Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Hebrews 1:3
Jan 12, 2014 - 01:31pm PT
I'm no saint just a sinner saved! :)

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jan 12, 2014 - 02:07pm PT
It is just a method..the best method that we have for sorting the truth from the un-truth.

You're skating on this one.

Let me put it simply:

Every "method" in any mode has it's limitations. What do you see as the limitations of science (quantifying) in investigating reality?

If you answer is "none," than you have just described scientism, ergo it "exists."

What's more, you have described a "method" that has no limitation.

I'm not ascribing religious stuff to this method, only pointing out that some people need absolutes, or to put all of their faith in some person, place or thing (method) as being the infallible end-all. In the past, the infallible end-all was God. I'm not saying science has the devotional aspect of old-time religion, or that it is worshiped as a deity, only that in some hands it is given a kind of favored nations authority over the whole shooting match, with those holding this view insisting the only alternative is "magic." This slight-of-hand can only be accomplished by conflating the subjective and experiential with the objective, insisting they are selfsame.

The subject of conflation is the linchpin here because that's where most materialists really get their wires crossed, needing as they do to stick to an absolutist materialism, whereas material is believed to source, give rise to, birth or otherwise create all reality.

Until you go back far enough, then the material is believed to have be created out of nothing.


Boulder climber
Jan 12, 2014 - 02:25pm PT

Oh Tom, See what you have done? Once you mention the possibility that some energy fields have consciousness you open Pandora's Box and these guys go bananas with the toys that pop out!

But you have given this thread a new lease on life.


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Jan 12, 2014 - 02:37pm PT
I mentioned magic. And religion. And Largo, all in the same post. As above he continues to assert there is a realm beyond the reach of some thing he calls scientism. He asserts this is the realm of religion and then bucks violently when he gets lumped in with the Praise the Lord network.

He's saying his realm of magic can never be measured by science and only he and those who follow his internal path can possibly find the door.

That sounds like religion to me and he sounds like a preacher man to me. Sorry Largo, I am speaking from my heart on this.

And Werner I don't blame you for not wanting to be lumped in... you shouldn't be. I think your perspective stands alone and I always consider it. As I do Largos and MikeLs and Jans and HFCS and JGills and many others. Individuals, rather pleasant personas on the internet over all, engaged in dialogue about the eternal questions of existence.

As opposed to heated rants and constant malevolent antagonism, for example... not to mention (cough cough) any particular names.


Sport climber
Jan 12, 2014 - 02:59pm PT
A quite cool and down to earth article about mindfulness and meditation: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/11/julie-myerson-mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy

Jan 12, 2014 - 03:10pm PT
My Second Lecture (same WARNING!!)

When Einstein was developing General Relativity (GR) he probably did not give much thought to hidden dimensions. GR has been successful at explaining and predicting features of the 3-space plus time continuum we appear to inhabit. Thanks to the power of math, though, GR can work for other possibilities. In the first of her talks at CERN that jstan linked, Lisa Randall said that GR will work, "for any number of dimensions." In the context of her talk she probably meant more than 3 dimensions, but what about fewer than 3? If n = 0 GR may have nothing to work on. I have no idea about n = 1, but for n = 2 I think the question of GR is not resolved, but it seems that a universe of 2 spatial and one time dimensions would make an interesting comparison to our own.


General Relativity is beyond me. The question I have about a 2D+1 universe is; how many semicircular canals would be needed for an organism to correctly sense head rotations? Our own 3 semicircular canals are mutually perpendicular like the axes of a cartesian coordinate system.

early primate

(Lisa Randall also said that according to GR empty space is flat. Is the geometry of our semicircular canals saying something about the space between our ears?)

If we had only 2 canals then there would be an axis around which rotation could not be sensed. Since the head can pitch, roll, or yaw, it needs a way to resolve the direction and magnitude of any rotation into those 3 components. Two canals would not be able to do that in 3-space. In 2-space, two canals could not be perpendicular to each other and furthermore there could be no rotation outside the plane. It still may be necessary to have 2 canals to resolve a point in the plane around which the head rotates. For organisms living in a 2D world the question is the same as for us: through what angle and at what speed must I counter-rotate my eyes to compensate for a particular head rotation?

