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Er - sorry - but this is nonsense.

The experience of god proves nothing about the existence of god. Because - obviously - experiences differ. So does any consensus about what they mean. And also what they mean for 'the meaning of life.'

The one thing theists - and conservatives - seem to have in common is a rather desperate need to impose absolute moral meanings on their experience.

But the reality is that these meanings are obviously different for everyone. So which of them is 'god'?

Moral and metaphysical relativism already happens within and between religions. So no consistency is possible.

Science has its own morality, but it's hardly any more absolute than the insistence of a theist that reality is like this and this is what it means.

Peace is a good thing, but - as I'm sure I've pointed out before - Christianity and theism hardly have an excellent record when it comes to promoting peaceful coexistence.

The difference between science and religion is that science accepts diversity and open-mindedness, of a sort, while religion denies them.

By not denying reality, science has a more hopeful chance of reaching an accomodation with it. Human nature can be studied - and in fact it's only by studying it and accepting the realities of human morality, both good and bad, that a rational civilisation might one day by possible.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 09:26:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
impose absolute moral meanings on their experience.

That is your experience. Is it absolute?
Is it what is essential to spiritual experiences?
Do you know?

The difference between science and religion is that science accepts diversity and open-mindedness, of a sort, while religion denies them.

This may be true for religion as the organised political body of believers. Is it also true for faith itself?

Science is not open-minded towards the idea that there is a god and that there are all kinds of extra-ordinary or paranormal phenomena that it cannot explain.

Institutionalised religion offers structure to believers. At the institution (Church governing level), people have power, and there is/has been abuse. You only see the abuse and choose to miss the essence of why believers believe and what they have found. Have you ever asked?

By not denying reality, science has a more hopeful chance of reaching an accomodation with it. Human nature can be studied - and in fact it's only by studying it and accepting the realities of human morality, both good and bad, that a rational civilisation might one day by possible.

Science does not deny reality? But it ignores so much of reality unless you deal the non-answers about our origins and our hereafter as absolute truths.
This can really only be open-mindedness "of a sort".

[I must go out now, will be back tonight.]

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should know better than to respond, but this is so immensely wrong I can't help myself:

Science is not open-minded towards the idea that there is a god and that there are all kinds of extra-ordinary or paranormal phenomena that it cannot explain.

Wrong. It just wants evidence of them. Show us a paranormal phenomena.  Show us a god.

Science can explain all these things, at least in draft form. It's just people don't like the explanations.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:19:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many more are reading along here? Are you taking turns? lol

I don't know whether 'paranormal' was a good choice of word. Science doesn't have an explanation for miracle healings. Scientists call them "spontaneous remission". The name doesn't offer any explanation.

Miracle healings happen. That's a fact.

You want to see God, yet you don't know the meaning of 'spiritual'. That will be difficult, and it's not meant to be because God cannot be seen, only experienced through faith. Quantum theories won't do, and I won't do but we can take it easy because I'm not imposing on you what you cannot see. I only invite you to have a look for yourself.

Later -

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:29:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
How many more are reading along here? Are you taking turns? lol
News flash: this is a blog, not a private conversation.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[yes, I'm STILL here]

I know it's a blog :) but the debate is quite advanced... so.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:50:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the "recent comments" tab at the top of the screen? Following along is easy.

Religion doesn't have an explanation for miracle healing. It calls them "miracle healings" and witters on about the grace of Apollo and the favour of the Three Hags.

I don't want to see God. You do.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:34:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay then.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW: Do you hereby acknowledge God's existence?
In fact, you do. You hear that others 'see' God, respect what they see and you just don't want to see the same as well.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:00:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, though if you were wilfully misinterpreting what I said you might manage to construct that from it.

Other people experience something they call "God". That only tells me about what they experience, not what is real or true: it's an interesting datum about how humans work, not how about how the universe works.

Or, to put it another way, my best guess is that "God" is a brain-fart.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:06:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very possible in the next 50 years of Central Nervous System research, both physiological and systematic, that 'experiences' will be well understood.

I am already convinced that subjective transitions of emotions/moods/feelings (and why not beliefs?) are biochemical. Exactly how these biochemicals change or transition a 'mood state' depends on what is there already, both in terms of memory (patterns of past experience decentralized), genetics and any physical 'damage' that may have occurred.

