Religious Doctrine and Scientific Law

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Coloradomtnman, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    If I wanted to learn about the Bible, or the Quran, the Torah, the Baghavad Gita, the I Ching, I would consult a priest, reverend, minister, preacher, Bible school teacher, Imam, Rabi, Sadhu, or Professor of Religious Studies. I would consult with people who have made a career or lifestyle out of studying a religious discipline.

    However, if I wanted to learn about observable reality I would consult a scientist.

    Why, then, do religious people, who have little training in science, claim to know things about science which simlpy aren't true? For example:

    Fundamentalists believe that a theory is a hypothesis with some evidence which supports it. Whereas scientific law is a theory which hasn't been proven to be false. Let me just put the following article from Scientific Hypothesis, Theory, Law Definitions in here-

    "Words have precise meanings in science. For example, 'theory', 'law', and 'hypothesis' don't all mean the same thing. Outside of science, you might say something is 'just a theory', meaning it's supposition that may or may not be true. In science, a theory is an explanation that generally is accepted to be true. Here's a closer look at these important, commonly misused terms.

    Hypothesis
    A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

    Example: If you see no difference in the cleaning ability of various laundry detergents, you might hypothesize that cleaning effectiveness is not affected by which detergent you use. You can see this hypothesis can be disproven if a stain is removed by one detergent and not another. On the other hand, you cannot prove the hypothesis. Even if you never see a difference in the cleanliness of your clothes after trying a thousand detergents, there might be one you haven't tried that could be different.

    Theory
    A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis.

    Example: It is known that on June 30, 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, there was an explosion equivalent to the detonation of about 15 million tons of TNT. Many hypotheses have been proposed for what caused the explosion. It is theorized that the explosion was caused by a natural extraterrestrial phenomenon, and was not caused by man. Is this theory a fact? No. The event is a recorded fact. Is this this theory generally accepted to be true, based on evidence to-date? Yes. Can this theory be shown to be false and be discarded? Yes.

    Law
    A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'.

    Example: Consider Newton's Law of Gravity. Newton could use this law to predict the behavior of a dropped object, but he couldn't explain why it happened.

    As you can see, there is no 'proof' or absolute 'truth' in science. The closest we get are facts, which are indisputable observations. Note, however, if you define proof as arriving at a logical conclusion, based on the evidence, then there is 'proof' in science. I work under the definition that to prove something implies it can never be wrong, which is different. If you're asked to define hypothesis, theory, and law, keep in mind the definitions of proof and of these words can vary slightly depending on the scientific discipline. What is important is to realize they don't all mean the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. "

    The perfect analogy for this is evolution. Fundamentalists incorrectly believe that evolution is a theory. Evolution isn't a theory, its an observation. One of the theories to explain evolution is Natural Selection. Evolution is a scientific fact because there isn't any observations in biology which contradict evolution. There have been, however, many observations of evolution occurring:

    Fossil evidence

    Homologies

    Distribution in time and space

    Evidence by example

    To deny evolution is on par with denial that the Earth is round, or that the Earth rotates around the Sun.

    So, for those who have faith in a creator, fine. But realize that when you speak about science, you need to get that information from scientists and not a your place of worship. If only because of ulterior motives: preachers preach to convert (or make) believers, and scientists are searching for truth because human beings are curious. Not that scientists are infallible but at least they have to back up what they claim with evidence.

    This is why atheists are bitter and why Christians in the US seem to think that atheists are attacking them. Its not an attack, its a preemptive strike or a retaliation. Scientific facts, laws, and theories aren't attacks. Claiming that evolution is a theory, is an attack.
     
  2. AllieBaba
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    AllieBaba BANNED

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    "Why, then, do religious people, who have little training in science, claim to know things about science which simlpy aren't true?"

    I love it when a Christian hater starts right out with a bigoted broadbrush statement. Religious people have the same training in science that everybody else does, and we are well represented in the scientific community.


    "Fundamentalists believe that a theory is a hypothesis with some evidence which supports it."

    Link? Evidence? Reference?

    "A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it."

    So what you are saying is that evolution is a theory. Which is what we say.
     
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  3. PeterS
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    PeterS Active Member

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    The assumption is made because all religion is centered around irrationalism and all science is centered around rationalism. The statement is neither broad brushed nor bigoted though I do find it funny that you think you are well represented by irrational rationalists
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2009
  4. del
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    del BANNED

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    no, claiming evolution is theory is a statement of fact. that some religious people don't understand the scientific definition of theory is also a fact, as is that there are plenty of non-atheist/agnostic scientists. like me, for example.

    the problem arises when the above are misunderstood and conflated. certainly there are people, Christians among them, who deny evolution.
    there are also people who think evolution theory is also intended as an explanation of the origins of OUR species. it's not.

    darwin was a scientist who held off publishing his theory for twenty years while he sought evidence to strengthen his argument for natural selection.

    i think god approves. theoretically, at least.
     
  5. xsited1
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    xsited1 Agent P

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    Just a couple things:

    Because there are a lot of scientists that are religious and a lot of religious people that know a lot about science.

    Uh, no. We can directly observe that the Earth is round (well, almost round). We can infer that the theory of evolution is correct based on current evidence.

    One of the biggest problems I see in the Scientific Community today is that many are too arrogant to admit that some theories may be incomplete or even incorrect. That takes a lot of faith.
     
  6. Amanda
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    Amanda Calm as a Hindu cow

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    If you want to learn about God try being as nice as you possibly can for a day. Go out of your way to make everyone else's day a special day they will remember. Hold doors, let someone in front of you in traffic, whatever, just be as nice as you possibly can. And don't think of it as an exercise... BE the love you are trying to project into the world. Try to see the beauty and wonder in the every day things around you... it's there, just look.

    If you like how it feels, and I hope you would, try it again the next day. Make it a habit. Make it how you embrace the world. Watch your life change, miraculously, in front of your own eyes.

    If you do this, really, really do this, you will come to know God, even if you don't recognize it as such or call it by the same name.
     
  7. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    Some years ago I was part of a group of people holding a particular office that had a meeting with a medical research scientist concerning AIDS and how it could be contracted. I stress this was about 1985 or so.

    During the discussion the scientist person stated, categorically, that AIDS could not be contracted via saliva. I took issue with him. I suggested to him that science could only tell us what was, not what wasn't or couldn't be. He looked at me like I was an idiot (and that's not an invitation for comments supporting him). I told him - politely - that he was unintentionally misleading us because he was trying to convince us that science could do something that it couldn't.
     
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  8. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    I don't know what makes you think that I'm an impolite person. I try everyday to be kind, thoughtful, and generous. I try to be patient. I love mornings, and chirping birds, and beautiful sunsets. I love trees swaying in the wind.

    What that has to do with this thread, I don't know.
     
  9. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    Sorry, let me qualify that: SOME religious people...

    Exsited, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken about evolution. It is a fact. We can directly observe evolution: cancer, domestication of animals, pet breeding, congenital birth defects, agricultural practices when it comes to growing crops, why individuals are all very different from each other. And there are a lot of other examples that I can't think of just now.

    Natural Selection is a theory to explain evolution. There is a lot of evidence that we see that allows us to infer that this theory is accurate, but it may be incorrect and its isn't proven as scientific fact. However, evolution is scientific fact.
     
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  10. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    Sorry, del, you're mistaken: Evolution Through Natural Selection is a theory to explain evolution which is a directly observable scientific fact.

    I should've clarified and wrote some religious people and not implied that ALL religious people know nothing about science. Hell, throw non-religious people in there too, cause there are plenty of them who don't know much about science.
     

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