The Planiverse
A. K. Dewdney
includes a contribution from Roger Penrose on a way to change gear speeds in the absence of an axle!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jan 12, 2014 - 03:21pm PT
scientists generally accept the existence of fields extending through all of spacetime...gravity, light, electromagnetism (standard high school physics)

Tesla was studying fields of energy at various resonances, leading to a lot of modern technology

am i properly understanding developments in physics/cosmology, that 'empty' space is also highly energetic in a balanced state?

and the observable universe represents a very small percentage of this energetic 'empty' space (aka black energy/black matter, aka ether revisited?)?

so consider scientists discovering a balanced highly energetic field extending through all of matter, space and time...

hmmm...consider a person resonating in tune with this balanced field


Jan 12, 2014 - 04:27pm PT
electromagnetism (standard high school physics)

Popular discussions of physics were unheard of forty years ago. That posts such as this can now be found is data suggesting ferment. In the presence of ferment even "standard high school physics" may be expected to be in flux. As it is.

am i properly understanding developments in physics/cosmology, that 'empty' space is also highly energetic in a balanced state?

The question cannot be answered without knowing what is meant by "balanced state". We have some idea of what an "equilibrium state" is. Extrinsic variables for a state in equilibrium are constant in time because two forces are in opposition. The equilibrium state is that state(s) at which the two opposing forces are equal.

I could be wrong but I think it was in Randall's third lecture on flavor that she made some comments on how Q/M and G/R can work together to yield a persistent state like that which we observe. Some of your questions cause me also to cite again Krauss's talk on "A Universe from Nothing". Versions subsequent to that of 2009 suggest a greater interest in String Theory, despite its implication that even our laws of physics are an accident. Randall's 3+1 model hopefully can help us avoid String Theory's anthropic solutions to all of our difficulties.

I would also encourage viewing of Leonard Susskind's classes on black holes and renormalization.
Youtube has made physics much more interesting now than it was 50 years ago. Fifty years ago when Quantum Electrodynamics had been solved but only a half dozen people were aware of this, the world was less engaging.

To avoid having to make another post a brief comment here on "meditation".

Beginning even before birth, humans are involved in a process called "learning". In that process the brain, a highly adaptive organ, is changed. Meditation is such an adaptive process. A few of us are so old we have used an analog voltmeter. If you remember there was a little screw near the needle's rotation axis. By turning it you could make the voltmeter read anything. This being the case you could not calibrate a meter using just another meter. You had to have an entirely different method of confirming the reading. Something like the National Bureau of Standards.

We make the same mistake when we take the brain as being self-referrential. When we teach the brain something, it can't tell us by itself what we have achieved. Self-referrential tests are no test.


Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jan 12, 2014 - 04:44pm PT
As above he continues to assert there is a realm beyond the reach of some thing he calls scientism. He asserts this is the realm of religion and then bucks violently when he gets lumped in with the Praise the Lord network.


You give me too much credit in insisting that I, Largo, have contrived the whole business of scientism. It's been a heated topic for decades. The fact that you insist that it does not exist is your right - just don't expect us to believe it.

The realm that is beyond the reach of quantifying is the experiential life you actually lead and live. It is not, as you mistakenly insist I am saying, a "realm of religion." Quite the opposite, your first person experiential life if the only reality that you directly know as a human being.

The "conflation myth" comes in when people insist that neurological activity IS experience, somewhat like insisting that a trumpet IS music.

More on this later.


Social climber
An Oil Field
Jan 12, 2014 - 06:13pm PT
"Love thy neighbor as thyself."

That is some good advice, and perhaps sociology would have something to say about it, but I consider it outside of the physical sciences.

The physical sciences are limited to nature. If it is supernatural, or perhaps along the lines of the quote above, I happily admit that science has little to do with it.

I really enjoy parts of the Bible. I rarely see the best parts mentioned first, though. Everyone is all hung up on accepting Christ as your lord and savior. I never got that part. Christ was supposedly the son of God, but hey, he isn't God. They should be accepting God.

My two cents on religion, which is worth less than two cents...

Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Jan 12, 2014 - 06:56pm PT
What can we know?

