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Do You Believe In Scientism?

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by AV1611VET, May 6, 2021.

Do you believe in scientism?

  1. Yes

    5.3%
  2. Mostly

    5.3%
  3. Somewhat

    31.6%
  4. No

    57.9%
  1. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Non-overlapping magisteria? A lot of people would agree that each area has their particular methods. However, there seems no reason that science doesn't apply in all areas - depending how you define science (today many people define it in such a way as to be applicable to every area, which I would tend to agree with). That is, other areas can have their methods, but if they clearly contradict knowledge from Science, then that knowledge is false (such as in Religion).
     
  2. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    This obviously shows that assumptions related to circles are involved. In my mind, this would tend to make QM suspect of over simplicity. Why particularly circles when there are an infinite possible number of other functions (actually a relation in the case of a circle) that could be considered? How likely is an idealized simple shape like a circle the true shape involved in nature? I falls in the category of why assume Euclidean geometry rather than some other form? Probably because it is much easier to consider in developing a mathematics. As long as it took humans to create consistent mathematics with Euclidean geometry, they are relatively simple compared to constructing more complex geometries - hence a stepping stone. I wonder if anyone has developed say a fractal version of QM? I've never seen such a thing described but no reason why it couldn't be.
     
  3. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    There is definitely overlap. Particularly if you define Christianity as including ancient cosmology. I don’t. But even without that, there are often pieces of evidence from several sources that you want to look at. Those sources may use different methods.
     
  4. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Are you a theistic evolutionist?
     
  5. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I guess. I accept that evolution occurred. I’m not sure quite how theistic is relevant. I don’t stick that adjective in front of other scientific fields. I don’t see how God is more responsible for evolution than anything else.
     
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  6. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Theistic just refers to god having something to do with it, is personal, has traditional attributes that Christian theology attributed to god etc. That is, god was a necessary part of the process in some way as compared to a scientific explanation that conceives of the process occurring purely naturally with no god or god(s) in the explanation.

    Does your view of god have the traditional Christian attributes associated with it (omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent etc.?)? If not, how do you conceive of god?

    Just trying to understand where you are coming from.
     
  7. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    To be honest, I don’t know God’s nature. Careful Christians have generally agreed, but then gone on to make claims don’t seem entirely consistent with that admission.

    From Scripture we see that God cares about us, that he is capable of interacting with humans and acting in our history. But when we get to the omni- words, questions start to arise. Does God know the future, and to what degree? That depends upon your theory of time, and how much God is within time. What does omnipotence mean, and how does it interact with human agency? These things make me wary of making claims based on philosophical concepts. I think a lot of Christians feel, without quite saying it clearly, that God plans things in general terms, but does not determine every event.

    I would assume that God is responsible for the overall development of the universe and humanity. But I’m not prepared to go into much detail.
     
  8. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Okay. So do you tend to believe in human free will? By saying "overall development of the universe and humanity" would this be things like:
    1. Establish the basic laws that govern the universe such as basic constants of physics, fields (QED, Gravity, and Nuclear), and other fundamental entities?
    2. Support the on-going laws and fundamental aspects of physics?
    3. Somehow directs the outcomes of human natural events to specific ends in general rather than leaving it simply to chance or randomness?

    As far as the Bible - how accurate do you see it? What is your view of Jesus? Human and Divine? Do you allow for applying higher criticism to the Bible as any other ancient book?
     
  9. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Yes, but I don't think we have enough data to be specific. In particular, I have no idea what kind of environment God exists in, so there's no way to know what he is responsible for and what is just there.
    The Bible is a human work, assembled over hundreds of years. The NT intends to tell about Jesus, and also incorporates early letters giving advice on various topics. The OT is more varied. The core historical books are thought to have been edited during the Exile, with the goal of showing God's care for Israel and the reasons for the Exile, which are Israel's continuing pattern of rebellion. In my view the editors used a variety of traditional material. The earliest would have been only vaguely historical. The most recent probably had at least some records behind them. They also seem to have been interested in preserving traditional stories. There are a number of examples where they preserved alternative versions, which modern scholars assume developed in different communities. (The most obvious is the two creation stories, but there are other less obvious examples.)

    This means that historical accuracy has to be assessed separately for each book, and sometimes each section of a book. My guess is that the Synoptic tradition about Jesus is moderately accurate. Some material added to it is probably less so. John seems to be organized as brief accounts that probably come from reasonably good tradition, followed by theological reflections.

    Critical commentaries try to assess this, though it's hard to know just how accurately they do so.
     
  10. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    It sounds like you think similar to what I call myself, a philosophical impossibilist (my own term). I don't believe questions relating to traditional descriptions of god are possible to evaluate. How do you evaluate an actual infinite number of qualities, abilities, actions etc. in a finite amount of time (not to mention some of the issues you raised) especially when you don't even know what these are. A being with a very large number of these (but still finite) would be indistinguishable from a supposedly infinite being because there would be no way to distinguish. As you mentioned previous, which I agree with, "omni's" are more than a little problematic. However, unlike logical positivism, the issues can't simply be rendered meaningless by some sort of verification principle that can't pass its own criteria.

