The New "Religion Vs Science" Thread


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The Wastelands
Dec 4, 2017 - 11:41am PT

The Case for Not Being Born

via David Benatar

Fructose, thank you for suggesting this book, I downloaded it yesterday on my Kindle
and have done a quick read, brilliantly written and reasoned, agree 100% with the core

Social climber
Dec 4, 2017 - 12:27pm PT
Erin Thompson, Curating Guantanamo

Credit: xCon
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Dec 4, 2017 - 03:52pm PT
Cool, Norton!


The Abuse of Physics by Theists and Spiritualists...

Victor Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis (2007) was a particle phyicist.

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 4, 2017 - 06:20pm PT
If praying worked, the effects would be objectively observed. They are not. Let me then summarize the god models that are inconsistent with scientific observations.

Inconsistent Gods

A personal God who has given humans immortal souls fails to agree with the empirical facts that human thoughts, memories, and personalities are governed by physical processes in the brain, which dissolves upon death. No nonphysical or extra-physical powers of “mind” can be found and no evidence exists for an afterlife.

A personal God whose interactions with humans include miraculous interventions such as those reported in scriptures is contradicted by the lack of independent evidence for the alleged miraculous events.

A cosmic God who fine-tuned the laws and constants of physics for life, in particular human life, fails to agree with the fact that the universe is not congenial to human life, being tremendously wasteful of time, space, and matter from the human perspective. It also fails to agree with the fact that the universe is mostly composed of particles in random motion, with complex structures such as galaxies forming less than four percent of the total mass of the universe.

A personal God who communicates directly with humans by means of revelation fails to agree with the fact that no scientifically verifiable new information has ever been transmitted while many wrong and harmful doctrines have been asserted by this means. No claimed revelation contains information that could not have been already in the head of the person making the claim. Furthermore, physical evidence now conclusively demonstrates that some of the most important biblical narratives, such as the Exodus, never took place.

A personal God who is the source of morality and human values does not exist since the evidence shows that humans define morals and values for themselves. This is not “relative morality.” Believers and nonbelievers alike agree on a common set of morals and values. Even the most devout decide for themselves what is good and what is bad and even judge much of what is approved in scriptures as immoral, such as genocide, slavery, and the oppression of women. Nonbelievers behave no less morally than believers.

A personal God who is omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent does not exist because it is logically inconsistent with the existence of evil, in particular, gratuitous suffering (standard problem of evil).

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 4, 2017 - 06:27pm PT
What If?

The existence of the God worshiped by most Jews, Christians, and Muslims not only lacks supporting empirical evidence but is even contradicted by such evidence. However, it need not have turned out that way. Things might have been different, and this is important to understand as it justifies the use of science to address the God question and refutes the frequently heard statement that science can say nothing about God. If scientific observations had confirmed at least one model god, those believers who make that statement would quickly change their tune. Even the most skeptical atheists would have to come around and admit that there might be some chance that God exists. This has not happened.

Consider the following hypothetical events that, had they occurred, would have favored the God hypothesis. Readers are invited to think of their own similar “might have been” scenarios. While not necessarily proving the existence of God, they would at least lend some credence to traditional beliefs that currently does not exist.

Hypothetical Observations

Evidence was found that falsified evolution. Fossils might have been discovered that were inexplicably out of sequence. Life forms might not have all been based on the same genetic scheme. Transitional species might not have been observed. As actually thought at the time of Darwin, the age of the sun could have proved too short for evolution. The discovery of nuclear energy changed that, showing that, fueled by nuclear fusion, the sun will last ten billion years—ample time for life to evolve.

Human memories and thoughts might have provided evidence that cannot be plausibly accounted for by known physical processes. Science might have confirmed exceptional powers of the mind that it could not be plausibly explained physically.

Science might have uncovered convincing evidence for an afterlife. For example, a person who had been declared dead by every means known to science might return to life with detailed stories of an afterlife that were later verified. For example, she might meet Jimmy Hoffa who tells her where to find his body.

Similarly, any claim of a revelation obtained during a mystical trance could contain scientifically verifiable information that the subject could not possibly have known.

Physical and historical evidence might have been found for the miraculous events and the important narratives of the scriptures. For example, Roman records might have been found for an earthquake in Judea at the time of a certain crucifixion ordered by Pontius Pilate. Noah’s Ark might have been discovered. The Shroud of Turin might have contained genetic material with no Y-chromosomes. Since the image is that of a man with a beard, this would confirm he was born of a virgin. Or, the genetic material might contain a novel form of coding molecule not found in any other living organism. This would have proven an alien (if not divine) origin of the enshrouded being.

