysical materialism is in direct contradiction to the Bible and vice versa because both make claims about metaphysics that cannot both be true without violating the law of contradiction, i.e. it cannot both be true that there are non-natural entities and true that there are no non-natural entities. However, science, in principle, ought not to be a metaphysical position, rather, it is a method that consistently increases the utility of human life through empirical evidence and detecting patterns in that evidence.

To address one final point, my opponent makes the claim that "The Bible ultimately is a document about faith and exalts faith as a virtue, whereas science necessarily must regard faith as a vice and a corruption of any true way of knowing." However, I think this is also premature based on the need for efficiency in scientific inquiry. Certain dogmatic principles are always held to in science, and it causes a large schism when one of these core beliefs is shook. For example, science assumes that there are 'things' and that they can be counted, and that a=a and a+b=b+a just to name a few. These principles will probably never change because they are very efficient and necessary to human understanding. However, as any philosopher of mathematics worth their weight will tell someone, these "axioms" are assumptions about the nature of things, and there is no inherent truth in their supposition, but one can discover 'truths' after one accepts these assumptions. Now, science, for efficiency's sake, makes far larger assumptions than these such as the geometry of space, the existence of atoms and their constituent parts without verifying their existence for themselves during every experiment. Of course, I do not wish to ask scientists to waste their time verifying every principle they build an experiment or theory on, but I do wish for others to understand that much of science is "faith" in an established system, although that system can at times be found to be incorrect, i.e. tectonic plate theory.

-Tataris, we should have a side discussion about this issue if you are interested after the debate. I think it is an interesting issue, but I think demarcation truly is the accurate approach if one understands that science ought not take a metaphysical position, but, rather, be only a method.
Debate Round No. 3
Tatarize

Con

* The Bible opposes the very virtues needed for science to function.
* My opponent is equivocating on "faith" and "contradiction"
* My opponents argument breaks down to the idea that religions are establishing the truth of nothings rather than somethings, and thus do not oppose such notions. However, this is inaccurate view of what religions are attempts to do. They are attempts to actually understand the actual world in actual ways.
* No part of this argument suffices to establish the "general thrust" of Mangani's argument, but rather attempts to establish the tiniest subsection.

---

Let us recap the arguments and objections thus far raised.

For the sake of this debate, we largely ignored Mangani's statement and focused only on the smallest sliver in an attempt to find something accurate about it. Mangani claimed that the Bible doesn't contradict science. It includes only the minimal observations of a primitive culture. These observations it seems are largely what Mangani considers to be scientific understandings. That making the most primitive observation and using that idea as the setting for a work of myth qualifies something as scientific. We ignored this and largely focused on a more philosophical underpinning of science qua science.

We agree to forgive primitive people for primitive understanding and not declare with a broad brush that bad explanation ultimately suggests bad science. The world really does seem flat when we walk around on it. The sun does seem to rise and set in much the same fashion as the moon. The moon seems to be a lesser light to the greater light of the sun. Snakes seem to jarringly lack legs. The sky very notably does not fall to the ground like everything else. The stars seem to be really really tiny. These are the most basic and obvious interpretations of primitive people and are only used as part of the setting for the Bible.

However the objection still exists that the basic ethics needed to do science are opposed by the Bible and the Early Church. On the other side Pro has raised the argument that there is no overlap between mythos and logos and science is a process rather than a metaphysical underpinning and thus cannot be contradicted as such. These are the issues we'll be finishing with.

---

My opponent claims that progress becomes a misnomer because there's no way to progress aside from established human goals. However, this is far from the nature of actual science and farther still from the use in which I used the term. First, science often discovers amazing truths without seeking to find them. Penicillin in dirty dishes, diversity in a group of finches, big bang in a hiss, expansion in red-shifted lines, elliptical orbits in 6 arcseconds of Mars, Neptune in the wake of Uranus, antimatter in the curve of particles, relativity in the constant speed of light. Science often makes progress without seeking to make progress. It wasn't some goal at a unification of electricity and magnetism it was some kid who came up after class and looped a wire and watched it jump. Second, it isn't that progress is made which makes it science it's the idea that progress can be made. The concept that we can improve our understanding that there is something to be known which we do not at this time currently know.

The earliest inkling of science was the idea that the world was knowable. That there were things about the cosmos that we could determine for ourselves. With technological advance and our constant evolution of thought this seems to doubtlessly be true. However, one could understand how the objection to the idea that we should improve our knowledge or that we could would be disastrous to the enterprise of science. Science is exploration and you don't always know what you're looking for or find what you sought.

My opponent also offers the concept that there is some degree of faith in science. That for the sake of parsimony we need to assume the truth of all the lower concepts that the system is built upon. This is not an accurate description of what is needed for science and is equivocation with what is meant by faith. Faith in science is often synonymous with trust, and even then it is often the case that it would take more effort to disbelieve a notion than it would take to believe it. We establish in science principles to a sufficient degree that it takes a greater leap of faith to disagree with them than to accept them as correct. Whereas when referring to religious faith we are often talking about accepting the absurd without evidence. These are two different meanings of the word. Second, when we do an experiment we need not assume all the underlying established bits of science. This is the domain of empirical testing. If those little sub-bits don't actually work out, they will change the results. In effect the test result is retesting all of the notions the experiment is built upon in order to demonstrate the result.

So we see that the methodology and concepts are vindicated by empiricism. That when we accept what exists as the final arbiter of what is real we can progress with regard to the evidence. This is why empiricism is a virtue of science and why it is needed for scientific inquiry. Without testing ideas against the reality of the natural world we would have no anchor to properly understand the world. We retest all of our ideas when ever we test the next one and use that to build our ideas and increase our understanding.

The only missing virtue is curiosity, which is to say that we should want to understand the world. Foster these and we foster science, suppress them and you suppress science.

The underlying reason why the Bible contradicts science is because in every case it opposes these virtues. It does not so limit itself to a mythical understanding of the world. It purports to be a real understanding of the real world. It is easy for us to look back and make the claim that the Bible was speaking in myth and that somehow when it says something it didn't really mean it, but the virtues of the Bible are the antithesis virtues of science. It is in that way that the Bible opposes science. The Bible opposes science by condemning everything needed to conduct it.

---

The idea that the Bible is somehow a different way of knowing is absurd. Given Newtonian physics I can tell you the position of the Earth 10,000 years from now and the exact location of Mars in our sky. Given Einsteinian physics I can tell you how much time I would experience traveling to Alpha Centauri. These are both useful and in that usefulness they explain a large number of empirical facts in a compelling and coherent way. The Bible however does not provide any such uses. The concept that a myth-based worldview is largely like an evidence-based worldview much the same as non-Euclidean geometry is much like Euclidean geometry fails on every count.

My opponent's argument is that mythos and logos are like Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry or Newtonian and Einsteinian physics. The underlying argument is roughly that science deals with how we can figure out how existing things work, whereas religion only deals with non-existent things. Since we aren't actually dealing with anything real how could the Bible contradict science? We are well started on our rebuttal to consider that this "non-explanation" stands in stark opposition to progress, empiricism and even curiosity. That if we declare science a process we could argue that nothing could "contradict" it. This would be similar to arguing that I'm not "contradicting" your attempt to clean your house by running around your house messing things up. This again must be chalked up to equivocation. That's not how we're using that word. Opposing the very effort by opposing the fundamental requirements suffices to condemn religion in the name of science.
dtclark2188

Pro

I will try to keep this part of the debate short because I think it has been beaten until it was dead. The real point of the debate, although not explicitly stated in the premise, is whether or not science has a metaphysical commitment to empiricism. If so, then Tartaris is completely accurate in his claim that the Bible contradicts science since both offer contradictory metaphysical positions. However, I think limiting science to a single metaphysical stance, or, more accurately, a single epistemological stance, limits science from truly being able to describe the larger universe that exists beyond our capacities for observation. For example, many cosmologists think that the vacuum we live in, which contains large amounts of fluctuating energy and that has a non-unified forces is what is called a true vacuum. The cosmologists claim that false vacuum, a much higher energy and less stable state of vacuum in which the forces are unified, and is exponentially expanding, is the cause of the matter in our "true vacuum bubble." In other words, the false vacuum expands, but within its expansion, it also decays to lower energy vacuums and the excess energy is what causes the existence of matter, a la the Big Bang. The point of this example is to point out that, if science is metaphysically bound to empiricism, then it will not be able to include any theory that is categorically unable to be identified empirically, and this cosmological structure is not able to be confirmed empirically because the true vacuum and false vacuum are 'expanding' (a bit of an oversimplification) at a rate faster than light.
My opponent worries in one of the comments that, if my conception of truth is accepted, then there are true statements within the Star Wars universe, and this will somehow justify Star Wars fanatics in claiming that it somehow explains our universe. It is true that there are truths within the apparent physical structures of the Star Wars universe, but obviously that does not purport to claim anything about the physical structure of our own universe.

