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Science

What Do You Believe Even If You Can't Prove It? 2353

Posted by timothy
from the that-she-is-out-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "That's what online magazine The Edge - the World Question Center asked over 120 scientists, futurists, and other interesting minds. Their answers are sometimes short and to the point (Bruce Sterling: 'We're in for climatic mayhem'), often long and involved; they cover everything from the existence of God to the nature of black holes. What do you believe, even though you can't prove it?"
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What Do You Believe Even If You Can't Prove It?

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  • I believe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:58PM (#11265091) Homepage Journal
    in intelligent design.
    -nB
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:59PM (#11265110)
    But, I believe that Slashdot will someday be run by professionals.
  • Me personally (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cr0y (670718) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:00PM (#11265116) Homepage
    That at some level computers, cars, and other non "animate" objects have feelings, moods, and emotions, and react to how you treat them. cuz my pc certainly does and i know my car does....
  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:02PM (#11265138)
    i don't beleive in the christian god, but i know there has to be something out there, things are just to "perfect" to randomly appear.

    look at how the earth balances itself out, no matter what we do to mess it up, look at mathmatics, virtually perfect, our bodies are amazing pieces of machinery. but who knows, we will all be worm food one day
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:02PM (#11265148)
    According to sound research published in the journal Nature, Only 7% of of acclaimed scientists believe in any form of God.

    http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/atheism1.htm

    Regretfully, the number 7% includes opinions of non-scientists that are allowed in the National Academy of Sciences, namely mathematicians.

    If the numbers were reworked without mathematicians or certain physicist-mathematicians, I bet it would be under 1%.

    In general scientific minds do not believe in any ghosts, goblins, ghosts, or gods.

    Please read the link, and also consult the study.
  • Truth... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ites (600337) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:03PM (#11265152) Journal
    ... is just a tool for navigating a complex world.

    In some cultures, sacrificing a goat to the spirits is a truth that may help you survive the famine, if only by making your neighbours afraid enough of you so you can steal their food.

    In other cultures, knowing why the ride to work drives you crazy is a truth that helps you stay sane.

    Truth is any tool that works better. Scientific truth - that is, truth derived by the scientific method - works best of all, because it fits the physical world so well.

    Different truths can be in direct conflict (quantum vs. classical mechanics) and yet both be suitable tools.

    Even religion is a truth that helps navigate certain kinds of reality... it's a kind of fuse box for the mind, so to speak. When logic and science can't explain why the wave hit you, perhaps religion can.

  • Hard AI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:05PM (#11265176)
    I believe that "hard AI" is possible.

    That is, that Minsky was fundamentally right, and that the brain can be modeled as a computing device (although not necessarily a deterministic Turing machine) made of meat.

    Meta-belief: Just as I believe that mind is an epiphenomenon of certain configurations of matter, I believe that free will is an epiphenomenon of random processes in the brain.

    Side note: I do not believe we'll solve the Hard AI problem in the next 50 years. (I'd very much like to be proven wrong on that, however.)

  • by azav (469988) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:05PM (#11265187) Homepage Journal
    Simply put. As children, we grow up with "all knowing parental figures." With that as precident, when we grow up, we look for that figure. Therefore it is understandable and expected that humanity seek some type of all knowing figure to explain all they don not know and give them comfort when they are grown.

    We as humans look for a god, even though based upon complex systems and greater scarcity of complex working systems as the systems become more complex, it is unlikely that one exists.
  • P != NP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot@@@jgc...org> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:07PM (#11265206) Homepage Journal
    I wish I could prove it, but it seems to me that it is unlikely that P == NP.

    There are various points of discontinuity in mathematics and I think this is one of them (for example, we know that the number of integers is less than the number of reals and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_hypothesis) .

