Well, all this is interesting to me, anyway, and that's what matters here. The Internet is a terrible thing for someone like me, who finds almost everything interesting.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Science vs feelings
I especially like this: "So if there's one thing that separates the scientists from the junk science 'feelie,' it's the battle of observation, measurement, and calculation against feelings, belief, and guesswork."
This video really struck me because I'm always hearing similar things from Christians. In fact, I just had an interesting, and rather pertinent, discussion with a believer which started from a YouTube comment.
I don't want to pick on him/her, because most Christians quickly run away from even discussing this stuff, and I respect anyone who cares enough about the truth to debate it. (Most of the time, I hear "Well, I don't care if it's true or not, because I wouldn't want to live in your world.")
But this guy (for convenience, I'll assume he's a guy) said he had "a lot" of good reasons for believing in God. I asked him for his best reason, because a million bad reasons would still be useless, while one really good reason would probably be sufficient.
What he gave me was several ways he thought science was wrong - mostly having to do with cosmology, but some arguments against evolution, too. But here's the deal: he's not a scientist. He just felt that those things couldn't be true. Oh, he had arguments. Indeed, he claimed that "scientific principles" proved he was right.
But why would you think that you'd just... idly thought of something that the entire scientific community had missed - indeed, a bunch of things they'd missed? If it were really that simple to disprove established science, don't you think that scientists would have already demonstrated that? After all, the best way to make a name for yourself in science is to show that other scientists are wrong.
Now, you might 'feel' that scientists are wrong, and you might even be able to justify that feeling to yourself. But science isn't based on feelings. It's based on observation, measurement, and calculation.
I'm not a scientist either, but even I could tell that he'd misunderstood the science in most of the examples he gave. Well, I've heard many Christian apologists misrepresent science to their flock. And to be charitable, maybe they're not actually lying, but are just really ignorant, themselves.
But heck, why would you think you knew enough to disprove science, especially when it's not even your field of expertise? Why would it even occur to you that you knew enough about it? Don't you know that science is based on demonstrable evidence from research which is confirmed by independent investigators? How do your feelings stack up against something like that?
Feelings aren't what scientists use to determine what's real and what isn't. They use evidence - evidence they can clearly demonstrate to other scientists. So if it really were this easy to show they were wrong, don't you think scientists would be the first to notice that?
Of course, as a proof for God, this was useless even if it had all been true. Scientists could be wrong about everything, and it still wouldn't get believers one step closer to evidence that a god exists.
'God' isn't the default. 'God' isn't the answer you get when you can't think of anything else. If you could somehow disprove evolution, or the Big Bang theory, or anything else in science, the best you could say would be "I don't know." Evidence that science is wrong is not evidence that a god did it.
To rationally believe in a god, you need to show evidence that that god exists, not that scientists are wrong about something. Indeed, I'm sure that scientists are wrong about some things. So what? Scientists never claim they can't be mistaken. But how is that evidence for a god? Even if you can't think of an alternative, that's still an argument from ignorance.
Getting back to the video, this shows how feelings mean nothing (well, not in this domain, at least). If you've got real evidence that scientists are wrong, you need to present that evidence to them in peer-reviewed scientific journals. If you don't have the education and the scientific background for that, then what makes you think you're qualified to argue against the scientific consensus in the first place?
After all, anyone can claim anything, especially if it's on the basis of feelings. But why should we give their feelings about how the world must work any consideration at all without evidence? Most likely, they're just ignorant about science and/or too eager to believe what they want to believe.
This video clip demonstrates that pretty well, I'd say.
I'm a skeptic. I think it makes sense to have reasons for what I believe, so I apportion my belief to the evidence. You're welcome to disagree. Please, tell me I'm wrong. I probably don't agree with anyone about everything. Why should disagreement be a problem? Check the Pages section below for series posts and links to book reviews and game posts, as well as contact info. Unfortunately, I rarely blog at all, anymore. So don't expect new posts. - Bill
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. - Robert Wilensky
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
No matter how many times a theory meets its tests successfully, there can be no certainty that it will not be overthrown by the next observation. This, then, is a cornerstone of modern natural philosophy. It makes no claim of attaining ultimate truth. In fact, the phrase "ultimate truth" becomes meaningless, because there is no way in which enough observations can be made to make truth certain and, therefore, "ultimate". - Isaac Asimov
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. - Bertrand Russell
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
This is not about proof. Science does not use proof. We favor evidence, and the work consists largely of the slow accumulation of evidence in support of ideas, not magically potent proofs that establish an idea as unassailable. - PZ Myers
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. - President Barack Obama
The formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat. - Shekhar Gupta
We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. - Carl Sagan
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. - Sam Harris
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. - Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in 1553
Democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can't take root. - Thomas L. Friedman
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason. - Thomas Macauley, 1830
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. - Edward R. Murrow
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best - that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. - Thomas Huxley
There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. ... Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. - President Thomas Jefferson
To be elected in America, no matter from what party, the candidates have no choice but to year after year pledge to lower taxes further and further. We have become the nation of Ken and Barbie, looking good but very poor at the math. - Rack Jite
Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them. - Steve Eley
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle. - Molly Ivins
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. - H. L. Mencken
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill