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Dan Peterson Takes on the "No Evidence At All for The Book of Mormon" Argument


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10 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

That is a good question, it's possible that we don't need additional "soul particles" at all. 

One of my principal objections to the QFT exclusionary argument against souls is the fact that we haven't been able to observe quantum-level interactions inside a living human being, which is where we would expect to see "soulstuff." If these particles/organizations of matter can be expected to float around freely than not seeing them in a collider or superconductor would be a surprise, but if they are confined to discrete points in space, where we have not looked, then I think the lack of discovery is actually to be expected and the argument loses its force.

I think it can be reasonably argued that IF what we are while living can be referred to as a spirit combined with a mortal body THEN all of the particles of a spirit and mortal body are within our mortal body while we are living. 

At death our spirit leaves our mortal body, as we suppose, so we would not expect to see any spirit particles within our mortal body when we are dead.

So the question becomes, Do we have adequate measuring devices to determine what every particle within our mortal body is?  We suppose the spirit particles are the most fine and pure particles within us, and that they are the particles of life.

To think we have no spirit particles would equate to thinking we have no fine or pure particles of life within us, and I think that is an unreasonable conclusion.

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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. We do know what Kordahl was talking about because he said what he's talking about. He is talking about what Sean Carroll claims about the Core Theory, its robustness, its domain of applicability, and its implications. That is what Kordahl clearly said he is talking about, and that is exactly what I've been talking about and quoting. For those of us who have read the book, there is no ambiguity here.

 

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

It's ironic that Kordahl thinks the sections I've been quoting are the best parts of the book, are admirable exposition of the science, and that he agrees with the conclusions. In his words: The Core Theory, he writes, “includes everything going on within you, and me, and everything you see around you right this minute. And it will continue to be accurate.” Moreover, within its domain of applicability it will always be correct, which should allow us to draw certain broad conclusions. When Carroll goes through these conclusions, he is never less than thoughtful. Those are Kordhal's words. In context, it is clear what he is talking about. 

In context of all of Kordahl's  statements, especially with how frequently he takes issue with Carroll's application of science in the realms of religion and philosophy, I find his review of this section much more narrow and ambiguous than you. He could support Carroll's idea about souls, but he could easily not extend the logic that far, while still appreciating Carroll's explication of physics in this section. As you said, we will just have to disagree here. 

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

Carroll doesn't have a conception of the soul. He is broadly talking about the plausibility of any unknown force or particle interfacing with the human brain. According to my understanding of LDS theology, this is exactly what is believed--that you have a preexisting spirit that came down to earth, inhabits a body, and then leaves the body until death, until the resurrection when the spirit and body are united. When the spirit inhabits the body, they have some sort of a connection, do they not? Whether that connection (or any other connection with any other unknown force or matter) is plausible is precisely what Carroll is talking about.

We've already gone through all this.  

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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16 minutes ago, Ahab said:

I think it can be reasonably argued that IF what we are while living can be referred to as a spirit combined with a mortal body THEN all of the particles of a spirit and mortal body are within our mortal body while we are living. 

At death our spirit leaves our mortal body, as we suppose, so we would not expect to see any spirit particles within our mortal body when we are dead.

So the question becomes, Do we have adequate measuring devices to determine what every particle within our mortal body is?  We suppose the spirit particles are the most fine and pure particles within us, and that they are the particles of life.

To think we have no spirit particles would equate to thinking we have no fine or pure particles of life within us, and I think that is an unreasonable conclusion.

Agreed. At this moment we know about the finer particles from experiments involving superconductors. For a plenitude of reasons, we can't expose living brains to the same conditions which would enable us to examine their function on a quantum level. I've looked at some analysis of quantum structures in microtubules from the brain in connection with Penrose and Hameroff's Orch-OR theories of consciousness, but those microtubules had been extracted from a brain and thus would not be expected to show functional spirit matter, and in any case the observations on the microtubule was not to the same depth as the observations of fundamental particles which form QFT. 

So, to the best of my knowledge, we don't have a way to examine fundamental particles within living human bodies. 

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6 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I have not been ignoring you.  I'm just not investing much time or interest in your remarks.  Your remarks have been repeatedly and emphatically loaded with contempt and ridicule for things that are important, even sacred, to us.

I wasn't aiming for contempt or ridicule. I was aiming for clarity.

In any case, Sean Carroll has made a serious, provocative, science-based argument about how there is immense experimental evidence supporting the rigorousness of Quantum Mechanics within its "domain of applicability," and that surprisingly, this indicates that there can't be "spirits", at least not spirits strong enough to interact with known reality by moving a photon, moving an electron, or moving anything else that would be perceptible to us. Note that he isn't talking about "God" here. He is talking about interactions with the known particles that can have an effect on our day-to-day lives, including our brains.

In any case, something about Daniel C. Peterson that bugs me is he typically replies to a generic critic, a generic non-believer, or a generic anti-Mormon. This comes across as a way to attack a strawman with the plausible deniability of saying, "the generic critic I'm describing isn't you? That's great. I'm talking about it somebody else." I entered this thread as a way of putting a face behind this generic critic. Whether "no evidence" means literally no evidence whatsoever or whether it means "no convincing evidence" or means "practically no evidence" is a question for the person he's talking about.

If you are interested in understanding Carroll's argument, please read the first 27 chapters of Big Picture, paying particular attention to chapters 19-24, 26-27. I'll buy you a copy of the book if you'd like. If you want to take me up on that, send me a PM. The good news is that his style is a lot less abrasive than mine.

 

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13 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Agreed. At this moment we know about the finer particles from experiments involving superconductors. For a plenitude of reasons, we can't expose living brains to the same conditions which would enable us to examine their function on a quantum level. I've looked at some analysis of quantum structures in microtubules from the brain in connection with Penrose and Hameroff's Orch-OR theories of consciousness, but those microtubules had been extracted from a brain and thus would not be expected to show functional spirit matter, and in any case the observations on the microtubule was not to the same depth as the observations of fundamental particles which form QFT. 

So, to the best of my knowledge, we don't have a way to examine fundamental particles within living human bodies. 

Ah, good point. We would need to examine the spirit/living particles while they were still alive rather than after they were plucked away from the living organism and could presumably then be dead/no longer live/spirit particles.

And we should all understand that when we are talking about spirit particles we are talking about the particles of life, since it is our spirit that gives life to our mortal bodies.

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20 hours ago, Analytics said:
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I reject the label "supernatural."

Provide me a better label and I'll use it.

I amend: I accept the label "supernatural" so long as we understand that we do not believe that miraculous things are a violation of natural law, but rather a higher manifestation and use of it.

I am reminded of this dialogue from Inherit the Wind (where Matthew Harrison Brady is a witness in the "monkey trial") :

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Drummond: Have you ever pondered what would actually happen to the earth if the sun stood still?

Brady: You can testify to that if I get you on the stand.

Drummond: If, as they say, the sun stood still, they must have had some kind of an idea that the sun moved around the earth. You think that's the way of things? Or don't you believe that the earth moves around the sun?

Brady: I have faith in the Bible.

Drummond: You don't have much faith in the solar system.

Brady: The sun stopped.