    John.
  • ZFC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Inf0phreak (627499) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:08PM (#11265224)
    ZFC [wikipedia.org], of course. What other reply is possible when you study math? :)
  • by AceCaseOR (594637) <alexander@case.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:08PM (#11265232) Homepage Journal
    God and that Global Warming is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • by benja (623818) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:11PM (#11265278)
    P != NP.
  • by HenryKoren (735064) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:13PM (#11265310) Homepage
    The semantics of your faith vs. my faith degrade into condemning and those who are different. It is not so much what somebody believes in, but the effects those beliefs have upon their actions.

    The problem with many modern belief systems is that those who sin, repent, and sin again. It's a vicious cycle that gives people an excuse for evil deeds. Repentance only serves the goal of a supposed salvation. It does not in any way correct an evil deed. These beliefs cause people to sin against each other confident that their slates can be wiped clean in the confessional.

    I have different beliefs. Their foundation is karma, a form of spiritual energy that connects life, the universe, and everything. What we do in our lives causes repercussions that are instantaneous, and those that echo into eternity long after our flesh is decomposed.

    I first began to believe all this nonsense after doing something that was very evil and destructive. Not more than 24 hours after my transgression, something horrible happened to me. Could this have been a complete coincidence? Indeed it could; but what I did, and what happened was destructive, traumatic, and totally unrelated as possible. This led me to believe that there must be some underlying power that isn't properly described by Christian theology. Since getting slapped by karma I've changed my life. I haven't been perfect, but I've done my best. Now I find myself incredibly fortunate and happy in my life. This could be a complete coincidence.

    Most modern religions defy science... mine embraces it. Physics has conservation of energy... What about conservation of karma or conservation of souls? If earth was once a cloud of stealer particles brought together by gravity, where did all the souls come from? From the billions of other systems that support life in this universe.

    As far as "reincarnation" verses "afterlife", the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. For a soul that might have come from a distant star, or found its way into a different species; their lives now fit all the classic definitions or "afterlife". So with my beliefs it's impossible to say that the core concepts of most organized religions are wrong. But it becomes easy to tell that arguing the semantics of these concepts is pointless.

    A final component of my belief system is that it could all be complete bullshit... But if it lays down a good moral code sans religious fanaticism, is it really that bad?

    Who is God? A man sitting on a cloud passing judgment? Or a vast entity far beyond our comprehension? Why do religions have to weave such intricate and detailed pictures of what this deity is? Why must people comfort their fears of death by fabricating an imaginary world that lies beyond the grave? Why can't we realize how totally insignificant we and all of our complex illusions really are?
  • by JohnnyCannuk (19863) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:18PM (#11265407)
    i don't beleive in the christian god, but i know there has to be something out there, things are just to "perfect" to randomly appear.

    I think what you meant to say was:

    "i don't beleive in the christian god, but i WANT there has to be something out there, things are just to "perfect" to randomly appear.

    Are things "too perfect" because the earth and the universe was built around us and our design or are they "too perfect" because we eveloved to fit "perfectly" into this universe, that if the universe was different, we would be different also and wondering the same thoughts.

    Just thought you might want to consider these things along with a healthy dose of Occam's Razor...

  • Reality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Listen Up (107011) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:19PM (#11265429)
    I believe in reality and only reality. Make believe is exactly that...make believe. The universe is not determined by mysticism outside of the human mind. The universe exists, is determined by unbreakable rules, and nothing in the universe is above those rules. End of the story. All of those rules can be determined and eventually will be.

    As far as 'unprovable', the term is highly misleading. To be more specific, if there is a fabric which exactly explains the universe, mathematics, so be it. If the physical results of that fabric are repeatable, predictable, and disprovable then that is it.
  • Re:Karma (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnnyCannuk (19863) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:20PM (#11265451)
    I'm with you on that one....

    And if it turns out we're wrong, Buddhists will simply change their philosophy to match reality rather than the other way around.

  • OK, my turn to reply (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TrevorB (57780) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:21PM (#11265474) Homepage
    I believe that the existentialists are wrong, and that the world and the universe do indeed exist even if I can't prove it.

    After all, if the observable world didn't exist, what the hell, the concept of truth itself is questionable, you might as well believe whatever you want.