The universe might have been found to be so congenial to human life that it must have been created with human life in mind. Humans might have been able to move from planet to planet, just as easily as they now move from continent to continent, and be able to survive on every planet - even in space - without life support.

Natural events might follow some moral law, rather than morally neutral mathematical laws. For example, lightning might strike only the wicked; people who behave badly might fall sick more often; nuns would always survive plane crashes.

Believers might have had a higher moral sense than nonbelievers and other measurably superior qualities. For example, the jails might be filled with atheists while all believers live happy, prosperous, contented lives surrounded by loving families and pets.

Miracles are observed. For example, prayers are answered; an arm or a leg is regenerated through faith healing.

But none of this has happened. Indeed, the opposite is true in some cases, such as an abnormally low number of atheists in jail. Every claim of a supernatural event has proved false. The hypothesis of God is not confirmed by the evidence. Indeed, that hypothesis is strongly contradicted by the observations of our senses and the instruments of science.


see also

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Dec 5, 2017 - 06:40am PT
Malemute: If praying worked, the effects would be objectively observed.

Only if praying were oriented to changing the universe, externally.

I'll suggest to you that if you change your mind, how you see your world will change, and that means that your world will change.

I think your view of the initial purpose of religion is biased. But, it's a question of mind, isn't it?
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Dec 5, 2017 - 06:42am PT
Excellent point MikeL and well made.


Dec 5, 2017 - 07:26am PT
I think your view of the initial purpose of religion is biased. But, it's a question of mind, isn't it?

No .... Malemute's heart is cold.

That's why his mind is closed and turned into dead stone .....
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 08:40am PT
No .... heart is cold. -Werner Braun

Hindu abuse.

In Hinduism violence (himsa) not only means injuring or hurting others through force but also causing disturbances within oneself or others through intentional mental actions. Use of thoughts, desires and words [and posts?] to hurt or harm others also comes under the perview of the definition. Willful inaction [failure to educate oneself?] that results in hurting others or causing them pain and suffering is also considered violence.

Speaks volumes, I think.

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 01:01pm PT
Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 01:39pm PT
Pope suggests it's better to be an atheist than a bad Christian

Pope Francis: God is real, too many Christians are fake,_too_many_christians_are_fake/1210574

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:03pm PT
Multiple Gods & Religions Are a Reason Not to Believe in Any Gods, Religions

Second, when we look at the great diversity of religions we should notice that they are all incompatible.
To put it simply: they can't all be true, but they can all be false.
Some try to get around this by saying that they all teach "higher truths" that are compatible,
but this is a cop-out because adherents of these religions don't follow simply these alleged "higher truths,"
they follow the empirical claims being made. Those empirical claims of all these religions can't all be true.
They can, however, all be false.

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:08pm PT
A much better explanation can be derived by taking seriously the existence of the thousands and thousands of religions. It is not a side-effect; it is the key. Taking this fact seriously means looking for an explanation of religion that has as a consequence the fact that there should be thousands and thousands of religions. We need look only as far as evolutionary theory. There are thousands and thousands of religions because being religious is an evolutionary adaptation. Evolution produces lots of variation within the parameters of a given type of adaptation (there is a huge variety of feathers, for example). If religions were or are doing something positive for human well-being and psychology (even if religions cause many serious problems) then religiosity will be preserved. But if the religious details don’t matter, then evolutionary theory predicts that there will be thousands of religions. Which is in fact what we see.

Consider an apt analogy—language. All people speak a language—no matter how isolated. Language evolved from animal communication. All living things communicate. But only humans use language. At least that is the current view. Note that there are and have been thousands of languages on planet Earth. Why the vast number of languages? The answer is that the details of the language spoken are not relevant to communication. All that matters are that the sounds have meanings and follow a grammar of some sort. These are very loose constraints. Since the constraints on languages are so loose, languages vary wildly in their sounds, structures, and compositional meanings. This explains the large variation in languages. The same is true of religion. Religions are like languages. Religions are an evolutionary adaptation primarily for keeping groups and tribes together. This job can be accomplished in a huge variety of ways. And that’s why there are so many religions.

