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William Haskins
05-08-2014, 04:47 PM
Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is a philistine

The popular television host says he has no time for deep, philosophical questions. That's a horrible message to send to young scientists.

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be a gifted popularizer of science, but when it comes to humanistic learning more generally, he is a philistine. Some of us suspected this on the basis of the historically and theologically inept portrayal of Giordano Bruno in the opening episode of Tyson's reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

But now it's been definitively demonstrated by a recent interview in which Tyson sweepingly dismisses the entire history of philosophy. Actually, he doesn't just dismiss it. He goes much further — to argue that undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many questions "can really mess you up."

Yes, he really did say that. Go ahead, listen for yourself, beginning at 20:19 — and behold the spectacle of an otherwise intelligent man and gifted teacher sounding every bit as anti-intellectual as a corporate middle manager or used-car salesman. He proudly proclaims his irritation with "asking deep questions" that lead to a "pointless delay in your progress" in tackling "this whole big world of unknowns out there." When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, "I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that."
Read more: https://theweek.com/article/index/261042/why-neil-degrasse-tyson-is-a-philistine#ixzz317ypHT8m

kaitie
05-08-2014, 05:14 PM
I have to admit, the one thing about Cosmos that really bothers me is that it seems that there is a very blatant "religion is wrong and you shouldn't believe in God message. I'm a Christian who believes in evolution and the big bang and I have no problem reconciling those two. I know there are many people who do and who see religion and science as opponents, but personally, I'm not one of them, and a lot of people I know are similar to me--people who believe in both.

I love watching science shows and documentaries, but it bothers me to no end the way Cosmos interprets this particular path. I'd have no problem if they said science can't answer questions about religion and left it at that, but instead they continuously say that religion is wrong. I don't even mind specifically stating the reason the 4000 year old Earth idea is wrong, but to essentially say "God didn't create anything" is something that bothers me. It's not just Cosmos, it's a Tyson thing. I normally love the guy, but in this particular regard, it's something I disagree with.

I think it's one thing to say science can't answer questions of philosophy, but another to say that it disproves religion or that philosophy isn't necessary because of science. Science doesn't answer to morality, for instance. Things like ways to run the government might be able to be based in science, but the ideas of how to put those scientific ideas together are still a philosophy. Hell, just finding meaning in life is a worthwhile venture, IMO.

I dislike the idea of dismissing philosophy because it takes too long or a person shouldn't ask questions. It's dismissive of the importance, and not really all that different in my mind from a person being told by a religious teacher that they shouldn't ask questions because it will upset God (something else that bothers me--luckily my religious educators encouraged question asking). And then there's the fact that asking questions is what fuels scientific discovery in the first place.

I don't know. I feel like his take is that scientific questions are worthwhile, but other types are a waste of time. Just my two cents on the situation.

Celia Cyanide
05-08-2014, 05:32 PM
I love watching science shows and documentaries, but it bothers me to no end the way Cosmos interprets this particular path. I'd have no problem if they said science can't answer questions about religion and left it at that, but instead they continuously say that religion is wrong. I don't even mind specifically stating the reason the 4000 year old Earth idea is wrong, but to essentially say "God didn't create anything" is something that bothers me. It's not just Cosmos, it's a Tyson thing. I normally love the guy, but in this particular regard, it's something I disagree with.

It's something that annoys me when anyone does it, really. Just because you haven't seen proof of something doesn't make you a fool to believe it. If you continue believing it despite proof to the contrary, that's irrational. But accepting something without proof because it makes sense to you? I'm not religious, but I don't see anything wrong with that.

Some people don't want to ask philosophical questions, but others would be bored if they didn't.

Lyv
05-08-2014, 05:44 PM
I'm listening. Context is giving me a somewhat different take than the author of the OP, but I'll finish it out. Has anyone listened to it all?

robjvargas
05-08-2014, 05:48 PM
It's something that annoys me when anyone does it, really. Just because you haven't seen proof of something doesn't make you a fool to believe it. If you continue believing it despite proof to the contrary, that's irrational. But accepting something without proof because it makes sense to you? I'm not religious, but I don't see anything wrong with that.

Some people don't want to ask philosophical questions, but others would be bored if they didn't.

Just as not every person with faith is anti-science, not every scientist is anti-religion.

But those that are, they are as much dogmatists as the anti-science religious nuts. I think they are caught up in the exact same literalist interpretation of religious doctrine as the religious nuts are.

And that makes both types of people nuts.

Maxx
05-08-2014, 05:48 PM
Some people don't want to ask philosophical questions, but others would be bored if they didn't.

One of the hidden ironies of threads like this that oppose monolithic cultural objects like Science, Religion and Philosophy, as seen by a popularizing TV show is that fairly paradoxical formulations such as "Science is right, Religion is wrong" make a certain amount of horrible sense. One might not like the horror, but, sadly, there it is.

On that note, I would like to add, if I may, that in the allegorical field of explaining science to scientists, History of Science showed that Philosophy of Science is wrong and History of Science is Right.

Williebee
05-08-2014, 05:49 PM
I'm with Lyv on the context thing. I listened to the podcast several days ago. Mr. Linker, the author of The Week article is making some selective links for himself. It's an opinion piece. He's entitled to his.

Williebee
05-08-2014, 05:52 PM
Just as not every person with faith is anti-science, not every scientist is anti-religion.

But those that are, they are as much dogmatists as the anti-science religious nuts. I think they are caught up in the exact same literalist interpretation of religious doctrine as the religious nuts are.

And that makes both types of people nuts.

No, it really doesn't. It's a generic accusation. And that bit of blanketry is rude and disrespectful to some fellow members.


btw, is "blanketry" a word? Can it be?

Perks
05-08-2014, 05:53 PM
I think if you're Neil deGrasse Tyson, you're acutely aware of how little time you have on planet Earth. I think he feels that more than many. Tyson is a "how" guy and a "what" guy, not a "why" guy. "Why" would just take up too much of his time.

I can appreciate that.

It doesn't worry me that those organically inclined to the why of things will be yanked off their purpose. I wouldn't ask Neil deGrasse Tyson to tamp down any of his fire for what he loves and what he hopes to accomplish in his lifetime. I wouldn't want to dilute his drive by any amount.

We have lots and lots and lots of philosophers, from the armchair type, a dime for dozens, all the way to the well-funded big thinkers of our day. But we have far too few Neil deGrasse Tysons.

Devil Ledbetter
05-08-2014, 05:59 PM
I respect him for stating what he thinks based on his scientific background without pandering to faith systems with agnostic blandishments like "we can't prove there is no God." Science says what science says. If what science says makes you uncomfortable because of your belief or faith, your belief or faith is at least as much to blame as science.

When you actually grasp scientific evolutionary theory (and don't just think means "randomness" or "coincidence" or fall back into the logical fallacy of personal incredulity e.g. "We're soooo complex, though! I just can't believe God wasn't involved!") then you also understand that no part of scientific evolutionary theory requires the intervention of an intelligent deity. There is no part of the scientific theory of evolutionary that goes "And then a miracle occurred" or "And then God stepped in and ...."

The only part of evolution that "requires" a deity is the part where believers want to accept evolution without questioning the pourquoi stories of their faith. And that's okay for them, but it doesn't scientifically mean a deity caused evolution, dreamed it up or set it in motion. And no scientist should have to pretend that it does to make believers "comfortable."

There are plenty of highly intelligent people who hold religious beliefs and accept science. That's wonderful. They seem to understand that their comfort in balancing science and belief is their own responsibility.

Cyia
05-08-2014, 06:01 PM
Preferring "how" over "why" is nothing new. "How" is mechanical. "Why" is dangerous. (There's a quote from Fahrenheit 451 I'd love to add here, but I can't remember it.)

The "how" will generally have a set of constant answers. Those answers can change as more information is incorporated, or as procedures become more efficient, but it's a set pattern that can be replicated, and it exists within defined parameters.

"Why" questions are more abstract. They have no boundaries and no parameters. They expand without limit.

"How" deals in constants. "Why" deals in variables.

Don
05-08-2014, 06:04 PM
Somebody should tell Neil there are philosophies based in logic, although they generally get short shrift from "real" philosophers.

Perks
05-08-2014, 06:05 PM
I should like to take this opportunity to say that I almost need a hall pass for Neil deGrasse Tyson. My husband is aware. He forgives me.

robeiae
05-08-2014, 06:08 PM
We have lots and lots and lots of philosophers, from the armchair type, a dime for dozens, all the way to the well-funded big thinkers of our day.True.


But we have far too few Neil deGrasse Tysons.

Oh, I don't know. Tyson is no armchair "how" guy, but just as armchair philosophers are "a dime for dozens," so are the armchair types of Tyson's sort. In fact, there are many, many more of them imo. Because most people not only don't want to know "why," most people lack the ability to look beyond the surface, beyond their daily existence.

That said, I enjoy the crap out of Tyson's presentations. Because there's plenty of room for "how" and "why" imo.

Maxx
05-08-2014, 06:20 PM
Somebody should tell Neil there are philosophies based in logic, although they generally get short shrift from "real" philosophers.

Really? This is interesting "news." Can you give any "examples" of what you are "talking" about?

Perks
05-08-2014, 06:24 PM
Oh, I don't know. Tyson is no armchair "how" guy, but just as armchair philosophers are "a dime for dozens," so are the armchair types of Tyson's sort. In fact, there are many, many more of them imo. Because most people not only don't want to know "why," most people lack the ability to look beyond the surface, beyond their daily existence.

That said, I enjoy the crap out of Tyson's presentations. Because there's plenty of room for "how" and "why" imo.

I'm still right, you person. The reason Neil deGrasse Tyson is such a rarity is that he combines a very impressive brain with an ease of communication that makes instruction feel like a privilege. He's a genius and a rockstar and your best friend all at once.

That's special.

I did a book event in Charlotte right after Neil deGrasse Tyson. The employees were still electrified by his talk. It had to be held in a big local auditorium. The bookstore, while more than adequate for the likes of me, would have been bursting its walls for his audience.

He came on stage at 7pm. First thing, he sits down and starts taking off his shoes and socks. He tells everyone to get comfortable because they wouldn't be done until he'd taken every last question.

By midnight, all those still left in their seats had their questions all edged out with answers and Neil deGrasse Tyson took everyone who wasn't sleepy on a walking tour of downtown Charlotte, heads turned up to the night sky, still learning-- and drinking with Neil deGrasse Tyson as he punctuated the trek with stops in a few bars until 4am.

robjvargas
05-08-2014, 06:32 PM
No, it really doesn't. It's a generic accusation. And that bit of blanketry is rude and disrespectful to some fellow members.


btw, is "blanketry" a word? Can it be?

I can live with the word. :)

But I stand by what I said. I don't see any blanketing in stating that some scientists who are anti-religion are nuts.

Athiesm isn't anti religion. I'm not speaking about lack or absence of faith. And since no one else is speaking of that either, I don't see how anyone would think I am.

If "stupid" and "willfully ignorant" aren't disrespectful or rude in other contexts (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8853245&postcount=65), then this isn't either.

And I didn't report it because I agree that it isn't.

robeiae
05-08-2014, 06:33 PM
I'm still right, you person. The reason Neil deGrasse Tyson is such a rarity is that he combines a very impressive brain with an ease of communication that makes instruction feel like a privilege. He's a genius and a rockstar and your best friend all at once.

That's special.Sure. But it's no more special--imo--than the serious non-armchair philosopher who can do the same, from Socrates to Wittgenstein to Foucault. :)

Lyv
05-08-2014, 06:35 PM
Somebody should tell Neil there are philosophies based in logic, although they generally get short shrift from "real" philosophers.

I don't mean this snarkily, but are you making that suggestion because of the excerpt from the opinion piece quoted in the OP or the actual words of Neil de Grasse Tyson? Those, imo, are two very different things.

Shadow_Ferret
05-08-2014, 06:37 PM
Does Tyson WRITE "Cosmos" or is he just the host?

And I admit I haven't listened to the link yet, but what I find strange is that in my mind, science and philosophy are pretty much after the same thing, to answer the questions we have about the mysteries of life and the universe. Both seek to expand our knowledge. Neither simply accepts what is known, but challenges that knowledge. Many of the great philosophers were scientists, and many great scientists were philosophers.

Maybe he meant religion, which to me has always stood at odds against those other two.

Perks
05-08-2014, 06:38 PM
Sure. But it's no more special--imo--than the serious non-armchair philosopher who can do the same, from Socrates to Wittgenstein to Foucault. :)

I think there are more philosophers who can comfortably take the stage than scientists. And by comfort, I'm actually meaning the audience's comfort, not the guy more than willing to explain and expound and heat up the room with the air of his very impressive willingness to go on and on.

Too many philosophers and scientists should probably stick to writing memos.

JimmyB27
05-08-2014, 06:56 PM
Just as not every person with faith is anti-science, not every scientist is anti-religion.

But those that are, they are as much dogmatists as the anti-science religious nuts. I think they are caught up in the exact same literalist interpretation of religious doctrine as the religious nuts are.

And that makes both types of people nuts.

I find it confusing how one can be of a particular faith without being a literalist. If you're going to follow the bible, or the Koran, or whatever, then you should follow it, no? Or, if not, how do you know which bits you can skip and which bits you can't?

Xelebes
05-08-2014, 07:00 PM
I find it confusing how one can be of a particular faith without being a literalist. If you're going to follow the bible, or the Koran, or whatever, then you should follow it, no? Or, if not, how do you know which bits you can skip and which bits you can't?

That only works if you are a Protestant. A Catholic can live by the book without having to actually read the book.

robjvargas
05-08-2014, 07:37 PM
I find it confusing how one can be of a particular faith without being a literalist. If you're going to follow the bible, or the Koran, or whatever, then you should follow it, no? Or, if not, how do you know which bits you can skip and which bits you can't?

Wrong question, IMO.

Why must one "be of a particular faith"? What if I believe the Bible gives its lessons as a series of parables, rather than as a strict telling of history?

Do I no longer count as having faith?

JimmyB27
05-08-2014, 07:44 PM
Wrong question, IMO.

Why must one "be of a particular faith"? What if I believe the Bible gives its lessons as a series of parables, rather than as a strict telling of history?

Do I no longer count as having faith?

If you tell me you have faith, then you do. Clearly, my comment is not targeted at someone like you, but rather the sort of person who claims that the bible is the inerrant word of God and teh gays are going to hell, but they rather like shellfish thank you very much.

Michael Wolfe
05-08-2014, 07:44 PM
Does Tyson WRITE "Cosmos" or is he just the host?



Pretty sure he's not the writer.


And I admit I haven't listened to the link yet, but what I find strange is that in my mind, science and philosophy are pretty much after the same thing, to answer the questions we have about the mysteries of life and the universe. Both seek to expand our knowledge. Neither simply accepts what is known, but challenges that knowledge. Many of the great philosophers were scientists, and many great scientists were philosophers.



Yeah, that all sounds right to me. I wonder if the distinction became more prevalent after the term "science" became more common than the earlier term, "natural philosophy." When I was paging through Newton's Principia recently, I was struck by how often Newton used the word philosophy to describe what he was doing. It became clear to me pretty soon though that he's not talking about philosophy in the more narrowed modern sense.

Devil Ledbetter
05-08-2014, 07:49 PM
Wrong question, IMO.

Why must one "be of a particular faith"? What if I believe the Bible gives its lessons as a series of parables, rather than as a strict telling of history?

Do I no longer count as having faith?Rob, this is what (or should I say how) my husband believes. He says "Everything in the bible is true, and some of it actually happened."

While I don't happen to agree with him, I respect his right to believe as he chooses. In answer to your question, you can believe the bible stories are parables and still have faith.