    Everything else is suspect.

    I kinda like theories that don't falter under repeated experiments. Scientific method and all that. It's a good thing.
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by olyar (591892) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:27PM (#11265563) Homepage Journal
    The foundation of intelligent design is that there exists a God who is both personal and creative. So humans and animals were created by him, and the physical laws are the *tools* he used to create them. Science then becomes the study of how God does things... I can believe in intelligent design and still believe in the process of evolution. I don't think that God just created the process, set it in motion and then left. He is actively involved in it, watching it play out... just like if you were running a piece of software you'd written. The only difference is that God's code doesn't have any bugs, so it doesn't have to be revised. There's no "gravity 0.9 pre-release".
  • Re:Logic works? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:28PM (#11265595) Homepage
    True, true. Every argument takes something for granted. But all arguments take for granted a certain same thing, along with whatever else they take for granted: that a properly structured argument gets you closer to Truth. (say it however you like)

    Not only that, but there are different arguments about the proper use of argumentation and logic. So, not only does every argument presume that "logic works", but it presumes that a certain sort of "logic", namely the sort of logical attack you're using at the time, works. So Euclid isn't only taking his 5 postulates for granted, but also that his sort of geometric proof is appropriate, what constitutes a thing being proven, as well as a sort of spacial intuition without which geometry is impossible.

    It's a very complex topic that, unfortunately, few people bother to examine properly. For the record, I'm not saying that, since we can't prove anything without assuming something, we shouldn't attempt to prove anything. I am saying that, since we are always taking things for granted, we should carefully examine and understand what it is that we assume. Once you understand how much you're assuming, even in order to complete the simplest of tasks, you'll understand that assumptions, in and of themselves, are not bad.

  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zzesers92 (819281) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:30PM (#11265629)
    and... just because science can explain something does not preclude God, ever, period.

    Here's how I like to think of God, personally. Whatever changed and resulted in the singularity expanding is God. It's not some santa clause human-looking white man with a big white beard throwing lightning bolts from the sky. It is what made this glorious universe possible, whatever that was, however explained. That is God. And I'm very happy it happened.

  • by Orne (144925) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:31PM (#11265642) Homepage
    The anthrosophical answer is that, if it were any other way, then we wouldn't be here to observe it.

    If the cosmological constants weren't just right, our universe wouldn't have coalesced out of matter as it did. If the planet didn't have just the right orbit and axis, things would have been too chaotic for life to appear. If we hadn't evolved the way we did, we wouldn't be sentient enough to look back and be amazed by how it all came about.

    Now, we can all argue at the end of the day whether all that happened by accident (by randomness), or if there's something behind the scenes guiding it all (design), but it's still something neat to philosophize about.
  • by xenocide2 (231786) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:32PM (#11265678) Homepage
    I don't know about you, but my mom was a lying, controlling bitch. By your standards, wouldn't you expect me to be running naked in the night with the devil worshipers?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:39PM (#11265807)
    Brought about by the complexity of the brain.

    This leads to fun things like death being absolute and for all eternity. But it also means it won't hurt... just like when you doze off in front of the TV, waking up 4 hours later without dreaming or anything, like time never happened (only without the waking up bit).

    It follows, then, that life is special and precious, and that we should "be excellent to each other" (to quote a famous philosopher) as this is it... this is all we have, and this is all others around us have.

    Some people find this atheist philosophy ultra-scary. People take comfort in religion, and I think that's fine... As one life is all you get, if believing in God makes you feel better, safe or looked after somehow, then I'm happy for you.

    I don't like it when religion is used as an excuse to hurt people. I think religions are all the same (in a good way) but there will always be psychos who promote killing as "God's" will.

    Quoting from another famous philosopher, I believe that children are our future. Teach them well. I don't want to get all political, but I think the US has an awful education system for the general public (the well off can afford good schools).

    I also believe the corporate culture of the US and its outsourcing policies will have a servere impact on the country in 20 years as more middle class jobs leave the country.

