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#19170 - 03/21/07 05:29 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
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Blacknad felt the same way I think. The discussion seemed to be heading in that direction I thought. ie basically that the universe is a determinate universe because of the operation of the natural laws of physics and therefore random acts are impossible. I'm probably wrong and shouldn't be commenting, but it's a really interesting discussion so what the heck! Go easy on me I am not a scientist! But I do like (without any real evidence) the rather crazy notion of chaos as the source of everything!

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#19173 - 03/21/07 06:29 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Ellis]
redewenur Offline
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Ellis.

I know the feeling, I'm not a scientist, either.

"The discussion seemed to be heading in that direction I thought. ie basically that the universe is a determinate universe because of the operation of the natural laws of physics and therefore random acts are impossible."

Just the opposite. The discussion was nothing more than an academic exercise. It wound up with the foregone conclusion: as long quantum theory holds true, i.e., that, at the quantum level truly random events do occur, then the logical conclusion is that the universe cannot be determinate. This was what Einstein found difficult to swallow, prompting him to say "God does not play dice with the universe".

Chaos is an interesting new science (mid-twentieth cent.) which was launched mainly by the research of a meteorologist feeding simulated weather data into a computer. He found that a minute change in the initial data eventually had a radical effect on the simulation results. Although I've read quite a bit about it, I don't pretend to understand at all well - it's a maths based science steeped if fractal mathematics, and specialist at that! Some scientists still argue about its veracity, but it's making headway in many sciences. It has, so I hear, even lead to the production of an improved heart pacemaker.

Chaos, in 'Chaos Theory', is not the same as the 'chaos' of common usage. In a 'chaotic system', all states of the system, at any point on the time line, are determinate but, because of the complexity involved, they cannot be predicted.

I expect you?re thinking, "How can anything be predicted if the theory quantum mechanics is true?". I think the answer is that at the macro level, e.g., potting the black ball, quantum events cancel out. Oops! Is this going to start another debate!
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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19179 - 03/21/07 12:43 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
redewenur Offline
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Re the above: I may need putting straight here, but I think it's the same kind of thing with the radioactivity half-life of an isotope. It's not possible the predict when a particular atom will decay, but it is possible to predict the rate of gross decay. I suppose someone might post something more about probabilties, 'sum over histories', or some such thing (I hope). I've only looked at these things from a very great height, so I don't need to be reminded that I'm ignorant about the details.
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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19187 - 03/21/07 03:04 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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The universe by definition is indeterminate. Redewenur's example of radioactivity being a class proof.

What we see at the macroscopic level is the result of averaging.

The chaos at the quantum level averages out in such a manner that macroscopic things become predictable.

Here's an example to illustrate it.

The traffic pattern in the morning commute is always different. Different cars leave their houses at different times taking different routes (lanes, speeds, different accidents, etc.) to go from home to work. Yet the macroscopic affect is predictable.
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#19215 - 03/21/07 10:49 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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DA wrote:

"The universe by definition is indeterminate."

And therefore unknowable. Does anyone have difficulty with the idea that what we believe is a product of our genes and our environment? This doesn't necessarily mean what that we are going to believe or do does not contain an element of randomness.


Edited by terrytnewzealand (03/21/07 10:52 PM)

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#19219 - 03/21/07 11:28 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
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This is where we came in, a week ago, isn't it? My answer is "no difficulty", if you include in your definition of 'environment' all possible variables both internal and external. The internal should include any normal process or disease process that may influence our state of mind. For example, damage to part of the frontal cerebral lobe can limit emotional responsiveness and compassion; and, as we've read in another thread, stimulation of the 'God Module' might also have a dramatic effect. The entire endocrine system may also be an influence. I'd say the entire physiological machine, as an integrated, interactive, interdependent whole has an influence; not just the genes. Then there's the external environment. Particularly important might be human relationships and interactions - hero worship, attraction, charismatic influence, dependence, social role, family role - all part of the flood of data that may modify the condition of the individual, and modify his attitude, behavior, philosophy and beliefs. Then, of course, culture and education.

Put all that together, and if you can call it 'our genes and our environment', then I can agree with the proposition. Otherwise, I guess not.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19221 - 03/21/07 11:41 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
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Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Of course Rede. Anything for you. We could put in an asterisk.


