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    Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

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    Dracotorix
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    Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:08 pm

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100902/sc_afp/sciencespacereligionbookshawking_20100902160301
    http://news.discovery.com/space/stephen-hawking-is-such-a-troublemaker.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/seealso/2010/09/daily_view_stephen_hawkings_un.html

    Okay, so apparently people are making a big deal over this statement? I basically agree with the 2nd article, that plenty of people have made this before. And as far as I've seen, he didn't say there "was no god", but that there was no god "needed"- meaning, we now have enough knowledge about the universe that we no longer need to brush off the parts we don't understand as "God did it". It's just like rainbows: Before people understood prisms, they said that God made rainbows. Now we understand how it happens, so God isn't "needed" for rainbows any longer. Does this mean that God *does not exist*? Of course not. It's the same with the universe. God not being needed for the creation of the universe merely means that we are able to understand enough of how it happened that we don't need to justify any physical impossibility by saying it was caused by a supernatural power. I don't believe this undermines God either- Just because we know how a rainbow forms, or how the Big Bang happened, does not mean that there is DEFINITELY no "God"- it just means that we have advanced far enough in science that we can understand what is going on in the world around us at a physical level.*

    Another thing from another article: "In June this year Prof Hawking told a Channel 4 series that he didn't believe that a "personal" God existed. He told Genius of Britain: "The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can't understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science 'God', but it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions." "
    I think the idea of a "personal God" is just because humans created God in their own image, because that was the way they could best identify with it as they tried to describe what exactly it was. Thoughts?

    *That's what science is, by the way: the study of the PHYSICAL/NATURAL world. Leave the metaphysical/supernatural out of it, people! They are not mutually exclusive! It's just that scientists don't deal in terms of the metaphysical, just like an optometrist is not going to talk about your teeth! They may work together and be part of the same existence, but whether or not a supernatural exists and if so, what it does, has nothing to do with the scientific field.

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:00 pm

    I'm not sure - as in your footnote - that God has nothing to do with the natural/scientific world. I think God very well might have "created" the laws of the universe - we just can't prove it and need to leave him/her/it out unless/until we need him/her/it to explain something we can't explain otherwise. But you're absolutely right and I don't understand why people don't get this either: Just because God isn't "necessary" to explain something doesn't mean there is no God. I HATE that Gabriel and Micah have been assumed to be, and accused of being, atheists just because they believe in evolution.

    I'm not sure what I THINK about a personal God - what I FEEL is that an adequate concept of God needs to be personal - what happens to each and every one of us every moment of every day of our lives IS important and meaningful, etc., and the concepts of God that do not allow for him/her/it to know and care about everything in just this complete and detailed a way are inadequate. Actually I do also THINK that she/he/it couldn't BE God unless she/he/it did care about us this personally - I don't subscribe to the omnipotent thing but I do think God is omniscient for everything except, perhaps, the future.
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:15 pm

    Okay, first of all, YOU CAN'T "BELIEVE" IN EVOLUTION!!!!!!!
    Sorry... that's a big pet peeve of mine. Evolution is a scientific theory, and a scientist doesn't 'believe' something like that. If you really do 'believe' in evolution in the sense that you take it on blind faith, then you are treating it like a religion and not science, which is what it is.
    Okay, rant over. Anyway: Although God might have something to do with the natural world, I'm fairly sure that he/she/it does not exist in the third dimension.. Plus, science is the study of the natural world and physical things. Not that the possibility of a supernatural should be completely excluded, but the study (not even study-- speculation) of one has no place in science at this point in time.

    Your God must have to be on antidepressants, by the way... caring about everything at every moment?? Eek! Or is that another perk of immortality... On a completely random note, did you know we're going to have a tech director at KW nest year?? But I'll have graduated by then. Gr.

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:28 am

    The first definition of "believe" in my little Webster's is to "take as true." What's wrong with "believing" in evolution??? I don't think the word necessarily implies faith-based adherence any more than evidence-based.

    I'm not sure God has to be supernatural or transcendent. In our Facebook discussion of this Tim suggested I'm something of a pantheist - I suspect that's at least partly true and pantheism I think specifically says God is NOT transcendent but can still be God.

    Some days I really wish I could be certain of what I believe. I think I could put the boys through school on the money I'd save because I wouldn't need so many books ....

    I'll bet Gabriel will be excited about the tech thing - I think he's missing theatre at the moment. I don't even know what role you got ....??