What limits our knowledge and understanding?

The simples answer is, our senses and the processing unit, the brain.

Evolution has only one purpose, to create the best organism for a given environment to pass the genetic code. Our senses help us to do just that. We can see or hear only a tiny portion of existing frequencies. We can recognize only four types of taste. The number of senses we have is limited too. Or the size of our body. Why? Because what we have is enough to pass the code, and anything more would be a waste of energy. We are optimal for the job.

Are humans “special” in the animal kingdom in terms of feelings and emotions?
No, we are not. Some animals have additional senses and can experience feelings from sonar-like organs or detection of magnetic fields. Emotions, such as love, altruism, jealousy, cheating, fairness, and more have been shown to exist across many species. Our lack of communication with those species precludes us from knowing their “thoughts”. Maybe some of them are spiritual, as Jan claims. We don’t know.

The obvious deference between us and other species is our ability to build tools to probe the material world. But, at the end, it is our brain that has to make sense of the data. And our brain has its limitations for the reasons I just mention. We can never understand what electron, or a magnetic field is. Or hot hot is the sun. Some of us can describe them using mathematics, but that’s it. It is just a description without any meaning.

Thus, I agree with MikeL that all we can ever know are relations between objects, but not the nature of those objets. A simple chair wold look differently to me than to a snake. Which perception of the said chair would be correct? Neither, of course. Which brings in question the existence of objective reality of the world.

That said, our senses assure us that the world is real, even if we don’t agree on its nature.

Our spiritual friends here tell us that our mind is capable of perceiving reality beyond our physical senses. The problem is, it can’t be described to us.

I take a leap of faith and believe you.
Can you then tell us in what way your understanding of the world is better than that of JGill, for example?


Mountain climber
Jan 12, 2014 - 07:18pm PT
Great article, even the mathematician can relate to Craig's arguments ...

Philosophy Now: a magazine of ideas

Problems of Belief & Unbelief

Does God Exist?

William Lane Craig says there are good reasons for thinking that He does.


Argument 3 of 8:

(III) God is the best explanation of the applicability of mathematics to the physical world.

Philosophers and scientists have puzzled over what physicist Eugene Wigner called “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics.” How is it that a mathematical theorist like Peter Higgs can sit down at his desk and, by pouring over mathematical equations, predict the existence of a fundamental particle which, thirty years later, after investing millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours, experimentalists are finally able to detect? Mathematics is the language of nature. But how is this to be explained? If mathematical objects like numbers and mathematical theorems are abstract entities causally isolated from the physical universe, then the applicability of mathematics is, in the words of philosopher of mathematics Mary Leng, “a happy coincidence.” On the other hand, if mathematical objects are just useful fictions, how is it that nature is written in the language of these fictions? The naturalist has no explanation for the uncanny applicability of mathematics to the physical world. By contrast, the theist has a ready explanation: When God created the physical universe He designed it in terms of the mathematical structure which He had in mind.

We can summarize this argument as follows:

1. If God did not exist, the applicability of mathematics would be just a happy coincidence.

2. The applicability of mathematics is not just a happy coincidence.

3. Therefore, God exists.


In summary, we’ve seen eight respects in which God provides a better account of the world than naturalism: God is the best explanation of

(I) Why anything at all exists.

(II) The origin of the universe.

(III) The applicability of mathematics to the physical world.

(IV) The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.

(V) Intentional states of consciousness.

(VI) Objective moral values and duties.


(VII) The very possibility of God’s existence implies that God exists.

(VIII) God can be personally experienced and known.

© Prof. William Lane Craig, 2013

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology, California, and founded the organization Reasonable Faith (please visit reasonablefaith.org). His book, A Reasonable Response, is due out soon, answering questions unbelievers and believers often pose.

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jan 12, 2014 - 08:37pm PT
"Can you then tell us in what way your understanding of the world is better than that of JGill, for example?"

I would never say that my understanding is better than that of jgill because I am not jgill and can never be. His mathematical understanding leads to convenient and also very dangerous technology while my humanistic and sociological understanding leads to human happiness and unhappiness in other ways.