Similarly, the Bible does not make any substantial claims about the physical universe, aside from the preconceived notions of the ancients which are excusable, and it is a metaphysical position, so it is not, in principle verifiable. Therefore, since it is in principle a separate field of knowledge from science, much like rationalism or romanticism or any ism, it is not in direct contradiction to science, which ought not to take any strict metaphysical stance because it automatically limits itself to not understanding larger cosmological hypotheses.

The point is not that the Bible does not attempt to make claims about "non-existent entities," in fact, it does attempt to provide a true system, or a real system. However, for a science to reject that position as a contradiction is to claim that science holds a metaphysical stance of empiricism. And if science holds a metaphysical position of empiricism, then it is unable to explain larger cosmological theories, and since that is unacceptable, science does not offer a competing metaphysical position, and, therefore, is not in direct contradiction to the Bible.

My argument is a bit technical in a philosophical sense, but it has to be because it is not the place of science, a method, to place metaphysical limitations in the pursuit of knowledge.
Debate Round No. 4
29 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
No. Because even those aspects of some of the cutting edge theories which can't be tested are expected to provide test cases sometime in the future. In fact, the failure to do so is one of the leading critiques of string theory. There was a time when Einstein was largely unknown because his theory didn't have any viable test cases, it was an interesting framework but nothing more. Then Eddington when to Africa and looked at stars right next to the sun and watched shift out of their previous location. Science does demand empirical tests. It just doesn't demand them up front while you're doing the math.

Science does makes demands of us. We are required to allow the empirical nature of reality make the choices as to how the world actually works. Religion on the other hand demands we accept dogma as an explanation of how the world actually works. So long as the empirical nature of reality contradicts the dogma, there's an inherent contradiction on the facts. However, as the very principle of belief via empiricism and belief via "dis book sayz so" are categorically opposed to each other, even if we disregard the facts we find a clear contradiction.

We let string theory and others slide a little bit, because they make no predictions. If they make no predictions we can't rely on them to do anything other than provide an interesting framework for understanding. We do not allow such hypothesis to stand because science doesn't demand empirical results, we allow them to stand because they show promise of providing empirical results.

You are using this to suppose that we don't test things in science against the natural world. That's categorically false. Without empiricism there isn't science. You can't simply take the cases of some cutting edge pre-theories and declare that science has no allegiance to empiricism so religions which declare truth by fiat have no scientific objections. -- That's drivel.
Posted by dtclark2188 8 years ago
dtclark2188
Tatarize,
You are making the mistake of calling my argument a comparison, a mistake that you consistently made throughout the debate. I am not trying to state that the type of knowledge that cosmology claims to have and the type of knowledge that the Bible claims to have are comparable. All I was claiming was that, since theories like multiple universe theories are, based on current understandings of physics, impossible to be directly verified, and if we still want to call cosmology science, then science must not take the metaphysical stance of empiricism. You have consistently tried to make it seem as if my position is one that prefers or puts on par the knowledge of the Bible and the knowledge of science. This, however, is completely false. I am merely pointing out that the two cannot be in contradiction because one takes a metaphysical stance and claims to have knowledge of that metaphysical position, and the other takes no metaphysical stance, and, therefore, they cannot be in contradiction.

I would agree that a comparison is drivel, but that is not what I did, nor is what I will do now.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
dtclark, no. I'm not calling those elements of science drivel. They certainly, have some merits and are certainly of some renown and value. Even some of the more out-there concepts like universe foam and black-hole evolution are worthy of note. I'm am categorically not calling the theories drivel. I am calling your claim that they are not open to empiricism drivel.

You seem to be claiming that such speculations requires us to cast off the chains of empiricism in order to entertain such issues. That comment is complete hogwash. We can entertain the idea just fine. Being unverifiable at this point (for reasons fairly unrelated to the anthropic principle I might add) does not necessarily suggest they are without future ability to be verified. Keeping in mind that you're attempting to draw a parallel between this kind of speculation and mythos the utter absurdity should become clear: they are apples and oranges.