Celia Cyanide
05-08-2014, 08:28 PM
If you tell me you have faith, then you do. Clearly, my comment is not targeted at someone like you, but rather the sort of person who claims that the bible is the inerrant word of God and teh gays are going to hell, but they rather like shellfish thank you very much.

There are plenty of people who are Christian and like shellfish, and like gays, too. Many Christians do acknowledge that the bible was written by humans, and that none of the statements made about gays were actually made by Christ.

robjvargas
05-08-2014, 08:44 PM
If you tell me you have faith, then you do. Clearly, my comment is not targeted at someone like you, but rather the sort of person who claims that the bible is the inerrant word of God and teh gays are going to hell, but they rather like shellfish thank you very much.


Rob, this is what (or should I say how) my husband believes. He says "Everything in the bible is true, and some of it actually happened."

While I don't happen to agree with him, I respect his right to believe as he chooses. In answer to your question, you can believe the bible stories are parables and still have faith.

Thanks. I appreciate the direct responses. Though I merely intended to point out that the issue under discussion seemed broader than any of the "established" religions.

RichardGarfinkle
05-08-2014, 08:53 PM
Preferring "how" over "why" is nothing new. "How" is mechanical. "Why" is dangerous. (There's a quote from Fahrenheit 451 I'd love to add here, but I can't remember it.)

The "how" will generally have a set of constant answers. Those answers can change as more information is incorporated, or as procedures become more efficient, but it's a set pattern that can be replicated, and it exists within defined parameters.

"Why" questions are more abstract. They have no boundaries and no parameters. They expand without limit.

"How" deals in constants. "Why" deals in variables.

As a " How" person, I find this to be a deep mischaracterization of how we how people think. How is anything but constant. How changes as understanding changes. There is how the universe works and how we understand those workings. The evolution of the latter how by the creation and testing of ideas is not just the endeavor of science, but also a deep part of human survival.

We evolve our understanding in the face or a universe that reveals more and more of its nature the deeper we look at it. We have not only had to change our thinking but create whole new ways of thinking to match the newly discovered.

Indeed, why is often a much smaller, simpler question. How takes work, practice and testing. How has to work in the face of reality. And how has to change as more and more of that face is revealed.

emax100
05-08-2014, 11:37 PM
I have to admit, the one thing about Cosmos that really bothers me is that it seems that there is a very blatant "religion is wrong and you shouldn't believe in God message. I'm a Christian who believes in evolution and the big bang and I have no problem reconciling those two. I know there are many people who do and who see religion and science as opponents, but personally, I'm not one of them, and a lot of people I know are similar to me--people who believe in both.

I love watching science shows and documentaries, but it bothers me to no end the way Cosmos interprets this particular path. I'd have no problem if they said science can't answer questions about religion and left it at that, but instead they continuously say that religion is wrong. I don't even mind specifically stating the reason the 4000 year old Earth idea is wrong, but to essentially say "God didn't create anything" is something that bothers me. It's not just Cosmos, it's a Tyson thing. I normally love the guy, but in this particular regard, it's something I disagree with.

I think it's one thing to say science can't answer questions of philosophy, but another to say that it disproves religion or that philosophy isn't necessary because of science. Science doesn't answer to morality, for instance. Things like ways to run the government might be able to be based in science, but the ideas of how to put those scientific ideas together are still a philosophy. Hell, just finding meaning in life is a worthwhile venture, IMO.

I dislike the idea of dismissing philosophy because it takes too long or a person shouldn't ask questions. It's dismissive of the importance, and not really all that different in my mind from a person being told by a religious teacher that they shouldn't ask questions because it will upset God (something else that bothers me--luckily my religious educators encouraged question asking). And then there's the fact that asking questions is what fuels scientific discovery in the first place.

I don't know. I feel like his take is that scientific questions are worthwhile, but other types are a waste of time. Just my two cents on the situation.


It is possible to be a Christian and believe in those things, however it is not possible to truly be a Christian and believe those things did not happen without any sort of Divine hand and Divine influence. Therein lies the problem with proponents of evolution who insist that in order to truly believe in evolution you have to believe it happened without any influence from a Divine presence of any kind. That goes against the most basic tenets of Christianity not to mention Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and numerous other religions. For the record, many of the most brilliant scientists of the 1800s and 1900s were either committed Christians or believed that science was an attempt to understand the workings of God and that nothing, including the Big Bang, happened without God's influence. The ubiquitous Einstein is an example of the latter, btw.

Also, I always found Neil deGrasse Tyson,at least when it comes to evolution debates, to be as much of a condescending jerkoff as Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwel. To me at least, he gives the impression that if you believe in any kind of religion and that any kind of deity from said religion had a hand in evolution then you are in the same category as a Ken Ham. At least, that is the impression I always got.

Xelebes
05-08-2014, 11:55 PM
not to mention Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and numerous other religions.

You might not want to speak for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists and other people of various religions.

Roxxsmom
05-09-2014, 12:05 AM
I have trouble believing this, since science itself grew out of a philosophical outlook, and there is a definite "philosophy of science" that is often discussed by, er, scientists. And of course, knowing how something works and what it can do in a mechanistic sense doesn't mean there aren't ethical considerations about the implications of that knowledge or how that knowledge should be applied. And ethics stems from philosophy.

And every scientific investigation revolves around questions. How could a scientist not ask questions? Actually, it seems like it's the anti-science crowd that's usually telling people that some questions shouldn't be asked, or that they should just accept things on authority. Science is antithetical to that world view, because scientists are never supposed to get so attached to an idea that they can't modify or abandon it in the face of evidence.

There's a reason you get a Ph.D. in physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry etc., and not a Sci.D.

I haven't had time to ferret out the particulars of what he said, but unless it was in a more limited context, it seems like a strange thing for any scientist to say. If he meant it the way it comes off in that quote, it's a bit disappointing.

emax100
05-09-2014, 12:10 AM
You might not want to speak for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists and other people of various religions.
I am not speaking for those who label themselves as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists. I am stating that the basic tennets of these religions teach that life originated with a sort of divine, supernatural presence; someone who is familiar with these religions on even a surface level can see this to be true. There is no major religion that teaches that the universe and all life originated completely naturally without any sort of supernatural presence as Tyson believes.

Here is the Buddhist view on origin of life: http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/297.htm

Jewish: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewsevolution.html

Hindu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_views_on_evolution#Creation_myths

Islam: http://islam.about.com/od/creation/a/creation_2.htm

This is what I was getting at. Not that I can speak for Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and Sikhs and be their advocate for them. If they were in a evolution debate with Tyson, my guess is they would be able to advocate for themselves on their own just fine.

Xelebes
05-09-2014, 12:12 AM
"Deep philosophical questions", I assume, refers to the spongy and quarrelsome discourse on etiology and the mythology that surrounds it more than epistemology which grounds scientific discovery.

robeiae
05-09-2014, 12:16 AM
Preferring "how" over "why" is nothing new. "How" is mechanical. "Why" is dangerous. (There's a quote from Fahrenheit 451 I'd love to add here, but I can't remember it.)

The "how" will generally have a set of constant answers. Those answers can change as more information is incorporated, or as procedures become more efficient, but it's a set pattern that can be replicated, and it exists within defined parameters.

"Why" questions are more abstract. They have no boundaries and no parameters. They expand without limit.

"How" deals in constants. "Why" deals in variables.


As a " How" person, I find this to be a deep mischaracterization of how we how people think. How is anything but constant. How changes as understanding changes. There is how the universe works and how we understand those workings. The evolution of the latter how by the creation and testing of ideas is not just the endeavor of science, but also a deep part of human survival.

We evolve our understanding in the face or a universe that reveals more and more of its nature the deeper we look at it. We have not only had to change our thinking but create whole new ways of thinking to match the newly discovered.

Indeed, why is often a much smaller, simpler question. How takes work, practice and testing. How has to work in the face of reality. And how has to change as more and more of that face is revealed.
I'm not sure how or why sides are getting chosen here, but I doubt there's any consensus on where lines can or should be drawn.

How does water boil when it's in a pot on a stove?

Why does water boil when it's in a pot on a stove?

There's plenty of room for overlap there, imo. One can take either question and give a very simplistic or very complex answer.

Neither "how people" nor "why people" have a lock on anything, neither is thinking deeper than the other as a matter of course, neither is more special than the other as a matter of course (which was kinda my point to Perks).

This kind of stuff makes me think of "true libertarian" arguments...

Lyv
05-09-2014, 12:16 AM
I haven't had time to ferret out the particulars of what he said, but unless it was in a more limited context, it seems like a strange thing for any scientist to say. If he meant it the way it comes off in that quote, it's a bit disappointing.

I recommend it. I'm sure you noticed that in the OP the author directly quoted no more than a phrase here and there. It's not hard to find...there's a link to the talk and the author helpfully points you to the relevant time stamp. However, I think the author's off-base. He left out some context, like that the problem is when asking deep philosophical questions stops you cold from making any progress and you keep going deeper and deeper into those questions. the philosophy major at one point suggests that you need a healthy balance of science and philosophy and Neil disputes that. From what he said I took it to mean that you don't have to create balance if those questions are not leading anywhere and preventing progress. I'd have to listen again, but I didn't get what the author did.

A lot of comments have been responses to the author's take, but I was hoping more people would listen to the actual recording so I could compare notes.

rugcat
05-09-2014, 12:18 AM
It is possible to be a Christian and believe in those things, however it is not possible to truly be a Christian and believe those things did not happen without any sort of Divine hand and Divine influence. I'm afraid you are confusing your own personal definition of what constitutes a true Christian with some sort of objective fact. I would imagine there are many Christians who would find your dismissal of them as not true Christians, because they don't fit your definition, quite offensive.
Therein lies the problem with proponents of evolution who insist that in order to truly believe in evolution you have to believe it happened without any influence from a Divine presence of any kind. That goes against the most basic tenets of Christianity not to mention Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and numerous other religions. That's quite a broad statement. Also incorrect. You might want study the beliefs of the religions you have cited -- keeping in mind that each one has its own traditions and interpretation, and do not fall neatly into a monolithic paradigm -- much like Christianity.
For the record, many of the most brilliant scientists of the 1800s and 1900s were either committed Christians or believed that science was an attempt to understand the workings of God and that nothing, including the Big Bang, happened without God's influence. The ubiquitous Einstein is an example of the latter, btw.Again, a rather simplistic statement. Many scientists, and indeed many intellectuals of the 18th century were deists -- again, to be simplistic, they believed that God created the universe and then sat back as it ran without the necessity of further intervention.

Sir Issac Newton, one of the most brilliant scientists of all time, was a deeply religious man. He indeed believed that God intervened in ways to keep the universe running properly. However, he was also somewhat of an occultist, a numerologist, and had serious doubts about the divinity of Christ -- at least as far as equation Christ with God, as does the doctrine of the Trinity.

robeiae
05-09-2014, 12:24 AM
Plus, Newton was a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion...

emax100
05-09-2014, 12:47 AM
I'm afraid you are confusing your own personal definition of what constitutes a true Christian with some sort of objective fact. I would imagine there are many Christians who would find your dismissal of them as not true Christians, because they don't fit your definition, quite offensive.


I am sure they would find it offensive; these days it seems like everyone is offended by everything. If they find it offensive, then to some extent they may also need to reevaluate whether or not they fit the definition of Christian as well. Calling yourself a Christian is easy, and these days it is getting easier and easier - someone who worships stone idols and sacrifices cattle to these idols could call themselves Christian simply because they are nice to others; it hardly means it is accurate how the define themselves. Being a Christian means believing that the Bible was written with a sort of inspiration from God and that life and the universe was created with God's influence. This is a sort of an objective fact and an absolute when it comes to Christianity and truly being a Christian.



That's quite a broad statement. Also incorrect. You might want study the beliefs of the religions you have cited -- keeping in mind that each one has its own traditions and interpretation, and do not fall neatly into a monolithic paradigm -- much like Christianity.


It is not necessarily about monotheism but about the fact that there was a sort of divine presence that was involved in the creation of the Universe and life on earth. Even if one does not believe in a Monotheistic religion, there's still a very good chance they not not subscribe to all of the theory of evolution that Tyson proposes; I did not say one had to believe in a Monotheistic religion to fundamentally disagree with evolution as is proposed by Tyson or Bill Nye.



Again, a rather simplistic statement. Many scientists, and indeed many intellectuals of the 18th century were deists -- again, to be simplistic, they believed that God created the universe and then sat back as it ran without the necessity of further intervention.

Sir Issac Newton, one of the most brilliant scientists of all time, was a deeply religious man. He indeed believed that God intervened in ways to keep the universe running properly. However, he was also somewhat of an occultist, a numerologist, and had serious doubts about the divinity of Christ -- at least as far as equation Christ with God, as does the doctrine of the Trinity.

Well I said many, not all. Here's a sample: http://web.media.mit.edu/~picard/personal/great_xians.php

http://www.jcsm.org/Contents/Famous.htm

http://www.scibel.com/scibel/materials_myths_few_scientists_true_christians.htm l

And I also included those who may have had doubts about the divinity of Christ despite being Christian or who believed in God in a way which would not be recognized by mainstream Christians, a la Einstein, but who still did not believe in evolution as a process that had no influence from God at all. In this context, the important thing about figures like Isaac Newton is not the doubts they had over the divinity of Christ - many a devout Christian can find themselves having those doubts in their lifetime, but whether or not he believed in evolution in the manner that Tyson or Bill Nye does. And clearly, he didn't.

Cranky
05-09-2014, 01:04 AM
This conversation is getting rather off the point of science versus philosophy, not religion. (Though I do realize there is some overlap) Add that to sweeping generalizations, etc., I'd like to see this get back ON point, and leave the religion/theology debate to the side.

That isn't even what was being talked about in the OP.

Gentle reminder, not a suggestion, btw.

rugcat
05-09-2014, 01:24 AM
I am sure they would find it offensive; these days it seems like everyone is offended by everything. If they find it offensive, then to some extent they may also need to reevaluate whether or not they fit the definition of Christian as well.So if a Christian with deeply held beliefs that vary from your own is offended by you explaining to them they are not true Christians, that's their problem? Are you sure it's not yours? And if they are offended, perhaps they may need to rethink their beliefs?

Are you familiar with the concept of irony?
It is not necessarily about monotheism but about the fact that there was a sort of divine presence that was involved in the creation of the Universe and life on earth.But that's not what you said. You specifically referenced evolution:
Therein lies the problem with proponents of evolution who insist that in order to truly believe in evolution you have to believe it happened without any influence from a Divine presence of any kind.First of all, evolution is not something that happened. It is an ongoing process that is happening today as it always has. Evolution does not address the great mystery of how life started; it simply explains the mechanism of how life expands, changes, evolves, and diversifies. If one believes that divine intervention is a necessary part of evolution, then by definition, one rejects the concept.

And despite what you believe, it it quite possible for those of the Christian faith to accept the reality of evolution, without the necessity of divine intervention.

And sorry, but one cannot profess a belief in the validity of evolutionary theory while simultaneously denying its core tenets. Unless one doesn't actually understand the basic theory, of course.
In this context, the important thing about figures like Isaac Newton is not the doubts they had over the divinity of Christ - many a devout Christian can find themselves having those doubts in their lifetime, but whether or not he believed in evolution in the manner that Tyson or Bill Nye does. And clearly, he didn't.Well I can't argue with that, considering that Newton died over a century before Darwin published origin of the species.

kuwisdelu
05-09-2014, 01:27 AM
I find it confusing how one can be of a particular faith without being a literalist. If you're going to follow the bible, or the Koran, or whatever, then you should follow it, no? Or, if not, how do you know which bits you can skip and which bits you can't?

