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Pilot's Mess [chit-chat zone]

This is the forum to get to know your fellow pilots and the ONLY place to talk about everything else not really relevant to sci-fi movies, including your personal loves and interests. A true pilot doesn't discuss these issues while on duty.

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Old May 20, 2010, 11:27 PM   #1
floyd
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So can we end the debate now?

Scientists create a living organism


Reading that article basically resolves almost every qualm I've ever had with atheism and my own view of the nature of "life." It also seriously makes me reconsider my thinking about the likelihood of life on other planets. Life isn't a miracle anymore. It's a set of circumstances, and as your data set approaches proportions as vast as the universe, life very likely isn't an isolated phenomenon.

Maybe I'm drunk, but right now, this feels significant. Like hitting a home run or finding lost jewelry. It feels important.

What questions does this answer for you? Or like Lost, what questions does it create?
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Old May 21, 2010, 01:16 AM   #2
Tack
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

thats pretty amazing. I've no idea what it means for religion but I'm sure people will still believe in something.
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Old May 21, 2010, 02:09 AM   #3
Wachesaw
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

So humans can create some sort of life out of dead materials. I don't see why that would change anyone's view on the existenceog god. And I don't see what everyone's so excited about either.
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Old May 21, 2010, 02:22 AM   #4
SF_not_Sci-Fi
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

We have long ago chased God from the Heavens, and Satan from the Chthonic depths. Now we have evicted these insubstantial ghosts from yet another dark place made visible and glorious by the light of science.

But though this set of experiments makes the light of reason shine brighter, it by no means obliterates the darkness of the Unknown which superstition claims for itself as the Unknowable. Like the cockroach, superstition ever flees before the light- and there is much darkness for it to live in yet.

As for the tangible results of these experiments, I am both very excited and very scared. I can't help but think of the near-apocalyptic folly ("terminator" genes, monocultures, terrible new forms of global economic bondage and bio-imperialism, etc) that were brought into the world with the capitalist application of genetic engineering. Any wonderful new technology becomes potentially monstrous and dangerous when it is put at the service of such a twisted socioeconomic order. For all of it's transformative potential, such power in the hands of states and corporations is a very terrifying thing indeed.
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Old May 21, 2010, 11:45 AM   #5
JACKER
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wachesaw
So humans can create some sort of life out of dead materials. I don't see why that would change anyone's view on the existenceog god. And I don't see what everyone's so excited about either.


I know. If anything, it sounds more like Intelligent Design to me. Life creating life with a purpose.
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Old May 21, 2010, 12:13 PM   #6
JACKER
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

And Floyd and SF, science makes no claim about the supernatural. This is something atheist and religious fundies forget, or neglect, on a pretty consistent basis. It is a fallacy to suggest otherwise, one way or the other.
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Old May 21, 2010, 05:46 PM   #7
SF_not_Sci-Fi
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Sometimes a reasonable assertion gets repeated so many times that it loses it's meaning. Thus something like "science makes no claim about the supernatural" devolves into a sort of a Zen koan chanted to invite serenity and discourage thought.

I never suggested that science makes claims about the supernatural. I simply stated that before we had clear ideas about what went on there, the depths of the earth and the heavens above us were generally accepted as supernatural realms. Now they are simply parts of the natural universe obeying all of the physical laws thereof and can be studied with the aid instruments. There is no more room for heavenly courts in the sky or diabolical thrones beneath the Earth.

Rather than making claims about the supernatural, science examines the universe in a naturalistic, rationalistic and systematic light. As it does so, it leaves less elbow room for the supernatural. Science makes no claims about that which we are wholly ignorant of- unless those claims are honestly framed as simple educated speculation. The supernatural by it's very (super?) nature inhabits the darkest realms of ignorance. Rather than make claims about such things, science simply obliterates the possibility for these fairytales one by one as it shows us how the universe actually works.

With every discovery and with every proven theory, God becomes smaller and less substantial, and His adherents scramble to explain why this tired old hobgoblin is still relevant. While science makes no claims about the supernatural, scientific findings have disproven supernatural claims. Science simply expands our understanding of nature and thus strips away the supernatural trappings of that which it studies. Once it has done so, it proceeds to make it's claims.

