Hi chaps(esses), I'm making this general so that you don't see a new name just butting in without at least a short introduction to who it is. Bikerman aka Chris S, middle-aged lecturer, teacher, systems manager, recording engineer. Expertise in IT and gaining more in physics with each passing month. Home forum base is Science Forum. Forums I moderate or help moderate - the aforementioned science forum, Frihost and another that I don't post the address to in public forums.
I have spent about 15 years debating creationists in various forums/arenas including being one of two key speakers debating the Australian creationist John MacKay on his tour of schools and universities in 2006. A colleague and I asked to be allowed to take part in the debate and they obviously thought we were either sympathetic (though we gave no such impression deliberately) or easy meat for an experienced debater like Mackay. (We slaughtered him according to the only impartial people present - two journalists from the local paper, and were roundly booed and catcalled by the rest of the 150 people present who, we found out, all came from three local evangelical church groups).
In short then, I know the game, have played it at pro-am level, and hope to contribute something useful.
quote:Yes. Here's another example. There was a person who told me that everyone was atheist around him and he became a Christian later on. He believes that he was running away from Christianity and that's why he believed in atheism.
But now he knows that evolution is not true, because he likes it much better that we were created, than that something comes from nothing.
Now, look here and see 2 common features of such postings. 1) An example is offered, but it is entirely anecdotal, as well as highly questionable. 2) The common mistake (or deliberate ploy) to associate atheism with faith - 'believed in atheism'. I don't have to tell most people that atheism is a lack of belief in God(s) and therefore not itself a faith position. Strong atheism IS a faith position - the assertion that God does not exist cannot be proven. Many creationists deliberately introduce this line of attack since it allows them, at a later time, to turn round and say that you agree that atheism is just another belief. That is why it is important to challenge this every time it occurs. Not to change the mind of the poster, simply to register the challenge publicly so there can be no later assumption of agreement. To make it plain for you Princesszina: Atheism = lack of belief in Gods. That is not the same as saying God does not exist - he may well do, I just don't see sufficient evidence (or in fact any evidence) to support such a weird and wonderful proposition. Let me turn it back on you - do you believe in the Gods Jupiter and Mars? I presume not. So does that make you a believer in the non-existence of Jupiter and Mars? See the problem? If you want to take that line then we are all atheists with the only difference being the very minor one that I believe in one less God than you do. (To complete the paraphrase)* - When you, Princesszina, can honestly understand why you do not believe in Jupiter, Mars, Thor, Hermes, Ra, Isis and the other twenty thousand or so Gods I could list, then you will be closer to understanding why I don't believe in YOUR God.
Most atheists in my experience (including myself) are pretty sure there is no God but would change in light of evidence, because our scientific curiosity and interest is far more important to us than religion as an issue, and integrity to scientific methodology compels me to accept any suitable supported and evidenced hypothesis as a good working theory.
Lastly, I am sure that you, Princesszin, are quite young from your posting and I have no wish to play my normal full-out game against a much weaker opponent because it troubles my british sense of fair play. I would simply point out that unupported stories about people you say you know or have met is generally known as anecdote and is not generally believed. Not that I am saying you are lying - I am not. But neither would I wish to accept any such account without some evidence to support it, so let's say I am being properly sceptical and true to my scientific principles.
* Stephen Roberts: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours"
No I disagree. I understand your point and it is probably valid for the majority of us, but I think a distinction should still be made. The reason is : person A has never heard of God B. They take no position from ignorance rather than belief/faith. They are an atheist by any definition, but they would, perhaps, love to believe in God B if someone told them about it. Then take the similar position of young or disabled people - they cannot form a true belief (in some cases I quickly add, not all). Now, you can say that this applies to everything else - politics, fave band etc but I say there is a fundamental difference. We live in societies that brand children by religion from birth. It is perfectly legitimate for English faith schools to accept 'catholic children'. It would be very contentious for me to say my 3 year old* was a Marxist, but not to say he is a Christian.
But this is a special case - which is why I prefer the word 'faith'. Faith is clear to me - it means belief without or even in spite of evidence. Belief on the other hand is way too vague - any scientist would have to say that everything they understand to be true is a belief. So we then use the same word for belief in the sky fairy as we do for acceptance of gravity...
quote:Heck, you know it yourself intuitively I think-even if you don't like to admit it. The laws of nature themselves, of QM and relativity and the machine that is the universe, defy a belief in chaotic and intervention-less matter.
Sorry but this is nonsense. It is best not to talk about QM unless you have a vague understanding of it. QM tells us precisely that the world is random (not chaotic - different thing). This is not even close to analogous to religious faith for reasons you must have been given many times and yet chosen to regard as not worth mentioning.....evidence? Repeatability? What you perceive as a logically thought out belief system could well be a psychotic irrational hallucination. How would you know? I know that QM and relativity are nothing of the sort because other people can check my workings and I can check theirs. There is no chance of it being just wishful thinking or a delusion because we insist on repeatability wherever possible, as well as evidence.
quote:It is a combination of observing the world around them, and seeing evidence for a synchronicity that goes beyond what chaos could be imagined to create, as well as an evaluation of life's experiences. A thinking person can draw conclusions of what they experience in their daily life-of consequences for our actions beyond the naturalistic means, of coincidence, and karma and externally derived insight.