    It sounds like you accept historical and Biblical critical methods - which are basically a scientific approach within the limitations of evidence (and possibly any unwarranted assumptions that exist still hanging around from the past via religious influence) for doing history and written criticism. I would agree that each book has to be evaluated separately and that the historicity seems to tend to recede more to myth the earlier it is.

    Are you familiar with books by Bart Ehrman that talk about some of the supposed letters of Paul in the NT as forgeries? What are your thoughts on this?

    Have you read Dr. Richard Carrier's books Proving History and On The Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt. He tries to deal with the problem of the historical Jesus by suggesting a new approach that is more rigorous than previous literary analysis methods. Both are good reads, even if you don't agree with his conclusions (I'm not convinced by the mythicist position) and that his suggested improvements using mathematics are sufficient (especially from the problem with lack of evidence from more ancient times).

    You didn't answer the question about your view of Jesus - Human only or human & divine?
     
  11. Gene Parmesan

    Gene Parmesan Well-Known Member

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    Even though you and I have come to quite different conclusions, I want to say I like your line of reasoning. Humble and thoughtful. That's all.
     
  12. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Agreed. Don't often see this, or probably more accurate to say you rarely see this. "Humble and thoughtful" as you describe it.
     
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  13. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Ehrman yes, Carrier no. Ehrman starts off OK, but ends up trying to claim every book in the NT is inauthentic. I prefer to work with a broader consensus, which is that we have 7 authentic letters from Paul, others that are probably not, though there are reasonable arguments about Colossians. I’m skeptical about authorship for all the non-Pauline letters

    John’s are a special situation. Both the Gospel and the letters come from what looks like an ongoing Johannine tradition, but it’s not obvious that they actually claim to be written by the original disciple.

    Ehrman’s problem is that he’s stuck on an early 20th Cent theory that Jesus is a failed apocalyptic preacher. I think it’s pretty clear that he mostly preached that the Kingdom was present immediately in him, with some future elements that I’m not sure the Gospels preserve with complete accuracy. This goes back to the intro to the NT that he wrote when he was still a Christian. My impression from reading it was that he wasn’t using current historical Jesus scholarship.

    I’ve seen several new approaches that are more rigorous. Not Carrier's, but others. I haven’t seen any where the data is clear enough to support them. Generally I prefer to stick with middle of the road critical scholarship, people like James Dunn and the authors of commentaries in major series like the Anchor Bible or Hermeneia.
     
  14. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Yes, Carrier is not middle of the road. I don't think you have to go down the Jesus as myth road. However, I like the idea of trying to apply a more "decision theory" approach to the evidence than having people just focusing on their particular pet theory with the corresponding supporting evidence. Some of the scholars are definitely better as you indicate. However, an approach like Carriers would have the benefit of capturing the best of all scholarly aspects from particular elements of all the best scholarly ideas and schools. Carrier is definitely worth your time to read, although it sounds like you are well read and would not find his particular arguments too persuasive for a mythical Jesus.

    Have you ever seen a good treatment that Jesus may have been a failed Jewish rebel/political leader and that the gospels were an attempt to put a good spin on him two generations after he died for those remaining in the movement who didn't know much about the details of the founder? Especially Gentile followers. This would be in line with elements of your idea of kingdom immediately present in Jesus and elements of Ehrman's failed apocalyptic preacher. The idea being that Jesus had:
    1. Gone too far in his ministry, which which had become mainly political in opposition to Rome (or combination of political/apocalyptic through the idea of the Kingdom of god becoming immediately present), aroused the Romans and was crucified; (general reason for Roman crucifixion was political agitation, the story offered in the gospels for why he was crucified seems very implausible and is strongly doubted by scholarship today - at least in its redacted form)
    2. Two of his followers were probably crucified with him (some have taken this being hinted at in John and other early documents). The stories blaming the Jewish are most likely fictional because they don't make sense in terms of Jewish customs and how the material is presented in the gospels
    3. After his crucifixion, the sect went underground (as is implied anyway in the gospels and Acts) as not to arouse notice and further trouble with Rome rather than the Jews. There still could have been trouble with some mainstream Jewish religious leaders and people that aroused Paul's interest. Paul shows very little knowledge of the Jesus of the gospels (the person who was supposedly presented as an historical figure). Paul seems pretty consistent in his authentic letters that his conviction surrounding Jesus was mostly experiential. Paul's more mystical than historical Jesus definitely would have been difficult to reconcile with an earlier historical Jesus unless the letters of Paul were only selectively used - which again seems possible from evidence
    4. The more anti-Semitic tone of the gospels as they evolved over time was because of: a) More and more the sect moved away from the Christian sect's Jewish roots, and b)Presenting a positive view of the Romans to stay as far away from the original political Christian sect background who followed Jesus against Rome, as possible c) Have a convenient scapegoat to blame a fictional version of Jesus death to Gentile Roman Citizens, especially around A.D. 70 when the earliest gospels were probably written, Rome was dealing with the height of Jewish problem in Palestine. Jews were not popular. So become Roman loving Christian Jews.
    5. Jesus overall influence in history was very minor compared to people like John the Baptist and the Zealots. He was nothing more than a failed rebel/preacher who thought the kingdom of god had come through his ministry (that could have had certain apocalyptic elements) but was mainly rebellious and political in nature.
    6. It is interesting that we really have no other written material besides the letters of Paul from A.D. 30 -50 or any material at all for Jesus' life from about 4 B.C. to A.D. 30, that may have shown Jesus anti-Roman stance. The gospels also go out of their way to seem friendly to Rome - this is not how Jews thought of Roman occupation at this time. Was it hidden, lost or destroyed because it would have been very dangerous for the sect, especially around A.D. 70 with the problems with the Jews? This would provide a sufficient reason to hide or destroy any information that existed. Also, perhaps Jesus and his followers were betrayed by Jewish leadership and so Judas I and Jewish leaders, represents in the gospels betrayal in general as many also doubt the existence of Judas. Much of the other Biblical information that was believed about Jesus (from OT prophesy) is just switched from a proto-typical Messiah who was moving towards becoming a political/military savior for the Jews who was also preaching elements of an apocalyptic message (similar originally to John the Baptist but became more politicized because of rapid popularity increase after John's death) to the suffering servant lamb of god portrayal in the gospels.
     