1. Not all religions are based on faith.

2. It's entirely possible to understand a story as being true without it being historical fact.


I am not speaking for those who label themselves as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists. I am stating that the basic tennets of these religions teach that life originated with a sort of divine, supernatural presence; someone who is familiar with these religions on even a surface level can see this to be true.

Evolution doesn't actually have anything to do with the origin of life. That is a fallacy.

Alessandra Kelley
05-09-2014, 01:38 AM
Therein lies the problem with proponents of evolution who insist that in order to truly believe in evolution you have to believe it happened without any influence from a Divine presence of any kind.

This is a remarkably sweeping statement.

I am curious to know who these proponents of evolution are who you claim say that if one has any belief whatsoever in divine influence on life then one's acceptance of evolution does not count.

Who sets such a rigid purity test for scientific belief? Who are these very strangely dogmatic proponents of evolution you are tilting against?

I have run into no one so strangely puritanical about science, but a number of doctors, scientists, etc. who are quite comfortable combining deep spiritual beliefs with acceptance of science and the scientific method.

Who are you arguing with?

emax100
05-09-2014, 01:43 AM
Well I can't argue with that, considering that Newton died over a century before Darwin published origin of the species.

Well I suspect that even if Darwin had published the origin of the species when Newton was around, Newton would not exactly have said that Darwin was totally correct about how life originated. Christian scientists have often had doubts about the divinity of Christ - as have Christians from all professions - but Darwin's works did not suddenly get them to reject the idea that life originated without a divine presence. And evolution's most prominent advocates often seem to advocate that believing all of the tenets of the theory of evolution means believing that the origin of the universe - i.e. the Big Bang Theory - and the origin of life happened without a supernatural, divine guiding hand.

Tons of Christians, including Baptists and evangelical Christians, are totally ok with the idea of certain species surviving based on features as proposed by Darwin with his examples of birds with beaks that can crack open seeds surviving over those birds who did not have such features. That is one thing. The idea is whether or not God played a hand in having us go from literally nothing but empty space, or for that matter, if there was a ever an empty space to start with, to the universe to forming the planets to life as we know it today. That is where it gets dicey for anyone who truly follows the tenets of Christianity as well as for numerous other religions.



Evolution doesn't actually have anything to do with the origin of life. That is a fallacy.

So then proponents of the theory of evolution in its entirely are totally ok with the idea that animals and plants on earth were created with the aid and influence of God? I am sure some of them would be, but I am dubious that all of them would be ok with that.

I suppose now it is time to end this as per Cranky's request. So I'll leave it at that.

kuwisdelu
05-09-2014, 01:54 AM
That is where it gets dicey for anyone who truly follows the tenets of Christianity as well as for numerous other religions.

No. It really doesn't. Or at least, it doesn't have to. You are making judgmental statements about whether people "truly" believe in their own religions based on your own biased assumptions.

Ketzel
05-09-2014, 02:07 AM
Neil Degrasse Tyson responded to the criticism of his criticism of philosophers:

(http://www.nerdist.com/pepisode/nerdist-podcast-neil-degrasse-tyson-returns-again/)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/)
• May 7, 2014 at 4:36 am (http://www.nerdist.com/pepisode/nerdist-podcast-neil-degrasse-tyson-returns-again/comment-page-2/#comment-201900)

Joe, I agree that Leibniz is undervalued out there. I’ll try to mention him more often.
Thanks, Martin Rebensteiger, for that note on the questioned authenticity of that Assyrian Tablet Quote. I’ll investigate further.
And to Charles – what is not conveyed in this interview (my bad to omit it) is that my critique applies solely to those trained in Philosophy from the 20th century onward – the era of Modern Physics: Quantum & Relativity. By my read of history, the formidable brain power of Philosophers (people with PhDs from departments of Philosophy) has made vanishingly little contribution to the advance of the physical sciences in this era. And any any important advances that one might claim to be philosophical in nature were made by physicists.
Thanks, in any case, for all your interest.
NDTyson, New York City

Williebee
05-09-2014, 02:34 AM
MOD NOTE:
IF it is your wish to debate what is or is not a Christian/Muslim/whatever. Do it somewhere else. This is not that thread.

If you do it here either the thread will be locked, you will be booted with force, or both. Personally, I'd bet on B.

mayqueen
05-09-2014, 06:40 AM
Maybe I'm reading all of this incorrectly (because it's late, I'm tired, and I don't watch Cosmos) but it seems like Tyson *and* the author of the article the OP posted are missing this whole phenomenon of science studies (which is tangentially what I do). It's an interdisciplinary field that brings philosophers, social theorists, and scientists together to figure out what exactly science is and how and why we do it. I think Tyson is right that most of the advances in that subfield of philosophy have been made by physicists (which would be the subfield of philosophy called the "new materialisms" -- what is matter? how do we give matter meaning? are we individuals or are we open systems?)

But people who do science studies are like the bastard children of philosophy and science: neither group wants them around. So in that regard, no, science and philosophy can't coexist.

benbradley
05-09-2014, 06:41 AM
No True Scotsman would debate whether science and philosophy can coexist.

RichardGarfinkle
05-09-2014, 09:29 AM
No True Scotsman would debate whether science and philosophy can coexist.

David Hume would.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/

Closer to the OP. There is a region where modern philosophy and some of the needs of science overlap and that is in the field of Logic.

Here's the logician Saul Kripke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Kripke), who helped develop the possible worlds idea of Modal Logic, which dovetails with the 'How' of the scientific method.

kuwisdelu
05-09-2014, 09:44 AM
There is nothing particularly special about logic.

Given any rigid system of logic, there will always be truths that logic cannot prove.

Just because something is logical does not mean that it is true.

RichardGarfinkle
05-09-2014, 10:39 AM
There is nothing particularly special about logic.

Given any rigid system of logic, there will always be truths that logic cannot prove.

Just because something is logical does not mean that it is true.

Logic is a tool. The modern developments in logic have produced more advanced, more useful versions of that tool. Some logicians classify themselves as mathematicians and some as philosophers. The existence of the latter is the reason I brought it up.

DancingMaenid
05-09-2014, 11:09 AM
I find it confusing how one can be of a particular faith without being a literalist. If you're going to follow the bible, or the Koran, or whatever, then you should follow it, no? Or, if not, how do you know which bits you can skip and which bits you can't?

I think it depends very much on the person. The same goes for a lot of belief systems, philosophies, and movements, as well. A lot of people affiliate themselves with a political party because they agree with it on certain high-priority issues, for example, even though they disagree with how the party handles some other issues. With religion, I think a lot of people interpret holy books as being metaphorical or divinely inspired without being literally true. Some believe that they're a mixture of real accounts and parables/folklore. And for some people, religion provides benefits (such as community or ritual) that might balance out some of the things they don't care for.

Personally, I can't do it very well. I've accepted that it's unlikely that I'll ever join another religion precisely because it's too hard for me to take them literally.

kaitie
05-09-2014, 05:27 PM
I missed the literalism comment earlier on, but early Christianity did not actually read the Bible literally. Numbers and images were symbols, and while certain elements were taken as straight-up fact (the lineages), things like "seven days" wasn't.

I had several classes in college taught by a theologian who was an expert on history and language, and he was amazing. The irony is that these symbolic readings are much deeper and more amazing than the literal ones. You realize that this phrase here, and that phrase there, are references to Jesus coming later on, and so on. I'd give exact examples but I have to get to work in about two minutes.

It was incredibly awesome, though, and fascinating. The literalist movement has been more of a recent thing, and, in my opinion, actually takes away from a lot of the real beauty that I see in the Bible.

Cranky
05-09-2014, 05:29 PM
Guys, please. The religion part could be a very interesting discussion, but as both Williebee and I have said upthread, this isn't the thread (or the subforum) for it.

Thanks.

ETA: On second thought (and on suggestion), I'm gonna split this off and send it over to Comparative Religion, and y'all can carry on over there. I'll post a link.

ETA2: On third thought, culling posts in this case will pretty much gut the entire thread and leave weird holes, so we're gonna move the whole kit and kaboodle over yonder. Hang on folks, we're going for a ride.

robeiae
05-09-2014, 05:53 PM
I feel a little nauseous. Where am I?

RichardGarfinkle
05-09-2014, 06:01 PM
Mod Note:

Hi folks, welcome to Comparative Religion. For those of you who aren't familiar with this board, please read the stickies.

This discussion is delicate and respect is necessary. Respect means that we cannot use too large generalizations, and we cannot be dismissive.

Maxx
05-09-2014, 06:27 PM
But people who do science studies are like the bastard children of philosophy and science: neither group wants them around. So in that regard, no, science and philosophy can't coexist.

Good points, but I know scientists who have used the findings of History of Science (which is close to the sociology or even philosophy of science these days) to justify their own methods in reconstructing studies to check for data integrity, completeness, consistancy with published results and so on.

Maxx
05-09-2014, 06:41 PM
Well I suspect that even if Darwin had published the origin of the species when Newton was around, Newton would not exactly have said that Darwin was totally correct about how life originated.

By the time Darwin published in 1859, what was in question in biology was not whether there had been some kind of evolutionary change -- the question was the mechanism. Darwin's answer (as opposed to Lamarck's inheritance of acquired characteristics or Cuvier's Catastrophes or Lyell's continuous niche-filling or Owen's fulfillment of archtypes) was speciation. In Newton's time there really had not been any work at all on the history of life on earth. Even the idea of an extinct species did not exist until Cuvier's work (and naming the first extinct species) in the 1790s. So there was really no framework at all for dealing with evolution in Newton's time so the idea that some pre-Darwinian Darwin could have somehow presented Darwinian evolution to Newton has many more problems than just Newton's possible response.

mayqueen
05-09-2014, 07:05 PM
Good points, but I know scientists who have used the findings of History of Science (which is close to the sociology or even philosophy of science these days) to justify their own methods in reconstructing studies to check for data integrity, completeness, consistancy with published results and so on.

True, but I was thinking more about the kinds of philosophers and social theorists who do social histories objectivity and critique whether or not objectivity can or should be the goal of science. I think scientists and philosophers are okay with each other so long as the discussion stays at historicity or reliability/validity of method. When you start talking epistemology/ontology (which is what I think the original thing with Tyson is about), most scientists start looking at you funny.

Maxx
05-09-2014, 07:32 PM
When you start talking epistemology/ontology (which is what I think the original thing with Tyson is about), most scientists start looking at you funny.

That could be, but the funny look might not be entirely dismissive. Or it might be in the case of Ian Hacking's historical ontology, but not so much in the case of say, Andrew Pickering's Constructing Quarks, which seems to have come to be (after almost 3 decades) regarded as a sociological classic. I think particle physics has become such an open arena of methodological innovation that Pickering seems now to have stated the obvious, whereas Hacking is digging into areas (such as multiple personalities) where the methods have never been all that clear to begin with.

Williebee
05-09-2014, 08:31 PM
Thanks, Richard.

To Tyson's point about great statements in this era being made by physicists rather than philosophers, wouldn't that just be a reflection of the advancement of the sciences and the increases in our scientific understanding of world?

Maxx
05-09-2014, 08:43 PM
Thanks, Richard.

To Tyson's point about great statements in this era being made by physicists rather than philosophers, wouldn't that just be a reflection of the advancement of the sciences and the increases in our scientific understanding of world?

I wonder what great statements he has in mind? Einstein's
Refiniert ist Herr Gott, aber niche bosticht?

(God is refined, but not a stapler).

Or Wittgenstein: Die Welt ist alle was der Fall ist. (the world is all that is the case)

Or Freud: Wo es war, sollte ich werden (Where the id was, there I must come to be)

Or Oppenheimer: I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds (from the Sanskrit, it seems six years after Freud died)

It's odd that Freud doesn't seem to come up much. Well, he was a biologist not a physicist.

Maxx
05-09-2014, 08:48 PM
I wonder what great statements he has in mind? Einstein's
Refiniert ist Herr Gott, aber niche bosticht?

(God is refined, but not a stapler).



Oh! Oh! Which reminds me that Einstein's famous divine stapler comment was triggered by Millican's final attempts to prove the "Birth Cry of Creation" theory of cosmic rays and so on.

Which also moved Pauli to say (hold on, great statment coming): "Not even wrong."

emax100
05-09-2014, 11:14 PM
I missed the literalism comment earlier on, but early Christianity did not actually read the Bible literally. Numbers and images were symbols, and while certain elements were taken as straight-up fact (the lineages), things like "seven days" wasn't.

I had several classes in college taught by a theologian who was an expert on history and language, and he was amazing. The irony is that these symbolic readings are much deeper and more amazing than the literal ones. You realize that this phrase here, and that phrase there, are references to Jesus coming later on, and so on. I'd give exact examples but I have to get to work in about two minutes.

It was incredibly awesome, though, and fascinating. The literalist movement has been more of a recent thing, and, in my opinion, actually takes away from a lot of the real beauty that I see in the Bible.
Did they address anything on reconciling these symbolic interpretations with the theory of evolution?

Since I am now in this forum I should add that I am in the heart of academia and when ever I discuss evolution with academics, be they faculty, grad students or post docs, the most commonly held belief about evolution is believing all of the tenets of evolution requires believing that there was once no matter or energy of any kind, the Big Bang happened and the universe and the planets and stars originated and life on earth originated when there was once nothing but land and water and that this all happened without any sort of divine guidance. Now, whether or not believing the evolution in its entirely actually does require this is another thing, but my experiences in discussing this with academics, especially in STEM disciplines of any kind which it seems this topic also pertains to, is that they mostly believe this idea that the initial and ongoing phases of evolution happened without divine guidance or influence of any kind. To reiterate, this is my experience and I have been among STEM academics for about a decade now. For all I know, this could be a cause of a fundamental lack of true understanding about evolution on the part of everyone involved in the debate, myself and my colleagues included, and I certainly do not rule out that possibility.

That said, if believing in *all* of the theory of evolution does mean believing that we went from literally nothing to life as we know it now without the influence and direction of God, that is generally going to be very hard to reconcile with even the most liberal and/or non-literal interpretations of the Bible. Again, my numerous experiences in discussing this issue have led me to believe that it is about more than, say, accepting the natural selection principle Darwin advocated by observing things like the survival of finches with larger beaks.

emax100
05-09-2014, 11:16 PM
By the time Darwin published in 1859, what was in question in biology was not whether there had been some kind of evolutionary change -- the question was the mechanism. Darwin's answer (as opposed to Lamarck's inheritance of acquired characteristics or Cuvier's Catastrophes or Lyell's continuous niche-filling or Owen's fulfillment of archtypes) was speciation. In Newton's time there really had not been any work at all on the history of life on earth. Even the idea of an extinct species did not exist until Cuvier's work (and naming the first extinct species) in the 1790s. So there was really no framework at all for dealing with evolution in Newton's time so the idea that some pre-Darwinian Darwin could have somehow presented Darwinian evolution to Newton has many more problems than just Newton's possible response.
That is a fair point, but the issue is whether or not Newton would have reconsidered the whole idea that God was the source of origin of life on earth if this information had been available in his time. Particular since there was a number of scientists after Darwin who were Christian and did not really reconsider that part of their belief even in light of Darwin's work.

RichardGarfinkle
05-09-2014, 11:37 PM
Did they address anything on reconciling these symbolic interpretations with the theory of evolution?

Since I am now in this forum I should add that I am in the heart of academia and when ever I discuss evolution with academics, be they faculty, grad students or post docs, the most commonly held belief about evolution is believing all of the tenets of evolution requires believing that there was once no matter or energy of any kind, the Big Bang happened and the universe and the planets and stars originated and life on earth originated when there was once nothing but land and water and that this all happened without any sort of divine guidance. Now, whether or not believing the evolution in its entirely actually does require this is another thing, but my experiences in discussing this with academics, especially in STEM disciplines of any kind which it seems this topic also pertains to, is that they mostly believe this idea that the initial and ongoing phases of evolution happened without divine guidance or influence of any kind. To reiterate, this is my experience and I have been among STEM academics for about a decade now. For all I know, this could be a cause of a fundamental lack of true understanding about evolution on the part of everyone involved in the debate, myself and my colleagues included, and I certainly do not rule out that possibility.

