> I didn't say 'limit theological truth to what is
> scientifically verifiable'.
> If you think I did, then quote me where I said it.
> Really, you keep assuming
> things that I never said. Why is that???? I do weary
> of always having you
> claim I said something I didn't say. Please get a
> better set of glasses.
If you read what I said, I did not claim to quote you.
What you did say to paraphrase you is that the truth
of theological or religious claims should be
determined by scientific method, but you have already
admitted that this is not always possible to do. As
we have discussed before, I think that there are
significant limits to what can be tested
scientifically that has any meaning for theology or
religion, since the biggest questions such as the
existence of God certainly can't be. Likewise, as
discussed below, I believe that most testable
hypothesis are at best ancillary and most often
completely immaterial to the theological claims being
> >To limit our lives to what is
> >scientifically verifiable guts our lives of
> So we should make some meaning up? I prefer what
> ever is, not what I wish
> it to be.
But science says nothing about meaning or teleology
since they are not part of what science describes. A
well worn analogy is the scientific description of a
painting. "Science" can describe the pigments, their
location, etc., but it cannot tell you the meaning of
the picture or the intent of the painter. I never
said you should make meaning up, I just said science
can NEVER give you meaning. Science generally
describes. Meaning is something beyond it, see my
discussion of the "meaning" of randomness in natural
processes below for more explication.
> >How does science prove my friends exist? How does
> >science prove my thoughts are rational or even my
> One must be able to clearly define rationality
> before one can get science to
> look at it. And that is a bit difficult. It was
> entirely rational for the
> Islamic terrorists to do what they did, given their
> belief system. To you
> and me, it was irrational.
You misunderstand my point. My point is that there is
nothing in the science of neuroscience or
understanding consciousness that would give us any
good reason to believe that thoughts are objective or
rational. Without that presupposition, science itself
fails, since intersubjective agreement is meaningless
unless the agreement corresponds objectively to
something in reality. Science cannot prove that that
is the case.
> > How does science test whether my wife or children
> >love me?
> Measure their oxytocin levels! see
Ah, but there are all sorts of neurotransmitters and
other chemicals that have been linked to the emotion
of "love" and studies show that these are also
sometimes linked to other emotional states such as
fear. There are distinctions between chemicals and
different kinds of love such as the immediate falling
in love as opposed to long-term love. In essence,
this underscores my point. Love is a complex
phenomenon and I do not doubt that there are
physiological components of it, but the deeper
question is do the physiological components make
someone love me or does the person love me
subjectively. Love is a subjective experience, not
objective like the level of a certain chemical
measured in the bloodstream.
> How does science tell me whether I should
> >join the French resistance in Nazi occupied France
> >stay at home with my ailing mother who may die
> >my help?
> Why would you think science can foretell the future?
> This is a strange
> request, lacking an understanding of what science
> is. Science can't tell
> you what will happen in the future, unless you are
> speaking of astronomy and
Once again, you miss my point. Which is the BEST
conduct to take, regardless of outcome? This is a
value judgment that science can say nothing about. I
am not talking about trying to predict something, I am
talking about what should I do as a person presented
with two options which are both morally compelling.
Science tells me nothing about how to make that
> How does science verify wether an act of
> >kindndess to those less fortunate is a good or bad
> I would say that philosophy and theology(broadly
> defined) can't do it
> either. What is good to an Islamic radical is to
> fly airplanes into
> buildings full of innocent people. Like it or not,
> their theology, their
> ethics all say that was good. Without some sort of
> grounding, one has little
> reason to say they are wrong other than the fact
> that I don't want to die at
> their hands.
Why can't theology do it? Aren't there grounds for
saying that the radical Islamic theology, vis-a-vis
the methods and standards of theology is wrong? Can't
you say within the bounds of theology that their act
is the equivalent of saying 4+4 = 27? I think you
give far too much credence to the intersubjective
agreement in science. Hang out with social scientists
and you will see most clearly how in complex phenomena
that epistemological differences result in very
different interpretation of phenomena. Closest
analogy I can think of in physics is how to interpret
quantum indeterminancy, and that is a pale comparison
to the differences you get in social science over
methodology, epistemology and interpretation.
