Reason / Science / Religion

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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#321  Postby quas » Nov 14, 2010 2:26 pm

16 pages of discussion and I am surprised that no one has accused Will S or anyone who agrees with his premise of committing the greatest intellectual sin ever: scientism. In fact, the search function tells me that the word "scientism" has never appeared in this thread before. So assuming that a religious person accuse you of committing scientism, how would you respond to that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism
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those who think alike than those who think differently. -Nietzsche
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#322  Postby Will S » Nov 14, 2010 2:42 pm

quas wrote:16 pages of discussion and I am surprised that no one has accused Will S or anyone who agrees with his premise of committing the greatest intellectual sin ever: scientism. In fact, the search function tells me that the word "scientism" has never appeared in this thread before. So assuming that a religious person accuse you of committing scientism, how would you respond to that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

How would I respond? I'd ask to have the charge explained to me! Until somebody does that, I'll treat it as if I had been accused of, say, aggravated humdrummity.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#323  Postby quas » Nov 14, 2010 3:22 pm

Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#324  Postby Will S » Nov 14, 2010 3:33 pm

A slightly fuller answer ....

You clearly can't accuse anybody of 'scientism', on any rational basis, unless you have in mind some definition of 'science'.

You can certainly define 'science' in such a way that there remain 'non-scientific' ways of finding out about the universe we live in. And then, if you're very lucky, you may find some hapless, and probably rather dim, victim who denies this, who claims that the only way of finding out about the universe is by using science (as you have defined it). Then you can have lots of fun accusing him of scientism and generally beating him up.

The problem with this programme is that, if you come up with a definite and clear-cut definition of 'science', you'll have difficulty in finding anybody to beat up. For it's highly likely that all your potential victims will freely admit that there are indeed other ways of finding out about the universe is than by using science (as you have defined it). That is, the Injuns just won't fight.

So, as far as I can see, if you want to accuse people of the dread sin of scientism, your best strategy is to remain vague about what you mean by 'science' - and hope that nobody notices.

It's much the same if you want to accuse people the equally dread sin of reductionism. Though, actually, reductionism is a better bet, because there's no single term X, such that: X is to reductionism as science is to scientism. The allows far greater scope for muddle and obfuscation. :smile:

(By the way, when I say 'you' above, I mean it impersonally. I'm not attributing discreditable motives to anybody in particular.)
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#325  Postby Will S » Nov 14, 2010 3:35 pm

quas wrote:Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?

I can't answer that, until you've defined science. For more about this, see the OP.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#326  Postby sanja » Nov 14, 2010 4:46 pm

The real question here is therefore - are you religious, and are you trying to make a religious argument about intuition? :?

Since I do not adhere to any religion - I cannot be religious.
And I'm not.
I have some sort of panentheistic view. Though, I'm not trying to promote that view here.

I do not know why do you have to stick with "how our universe came to being".
Of course you cannot come to that by intuition.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#327  Postby sanja » Nov 14, 2010 4:59 pm

Will S wrote:
quas wrote:Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?

I can't answer that, until you've defined science. For more about this, see the OP.

why do you have to presume that people who do not agree with you do not know what science is?

As I've said, Niels Bohr was scientist.
And he said this:

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.


It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature.


You think that such a great scientist had no idea what science is?

Now, what i think what science is:
science is defined through it's method and it's task.
It's method is scientific method, it's task is to make a model of reality.
As science advances, that model becomes more and more complete.
But, I personally do not think it can ever be fuly completed, because:
Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#328  Postby Will S » Nov 14, 2010 5:17 pm

sanja wrote:
Will S wrote:
quas wrote:Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?

I can't answer that, until you've defined science. For more about this, see the OP.

why do you have to presume that people who do not agree with you do not know what science is?

I don't presume anything of the kind.

S-c-i-e-n-c-e is 7-letter word, and it has various different (often subtly different) meanings. If somebody asks me 'Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?', the answer might be 'yes'. Or it might be 'no'. Or I might say that it's one of those questions which doesn't have a simple yes/no answer.

But I can't begin to answer the question, until I know what the questioner means by the word 'science'. What counts as science. What's included. What's excluded.