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:22pm PT
Is Science a Religion?

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:30pm PT
So religions give us a club to belong to, and people to discriminate against. A moment’s reflection will reveal that these “gifts” are deadly in this age of one world of over 7 billion people all with immediate resource needs, all connected by travel and electricity, and all with easy access to money and weapons, some of which are nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons able to kill thousands upon thousands. Nothing in any religion says “Hold back” – at least not in practice. Christianity says “Love your neighbor just like you love yourself,” (Mark 12:31) but is noticeably silent on who is one’s neighbor (arguably one’s neighbor must be nearby), and of course, in practice, Christianity has been the greatest engine of torture, death, and destruction. Talk is cheap. It is actions that matter, and religiously promulgated actions are usually horrific.

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:34pm PT
So I want to talk about:
1. Why atheists are angry;
2. Why our anger is valid, valuable, and necessary;
And 3. Why it's completely f*#ked-up to try to take our anger away from us.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:34pm PT
There is no great and no small
To the soul that maketh all:
And where it cometh,all things are
And it cometh everywhere.

I am owner of the sphere
Of the seven stars and the solar year
Of Caesar's hand, and Plato's brain,
Of Lord Christ's heart, and Shakespeare's strain.


Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:37pm PT

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:38pm PT
Religion is ultimately dependent on belief in invisible beings, inaudible voices, intangible entities, undetectable forces, and events and judgments that happen after we die.

It therefore has no reality check.

And it is therefore uniquely armored against criticism, questioning, and self- correction. It is uniquely armored against anything that might stop it from spinning into extreme absurdity, extreme denial of reality... and extreme, grotesque immorality.

Ice climber
great white north
Dec 5, 2017 - 02:44pm PT
Thus, any effort to rationally determine which is the true religion is doomed before it begins. The rules of scientific analysis are stymied by a barrier of faith, and any honest seeker after truth is trapped, hopelessly mired in a swamp of religious confusion. And even if we could somehow overcome the barrier of faith – even if we really did have some way to objectively determine which religions were true and which were false – what guarantee would we have that there would be anything left at the end? We might methodically cut away the thicket of false religions only to find that we had eliminated all of them and had nothing left over. In that case, the true “religion” would be atheism. The religions on this planet cannot all be right – but they could all be wrong!

No religion is different from all the rest. No religion stands out from the crowd. How can we even begin to sort through this mess? It is impossible. Even if we confine ourselves to those religions which anchor themselves in the facts, it would take a lifetime of study to make a comprehensive survey of the evidence for the claims of even one – never mind thousands – and almost no one attempts even that much, even for their belief system of choice. It is simply too much, too hard, to ask human beings with their brief lifespans of threescore and ten years to make this choice. There are too many options, too much confusion, too many religions competing and no way to discriminate among them. Their similarities are so similar, and their differences so different, that there is no good reason to prefer any one over all the others. Anyone who picks one religion is doing little more than guessing.

This is why the followers of any religion should be sunk in despair. Much like the hapless mark who completely loses track of the pea and picks a shell at random, they are making a decision based on guesswork (or upbringing, or a desire to belong, or any one of a hundred other reasons that are logically irrelevant to the truth of a particular belief system). But if this decision is the wrong one, it could well cost them their immortal soul. How could anyone function like that, living with the threat of eternal punishment constantly hanging over their head? How could a theist not be tortured by doubt every waking moment? Why are they not obsessed with worry that they chose wrongly and are widening the rift between themselves and the true god(s) every day? (As Homer Simpson once said, “What if we picked the wrong religion? Every time we go to church we’re just making God madder and madder!”)

Assumption (1): God exists.
Assumption (1a): God desires that people be aware of his existence.
Assumption (1b): God desires that people worship him in specific ways.
Assumption (1c): God has the ability to make his presence obvious and explain clearly what he desires.
Premise (2): God’s presence is not obvious in the world.
Premise (3): Many people do not believe in God because of a lack of evidence.
Premise (4): Many people who do believe in God do not agree on what he desires, because of a lack of evidence.
Premise (5): For God to make his presence obvious and explain his desires would remedy both (3) and (4), without having any significant negative side effects.
Conclusion (6): If God exists, he would make his presence obvious in the world and explain what he desires. (from (1),(5))
Contradiction: But no such thing has happened. (from (2))
Conclusion (7): God does not exist. (from (6),(2))
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