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Science/Religions: can't chose!

Toyou66
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4/28/2016 11:51:07 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Humans have always wondered about truth (ie what is the actual story of our World?). From antique to modern times, various beliefs have spread across civilizations. In this short essay, I would like to discuss two main beliefs (or category of beliefs) by adopting a "strictly rational" approach to try to assess the "absolute truth" behind them. We will go through religions in general then to science. Everything will be carried out in a high level analysis. Before detailing them, I would like to clarify what I mean by "strictly rational" and "absolute truth".

I - Definition

By strictly rational, I mean two points. The first point is about what is true. A property is true if, and only if, it doesn"t accept any example that contradicts it. The essential point is, the example can be visible, measurable or related to a reality but it can also be imaginary and unheard of. In the case the property doesn"t effectively accept contradicting example, then the property belongs to the group of properties called "absolute truth". As a comment, this group is not empty. For example, the property "at this moment, the closest table in front of me is black" belongs to it. On the contrary, "the sky is blue" is wrong because during the night, the sky can be black (The thing with this definition, is to always be specific. A general property is very difficult to prove especially if it includes an infinite number of elements). The second point is about the prohibition of assumptions. If I cannot prove an assertion then, whatever the number of examples that suggest it is true, I shall not make any assumption on whether this assertion is true or not. With these two points, we are ready to go through religions and science.
Why this approach? This approach is similar to one of the justification methodology of formal mathematics. I find it very insightful to use the same formal methodologies to address existential questions.

II - Religions

Most of religions claim that there is one or several Gods that created everything. Then with my approach, I cannot conclude on whether this is true or this is wrong. With our limited reason and observation, we cannot encompass the nature of Gods as they are defined by the religions. We don"t know their potential. Maybe they can create a world full of laws (physics, chemistry") and histories exactly like the one we are living in. And of course they may hide the evidence of their participation in the construction of this World. Nobody can say these two suggestions are wrong. So we just found an imaginary example ("Gods can create this World") that contradicts the property "Gods does not exist". Hence we cannot prove this property right so Gods can exist. As a strictly rational person, I don"t venture into metaphysic because it is a place where I cannot prove anything and without assumptions I can"t do anything.
The other way round is also valid. The observations of this World suggest a self-development of the World according to specific laws in an infinite space-time continuum and without the intervention of any kind of Gods. Here again, nobody can say this is not possible because we cannot see and measure everything as well as we haven"t yet discovered all the laws that govern this World. For example, some scientists are trying to make particles collide at the speed of light. Nobody knows the future result of this experiment and they might explain a lot on all the incertitude areas of science, not to mention all the other experiments. So we just found an example ("Science explains this World") that contradicts the property "God exists". Hence, with my approach, God might not exist.

Is that it? Is there anything else I can get with my approach on religions? On metaphysical questions, I cannot do much. But about physical questions and religions, we can derive some additional elements that can segregate between religions. Indeed if a religion claims that it is the absolute truth, everything it says must be true. What if a religion claims something that is wrong, an absolute truth that is wrong is no absolute truth. Now, this is a powerful tool! If we go through all the statements of all the religions, I am pretty sure we can eliminate a lot of them. For example and without any intention to offence anybody, I heard the Pope saying that condoms are not effective against AIDS. This is a specific fact that we can check. And I can ensure, with microscopic videos that the size of the holes in the membrane of a condom is much lower than the size of AIDS virus making it virus-proof. I can believe in things that are above my reason because I cannot prove them wrong but I cannot believe in anything that I checked and verified wrong. Nevertheless, in a religion, there is what God(s) presumably says and what humans added, which can be significant (Christian reforms). When checking through religions only God"s saying should be checked, as humans are not reliable in the long run. In addition, interpretation may also play a role.

To conclude on this part, with my approach, religions might be wrong or right. Nobody can reject all of them without making a strong assumption that we usually call a "belief" and not an "absolute truth". The only way to reject one is when it displays significant mistakes on present-day physical matters.
Toyou66
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4/28/2016 11:52:13 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
(Sequel)

III " Science

Before continuing, a definition of science is necessary. Often it is mistakenly taken as the "absolute truth" but its actual definition does not match. It is often defined as "a systematic knowledge of the world gained through observation and experimentation". In its definition, it is dependent on observation and experimentation. The latter are evolving with time thanks to better instrumentation, analysis capabilities, new discoveries and so on. "Absolute truth" is not supposed to evolve. In other words, sciences are a set of models that help us better understand and play with nature, people and formal things (mathematical tools for example). These models are simpler than the phenomena they describe. Sciences are serials of models that get closer and closer to reality without ever reaching it. For example, moving elements have a specific energy called kinetic energy. For a long time, the translation kinetic energy Ek was known to be E_k=1/2 mv^2 where m is the mass of the element and v its velocity. It helped a lot of engineers especially when it comes to sizing systems like brakes where you need to know the energy you have to dissipate in order to stop the element from moving. However, after further observation and experimentation, especially at higher speed, relativity theories proved that this formula is wrong. The new formula is E_k=mc^2 (^7;-1) where ^7;=1/W30;(1-v^2/C^2 ) , c is the velocity of light in vacuum. It is interesting to note that when velocity is far from the speed of light, the latter formula can be approximated with the former one. And thus our model of energy changed to a more accurate one. Here, nobody can prove that there will not be any other change in this formula. In a new experiment, we can find another parameter that changes the formula. This is how science progresses. At a specific point of time, nobody can claim that a model is the absolute truth and will never be wrong and improved. Hence science is not truth. It is applicable to physics but also biology (the evolution theory will be questioned and improved if another skeleton is found and if it does not corroborate the current genealogy trees) and all sciences in general.

