Why Do We Trust Ancient Texts as Accurate?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Devils' Advocate, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    OK, but one wouldn't think that from all the debates and acrimony over the years. So from what you said, the debate is not a scientific one. So what is it? Is it merely a philosophical and/or ideological debate with a lot of data thrown in to support subjective inferences? Now clearly whether ID is science or not is a philosophical debate. But many scientists (an others) seem to go beyond that to also claim from science that ID's suggestion for teleology is nonsense. You also hear scientists and others say that God or some form of teleology is not necessary to explain anything. How would they know that?
     
  2. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    Yes, science is 'deeply interconnected and interrelated everything is,' because of the history of science is reflected in the interconnectiveness of Natural Laws and the nature of our physical existence. Science also has learned we cannot go beyond that.

    The reference I gave documented the meeting between Einstein and Whitehead.

    If you agree this is the case it was not apparent in the past. Often you have made statements that would indicate you support Intelligent Design, which supports that science can in some way demonstrate the existence of a 'designer.'

    I am very much aware of this.

    Your supporting ID again. None of the above represents anything of substance to support 'all complex order requires an ordering mind.' The evidence is just not there. The dividing line may not be sharp, but it is clear the objective evidence is required to falsify any theory or hypothesis, and ID lacks objective evidence.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  3. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    The claim God is not necessary is a philosophical claim by the atheist/agnostic scientists. The objection to the claims of some, mostly non-scientists, that there is scientific evidence for ID is a scientific claim based on Methodological Naturalism
     
  4. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    The concept of evidence in the ID debate is an interesting one. Now according to the falsifiable rule of the scientific method, neither an ID claim or a not-ID claim can be considered science. So for a person who is interested in the issue, where does that leave them? For me the test I employ is reasonableness. This means weighing the current evidence the best one can and assessing new evidence as it comes out.

    On the ID side there is the subjectively evaluated anecdotal evidence. Such as "it sure looks designed, so maybe it is". The remarkable biotic machines and cellular processing plants look remarkably like designed systems. Having been a design engineer for over 40 years and a machine and process designer for most of it, this anecdotal evidence carries a lot of weight for me. Then there's the information in the genome which some think is similar to computer code, again something designed. On the more technical side there is the mathematics research to determine whether the information in the genome could be created with a random "search". I don't understand any of this so I can't evaluative it, and I'm sure there are detractors.

    On the not-ID side it seems the primary evidence is the claim that mutations are random and therefore not intentional. Natural selection, which to me seems obvious, as far as know isn't rejected as an aspect of evolution by ID proponents. So that leaves the mutation situation. Randomness is defined in Wikipedia as:

    Now I just looked up the current status of this claim and found that there is evidence that mutations aren't totally random (here and here). Interesting quote from one:
    But that aside, it seems to me that making the leap from "random" to not-ID is also a subjective judgement. After all something that looks random (like an encrypted message) can still contain intentional information. And just because something looks random in the aggregate doesn't mean certain events are not intentional (for whatever reason). So it seems to me to be a subjective call.

    Then also on the not-ID side there is the anecdotal or inferential evidence based on what one would expect from a designer. Here the claim is that no "good" designer would design the way we see it.

    So since none of this is science, and short of some rigorous and compelling ID detection scheme or some rigorous and compelling not-ID detection scheme, it seems the best one can do is make your best guess which is right or, of course, just remain agnostic about the whole thing.
     
  5. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    Bad point!

    Very, very false. The Natural Laws, natural chemistry, and natural environments have been been demonstrated by science to be able to create complex order.
     
  6. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    An important point of a more contemporary view of math and science is that true 'randomness' is not observed in nature, except possibly in certain Quantum events. The pattern of variability of events, as in gene mutations shows a distinctive 'fractal pattern as in chaos theory,' and it is misleading that 'anything can happen randomly' in nature including genetics, because there are distinct constraints as to what can happen concerning individual events.
     
  7. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    For the record, the Big issue with ID is not whether it is accurate or not in what it proposes. The issue is that those who support it insist it is science - therefore should be taught in public schools along with evolution. And ID is not science!
     
  8. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    I have to disagree with the first sentence. ID is not science. It is at best a philosophical conceptualization. No matter how many words one throws at it, the bottom line is that ID is a slanted version of religious creationism. In the now infamous debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham the killer moment that proves the point came from Ham himself. When the moderator asked each of them what would make them change their mind about whether ID was science, Nye said 'evidence'. Ham said 'We have this book called the Bible and the Bible says so'. (I don't have Ham's exact quote; tried to find it but couldn't; that is the essence of his response though).

