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August 15, 2005 at 10:47 pm #1126
This was posted in religiousforums.com.
Let me know your thoughts.
[quote:5ee1zwnz]You’ve brought up a very important point, Ceridwen. People of faith know what they believe and seek evidence or text to support it. They do not seek to test it and ignore or explain away all evidence that would tend to falsify it.
Scientists form hypotheses and then design experiments with the aim of falsifying them. If the hypotheses resist falsification they become theories/facts and are generally accepted. If experiments do falsify them they are reviewed, reformulated, and tested again, or dropped and a different interpretation tested.
Religion/Faith is dedicated to maintaining ideas “known” to be true and will not accept any evidence to the contrary. Science is dedicated to disproving its own theories.
People have had faith for thousands of years and it contributed essentially nothing to man’s understanding of the world. It’s only been in the last couple centuries that some men have dared to question the religious interpretation of things and form opinions based on the weight of evidence rather than the current church doctrine. The result has been an explosion of technological, scientific and medical insight and a revolution in the way people live. A century ago most people did not have electricity, running water, central heating, antibiotics or lifespans >50 years.
The only thing that prevented this social and technological revolution from occurring in Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago is Faith/Religion.[/quote:5ee1zwnz]
~VictorAugust 15, 2005 at 11:12 pm #5409
Seems like an incredibly ignorant comment based on the [i:1iv31k8f]cum hoc ergo propter hoc[/i:1iv31k8f] fallacy.August 16, 2005 at 12:07 pm #5410
In his book How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization[/url:wpz4x9xi], author Thomas E. Woods Jr. tells the story of how English monks were on the verge of introducing the Industrial Age to Great Britain when King Henry VIII closed the monasteries and destroyed Catholic religious life in England. As a result of a monarch’s greed, the Industrial Age may well have been postponed some three centuries.
It got me to thinking: What breakthroughs has our modern culture of death prevented us from accomplishing? Although we have accomplished a great deal in the realm of modern science, much of it has been devoted to both fighting and perpetuating the culture of death. The search for cures for deadly venereal diseases, caused in large part by the unchaste lifestyle of modern man, and the fascination with manipulating human life has taken up much of our time, energy, and resources. What if it had been possible to devote those resources to furthering the culture of life?
We can now routinely save premature babies as early as 24 weeks gestation, and have had spotty success as early as 20 weeks. That is no small accomplishment. But will future generations remark that if we hadn’t been consumed with finding ways to murder first-trimester babies in their mothers’ wombs, we might have been able to routinely save first-trimester babies in danger of miscarriage?
If we hadn’t had to focus resources to fighting the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic, could we have found a cure for cancer, multiple sclerosis, influenza, or the common cold? Would we have been able to reliably export to the developing world the medicines needed to cure childhood diseases that devastate youngsters in the Third World but are merely a rite of passage in First World countries?
If we hadn’t been diverted by the Cold War and the “need” to compete in the arms race, could we have redirected money used to stockpile weapons of mass destruction into helping developing nations reach maturity on the world stage?
If we hadn’t been consumed with an alleged “right to privacy,” “freedom of choice,” and “right to die,” would we have turned our efforts to the rehabilitation (where possible) and comfort care (where not) of our disabled, elderly, and otherwise dependent citizens? Could Terri Schiavo have been rehabilitated, perhaps even cured, if our society hadn’t been more interested in warehousing and eventually murdering her and those who suffer from similar catastrophic disabilities?
How will future generations judge us? Somehow I doubt they will be impressed with our ability to clone sheep, walk on the moon, and treat (but not cure) venereal disease. They will be more likely to sigh, shake their heads, and note a lot of similarity between our society and that of Tudor England during the Protestant Reformation.August 16, 2005 at 5:46 pm #5411
Great post Benedict. Much of this is due to the Methodological Naturalistic view. It’s a wholly dispassionate attempt to figure out the truth about ourselves and the world, entirely independent of ideology, moral convictions, or any form of theological/religious committment. This has grave consequences to how scientist/medical doctors (list can go on and on) conclude things.
Here is just one example written by Alvin Plantiga.
[color=blue:fkm4s3ns]First, then, some examples that suggest that science is not religiously neutral.3 I begin with Herbert Simon’s article, “A Mechanism for Social Selection and Successful Altruism.”4 This article is concerned with the problem of altruism: Why, asks Simon, do people like Mother Teresa do the things that they do? Why do they devote their time and energy and indeed their entire lives to the welfare of other people? Of course it isn’t only the great saints of the world that display this impulse; most of us do so to one degree or another.
How, says Simon, can we account for this kind of behavior? The rational way to behave, he says, is to act or try to act in such a way as to increase one’s personal fitness; i.e., to act so as to increase the probability that one’s genes will be widely disseminated in the next and subsequent generation, thus doing well in the evolutionary derby.5 A paradigm of rational behavior, so conceived, was reported in the South Bend Tribune of December 21, l991 (dateline Alexandria (Va.)). “Cecil B. Jacobson, an infertility specialist, was accused of using his own sperm to impregnate his patients; he may have fathered as many as 75 children, a prosecutor said Friday.” Unlike Jacobson, however, such people as Mother Teresa and Thomas Aquinas cheerfully ignore the short- or long-term fate of their genes. What is the explanation of this behavior?
The answer, says Simon, is two mechanisms: “docility” and “bounded rationality”:[/color:fkm4s3ns]
[i:fkm4s3ns][color=purple:fkm4s3ns]Docile persons tend to learn and believe what they perceive others in the society want them to learn and believe. Thus the content of what is learned will not be fully screened for its contribution to personal fitness (p. 1666).
Because of bounded rationality, the docile individual will often be unable to distinguish socially prescribed behavior that contributes to fitness from altruistic behavior [i. e., socially prescribed behavior that does not contribute to fitness–AP]. In fact, docility will reduce the inclination to evaluate independently the contributions of behavior to fitness. …. By virtue of bounded rationality, the docile person cannot acquire the personally advantageous learning that provides the increment, d, of fitness without acquiring also the altruistic behaviors that cost the decrement, c. (p. 1667).[/color:fkm4s3ns][/i:fkm4s3ns]
[color=blue:fkm4s3ns]The idea is that a Mother Teresa or a Thomas Aquinas displays bounded rationality; they are unable to distinguish socially prescribed behavior that contributes to fitness from altruistic behavior (socially prescribed behavior which does not). As a result, they fail to acquire the personally advantageous learning that provides that increment d of fitness without, sadly enough, suffering that decrement c exacted by altruistic behavior. They acquiesce unthinkingly in what society tells them is the right way to behave; and they aren’t quite up to making their own independent evaluation of the likely bearing of such behavior on the fate of their genes. If they did make such an independent evaluation (and were rational enough to avoid silly mistakes) they would presumably see that this sort of behavior does not contribute to personal fitness, drop it like a hot potato, and get right to work on their expected number of progeny.
No Christian could accept this account as even a beginning of a viable explanation of the altruistic behavior of the Mother Teresas of this world.[/color:fkm4s3ns]
Granted that science has it’s areas of neutrality. But it is obvious that the Methodological Naturalistic view affects the human mind and soul. Having no bias is really impossible. We were wired to seek to get the “right” bias. Thank God for the Church.
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