That said, if believing in *all* of the theory of evolution does mean believing that we went from literally nothing to life as we know it now without the influence and direction of God, that is generally going to be very hard to reconcile with even the most liberal and/or non-literal interpretations of the Bible. Again, my numerous experiences in discussing this issue have led me to believe that it is about more than, say, accepting the natural selection principle Darwin advocated by observing things like the survival of finches with larger beaks.

Evolution does not require belief. It's a lab testable phenomenon. But that doesn't directly address your question. The theory of evolution does not require any divine entity, but one can be added to the theory without removing any of its qualities. Insistence on the necessity of such an entity in the theory puts the burden on the one who is insisting.

But, because evolution does not require or disallow such an entity, people with either view or some other variant view can work together on it.

If you are asking if there is theoretical continuity between the currently accepted theories of physics, chemistry, and biology, the answer is a definite yes. They also form an approximate history of the universe, but it is approximate, some areas are easier to observe than others, so some parts of the theory are more solidly confirmed than others.

Of course, all theories are in flux, since the concern of science is reality about which we always need to observe and test more.

kuwisdelu
05-09-2014, 11:41 PM
Did they address anything on reconciling these symbolic interpretations with the theory of evolution?

Why would they need to? What is there to reconcile?


Since I am now in this forum I should add that I am in the heart of academia and when ever I discuss evolution with academics, be they faculty, grad students or post docs, the most commonly held belief about evolution is believing all of the tenets of evolution requires believing that there was once no matter or energy of any kind, the Big Bang happened and the universe and the planets and stars originated and life on earth originated when there was once nothing but land and water and that this all happened without any sort of divine guidance. Now, whether or not believing the evolution in its entirely actually does require this is another thing, but my experiences in discussing this with academics, especially in STEM disciplines of any kind which it seems this topic also pertains to, is that they mostly believe this idea that the initial and ongoing phases of evolution happened without divine guidance or influence of any kind. To reiterate, this is my experience and I have been among STEM academics for about a decade now. For all I know, this could be a cause of a fundamental lack of true understanding about evolution on the part of everyone involved in the debate, myself and my colleagues included, and I certainly do not rule out that possibility.

I'm also in academia, in STEM. I love talking about different cultures and religions. I've yet to meet a colleague who thinks science and religion are fundamentally incompatible in the way you do.

No one cares if you think god guides it or not as long as you do good science.

If you say the earth is only a few thousand years old, well, that's different...

Edit: And the Big Bang is not a part of evolution. I don't know where you're getting this idea. Oh wait — I do: you're getting it from Creationists. The Big Bang is a widely accepted scientific theory with mountains of evidence supporting it, just like evolution, but it's not part of evolution. Naturally, if you deny either one, a scientist will look at you funny in exactly the same kind of way. But you should stop conflating them. Basically, anything that Creationists deny, they toss under the label of "evolution," but a great deal of it has nothing to do with evolution. A million-year-old rock? That's geology, not evolution.

benbradley
05-10-2014, 12:02 AM
Did they address anything on reconciling these symbolic interpretations with the theory of evolution?

Since I am now in this forum I should add that I am in the heart of academia and when ever I discuss evolution with academics, be they faculty, grad students or post docs, the most commonly held belief about evolution is believing all of the tenets of evolution requires believing that there was once no matter or energy of any kind, the Big Bang happened and the universe and the planets and stars originated and life on earth originated when there was once nothing but land and water and that this all happened without any sort of divine guidance.
What you just described is a whole lot more than evolution. You're adding in statements from cosmology and possibly other areas of science that were discovered much more recently than the time of Darwin's life.

Also, Darwin did NOT make statements (as best as I recall) about the origins of LIFE - his famous book was titled "On The Origin of Species" - he was giving an explanation of why there were so many types of life, and how this might have happened.


Now, whether or not believing the evolution in its entirely actually does require this is another thing, but my experiences in discussing this with academics, especially in STEM disciplines of any kind which it seems this topic also pertains to, is that they mostly believe this idea that the initial and ongoing phases of evolution happened without divine guidance or influence of any kind. To reiterate, this is my experience and I have been among STEM academics for about a decade now. For all I know, this could be a cause of a fundamental lack of true understanding about evolution on the part of everyone involved in the debate, myself and my colleagues included, and I certainly do not rule out that possibility.

That said, if believing in *all* of the theory of evolution does mean believing that we went from literally nothing to life as we know it now without the influence and direction of God, that is generally going to be very hard to reconcile with even the most liberal and/or non-literal interpretations of the Bible. Again, my numerous experiences in discussing this issue have led me to believe that it is about more than, say, accepting the natural selection principle Darwin advocated by observing things like the survival of finches with larger beaks.I think it IS more than that - when you use the word evolution it appears you're meaning the whole of science.

emax100
05-10-2014, 12:21 AM
I'm also in academia, in STEM. I love talking about different cultures and religions. I've yet to meet a colleague who thinks science and religion are fundamentally incompatible in the way you do.

No one cares if you think god guides it or not as long as you do good science.

If you say the earth is only a few thousand years old, well, that's different...

Edit: And the Big Bang is not a part of evolution. I don't know where you're getting this idea. Oh wait — I do: you're getting it from Creationists. The Big Bang is a widely accepted scientific theory with mountains of evidence supporting it, just like evolution, but it's not part of evolution. Naturally, if you deny either one, a scientist will look at you funny in exactly the same kind of way. But you should stop conflating them. Basically, anything that Creationists deny, they toss under the label of "evolution," but a great deal of it has nothing to do with evolution. A million-year-old rock? That's geology, not evolution.

I guess my experiences were just fundamentally different, maybe you hit a sort of jackpot and I did not. If you say they only care about whether or not you can do good science, that means you got lucky because in my experience it is not that way at all. Accepting that the earth is not 3000 years old is not enough; more than a few academics I have talked to will either say or at the very least suggest that they will look at you differently if you believe God had a sort of guiding presence and influence in the origin of life and its development from prehistoric times up until today.

And as for the Big Bang, there's still very little that is understood in terms of how the process happened. There is very little known about what drove the processes that led to the formations of matter and energy. And as for the origin of life, there is very little known about how molecules that comprise the building blocks of life initially formed given the idea that they did not exist at one time. For that matter, it still an awful lot evolutionists don't know about how humans and their genetic makeup formed from apes and their genetic makeup: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-missing-genetic-link-in-human-evolution/ .

As for the Big Bang Theory, well for starters, Creationists as well as their opponents link the Big Bang Theory together. Again, my experience with academics suggests that if you don't believe in the entirety of the Big Bang Theory, than it follows that your views on evolution will not get taken as seriously either. From my experience evolution and the Big Bang Theory get linked together by both sides of the Creationism/Intelligent design debate. Also, the idea that the Big bang Theory in its current forms has been established as a completely viable explanation to the universe's origins is also simply not true: http://metaresearch.org/cosmology/BB-top-30.asp. As the site quotes from Nobel winning physicist Lev Landau, "Cosmologists are often in error, but never in doubt."

emax100
05-10-2014, 12:23 AM
What you just described is a whole lot more than evolution. You're adding in statements from cosmology and possibly other areas of science that were discovered much more recently than the time of Darwin's life.

Also, Darwin did NOT make statements (as best as I recall) about the origins of LIFE - his famous book was titled "On The Origin of Species" - he was giving an explanation of why there were so many types of life, and how this might have happened.

You are completely right here. It is just that in my experience in discussing these things with scientists - which is again, only anecdotal evidence - is that it is often very difficult, sometimes impossible, to discuss evolution without bringing in various other theories and principles into the discussion.

Williebee
05-10-2014, 12:45 AM
Somewhere along the line a serious person looks beyond the anecdotal, if only to demonstrate that they deserve to be taken seriously.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 12:47 AM
I'm also in academia, in STEM. I love talking about different cultures and religions. I've yet to meet a colleague who thinks science and religion are fundamentally incompatible in the way you do.

Like Kuwi, your experience does not reflect my experience with colleagues in humanities or the sciences. I can name a number of people with considerable expertise in astrophysics who don't really see a conflict of the sort you see—and certainly, Near Eastern textual scholars of various kinds of religious experience don't read either of the creation episodes in Genesis as you suggest. It would be philological idiocy.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 12:51 AM
Again, my experience with academics suggests that if you don't believe in the entirety of the Big Bang Theory, than it follows that your views on evolution will not get taken as seriously either.

What do you mean by the "entirety" of the Big Bang theory?

It sounds like you're imagining some addendum that says "and God doesn't exist", when there is nothing like that.

emax100
05-10-2014, 12:53 AM
Like Kuwi, your experience does not reflect my experience with colleagues in humanities or the sciences. I can name a number of people with considerable expertise in astrophysics who don't really see a conflict of the sort you see—and certainly, Near Eastern textual scholars of various kinds of religious experience don't read either of the creation episodes in Genesis as you suggest. It would be philological idiocy.
I have not necessarily advocated for a literal word by word reading of Genesis, but rather one that acknowledges that according to Genesis, matter and energy and the planets ans stars and life on earth was created under the direction of God. Maybe I just got the shaft, but in my experiences I have encountered a sort of hostility to even this idea. I feel ti is harder to notice because it is not always an in your face, blatant sort of hostility that the other side of this discussion is infamous for but I have felt it nonetheless, no doubt about that. That said, I am genuinely happy for you that you have not had to deal with it.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 12:55 AM
I have not necessarily advocated for a literal word by word reading of Genesis, but rather one that acknowledges that according to Genesis, matter and energy and the planets ans stars and life on earth was created under the direction of God.

Did you frame this belief as scientific, or suggest a necessity for God, or suggest the wrongness of other beliefs?

Edit: I don't mean to offend or judge you by saying this, but merely make an observation: in my discussions with you, you have come across to me as somewhat dismissive of others' beliefs, or their lack thereof, and I would not be surprised if this is part of the reason you received the reactions you did.

emax100
05-10-2014, 01:11 AM
Did you frame this belief as scientific, or suggest a necessity for God, or suggest the wrongness of other beliefs?

Edit: I don't mean to offend or judge you by saying this, but merely make an observation: in my discussions with you, you have come across to me as somewhat dismissive of others' beliefs, or their lack thereof, and I would not be surprised if this is the real reason you received the reactions you did.

It is totally ok, I have learned that there is a time and place to be offended and now is neither the time nor the place. I was not suggesting it is wrong not to have a belief in God - Lord knows I could never get away with that even if I wanted to [and rest assured, I don't] - but rather discussing the idea that Christianity, and for that matter Judaism and numerous other major religions, do teach the idea that going from nothing to the creation of matter and energy and life happened under the direction of God in some capacity. These religions can certainly be compatible with the idea that various stages of evolution, including ongoing stages, happened without God's influence and still are but that I just could not see how one can reconcile a genuine belief in Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism with the idea that matter and energy and life on earth when from not existing at all to its current stage without any direction from God. And I have found that often when discussing the evolution, even though evolution does not cover all these topics per se, the conversations had a tendency to venture into these areas even if I was not trying to bring it there.

if this does not answer your questions I can try to explain it a little differently. I admit that some of the issue could very well be lack of explaining my positions in a manner that is pereceived as being sufficiently respectful.

And as for only using anecdotal evidence, well there is also the fact that many people opposing Creationism arguments, including Tyson himself, do have a reputation for being overly condescending and not truly respectful of opposing viewpoints. Others have noticed this too: http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1cdfqf/neil_degrasse_tyson_loses_it/ http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/neil-degrasse-tyson-loses-it-in-a-scientific-discussion/ granted, this was not an evolution vs Creationism debate but the kind of condescending arrogance readers have noticed here is often in place when scientists like Tyson do discuss evolution vs Creationism. I personally feel that because scientists like Tyson are indeed much smarter than most of those on the other side of the debate, they are also better at disguising how they are dismissive of any viewpoint that disagrees with their own but I feel that one can see it when they pay attention.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 01:34 AM
rather discussing the idea that Christianity, and for that matter Judaism and numerous other major religions, do teach the idea that going from nothing to the creation of matter and energy and life happened under the direction of God in some capacity.

Large numbers of scholars in every conceivable discipline don't really find Biblical history (never mind other text-based religions) in conflict. Certainly Jesuit universities are thriving in terms of both Near Eastern Language scholars, and astrophysicists.

I also note that there are tricky parts, several of them, in the OT creation stories in Genesis.

Including several words that are not extant in any other context—which means we're not really sure what they mean, but we're making best guesses derived from roots, extant cognates, and context.

Consider for instance a simply English word, like "soon." It is a time reference, but it is not defined except via the opposite "later." Or sentences like:

We walked ten miles and waited a time.

We walked a long way and waited a long time.

We walked for an hour and waited for a while.

These are not specific in terms of all of the derivations of time.

Nor, for instance, do all cultures measure time in the same way—and languages reflect that.

I further note that a fair number of Christians, including my seminary-trained Southern Baptist ordained clergyman father, were aware that the Bible was written down by humans, who are imperfect, and that earlier versions of the OT were not written in Hebrew, and were, earlier still, not in writing at all.

This is even more an issue with NT texts, where we can see emendations, additions, and exclusions via the best extant mss.

Human error of interpretation is quite possible.

I also note that, for instance, some of the words for time used in the OT are not as specific as some translations would have them.

And there are places where science confirms or supports myth/received textural traditions.

Rib cells, for instance, are large and particularly efficacious for cloning.

emax100
05-10-2014, 01:42 AM
Did you frame this belief as scientific, or suggest a necessity for God, or suggest the wrongness of other beliefs?

Edit: I don't mean to offend or judge you by saying this, but merely make an observation: in my discussions with you, you have come across to me as somewhat dismissive of others' beliefs, or their lack thereof, and I would not be surprised if this is part of the reason you received the reactions you did.
The discussion ultimately centers around these two issues.

1. Can one believe that humans, all other life on earth, the planets, and matter, light and energy originated because God said "Let there Be Life" and not necessarily be considered anti evolution? I am not aware of large number of evolution proponents saying this outright if it is the case. If numerous prominent evolutionists have explicitly said that, I would be interested in some links so I can read about it too. This is not necessarily addressing the idea of ongoing stages of evolution, including stages that are happening right now, but rather the idea one can believe God was responsible for the first stages of evolution and not be seen as anti-evolution.

2. Can one be a Christian or a Jew while believing that the stages of evolution happened without direction and guidance from God at all? This is one that I admit I am having a very hard time dealing with and so I can see that on this issue my arguments would be interpreted as being dismissive of others. But this is always going to be among the hardest issues to reconcile for those who belief in the basic tenets of Christianity or Judaism. This is fundamentally different than, say, being a believing Christian or Jew and advocating for marriage equality in all 50 states or equal rights for women in the workforce - I see no reason that these sets of beliefs could not be reconciled. The idea that evolution has happened without God's direction is entirely different for those who are Christians and Jews, certainly many times harder than for those who are simply atheists or agnostics.

emax100
05-10-2014, 01:54 AM
Large numbers of scholars in every conceivable discipline don't really find Biblical history (never mind other text-based religions) in conflict. Certainly Jesuit universities are thriving in terms of both Near Eastern Language scholars, and astrophysicists.

I also note that there are tricky parts, several of them, in the OT creation stories in Genesis.

Including several words that are not extant in any other context—which means we're not really sure what they mean, but we're making best guesses derived from roots, extant cognates, and context.

Consider for instance a simply English word, like "soon." It is a time reference, but it is not defined except via the opposite "later." Or sentences like:

We walked ten miles and waited a time.