Interestingly,despite our very different professions we share some similarities that others do not.We have both experimented a great deal with our minds in the realms normally designated as spiritual/psychic/supernatural. The difference is that he has decided these were purely internal events with material causes while I am more circumspect, unwilling to say what they were but only that they felt like they had an external source.


Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jan 12, 2014 - 08:50pm PT
Speaking of electromagnetic energy fields, senses other than the normal ones associated with our species, and what things feel like, I am still searching for what an MRI, acupuncture needles along the spinal meridians, and meditation have in common in relation to what the human body experiences.

The strongest altered state I have ever experienced in regard to what I assume are electro-magnetic forces, came from sitting at the head end of an MRI tube in order to talk to a very claustrophobic friend so he could endure being in there for an hour without a panic attack (among other things he was a large American man in a small Japanese machine). The moment they turned it on I was in an altered state and had a hard time talking which which wasn't real helpful to him.It went away again as soon as they turned it off.

A less strong effect was acupuncture needles placed on either side of my spine "for general well being". Needles placed in a different part of my back once brought on the painful feeling that corkscrews inside of tiny needles were being placed in me and after that I had childhood memories going back to ages 2-3.

Perhaps even more mysterious is how any of this can also happen during meditation without any physical props? We don't have to look to the universe to wonder about fields we don't understand, we don't even know our own physiology or the parameters of possibility therein.

Jan 12, 2014 - 09:03pm PT
The physical sciences are limited to nature.


And the spiritual science is the unlimited to everything .....

Jan 12, 2014 - 11:11pm PT
DMT: Humanity will be come god.

You really mean this, or is this another hyperbolic fiat? (BTW, my notion of God would be beyond pictures or concepts.)

Jstan: When we teach the brain something, it can't tell us by itself what we have achieved.

Anthropomorphizing is a misattribution. Brains don't tell us anything. Minds make observations, minds come up with theories, and minds postulate. Minds prove absolutely nothing. Can't be done. One can only show another theory to be less fitting to observations than another.

Folks, we could show more understanding of how the scientific method works and its assumptions.

Andrzej reminds us that knowledge is limited by sensory observations and the cognitive ability to construct understanding. (Cheers.) He then writes: ". . . then tell us in what way your understanding of the world is better than that of JGill, for example?"

I think Andrzej is really referring to knowledge, not understanding. Understanding comes in many forms, some of which one is not conscious of--nor could one explicate and articulate it. Knowledge belongs to consciousness, as it always relies upon concepts. Understanding, on the other hand, could go well beyond concepts, though, and if it could, then one could not articulate what the understanding would be. This means there could be "being" beyond consciousness. I'm not talking about non-concepts, either (as an opposite of concepts), since that references concepts (and hence must be conceptual).

What is beyond conceptualization? (One can't conceptualize his or her way through that problem.) Randisi suggests going to Merleau-Ponty or perhaps Heidegger, but these too are conceptual thinkers. Most folks are so wrapped up into a mental-rational, scientific, material point of view that the point of view is all they are aware of.

Could it be possible that materialism and concepts are all that there is? Wouldn't that limit existence (the universe, reality) to concepts and observations? If reality or the universe cannot be properly observed or conceptualized, does that mean it doesn't or can't exist?

Look where "things" don't exist. Drop the subject and its objects. This isn't about God or religion. It's about transcending one's inherent (or at least socialized and institutionalized) limitations.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Jan 12, 2014 - 11:38pm PT
You really mean this, or is this another hyperbolic fiat? (BTW, my notion of God would be beyond pictures or concepts.)

Hyperbolic fiat? We continue our presumption, eh teach?

And yes I really mean this. Life's job is to create life. God's child's job is to create god. Silly. And my notion of god goes beyond pictures and concepts.


Jan 12, 2014 - 11:43pm PT
God can not be created ever.

Absolutely impossible.

Anything created is not God but his expansion/s ........

Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Jan 13, 2014 - 12:18am PT
MikeL, I did mean understanding. That is what I am looking for. If I understand you correctly, you want to go (already did?) beyond that? What are you searching for?


Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Jan 13, 2014 - 12:24am PT
He's not searching for anything.... the world is perfect, remember?

Then meditation is just an escape. So are alcohol and drugs.

Is it?

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