Edited by terrytnewzealand (03/21/07 11:42 PM)

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#19222 - 03/21/07 11:46 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Glad we've settled that then. I hardly expected that your original simple question would be capable of that much milage!
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19380 - 03/23/07 10:26 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Take a brief excursion to an entertaining article -

MY GOD PROBLEM, By Natalie Angier (Pulitzer Prize for reporting as a science writer for The New York Times)
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/angier06/angier06_index.html
_______
Also:
BEYOND REDUCTIONISM Reinventing The Sacred, By Stuart A. Kauffman (emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, a MacArthur Fellow and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute.

excerpt:

"On the other side of this vast divide than those who hold to a transcendent God and His authority for meaning and values, are the innumerable secular humanists, children of the enlightenment and contemporary science, who hold firmly to reality as revealed by science, find values in their love for their families and friends, a general sense of fairness and a morality that needs no basis in God's word. Yet we secular humanists have paid an unspoken price for our firm sense that (reductionist) science tells us what is real. First, we have no well wrought scientific basis for our humanity - despite the interesting fact that quantum mechanics on the Copenhagen interpretation assumes free willed physicists who choose what quantum features to measure and thereby change the physical world. The two cultures, science and humanities, remain firmly un-united. And equally important, we have been subtly robbed of our deep capacity for spiritualism. We have come to believe that spirituality is inherently co-localized with a belief in God, and that without such a belief, spirituality is inherently foolish, questionable, without foundation, wishful thinking, silly."

Full article:
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kauffman06/kauffman06_index.html
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19396 - 03/23/07 05:05 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
I haven't had time to read the second article yet, but the first one was ... interesting. It's unfortunate that it was so condescending to religion, though. She could have made her points without reducing herself to taunting.

I was glad, however, to see this little blurb:
Quote:
Indeed, many [scientists] are quick to point out that the Catholic Church has endorsed the theory of evolution and that it sees no conflict between a belief in God and the divinity of Jesus and the notion of evolution by natural selection. If the pope is buying it, the reason for most Americans' resistance to evolution must have less to do with religion than with a lousy advertising campaign.


I think most people who don't believe in evolution are unaware that the pope of the Catholic church (who is seen as one heck of a theologian, even by non-Catholics) declared that evolution isn't a problem for the church. That's a message that needs to get out there. But, as the above excerpt states, evolution needs a better ad campaign.

w


Edited by Wayne Zeller (03/23/07 05:05 PM)

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#19400 - 03/23/07 05:22 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
A great editorial. Thanks for posting the link.
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#19404 - 03/23/07 06:04 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Wayne Zeller]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Originally Posted By: Wayne Zeller
It's unfortunate that it was so condescending to religion, though. She could have made her points without reducing herself to taunting.

Religion in America has, in recent years, been encroaching upon - or should I say stomping all over - the territory of science. Maybe this is exclusively the doing of the Christian fundamentalists to whom you've referred. The result, whatever, has been serious problems with science education in schools. I'm reluctant to raise the name 'Bush' yet again, but he gave his stamp of approval for the teaching of non-science nonsense in science classes. From what I read, science seems to be reclaiming lost territory, but only after a series of battles. Little wonder that we see reactions like that of Natalie Angier.


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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19407 - 03/23/07 06:21 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
Wayne Zeller Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Southern California
Indeed. The stickers on textbooks stating the evolution is "only" a theory should be criminalized. The people who made those stickers know what is meant by "theory" in science, but because it is handier for their agenda they pretend that it only has its vernacular meaning. They intentionally phrase their arguments to use the vernacular meaning of the word so that it seems to marginalize the theory.

I think the majority of them have their hearts in the right place and simply need to get their brains to the right place too. But there is a movement within the right wing Christian Fundamentalist camp to use the beliefs of their gullible followers for political gain. If you get huge groups of people believing your claptrap and then manage to force a state to teach your claptrap to children, then you suddenly gain political power and votes. Even if you're not after politics, it's a great way to incent all those followers to send you gobs of cash.