    As for the reasonableness test - that gets into quicksand very, very quickly. After all what is reasonable? As an engineer your understanding of how things work gives the anecdotal evidence much weight for you. And that is an opinion that is perfectly good. It is an opinion though, not evidence. Just because the anecdotal evidence suggests to you a Maker does not mean there must be a Maker. It doesn't mean there cannot be a Maker either. There is no way to test whether what you find reasonable is accurate or not.
     
  9. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    You must have misread that sentence. As I said according to the putative scientific method the claim of ID is not science. Personally I don't care what you call investigations into teleology in evolution. What I'm interested in is whether it is reasonable to think that there is teleology in the development of living systems and everything else for that matter. This whole science vs. religion tone of the debate makes it hard to filter out the bullshit from the substantive arguments.

    Except that I don't think ID should be taught in science classes, I don't really care that much about if there are creationist undertones to the ID debate. It's obvious to me that there are ideological motivations in play on both sides. To get to unbiased information you have to try to filter out the ideological tainting. Now, I'm not a creationist or a Christian but I'm also not an atheist or agnostic. So for me I don't have any skin in that game. However, I do think there are important issues in play. A world without teleology that is determined solely by chance and necessity is, in my view, extremely grim. In that type of reality things like meaning, morality, and free will are essentially meaningless because everything is an automaton just doing what it does and couldn't do otherwise. How grim is that?

    Well, of course, reasonableness is not evidence. It's an attempt to be thoughtful in evaluating evidence. There is no certitude in anything, including science. What we have are levels of verisimilitude. The scientific method, per se, offers a means for increasing verisimilitude but as with everything human it is also tainted by many things. I worked for ten years in a research facility with lots of Phds in science and engineering. I saw first hand how data can be manipulated and experiments designed to support a researcher's theories. A recent examination showed that only 40% of psychological studies could be replicated and those that were showed weaker results than stated. Isn't it strange that clinical studies funded by pharmaceutical companies invariably come down in favor of the drug.

    Sure reasonableness is subjective. But what else do you have to evaluate claims? Epistemology, both philosophically and practically, is rife with incertitude. Science is important to reasonableness because it potentially offers greater verisimilitude. But it also doesn't speak to some of the most important aspects of life such as the "oughts". But the "oughts" are also tied to ontology so if science can inform ontology that is important.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  10. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    Yes, this correlates with my notion of how teleology works. There are constraints and they are life giving. If there is teleology it must operate within those constraints.
     
  11. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    . . . and of course, chaos theory rules within the constraints.
     
  12. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    Yes. There is one idea that I find interesting but have no idea how much merit there is to it. Some scientists think it is possible that there is quantum coherence in the ion channels of the brain.

    If this is true then perhaps there could be some intentional biasing of probabilities in a quantum event (by being "observed"?). Then that small change could in turn bias a chaotic system (within its constraints) to amplify the "choice" and make it efficacious at the macroscopic scale.
     
  13. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    From my view this is not quantum coherence. It is an observed phenomenon in the realm of possibilities.


    I believe this phenomenon is at present only well documented on the Quantum scale. Even on the quantum scale this at present is only reasonably consistent an observer phenomenon.
     
  14. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    The Baha'i Faith does not consider the Quran misunderstood. Like the Torah in it's time, and the New Testament in its time, they were Revelations for their day and time. What was Revealed in the Baha'i writings were Spiritual Laws and teachings for the modern world after 1844. There were clarifications in some and new laws. Clarification example is specific laws forbidding all forms of slavery, and the unconditional social and legal equality for women. New laws may be mandatory education for all children male and female, and the prohibition of waging war in the name of religion in offensive and defensive situations. Also separation of religion and secular state, and the independent investigation of truth and religious freedom of choice of belief, which is tragically absent in Islam.

    I will submit a thread on the distinct problem of the lack of the freedom of choice of religion in the Islamic world. The Quran definitely needs to be updated in a uniform way to make Revelation relevant to the modern world. Individuals should never be condemned to death of choice of faith.



    T
     
  15. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    Just an idea I thought about, perhaps with no merit. What fascinates me, however, is that so few scientists try to come up with any idea that would maintain any sense of their own humanity (i.e. meaning, morality, and in some sense free). Most seem perfectly willing to be cast as automatons with no categorical difference between their decisions and that of a thermostat. The only psychological rationale I can think of is that there is such a strong backlash to the irrationalities perpetrated by religion that they can't bring themselves entertain anything that may have metaphysical implications. They relish a theory of everything, except for themselves. When push comes to shove, my experience is that most non-teleologists can't accept the obvious implication that they have no free will. At least Sam Harris cognitively accepts this conclusion although I wonder how that works itself out in his psychology. How does one deal with the fact that every thought and action is the product of chance and necessity and under a theory of everything is, in principal, predictable? Under his view, both his criticism of religion and the beliefs of religious adherents could not have been otherwise. Mind warping.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Not quite the case, I think, but I can see what you mean. Modern theology, for example, takes into account the latest scientific developments. I could cite the world-famous theologians of the last century, but I don't think that answers your question.