Roxy Music sang that 'Love is the drug'. It's actually the other way round.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:22:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. Though I wouldn't hold my breath for the 50 years ... I rather suspect it'll take longer than that to work out the tools to think about it, never mind actually understanding it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But is 'sometime' scientific? ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:40:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:

Science doesn't have an explanation for miracle healings. Scientists call them "spontaneous remission". The name doesn't offer any explanation.

Miracle healings happen. That's a fact.

Hold it right there.

"Spontaneous remission" happens. That's a fact.

Calling it a "miracle healing" is an interpretation.

Since the fact that remission or healing took place can be agreed on, but whether there was a supernatural event ("miracle") involved  is not agreed on.

A doctor may say "I don't know how this happens". And you come and say "I know, it was a miracle". And how do you know? "Because of my faith".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:35:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, quite. A nice wide statistical survey of health benefits would be more useful than cherry-picked accounts of miracles which may or may not be independently verifiable.

When people try do this, results are mixed - at best.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can ignore these events and find the comfort you're looking for in history. You live in a free country.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may call it spontaneous remission or miracle healing. There's no scientific way to explain how a cancer that had been there suddenly disappears.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:03:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The scientific explanation is "We don't understand that yet."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:07:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The body's immune response wins out?

But why is it so wrong to say honestly, I don't know?

Does accepting it was a supernatural event inform future treatments of other patients? No, because a "miracle" is not repeatable.

Accepting you honestly don't know may lead you to research what actually happened and you may end up making a therapeutic advance.

Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does accepting it was a supernatural event inform future treatments of other patients? No, because a "miracle" is not repeatable.

That's not quite so. If you begin to look outside science, you will find that there's an immense spiritual world that can be understood (and is understood by some). It can explain such spontaneous healings. You'd have to open your minds to be able to integrate these insights and applications into what's known in science. But nobody has to.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:23:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You ignore psychosomatic effects. "What do you call alternative medicine that works? - medicine"

The entire animal is a feedback system. You can't separate out the bits that are physical or metaphysical, or which is the product of which. So in one sense I agree with you - belief is part of the human (at least) system. But belief is only one small area of the total ecosystem that is called a human.

But then again I believe that consciousness is a simple product of complexity i.e. the 'experience' that emerges when different parts of the brain 'terminate' simultaneously.

And none of this in any way reduces my sense of wonder at life.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And none of this in any way reduces my sense of wonder at life.

I like this.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:44:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
You ignore psychosomatic effects. "What do you call alternative medicine that works? - medicine"
Now we could get into whether religion helps motivate people to engage in beneficial behaviours which are beneficial because of psychosomatic effects and not because of any supernatural effects, and whether "enlightened rationality" threw out the baby with the bathwater in the 18th century...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:52:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Supernatural' is, as you have been promoting, another name for 'We don't know that yet'. If you'll forgive my clumsy paraphrase.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 12:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you begin to look outside science, you will find that there's an immense spiritual world that can be understood (and is understood by some). It can explain such spontaneous healings. You'd have to open your minds to be able to integrate these insights and applications into what's known in science.

Look, if you're gonna do medicine - particularly serious business like curative and palliative therapies for dangerous diseases like cancer, you need clinical trials and plausible biological explanations. It is downright unethical to start practising any modality that has not been tested for safety and effect.

And guess what? Once it has been tested for safety and effect, it is not "alternative" anymore. Medicine is incredibly open-minded in that respect: If it works for more patients than it harms, then it's in.

Humanity tried "looking outside science" for cures for thousands of years. Then we tried looking inside science for a hundred or so years - give or take fifty years depending on the disease in question.

I know which mortality rate I prefer.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 05:20:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is in, unless it offends the structures in the medical system.

Washing your hands before treating patients was not in, just because of the proven effect in Ignaz Semmelweis famous study. (Instead he was driven away.)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 10:39:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, as we know
a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
But this doesn't mean that paradigm shifts are not evidence-based.
Kuhn vehemently denies this interpretation and states that when a scientific paradigm is replaced by a new one, albeit through a complex social process, the new one is always better, not just different.


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:05:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Feyerabend similarly says that the changes are generally better by being mathematically simpler.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:19:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though "simpler" is not as simple a concept as it sounds.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:26:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps cleaner, or more elegant. I'm not sure I'd go with simpler!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:28:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think from memory he goes as far as saying easier to calculate, but it is ten years since I read his work.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:32:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is surely wrong.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:33:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there's fads and yes there's results that are not accepted for political reasons. But the track record of scientific medicine is still better than the record of non-scientific medicine, even with these flaws.