We walked a long way and waited a long time.

We walked for an hour and waited for a while.

These are not specific in terms of all of the derivations of time.

Nor, for instance, do all cultures measure time in the same way—and languages reflect that.

I further note that a fair number of Christians, including my seminary-trained Southern Baptist ordained clergyman father, were aware that the Bible was written down by humans, who are imperfect, and that earlier versions of the OT were not written in Hebrew, and were, earlier still, not in writing at all.

This is even more an issue with NT texts, where we can see emendations, additions, and exclusions via the best extant mss.

Human error of interpretation is quite possible.

I also note that, for instance, some of the words for time used in the OT are not as specific as some translations would have them.

And there are places where science confirms or supports myth/received textural traditions.

Rib cells, for instance, are large and particularly efficacious for cloning.
This was actually quite helpful, but raised some more questions about whether or not having the debates people have had was ever necessary to begin with.

I mean, I know there is a fringe among Creationists who do not accept that possibility of any human error in the Bible and reject any idea of natural evolution to the point where they don't accept the idea of birds or reptiles or mammals evolving with different survival features or don't want to teach about any sort of prehistoric times. In other words, the fringe represented by Ken Ham in the Bill Nye Ken Ham debate. The hostility around these debates often seems to center around the fear of the influence of this fringe. But this small, hardcore fringe is exactly that - a small, hardcore fringe. One that is often national given attention solely for entertainment purposes. If there is evidence that they have more nationwide influence than I think they do, I would be very interested in seeing some of it. If it is true that much of this discussion revolves around fear of their cultural influence on a nationwide scale, then it it seems sort of silly to me to be worried about any kind of large nationwide influence of this fringe. Creationists who also accept that the Bible does not have to be interpreted word by word in every case should never have to get into hostile intellectual battles and flame wars with proponents of evolution who are at least open minded when it comes to discussing this with those who believe in God's influence.

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 01:54 AM
Your questions have a number of different layers. But rather than dissect all of them, let me say something I pointed out a couple of years ago on a panel at an SF con discussion creation and evolution. The Bible is not a science text. It does not largely concern itself with the arising of the universe. My Bible takes 4 pages to get from In the beginning to the expulsion from
Eden and it's a dual language edition.

If one asks the simple textual question of what is this book about, one is far more likely to conclude that it's a book about how people should live, not about how the universe arose.

One can simply take that perspective and be a perfectly functional Christian, Jew, atheist, agnostic or what have you.

emax100
05-10-2014, 02:10 AM
Your questions have a number of different layers. But rather than dissect all of them, let me say something I pointed out a couple of years ago on a panel at an SF con discussion creation and evolution. The Bible is not a science text. It does not largely concern itself with the arising of the universe. My Bible takes 4 pages to get from In the beginning to the expulsion from
Eden and it's a dual language edition.

If one asks the simple textual question of what is this book about, one is far more likely to conclude that it's a book about how people should live, not about how the universe arose.

One can simply take that perspective and be a perfectly functional Christian, Jew, atheist, agnostic or what have you.
I agree that you can do that and I feel the majority of believing Christians and Jews, including those who would classify themselves as conservative Christians or conservative Jews, can and do take this route even if they don't always say it out loud. That is why my hypothesis as to why there's so much hostility and arguing and condescending arrogance over this from various different sides of the discussion is because of the two issues I outlined in post 80 along with a sort of paranoia about the influence of the pure literalist fringe amongst Christians.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 02:12 AM
I'll just share this anecdote:

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a Hindu about my people's beliefs.

I'm a Zuni Indian, and in our history, the Creator made the universe, and then became the sun. We were born from the earth's four wombs, fertilized by the sky. We traveled through each of these wombs, each a different kind of world, before we eventually climbed out of the ground, and began searching for the middle place. We did not originally have the human forms we have today, but only obtained them over time.

He asked me if my religion was the Zuni religion. I replied like I would to a Christian: that I wasn't sure if I believed that all of that literally happened exactly like that, but—

And then he laughed. He said that's not what he meant. Because religion has nothing to do with believing in a literal interpretation of its mythology. It has to do with finding truth and meaning in a shared expression of spiritual culture.

So the answer to his question was yes, that is my religion. Because it is truth to me, which has nothing whatsoever to do with whether it literally happened or not.

emax100
05-10-2014, 02:16 AM
I'll just share this anecdote:

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a Hindu about my people's beliefs.

I'm a Zuni Indian, and in our history, the Creator made the universe, and then became the sun. We were born from the earth's four wombs, fertilized by the sky. We traveled through each of these wombs, each a different kind of world, before we eventually climbed out of the ground, and began searching for the middle place. We did not originally have the human forms we have today, but only obtained them over time.

He asked me if my religion was the Zuni religion. I replied like I would to a Christian: that I wasn't sure if I believed in that all of that literally happened exactly like that, but—

And then he laughed. He said that's not what he meant. Because religion has nothing to do with believing in a literal interpretation of its mythology. It has to do with finding truth and meaning in a shared expression of spiritual culture.

So the answer to his question was yes, that is my religion. Because it is truth to me, which has nothing whatsoever to do with whether it literally happened or not.
Thank you for that anecdote. I had a virtually identical story happen when I was discussing spirituality with a Hindu graduate student who was in the same research group as me. He basically mirrored what your friend said. Glad to read about that. I just wish people who were that amicable and genuinely respectful, and not in a condescending disguised as respectful manner, were the majority.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 02:24 AM
Just as not every person with faith is anti-science, not every scientist is anti-religion.

But those that are, they are as much dogmatists as the anti-science religious nuts. I think they are caught up in the exact same literalist interpretation of religious doctrine as the religious nuts are.

And that makes both types of people nuts.

nuts? no, myopic? yes.

I'm a conservative christian that studied chemistry and physics, and have actually read and studied the Bible. physics proves that God does indeed exist, and the scientific method is actually there in the Bible if you look for it.

As for the 4000/6000 year old earth, this incarnation is something like 6000 to 10,000 years old. Remember if the geologists are correct then the earth has been a snowball more often than not, and during those periods very little to no life existed on the earth.

The flip side... if you actually go read Genesis chapter one you will see that the earth is in fact very old. How old is it? It's as old as God. How old is God? We are told that He's eternal. How do we know that t he earth is as old as God? Gensis tells us that the earth (which was without light and form you know those mountians, valleys, and such) was WITH God in the Beginning! So if the earth is ONLY 6000-10,000 years old, for the literalists, well then God is ONLY 6000-10,000 years old becuase the Earth was with God in the Beginning!

I love arguing this last bit with fundamentalists who have, interestingly enough, not spent any time in the Bible it totally changes their paradigm!

I would say that this "version" of humanity is about 6000-10,000 years old and that topic was discussed in a Cell Biology class I took here at the university.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 02:28 AM
But this small, hardcore fringe is exactly that - a small, hardcore fringe. One that is often national given attention solely for entertainment purposes. If there is evidence that they have more nationwide influence than I think they do, I would be very interested in seeing some of it.

Google "Texas and textbooks".

Note that it's not one-way; I have had parents concerned that I required their undergraduate English major children read II Samuel in order to understand Dryden's allegorical political satire Absalom and Achitophel (http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/absalom.html).

milkweed
05-10-2014, 02:31 AM
Your questions have a number of different layers. But rather than dissect all of them, let me say something I pointed out a couple of years ago on a panel at an SF con discussion creation and evolution. The Bible is not a science text. It does not largely concern itself with the arising of the universe. My Bible takes 4 pages to get from In the beginning to the expulsion from
Eden and it's a dual language edition.

If one asks the simple textual question of what is this book about, one is far more likely to conclude that it's a book about how people should live, not about how the universe arose.

One can simply take that perspective and be a perfectly functional Christian, Jew, atheist, agnostic or what have you.

Actually agree with you that it's a manual on how we should live and treat one another, it's NOT a science book.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 02:33 AM
physics proves that God does indeed exist, and the scientific method is actually there in the Bible if you look for it.

Citation?


As for the 4000/6000 year old earth, this incarnation is something like 6000 to 10,000 years old.

What do you mean by "this incarnation"?


I would say that this "version" of humanity is about 6000-10,000 years old and that topic was discussed in a Cell Biology class I took here at the university.

What do you mean by "this version"?

Homo sapiens sapiens?

emax100
05-10-2014, 02:38 AM
Google "Texas and textbooks".

Note that it's not one-way; I have had parents concerned that I required their undergraduate English major children read II Samuel in order to understand Dryden's allegorical political satire Absalom and Achitophel (http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/absalom.html).

I did and got these links:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/texas-board-voting-textbook-review-rule-changes

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/11/29/2986031/texas-textbooks-science-approved/

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/culture/texas-school-board-approves-controversial-textbook-changes/954/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/education/texas-education-board-flags-biology-textbook-over-evolution-concerns.html?_r=0

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20131122-texas-education-board-approves-science-books-that-fully-cover-evolution.ece

So to an extent I see what you mean. But I'm not seeing much info on whether or not so called Creationism textbooks in Texas would truly go the Ken Ham route and argue that the Jurassic, Cretacious and earlier and later prehistoric periods simply never existed at all and simply refuse to teach about fossils and paleontology and that there is no such thing as animals developing certain features due to biological imperatives as outlined by Darwin. This is in part because news coverage these days in general is getting abysmal so there's a limit on what we can do but if there is proof that Texas textbooks are as of now going in that literalist direction on the evolution vs Creationism debate I am interested in that too. Moreover, the ap.org article above states "The volunteer review panels are often dominated by social conservatives who want more skepticism about evolution included in science textbooks, arguing that a higher power helped create the universe.". If this is what the arguments over evolution in textbooks in Texas are all about then that was my point exactly in this thread.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 02:45 AM
Moreover, the ap.org article above states "The volunteer review panels are often dominated by social conservatives who want more skepticism about evolution included in science textbooks, arguing that a higher power helped create the universe.". If this is what the arguments over evolution in textbooks in Texas are all about then that was my point exactly in this thread.

How so?

milkweed
05-10-2014, 02:47 AM
That only works if you are a Protestant. A Catholic can live by the book without having to actually read the book.

To an extent, (I was born and raised catholic) if you don't read the book then you have to learn about catholicism from someplace, ie by attending mass, etc.

emax100
05-10-2014, 02:50 AM
How so?
Because it centers around the idea that there is an objection tot he idea that life and matter as we know it originated with the direction of a higher power, to again quote that piece. If the opponents to the Texas textbooks are taking issue simply with that concept of these proposed textbooks, even regardless of whether or not they teach about such topics as species adaptation or prehistoric times, then it underlines how the evolution vs Creationism debate is not simply centered around evolution as an ongoing process, which was how I interpreted earlier sentiments in this discussion. The operative word here is "if" of course; I would have to try and find more data on exactly what the Texas textbooks would teach on evolution and exactly what the objections are. If you object to the idea that "a higher power helped create the universe" it is very difficult to see how than can be reconciled with being a believing Christian or Jew. Again, "if" is the operative word here.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 02:51 AM
What do you mean by "this incarnation"?



What do you mean by "this version"?

Homo sapiens sapiens?

I mean this incarnation and this version it's that simple, this version/incarnation as it has been documented in ancient texts and so called mytholoical stories around the globe.

Since some of us have genes in addition to homo sapien genes this version/incarnation doesn't include only homo sapiens.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 02:53 AM
Because it centers around the idea that there is an objection tot he idea that life and matter as we know it originated with the direction of a higher power, to again quote that piece. If the opponents to the Texas textbooks are taking issue simply with that concept of these proposed textbooks, even regardless of whether or not they teach about such topics as species adaptation or prehistoric times, then it underlines how the evolution vs Creationism debate is not simply centered around evolution as an ongoing process, which was how I interpreted earlier sentiments in this discussion. The operative word here is "if" of course; I would have to try and find more data on exactly what the Texas textbooks would teach on evolution and exactly what the objections are. If you object to the idea that "a higher power helped create the universe" it is very difficult to see how than can be reconciled with being a believing Christian or Jew. Again, "if" is the operative word here.

It's not an objection to a god or a higher power or any of that. It's an objection to the injection of non-scientific ideas into science.

These are science textbooks. Science goes into them. It doesn't matter whether god played a hand in creating the universe or not — there's no scientific evidence for it, therefore it's not science.

Science is only concerned with scientific truths. It doesn't only matter if something is true — if it's not scientific, then it's not science. Period.

There are certainly truths that science cannot prove. That doesn't mean they're not true. It only means they're not science, and therefore they have no place in a science textbook.

That is the objection.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 02:54 AM
I mean this incarnation and this version it's that simple, this version/incarnation as it has been documented in ancient texts and so called mytholoical stories around the globe.

Since some of us have genes in addition to homo sapien genes this version/incarnation doesn't include only homo sapiens.

I don't quite understand what you mean. Are there previous versions?

milkweed
05-10-2014, 02:58 AM
I don't quite understand what you mean. Are there previous versions?


According to archeologists/anthropologists, yes.

btw how does one pronounce your name?

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 03:01 AM
According to archeologists/anthropologists, yes.

Then it sounds to me like you are talking about speciation?

At least to some extent?

What about the earth? What do you mean by this incarnation?


btw how does one pronounce your name?

Pronounce the vowels like you would in Spanish or Latin.

Each syllable with equal weight; no stresses.

emax100
05-10-2014, 03:05 AM
It's not an objection to a god or a higher power or any of that. It's an objection to the injection of non-scientific ideas into science.

These are science textbooks. Science goes into them. It doesn't matter whether god played a hand in creating the universe or not — there's no scientific evidence for it, therefore it's not science.

Science is only concerned with scientific truths. It doesn't only matter if something is true — if it's not scientific, then it's not science. Period.

There are certainly truths that science cannot prove. That doesn't mean they're not true. It only means they're not science, and therefore they have no place in a science textbook.

That is the objection.
The issue I was discussing was whether or not the Biblical literalist fringe truly has the influence in American education and culture that some people involved in these types of discussions seem to fear they do. When I asked specifically about the influence of the literalist, Pat Robertson type fringe, it was suggested that I google "Texas textbooks" and those are the results I got. The objection seemed to be the idea that "a higher power helped create the universe", which is hardly by itself indicative of a literalist, fringe interpretation of the Bible. Whether or not this belongs in a science textbook at all in light of the issues you have raised is a separate issue. And while you may indeed be correct about higher powers having no place of any kind in a science textbook, this statement in the context of the rest of the articles seemed to me to be an association of the belief of a higher power that helped create the universe with being a sort of attack on evolution, since the articles talked about objections to these textbooks specifically in light of the evolution debate. I can easily understand objections to higher powers of any kind being in a science textbook but my hunch is that there is more going on here.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 03:11 AM
I can easily understand objections to higher powers of any kind being in a science textbook but my hunch is that there is more going on here.

Like what?

emax100
05-10-2014, 03:15 AM
Like what?
Like for example, the two issues I mentioned back in post 80 - my hypothesis is that these two issues are fundamental to why there is so much controversy when it comes to such issues as evolution in Texas textbooks, along with the idea that the most militant, uncompromising Biblical literalist fringe has a sort of mainstream influence in Amercian education and culture, which I am still looking to see if there is a whole lot of factual evidence for.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 03:18 AM
Like for example, the two issues I mentioned back in post 80 - my hypothesis is that these two issues are fundamental to why there is so much controversy when it comes to such issues as evolution in Texas textbooks, along with the idea that the most militant, uncompromising Biblical literalist fringe has a sort of mainstream influence in Amercian education and culture, which I am still looking to see if there is a whole lot of factual evidence for.