    I believe President Buss is a corporate-led moron. I can't even be bothered to fix that spelling mistake in his name as I don't think he deserves that respect.

    Quting from another famous philosopher, I believe that humans are a cancer on this planet. A virus. I don't think this planet can sustain our growth indefinately.

    I don't believe in human space travel. Bottom line is that it's all about gravity and acceleration. I don't think we'll master gravity and acceleration to enable us to travel interesting distances. So my previous point holds - we'll have to do something eventually to create equilibrium with our planet.

    I believe that our aid to 3rd world countries, keeping starving populations on the edge of death in environments that cannot naturally sustain them is, whilst good intentioned, futile. It seems we keep these people alive to make ourselves feel good. To quote another philosopher, "Let them die." Harsh, I know, but the ones that do survivie will survive on their own. We're maintaining generations of suffering.

    I believe I have written enough.

  • by efatapo (567889) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:39PM (#11265812) Homepage
    While researchers views might be that depressing, the beliefs of medical doctors is quite encouraging. Take a look at this survey [businesswire.com].

    72% believe that religion provides a reliable and necessary guide to life.
    58% attend church once a month.
    58% believe the Bible was inspired by God.

    So while your article implies intelligent and influential scientists don't believe in God, a number I personally hope to decrease, the study of medical doctors shows a strong number of people with faith. I would say that medical doctors have 'scientific minds', which would dispute your second to last line.

    On a related note, I don't think that it's fair to use the National Academy of Science as the survey pool. People who have made it into the NAS have devoted at least 90% of their waking energy to the scientific fields are not consistent with most kinds of faith anyways. As a Christian, there are things more important to me than scientific success. I have had dinner with many biochemists in the academy and family/friends/life/etc comes a distant second to their career. So I would suggest that these results are completely consistent with their life style. I would like to see a survey of PhD scientists or professors at a variety of universities, those results would be much more of a mixed bag.

    I also hope that you don't take this as confirmation that education and faith are not compatible. I know plenty of PhD students who are practicing Christians.

    ~Dan
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by skiman1979 (725635) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:44PM (#11265907)
    If I had mod points, I'd mod you up. There are different theories on the creation of the universe, whether you believe in the "big bang", creation, or anything else. However the universe came to be, it had to come from somewhere. Assuming the universe exploded from a grain of dust, that grain of dust had to come from somewhere. Seems reasonable to me to say that God put it there and caused it to explode into what we have today.

    If you go with Creation, the Bible says God created the Heavens and Earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th. To my knowledge, it doesn't define what a "day" is. Could these days be actually years or centuries or more?

    It's not like the universe (or the dust cloud that created it) just existed through all eternity. If it did, call that God. After all, they do say God is everywhere, all knowing, etc.
  • Few things of my own (Score:2, Interesting)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:56PM (#11266130) Homepage Journal
    1. That God exists, but not as a singular being in an external subject-object relationship with humanity as such. More that He/It exists in a kind of networked form which is able to take in information from the whole of the rest of creation, and then use said information in order to decide what needs to be done. Beings said to be following "the will of God" would be those that are sensitive to knowing said will and acting upon it. Sort of like SW's Force, but not exactly...More intelligent and purposeful. The Biblical Holy Spirit would probably be closest to what I'm talking about here, perhaps.

    2. That corporeal death does not represent the termination of human existence. That heaven and hell both exist, but that people go there as a result of being attracted to their belief systems/expectations, rather than the decision of an external God to send them there.

    3. That extraterrestrial life/intelligence exists, but that it is primarily acorporeal in form.

    4. That astral space exists, and that we (sometimes) go there when asleep, as well as at other times depending on our interests and level of abilities in such areas.

    5. That the corporeally dead can be communicated with, but that such activity should be persued with caution as there exists a possibility of instead communicating with extremely negative non-human entities impersonating the deceased.