There are some who rightly argue that, at present, string theory is not a scientific theory but currently a hypothesis because it doesn't generate any ways of empirically testing the ideas. This is becoming less true but it isn't a pejorative to say that there's no way to know right now because there's no way to test it. The drivel of your comment however is the suggestion of a parallel between such ideas and religion.

One is speculation about scientific ideas in such a way to try and make some testable claims. The other is a set of well explained myths from middle eastern region from the late bronze early iron-age.

There is no doubt that as a whole cosmology is certainly a well established science, with a healthy amount of speculation around the fringes. I wasn't for a moment suggesting any of it is drivel. I was calling your comparison drivel because I firmly believe that it is.

Mang, begone troll.
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
dtclark2188, Tatarize has simply done with your argument what he did with mine. He skimmed over your words, took things out of context, built his own monster, and attacked something formulated in his own mind with his limited desire to understand your statements. I believe your arguments were nearly flawless, but Tatarize is a crafty manipulator when it comes to getting others to see clear arguments under his cloud of confusion.
Posted by dtclark2188 8 years ago
dtclark2188
Correction: This should not stop us from calling cosmology science.
Posted by dtclark2188 8 years ago
dtclark2188
Drivel? Harsh. Certainly the theory of multiple universes is not drivel. It is a naturalistic account that is consistent with what we have found from our understanding of the early big bang, and the empirical evidence has been gathered from a number of sources including the particle accelerators. The point I was making is not that we should simply believe something, and yes, empirical verification is important to understanding how one comes to the theory of multiple universes. However, some theories (string theory, multiple universe theory, etc.) are unverifiable based on the anthropic principle, which is the idea that we could never exist in certain environments, and even if those environments exist, there is no way to ever conclusively decide that their existence is true. Of course, this should not stop us from calling cosmology non-science.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
"The point of this example is to point out that, if science is metaphysically bound to empiricism, then it will not be able to include any theory that is categorically unable to be identified empirically, and this cosmological structure is not able to be confirmed empirically because the true vacuum and false vacuum are 'expanding' (a bit of an oversimplification) at a rate faster than light."

Really? So what, we should just test that theory in our minds or wish it to be true? Seriously? We shouldn't be bound to empiricism to actually verify whether something is true or not? What else, praytell, could possibly verify anything?

Scientific ethic is good for relativity but when dealing with cutting edge cosmology we should discard it and clap "I do believe in expanding false vacuum! I do believe in expanding false vacuum!" -- I bet you probably even fooled some people with that drivel. Good debate though. I started one on religion just to give myself a very easy time after this.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
It isn't a metaphysical underpinning. Those are the base requirements for conducting science. The idea that something that strikes against and outright opposes the very requirements of science in general cannot be seen as anti-science is quite clearly wrong.

You can't give up empiricism in the pursuit of knowledge. Empirical testing is the only thing we have that actually allows us to conduct scientific inquiry and progress in our understanding.

Your argument seems increasingly hollow. The idea seems to be that we are discussing the cosmology of the non-existent and thus are completely disconnected with reality and thus unable to render judgment. Like saying that sound in space violates the laws of physics but not the laws of Star Wars physics. They are both equally true and Star Wars physics cannot be seen to violate actual physics. In reality, yes they can.
Posted by dtclark2188 8 years ago
dtclark2188
Haha, for sure. I've read your response and it is clear that you think that science automatically assumes a certain metaphysical underpinning. That is fair, but I think that is where we divert. I think that science does indeed have a method that requires empiricism by definition of that method, but even the metaphysical underpinnings must be let go if one is to accept as sensible many of the claims of modern cosmology. If you simply do not want to accept those theories as even sensible, a la the logical positivists, then that is fine, but I think one ought to at least be willing to give up strict empiricism in the pursuit of knowledge. Anyway, if you have any further comments on the issue, my email is listed, or you can still make comments on this forum. I wish you the best of weeks, and I hope you had a little bit of fun in this debate. If not, what is the point?
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
Somehow I think I could have five light debates about God and science for as long and indepth as this debate has turned out to be. Thankfully I just have this last post before I'm done.
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