The sun makes no claims about the snow, but it's heat melts it away nevertheless.

Last edited by SF_not_Sci-Fi : May 21, 2010 at 06:06 PM.
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Old May 24, 2010, 02:06 PM   #8
HighWiredSith
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd
Scientists create a living organism


Reading that article basically resolves almost every qualm I've ever had with atheism and my own view of the nature of "life." It also seriously makes me reconsider my thinking about the likelihood of life on other planets. Life isn't a miracle anymore. It's a set of circumstances, and as your data set approaches proportions as vast as the universe, life very likely isn't an isolated phenomenon.

Maybe I'm drunk, but right now, this feels significant. Like hitting a home run or finding lost jewelry. It feels important.

What questions does this answer for you? Or like Lost, what questions does it create?

So you're willing to take one article, written not by a scientist but by a journalist quoting other journalists none of whom have proven their ability to understand the science by either their credentials or even their wording of the article, and upon this article form an entire plethora of relative, moralistic opinions?

You have great faith in CNN my friend.
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Old May 24, 2010, 02:47 PM   #9
JACKER
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SF_not_Sci-Fi
Sometimes a reasonable assertion gets repeated so many times that it loses it's meaning. Thus something like "science makes no claim about the supernatural" devolves into a sort of a Zen koan chanted to invite serenity and discourage thought.

Took a load off my mind. I actually watched Lee Strobel's documentary "The Case For A Creator" a few months back with critical commentary. His ridiculous straw man arguments, red herrings and absurd assertions about what science says was often rebutted with the simple line: "Science makes no claim about the supernatural." The line demolishes all of Strobel's arguments. The thing is, it does so for Dawkins and C-Hitch as well. Where science is concerned any way.

Quote:
I never suggested that science makes claims about the supernatural. I simply stated that before we had clear ideas about what went on there, the depths of the earth and the heavens above us were generally accepted as supernatural realms. Now they are simply parts of the natural universe obeying all of the physical laws thereof and can be studied with the aid instruments. There is no more room for heavenly courts in the sky or diabolical thrones beneath the Earth.

Ay, but what you're referring to are generally assertions made about matter and physical laws that were once thought to have direct supernatural explanations, or were said to behave in ways that they in fact do not. Because the Earth is not the center of the universe or that the stars don't have people on them, etc, are not really that important.



Quote:
With every discovery and with every proven theory, God becomes smaller and less substantial, and His adherents scramble to explain why this tired old hobgoblin is still relevant. While science makes no claims about the supernatural, scientific findings have disproven supernatural claims. Science simply expands our understanding of nature and thus strips away the supernatural trappings of that which it studies. Once it has done so, it proceeds to make it's claims.

Nature is not supernatural. Because people once thought humans beamed down from heaven in our present form at one time in history does not negate the possibility of a supernatural reality. I think you're just alluding to things some people believe, or have believed at one point, who think that the natural world has to have direct supernatural links that we can point to or else their faith in the supernatural is in jeopardy. A belief in the supernatural--OK, God!--is relevant for many reasons. Because it's not something you partake in to relieve your sorrows, light a fire under your ass, infuse purpose into your life, to be your compass by day and your blanket by night, does not conclude that other people shouldn't find such uses for Him. The world wasn't created in six days? Well, that's not really the point.

Quote:
The sun makes no claims about the snow, but it's heat melts it away nevertheless.

Ay, but the world needs both.
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Old May 24, 2010, 09:40 PM   #10
floyd
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
So you're willing to take one article, written not by a scientist but by a journalist quoting other journalists none of whom have proven their ability to understand the science by either their credentials or even their wording of the article, and upon this article form an entire plethora of relative, moralistic opinions?

You have great faith in CNN my friend.

The difference is, my faith is highly tentative. If I read an article tomorrow written by scientists about other scientists concerning this issue making an argument to the contrary, the matter would be resolved in my mind without a moments hesitation. I saw a number of articles about it and I'm excited by the notion.