    6. That Jesus Christ existed in corporeal form as recorded Biblically...that the miracles, ressurection, and ascension took place...and that Christ's life and ressurection significantly altered the geography and governing heuristics of astral space/the afterlife.

    7. That the period of the next seven to eight years is going to be marked by massive geological and geopolitical changes in the planet, as well as genetic changes in human beings. These changes are actually to facilitate the changing of the planet into a state that we would now refer to as acorporeal. Also that the current period is the time period that was specifically referred to in the Book of Revelation, but that it is more about a period of alteration rather than annihilation as such.

    8. That although George W Bush and his administration are profoundly negative/self-serving human beings, they are in power for the express purpose of allowing America as a country to be forcefully confronted by, and therefore given the opportunity to resolve/work through, the dark side of the national psyche.

    9. That despite the massive upheavals and apparent complete suspension of reason and sanity that can appear at times to accompany the current period, that people should try to retain a positive and hopeful perspective. I believe that the civilisation that will exist when the dust settles at least has the opportunity of being extremely positive...despite what we will go through in order to get there, I think it is something to look forward to.
  • Re:WMD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:00PM (#11266197) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, you are flat wrong.

    Saddam *asked* the US permission to invade Kuwait, citing territory issues over oil. We agreed not to intervene on what we ( at the time) considered to be a domestic (between Iraq and Kuwait) issue.

    Saddamn, armed with assurances from the US, did exactly what he said he was going to do, and then we changed our minds.

    No wonder half the world hates us...
  • by thomasa (17495) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:03PM (#11266249)
    QUOTE
    The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is an approach to quantum mechanics according to which, in addition to the world we are aware of directly, there are many other similar worlds which exist in parallel at the same space and time. The existence of the other worlds makes it possible to remove randomness and action at a distance from quantum theory and thus from all physics.
    UNQUOTE

    This gives new meaning to the concept of re-incarnation.
  • by Bingo Foo (179380) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:05PM (#11266284)
    I believe, though I can't prove, that other entities that resemble me in appearance and behavior (people) have the same kind of agency and observer status as myself and therefore have value similar in kind to myself.

    But they still are clearly not you, so why should you care?

    Beware the slippery slope.

  • A simple universe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:09PM (#11266368)
    That the universe is understandable by man, and furthermore that its fundamental principles, when properly formulated, are conceptually simple.
  • Go back and track the story. The shells were over 20 years old and the chemicals mainly degraded. And guess who the supplier of them to Iraq was...

    Those may or may not be true, but that's irrelevant to the question of whether WMDs were found in Iraq.

    Framed another way, the original poster basically said that no WMDs were found in Iraq. That statement is provably not true, to the best of my knowledge.

  • Re:Truth... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kokoloko (836827) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:29PM (#11266676)
    How do you get from "works" to "whatever makes me happy"? I'd be happier if I didn't have a toothache, but ignoring pain certainly won't work. When you try to extend that to truths like the Holocaust, you'll notice that it gets a little tricker, but that's the point. Historical truths are much more mutable than those of the physical universe. It may be frustrating, but it's true. (If it wasn't, how/why could history be so contested?) "Correspondance to Reality" is one of those things that people believe in that they can't prove. ;)
  • by rossifer (581396) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:34PM (#11266775) Journal
    But they still are clearly not you, so why should you care?

    Good followup, but now you're asking a question of morality, as opposed to the reasoning behind a metaphysical predicate.

    Short answer: because it's normal (genetically wired into my brain) to treat other people with respect.

    Longer answer (and a better answer for people who don't believe in natural causes of behavior): Because there are substantial negative consequences to behaving in a way that ignores other people's value. I enjoy the company of friends (and find their help useful on occasion), and other people are good at detecting fake friends. I like my freedom, and running people down at stoplights causes uniformed people in cars with flashing lights to lock me up, limiting my freedom.