Falwell and those of his ilk are too obstinate to feel shame, but they should be wallowing in it. They preach their hypocrisy in ways calculated to bring them personal gain. The scandals in the Catholic Church right now pale in comparison, I think, to what would be brought to light if all those people could be unmasked and shown for what they are.

</rant>

w

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#19413 - 03/23/07 07:17 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Wayne Zeller]
Blacknad Offline
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Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Originally Posted By: Wayne Zeller
I think most people who don't believe in evolution are unaware that the pope of the Catholic church (who is seen as one heck of a theologian, even by non-Catholics) declared that evolution isn't a problem for the church. That's a message that needs to get out there. But, as the above excerpt states, evolution needs a better ad campaign.


Is only partially the case I think.

The latest surveys in the UK show only half the population believes in evolution.

We are by no means a religious country, with a very small percentage of Christians etc.

We teach only evolution in schools and no Creationism and have done so since I was at school in the eighties. All of our Natural History TV programs are saturated with it.

We have no overarching paradigm that prevents us from believing it - the overwhelming worldview is agnostic materialism.

The problem, I think, for evolution is that it is counter-intuitive.

I have no reason to deny it at all and I accept the science (apart from the thousands of evolutionary psychology 'just-so stories').

But even I have difficulty when I think about the astounding complexity of the brain and mind. If it uses quantum effects to get past determinacy then I have even more difficulty believing that an unguided natural process could come up with something so amazing.

I am not alone in thinking this way. The more facts we gather about the brain, the less light is shed upon how the brain/mind interface works. It becomes ever more complex, the further our knowledge advances - we discover ever deeper rabbit holes.

I am certainly not saying I would rule out evolution as a completely godless and natural process. I just find it very hard to believe - and so it seems does half of the UK.

Blacknad.

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#19421 - 03/23/07 07:43 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Blacknad]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Blacknad
Your school days were a little later than mine (-'67), so I suppose things had changed. I was taught nothing about evolution. When I did learn about it though, I didn't find it counter-intuitive.

There's no denying that the brain is breathtakingly complex. It's had a while to evolve though, and we see even bigger brains in other mammals. Perhaps they are less complex, I don't know.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19427 - 03/23/07 08:42 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Blacknad wrote:
"I am certainly not saying I would rule out evolution as a completely godless and natural process. I just find it very hard to believe - and so it seems does half of the UK."

I understand your point. Yet in the same breath you will, I think, also acknowledge that you can not name a single entity in the entire universe that does not evolve.

How does that make sense?

I think it far more incredible were it that we have not changed than that we have.
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DA Morgan

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#19456 - 03/24/07 09:06 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
At the risk of offending some people whose views I generally respect the bit that struck me in Redewenur's first link was:

"In other words, for horoscope fans, the burden of proof is entirely on them, the poor gullible gits; while for the multitudes who believe that, in one way or another, a divine intelligence guides the path of every leaping lepton, there is no demand for evidence, no skepticism to surmount, no need to worry."

Sorry guys. I couldn't resist.

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#19466 - 03/24/07 11:02 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Terry
I doubt that anyone's going to let your tyres down - there probably aren't any astrology fans here <g>

It might be surprising, but Natalie Angier represents a minority viewpoint. I don't recall where I found this snippet:

"About 6 in 10 Americans, according to a 2005 Harris Poll, believe in the devil and hell, and about 7 in 10 believe in angels, heaven and the existence of miracles and of life after death. A 2006 survey at Baylor University found that 92 percent of respondents believe in a personal God ? that is, a God with a distinct set of character traits ranging from 'distant' to 'benevolent'."
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19517 - 03/25/07 05:47 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Rede. I think it's in the same article. Interestingly I was halfway through writing my earlier post. Knock on the door. Jehovah's Witnesses. From two doors away. Can't be too offensive to them. Nice people actually. Besides the bass player in one of my bands is JW. I was forced to admit to my visitors that many people have changed their lives for the better on conversion. What do we do for such people if religion is discarded?

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#19519 - 03/25/07 08:40 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Terry
I think your approach has a lot to be said for it. Recent posts (elsewhere) have drawn my attention to the likelihood that I lack sensitivity to personal feelings in the matter. Maybe it's impossible to criticise beliefs without implying criticism of the person who holds them.
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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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