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:17 am

    Technically a scientists shouldn't "take [anything] as true" either. With something that is scientific, we should take it as "extremely likely to be true" or "very probably true", not "true". I'm in class so I'll finish this post later

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  tnaginey on Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:15 pm

    I think science can have a lot to say about religion, if the religion under scrutiny makes claims about the way the physical world is. For instance, if the holy book of a certain faith claims that there was a world-wide flood several thousand years ago, we could investigate that scientifically and therefore lend to or destroy the credibility of that religion. Since many religions make claims about the physical world, I think science and religion cross paths all the time.
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:24 pm

    There is considerable evidence that the Mediterranean had a large flood at some point in history, and back then the area around the Mediterranean was considered the world (hence the word 'Mediterranean')...
    In my mind people should not believe the things religious texts say about the physical world, because those things were mostly stories and myths that the members of a religion used to illustrate a point about the metaphysical world. Of course their claims about the physical world were not credible-- they had almost no science to speak of. It woudn't really be fair to say that that also means their claims about the metaphysical world have less credibility- almost all claims about those things have the same credibility (or lack thereof) because we really don't know how to study it yet. It's only when people actually take the religion's stories about the physical world seriously that problems arise.

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  tnaginey on Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:34 pm

    I have wondered this for a while, and this seems like a good place to ask: how can we get at metaphysical/spiritual truth? If not through the physical sciences, then what? Is there any method available to us that can lead us to that kind of truth? I was just wondering what you guys thought.

    By the way, draco, I think you make some interesting points. But I think the fact that a religion makes false claims about the physical world certainly does mean that we should not trust their metaphysical claims. If the author claims that all of what he writes is true, and then writes a verifiably false statement--about anything--then what reason do we have for believing the truth of his non-verifiable statements?
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:09 am

    This is the way I put it to my teacher who thinks that you have to agree with either all or none of a religion's ideas (yes Judy, this is Mrs. Stutheit):
    A guy named Joe says that the sky is blue and the grass is purple. A bunch of Joe's friends call themselves Joeists, and they say that the sky is blue and the grass is purple because that's what Joe said. Then you come along. You look around. The sky is blue, but the grass is green. "Hey," you say. "The sky is blue, but the grass isn't purple." The Joeists say you can't believe the sky is blue unless you also believe the grass is purple. You get the picture. It can go the other way too: The Anti-Joeists come along, and they say "Look here, the grass is not purple! That means the Joeists don't know what they're talking about, and the sky must not be blue".
    This doesn't necessarily say anything about their credibility, but it doesn't refute it either. Their metaphysical claims aren't supported, but they by themselves aren't exactly disproved either.
    What these claims do mean is that the people who believe them are gullible, and so if a person tells you something about the spiritual world and then goes on to tell you that the Earth is 500 years old, you can probably assume with a great degree of accuracy that everything they said about the spiritual world was random stuff they heard and were gullible enough to go around repeating.

    As for metaphysical truth: As Judy knows, I'm one of those people who thinks there is a "truth" out there. How we're going to find it, I'm not sure. But I do think we will find it. I'm not going to go off on a big "meaning of life"spiel here, but I think we may end up finding the truth as a species..? Or as individuals. We may have to do it in a different life though.

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:33 am

    And I'm not exactly sure what "Truth" with a capital T really is - let alone how we might come to know it. I like to think we'll have more than just this lifetime's shot at it. Jung described a near death experience within which the meaning of his life became clear - "Oh, THAT'S why I had to exist" - or some such thought, clarity. He's a good example of why you should not throw out everything someone says because one or more things he says are a bit outlandish.
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:47 am

    You exist so you can find out the truth, of course. Smile

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:03 pm

    Can you give me an example of a Truth?
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:56 pm

    e=mc^2 (most probably)

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  tnaginey on Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:30 pm

    I agree so far as to say that if someone makes one false claim, it doesn't necessarily follow that every other claim they make is false. But like you said, if they're making rediculous claims about the physical world, I'd have to call into question their methods of getting at truth in general, which would lead to a much lower level of trust in anything they claimed. How did the Joeist come to believe that the grass is purple? Did they pick a color out of a hat to label things? Maybe they picked "blue" out of a hat when they wondered what color the sky was, and just got lucky? This is what I mean when I say I have to call their methods into question. If picking things out of a hat is their method of obtaining truth, which it very well could be if they're saying things like "grass is purple," then I must mistrust everything they claim, but just because they claim it wouldn't necessarily imply that it wasn't true.