Is that any clearer?
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#329  Postby sanja » Nov 14, 2010 7:36 pm

Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?

How would you reply, considering your definition of science?

Is that any clearer?

It seem to me that you are searching for ways to avoid answering to that question.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#330  Postby Will S » Nov 14, 2010 8:24 pm

sanja wrote:
Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?

How would you reply, considering your definition of science?

Is that any clearer?

It seem to me that you are searching for ways to avoid answering to that question.

No, you are mistaken. I'm not trying to avoid answering the question; I'm trying to prevent any discussion between us from becoming confused right at the outset.

To answer your question (not that I think it will help much): it's logically possible that there exist things which we humans are incapable of examining, either by science, or by any other means - for example, I can't see any reason why there might not exist other universes in addition to our own, which we would be, of course, incapable of examining.

If you now ask me whether there might exist things which we humans are not capable of examining by using science, but which we are capable of examining by using other means, I would say 'yes' - but I'd stress that I'd be using the word 'science' in a somewhat restricted sense. For example, I can examine my finger nails, but we wouldn't normally call that activity 'science' - though, of course, it's possible that I'd examine my own finger nails in pursuit of a project which we would call science.

I'm sorry if this sounds snotty, but have you actually read the OP? If not, could you please do so, because I took a good deal of trouble over it? Of course, I'll be pleased to have your comments on it.

You'll see in the OP that I suggest that it makes more sense to talk about 'rational method' than 'scientific method'. You, of course, may disagree with that, and, if you do, I'd be interested to hear why you disagree.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#331  Postby Will S » Nov 15, 2010 9:02 am

I'm sorry to see this morning (I live in the UK) that there have been no further contributions to this topic since yesterday evening. It's a pity because no religious person or religious sympathiser has yet attempted a detailed critique of the OP, and I was hoping that, at last, one was going to be forthcoming.

Reading again the last dozen messages, I see that there's a point which I haven't picked up:
sanja wrote:As I've said, Niels Bohr was scientist.
And he said this:
Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.

It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature.

You think that such a great scientist had no idea what science is?

Once again, I think that we are at risk of confusing words with ideas. It would be interesting to know what Bohr meant by the word 'real' - bearing in mind that English was not his native language.

Presumably, he would have told us that it's wrong to say that an photon is a small lump of matter whizzing about in space (though it may be helpful, for some purposes, to think of it in that way.) Presumably, he would have told us that it's wrong to say that an photon is a wave which is being propagated in a medium (though it may be helpful, for some purposes, to think of it in that way.) But I don't think that he'd have told us that photons don't exist, or that their behaviour can't be studied, or that you can't make true, verifiable statements about them.

So it's pretty clear that he'd say that there's a sense in which photons definitely are 'real'. I imagine that what he meant was that they don't have the same kind of reality as, say, billiard balls or ripples on a pond.

I'm not sure how you come to the conclusion that I think that Bohr 'had no idea what science is'. I'm confident that he had a very good idea of what science is. :smile: Perhaps you could explain.

Also, there's been no further discussion of 'scientism'. This is a pity, because I strongly suspect that the only function of the word 'scientism' (like the word 'reductionism', incidentally) is for use in constructing man-of-straw arguments. But I could be wrong about that, and I'd be interested to find out whether I am.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#332  Postby IanS » Nov 15, 2010 9:45 am

sanja wrote:
The real question here is therefore - are you religious, and are you trying to make a religious argument about intuition? :?

Since I do not adhere to any religion - I cannot be religious.
And I'm not.
I have some sort of panentheistic view. Though, I'm not trying to promote that view here.

I do not know why do you have to stick with "how our universe came to being".
Of course you cannot come to that by intuition.


If you, or anyone else here, makes statements that appear to be supporting religious ideas, then people will suspect you of having religious motives for what you say, regardless of whether you say you are religious or not. And people are right to take that sceptical view of what people say, because people don’t always tell the truth about their real underlying motives and ideas.

However, leaving that aspect aside entirely ....

... what then are you actually claiming on behalf of what you call "intuition"?

If you are not claiming that intuition should replace scientific investigation in serious and real issues of discovery, then what are you claiming for "intuition"?