Quote:
Nature is not supernatural. Because people once thought humans beamed down from heaven in our present form at one time in history does not negate the possibility of a supernatural reality. I think you're just alluding to things some people believe, or have believed at one point, who think that the natural world has to have direct supernatural links that we can point to or else their faith in the supernatural is in jeopardy. A belief in the supernatural--OK, God!--is relevant for many reasons. Because it's not something you partake in to relieve your sorrows, light a fire under your ass, infuse purpose into your life, to be your compass by day and your blanket by night, does not conclude that other people shouldn't find such uses for Him. The world wasn't created in six days? Well, that's not really the point.

Honestly, I'm getting a little bit tired of hearing this. Everyone's beliefs are different but they all use the same labels... theist, atheist, christian, muslim. It makes debating issues in broad terms impossible, forcing a micro-discussion with each and every person you encounter.

In some ways, it seems like smart people who think of themselves as religious build themselves a nice little wall where not only are they free from the obvious arguments against whatever label they adopt, (IE, of course not all those animals were on the arc!) they insulate their own beliefs from their own reasonable criticisms by eliminating those elements for which they'd find criticism.

Christian: I love Jesus.
Antagonist: Well, the model of Christianity has flaws. The Catholics are against condoms, the fundamentalists take the literal approach, and the Mormons will believe anything.
Christian: I'm not a Catholic or a fundamentalist or a Mormon.
Antagonist: Don't you think science kind of rules out a substantial portion of the Bible's claims?
Christian: I don't care. Bible has parts I like and parts I don't.
Antagonist: So, the part about gays? Stoning disobedient children?
Christian: Love gays, don't hit kids.
Antagonist: You know there are some arguments that suggest Jesus never actually lived and that he's a combination of several different messiah myths.
Christian: Well, I don't actually claim Jesus existed, I'm just saying that I both love him and devote my life to his teachings.

Thanks That was fun to write.

At some point don't you have to just state a claim tentative to some other evidence and stop hiding behind ambiguous labels? If a person doesn't align themselves with Christianity or Islam... why ascribe those labels to yourself? I got on this tirade because all my religious friends are like this. Bring up something negative--even basic tenants of the faith--and they claim no allegiance to it. The very definition of a la carte. Take what you like, leave what you don't.

I feel like even I have, at this point, strayed from my original point in this post. If you're a religious person, what does this mean to you--assuming it's true?
Nothing?
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Old May 24, 2010, 11:46 PM   #11
JACKER
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd
Honestly, I'm getting a little bit tired of hearing this. Everyone's beliefs are different but they all use the same labels... theist, atheist, christian, muslim. It makes debating issues in broad terms impossible, forcing a micro-discussion with each and every person you encounter.

Of course. Why should everybody have the same beliefs regarding matters such as these? Maybe it's better that they do not.

Quote:
In some ways, it seems like smart people who think of themselves as religious build themselves a nice little wall where not only are they free from the obvious arguments against whatever label they adopt, (IE, of course not all those animals were on the arc!) they insulate their own beliefs from their own reasonable criticisms by eliminating those elements for which they'd find criticism.

Christian: I love Jesus.
Antagonist: Well, the model of Christianity has flaws. The Catholics are against condoms, the fundamentalists take the literal approach, and the Mormons will believe anything.
Christian: I'm not a Catholic or a fundamentalist or a Mormon.
Antagonist: Don't you think science kind of rules out a substantial portion of the Bible's claims?
Christian: I don't care. Bible has parts I like and parts I don't.
Antagonist: So, the part about gays? Stoning disobedient children?
Christian: Love gays, don't hit kids.
Antagonist: You know there are some arguments that suggest Jesus never actually lived and that he's a combination of several different messiah myths.
Christian: Well, I don't actually claim Jesus existed, I'm just saying that I both love him and devote my life to his teachings.

The Christian is a man of admirable faith! The thing is, he doesn't really owe the antagonist any explanation at all for why he believes in and finds value in the teachings of Jesus, nor does he have to answer for every thought and action of other individuals other than himself. It's a free country and faith by definition is...well, yeah. You know the Christian guy is just talking about loving others, helping the poor and looking out for the weak. What's the problem? Why must he have hard proof that Jesus said and did the things first century Palestine in order for him to believe in such virtues? Jesus did do and say the things he did--in the Bible.