    Yeah, I think truth exists on its own, apart from us, but it seems up in the air to me whether or not we'll ever really find it. There's no real reason to believe the universe is completely comprehensible to humans. Why should it be? It's a miracle science has worked this well so far...

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:16 am

    So you have faith (?) that truth exists somewhere apart from us but no clear faith that we will ever be able to know it as humans? I suspect my heart (metaphorically speaking) agrees with you. In some respects I think I would call the truth that we most likely can't know "God" and I think we are pulled to try to know it - or to approximate it as completely as possible. However, I hope Emma has a go at you for this as she has at me - I'd like to share that wealth.

    Emma, I don't know enough about physics to even really ask this question, but isn't mass considered a kind of energy from some perspectives? And if that's the case, then aren't there perspectives from which the equation above doesn't make sense? I'll bet there are physicists who can at least argue exceptions ....
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:59 pm

    Alright Tim, I'll agree with your interpretation of the truth/method thing.

    However, I have to express my opinion that we HAVE to comprehend the universe at some point-- if not, why would we even exist? (I've already had this conversation with Judy, Gabe, and Micah. That's what the piano music thing came from...)
    If we can't know everything at some point (probably not while we're still alive, but SOMEtime), then why would we bother living to begin with?

    And Judy, I talked to your heart. It said it disagrees, but your liver is pretty well convinced. Your large intestine believes in the flying spaghetti monster.

    Mass is energy. That's why the equation makes sense. That's the equation that proved that mass and energy are different forms of the same thing.

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:18 am

    I realized that my mass energy comment was stupid later - couldn't change it then - but don't you think it's possible that someday that equation will be as old as some of Newton's laws? Gabriel told me yesterday that if something could go the speed of light it would have infinite mass - wouldn't that somehow move us beyond that equation? Louis Armstrong says "they'll learn much more than I will ever know." I am certain that is true of you and Tim and Gabriel ....
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:01 am

    Yeah, it will be old eventually... But the impact will still be there. Eventually, the things we used to think of as universal laws will become only laws of the third dimension below a certain speed, etc, as the extent of what we are able to study expands.

    And see, that's why we need to know everything at some point! If not, then earlier generations have an extremely unfair advantage!

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:41 pm

    I think we keep getting closer - understood as achieving "truths" that work better, for longer, for more purposes and more people, etc. I just don't think we'll ever get "there" and I actually don't think there's any "there" to get because things keep changing.

    Explain - I'm not immediately getting why earlier generations would have an advantage.
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:46 pm

    I meant later generations have an unfair advantage.

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:06 pm

    Oh. It makes sense now. And I suspect it depends on what you mean by advantage, but in general I agree with you - I get quite angry sometimes because I'm going to be dead before I find out things .... unless, as I hope, I get to know it all when I die.
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:24 am

    Exactly! So you should just believe me!

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:12 pm

    I believe that it is absolutely true that Truth changes. I might be willing to agree that there are limits to how much it can change. I still want my soul to grow toward wisdom defined as movement toward what is Good - but because we change what is Good must also change. Do you understand the impact of the observer on the measurement of an event to tell me if that supports the notion that even what happens in the apparently physical world apart from us is dependent to some extent on us?
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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  Dracotorix on Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:10 am

    Do you mean 'Good', or 'True'? Good is usually a matter of perspective. Truth, by my definition at least, isn't.
    I'm curious about wisdom, by the way. How would you compare it to, say, enlightenment, or omniscience?
    Are you saying an observer impacts the actual event as well as the measurement? Or that the measurement determines the next events?

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    Re: Stephen Hawking's new book, and the "separation of church and science"

    Post  jlnaginey on Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:20 pm

    Ok maybe I'd have to mean Truth to remain coherent. I guess by your definition, however, I still think that even if we find more like relativity we'll still only know that it works well, that it makes sense - but how would we ever know if it's the "final" Truth? I'm sure people thought that about the Newtonian rules too.

    At the moment I define wisdom as the ability to take something like a "free" perspective. I've decided I think we're most "free" when we're least influenced by biology, history, perhaps passions which, by my definition, means most aware of them as influences but not complete determiners of our decisions.

    And I think I don't know what I'm asking and I've wondered the same thing you're asking. I understand the observer and (or?) the measurement affects whether something is a wave or a particle .... ?

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