> >The only way science can even begin to say anything
> >about these and a billion more questions that are
> >REAL importance to human lives is by making
> >suppositions which are not scientifically testable.
> >Indeed, if scientists can even feign an answer to
> >of these things, it is only by importing
> >positions into the mix, almost always without
> >admitting that it is doing so.
> You are conflating science with non-science.
> Science doesn't make value
> judgements. While value judgements are, er... of
> value, they are not
> scientific. So asking science to answer them is not
> proper. Thus I don't
> really see the point of your comments above.
The point is theology is generally concerned with
value judgments. Science therefore, by your own
admission, cannot be the arbiter of the rightness or
wrongness of those value judgments. Theology (and
philosophy for that matter) has an independent
existence that cannot be subsumed or arbitrated by
> >I find the idea that we judge a religion by
> >scientifically testable claims naive and simply
> >unworkable. Which claims are subject to scientific
> It can test that a story is suited to the
> time it is purported to
> have happened in. There are lots of things which
> science can test about
> religion. The Cohan gene is a test of the religious
> claim that Moses
> appointed his brother's descendants as priests. (See
> Thomas et al, Origins
> of Old Testament priests Nature 394, 138 - 140
> (1998)). Say a religion
> clams that a devastating meteor struck in southern
> Iraq (a religious claim
> recently made). It can verify or refute the claim.
I generally agree with this. Perhaps it is your
penchant for using sweeping language that gets us at
perceived loggerheads. Where I think we fundamentally
differ is that many of these issues are at best
ancillary and at worst immaterial to theological
claims. We have been around this block before. The
veracity of verifiable data in a text only means that
I have less to be skeptical about concerning that
text. It gets me no closer to believing the
non-testable assertions made therein.
> It can't verify
> metaphysical statements but science can verify what
> surrounds those things.
Yes and no. Take "chance" -- Monad and Dawkins argue
the role of chance in the universe shows that there is
no purpose, all is meaningless, yadda, yadda, yadda...
Someone like Peacock or Ward says that chance shows a
constantly creating active God, a non-deterministic
universe, and can lead in various ways to the
outworking of God's plan. Science can show us that
there are mechanisms which appear to us to be random.
Now, the interpretation is entirely different. Are
they random because we have incomplete knowledge about
them? Are they ontologically random? If they are,
does that mean that randomness = purposelessness or
that randomness = some hidden purposiveness of God?
What does it mean? Science can NEVER answer that
question. Yet, Monad and Dawkins and the like claim
that it does -- randomness = purposelessness, and
unfeeling and uncaring cosmos, etc. Science is not
and cannot be the arbiter over the metaphysical
interpretation of its facts.
> You already agreed that whether God works in
> >the world is not testable. This, according to
> >and Dawkins, is victory for atheism, because God is
> >scientific claim and if it is not demonstrable, it
> >does not exist.
> Boy, don't know what you have been reading. If you
> think I said that God is
> a scientific claim, then quote me and tell me where
> I can find it.
If you read what I wrote, I said nothing of the
sort. I said that you admitted God's action in the
world is not scientifically testable, which you have.
I then went on to say that Dawkins and Atkins believe
that this (God not being a scientifically testably
hypothesis) shows that God does not exist, because if
God cannot be a scientific hypothesis, we have no good
reason to believe he exists.
> I think I just did. But don't expect me to say that
> God can be proven. Why
> is it that you constantly read into what I am saying
> rather than actually
> reading what I am saying?
Apparently, because you don't read what I write. I am
sorry that you confuse what I actually wrote with what
you think I meant to write. In retrospect, I think
that our disagreement merely boils down to the fact
that you tend to say things with a much broader sweep
with what I would consider overly broad language,
especially as concerns science. When we try to get
down to details, we are (gasp!) probably not that far
All the best,
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 04 2002 - 18:46:33 EDT