If you are merely saying that "intuition" is a good practical method which we all use to make an educated guess in everyday situations where a detailed scientific analysis would be impractical overkill, then I doubt if anyone here would disagree with that at all .... and I doubt if anyone has disagreed with that (I certainly haven't!).

But intuition is not a substitute for genuine scientific investigation. And certainly not in questions of whether gods and miracles actually exist (nor in issues of what such gods and miracles are claimed to do ... such as creating the universe). Those are issues which require genuine scientific investigation, not mere "intuition"
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#333  Postby Will S » Nov 15, 2010 2:59 pm

IanS wrote:If you are not claiming that intuition should replace scientific investigation in serious and real issues of discovery, then what are you claiming for "intuition"?

If you are merely saying that "intuition" is a good practical method which we all use to make an educated guess in everyday situations where a detailed scientific analysis would be impractical overkill, then I doubt if anyone here would disagree with that at all .... and I doubt if anyone has disagreed with that (I certainly haven't!).

But intuition is not a substitute for genuine scientific investigation. And certainly not in questions of whether gods and miracles actually exist (nor in issues of what such gods and miracles are claimed to do ... such as creating the universe). Those are issues which require genuine scientific investigation, not mere "intuition"

Absolutely! :clap:

I think it's possible even to go a bit further and say that an intuition can be more than an 'educated guess'. It seems entirely possible that somebody could come to a conclusion using knowledge or thought processes of which he wasn't entirely aware, or even aware at all. I suppose this is what Jung had in mind when he said that intuition was 'perception via the unconscious'.

But this doesn't give intuitions any special or privileged status. Quite the reverse: it emphasises the fact that they need to be looked at coldly and critically.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#334  Postby IanS » Nov 15, 2010 3:21 pm

Will S wrote:
IanS wrote:If you are not claiming that intuition should replace scientific investigation in serious and real issues of discovery, then what are you claiming for "intuition"?

If you are merely saying that "intuition" is a good practical method which we all use to make an educated guess in everyday situations where a detailed scientific analysis would be impractical overkill, then I doubt if anyone here would disagree with that at all .... and I doubt if anyone has disagreed with that (I certainly haven't!).

But intuition is not a substitute for genuine scientific investigation. And certainly not in questions of whether gods and miracles actually exist (nor in issues of what such gods and miracles are claimed to do ... such as creating the universe). Those are issues which require genuine scientific investigation, not mere "intuition"

Absolutely! :clap:

I think it's possible even to go a bit further and say that an intuition can be more than an 'educated guess'. It seems entirely possible that somebody could come to a conclusion using knowledge or thought processes of which he wasn't entirely aware, or even aware at all. I suppose this is what Jung had in mind when he said that intuition was 'perception via the unconscious'.

But this doesn't give intuitions any special or privileged status. Quite the reverse: it emphasises the fact that they need to be looked at coldly and critically.


Yes! :thumbup:

Once again it seems you & I are on entirely the same wavelength in most of these threads :grin: .

I really don't want to be unkind to Sanja or dismissive of his/her ideas. Not at all.

And perhaps I missed the point that Sanja was trying to make in comparing intuition with scientific studies. But if the suggestion is that intuition rather than science ought to be our guide in deciding important issues of "truth" in this world, then I can't agree with that at all.

I don't know any serious scientists who could agree with it either (nor indeed any court of law, if it comes to that). Otherwise they would not be going the far greater trouble of actually trying make full & proper investigation of things. And before anyone says it - yes I know scientists often use intuitive hunches as a first step, or even as a crucial step (I've done it myself), but on it's own that is useless (and as often as not highly misleading) unless you can back it up by a detailed scientific analysis explaining why the hunch was right.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#335  Postby Lewis » Nov 20, 2010 4:31 am

Reasoned argument or reasoning more broadly, as distinguished from applying deductive logic to evidence derived from the material world, as also for various other attributions, has scant to do with what’s generally deemed to constitute natural science.

As quas points out, much of what’s asserted here indeed amounts to gross and rather thoughtless ‘scientism.’

