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jts

religion, philosophy, science

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Rather than continue the thread on why there is religion, I start again and attempt to answer the question.

I imagine a continuum of rationality. At one end of the continuum is religion, which is based on faith. At the other end is science, which is based on reason. Somewhere between these 2 extremes is philosophy.

Mankind started with religion because  they had little or no philosophy or science. Fast forward to Ancient Athens, mankind developed philosophy, which maybe started to replace religion.  Fast forward to Isaac Newton who started physics, which replaced 'natural philosophy'. Science tends to replace both philosophy and religion. The more rational tends to replace the less rational. Chemistry replaces alchemy. Astronomy replaces astrology.

So why is there still such a thing as religion in 2018? Maybe having religion is understandable among primitive people in Africa who have almost no science. But why is there such a thing as religion in 2018 in the more advanced parts of the world?

My guess:  Science does not yet do very well on the subject of morality.  And neither does philosophy. It is the famous is / ought question.

When you can have a peer reviewed scientific study published in a scientific journal showing by the scientific method that murder is morally wrong, then science will start to take over morality, and religion will start to be not necessary.

Philosophy might erode religion but I doubt that philosophy can completely take over religion in the field of morality. The reason is religion offers 'certainty', altho based on faith, and philosophy offers endless discussion. We saw in another thread that after about 2500 years of progress in philosophy, philosophers still can't prove that murder is immoral. Religion does 'better' than that.

With the scientific method being useless in morality and philosophy being not much better, it's up to religion to rule morality. That's why there is religion, even in advanced parts of the world.

 

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16 minutes ago, jts said:

Rather than continue the thread on why there is religion, I start again and attempt to answer the question.

I imagine a continuum of rationality. At one end of the continuum is religion, which is based on faith. At the other end is science, which is based on reason. Somewhere between these 2 extremes is philosophy.

Mankind started with religion because  they had little or no philosophy or science. Fast forward to Ancient Athens, mankind developed philosophy, which maybe started to replace religion.  Fast forward to Isaac Newton who started physics, which replaced 'natural philosophy'. Science tends to replace both philosophy and religion. The more rational tends to replace the less rational. Chemistry replaces alchemy. Astronomy replaces astrology.

So why is there still such a thing as religion in 2018? Maybe having religion is understandable among primitive people in Africa who have almost no science. But why is there such a thing as religion in 2018 in the more advanced parts of the world?

My guess:  Science does not yet do very well on the subject of morality.  And neither does philosophy. It is the famous is / ought question.

When you can have a peer reviewed scientific study published in a scientific journal showing by the scientific method that murder is morally wrong, then science will start to take over morality, and religion will start to be not necessary.

Philosophy might erode religion but I doubt that philosophy can completely take over religion in the field of morality. The reason is religion offers 'certainty', altho based on faith, and philosophy offers endless discussion. We saw in another thread that after about 2500 years of progress in philosophy, philosophers still can't prove that murder is immoral. Religion does 'better' than that.

With the scientific method being useless in morality and philosophy being not much better, it's up to religion to rule morality. That's why there is religion, even in advanced parts of the world.

Is religion really based on faith or does it only use faith to justify and sell itself to hoi polloi?

--Brant

Christianity is genius

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I am glad to see fewer Americans are going to churches. If you are watching "Victoria" you will see England in the 1840's when religion meant little to anyone. Good riddance even if the majority still give a nod to the guys with the spooky collars.

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On 2/6/2018 at 7:51 PM, jts said:

 

My guess:  Science does not yet do very well on the subject of morality.  And neither does philosophy. It is the famous is / ought question.

When you can have a peer reviewed scientific study published in a scientific journal showing by the scientific method that murder is morally wrong, then science will start to take over morality, and religion will start to be not necessary.

Here is what could be published in a scientific journal  --" A neurophysiological hypothesis explaining why people believe murder is morally wrong ".

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3 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Here is what could be published in a scientific journal  --" A neurophysiological hypothesis explaining why people believe murder is morally wrong ".

Here is another one that could be published in a scientific journal -- "A neurophyiological hypothesis explaining why people believe the earth is flat". This would be a study of psychology, not a study of whether the earth is flat. To make ethics scientific you need a scientific study showing why murder is morally wrong, not why people believe murder is morally wrong.

When this is done then science has a chance of taking over morality from religion. Until this is done we will have religion.

 

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9 hours ago, jts said:

Here is another one that could be published in a scientific journal -- "A neurophyiological hypothesis explaining why people believe the earth is flat". This would be a study of psychology, not a study of whether the earth is flat. To make ethics scientific you need a scientific study showing why murder is morally wrong, not why people believe murder is morally wrong.