    Regards,
    Ross
  • I believe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dfj225 (587560) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:37PM (#11266824) Homepage Journal
    1+1=2 even though no one has ever proven it to me and I have not made an effort to do so myself.
  • Re:That's easy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Medevo (526922) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @02:47PM (#11266965) Homepage
    You were simply in monogamous "raiser" position. In semi-monogamous species like humans and birds, males attempt to win the youngest female they can, and often females will willingly enter into relationships in which they do not wish to produce young with that male, but believe that males ability to raise children is top notch. However the female then, in the form of affairs, will attempt to seek out a male that give her children the best genetic chance at success. Much of this process is hardwired, so don't entirely blame her nature, and at best, take this as a compliment that you would be a great father.

    Medevo
  • Re:I believe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by La0tsu (203246) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:07PM (#11267233)
    By your reasoning, if presented with the question, "Does 2+2 equal 1 or purple?" We know that purple isn't a valid answer, so the answer must be 1. Maybe you should clean up your on fallacies before you start being a dick about other people's.
  • by Hortensia Patel (101296) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:36PM (#11267772)
    That's even assuming that the earthquake wasn't actually a good outcome out of all the possible outcomes; for example, what if the earthquake released tectonic pressure that otherwise would've built up and killed millions instead of hundreds of thousands?

    I've heard this line of argument (the so-called "hidden harmony" defence) described as pornography for priests, and tend to agree. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent deity can't do anything about geological events on one small planet? Even a half-arsed demiurge with no more foreknowledge than a blurry impression of next week's National Enquirer ought to be able to manage at least a booming voice from the heavens suggesting that people might want to head up to higher ground for the next couple of days.

    I for one think the "If an omnipotent, loving God exists, why does he let bad things happen?" line of argument is a red herring. It's impossible for us to understand the actions of a being with an infinite perspective

    And I for one think that's a cop-out of Homeric proportions. You (assuming you're a Christian) claim to understand the actions of just such a being every time you espouse the tenets of your faith. God sent Jesus to redeem us, did he? How is that statement not claiming to understand his actions?

    The "Problem Of Evil" is a notable argument, as cogent as it is concise, and the fact that two thousand years of Christian thought (Catholic and Protestant, at least) have failed to produce a single plausible theodicy, to my mind, strongly suggests that those thinkers ought to revisit their assumptions.
  • by rossifer (581396) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @03:51PM (#11268042) Journal
    Morality is nothing more than personal opinion (for both the Deist and the Atheist). For the Atheist, however, the one absolute that follows from first principles is "might makes right."

    Depends what you want in your life (i.e. your personal long-term goals).

    If you want joy in your life, as I do, you're going to want to love and be loved by a partner, your children (if you choose to have some), and probably by a group of close friends. If you actually act in a "might makes right" manner, you have zero chance of experiening any of that. People may say they love you and fawn over you to manipulate you and your power, but they'll never love you.

    Actions have consequences. Using force to get your way has substantial negative consequences. To some people, these consequences don't matter, however, I don't hear about too many of those people living long guilt-free lives into their old age.

    As an aside, Bush Jr. just might be stupid enough to be a counter-example to my assertion (if he believes his own campaign rhetoric, that is)...

    Regards,
    Ross
  • by jdray (645332) * on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:13PM (#11268395) Homepage Journal
    You decry the media scientist as a straw man, but use arbitrary terms to describe the state of affairs.

    Brainwashed from birth? What about people who are "born again" or have thought long and hard about their faith and chosen to accept it as is?

    The Christian god? What about the god of the Jews, or that of the Muslims, or Hindus? We're in a global community here. Expand your horizons.

    ...you can now be a truly rational Christian. How does God revealing himself to someone, validating everything in the Bible, give someone the wherewithal to go be a "rational Christian?" In such an event, it's more likely that God would say, "Yeah, that, that and that are all true. That over there, well, anyone that thinks about it can see that it's not true. Something was lost in translation there. Oh, yeah, and on that, too. And that over there..."

    God...omnipotence...proof...? How would any omnipotent God prove his omnipotence beyond altering someone's beliefs directly? If he did, what good would that do?