Trying to inject non-scientific ideas into scientific discourse is more than enough to justify the objections. I'm not sure why you think there's anything more to it than that.

emax100
05-10-2014, 03:27 AM
Trying to inject non-scientific ideas into scientific discourse is more than enough to justify the objections. I'm not sure why you think there's anything more to it than that.
For starters, whether or not a higher power is necessarily unscientific is part of the debate on compatibility of science and religion and science and philosophy and spirituality at large. And it sure seems to be like we are far from settling that debate. Also, if it was accepted that one could believe a higher power helped create the universe and not be anti evolution per se, I still suspect the objections just would not be as strong. Particular in such a state as Texas.

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 03:31 AM
For starters, whether or not a higher power is necessarily unscientific is part of the debate on compatibility of science and religion and science and philosophy and spirituality at large. And it sure seems to be like we are far from settling that debate. Also, if it was accepted that one could believe a higher power helped create the universe and not be anti evolution per se, I still suspect the objections just would not be as strong. Particular in such a state as Texas.

Non-falsifiable hypotheses are non-scientific, since the scienfiic method requires the ability to test an idea against reality. Since the question of whether or not the universe has a creator cannot be falsified, it is not a scientific hypothesis.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 03:32 AM
For starters, whether or not a higher power is necessarily unscientific is part of the debate on compatibility of science and religion and science and philosophy and spirituality at large. And it sure seems to be like we are far from settling that debate.

How so? There is no scientific evidence for god. Ergo, not scientific.

Science, religion, and philosophy rely on different machinery to arrive at truth.

That machinery is often incompatible. That doesn't mean the truths are.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 03:46 AM
What about the earth? What do you mean by this incarnation?

well there's this incarnation that we are living in now, but at one time (several times anthropologists tell us) it was a giant snowbll and humanity was reduced to just a couple of thousand individuals strung out around the equator.

Then there's that incarnation where the dinosaurs ruled the earth, so on and so forth, and supposedly man didn't exist at that time but now evidence is starting to slowly come to light that some version of man did indeed exist during that incarnation of the earth.

Anyway, this human needs to go work on dinner more later.

emax100
05-10-2014, 03:48 AM
Non-falsifiable hypotheses are non-scientific, since the scienfiic method requires the ability to test an idea against reality. Since the question of whether or not the universe has a creator cannot be falsified, it is not a scientific hypothesis.
That is an interesting way to look at it. Especially since I always thought that some of the more ardent proponents of evolution, particularly those who identify as staunch atheists, would personally find that statement to be outrageously offensive and obscenely insulting to their intellect.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 03:49 AM
How so? There is no scientific evidence for god. Ergo, not scientific.

Then physicists need to stop referring to the the "god point" or the "omega point" in their search for the origins of the universe.

God in His simplist essence is pure energy, energy cannot be created or destroyed it simply is.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 03:56 AM
well there's this incarnation that we are living in now, but at one time (several times anthropologists tell us) it was a giant snowbll and humanity was reduced to just a couple of thousand individuals strung out around the equator.

Okay, so you're talking about geological epochs?

Your terminology keeps throwing me off.


Then there's that incarnation where the dinosaurs ruled the earth, so on and so forth, and supposedly man didn't exist at that time but now evidence is starting to slowly come to light that some version of man did indeed exist during that incarnation of the earth.

Citation?


Then physicists need to stop referring to the the "god point" or the "omega point" in their search for the origins of the universe.

I thought you were maybe talking about the misnomer for the Higgs boson as the "god particle" — a name which most physicists do in fact hate.

I had to look up "omega point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Point)" since I've never heard of it or "god point", and it apparently has nothing to do with the origins of the universe.

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 04:08 AM
That is an interesting way to look at it. Especially since I always thought that some of the more ardent proponents of evolution, particularly those who identify as staunch atheists, would personally find that statement to be outrageously offensive and obscenely insulting to their intellect.

1. I am an atheist. Staunch is a matter of opinion.

2. Consider the following scenario. An omnipotent, omniscient being contemplates the infinitude of possible universes. It chooses to cause one or more of these universes to exist. One of these created universes has a relativistic space-time structure with quantum mechanical matter-energy. It expands from a big bang moment, cools down from energy dominance to allow matter to form, galaxies coalesce, stars and their systems form, etc. Chemical interactions evolve producing biochemical processes, life comes to be, some strains of life become sapient and begin to contemplate the universe. This universe is identical in appearance to ours, and operates with no divine intervention, but it was caused to be by an omnipotent entity outside of spacetime.

3. Most atheists that I know would say that the above is merely clever at best. And they'd be right. But they wouldn't claim that there was anything impossible in it. They wouldn't rant, but they wouldn't care.

4. No scientist that I know would accept the above as a scientific hypothesis because it is completely unfalsifiable.

5.Who are these ardent proponents, and staunch atheists you are talking about?

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 04:11 AM
Then physicists need to stop referring to the the "god point" or the "omega point" in their search for the origins of the universe.

God in His simplist essence is pure energy, energy cannot be created or destroyed it simply is.

Omega point was coined by a Jesuit philosopher whose goal seems to have been to turn evolution in the direction of Christ. It's philsophy not science.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin

Pup
05-10-2014, 04:23 AM
That is an interesting way to look at it. Especially since I always thought that some of the more ardent proponents of evolution, particularly those who identify as staunch atheists, would personally find that statement to be outrageously offensive and obscenely insulting to their intellect.

As an atheist, I would endorse what RichardGarfinkle said.

I actually think there's substantial evidence against the existence of any god, based on the evidence that our brains will tend to seek out agency when none exists, and that's why we tend to imagine creator gods. But I'd still endorse what RichardGarfinkle said because it's possible for people to imagine a "god of the gaps" that's so vague it can't be tested.

As soon as one makes a falsifiable claim about a god, that god enters the realm of science and can be tested. For example: prayer affects real-world events. Construct a double-blind experiment, control for mundane explanations, and there ya go. It's falsifiable.

But a "god of the gaps" is beyond the reach of science. For example, "god is love." Or "god is energy." It's unfalsifiable.

emax100
05-10-2014, 04:34 AM
1. I am an atheist. Staunch is a matter of opinion.

2. Consider the following scenario. An omnipotent, omniscient being contemplates the infinitude of possible universes. It chooses to cause one or more of these universes to exist. One of these created universes has a relativistic space-time structure with quantum mechanical matter-energy. It expands from a big bang moment, cools down from energy dominance to allow matter to form, galaxies coalesce, stars and their systems form, etc. Chemical interactions evolve producing biochemical processes, life comes to be, some strains of life become sapient and begin to contemplate the universe. This universe is identical in appearance to ours, and operates with no divine intervention, but it was caused to be by an omnipotent entity outside of spacetime.

3. Most atheists that I know would say that the above is merely clever at best. And they'd be right. But they wouldn't claim that there was anything impossible in it. They wouldn't rant, but they wouldn't care.

4. No scientist that I know would accept the above as a scientific hypothesis because it is completely unfalsifiable.

5.Who are these ardent proponents, and staunch atheists you are talking about?
To at least answer question 5, here's some examples I found:

http://atheism.about.com/od/argumentsagainstgod/a/GodScience.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Argue-That-God-Does-Not-Exist

They certainly, to me at least, set the tone that they think atheists should be trying to prove there is no God, which would to me at least lead to attempting to somehow prove the creation of the universe happened without God's influence. Christopher Hitchens is another one who seemed to have a goal of creating a world where it was naturally understood that no higher power had a role in the universe's creation, which could mean the need to attempt to prove false the idea that a higher power helped create the universe. I get the same vibes from de Grasse Tyson at times, even if he is not necessarily going to come out and say it, and I don't think I am the only one either.

benbradley
05-10-2014, 04:34 AM
I mean, I know there is a fringe among Creationists who do not accept that possibility of any human error in the Bible and reject any idea of natural evolution to the point where they don't accept the idea of birds or reptiles or mammals evolving with different survival features or don't want to teach about any sort of prehistoric times. In other words, the fringe represented by Ken Ham in the Bill Nye Ken Ham debate. The hostility around these debates often seems to center around the fear of the influence of this fringe. But this small, hardcore fringe is exactly that - a small, hardcore fringe.
I wonder if you really mean what you wrote, "fringe among creationists" or if you might mean "fringe among Christians" which I think would make more sense? Regardless...

I recall articles on polls about belief regarding evolution and creationism around the time of the Ham/Nye debate. Here's one showing that those believing in creationism approach half the US population:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/bill-nye-ken-ham-evolution-religion_n_4724228.html

What's surprising to me is that those believing in creationism has been increasing over the last decade or two.

One that is often national given attention solely for entertainment purposes. If there is evidence that they have more nationwide influence than I think they do, I would be very interested in seeing some of it. If it is true that much of this discussion revolves around fear of their cultural influence on a nationwide scale, then it it seems sort of silly to me to be worried about any kind of large nationwide influence of this fringe. Creationists who also accept that the Bible does not have to be interpreted word by word in every case should never have to get into hostile intellectual battles and flame wars with proponents of evolution who are at least open minded when it comes to discussing this with those who believe in God's influence.I recall that in other parts of the world (I'm thinking especially of Great Britain) not only is the total percentage of Christians lower, but the percentage of those Chistians who also believe in creationism is lower. The creationism thing is very much a US phenomenon.

I presume the point of mentioning Texas textbooks was to show how pervasive and influential the creationists are over the decades. In more recent years they've tried to have the term "Intelligent Design" (essentially creationism with a more scientific-sounding name) used in textbooks.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 04:39 AM
In more recent years they've tried to have the term "Intelligent Design" (essentially creationism with a more scientific-sounding name) used in textbooks.

Intelligent design is hilarious. They're very careful not to talk about Christianity or the Christian god directly, but once you suggest the "intelligence" could be something other than the Christian god, all hell breaks loose.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 04:41 AM
Then there's that incarnation where the dinosaurs ruled the earth, so on and so forth, and supposedly man didn't exist at that time but now evidence is starting to slowly come to light that some version of man did indeed exist during that incarnation of the earth.

Early primates are post giant dinosaurs roaming the earth, never mind any kind of human.

Mammals, primarily rodent-like bug-eating small ones (http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/08/permian-mass-extinction-paved-way-for-the-rise-of-mammals-and-intelligent-life.html), were around at the tail-end of the dinosaurs being the dominant species, but they didn't come into their own until millions of years post-extinction (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/03/1/l_031_01.html).

And it was longer still before anything we'd recognize as a primate (http://anthro.palomar.edu/earlyprimates/early_2.htm).

It's really really hard to look at what Genesis "means" without knowing Hebrew, and without knowing other Semitic texts, like Gilgamesh, and the contemporary Near Eastern religions from which the early Jews were very concerned with differentiating themselves. But notice that it is very much presented as a story, with a narrative voice. The things we obsess over now, are very likely not the things that contemporaries would have cared about.

benbradley
05-10-2014, 04:43 AM
How so? There is no scientific evidence for god. Ergo, not scientific.
I think more pertinently, there's no way to scientifically test for the existence or non-existence for God.

Science, religion, and philosophy rely on different machinery to arrive at truth.

That machinery is often incompatible. That doesn't mean the truths are.
I think some would even call the different machinery complementary rather than incompatible.

Wikipedia entry on the essay "Non-Overlapping Magisteria:"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-overlapping_magisteria
The essay:
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html

emax100
05-10-2014, 04:44 AM
I wonder if you really mean what you wrote, "fringe among creationists" or if you might mean "fringe among Christians" which I think would make more sense? Regardless...

I recall articles on polls about belief regarding evolution and creationism around the time of the Ham/Nye debate. Here's one showing that those believing in creationism approach half the US population:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/bill-nye-ken-ham-evolution-religion_n_4724228.html

What's surprising to me is that those believing in creationism has been increasing over the last decade or two.
I recall that in other parts of the world (I'm thinking especially of Great Britain) not only is the total percentage of Christians lower, but the percentage of those Chistians who also believe in creationism is lower. The creationism thing is very much a US phenomenon.

I presume the point of mentioning Texas textbooks was to show how pervasive and influential the creationists are over the decades. In more recent years they've tried to have the term "Intelligent Design" (essentially creationism with a more scientific-sounding name) used in textbooks.
Do they define creationism here as rejecting any kind of natural development among life on earth? Does creationism here mean a rejection of the idea that species can develop biological features over time as an adaptation to their environment, which was one of the core tenets of Darwinian evolution? Does creationism here mean the belief that the earth is literally 6,000 years old with the definition of a year here being the vernacular one? Does it mean a rejection of the existence of prehistoric life altogether?

I feel this is another issue of the debate. I see evolution as something that covers this wide range of subjects and yet often they are never enumerated in these kinds of surveys. Therefore, if one opposes the idea that there was an evolution from apes to human, it is not always possible to gauge the extent to which they are against all the other tenets of evolution. To say nothing of the fact that there are still enough unanswered questions on how the evolution process from apes to humans occurred - here's a repeat of some examples of these questions I showed earlier www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-missing-genetic-link-in-human-evolution/ - so that it is understandable why one would have some kind of doubt on the idea that humans evolved from apes.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 04:53 AM
Christopher Hitchens is another one who seemed to have a goal of creating a world where it was naturally understood that no higher power had a role in the universe's creation, which could mean the need to attempt to prove false the idea that a higher power helped create the universe. I get the same vibes from de Grasse Tyson at times, even if he is not necessarily going to come out and say it, and I don't think I am the only one either.

I don't really think that anyone who stands in the middle is going to pay much attention to either.

I do not identify as Christian; I do identify as a textual scholar, and they both make less than educated assertions about historical texts that make me roll my eyes.

I think looking at either as the reasonable perspective of typical atheists is likely to be problematic.

There are some atheists for whom being atheist is a religion, in my mind.

Many Christians see "evolution" as the tool of a divine creator. Many devout people of other religions concur.

I think this is a very wide spectrum of beliefs with some difficulties around language and definition that mean often people are talking at cross purposes.

emax100
05-10-2014, 04:55 AM
I don't really think that anyone who stands in the middle is going to pay much attention to either.

I do not identify as Christian; I do identify as a textual scholar, and they both make less than educated assertions about historical texts that make me roll my eyes.

I think looking at either as the reasonable perspective of typical atheists is likely to be problematic.

Many Christians see "evolution" as the tool of a divine creator. Many devout people of other religions concur.

I think this is a very wide spectrum of beliefs with some difficulties around language and definition that mean often people are talking at cross purposes.
If it makes you feel any better, you and I have found something we are in 100 % agreement about here. May not be worth much after all this agony on all of our parts, but there it is.

Pup
05-10-2014, 05:11 AM
To at least answer question 5, here's some examples I found:

http://atheism.about.com/od/argumentsagainstgod/a/GodScience.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Argue-That-God-Does-Not-Exist

They certainly, to me at least, set the tone that they think atheists should be trying to prove there is no God, which would to me at least lead to attempting to somehow prove the creation of the universe happened without God's influence.

From the first link:

When a scientist says "God does not exist," they mean something similar to when they say "aether does not exist," "psychic powers do not exist," or "life does not exist on the moon."
All such statements are casual short-hand for a more elaborate and technical statement: "this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful."

I see nothing there implying that atheists should be trying to prove there is no god. It means that unless a god is necessary to explain the natural world, there's no need to hypothesize one as a scientific explanation, anymore than unicorns or fairies or pixie dust.

Edited to add: I just read the second one. It seems to be a collection of the usual popular ways of deflecting a theist who insists there must be a god.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 05:13 AM
Omega point was coined by a Jesuit philosopher whose goal seems to have been to turn evolution in the direction of Christ. It's philsophy not science.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin

Thank you for the link, back in the 90's when I was an undergrad several of my profs used the term omega point to denote the origins of the universe. No I do not know what their religious persuasion was, I just know they used the term.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 05:18 AM
Early primates are post giant dinosaurs roaming the earth, never mind any kind of human.