When this is done then science has a chance of taking over morality from religion. Until this is done we will have religion.

Rationality--not science as such--does this. The gateway to rationality for the faithers is  by displacing God with Reality or pantheism. "Worship" is through application of reason, most basically in scientific endeavor. Etc. Morality is not science. Morality is merely used by scientists as do us all. Usually it's a hodgepodge.

--Brant

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On 2/7/2018 at 2:51 AM, jts said:

Rather than continue the thread on why there is religion, I start again and attempt to answer the question.

I imagine a continuum of rationality. At one end of the continuum is religion, which is based on faith. At the other end is science, which is based on reason. Somewhere between these 2 extremes is philosophy.

My guess:  Science does not yet do very well on the subject of morality.  And neither does philosophy. It is the famous is / ought question.

When you can have a peer reviewed scientific study published in a scientific journal showing by the scientific method that murder is morally wrong, then science will start to take over morality, and religion will start to be not necessary.

Philosophy might erode religion but I doubt that philosophy can completely take over religion in the field of morality. The reason is religion offers 'certainty', altho based on faith, and philosophy offers endless discussion. We saw in another thread that after about 2500 years of progress in philosophy, philosophers still can't prove that murder is immoral. Religion does 'better' than that.

With the scientific method being useless in morality and philosophy being not much better, it's up to religion to rule morality. That's why there is religion, even in advanced parts of the world.

 

2

But some philosophers can indeed establish that 'murder is immoral'. If you've not seen that one uniquely does so, where have you been? And doing so without laying down imperatives and moral laws, as did some moral philosophers.

By Objectivism, fact has value, or correlates with value, and where does there exist a hierarchically greater "fact" than the metaphysical nature of man and his existence? There's the collapse of the is/ought dichotomy, contrived by at least one naturalist philosopher, who could barely see past the *biological* nature of humankind, which superficially is no different to other animals and organisms. 

From man and his nature derives the individual purpose plus volition of each person - a fact acknowledged by Objectivists, so of the moral wrong to interfere with or curtail the purpose/life of another.

Anyway, science can and should have no direct influence on ethics since, by definition and purpose, it doesn't have a metaphysics. ("meta": higher, beyond). As you say, religion has (a form of) metaphysics and so a compatible morality. Science is a rational method of discovery not a philosophy, in spite of the proponents of "scientism". For this reason, science hasn't the potential to take religion's place, where a rational philosophy could. I disagree with your "continuum of rationality" and your placements in it (philosophy, etc..)

Certainly not to say that an (ideally, objective) ethics can't or should not be *applied* to science - and taken up by individual scientists who have to have the moral freedom to work and make their own ethical choices, unaided and unregulated, and inevitably -owned- by the State, and statist doctrines and 'morality'.  

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Religion continues out of tradition. It is that simple.

As for the rest, jts's easy history might be OK for a high schooler, but if we are trying to be serious here, then it is just wrong on many points of fact.

(1) Philosophy was not invented in Athens. Athenians were hostile to philosophy. They prosecuted Anaxagoras and Aspasia and Socrates. Those trials represent 80 years of popular ignorance in reaction to a foreign influence. Philosophy was invented in Ionia at the same time as hoplite mercenaries, coinage, and geometry, c 650-550 BCE. It was imported to Athens by Ionians and called "The Milesian Way." https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2011/11/bringing-philosophy-to-athens-aspasia.html

(2) Clever as the Greeks were, they had no scientists. Science as we know it was easiest to credit to Galileo, Gilbert, and others of the late Renaissance the early Age of Reason. But in any case, that early seedling was not the work of Sir Isaac Newton, even though he remains arguably, the greatest "scientist" in history.   The word goes in "quotes" there because the word scientist was only invented on June 24, 1833, by William Whewell during an ad hoc debate with Samuel Taylor Colerdidge. It was from that moment only that "science" replaced "natural philosophy" over the next generation. See The Philosophical Breakfast Club by Laura J. Snyder.

(3) Even though "evolution" was known empirically since the 1770s as a result of canal-building in England, it took another 100 years to become accepted. Even in Darwin's early days, the 1830s and 1840s, the men (and women) who were advancing their program of "science" had a hard time giving up God. One debate was whether God created each new set of species or whether he made a "clockwork universe" that ran evolution. Eventually, Darwin became an atheist. Others did as well, for instance the American Republican politician Robert Ingersoll. But not everyone could - or can- make the leap.