Drummond: Good! Now, if what you say actually happened -- if Joshua stopped the sun in the sky -- the earth stopped spinning on its axis, continents toppled over one another, mountains flew into space, and the earth, shriveled to a cinder, crashed into the sun. Now, how come they missed that little tidbit of news?

Brady: They missed it because it didn't happen.

Drummond: But it had to happen. It must've happened, according to natural law. Or don't you believe in natural law, Mr. Brady? Would you ban Copernicus from the classroom along with Charles Darwin? Would you pass a law throwing out all scientific knowledge since Joshua? Revelations, period?!

Brady: Natural law was born in the mind of the heavenly Father. He can change it, cancel it, use it as He pleases. It constantly amazes me that you Apostles of Science, for all your supposed wisdom, fail to grasp this simple fact.

As you can guess, you are far more like the Drummond fellow, and I am sort of like the Brady fellow.  But that one line in the last bit doesn't work for me: "Natural law was born in the mind of the heavenly Father. He can change it, cancel it, use it as He pleases."

I don't agree with this.  See here:

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President Brigham Young taught that “there is no being in all the eternities but what is governed by law” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 1). Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated, similarly, that Christ “governs and is governed by law” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 432.) God has said, for example, that He is bound when His children do what He says (see D&C 82:10). He is bound to fulfill His promises, for He is a being of complete integrity who conforms totally to the laws of righteousness. He is a celestial being and abides by celestial law, for any being “who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory” (D&C 88:22).

President John Taylor said: “God is unchangeable, so are also his laws, in all their forms, and in all their applications, and being Himself the essence of law, the giver of law, the sustainer of law, all of those laws are eternal in all their operations, in all bodies and matter, and throughout all space. It would be impossible for Him to violate law, because in so doing He would strike at His own dignity, power, principles, glory, exaltation and existence.” (Mediation and Atonement, p. 168.)

And here (attributed to Brigham Young) :

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It is hard to get the people to believe that God is a scientific character, that He lives by science or strict law, that by this He is, and by law he was made what He is; and will remain to all eternity because of His faithful adherence to law. It is a most difficult thing to make the people believe that every art and science and all wisdom comes from Him, and that He is their Author.

And here (same link) (Parley P. Pratt) :

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Among the popular errors of modern times, an opinion prevails that miracles are events which transpire contrary to the laws of nature, that they are effects without a cause. If such is the fact, then, there never has been a miracle, and there never will be one. The laws of nature are the laws of truth. Truth is unchangeable, and independent in its own sphere. A law of nature never has been broken. And it is an absolute impossibility that such law ever should be broken.

And here (same link) (James E. Talmage) :

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Miracles are commonly regarded as occurrences in opposition to the laws of nature. Such a conception is plainly erroneous, for the laws of nature are inviolable. However, as human understanding of these laws is at best but imperfect, events strictly in accordance with natural law may appear contrary thereto. The entire constitution of nature is founded on system and order.

And this conclusion (by the author of the above-linked article, David H. Bailey) :

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"Natural law" in a science-religion context is the notion that our world and universe is largely, if not exclusively, governed by natural laws. Such a philosophy does not insist that science encompasses all reality, but many still fear that such a notion utterly negates any possibility for a God.
...

With this more flexible theology, any lingering reasons for a "war" between science and religion totally evaporate. This may be part of the reason that so many LDS people have pursued careers in the field of science. For example, a 1974 study found that disproportionately large numbers of students who graduated from undergraduate programs in scientific fields in Utah (where the LDS Church is quite strong) went on to receive doctorates in these fields {Hardy1974}.

Even today, large numbers of graduates of Brigham Young University (the flagship LDS university) go on to gain doctoral degrees, not just in scientific fields but in other academic fields as well, ranking #10 among universities in the U.S., according to a recent ranking [Walch2006]. Evolution and related scientific theories are taught at Brigham Young University, without apology. Two areas in which BYU researchers are particularly noted are the collection and analysis of dinosaur fossils (see BYU dinosaur museum) and bioinformatics, i.e., the sequencing and analysis of DNA for studies in evolution, medicine and other applications (see BYU bioinformatics program).

The LDS philosophy of natural law by no means answers all questions in the science-religion arena. The majority of LDS Church members, like those of other Judeo-Christian denominations, still have great difficulties accepting the full spectrum of modern science, from evolution to big bang cosmology. But the LDS faith does have a theological framework to approach these issues from a rational basis.

Hope that helps:

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You are ignoring the content of his arguments.

You are ignoring the content of his arguments.

You are ignoring the content of his arguments.

I have not been paying much in the way of attention because you came across as a provocateur.  But as I said in the previous post, I'll go back and give things a second look.

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I don't think you have demonstrated that apologists have ignored Carroll.

Could you cite a serious LDS scholar that has engaged the content of Carroll's arguments?

I'm not aware of any.  But again: I don't think you have demonstrated that apologists have ignored Carroll.

Surely you understand that not having yet published a formal response to Carroll's book is hardly equivalent to "ignoring" it.

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Second, this rationalization thing could include . . . Carroll, right?  He can be using his intelligence to rationalize his atheism?  His hostility towards religion?

In principal, of course. We all have our biases. In theory, the way to cut through your biases is to have a skeptical attitude and to actively try to disprove that which you want to believe.

Carroll said the particle physicists were "hoping with all their hearts to find new particles; discovering new particles, especially unexpected ones, is what keeps particle physics exciting. But they didn’t see any. Just the known particles of the Core Theory, produced in great numbers. The same has been done for protons smashing into antiprotons, and various other combinations. The verdict is unambiguous: we’ve found all of the particles that our best current technology enables us to find." (p. 182)

When you compare that attitude the the attitude of religionists who try to have faith and build their testimonies, it's clear which group is cultivating confirmation bias and which one is not. 

You are once again resorting to scientism.  You are treating "science" as the only legitimate means of seeking after and discerning truth.

And I can't help but note that you contradict yourself here.  You acknowledge that "we all have our biases," but then go on to conclude that religionists are "cultivating confirmation bias" while the other "group" (a marvelously false dichotomy, by the way) "is not" cultivating confirmation bias.

Scientism.  Straight up or on the rocks?

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References to Kuhn and accusations of positivism and scientism don't deal with Carroll's arguments,

I really think they do.  Paul Nelson's critique (which I cited/quoted here) sure seems to "deal with Carroll's arguments," as indicated by your massively re-arranging his "gold" analogy so as to once again stack the deck.

Are you claiming that in all of Christiandom you couldn't find a single physicist who could respond to Carroll,

No.

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and that the best you could come up with is a biologist?

I spent about five minutes looking.

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In any case, he did NOT deal with Carroll's argument.

I think he did.

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Instead he ignored it and came up with a weird, off-point analogy about gold.

He didn't ignore it.  He critiqued it.  Here's the paragraph preceding the analogy:

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The Incompleteness of Complete Physics. But what follows from complete physics? Carroll thinks a great deal; from my reading of Big Picture, however, I have to say — almost nothing. Not strictly nothing, to be sure; indeed, quite the opposite: the hard-won body of scientific knowledge that comprises our current understanding of physics makes possible technologies that would have seemed frankly magical to our great-grandparents, not to mention anyone who lived before them. That warm cell phone in your hand, on which you are texting with a friend thousands of miles away, is the prodigious child of highly reliable physical knowledge, painstakingly coaxed from nature herself over centuries, when that knowledge is mated with human creativity.