Nononono. Evidence is more than personal conviction. What you call evidence I call belief. Evidence that you cannot test is little better than hearsay (and yes, I include eye witness testimony in that - horribly unreliable as has been comprehensively shown many times). Chaos has a particular meaning which is not what you intend to say, so perhaps better to use 'meaningless' or 'uncaring'. We know what can be produced by mindless systems - we are examples.
The word God was key. I asked if she believed in the Gods x and y. The existence of the people x and y is distinct from that - particularly chosen because the romans in particular had a habbit of deifying people (and the odd horse) :-)
quote:Again I continue to be of the position that this is a result of someone's position on certainty, not their position on God.
Only to a limited extent. Yes, a true scientist has a distinct position on certainty, I agree. But for all practical purposes we all have degrees of certainty and uncertainty so there is no principled difference. I know the difference between something highly probable and something with no evidential basis that might nontheless be true. I don't think the difference is in the understanding of certainty - although I would agree that many people are far too ready to use the word for things that are anything but. My take is that the important difference is in the meaning and usage of the words - particularly belief.
Likewise :-) Now, on the main point, I think that if our vocab distinguished lets say 10 different levels of certainty, starting with wo-faith* for something with evidence against it and ending with anbelief* for something which to all intents and purposes is a fact, then we would be on much firmer ground and the wriggle-room exploited by many of the faithful would be severely restricted.
You beat me to it :-) Yes, just to reiterate, random means not deterministic which means I cannot predict what one occurance or outcome will be. Many people get confused here. For example, if I say a dice is random then people think that means 'fair'. So if I say a 6d is random they assume it has a 1 in 6 chance for each result. No, untrue. A loaded dice is still random. Unless you can say in advance with 'certainty' what the result will be then it is random. Chaos is deterministic you CAN say what the next result will be, but the results taken as a whole don't form a pattern, or form bifurcating paterns just before becoming truly chaotic.
So, sorry Bolder-dash but you are wrong - what I said was fairly precise and accurate.
quote:You may be having psychotic, irrational hallucinations every time you believe someone can check your work, or that you have done any work at all.
Possible but so unlikely as to be functionally impossible in this universe. If you want to use the ultimate existential get-out clause* then fine, but the discussion will go nowhere and there will still be a set of principled differences between science and faith. I can check Einstein's work on SR (and a good portion of GR) so there is no faith required - the math is sound. You cannot check a reported religious experience because it is, almost by definition, entirely subjective/personal. Now if I want to say that Relativity is correct then that is belief. In fact I know it isn't so I would not say otherwise. Most scientists are clear about this but since scientific language is so different from everyday usage then lapsing is understandable. The classic example is the word 'theory' which to a scientist means something far more rigorous than everyday usage as 'guess' or 'hypothesis'. Most creationists do actually know this (or are made aware) but refuse to accept it and still regularly trot out 'evolution is only a theory' as if it revealed anything except their own ignorance....
* that being we cannot say for certain that we even exist - we only have the input of our senses which could be feeding us bad data, no data or data being fed to them without our knowledge. Probably reasonable to call it the 'Matrix' argument.
But I really like being lectured to by creationists. As a teacher it gives me some insight into what some of my students must feel occasionally :-)
PS - Bolder - I should add that the thing which divides science from non-science, pseudo-science and other forms of belief is basically the ability (and willingness) to be proved wrong. If you make a statement that cannot be proved wrong then it isn't science. Ideally any scientific hypothesis should not only be testable, it should say exactly what would prove it to be incorrect - ie it should invite people to shoot it down. That is basically the scientific method. Observe/experiment, hypothesise, test (try to refute it), and refine by going back to the first step. Science is the only form of human understanding that I know of that builds this in - the whole enterprise doesn't just welcome being proved wrong, it relies on it. If you want to educate yourself on this then look up 'induction, Hume and Popper'.
This is what I find amusing when people say scientists are arrogant. Scientists are the people who can have their life-work trashed in a moment by anyone. Now in reality, of course, we are all human with human flaws so you get scientific inertia - anyone wanting to pursue that should of course be reading Thommy Khun (who I could never take to as an author, but who nonetheless spoke truth to power).
quote:The opposite of order is chaos. You don't get to tell me what chaos means-it has a universal meaning, which you don't get to decide.
The world is not chaos, precisely because we can make predictions about it.
Order has to be derived from somewhere.
LOL, you do grant me such airs and graces. You think I decided? Thanks for the compliment but I must decline. Heres a little illustration. 1. Take a pencil and paper. 2. Draw a triangle - any type, right angles, iscoceles, whatever. 3. Pick a point at random in the triangle and plot a point. 4. Repeat 5. Choose at random one of the vertices (corners) of the triangle, move halfway from where you are to that corner and plot a point. 6. for a long time
Is that chaotic? Do you think you can predict the outcome? Betcha!