    Most people... believe in God [because they were told to]? Really? I haven't taken any polls recently, but I suspect most people who believe in God do so because the want to.

    Religion in it's current "one size fits all" mentality? How many different religions, sects of religions, divisions of sects, etc. are there in the world? If it was truly "one for all," we wouldn't have the terms "holy war" or "Jihad."

    I'm very open to discussions on this topic, but come back when you've done some serious thinking about it rather than just grabbed whatever half-baked idea came out of your anatomy.

    Oh, sorry, this is Slashdot after all. For a minute, I forgot where I was.

  • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:19PM (#11268490) Homepage Journal
    My goodness, you seem to be interested in the nonsense that religion is but neverhteless get your fact completely and utterly wrong.

    Repetance leads to salvation only if you are sincere about repenting (and this only in Catholicism, because I am sure Chistians from different protestant sects have their own baseless domga on this regard).

    If you sin and intend to keep sining you can visit the confessional as much as you want, if there is no sincere repetance then your maker will judge as the piece of shit you are and condemn you to ethernal damnation.

    But all the above is irrelevant since no god exists in any case.
  • White holes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by demachina (71715) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:37PM (#11268786)
    I believe in white holes. For every black hole there is a white hole elsewhere in space. The matter gets sucked in to the black hole and spews out elsewhere in space, with a worm hole, tear in space or whatever you want to call it connecting the two which are very far from each other in conventional space. Where are the white holes, presumably there is one at the center of most or all galaxies. I envision a continuing cycle of renewal where matter is being incinerated and compacted in one place and starting a new life elsewhere building new stars at the center of new galaxies.
  • by PenguiN42 (86863) <taylork@alum.m[ ]edu ['it.' in gap]> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @04:56PM (#11269087) Journal
    Did you ever consider that saying you stopped accepting that the core of everything they believe in and the basis of everything they do had any value might be inherently hostile?

    Saying that he doesn't accept the core of what they believe in is not hostile.

    Saying that it has no value may be hostile, but luckily the OP didn't say that.

    Putting words in peoples' mouths to try to prove a point can also be considered hostile.
  • by kale77in (703316) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:05PM (#11269200) Homepage

    Of the two options you mention, Special Creation usually connotes the first (intervening), whereas Theistic Evolution connotes the second (fine-tuning in creation). Intelligent Design, in the strict use of the term, does not necessarily make any claims about origins, but rather studies intelligent action as the best explanation for different kinds of order.

    Generally, Christians working in the natural sciences are mostly commonly Theistic Evolutionists, then IDers (long ages), and only very occassionally into Young-Earth Creation (YEC), in which case they will belong to an organization like Answers in Genesis. The first two perform meaningful research IMHO, whereas AIG spends most of its time promoting YEC in churches as the only possible option for Christians.

    Something like the Anthropic Principle is consistent with either ID or Theistic Evolution, as is Antony Flew's recent adoption of some kind of Aristotelian Deism (not Theism but no longer strictly Atheism, even by Flew's usual agnostic definition) which appears to have been motivated by ID concerns (requiring intelligence as an information source for DNA). See the following interview:

    http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/ [biola.edu]

    Of particular interest is the bold claim at the end that Ayer and Russell would have agreed with him had they lived as long. As Richard Carrier summarizes at SecWeb:

    ...he is increasingly persuaded that some sort of Deity brought about this universe, though it does not intervene in human affairs, nor does it provide any postmortem salvation. He says he has in mind something like the God of Aristotle, a distant, impersonal "prime mover."

    Source: http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=369 [secweb.org]

    Flew is not, of course, a scientist, a point Carrier makes several times, and his views should be understood rather as those of a (respected) philosopher.

  • Re:Someday (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wraithlyn (133796) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:32PM (#11269587)
    "The Big Bang theory isn't about beliefs as you seem to use the word. It's about the best explanation that fits the evidence."

    It is perhaps the best CURRENT explanation. But it is not as good a theory as it was even a few years ago. There are questions that the Big Bang theory has no explanation for.