So far so good, I think.

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But Carroll thinks complete physics tells us that our consciousness “emerges from the collective behavior of particles and forces” (158), that “there is no life after death” (218), that “there is no overarching purpose to human lives” (220), and that the origin of life is “a matter of solving puzzles within the known laws of nature, not calling for help from outside of them” (270).

See, this is where I start to bring up scientism.  Science is not situated to make such conclusory statements.  These are opinions, not facts.  These are conclusory beliefs, not facts.

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These conclusions, however, are not supported by a bridge of sturdy argument, starting with complete physics, which would enable us to walk alongside Carroll, as he signals back to our location from the other side of the philosophical chasm where he is presently standing.

Yep.  None of us can hope to fully understand Carroll's scientific arguments.  We lack the training and experience.  But if he - and you - want to persuade us that his conclusions are apt, that they are based on empirically-confirmed facts and evidence (as opposed to, say, Carroll's vocal hostility toward religion), then he needs to build a bridge.  We are not all scientists, but neither are we morons.  And since Carroll is making the assertion, since he is affirmatively denying the existence of God, spirits, etc., the burden of proof is his to bear.  The responsibility is his to build the bridge from where we are to where he is.

And I don't think he's done it.  Your response, then, seems to be "Well, he's a scientist."  Well, yeah.  But that's just an appeal to scientific authority.  That's just scientism.

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Put another way, we can agree with complete physics — we just did so, in fact, two paragraphs ago — and yet wonder how Carroll knows that his own consciousness emerges from particles and forces, or that the origin of life occurred by the known laws of nature. How exactly did Carroll get over there, to poetic naturalism, where he is waving for us to join him? We started with him on the premise of complete physics, but we are still standing where we began — whereas Carroll now claims to know a whole lot of other stuff as well.

Well?  Paul Nelson isn't "ignoring" Carroll here.  He is responding to and critiquing Carroll.

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The point of his analogy, as far as I could tell, was that Carroll's arguments are true but unfulfilling because they merely tell us that mind emerges from brain but doesn't know all of the details of how.

No.  The point of his analogy is based on the idea A) that Carroll has drawn conclusions, but hasn't sufficiently or adequately explained how he reached them, B) that his conclusions are not self-evidently true, C) that Carroll has not "built a bridge" for the rest of us, D) that we are all on board with "the premise of complete physics, but we are still standing where we began," and E) that Carroll has gone beyond the premise and "claims to know a whole lot of other stuff as well."

Here is the paragraph following the analogy:

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Complete physics may be true, but after we accept its truth, we are no better off — with respect to solving the problem of the origin of life, or consciousness, for example, using only known physical laws — than we were before we accepted it. The uncompromising details of what cells need to exist, such as their incredibly specific instructions for building hundreds of different proteins, are nowhere contained in complete physics. If those details were there, Carroll could turn the gears of current physical theory, show how cells arose from nonliving chemical constituents, and win himself at least a couple of Nobel prizes. Carroll’s chapters on the origin of life in Big Picture don’t do that, and it would have been flat-out miraculous if they did.

If Carroll really has figured out God, the Universe and Everything, I would really be impressed.

But I don't think he has.  

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my point that this evidence is ignored by apologists.

Latter-day Saint apologists critique evidence and arguments presented all the time.  FARMS did it.  FAIR does it.  Interpreter does it.  Jeff Lindsay does it.  Book of Mormon Central does it.  And on and on and on.  

So it's a bit absurd for you to pluck a book out of the millions available on Amazon, quote it, and then say "There.  Mormon apologists have not responded to this book.  I rest my case.  The Mormons are addressing the evidence against their beliefs."  That is patently and wildly inaccurate and misleading.

The fact that they try to control the conversation by cherry picking the evidence they deal with

Meh.  This is an unserious claim.

Again, Latter-day Saint apologists critique evidence and arguments presented all the time.  And they don't just pick the low-hanging fruit, either.  

The problem, I think, is that Latter-day Saint apologists acknowlege that argument and evidence can only take us so far.  There are things that are beyond the means of "science" to empirically prove or disprove.  We're okay with that.  You, apparently, are not.  You want us to believe that "science" is the be-all-end-all compendium of all truth everywhere, and that Mr. Carroll has found the key to confirming the truth about God, the Universe and Everything.  That, in a word, is "scientism."

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doesn't change the fact that there are massive amounts of evidence that they ignore.

Meh.  I'm not buying this.

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I've presented evidence from mainstream physics that shows basic truth claims of Mormonism, such as the existence of spirits and revelation, are flatly disproven by mainstream physics.

Scientism.  Straight up.

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Here is the ironic part. I do like the teachings of your church--most of them, anyway. I'd love for there to be a God. I'd love there to be spirits. I'm not an atheist because I hate the concept of God. I'm an atheist because I took the Mormon value of finding and embracing the truth seriously and this is where it led me.

And I'm a Latter-day Saint because I also took the Mormon value of finding and embracing the truth seriously.

And yet my position is more reasonable.  I'm not resorting to positivism, whereas apparently your entire worldview is predicated on it.  I don't claim to have the answers to God, the Universe and Everthing, whereas you think you've figured it all out because you read a book by a scientist.  I acknowledge that we have a blinkered, far-from-complete, and far-from-pristinely-accurate-in-every-respect understanding of "science."  You think Mr. Carroll has the key to Ultimate Knowledge.

I hope you open yourself up to the possibility that God does exist, that we have a relationship with him, that we lived before we arrived here, that we will live after we die, and that there is a grand plan and design for us.  But I think you are looking in the wrong places for ultimate answers to those questions.

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The fact of the matter is that in principle, anything that interacts with the real world is in the purview of science.

Sure.  

But what "science" can measure, detect, prove/disprove is finite.  Surely you acknowledge this?

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The "God hypothesis" isn't even wrong and there really isn't anything to say about it.

And yet even Richard Dawkins, the originator of this idea, admits that, as Wikipedia summarizes it, "the existence or non-existence of God is a scientific fact about the universe, which is discoverable in principle if not in practice" (emphasis added).

I quite agree with this.  I think the existence or non-existence of God is a scientific fact.  I just don't think that "science" has the ability to "discover" that fact.  I think we will eventually discovery it, though:

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."  (Proverbs 4:18.)

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."  (D&C 50:24.)

We will eventually "know the truth of all things."  (Moroni 10:5.)  Meanwhile, however, we "see through a glass, darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12).  

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But things like spirits, revelation, and priesthood power are within the purview of science because they make concrete claims about the real world.

Again, this is just positivism.  You understand that this a philosophy, right?

I'm curious why you speak of "spirits, revelation, and priesthood power," but not . . . morality.  Is morality "within the purview of science?"  We certainly make "concret claims about {it in} the real world."

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As I've shown on this thread,

Argued, not "shown."

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the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science, the theory that is as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla, proves that spirits and revelation don't exist.

Well, no.  You haven't done anything like that.

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And you ignore it and declare that it is incapable of doing any such thing.

I'm not ignoring.  I'm disagreeing.

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And that is the impasse we are at.

Yes.  You and Carroll have the burden of proof.  You have unilaterally and summarily claimed victory.  That your perspective is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla."