Whereas common sense, applied, plain or any other kind, happens to be subjective term, and as 16 pages plus of mostly pretentious or harebrained claptrap serve to demonstrate, in my view anyhow, remains as ever the scarcest commodity of all.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#336  Postby Will S » Nov 20, 2010 8:27 am

Lewis wrote:Reasoned argument or reasoning more broadly, as distinguished from applying deductive logic to evidence derived from the material world, as also for various other attributions, has scant to do with what’s generally deemed to constitute natural science.

As quas points out, much of what’s asserted here indeed amounts to gross and rather thoughtless ‘scientism.’

Whereas common sense, applied, plain or any other kind, happens to be subjective term, and as 16 pages plus of mostly pretentious or harebrained claptrap serve to demonstrate, in my view anyhow, remains as ever the scarcest commodity of all.

Doesn't it strike you that what you say above is little more than bare assertion?

If I, and others, have been guilty of 'gross and rather thoughtless "scientism"', then, surely, it would be helpful if you could explain our, alleged, errors to us. Just for a start, could you please tell us what scientism (as opposed to science) actually is? :smile: Perhaps you could even offer a detailed critique of the OP...

My impression (and I invite you, if you can, to demonstrate that I'm mistaken) is that scientism is a word generally used by people who don't like science very much, and who want it to be kept in a subordinate position. They use the word to disparage people who regard science as important, and central to our understanding of the world we live in.

So, feel free to call me 'gross and thoughtless' ... but please, at least, try to support this assertion with relevant facts and arguments? OK? :smile: I'm happy to take part in a rational discussion, but I'm not interested in a slanging match.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#337  Postby Will S » Nov 22, 2010 12:34 pm

Lewis -

Well, it's now been 48 hours since I posted a response to your rather rude message - and you have gone very quiet.

Am I to believe that you have had second thoughts about me and/or others indulging in 'gross and rather thoughtless "scientism"'? If so, it would be pleasant to hear that you've changed your mind. :angel:

Or are you just another of the hit-and-run merchants who infest this forum? :(

Or it is remotely possible that you've being doing other things, and that you haven't had time to prepare a properly thought-out answer? Let's hope that that's the case. :smile: If so, I look forward to hearing from you.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#338  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 22, 2010 1:10 pm

quas wrote:Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?


Lewis wrote:As quas points out, much of what’s asserted here indeed amounts to gross and rather thoughtless ‘scientism.’


This is the way the question is usually posed, and it is inappropriate. This approach is usually an encoding of a whine about the unwillingness of certain 'scientistic' points of view to take weird tales seriously enough.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#339  Postby Will S » Nov 22, 2010 1:47 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
quas wrote:Did you make the assumption that everything that exists can be examined by science?


Lewis wrote:As quas points out, much of what’s asserted here indeed amounts to gross and rather thoughtless ‘scientism.’


This is the way the question is usually posed, and it is inappropriate. This approach is usually an encoding of a whine about the unwillingness of certain 'scientistic' points of view to take weird tales seriously enough.

I've sought enlightenment by looking at the Wikipedia article on Scientism, but it didn't help much.

It seems to me that any definition of 'science' is bound to be arbitrary. For virtually any definition of science which is ever used in practice, there will, presumably, be knowledge which lies outside the scope of 'science' - thus defined. So, if you can find somebody who denies the reality of this knowledge, you can convict him of scientism.

For example, if you're cataloguing a library or looking at university departments, you'll most probably adopt a definition of 'science' which will exclude history, or most of it. But what kind of idiot denies the reality of historical knowledge? We have very good reasons to believe that Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837!

So it's hard to see anybody being guilty of scientism, so long as you start by agreeing the definition of 'science' which you're going to adopt for the purposes of your discussion.

On the other hand, I can see plenty of scope for time-wasting polemic, if you allow your ideas about what science is to remain vague and undefined.
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Re: Reason / Science / Religion

#340  Postby archibald » Nov 22, 2010 2:09 pm

I do like this though, from the wiki page:

The classic statement of scientism is from the physicist Ernest Rutherford: "there is physics and there is stamp-collecting."

Can't for the life of me understand why we need the term metaphysics either, but maybe that's just me.
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