Let"s now consider "science leads to the absolute truth" as a belief. This part will be faster because we can reuse the two examples of the former part. Indeed since "God can exist", science might not lead to the absolute truth. But since science still holds some potential discoveries that can explain everything, science might lead to the absolute truth. Hence we cannot prove if either the science leads to the absolute truth or not. With my approach, despite all the laws that seems consistent to a science-created world, I cannot assert anything. Here again, nobody can assert that science leads to the absolute truth without making a strong assumption that we usually call a "belief" and not an "absolute truth".

To conclude on my short essay, my approach seems too stark. With my reason and with my reason alone, I cannot assert that either a religion or Science is or isn"t the way to the absolute truth. Nevertheless a group of religions can be ruled out by the wrong facts they are claiming to be true.
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/28/2016 12:14:23 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Even science can't lead to the truth. There could be an error in your measuring device, and the only way to prove there isn't an error is to use another measuring device on the measuring device. Well how do you prove the second measuring device is correct? A third measuring device. Infinite regress. And then there's the possibility of the measuring device affecting whatever it's measuring and altering the measurement. Good luck trying to figure out exactly how much it affected it. And then there's the idea that the measuring device is measuring something that doesn't even exist except as an abstraction. Like position. Does position even exist?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
SpiritandTruth
Posts: 2,315
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4/28/2016 1:19:40 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
The point of religion is to get you struggle for purity of heart, practice sincerity of faith, and charity. Without this, it is difficult to be an effective scientist. It's not intended to explain away everything.

Science and religion are not mutually exclusive, and are in fact complimentary. You shouldn't choose between the two, it's a false dichotomy.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,
PetersSmith
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4/28/2016 3:03:44 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/28/2016 11:51:07 AM, Toyou66 wrote:

Science and religion aren't mutually exclusive. You can do both.
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Toyou66
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5/3/2016 12:33:14 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
user13579:
"And then there's the idea that the measuring device is measuring something that doesn't even exist except as an abstraction. Like position. Does position even exist?"

As science depends directly on observation and experimentation and as all measuring device have error margins, if you say that this error margins makes science wrong, then everything we know is wrong. However there are things that are true in reality. For example, if you put a cube inside a spherical ball, you can say that the coordinates of the cube are included between the extremum of the coordinates of the ball. By doing this, you just restrained the location of the cube into a limited part of the space. This limited part can be called position. It is not a point (1-dimension object), because a point doesn"t exist indeed, but a sphere (3-dimension). If we take a step backward, all 1-D and 2-D objects are abstractions that don"t exist but 3-D objects does. Science just use 1-D and 2-D because it is more convenient but it doesn"t mean it is wrong. Replace points by spheres with a suitable diameter (corresponding to tolerances, variations with respect to time") and replace lines with cylinders, every scientific discovery becomes actually true (and a lot more complicated as well).

PetersSmith:
"Science and religion aren't mutually exclusive. You can do both."

I admit that the way I turned my essay is misleading. I am not opposing them, I am just studying each of them separately. As I said in the beginning, I just chose 2 beliefs among many ("In this short essay, I would like to discuss two main beliefs (or category of beliefs) ") . I agree I could have studied a belief that mix religion and science but also another one that doesn"t include any of them.
SpiritandTruth
Posts: 2,315
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5/4/2016 3:05:16 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,
keithprosser
Posts: 1,998
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5/4/2016 6:53:15 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I don't think it something you choose in the way you, say, choose which car to buy by weighing up the pros and cons. I am atheist not from choice because I cannot choose otherwise. I find the idea of a deity ridiculous. For me - I don't say it like this for everyone because it plainly isn't - the notion of God is a convenient way to avoid thinking. Where do we come from? God. Why does good and evil exist? God. And so on. Whatever the problem, the answer is God. Its just so damn lazy.

But at least religion does offer an answer to such questions, even if it is a damn silly one. Science, whatever its merits, does not really offer any answer to 'deep' questions. 'Choosing' (note: in quotes) science means not having ready made answers, indeed it means not having definite answer at all. Religious people have knowledge (or think they do), but for science types knowledge is like the grapes of Tantalus - always just out of reach.

Elsewhere I have put it that atheism isn't about knowing what the truth is but knowing what is isn't - i.e it isn't a one-size-fits-all, lazy, convenient and fatuous notion called 'God' that should have grown out of generations ago. Reality and life are more complicated than that. That sucks big time, because it makes understanding and knowing things so hard.

If you want the comfort of certainty and 'knowledge' then you will choose religion - you will have no choice. If you a restless and curious and value uncertain and mutable knowledge of what is over certainty about what is not, you will choose science. Just don't imagine you can do it consciously.