I hope you didn't tear your rotator cuff when you were vigorously patting yourself on the back.

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You say you "think scientific advancements are a wonderful thing", yet you completely ignore and deny the existence of the ones that threaten your religious views.

I do not.  

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I'm not preaching anything.

Yes, you are.

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I'm relaying the specific details of what 50 years of intense scientific research has taught us about the Effective Quantum Field Theory.

And it's "taught us" that the existence of God has been empirically disproven?

Yeah, no.

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This is science, and calling me names won't cause it to go away.

This is scientism.  And I haven't called you names.

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Oh, nonsense.  Nobody is "ignor{ing} scientific arguments."  We are all fine with science within its sphere and element.  But science, in its present form, can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, or the existence of spirits.

Do you know how silly that sounds?

Right back atcha.  You are claiming that "science" has "taught us" that the existence of God has been empirically disproven.

Do you know how silly that sounds?

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In the words of Sean Carroll:

There’s nothing in the practice of science that excludes the supernatural from the start. Science tries to find the best explanations for what we observe, and if the best explanation is a non-natural one, that’s the one science would lead us to. We can easily imagine situations in which the best explanation scientists could find would reach beyond the natural world. The Second Coming could occur; Jesus could return to Earth, the dead could be resurrected, and judgment could be passed. It would be a pretty dense set of scientists indeed who, faced with the evidence of their senses in such a situation, would stubbornly insist on considering only natural explanations. The relationship between science and naturalism is not that science presumes naturalism; it’s that science has provisionally concluded that naturalism is the best picture of the world we have available.

Carroll, Sean. The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (p. 134). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Sheesh.  Even Carroll doesn't go so far as you do.  He proposes that "science has provisionally concluded" some things. 

"Provisionally," as I hope you understand, means "subject to further confirmation; for the time being."  Synonyms for it include "temporarily" and "on certain conditions."  See also "subject to confirmation," "as a fill-in," "short-term," "for the present," "for now," and "tentatively."

But on this thread you have blown way past "provisionally" and are saying that Caroll's theory is "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that it is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that it "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist."

Don't you see what you are doing here?

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And I utterly refute the imputation that Latter-day Saint apologists are somehow afraid or reluctant to engage and and evaluate and respond to arguments and evidences as to what we believe.  Apologists have been doing just that for a very long time.

They respond to some issues that they cherry pick.

I disagree.  I can't remember the last time I came across a really thorny issue in our doctrines or history that has not been addressed by apologists.  I'm not saying the coverage has been universal, or is of equal depth and quality for every issue, but you are simply wrong to accuse Latter-day Saint scholars of cherry-picking.  I invite you to start another thread and identify, say, the top ten "issues" apologists have not addressed.

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But as I've demonstrated on this thread with one example, there are detailed, specific scientific arguments that use the strongest results of all of science that prove core Mormon beliefs are implausible.  

Except that you haven't demonstrated anything of the sort.

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And for whatever reason, apologists don't engage with these arguments.

Because apologists have not responded to Carroll's book?

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As I said at the very beginning, I don't expect you to agree with me. But from my seat, science is continuously gaining further light and knowledge, and all branches of science are pointing to the same conclusion.

Positivism.  Scientism.  

Consider this December 2019 item from Scientific American:

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Although quantum theory is now the foundation of particle physics, many scientists still share Einstein’s discomfort with its implications. The theory has revealed aspects of nature that seem supernatural: the act of observing something can apparently alter its reality, and quantum entanglement can weave together distant pieces of spacetime. (Einstein derisively called it “spooky action at a distance.”) The laws of nature also put strict limits on what we can learn about the universe. We can’t peer inside black holes, for example, or view anything that lies beyond the distance that light has traveled since the start of the big bang.

And here:

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So rather than asking “Can science prove God exists?”, what about: “Are the findings of science compatible with the existence of purposeful creator?” For many scientists today, the answer to the second question is yes. Biophysicist and theologian Alister McGrath has said, “nothing that we observe in nature…proves that there is a God…For me the really important thing is that the world as we observe it corresponds with what Christians would say the world ought to be like, that there’s a correspondence between the theory and the observation.”[1] Professor Christine Done, an Astrophysicist at Durham University, writes, “for me the more we know about the vast, yet intricate and beautiful Universe we live in, the bigger and more awe-inspiring is the God who made it all.”[2] Some go even further, making statements like this: “the way the universe exhibits an ordered structure, which is open to science to investigate, points to a mind behind it.”[3]

With the question of God, I realise that we are not simply thinking beyond science into other disciplines, but making the claim that a person exists who we cannot see or sense in a physical way – which is much more challenging to defend! But a Christian will immediately point out that we believe that God did take on a physical body, as the person of Jesus, and walk the Earth for over thirty years. Professor Colin Humphreys, a Materials Scientist from the University of Cambridge, writes, “Christianity is not some vague set of beliefs: it is based upon real historical events”.[4] Exploring the eyewitness accounts of these events is beyond the scope of this article, but they are worth looking into.[5]After going through this process, Christine Done found “the evidence was enough to convince me that it was more likely than not that Christianity was true in terms of Jesus literally being raised from the dead.”[6]

That you speak of "science" in monolithic and sentient terms is, frankly, one of the biggest indicators of you having fallen into scientism and presentism.  "Science" is not a person.  It cannot speak.  It cannot make statements of fact.  It is a compendium of information and theory acquired to date.  It is studied and explored and explained by many very intelligent people, many of whom disagree with each other in ways large and small.  

You have come here and presume to declare what "science" says, what "science" has concluded, and so on.  

There are (1) facts, (2) limited and not-perfectly-understood data giving us insights as to those facts, and (3) individualized perspectives and opinions and conclusions about (1) that are predicated on (2).  But you are insisting that you have transcended the entirety of the human endeavor, that you have collapsed and circumscribed (1), (2) and (3) into a "theory that is as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that this theory "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist."

To quote a guy: "Do you know how silly that sounds?"

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And this trend is ignored by apologists in its entirety.

Meh.  The apologists are doing quite well, I think.

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I've been talking about what quantum physics has to say about the likelihood that spirits are real. 

"Likelihood?"  You're well beyond "likelihood."  You have declared that Carroll's position (which even he characterizes as "provisional") is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that it "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist."

So which is it?  Have you definitively "proven" the that "spirits and revelation don't exist?"  Or are you just talking about it having a low (but nonzero) "likelihood" of existing?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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3 hours ago, Analytics said:

And yes, because his paradigm comes from science and not religion, the evidence he looks at is in particle accelerators and not his own emotional reactions to reading a book

And so he is begging the question from the beginning by not questioning where that need for scientific certainty comes from

Some folks are drawn to his view of "empiricism" BUT not RADICAL empiricism, taught by James, which includes psychology- by their own emotions and psychological need for certainty, yet do not acknowledge that scientific fact!

 In their personal quest for meaning, they ignore the fact that meaning is personally created and therefore uncertain, by it's very nature!

(Yes  I am surmising in his personal case)

Folks like him, I have found, don't see the human need for meaning in life without noticing that they are fulfilling that need by denying it!

Everyone creates mentally what beliefs work to give comfort, peace and solace, and sometimes in folks like him, that need is for certainty, but certainty in what gives meaning is impossible.