For the story of early understandings of evolution see The Map that Changed the World (reviewed on my blog here) about William Smith who began charting the evolution of animals in the 1780s in order to predict the best paths to cut canals and the best places to find coal. Darwin's own Origin of Species opens by citing a dozen men who preceded him in the theory of evolution, but, again, few, if any, admitted to atheism.

 

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12 hours ago, jts said:

Here is another one that could be published in a scientific journal -- "A neurophyiological hypothesis explaining why people believe the earth is flat". This would be a study of psychology, not a study of whether the earth is flat. To make ethics scientific you need a scientific study showing why murder is morally wrong, not why people believe murder is morally wrong.

When this is done then science has a chance of taking over morality from religion. Until this is done we will have religion.

 

You got my "joke".  Thank you, sir.  I was asserting that morality, qua morality, has no scientific or mathematical import.  There are no moral facts.  The laws of nature has no moral content. Morality is a human artifact from start to finish,  from top to bottom.   One could find moral "aspects"  in the way science is practiced.  For example emphasis on factual truth,  openness in the way one reaches conclusions.  Science  when properly practices  has virtues and aspects resembling morally  admirable qualities. 

 

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On ‎2‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 11:52 AM, BaalChatzaf said:

You got my "joke".  Thank you, sir.  I was asserting that morality, qua morality, has no scientific or mathematical import.  There are no moral facts.  The laws of nature has no moral content. Morality is a human artifact from start to finish,  from top to bottom.   One could find moral "aspects"  in the way science is practiced.  For example emphasis on factual truth,  openness in the way one reaches conclusions.  Science  when properly practices  has virtues and aspects resembling morally  admirable qualities. 

Morality--actually philosophy--is a fact. It derives from the nature of a free-willed organism--man. Philosophy is basically what not to do respecting man qua man. Off that it can suggest better if not best choices. What you are saying is you cannot objectify either philosophy or morality. This is contra Objectivism. If you wish to take on Objectivism you need more than to keep repeating your one sentence anti-Objectivism (objectivism) mantras. You're insulting the host. This site is not Subjectivism Living. Or didn't you notice?

--Brant

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2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Morality--actually philosophy--is a fact. It derives from the nature of a free-willed organism--man. Philosophy is basically what not to do respecting man qua man. Off that it can suggest better if not best choices. What you are saying is you cannot objectify either philosophy or morality. This is contra Objectivism. If you wish to take on Objectivism you need more than to keep repeating your one sentence anti-Objectivism (objectivism) mantras. You're insulting the host. This site is not Subjectivism Living. Or didn't you notice?

--Brant

Deduce from physical law a moral principle of you choice.  Let us see how well you do.

 

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Philosophy is different from both religion and science in mot achieving 'certainty'. Discussions in philosophy seldom or never get settled. They can go on for thousands of years, ever since Socrates. Religion and science have in common that they tend to settle matters or achieve something resembling 'certainty'; religion by faith, science by evidence.

What religion offers to morality is doctrine and faith. What philosophy offers to morality is endless discussion with little or no results. What science offers to morality is nothing.

Given these options, some people will choose religion. That is my theory to explain why there is such a thing as religion even when we have philosophy and science.

If anyone succeeds in proving anything in philosophy then what is proved will get promoted from philosophy to science. For example if it is proved that the earth is round, that will no longer be philosophy but will be science -- oh, that's already done. If it is proved by the scientific method in peer reviewed journals that man has rights, then rights will get promoted from philosophy to science.

Roughly speaking, perhaps oversimplified:

Religion is dogma supported by faith.

Philosophy is speculation supported by imagination.

Science is knowledge supported by reason.

 

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8 hours ago, jts said:

If it is proved by the scientific method in peer reviewed journals that man has rights, then rights will get promoted from philosophy to science.

Roughly speaking, perhaps oversimplified:

Science is knowledge supported by reason.

 

Don't hold your breath waiting for morality to follow from physical law.  If you do you will burn blue and faint.

There are two elements of faith (a very reasonable kind of faith)  that are  embedded in science -- 1. The external world we perceive and use as the raw feed stock of science is really real,  and not the result of an hallucination   and  2.  the laws of physics  we  derive from a combination of experience and reason  are uniform in space and time.  If we did not assume 2, then we could not use astronomical observation to verify that or  or lead to local hypothesis we consider to be true. Every astronomical observation is a view of the past because light has a finite speed of propagation and a view of things far, far away from us, sometimes (as Carl Sagan might have said)  billyuns and billyuns of light years away  and before now. 

 

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13 hours ago, jts said:

Philosophy is different from both religion and science in mot achieving 'certainty'. Discussions in philosophy seldom or never get settled. They can go on for thousands of years, ever since Socrates. Religion and science have in common that they tend to settle matters or achieve something resembling 'certainty'; religion by faith, science by evidence.