Mammals, primarily rodent-like bug-eating small ones (http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/08/permian-mass-extinction-paved-way-for-the-rise-of-mammals-and-intelligent-life.html), were around at the tail-end of the dinosaurs being the dominant species, but they didn't come into their own until millions of years post-extinction (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/03/1/l_031_01.html).

And it was longer still before anything we'd recognize as a primate (http://anthro.palomar.edu/earlyprimates/early_2.htm).



We will have to agree to disagree on this point, as there were recent articles (and at this point in the day I'm very tired and still have way too many things to get done to go looking for them) that puts man as having existed at the time of the dinosaurs. IIRC there was an article recently in Nat'l Geographic.

I'm off to work on a class assignment, an attempt to render a dog illustration in 3D, and if all goes well work on my MS some before I turn in for the day.

Pup
05-10-2014, 05:24 AM
To say nothing of the fact that there are still enough unanswered questions on how the evolution process from apes to humans occurred - here's a repeat of some examples of these questions I showed earlier www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-missing-genetic-link-in-human-evolution/ (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-missing-genetic-link-in-human-evolution/) - so that it is understandable why one would have some kind of doubt on the idea that humans evolved from apes.

Based on the amount of evidence already accumulated, the chance of new evidence showing that humans didn't evolve from earlier primates is about as high as some new discovery indicating the earth doesn't actually revolve around the sun.

If someone interprets the Scientific American article as opening the possibility that humans maybe didn't evolve from earlier primates, they either don't understand the current evidence for evolution, are engaging in wishful thinking, or probably both.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 05:26 AM
We will have to agree to disagree on this point, as there were recent articles (and at this point in the day I'm very tired and still have way too many things to get done to go looking for them) that puts man as having existed at the time of the dinosaurs. IIRC there was an article recently in Nat'l Geographic.

You've made a bold claim that baldly contradicts all scientific evidence to date.

"Agree to disagree" doesn't really apply here.

Pup
05-10-2014, 05:33 AM
We will have to agree to disagree on this point, as there were recent articles (and at this point in the day I'm very tired and still have way too many things to get done to go looking for them) that puts man as having existed at the time of the dinosaurs. IIRC there was an article recently in Nat'l Geographic.

When you return, I'd like to see a link.

There is absolutely no chance of any article claiming that humans existed at the time of the dinosaurs, published in any peer-reviewed or serious science magazine or journal, unless one redefines "dinosaurs" beyond its normal meaning to include "contemporary birds" or something like that, and therefore makes the claim trivially true.

Now if you want to talk about fringe stuff like wild horses and humans alive together in the pre-Columbus Americas, sure, there are going to be ongoing discoveries.

But dinosaurs and humans? No way.

In my opinion, the only place you'd find such a claim would be April Fool's Day issues, fantasy stories, science fiction, or in non-peer-reviewed creationist-friendly websites or publications.

I'm very curious what you're referring to.

robeiae
05-10-2014, 05:38 AM
It's probably this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/04/0418_020418_primates.html

But that's about the first primate existing 80 million years ago, not man.

Helix
05-10-2014, 05:43 AM
It's probably this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/04/0418_020418_primates.html

But that's about the first primate existing 80 million years ago, not man.


The original paper (from 2002) is behind the Nature pay wall, but the abstract is available (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v416/n6882/full/416726a.html).


Here we present a new statistical method, based on an estimate of species preservation derived from a model of the diversification pattern, that suggests a Cretaceous last common ancestor of primates, approximately 81.5 Myr ago, close to the initial divergence time inferred from molecular data.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 05:51 AM
Now if you want to talk about fringe stuff like wild horses and humans alive together in the pre-Columbus Americas, sure, there are going to be ongoing discoveries.

Some tribes always had some horses.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 06:02 AM
It's probably this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/04/0418_020418_primates.html

But that's about the first primate existing 80 million years ago, not man.

Yeah, that's a very very different thing. Also, it doesn't contradict earlier data, it just refines it.

Keep in mind that Primate as a category of mammals simply means a group of mammals with nails on the hands and feet, a short snout, and a large brain. Primates in terms of extant mammals includes lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and apes including humans. Typically, there's an ancestry that involves climbing and / or living in trees or tropical forests. It includes everything from the mouse lemur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Microcebus_murinus_-Artis_Zoo,_Amsterdam,_Netherlands-8c.jpg) (Microcebus murinus) all the way to Gorillas and humans our primate but not homo sapiens sapiens primate ancestors. (http://humanorigins.si.edu/resources/intro-human-evolution)

This was a slow process, and we're still finding new data, new fossils/bones, and getting a better understanding of DNA. But there's a consensus, mostly (http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-family-tree).

The assumption is that the group of Primates likely has a common ancestor that was a mammal, and that it was likely small, and somewhat rodent-like. But that that shared ancestor's descendants began to spread apart and become different in different environments and ecosystems.

This is much the same kind of argument that a related group of languages likely has a common ancestor language, shared by the group. Humans migrated and languages began to diversify. So We have a huge Indo-European Language family, consisting of Germanic, Indic, Romance, Celtic and other languages, which are now mutually unintelligible in most instances, but clearly have common ancestors.

Chrissy
05-10-2014, 06:32 AM
Don't know if anyone has heard of this? Evolving in Monkey Town (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/evolving-in-monkey-town-rachel-held-evans/1101087938?ean=9780310293996) (recently retitled Faith Unraveled) by Rachel Held Evans is an excellent book. It tells part of her story: she was raised evangelical, with all the Bible-believing stuff that goes along with that, but has managed to keep her Christian faith even after accepting evolution as fact, feminism as indispensable, marriage equality as essential, and *gasp* I'm pretty sure she voted for Obama. Twice, even.

She has a great blog (http://rachelheldevans.com/), too, if anyone is interested.

Williebee
05-10-2014, 07:15 AM
2012 Wooly Mammoths, maybe? (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/woolly-mammoth-siberia-preserved-apparently-butchered-humans/story?id=16079905)

Chrissy
05-10-2014, 07:59 AM
I'd also add, in response to the OP, that yes, philosophy and science can coexist, imo, as long as neither one demands anything from the other. Same with religion and science, imo.

I do agree with some of the posters that Tyson seemed dismissive (I listened to the whole segment), and since it wasn't in response to any particular philosophy or philosopher infringing upon his scientific turf (although I imagine his remarks stemmed from a perceived infringement), he just sounded like a jerk, disparaging of a subject because it meant nothing to *him*.

The thing about expertise in a subject is that, to me, it tends to mean very little if you can't relate to or at the very least respect your fellow human beings, even the ones who aren't as *smart* as you are. See: Flowers for Algernon.

It's when people start feeling superior enough to disparage others that things go to shite, ime.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 09:36 AM
Some tribes always had some horses.

shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh come on now we native americans (I'm half mi'kmaq) know better than to make such assertions it upsets the euros who believe they brought us everything including horses!

and yet they expect us to also buy the gaia continent theory while also holding to the theory that NA's ONLY came over the siberian land bridge... yeah right.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 09:38 AM
When you return, I'd like to see a link.

I'm very curious what you're referring to.

Good your curious, do your own research! I did mine for my SciFi/Fantasy Horror book and yeah I'm not going to do the research for yours... been there done that and well was mocked to hell and back by the ungrateful writers.

kuwisdelu
05-10-2014, 10:58 AM
Good your curious, do your own research! I did mine for my SciFi/Fantasy Horror book and yeah I'm not going to do the research for yours... been there done that and well was mocked to hell and back by the ungrateful writers.

You should know better that that's not the way things work around here when you make a claim.


It's probably this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/04/0418_020418_primates.html

But that's about the first primate existing 80 million years ago, not man.

Is this what you were talking about or not?

Pup
05-10-2014, 01:51 PM
Good your curious, do your own research! I did mine for my SciFi/Fantasy Horror book and yeah I'm not going to do the research for yours... been there done that and well was mocked to hell and back by the ungrateful writers.

Looks like the link has been posted above, and it doesn't say what you claimed.

On the topic in general:

There's a long-running thread elsewhere here titled "Stupid things non-writers say," about the clueless, frustrating, hurtful, face-palming things said by people who innocently and sincerely believe they know enough about writing to offer helpful advice to writers but who clearly don't. Stuff like: Why don't you add some vampires to your book so it'll be a bestseller? Or: I have a great idea for a novel; why don't I tell it to you and you write it and we'll split the profits?

There are, of course, many scientists who are religious and many religious people who have a good amateur understanding of science. But I think in some cases, religious people comment on science and perceive the baffled looks, face-palms, merciful lack of response, etc., as evidence they've stumped those atheistic scientists with their powerful amateur insight, rather than evidence that they're coming across like those people trying to give advice to writers.

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 02:52 PM
shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh come on now we native americans (I'm half mi'kmaq) know better than to make such assertions it upsets the euros who believe they brought us everything including horses!

and yet they expect us to also buy the gaia continent theory while also holding to the theory that NA's ONLY came over the siberian land bridge... yeah right.


Good your curious, do your own research! I did mine for my SciFi/Fantasy Horror book and yeah I'm not going to do the research for yours... been there done that and well was mocked to hell and back by the ungrateful writers.

Several things.

The first is a general
<Mod Note For Everyone>
This is the Comparative Religious Philosophy. Comparative means that we pull in things from all sorts of sources, that we can't expect everyone else to have read.

If you bring in something with a link, please flesh out what you think the referred document is saying. If you bring it in, it's your responsibility to present it to the rest in a coherent fashion so others don't have to redo the work you did. Doing this is a kindness to the other participants on the board and will enhance your reputation among your fellow posters.
</Mod Note For Everyone>

Now back to my secret identity as just some lunatic babbling nonsense.

The Gaia reference above is off by about two orders of magnitude from the time of human migrations. Pangaea was around 250 million years ago. http://geology.com/pangea.htm

But the idea that every Native American came over on the land bridge is pretty iffy. I personally suspect that it betrays a bias against the idea of people using boats early on, even though the Pacific islands and Australia were obviously colonized by people boating. This may all be tied into a Eurocentric attitude that until the age of European exploration no one ever did anything long long range at sea.

vsrenard
05-10-2014, 04:23 PM
There is nothing particularly special about logic.

Given any rigid system of logic, there will always be truths that logic cannot prove.

Just because something is logical does not mean that it is true.


And a superb example of this is 'Alice in Wonderland,' a masterpiece of logic and mathematics that is utterly nonsensical in places.

vsrenard
05-10-2014, 04:42 PM
I'll just share this anecdote:


He asked me if my religion was the Zuni religion. I replied like I would to a Christian: that I wasn't sure if I believed that all of that literally happened exactly like that, but—

And then he laughed. He said that's not what he meant. Because religion has nothing to do with believing in a literal interpretation of its mythology. It has to do with finding truth and meaning in a shared expression of spiritual culture.

So the answer to his question was yes, that is my religion. Because it is truth to me, which has nothing whatsoever to do with whether it literally happened or not.


This, so much this.

There is a popular young person's book in the Hindu community titled 'Am I a Hindu?' and many of these questions are posed and answered in the format of a young kid asking his elders about what is means to truly be a Hindu. I have always learned that there are many paths to reconciling oneself with God. One is learning the lessons and teaching of the religions, and applying them to one's life. Another is immersing yourself in God, and letting Her guide your path. And another is doing good works for others, and not focusing on yourself. It may take several lifetimes for a soul to reach the point of selflessness and communion with God.

Then again, Hinduism also says that the stories and images we give gods are necessary because we cannot understand God's true form and meaning. This, to me, is a way Hindus can reconcile God with science.

I, however, am agnostic.

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 04:48 PM
And a superb example of this is 'Alice in Wonderland,' a masterpiece of logic and mathematics that is utterly nonsensical in places.

Lewis Carroll in his secret identity of Charles Dodgson was actually one of the pioneers of modern symbolic logic (sadly his symbolism was wretched). One of the reasons he excelled at nonsense was his thorough awareness of what made things make sense.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 06:52 PM
Some tribes always had some horses.

I don't see how that's possible (http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html) Kuwi.

The time periods just don't work (http://www.livescience.com/717-humans-wiped-wild-horses.html) to support "always" in North America.

robeiae
05-10-2014, 07:09 PM
I don't see how that's possible (http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html) Kuwi.

The time periods just don't work (http://www.livescience.com/717-humans-wiped-wild-horses.html) to support "always" in North America.

Yes, that's always been my understanding. Horses were here (in North America), they died out (by the hand of man or otherwise), then were re-introduced.

Pup
05-10-2014, 07:10 PM
I don't see how that's possible (http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html) Kuwi.

The time periods just don't work (http://www.livescience.com/717-humans-wiped-wild-horses.html) to support "always" in North America.

Thanks! Those fit with what I'd thought. Though I expect the amount of overlap between North American humans and horses will be revised for a while due to things like this (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/05/0511_ancienthorses.html), it's my understanding that there's so much lack of evidence for "always," where one would expect to find evidence, that evidence to support "always" would need to be earth-shaking indeed.

Medievalist
05-10-2014, 07:16 PM
Yes, that's always been my understanding. Horses were here (in North America), they died out (by the hand of man or otherwise), then were re-introduced.

Yep. And there's extensive DNA testing to substantiate that. Plus we have all sorts of genetic mapping data for horses from all over the world because of breed restrictions and "papers" and the economic value of both.

Heck, they've retrieved DNA from the teeth of European ritualistic horse burials and the Tarim basin and Tocharian "equine mummies."

I suspect that we have more equine dna data than people data, honestly.

That said, I would not doubt oral traditions regarding pre-dieout horses, though the data we have strongly suggests they were used for meat and not domesticated.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 08:52 PM
You should know better that that's not the way things work around here when you make a claim.



Is this what you were talking about or not?


No, the article I'm referring to was published sometime last year. I have it in a stack of PDF's on my computer, some place.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 09:00 PM
Now back to my secret identity as just some lunatic babbling nonsense.

The Gaia reference above is off by about two orders of magnitude from the time of human migrations. Pangaea was around 250 million years ago. http://geology.com/pangea.htm




Genesis 10:25 Peleg gets a brief mention, when God divided the earth. There are two different interpetations (of course right) that are attributed to this division.

One - God divided the peoples of the earth and sent them on their way, but Peleg occurs after the Tower of Babyl so there's no sense in dividing them again.

Two - the earth literally splits apart and the seperate continents are formed.

It all depends on whether you read the text in it's original language or one of the many versions of the bible. Blue Letter Bible online (http://www.blueletterbible.org) is a great resource as they have the text in it's original language as well as greek, latin, etc.

RichardGarfinkle
05-10-2014, 09:53 PM
Genesis 10:25 Peleg gets a brief mention, when God divided the earth. There are two different interpetations (of course right) that are attributed to this division.

One - God divided the peoples of the earth and sent them on their way, but Peleg occurs after the Tower of Babyl so there's no sense in dividing them again.

Two - the earth literally splits apart and the seperate continents are formed.

It all depends on whether you read the text in it's original language or one of the many versions of the bible. Blue Letter Bible online (http://www.blueletterbible.org) is a great resource as they have the text in it's original language as well as greek, latin, etc.

Biblical reference isn't scientific evidence. It's the falsifiability problem again. If someone holds up a Biblical quote as evidence of truth they are implicitly asserting that what the Bible contains is literal, real fact truth. The question then becomes is that person asserting this as final unchallengable truth or provisional hypothetical truth.

If it's the former then they are offering an unfalsifiable claim, and therefore they are speaking outside the realm of science.

If it's the latter, then they are placing the Bible's claims on the same footing as any other claim about the real world, letting them stand or fall as the evidence dictates.

milkweed
05-10-2014, 10:21 PM
Biblical reference isn't scientific evidence. It's the falsifiability problem again. If someone holds up a Biblical quote as evidence of truth they are implicitly asserting that what the Bible contains is literal, real fact truth. The question then becomes is that person asserting this as final unchallengable truth or provisional hypothetical truth.