Everyone creates their own interpretation of the world. 

AYes the world is out there objectively, but its meaning is in our minds, and subjective!  We create our own meaning in life by our own preferences.

This contradiction is the same thing I think that motivates folks who are fixated on finding BOM historical evidence.

Kevin points to the Perry scale which shows that tolerance for ambiguity is found in the highest cognitive level.

And yes, this view itself is one paradigm and uncertain.

Consistent relatvists know that relativism itself is a paradigm and only relatively true, but they tolerate that ambiguity well. ;)

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Is Carroll "qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education" as to the subject matter at hand?  Namely, the existence of God, spirits, etc.?

Is Carroll's "scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge" something that will help "the trier of fact" (me, or anyone else interesting in the existence of God, spirits, etc.) "understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue?"

Are the "principles or methods that are underlying" in Carroll's book "reliable" in terms of helping someone like me ascertain the existence of God, spirits, etc.?

Are the "principles or methods that are underlying" in Carroll's book "based upon sufficient facts or data" regarding "the existence of God, spirits, etc."?

Has Carroll "reliably applied" the "principles or methods that are underlying" his book "to the facts?"

To answer these questions, the answer is no regarding "the existence of God, spirits, etc." The reason for that is that "God, spirits, etc." are undefined.

However, I would say Carroll is a qualified expert with regards to Effective Quantum Field Theory and the experimental data supporting it, including what it implies about the likelihood of there being unknown energy or particles that can affect our day-to-day reality, including signals to or from the atoms that make up our brains. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Analytics said:
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I have not been ignoring you.  I'm just not investing much time or interest in your remarks.  Your remarks have been repeatedly and emphatically loaded with contempt and ridicule for things that are important, even sacred, to us.

I wasn't aiming for contempt or ridicule. I was aiming for clarity.

And yet you hit contempt and ridicule.  Funny, that.

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In any case, Sean Carroll has made a serious, provocative, science-based argument about how there is immense experimental evidence supporting the rigorousness of Quantum Mechanics within its "domain of applicability," and that surprisingly, this indicates that there can't be "spirits",

"Indicates that there can't be 'spirits?'"

Indicates?

What happened to "proves?"  As in "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that it is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that it "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist"?

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at least not spirits strong enough to interact with known reality by moving a photon, moving an electron, or moving anything else that would be perceptible to us.

"At least not?"

"Known reality?"

"Perceptible to us?"

Again, what happened to "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist?"

Surely you understand that qualified terms like "at least not" and "known reality" and "perceptible to us" don't play well together with absolutist, conclusory terms like "strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla" and "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist"?

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In any case, something about Daniel C. Peterson that bugs me is he typically replies to a generic critic, a generic non-believer, or a generic anti-Mormon.

You would prefer he specify an individual?  Why?  

Most of what DCP replies to are trends and themes that have been adopted or expressed by many people and/or over long periods of time.  And he does a pertty good job of documenting them where appropriate.  Some arguments to which he responds are so obviously present that specifically documenting them is unnecessary (tantamount to a news article providing a footnote to document that Joseph Biden is the current POTUS).

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This comes across as a way to attack a strawman with the plausible deniability of saying, "the generic critic I'm describing isn't you? That's great. I'm talking about it somebody else."

I think DCP mostly focuses on arguments, rather than individuals.  And when he identifies an individual (Grant Palmer, John Dehlin, whomever), he does a pretty good job of focusing on their behavior and statements.

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If you are interested in understanding Carroll's argument, please read the first 27 chapters of Big Picture, paying particular attention to chapters 19-24, 26-27. I'll buy you a copy of the book if you'd like. If you want to take me up on that, send me a PM. The good news is that his style is a lot less abrasive than mine.

I'll think on it.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Analytics said:

To answer these questions, the answer is no regarding "the existence of God, spirits, etc." The reason for that is that "God, spirits, etc." are undefined.

And yet you have characterized Carroll's theory as  "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that it is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that it "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist."

So Carroll has "proven" that these "undefined" things (God and spirits) "don't exist?"  That's what "science" can do?  Disprove the existence of something that isn't even defined?

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However, I would say Carroll is a qualified expert with regards to Effective Quantum Field Theory and the experimental data supporting it, including what it implies about the likelihood of there being unknown energy or particles that can affect our day-to-day reality, including signals to or from the atoms that make up our brains. 

"What it implies about the likelihood?"  

What happened to "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist"?

Do you see just a wee bit of difference between

(A) a theory that "provisionally" (as Carroll elsewhere put it) "implies" a "likelihood" of the non-existence of spirits

versus

(B) a theory that, as you assert, is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla" and "proves" the non-existence of spirits?

I'm getting whiplash reading your posts.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I amend: I accept the label "supernatural" so long as we understand that we do not believe that miraculous things are a violation of natural law, but rather a higher manifestation and use of it.

What I don't like about the term "supernatural" is how it suggests something that supercedes what is natural, as if we understand everything about what is natural, but what is called supernatural is simply what we don't understand.

Even God is natural, or a part of nature.  And everything God does is natural, at least for him, too.

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23 minutes ago, Ahab said:

What I don't like about the term "supernatural" is how it suggests something that supercedes what is natural, as if we understand everything about what is natural, but what is called supernatural is simply what we don't understand.

Even God is natural, or a part of nature.  And everything God does is natural, at least for him, too.

Great point, and I noticed you had a question about the expression "begging the question" and here you point out an example of that happening, with the word "supernatural"

Folks who use the word "supernatural" are "begging the question" that the supernatural actually exists-in other words they believe it exists before they make comments on it- it is their assumption that it exists even while they discuss if it exists.

But we know that everything is "natural" and there IS no "supernatural"-  just undefined phenomena.

It becomes a question of definitions

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I amend: I accept the label "supernatural" so long as we understand that we do not believe that miraculous things are a violation of natural law, but rather a higher manifestation and use of it.

Agreed. I'm not trying to win the argument with definitions. I'm trying to relay what I believe scientific research has revealed about the kinds of things that are possible and the kind of things that are not posslble. 

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I am reminded of this dialogue from Inherit the Wind (where Matthew Harrison Brady is a witness in the "monkey trial") :

As you can guess, you are far more like the Drummond fellow, and I am sort of like the Brady fellow.  But that one line in the last bit doesn't work for me: "Natural law was born in the mind of the heavenly Father. He can change it, cancel it, use it as He pleases."

I don't agree with this.  See here:

And here (attributed to Brigham Young) :

And here (same link) (Parley P. Pratt) :

And here (same link) (James E. Talmage) :

0And this conclusion (by the author of the above-linked article, David H. Bailey) :

Believe it or not, I'm aware of all of that. My point all along has been that scientific issues that contradict the faith are "put on the shelf" with the faith that the religion and science will eventually, hopefully harmonize.

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You are once again resorting to scientism.  You are treating "science" as the only legitimate means of seeking after and discerning truth.

All I'm trying to do is understand and explain specific scientific evidence so that it can be discussed openly and honestly. Whether there are legitimate means other than science to seek after or discern truth is an entirely different issue. 

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And I can't help but note that you contradict yourself here.  You acknowledge that "we all have our biases," but then go on to conclude that religionists are "cultivating confirmation bias" while the other "group" (a marvelously false dichotomy, by the way) "is not" cultivating confirmation bias.