Quote:
At some point don't you have to just state a claim tentative to some other evidence and stop hiding behind ambiguous labels? If a person doesn't align themselves with Christianity or Islam... why ascribe those labels to yourself? I got on this tirade because all my religious friends are like this. Bring up something negative--even basic tenants of the faith--and they claim no allegiance to it. The very definition of a la carte. Take what you like, leave what you don't.

People do not have faith to satisfy their intellectual needs. We are not Vulcans, we are conscious romantics with vivid imaginations, hopes and dreams. Religious faith is an emotional yearning for comfort and purpose. Most people aren't comfortable thinking that there's nothing after death. Very few may indeed find comfort in it, but it broadly doesn't satisfy the heart or induce altruism. Many need this, few don't. There's also the cultural and family alliances to the Christianity and Muslim labels to consider. The specifics of what people believe in isn't so much as important as having something to believe in

Quote:
I feel like even I have, at this point, strayed from my original point in this post. If you're a religious person, what does this mean to you--assuming it's true?
Nothing?

Do you think this discovery disproves an unfalsifiable claim?

Last edited by JACKER : May 24, 2010 at 11:51 PM.
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Old May 25, 2010, 10:20 AM   #12
SF_not_Sci-Fi
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Nature is not supernatural.
Rendering realms that are thought to be supernatural (i.e. not properly understood and thus subject to magical thinking) natural (i.e. obeying understood physical laws) is what science does. What you think of as 'nature' was supernatural before it was discovered to obey physical laws. Science makes no claims about that which is not understood, but by making things understood it obliterates space for supernatural thought.

Last edited by SF_not_Sci-Fi : May 25, 2010 at 10:43 AM.
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Old May 25, 2010, 11:41 PM   #13
JACKER
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SF_not_Sci-Fi
Rendering realms that are thought to be supernatural (i.e. not properly understood and thus subject to magical thinking) natural (i.e. obeying understood physical laws) is what science does. What you think of as 'nature' was supernatural before it was discovered to obey physical laws. Science makes no claims about that which is not understood, but by making things understood it obliterates space for supernatural thought.

Yes, many things were thought to have supernatural explanations which did not. Has this stopped most people from holdings supernatural beliefs? And do people really hold such beliefs so that they might understand physics and biology more thoroughly?

We agree on what science does.
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Old May 26, 2010, 01:32 AM   #14
SF_not_Sci-Fi
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Quote:
Has this stopped most people from holdings supernatural beliefs?
Obviously not. Some people also still believe in the Piltdown Man. There's no accounting for what some people will believe.
Quote:
And do people really hold such beliefs so that they might understand physics and biology more thoroughly?
Before physics and biology existed, many people held such beliefs about the parts of the universe that physics and biology more accurately describes. In fact, many still hold such beliefs about the very things that physics and biology describes more accurately. Some people actually believe that humans were constructed from clay and magic breath by a fairy. Some people also believe that the Earth was created by this very same fairy- and created well before the sun and moon were- which were actually created at around the same time. They also believe that the Earth existed before light did. As I said, there's no accounting for what some people will believe. As absurd and generally disproven as these ideas are, they are ideas that were thought up by our ignorant ancestors to explain what to them was unexplainable. We should know better by now.

Last edited by SF_not_Sci-Fi : May 26, 2010 at 01:39 AM.
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Old Jun 3, 2010, 11:23 PM   #15
JACKER
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Re: So can we end the debate now?

Late replying to this--and it appears the pilots don't have much more to say on this topic in general--but I do agree with you that the "God of the gaps" logic is horrid. It is also heavily employed in apologetics (Strobel's film/book very much so!) and it only makes me feel a little for the people who use it. It comes from people wanting their beliefs to be completely rational and intellectually justifiable at every turn. The fact is that it's faith and that's all it needs to come down to. At the same time, the number of believers who think that everything in the Bible happened exactly as it says are very minimal. It really is. The people who do are not generally scientists or engineers or anything of the like.

Which isn't to say Sith and his family are unintelligent.
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