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October 2017

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talking sense

Talking to my Dad

I was talking to my dad this morning and mentioned this discussion I was having over in the _wicca_ community with fatpie42.

I mentioned the debate between Stephen Fry, Christopher Hitchens, Anne Widdecombe, and Archbishop John Onaiyekan. Particularly the part when Christopher Hitchens said "If the Catholic Church isn't always right what good is it." My Father pointed out that the same thing could be said about Science. I was happy! A few months ago I tried to make that point at a gathering down at the Serverson's and I felt like an Atheist who had wondered into a Baptist picnic. Everyone jumped on me to explain why Science was always right.

The point I was trying to make is that Science is always right today. Today Science has the Truth and can prove it and anyone who doesn't believe it is an idiot. But they don't seem to remember that today's Proven Truth is tomorrow's Discredited Theory that you would have to be an idiot to believe.

Anyway, it was really nice to find out that my Dad understands what I'm talking about.

Comments

*ears perk*

Which discussion was this? I remember the debate about how much effect the Catholic Church had on scientific progress in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. What your argument boiled down to was "There can be no scientific progress if there is no middle class, therefore any regression of science is the fault of the economy." Wolf and I didn't agree with this, but our examples were outside the time period in question, so they couldn't be used.

I've noticed that sometimes with such debates, the point is lost in the minutae of the argument itself. If you had said "Science is right TODAY because...", it might have made a difference. Then again, it might not have. There. My unsolicited advice for today. Don't get lost in the minutae of the argument, because then you will lose your point too. (^_^)

Re: *ears perk*

It wasn't this past visit, or that discussion. It was months ago when B&K and Kris were there.

""There can be no scientific progress if there is no middle class, therefore any regression of science is the fault of the economy." Wolf and I didn't agree with this,"

I didn't convince you! I thought I had :-( Oh well.

Re: *ears perk*

*chuckle*

Durning that discussion, we didn't agree with you. I am of the opinion that more research on my end is required before I can say "Yes, I agree" or "No, I don't, because..."

Your stance is one that is worth further investigation, which I will undertake when I can drag myself away from my various reading vices. (^_^)
Well, my quibble would be that science never claims to have the Truth, and if people think that, then they don't understand the difference between science and philosophy. A discredited theory would never have been called "proven truth" by a consensus of scientists. It might be called "The Standard Model" or something. Science isn't about truth, it's about explaining all the facts that we have at the time.

Which sounds like either a semantic way to disagree with you, but isn't, it's actually agreeing with you.

But yes, Hitchens is just as much an extremist as the worst fundamentalist in any of the religions he disparages, and I would also argue that the word "right" is just as tricky and misplaced in that context as Truth.
I'd go as far as to say that proper science has error-bars, and is conscious of them. I've seen some go as far as to say that one of the major differences between science and religion is that science embraces, studies, and quantifies doubt (aka error bars) while religion denies doubt. Granted, some of those who've said that are as anti-religion as Hitchens, and there is always something iffy about saying anything about religion as a while, but I do see their point.
What exactly is the difference between claiming that one is right and anyone who doesn't agree is wrong, and claiming that one has the truth?

It does sound like semantics to me.

The advocates of Science point out that Science will change it's position with new evidence. But in fact religions also change their beliefs over time.

I think the fact that Science and "Religion" are so frequently in conflict is further evidence that Science is a religion. Most religions have positions about food but you don't hear about "Religion vs Cooking". Science and Religion are in conflict because they are both trying to occupy the same place in the human mind.

The practice of the scientific method is not a religion any more than the practice of meditation is Buddhism. But that doesn't change the fact that there is a philosophy around Science that is sufficient to qualify as a religion.

The fact that the religion of Science has built it's identity around not being a "religion" is an accident of history but doesn't change the facts.
What exactly is the difference between claiming that one is right and anyone who doesn't agree is wrong, and claiming that one has the truth?

Maybe it seems like semantics to you, but I'd say there's a significant difference between "I think this is right and I'll work under the assumption that it's right until proven otherwise" and "this is the truth."

The scientific method is to form theories based on physical evidence and change those theories as the evidence changes. Religion is about believing things without evidence; that's what faith means. They're fundamentally different ways of looking at the world. I don't understand your argument that science is a "religion" at all, unless you're using "religion" to mean any body of things people think are true.
"unless you're using "religion" to mean any body of things people think are true."

Not exactly, I'm saying religion is the ordering system (nomos) the human mind uses to makes sense of the world around us. Not the "body of things people think are true" but "the way people explain to themselves what is true and what isn't". Our religion is how we evaluate truth.
I think "this is right" vs "this is the truth" is a distinction without a difference.
There is philosophy behind the practice of modern science.

And if explaining all the facts is not about truth then you must be using a strange new definition of truth that I have not previously been aware of. (OK I just wanted to use that line from HHGTG)

I think the whole "we aren't about truth we are just about data" argument is just sophistry.
But thinking of it as “Science” isn’t right. There really isn’t any such thing as “Science” in the sense you seem to be using it. Science is not analogous to religion and doesn’t actually have “Proven Truth”. The word “science” is really just a short-cut way of saying scientific method “, the very definition of which is investigating, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. Even the concept of gravity, though accepted as a law, would be revised if new data came to light. Unlike religion, science doesn’t claim to have “The Truth”, it just tries to find the facts.

the Religion of Science

See, there is where I disagree. I think there is such a thing as Science and it isn't the scientific method. It is a religious belief in the scientific world view. People who believe in Science do claim to have the truth. They claims that Science is "the search for truth" and religion is just "faith in falsehood".
"We might think that as inheritors of Modern Science and the Industrial Revolution, the modern Man of today will be more inclined to accept the standard tenets of Science than a bunch of loony fairy tales from a bygone past."