Just because we all have biases doesn't mean that some people actively try to overcome them while others rationalize them as part of their epistemology. 

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See, this is where I start to bring up scientism.  Science is not situated to make such conclusory statements.  These are opinions, not facts.  These are conclusory beliefs, not facts.

I refer you to the specific claims that Carroll makes, the specific evidence for those claims, and the specific qualifications he makes for those claims. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but you really ought to read the book if you want to understand his arguments.

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Your response, then, seems to be "Well, he's a scientist."  Well, yeah.  But that's just an appeal to scientific authority.  That's just scientism.

Well?  Paul Nelson isn't "ignoring" Carroll here.  He is responding to and critiquing Carroll.

Not really. Carroll makes a meticulous argument for why science indicates that we can be fairly confident there isn't a soul. Nelson responds by saying that argument should be ignored because Carroll doesn't know the intricate details of how consciousness emerges from the brain. Pointing out that we don't know how consciousness emerges from the brain is irrelevant to the arguments Carroll makes about why souls probably don't exist. 

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We're okay with that.  You, apparently, are not.

Why would you get that idea? One of my original points that you took so much offense at is that there is a lot of contradictory evidence that apologists put on the shelf. 

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You want us to believe that "science" is the be-all-end-all compendium of all truth everywhere

I never said that nor implied it. I've just tried to relay some of the interesting things that science has in most likelihood figured out.

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, and that Mr. Carroll has found the key to confirming the truth about God, the Universe and Everything.  That, in a word, is "scientism."

No, the word for that is "straw man."

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Scientism.  Straight up.

Science denialism?

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And I'm a Latter-day Saint because I also took the Mormon value of finding and embracing the truth seriously.

And yet my position is more reasonable.  I'm not resorting to positivism, whereas apparently your entire worldview is predicated on it.  I don't claim to have the answers to God, the Universe and Everthing...

Neither do I. Nor does Sean Carroll. You do realize that Carroll's subtitle is "On the origins of life, meaning, and the universe itself." Writing a book that is about those subjects is different than claiming to have "all the answers" to "God, the universe, and everything."

Recognizing what science indicates about the nature of reality is not positivism. 

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whereas you think you've figured it all out because you read a book by a scientist.

No, I think I understand Sean Carroll's point about the contents, evidence for, and implications of Effective Quantum Field Theory. That doesn't mean I think I have it all figured out. 

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I acknowledge that we have a blinkered, far-from-complete, and far-from-pristinely-accurate-in-every-respect understanding of "science." 

You are dismissing out of hand a specific scientific argument that threatens your religious preconceptions. All I would ask you to do is understand what the evidence is that you are putting on the shelf.

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You think Mr. Carroll has the key to Ultimate Knowledge.

No I don't.

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I hope you open yourself up to the possibility that God does exist, that we have a relationship with him, that we lived before we arrived here, that we will live after we die, and that there is a grand plan and design for us.  But I think you are looking in the wrong places for ultimate answers to those questions.

I'm sure you meant that nicely, and I thank you for the kind gesture. 

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But what "science" can measure, detect, prove/disprove is finite.  Surely you acknowledge this?

You've already told me I don't believe that. Who to believe, who to believe.

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Again, this is just positivism.  You understand that this a philosophy, right?

You think positivism means thinking science can investigate things within observable reality?

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I'm curious why you speak of "spirits, revelation, and priesthood power," but not . . . morality.  Is morality "within the purview of science?"  We certainly make "concret claims about {it in} the real world."

I speak of spirits, revelation, and priesthood power because the arguments I'm citing have bearing on those things. The arguments I'm citing do not reference God or morality. Is morality within the purview of science? I think the book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, makes some good points.

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Right back atcha.  You are claiming that "science" has "taught us" that the existence of God has been empirically disproven.

No I'm not. If you were paying any attention to what I say, you would know I have not said that.

Edited by Analytics
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49 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And yet you have characterized Carroll's theory as  "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that it is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that it "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist."

So Carroll has "proven" that these "undefined" things (God and spirits) "don't exist?"  That's what "science" can do?  Disprove the existence of something that isn't even defined?Let 

Let me restate my point. 

Quantum Field Theory is an extremely strong theory. "The strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science." I'll stand by that. That said, science doesn't "prove" anything. I've used that word colloquially, and I apologize. I should have been more precise. 

I'm not sure if I mentioned this yet or not, but if you want to understand Carroll's arguments, you should read his book.

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17 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

One thing that always amuses me is the boilerplate assertion conveyed by the bolded words. It always comes across to me as a betrayal of the accuser's barely-veiled incredulity that someone could possibly disagree with the evidence they find convincing in - no pun intended - good faith. I've heard this accusation time and time again - "you're just arguing against this because you need to in order to maintain your beliefs!" - and each time I marvel at how my counterpart appears so disinclined to accept that maybe, just maybe...I don't find the counterevidence convincing enough to overthrow what I already believe. 

... or that he/she is doing the same thing while criticising you, projecting upon you their own need for unambiguous certainty. 

Whenever I hear something like "you're just arguing against this because you need to in order to maintain your beliefs!" I immediately imagine the individual looking at themselves in a mirror, seeing "through a glass, darkly".

The more we look out at the world, the more we know about how we perceive it.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

You are once again resorting to scientism.  You are treating "science" as the only legitimate means of seeking after and discerning truth.

And I can't help but note that you contradict yourself here.  You acknowledge that "we all have our biases," but then go on to conclude that religionists are "cultivating confirmation bias" while the other "group" (a marvelously false dichotomy, by the way) "is not" cultivating confirmation bias.

Scientism.  Straight up or on the rocks?

👍

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18 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

One thing that always amuses me is the boilerplate assertion conveyed by the bolded words. It always comes across to me as a betrayal of the accuser's barely-veiled incredulity that someone could possibly disagree with the evidence they find convincing in - no pun intended - good faith. I've heard this accusation time and time again - "you're just arguing against this because you need to in order to maintain your beliefs!" - and each time I marvel at how my counterpart appears so disinclined to accept that maybe, just maybe...I don't find the counterevidence convincing enough to overthrow what I already believe. 

In the end, however, it makes no difference. That isn't my problem. 

And by the way, in case you want me to bend over backwards at the word of an expert, I have to ask about what you recommend that I do when experts disagree. It would seem that I would have to weigh the competing arguments of the experts myself, no? If I am not permitted to do that now, why would I be permitted to do it then? 

This seems to be a response to an argument I never made.  My observation is that there were immediate attacks on the conclusions offered by the scientists mentioned by Analytics and that those attacks were not based in any significant understanding of the actual words, work or research performed by said scientists.  They were defensive reactions.  If you evaluate all of the same evidence and reach a different conclusion, that's fine.  If you attack the conclusions simply because they challenge your pre-existing beliefs, and you react using proof-texting and a biased search for opposing viewpoints, you aren't engaging in a truth-seeking activity; it's purely defense.  That's fine, if that's what you're going for, but don't claim victory when you haven't actually considered even the very basic amount of evidence offered by the scientific community.

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1 hour ago, ttribe said:

 That's fine, if that's what you're going for, but don't claim victory when you haven't actually considered even the very basic amount of evidence offered by the scientific community.