  15. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The problem with this is that it's in a pretty direct sense conspiracy theory. It replaces the evidence we have with a theory that all of the evidence we have is a conspiracy to hide the truth. Jesus comes across in the Gospels as trying to resist the anti-Roman tendencies, particularly violent versions. Some of it could be apologetic, but it shows in his teaching in enough ways that it's hard to reject all of it. The Gospels aren't independent of each other, but they do seem to represent at least more than one separate source. And we have Paul.

    Is it so implausible that a Jewish teacher would believe that Israel should start by bringing the Kingdom to life among themselves, and leave it to God to defeat the Romans? Jeremiah had a related view, and got in trouble with his own leaders because he didn't support resisting Babylon. The general message of the prophets was that conquest by pagans was punishment for disobedience by Israel, and the call was to get Israel's life in order.

    More recent writers have emphasized that Jesus' message was implicitly anti-Roman because it used many symbols that Romans used in their imperial propaganda and turned it against them. "Good news", gospel, is itself an example. But that's a different thing, with better support. I think you can make a good case that Jesus was a lot more political than many Christians admit, but this isn't quite the same thing as the old failed apocalyptic theory.
     
  16. dlamberth

    dlamberth Senior Contributor Supporter

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    If you guys don't mind, I'd like to add a thought to your political comment that interestingly I've contemplated on quite a bit. It's something that was inspired by a 13th century women mystic by the name of Hildegard of Bingen. According to Matthew Fox, the "essence" of Christ for Hildegard is "Infinite Divine Compassion/Activated". When experienced deeply, one of the side shoots that bubbles up in an Activated Infinite Divine Compassion is "Justice". It's pretty hard to have a deep empathetic compassionate heart for the underclass and those in need to the depth and breath that Jesus has and not at the same time have to face the political forces that arise around the plight of those Human Beings.
     
  17. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Yes, although Jesus didn't typically use the word justice to describe that. There are exceptions, e.g. "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others." (Luke 11:42)
     
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  18. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Yes, at least in the sense people like Ehrman uses it. However, there are elements of this in the gospels as well. The problem is, there is no straightforward personality of Jesus in the gospels. There is many Jesus' representing many themes from the OT - too many in my mind. This is part of the problem, the person who is supposed to be the historical Jesus is too many different people. Unlikely that an uneducated peasant would be so complex of a person unless he was a composite character of fiction (at least partially).
     
  19. Bertrand Russell White

    Bertrand Russell White Active Member

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    Yes, people who feel deep compassion desire justice be done even if they don't put it in those terms as you say here. My Mother was one such person. She would abhor any injustice and it came from a deep compassion that could be linked to descriptions both of you refer to either by Jesus or the Mystics. She didn't sit around reading and contemplating about these things but had a pragmatic, earthy and introverted sensitive side that felt and experienced injustice/pain/suffering/evil even as she outwardly would resist it by practical acts of service, kindness, and a very great capacity to "join" with the hearts of most people and show love. She was beloved by all and a "Mother figure" to many.
     
  20. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Paul is about as complex. And it's hard to argue that he was a fictional character. We don't know that Jesus was uneducated. We know virtually nothing about his background. The birth stories are surely the least reliable parts of the gospels.
     
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