Or, to put it in another way, data beats consensus, but consensus beats folk medicine.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 03:12:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God cannot be seen, only experienced through faith.

God can also be experienced through the historical influence and actions of believers.

The results are mostly not encouraging.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 10:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no, what you see is collective pathology by people who are manipulated to do what evil human told them.
gig bifference...

a million misapprehensions don't disprove anything.

white crows...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so much heat expended over a false dichotomy!

plenty of scientists believe in god, plenty don't. what's the issue?

religion created the inquisition, science hiroshima, both have plenty to answer for.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:14:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:35:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
Show us a paranormal phenomena.  Show us a god.

show the fish the water!

the whole universe is mostly unexplained phenomena, isn't it?

it's great how we've sussed so much out, but doesn't it pale compared to what we don't know?  

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:31:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unexplained phenomena

Which are very different to unexplainable phenomena (whose existence I do not admit).
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:34:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's great how we've sussed so much out, but doesn't it pale compared to what we don't know?  

I'd be interested to know how you know that. isn't the amount we dont know in essence unknowable? It might be that science is complete next week, we just don't know.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:22:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What we don't know is a non-computable set, isn't it? Even if it were complete you might not know.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<giggle>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes definitely.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 11:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you said i know that, really it's just an idea, not original!

i find that's what history suggests. it took us so long to discover the earth was round, or that the sun was the centre of our galaxy, now we have begun to realise how deep space is, how can anyone think we have done more than scratch the surface, i don't understand.

even the workings of our own brains are only beginning to come dimly into view.

if you'd shown a neanderthal an ipod, and asked him how to get from there to here, he would probably strike two flints together and say, does it start with this?

he was probably pretty stoked with that science already, lol.

so extrapolating, if we are still neanderthals in some respects, doesn't it follow that the best discoveries will always lie ahead? as we discover more about how to discover, and correlate theories with proof.

there may have been a neanderthal whose eyes would have lit up, as he hustled off to find some beryllium or whatever to get started on his ipod project, or he may have gone, 'cool idea, but at this rate it'll take thousands more years to make one', and of course he'd be right!

some people are blessed with more imagination than their reality can contain, others just shut it down, it's just too painful to think of what we could be as a species, ( i_really don't like the word 'race'_) then look around at what we've become.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 08:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i find that's what history suggests.

In the matter of the rate of accumulation of scientific knowledge, as in the matter of price movements on the stock exchange, the past does not predict the future with any great accuracy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 07:15:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's true, but i don't think great accuracy is really necessary here.

after all, i'm investing in it time, thought and imagination, not hard cash, like the stock market!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 7th, 2009 at 05:44:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
    Science is not open-minded towards the idea that there is a god and that there are all kinds of extra-ordinary or paranormal phenomena that it cannot explain.

Wrong. It just wants evidence of them. Show us a paranormal phenomena.  Show us a god.

Science can explain all these things, at least in draft form. It's just people don't like the explanations.

If we seperate between science as a method and the scientific community I think you are both right. Science as a method can approach any question and just wants evidence.

The scientific community on the other hand, can be very averse to touching some questions at all. There was a quite large donation for a professors chair in parapsychological research that bounced between Scandinavian universities before finally settling at Lund. There was quite some concern expressed that studying certain phenomena would debase the scientific community. Not very open-minded indeed.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 10:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But as it happens, parapsychology (if we're talking about the same thing) turned out to be mostly bunk.

If you start studying everything that some eccentric rich uncle wants to give money to, you're going to get a high rate of false positives. If the True Probability of an event is very low compared to the noise in the experiment, the number of apparently significant results that are really due to noise will be much larger than the number of true positives. Of course, we do not know the true probability, but in some cases we have a pretty good idea.

While false positives are not a problem in principle, when you combine it with the well-known bias against publishing negative results and the fact that the metastudies needed to weed out false positives are time consuming (and then add the way pressure groups, newsies and outright frauds like to seize upon a single scientific paper, regardless of quality, to justify their cause, angle or story1), it actually does make sense to refuse to study something that can present no physically plausible mechanism of action.

Which is not to say that science doesn't have fads and that the scientific community isn't pretty conservative - sometimes excessively so. But obvious nonsense like homeopathy and wheels of perpetual motion really has no place in a serious research institution.

- Jake

1That's not a problem for science per se, but most scientists do observe a minimum of social responsibility.

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 03:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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