And if you have studied the issue for over 50 years and are thoroughly familiar with the issues, how likely is it that an atheist scientist would do the same serious investigation for the post of one whom he saw as some theist yahoo's position, whom he saw as an uneducated "science denyer"? 

Theists who understand scientism and positivism are no different.

No one likes to waste time.

Atheists will be the first to claim that you don't need God to know that murder is "wrong " but there is NO scientific evidence for that belief, but typically their politics will be based on Human rights, equality, and morality,  for which there is no scientific or objective evidence.

 It's OK to believe all those things without evidence but not OK to believe in God.

 And they don't even see the contradiction.

Go figure.

 Do they even consider that contradiction? Not for a moment

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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4 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

And if you have studied the issue for over 50 years and are thoroughly familiar with the issues, how likely is it that an atheist scientist would do the same serious investigation for the post of one whom he saw as some theist yahoo's position, whom he saw as an uneducated "science denyer"? 

Theists who understand scientism and positivism are no different.

No one likes to waste time.

 

So, not a truth-seeking exercise. Got it.

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39 minutes ago, ttribe said:

So, not a truth-seeking exercise. Got it.

 That depends on what truth is.

I edited this after your quote and would like to see your reaction about athiest morality having  no scientific evidence.

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3 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

 That depends on what truth is.

I edited this after your quote and would like to see your reaction about athiest morality having  no scientific evidence.

 

50 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Atheists will be the first to claim that you don't need God to know that murder is "wrong " but there is NO scientific evidence for that belief, but typically their politics will be based on Human rights, equality, and morality,  for which there is no scientific or objective evidence.

 It's OK to believe all those things without evidence but not OK to believe in God.

 And they don't even see the contradiction.

Go figure.

 Do they even consider that contradiction? Not for a moment

 

 

First of all, "Atheists will be the first to claim..." is a non-starter in the discussion.  You're making a ham-fisted blanket statement which apparently shortcuts the nuance of the human condition.  There is no unified "body" of atheists; I caution against use of such universal language.

Second, you seem to be restricting your discussion of science to only the so-called "hard" sciences.  I can assure you there is a great deal of empirical research in the social sciences which studies morality, etc. and show the societal benefits to collective agreements (even if it is implicit) on certain baseline moral standards.

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4 hours ago, ttribe said:

This seems to be a response to an argument I never made.  My observation is that there were immediate attacks on the conclusions offered by the scientists mentioned by Analytics and that those attacks were not based in any significant understanding of the actual words, work or research performed by said scientists.  They were defensive reactions.  If you evaluate all of the same evidence and reach a different conclusion, that's fine.  If you attack the conclusions simply because they challenge your pre-existing beliefs, and you react using proof-texting and a biased search for opposing viewpoints, you aren't engaging in a truth-seeking activity; it's purely defense.  That's fine, if that's what you're going for, but don't claim victory when you haven't actually considered even the very basic amount of evidence offered by the scientific community.

I consider the burden of proof to be on the contender. When my counterpart makes an argument, I look into it. I'm too busy and the world is too full for me to preemptively look into opposing arguments before they happen. Analytics started in with complete physics, I read about it, I responded. He started in with QFT, I read about it, I responded. Who gets to judge when my background knowledge is sufficient to respond in an argument? Where is that line? One of the few things I've learned in rhetoric is that one of the the easiest dismissals of your opponent is "he didn't understand my argument and needs to read more." It doesn't get carte blanche from me anymore. 

I'd also ask about why reaching a different conclusion is fine. If we evaluate the same evidence and come to different conclusions, then clearly our decisions are being made based on additional factors, including prior beliefs. But then aren't we just making decisions based on those prior beliefs anyways? 

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If you attack the conclusions simply because they challenge your pre-existing beliefs, and you react using proof-texting and a biased search for opposing viewpoints, you aren't engaging in a truth-seeking activity; it's purely defense.

This is actually really interesting to me because it highlights the importance of different ways of thinking about apologetics and counterapologetics. 

I should start by saying that I don't believe that there has ever been a genuinely "truth-seeking" inquiry in the sense that a question was approached clean of priors, of beliefs held beforehand which influence the way we answer the question. The very idea is incoherent: the world is not cleanly subdivided into neat little atomized questions and thus to make sense of any one question we will inevitably have to rely on prior beliefs regarding other things. We cannot evaluate evidence without first holding beliefs about that evidence. Perhaps this is not what you mean by "truth-seeking", and if so, please correct me; nonetheless I can't see any other way to interpret your use of the phrase "truth-seeking activity". 

Second, I explicitly reject the frame that "defense" and "truth-seeking activity" are mutually exclusive. This is because I view apologetics through the lens of the Hegelian dialectic. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. It is an attempt to learn more, which I cannot do if I jettison my priors at the approach of an argument. I don't lie in my arguments. I seek good information. How is it that that is not a "truth-seeking activity"? Everybody has the right to interrogate a subject if it conflicts with what they already know. 

This last matter is a little petty, I'll confess, but I'll carry on anyways: what decides between "proof-texting and biased searching for opposing viewpoints" and "legitimate use of sources"? I can frame Analytics doing that just as easily. Smac97 says something about the omnicompetence of LDS apologetics that doesn't fit Analytics' view, so he approaches with an opposing viewpoint which he defends by dropping quote after quote which, though lengthy, only correspond to a small fragment of the total argument which he attempts to represent. That was easy. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Atheists will be the first to claim that you don't need God to know that murder is "wrong " but there is NO scientific evidence for that belief, but typically their politics will be based on Human rights, equality, and morality,  for which there is no scientific or objective evidence.

 It's OK to believe all those things without evidence but not OK to believe in God.

 And they don't even see the contradiction.

Go figure.

 Do they even consider that contradiction? Not for a moment

Virtually every atheist you meet gets his ethics from humanism, not from atheism. While humanism is the ultimate axiom for morality, it isn't totally arbitrary, either. As humans, we should all be able to agree that human flourishing (e.g. healthiness, happiness, knowledge, wealth, human connections, peace) is better than the opposite. While an argumentative philosopher could claim that there is no reason to believe those things are really better than the alternative, from a boots-on-the-ground perspective, we should be able to notice that a good life is the kind of life we do in fact want. If we agree that human wellbeing is what we want for our civilization, science does have something to say about what ethical dictums are more likely to maximize human wellbeing.

Ultimately everything in philosophy needs an axiom, and for humanists, the axiom is maximizing human wellbeing.  

Is invoking as an axiom that we should want humans to flourish a license to invoke the existence of God as an axiom? I don't see how. Here is a quote from Harvard professor Steven Pinker on the weakness of theistic morality:

Let’s start with theistic morality. It’s true that many religious codes enjoin people from murdering, assaulting, robbing, or betraying one another. But of course so do codes of secular morality, and for an obvious reason: these are rules that all rational, self-interested, and gregarious agents would want their compatriots to agree upon. Not surprisingly, they are codified in the laws of every state, and indeed seem to be present in every human society.

What does an appeal to a supernatural lawgiver add to a humanistic commitment to make people better off? The most obvious add-on is supernatural enforcement...