If it's the former then they are offering an unfalsifiable claim, and therefore they are speaking outside the realm of science.

If it's the latter, then they are placing the Bible's claims on the same footing as any other claim about the real world, letting them stand or fall as the evidence dictates.

I wasn't taking it as scientific fact, I was taking it as an event that was impressive enough that it was documented in a major religious text of that day.

FWIW the Bible isn't the only religous or philisophical text to make note of this event, I'll have to go searching for the text but IIRC it was noted in a greek text.

Williebee
05-10-2014, 11:07 PM
...it was documented in a major religious text of that day.

I can't find a way to parse this that does not leave it standing as bent, logically.

milkweed
05-11-2014, 01:18 AM
I can't find a way to parse this that does not leave it standing as bent, logically.

what I meant is that every time period, and area of the globe, has religious or philisophilcal texts that the inhabitants consider important, even if they don't subscribe to the religion, or philosophy. often times major events are noted in those texts.

Peleg's incident, where the world was divided, was a signifigent event that not only was it noted in Genesis, but it was also noted in a greek text as well. Were they copying each other's stories? Haven't the foggiest, but apparently at that time in history the event was significant enough to warrant a sentence in each text.

As for the OP's question, yes and no. How's about that for being vague? I think it varies by person, as has been shown in the conversation here. If my comments come off as ignornat tis ok I'm not offended if you think I'm a dunce, they are not mean to be contentious (ie not meant to start a fight) just sharing my perspective.

kuwisdelu
05-11-2014, 01:55 AM
That said, I would not doubt oral traditions regarding pre-dieout horses, though the data we have strongly suggests they were used for meat and not domesticated.

Yeah, I'll go with trusting the people who were here, though I'll readily concede the scientific evidence supporting it isn't there yet. I'll go with that "absence of evidence" thing.

But on the other hand, it's entirely possible they were metaphysical spirit horses. :tongue ;)

Pup
05-11-2014, 02:18 AM
Yeah, I'll go with trusting the people who were here, though I'll readily concede the scientific evidence supporting it isn't there yet. I'll go with that "absence of evidence" thing.

But on the other hand, it's entirely possible they were metaphysical spirit horses. :tongue ;)

If there's any evidence of North American horses in the later pre-Columbus period, the Mormons will be jumping all over it also, because it would be another sign that their scriptures are literally true, too.

kuwisdelu
05-11-2014, 02:48 AM
If there's any evidence of North American horses in the later pre-Columbus period, the Mormons will be jumping all over it also, because it would be another sign that their scriptures are literally true, too.

There's evidence, but it's mostly historical rather than scientific.

robeiae
05-11-2014, 10:33 PM
Yeah, I'll go with trusting the people who were here, though I'll readily concede the scientific evidence supporting it isn't there yet. I'll go with that "absence of evidence" thing.
This is the sort of thing that caused me to note--in a rep point to you--a relationship between this thread and the one you started on oral tradition, (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=287735) Kuwi.

But you know, I find it problematic when people pick and choose which traditions to accept. Because you're not really trusting people who were here. They're all dead. You're trusting tradition. Why this tradition and not that one? Or that one?

AW Admin
05-11-2014, 11:07 PM
Questin: how is the "big bang" different from "let there be light"?

And wasn't the big bang initially hypothesized by a Jesuit astrophysicist? Now off to Google; I think his name begins with L . . .

kuwisdelu
05-11-2014, 11:32 PM
This is the sort of thing that caused me to note--in a rep point to you--a relationship between this thread and the one you started on oral tradition, (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=287735) Kuwi.

But you know, I find it problematic when people pick and choose which traditions to accept. Because you're not really trusting people who were here. They're all dead. You're trusting tradition. Why this tradition and not that one? Or that one?

I might as well just quote my reply from that thread:


I'm not saying [oral tradition] trumps other kinds of evidence. I'm saying written evidence does not trump it.

Basically, I'm arguing for equality between the literary and oral traditions.

The historical record versus the scientific record is a completely different matter.

(Written history and oral history are both history; neither are scientific.)

I accept both historical and scientific evidence. I accept all kinds of evidence. My own experience most of all.

Whether something exists or not is not a hypothesis easily negated by conventional testing. That's the whole issue of proving or disproving god. I see nothing problematic about believing in something that science does not directly contradict simply due to a lack of scientific evidence in favor of it, as long as one does not call it science.

I've seen horses that were really spirits. They could have easily existed in America for millennia and left no trace.

milkweed
05-12-2014, 02:01 AM
Questin: how is the "big bang" different from "let there be light"?

And wasn't the big bang initially hypothesized by a Jesuit astrophysicist? Now off to Google; I think his name begins with L . . .

Excellent question, some will tell you they're the same thing/event, others will staunchly declare thate they are ot one and the same thing.

I'm one of those that'll tell you that they are one and the same!

RichardGarfinkle
05-12-2014, 02:16 AM
Questin: how is the "big bang" different from "let there be light"?

And wasn't the big bang initially hypothesized by a Jesuit astrophysicist? Now off to Google; I think his name begins with L . . .

On the one hand, they can be seen as the same. On the other hand, there's the question of whether seeing them as the same is an act of observation and insight or is it trying to force two perspectives to coincide by taking pieces of one out of context and mapping them onto pieces of the other taken out of context.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that I worry about proof-texting.

Roxxsmom
05-12-2014, 08:52 AM
I think there's a definite problem in trying to force scientific ideas to align with religious ones, even when the fit initially seems good. When I was a kid, for instance, some people got very excited about how the sequence of creation in Genesis was the "same" as the appearance of taxa in the fossil record.

Except it isn't. And regardless of whether the first person to write down the creation accounts that are in the Book of Genesis intended for them to be a literalistic explanation of creation, or simply a metaphor, he/she certainly wasn't writing it with the Big Bang, the fossil record or the theory of evolution in mind.

In any case, Genesis says that God created the Heavens and the Earth, then said, "Let there be light." This is definitely not the sequence of events the science of cosmology suggests.

And if a new scientific discovery comes along that makes the big bang theory even less like the Biblical "let there be light," will people revise the Biblical account to bring it into alignment? Of course not, and it would be silly to expect them to.

Religion and science are separate things, or at least they should be, in my opinion. It hurts religion as much as it hurts science to try and force them to converge.

kuwisdelu
05-12-2014, 10:25 AM
It's entirely possible for seemingly contradictory things to be true.

Often such things are not truly contradictory, but merely complementary.

Each is true in its own way, and oftentimes both truths must be respected.

It's important to remember that truth is not a synonym for physical reality.

This is also the point of art, which — above all else — must be true.

robjvargas
05-12-2014, 04:39 PM
Don't forget that quantum theory, being all about probabilities, allows for the possibility (even if astronomically unlikely) that contradictory states can exist at the same point in time.

Maxx
05-12-2014, 05:36 PM
That is a fair point, but the issue is whether or not Newton would have reconsidered the whole idea that God was the source of origin of life on earth if this information had been available in his time. Particular since there was a number of scientists after Darwin who were Christian and did not really reconsider that part of their belief even in light of Darwin's work.

In terms of theology (with which Newton was well-acquainted) the term "Christian" covers a very wide range. Newton himself was a follower of Arius in terms of Christ's nature. So, like many theologically-educated Christians in those days, he went from being a Trinitarian of some sort to being convinced that Christ was the highest of created beings rather than a strictly independent, full-blown, Neoplatonic Super Good, super independent, super creator.
Richard Owen, who is sometimes cited as a more-or-less Christian opponent of Darwin's, actually seems to have had a more sophisticated view of what might be involved in evolution since his archtypes can be seen as a sort of Romantic Anticipation of genetic structures such as HOX genes:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Richard-owen2.jpg/250px-Richard-owen2.jpg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Richard-owen2.jpg)

Once!
05-12-2014, 06:50 PM
I was having the self same debate in another place.

The crux of the matter seemed to be which definition of religion you used. If you hold to the fundamentalist view that every word in the bible has to be 100% true then we certainly do have a problem reconciling religion and science. The bible says X and the evidence says Y.

For that matter, the bible says X and the religious texts from other faiths say Z, not to mention A, B, C and so on. But that's a story for another time.

But the other way of looking at religion is that there could be a God but the bible could be wrong. After all, if such a thing as an omniscient and omnipotent being existed then we would be so far from his, her or its capabilities that we would not be able to comprehend it. It would be like fleas trying to understand what a dog was and from that knowledge trying to explain the Empire State building.

So one possible explanation is that the bible is man's best interpretation of what god is and what he wants. Viewed in this light, religion is very much like science - both are trying to understand the world through observation, trial & error and by testing hypotheses.

And indeed most of the religions of the world have evolved from one set of ideas into another. "Let's sacrifice a goat to ensure a good harvest" disappeared when we worked out that a good harvest came if we planted good seeds, the sun shone and there was enough rain. So we ate the goat instead and switched to a religion that didn't involve random butchery of domestic animals.

And in a way this was science in action. Our forefathers would not have seen much of a distinction between science and religion. Both were trying to understand nature. If they discovered something new about the world they would simply rationalise it as the gods changing their minds or humans getting a better understanding of what the gods wanted. Sacrificing a goat doesn't work, so let's try a chicken. That doesn't work so let's try a human. That doesn't work, so maybe this whole sacrificing thing isn't what the gods want after all? That, my friends, is evolution.

But religions stopped evolving when we started writing them down. For me that's when the split between religion and science widened. Writing them down meant that religions became frozen. They could not easily be changed to fit new discoveries.

kuwisdelu
05-12-2014, 08:39 PM
But religions stopped evolving when we started writing them down. For me that's when the split between religion and science widened. Writing them down meant that religions became frozen. They could not easily be changed to fit new discoveries.

There are still hundreds, probably thousands, of religions that aren't based on any holy text.

benbradley
05-12-2014, 09:15 PM
And even religions with written text don't STOP evolving - they just evolve at a slower rate.

Maxx
05-12-2014, 09:44 PM
And even religions with written text don't STOP evolving - they just evolve at a slower rate.

I'm not so sure that's so, given the wide range of behaviors that can constitute a religion. To give an extreme set of completely hypothetical examples, Consider Religion A, which consists of always screaming at sunrise. It might not evolve at all. In fact evolution itself might evolve faster, so that Religion A might have been practiced by Homonids 8 million years and 5 species ago.
On the other hand, consider Religion B, which consists of a variable text containing variable instructions that basically require randomly reciting randomly selected lists of random numbers selected at Random by the fastest available subliminal techniques, which are then instantly transcribed back into the originating text via voice recognition software. That whole religion might completely change in seconds.

RichardGarfinkle
05-12-2014, 10:09 PM
And even religions with written text don't STOP evolving - they just evolve at a slower rate.


I'm not so sure that's so, given the wide range of behaviors that can constitute a religion. To give an extreme set of completely hypothetical examples, Consider Religion A, which consists of always screaming at sunrise. It might not evolve at all. In fact evolution itself might evolve faster, so that Religion A might have been practiced by Homonids 8 million years and 5 species ago.
On the other hand, consider Religion B, which consists of a variable text containing variable instructions that basically require randomly reciting randomly selected lists of random numbers selected at Random by the fastest available subliminal techniques, which are then instantly transcribed back into the originating text via voice recognition software. That whole religion might completely change in seconds.

The history of religions demonstrates that both written and non written religions evolve. The rate of evolution doesn't seem to be based on whether or not things are written down. Indeed, if one examines a religion from an evolutionary perspective the primary determinants of evolution seem to be outside pressures.

A religion with few outside pressures (pre-council of Nicea Christianity for example) can explode with variations, varying like marsupials on Australia.

A religion with pressures to adapt to different environments (like Buddhism in the various nations it evangelized) might adapt local aspects and changes its forms to fit local ways.

A religion with a strong control pressure (post Nicea Orthodox or Catholic Christianity) adapts and evolves in conformity with that control pressure, but will also produce mutations that do not conform (various heresies and, eventually, protestantism).

A religion facing strong social pressures can mutate extremely, often in a short period of time. We can see this at various times in the history of Christianity (for example, the idea of Chivalry as a Christian institution was an attempt to adapt a warrior culture to a religion that preached peace. It had problems). We see this also today in matters of sexuality and religion.

Religions can cross-breed producing radical changes in thinking. This seems to have happened with Judaism and Zoroastrianism to produce or at least influence Messianic Judaism. It also may be responsible for the idea of the Devil as Enemy of God (a Zoroastrian, not Jewish concept). There was also cross-breeding early on between Christianity and Platonism (as seen in the Gospel of John).

benbradley
05-12-2014, 10:32 PM
...
A religion with a strong control pressure (post Nicea Orthodox or Catholic Christianity) adapts and evolves in conformity with that control pressure, but will also produce mutations that do not conform (various heresies and, eventually, protestantism).
I was thinking that even in Catholicism, Galileo was forgiven after hundreds of years, and Mass is no longer said in Latin.

Maxx
05-12-2014, 10:41 PM
A religion with few outside pressures (pre-council of Nicea Christianity for example) can explode with variations, varying like marsupials on Australia.



I had hoped to avoid the early marsupial nature of early Christianity by using extreme hypothetical examples and not going into the whole pouch thing. But I guess something will need to be said on the topic, especially since you mentioned (proto)(neo)platonism and the Gospel of John as well as Messianic Judaism. Anyway, just a selection:
1) Apocalyptic Sects preserved in what was probably at least part of the genizah (in the caves at Quran on the Dead Sea) of the Second Temple. In retrospect these sound very Christian to Christian ears, though they probably pre-date Paul by a generation or two at least.
2) But do they Pre-date every possible proto-Jesus? I think probably not. It only takes one or two earlier Jesuses (of which there were plenty at the time, in name at least) to get you some 50 years earlier than St. Paul or even the Letter to the Hebrews (which wasn't written by Paul, but which might well be earlier than Paul, which would explain why he didn't write it). So what would this earlier set of Jesuses have been saying? Probably some of the more comic parables taking friendly jabs at fellow Pharisees.
3) James, very well connected in Judea, also before Paul, with letters quoting or referring to Marsupial 1) above
4) Paul himself (also with Angelic reference to 1 above)
who was probably faced with 1-3 among his audience in Judea, Edom, Galilee and Syria and proto-Gnostics in other places. Paul relied on his connections as a Herodian and his brand of Christianity spred very rapidly, though of course it was already mutating wildly.
5) For example into many varieties of Gnosticism, which all by itself would qualify as a mutant marsupial. This gets us to roughly the time when the Gospels began to try to codify all of the above, though the world of number 2 above (the real Jesus) was long, long gone.

Roxxsmom
05-13-2014, 08:59 AM
It's entirely possible for seemingly contradictory things to be true.

Often such things are not truly contradictory, but merely complementary.

Each is true in its own way, and oftentimes both truths must be respected.

It's important to remember that truth is not a synonym for physical reality.

This is also the point of art, which — above all else — must be true.

I think it's something people often tend to forget. To me, the attempt to shoehorn religious beliefs into science, or the attempt to hijack science in order to prove the literal truth of a religious belief, does both a disservice.

Lillith1991
05-13-2014, 10:04 AM
I think it's something people often tend to forget. To me, the attempt to shoehorn religious beliefs into science, or the attempt to hijack science in order to prove the literal truth of a religious belief, does both a disservice.

I agree with this 100%. :)

Papaya
05-13-2014, 11:14 PM
I think it's something people often tend to forget. To me, the attempt to shoehorn religious beliefs into science, or the attempt to hijack science in order to prove the literal truth of a religious belief, does both a disservice.
x3