    As evidenced by the posts on this forum, whilst the debate is acknowledged as not one of science v religion, it is the a priori acceptance of what constitutes a 'fact' or how we judge the veracity of an 'event' is according to scientific principle. Even if the event is declared to be a miracle and will therefore lie outside the scope of scientific explanation. Do realise the authors of Scripture knew what a miracle was, even if they did not know the biological details of procreation, for example. The Virgin Birth was as problematic for them then as for us now.

    Yes.

    Yes.

    Interpret in what sense? Scientifically? Historically? No, but then sacra doctrina is neither science nor history. It's a commentary on the human condition. So, to me, Buddhism's Four Noble Truths are as viable today as they were then, because no better idea has replaced them. The Tao's statement that "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao" still stands.

    Nor, I suppose, would too many people have issue with the Christian Scripture that says God is a spirit or God is love ... but then that's not the issue you're alluding to, I think. It's the events that bother you, and the fact that the belief in supernatural events is simply unscientific ...

    I rather think, at root, it is. Certainly it's become that.

    Really? And yet Aristotle's commentaries on the nature and structure of language hold today, and are still a rich source of investigation. Some of the comments of the Greek philosophers continue to be studied, plays written thousands of years ago provide telling insights into the human condition, the Greek myths are a fantastic compendium of psychological insights. There is music and there is art and there is poetry that is still sublime. A Greek philosopher worked out the world was round and its diameter by sticking two sticks in the ground and measuring their shadows ... I stand in awe of that, I couldn't do it, let alone conceive it ... so I have no problem in believing the fact that the ancient world did not possess our tech nor our accumulated empirical knowledge, but that does not render them incapable of offering an insightful commentary on human nature, or the nature of God if God exists.

    Dare I say it, but had the settlers in America had paid a bit more attention to Native American insight and wisdom, the world would perhaps not be in the mess it is today ... they had none of our science, but they had a world view that is superior and more fitted to the world than ours. We took a wrong turn at the Enlightenment, and we've been incapable of correcting that scientific error ever since, even though the problem is staring us in the face!

    But perhaps none of that, I'm sure, is a problem for you? It's the facts that matter, and science tells us what is and what isn't a fact, and if science says no, it's not a fact ...
     
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  17. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely agree with you here. The overall view of the Native Americans on how they fit into the world around them is possibly the best version of spirituality I have ever seen. This is a general statement of course, as the spirituality of the different tribes were not the same, so I am speaking overall.
     
  18. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I'm assuming you are referring to the natural sciences? And academic papers on meaning and morality? If that is the case I don't see how that would be done since it's completely outside the scope of the fields. I'm sure most have a personal idea of how everything fits together though.
     
  19. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon everything is in pencil

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    I believe this is an unfounded generalization concerning what scientists believe outside their disciplines in science.

    There is a genuine search for the theory of 'everything' using physics and math, but that is not the preoccupation of most scientists.

    Sam Harris and Dawkins are indeed extreme examples of atheist philosophy, and strong advocates of determinism, and limited or no free will, but they hardly represent all scientists. Actually the predominant view among most scientist is the our free will is limited. The degree of Free Will in our decision making process is at present the subject of a great deal of controversy. I even hold to the view that 'we have a will but it is not necessarily free.' One thing I object to is the support of Free Will, and even libertarian Free Will based on religious presuppositions, and neglecting the scientific evidence concerning human will.

    Regardless of whether the theory of everything is discovered or not, it remains that fractal nature of our physical existence pretty much eliminates the possibility that everything is predictable.
     
  20. Stevegp

    Stevegp Member

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    Right, they are different fields but there are presuppositions in play in both that can be explored to determine how well they correlated with one and other. In science often the presupposition is that reality is constituted solely by means of necessity (law) and chance (as in quantum mechanics). In the "value" fields that investigate things like meaning and morality, often the presuppositions are that there are values in reality and to some extent freedom in human choices. But if all events couldn't have been other than they were (by necessity and chance) with no freedom or purpose, then talking about values, meaning, and morality would be analogous to talking about some computer algorithm.

    But as you said, most people have some personal idea about all this. I would suggest that the vast majority of people including scientists don't really think much about how there may be a dissonance in the thread running from scientific presumptions and value presuppositions. I don't really have a problem with this, per se, and hope that people will live moral lives anyway. Where I do have a problem is when religious people are so roundly criticized as being ignorant, stupid, and irrational, particularly by some scientists, philosophers, and atheists. Now clearly this does not include all scientists and atheists. But those who do persist in denigrating religious folk, in my view, need to be called out for their own inconsistencies and shown how their positions may be very grim to contemplate, even for they themselves if they think about it.
     

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