But theistic morality has two fatal flaws. The first is that there is no good reason to believe that God exists [he then spends several pages explaining why this is the case. I suppose this would all be relevant to responding to Peterson's original point, if "no reason" were shorthand for "no good reason." Although his arguments are excellent, I'll spare the reader with the following ellipses]...

And that brings us to the second problem with theistic morality. It’s not just that there is almost certainly no God to dictate and enforce moral precepts. It’s that even if there were a God, his divine decrees, as conveyed to us through religion, cannot be the source of morality. The explanation goes back to Plato’s Euthyphro, in which Socrates points out that if the gods have good reasons to deem certain acts moral, we can appeal to those reasons directly, skipping the middlemen. If they don’t, we should not take their dictates seriously. After all, thoughtful people can give reasons why they don’t kill, rape, or torture other than fear of eternal hellfire, and they would not suddenly become rapists and contract killers if they had reason to believe that God’s back was turned or if he told them it was OK.

Theistic moralists reply that the God of scripture, unlike the capricious deities of Greek mythology, is by his very nature incapable of issuing immoral commandments. But anyone who is familiar with scripture knows that this is not so. The God of the Old Testament murdered innocents by the millions...

The Euthyphro argument puts the lie to the common claim that atheism consigns us to a moral relativism in which everyone can do his own thing. The claim gets it backwards. A humanistic morality rests on the universal bedrock of reason and human interests: it’s an inescapable feature of the human condition that we’re all better off if we help each other and refrain from hurting each other. For this reason many contemporary philosophers, including Nagel, Goldstein, Peter Singer, Peter Railton, Richard Boyd, David Brink, and Derek Parfit, are moral realists (the opposite of relativists), arguing that moral statements may be objectively true or false. It’s religion that is inherently relativistic. Given the absence of evidence, any belief in how many deities there are, who are their earthly prophets and messiahs, and what they demand of us can depend only on the parochial dogmas of one’s tribe. Not only does this make theistic morality relativistic; it can make it immoral. Invisible gods can command people to slay heretics, infidels, and apostates. And an immaterial soul is unmoved by the earthly incentives that impel us to get along. 

Contestants over a material resource are usually better off if they split it than fight over it, particularly if they value their own lives on earth. But contestants over a sacred value (like holy land or affirmation of a belief) may not compromise, and if they think their souls are immortal, the loss of their body is no big deal—indeed, it may be a small price to pay for an eternal reward in paradise.

Pinker, Steven. Enlightenment Now (p. 420-429). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Edited by Analytics
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55 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Second, I explicitly reject the frame that "defense" and "truth-seeking activity" are mutually exclusive. This is because I view apologetics through the lens of the Hegelian dialectic. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. It is an attempt to learn more, which I cannot do if I jettison my priors at the approach of an argument. I don't lie in my arguments. I seek good information. How is it that that is not a "truth-seeking activity"? Everybody has the right to interrogate a subject if it conflicts with what they already know....

Before I respond to this, let me just say this was a good post of yours and you said a lot of good things I agree with.

One difference between a "truth-seeking activity" and a knee-jerk defense would be as follows (and please forgive me for making myself the hero of the story). When I picked up Big Picture for the first time, I wasn't looking for a book on atheism, looking for a way to bolster my beliefs, or looking for ammunition to argue against any particular religion. I was looking to learn more about physics from a current source. When I started reading it, I did in fact believe that disproving the existence of "fine and pure" matter that subtly interacts with the brain was beyond the scope of what science could prove or disprove, especially in the era of quantum indeterminacy. In fact, I'm naturally a sucker for pseudoscientific ideas like "What the [bleep] Do We Know?" that "posits a spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness." I love the idea of having access to gnostic knowledge. None of this was on my mind when I picked up the book, but that is where I was.

When I got to the section about Effective Quantum Field Theory, how strong the evidence (allegedly) is to support it, how (allegedly) robust the conclusions are, how we can (allegedly) be relatively certain that future scientific advances will not override it, and about how it (allegedly) proves that there is almost certainly no soul, no ESP, and no bending spoons with your mind, I was skeptical and intrigued. I studied the arguments carefully, and read the relevant chapters multiple times. I ultimately became convinced. Of course from my perspective, putting more nails into the coffin of certain beliefs I had already abandoned wasn't that challenging in and of itself. In fact, I was probably especially receptive to these ideas because of my own confirmation bias.  But I certainly didn't and still don't have an emotional or sociological need for Quantum Mechanics to offer strong evidence that revelation isn't real. It just so happens that my endeavors to learn about science provided me with this knowledge.

Of the people who have responded on this thread, you are among the ones who gave these arguments a relatively fair hearing, and for that I thank you. But others approached it in an extremely defensive way, anxiously looking for excuses to dismiss it without even beginning to understand the arguments. From my perspective, my approach to the book was a truth-seeking activity that caused me to learn something I didn't know, while the people who made more rash judgments didn't really engage with the evidence and really didn't learn anything. It's hard to call that a truth-seeking activity.

 

Edited by Analytics
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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

I consider the burden of proof to be on the contender. When my counterpart makes an argument, I look into it. I'm too busy and the world is too full for me to preemptively look into opposing arguments before they happen. Analytics started in with complete physics, I read about it, I responded. He started in with QFT, I read about it, I responded. Who gets to judge when my background knowledge is sufficient to respond in an argument? Where is that line? One of the few things I've learned in rhetoric is that one of the the easiest dismissals of your opponent is "he didn't understand my argument and needs to read more." It doesn't get carte blanche from me anymore. 

I'd also ask about why reaching a different conclusion is fine. If we evaluate the same evidence and come to different conclusions, then clearly our decisions are being made based on additional factors, including prior beliefs. But then aren't we just making decisions based on those prior beliefs anyways? 

This is actually really interesting to me because it highlights the importance of different ways of thinking about apologetics and counterapologetics. 

I should start by saying that I don't believe that there has ever been a genuinely "truth-seeking" inquiry in the sense that a question was approached clean of priors, of beliefs held beforehand which influence the way we answer the question. The very idea is incoherent: the world is not cleanly subdivided into neat little atomized questions and thus to make sense of any one question we will inevitably have to rely on prior beliefs regarding other things. We cannot evaluate evidence without first holding beliefs about that evidence. Perhaps this is not what you mean by "truth-seeking", and if so, please correct me; nonetheless I can't see any other way to interpret your use of the phrase "truth-seeking activity". 

Second, I explicitly reject the frame that "defense" and "truth-seeking activity" are mutually exclusive. This is because I view apologetics through the lens of the Hegelian dialectic. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. It is an attempt to learn more, which I cannot do if I jettison my priors at the approach of an argument. I don't lie in my arguments. I seek good information. How is it that that is not a "truth-seeking activity"? Everybody has the right to interrogate a subject if it conflicts with what they already know. 

This last matter is a little petty, I'll confess, but I'll carry on anyways: what decides between "proof-texting and biased searching for opposing viewpoints" and "legitimate use of sources"? I can frame Analytics doing that just as easily. Smac97 says something about the omnicompetence of LDS apologetics that doesn't fit Analytics' view, so he approaches with an opposing viewpoint which he defends by dropping quote after quote which, though lengthy, only correspond to a small fragment of the total argument which he attempts to represent. That was easy. 

I want to give this post the thought it deserves.

I'll Be Back.jpg

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