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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • They're trying to say that if you use duck typing atheism is a faith :)

    I resent even having to refer to myself as an atheist; it's such a stark reminder that the normal state (statistically at least) is to be theist. Why can't the believers be called irrationalists instead?

    • Because then the atheists would claim rationality. And most self-claiming atheists I met had more of a "There is no god. Period." attitude.

      I'd rather have the word spread that knowing and believing are two absolute different pair of shoes. And that goes for both camps, since I personally actually see science as faith or belief. At least with those people that say that a proven theory must be how reality is. But this would become a rather large discussion :)

      --
      Ordinary morality is for ordinary people. -- Aleister Crowley
      • Because he said it better than most of us could… a transcript of Richard Feynman from The Pleasure of Finding Things Out [google.com]:

        If you expected science to give all the answers to the wonderful questions about what we are or where we are going or what the meaning of the universe is and so on, then I think you can easily become disillusioned and then look for some mystic answer to these problems. How a scientist can take a mystic answer I don’t know because the whole spirit is to understand…

        • He also once captured it this way: “Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.”

          He must not have known very many religious people. Nearly all of the great Christians in history have had tremendous doubt, from the Apostle Peter himself down through C.S. Lewis.

          Faith is not in opposition to doubt; faith expects doubt. That is why, for some of us, the practice of apologetics is so important: because we prove to ourselves the logical consistency of belief, so we have something solid to fall back on when we doubt our faith. As Steve Taylor sang (borrowing from Flannery O'Connor): "Shiver

          • I had to sit on this comment for a couple of days to choose my words, even though it felt wrong right away.

            You don’t give Feynman enough credit. He said religion is a culture of faith; he did not say religion is a culture of blind faith. This is the crux of the entire issue: the doubt you describe is a means, not an end. It is a stepstone to faith (whether it be stronger faith or negative faith).

            In contrast, doubt is not a state to be resolved for a skeptic. The basic tenet is acknowledgement that

            • You don’t give Feynman enough credit. He said religion is a culture of faith; he did not say religion is a culture of blind faith.

              But I am not saying he is saying that. I am saying, rather, that he implies that it is a faith that is without doubt (since he contrasts it to doubt). He completely misunderstands and misrepresents religious faith.

              This is the crux of the entire issue: the doubt you describe is a means, not an end.

              Neither is doubt with science an end, but a means ... as you describe well through the rest of your post. It is what drives you to attempt to come up with answers, to learn more, and to become more certain.

              In contrast, doubt is not a state to be resolved for a skeptic.

              A skeptic attempts to resolve questions as much as a religious person, and he acknowle

              • Sometimes it is like what Einstein did; the theory was so good he refused to abandon it in light of evidence against it, which is much like common religious faith.
                I can't see how that's anything like religious faith at all - because with religious faith there's absolutely zero evidence. If there were evidence (and I mean that in scientific terms) then there probably wouldn't be any atheists.
                • I can't see how that's anything like religious faith at all - because with religious faith there's absolutely zero evidence.

                  That is absolutely false. ;-)

                  evidence (and I mean that in scientific terms)

                  Ah, *scientific* evidence. I was saying that faith in scientific evidence is similar to faith in religious evidence, so saying that scientific faith is not at all like religious faith because religion is not based on scientific evidence is question-begging. We are talking epistemology here: yes, scientific knowledge is different from other kinds of knowledge (religious knowledge is largely philsophical, while scientific knowledge is largely experimental), but in what way is

                  • I've yet to see religious evidence that is anything more than "I don't know the answer, so I'll assume a God". That's exactly what Kalam's cosmological argument is. I'd welcome something better than that, if you can provide something.

                    The scientist's answer to this is that to assume a "mystical" answer where there isn't a good scientific answer simply isn't good enough - we must strive for more knowledge to get at the answer, and for now to simply be happy that we don't know the truth to that question (or wh
                    • I've yet to see religious evidence that is anything more than "I don't know the answer, so I'll assume a God". That's exactly what Kalam's cosmological argument is.

                      No, you misunderstand the argument and the issues surrounding it. The argument claims there is a Cause for the universe. Then there is a second part to the argument which argues that the cause is Personal. It argues affirmatively that the universe must have been created by a personal, willfull, cause, and that no other beginning is even possible (not merely unknown).

                      I was not entirely clear by linking merely to that one Wikipedia page; William Lane Craig touches on this a bit in the conclusion of his ka [leaderu.com]

                    • To assume causality past the beginning of the universe seems like a questionable position to me, not a strong one. That everything that begins to exist has a cause is a compelling claim, but to the best of our knowledge so far, at the deepest level, existence in this universe is acausal; further, to the best of our knowledge so far, the beginning of the universe was found in this deepest level.

                      Any argument that rests on causality, however convincing, is a castle built on sand, as far as I can tell.

                    • Any argument that rests on causality, however convincing, is a castle built on sand, as far as I can tell.

                      To assume causality past the beginning of the universe seems like a questionable position to me, not a strong one.
                      I am not assuming anything, I am deducing it.

                      That everything that begins to exist has a cause is a compelling claim, but to the best of our knowledge so far, at the deepest level, existence in this universe is acausal
                      Heh, now YOU'RE the one who is assuming. Just because you can't see a cause doesn't mean it's there.

                      Any argument that rests on causality, however convincing, is a castle built on sand, as far as I can tell.
                      Shrug. I believe it is infinitely more reasonable than the alternative explanation, that it exists without a cause.
                    • You did notice that I qualified the claims as being to the best of our knowledge, so far (twice)? :-)

                      Maybe quantum mechanics does turn out to be deterministic rather than stochastic, once we find out enough about it. There are many scientists who are trying to formulate a deterministic foundation for QM.

                      I don’t see a need for such, though. I can equally well accept the current view, in which existence in the microcosm is acausal, and causality in the mesocosm and above is merely an emergent pheno

                    • You did notice that I qualified the claims as being to the best of our knowledge, so far (twice)? :-)

                      Sure, but my point is that I disagree, that the best of our knowledge does not agree that existence is acausal.

                      I’m wary of such calls for a deterministic explanation where they are demanded merely because a stochastic nature for the cosmos is counterintuitive

                      But that's not what I am doing. I think, rather, that the evidence shows that a personal cause to the universe is the only possibilty. I am open to other evidence, of course. But I just don't think, at this point, any argument has yet come up that makes me think it is possible that the universe has always existed, or that it could have sprung into existence from infinity without a personal cau