    For example, as recently as 1998 it was discovered that the universe is "flat" [nasa.gov]. A tiny difference in the density of the universe, either up or down, would make it curved. This means the Big Bang was "tuned" to produce exactly this density. The odds of that happening by chance are estimated at 1 to 10^50.

    The Big Bang does not explain the increasing evidence that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating [cnn.com].

    The Big Bang theory does not adequately explain (IMHO) the "Horizon Problem" [uoregon.edu], which is that the universe looks uniform in all directions, from galaxy evolution to background radiation. (Yes, I am aware of "Inflation Theory", which seeks to address the Horizon Problem, but it's pretty shaky. Here's a paper [iop.org] disputing the ability of the inflationary model to produce homogenous CMBR if you are interested.)

    Dead-Tree References:
    "The Field", Lynne McTaggart - Recommended for everyone, written for laymen.
    "Science and the Akashic Field", Ervin Laszlo - This is a bit more technical.
  • Re:Logic works? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @05:35PM (#11269632)
    I'm sorry, but this is not completly correct. Gödel's theorem is only valid for formal systems which can be "Gödelised", i.e. where the written proofs can be translated into long Gödel-Numbers by assigning a cipher to every sign in the proof. Linear Algebra, for example, is complete _and_ consistent, as far as I know. In contrast to number theory, as you probably know.
  • by GunFodder (208805) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @07:39PM (#11270897)
    The odds of the universe being very nearly flat are 1 in 1, since we wouldn't be around to calculate those odds if it didn't pan out that way. Similarly the odds of the universe supporting life are 1 in 1 for the same reason.

    For all we know there is a natural system that churns out universes on a regular cycle. Usually nothing comes of it, but once in a while the universe pans out and lasts for a while. So far we don't have a way of observing these failed universes. But we can observe other systems that work in a similar fashion.

    One could say that we are incredibly lucky to live on a planet with the correct chemical composition at the correct distance from a correctly hot Sun. If we use a sufficiently powerful telescope we can see that there are billions of other stars, and they are all different. Given the rather large number of chances it doesn't seem that odd that at least one of them provided the proper environment for life as we know it.
  • Re:Someday (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flottman (738676) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @08:50PM (#11271466)
    life could not have existed in any form at any time nor place in the universe
    Actually, let's clarify that. "life as we currently recognize it could not have existed". While it's likely true that the life that we see today would not have been possible if any of the alluded to parameters had been different, you know what? We'd be talking about a completely different universe, so our current understanding of life would have no bearing on anything.

    So really all we're looking at is that if things had been different, then the universe would have been really, um, different. And that's not even interesting, let alone proof of anything.
  • by bitingduck (810730) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @01:26AM (#11273079) Homepage
    This means the Big Bang was "tuned" to produce exactly this density

    Actually, if you go and look at the published, refereed technical paper (the first one at WMAP papers [nasa.gov] you'll see that the most probable value for Omega_total is 1.02+-.02. This is consistent with a flat universe (1.0), but is also consistent with a closed, large radius of curvature universe. Other experiments produce similar values (some referenced in the paper), also slightly greater than one but with error bars that include 1.0.

    It always makes me cringe a little when people stand up and show data plots of the various cosmological parameters that are consistent with flat, but also consistently tend towards very large radius closed, and then declare the universe to be flat. And I've been at a lot of those talks. I'm fine with them saying "It's nearly flat" or "it's got such a large radius that we can treat it as flat for most purposes" or "it's flat enough to be consistent with inflation", but it's not convincingly dead-ass flat. The data always seem to be centered around "very-nearly-flat-but-closed"

    I was talking to a cosmologist friend about this, and his comment was "Yeah, but it would be perverse if the universe were that close to flat, but not really flat". To which my reply is "The universe is a perverse place-- it doesn't have to be flat just to make the mathematical description pretty". Life as an experimenter is way more fun when the data give you those tiny deviations from the theory-- they're often real, and they're hinting at something missing from the theory.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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