What religion offers to morality is doctrine and faith. What philosophy offers to morality is endless discussion with little or no results. What science offers to morality is nothing.

Given these options, some people will choose religion. That is my theory to explain why there is such a thing as religion even when we have philosophy and science.

If anyone succeeds in proving anything in philosophy then what is proved will get promoted from philosophy to science. For example if it is proved that the earth is round, that will no longer be philosophy but will be science -- oh, that's already done. If it is proved by the scientific method in peer reviewed journals that man has rights, then rights will get promoted from philosophy to science.

Roughly speaking, perhaps oversimplified:

Religion is dogma supported by faith.

Philosophy is speculation supported by imagination.

Science is knowledge supported by reason.

 

You paint "philosophy" with a very broad brush. They are all the same to you? "Endless discussions" and arguments between differing philosophies - and more finely, within 'a' philosophy - tells you philosophy is "speculation" and "imagination"? That's the price one pays for listening to skeptical philosophies!

Taking your continuum of rationality, you need to compare like with like. Religion was/is a crude philosophy, quite reasonable at its inception (going by what was then known) - at the other end of the scale is an objective philosophy of reality and reason.

Science is not a philosophy. Science's overriding concern is: What do we know? Science is the established method of observation, hypothesis and experiment - of reason applied to reality, empirically, for generalized discovery of knowledge. I roughly suppose science to be a parallel thread to the "continuum", sometimes intersecting with and influencing the older philosophies.

You have to go back a step, to what any good philosophy must answer: *How* does one know? and: How should one act? The two are presupposed by an initial question: Who are we? (What is man?). Science properly, has often built on the first question. But ignoring the roles of philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, is actually a 'stolen concept fallacy'. Denying a foundational concept while employing it.(Clearly, Newton used his reasoning - his senses, perceptions and conceptions to derive his gravity theories, and Copernicus did the same for Flat Earth).

The fact that naturalists and scientists were earlier opponents of faith and supernaturalism, does not deny an objective philosophy which came later. 

But without contradiction to "what" he learns from science, aligned with and integrated into his own identified, conceptual knowledge, it is the individual, alone, who must first and critically understand: How he knows - and - How he should act. Neither is scientific territory, and the attempt to make science substitute for religion/philosophy is a disservice to the specialized field of science - and a worse disservice to individual knowledge and morality. He, personally, seeks "certainty" which science alone is unable provide, or by second-hand, on others' 'authority'.

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15 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Deduce from physical law a moral principle of you choice.  Let us see how well you do.

The question I addressed was what was a fact. Your idea of what one is is too delimited. Being  a physicalist, every time you leave that cosmology you become an unadmitted subjectivist.

--Brant

that's a fact

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On 2/11/2018 at 12:52 PM, BaalChatzaf said:

There are no moral facts. The laws of nature has no moral content. Morality is a human artifact from start to finish, from top to bottom. One could find moral "aspects" in the way science is practiced. For example emphasis on factual truth, openness in the way one reaches conclusions. Science when properly practiced has virtues and aspects resembling morally admirable qualities.

Arguing out of both sides of your mouth. The means of gaining knowledge is regulated by moral facts. The laws of nature are opaque to all species except those who are capable of deceit, fantasy, and murder. Scientists have feet of mortal clay and their balls in a vise, too often led by generals and conquerors and scientific bodies clinging to bullshit. You know this is true, Bob.

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17 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Arguing out of both sides of your mouth. The means of gaining knowledge is regulated by moral facts. The laws of nature are opaque to all species except those who are capable of deceit, fantasy, and murder. Scientists have feet of mortal clay and their balls in a vise, too often led by generals and conquerors and scientific bodies clinging to bullshit. You know this is true, Bob.

I argue from the back to front in one direction.  The point I am making is that the physical laws of nature insofar as we know them has no moral or ethical content.

 

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11 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I argue from the back to front in one direction.  The point I am making is that the physical laws of nature insofar as we know them has no moral or ethical content.

Fine, let's talk about biology. Evolution favored a class of primates with normative abstractions, which eventually made physical science possible.

You can't win this one. Physical laws of nature have to be known and obeyed to yield useful application (useful to who?)

Physical survival of an individual or an entire clan depends on good behavior (reason, law, justice).

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18 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I argue from the back to front in one direction.  The point I am making is that the physical laws of nature insofar as we know them has no moral or ethical content.

 

That's true; they don't. I think this is the first time you've said this. The conversation is elsewhere--to wit, morality and ethics don't correlate to the physical nature of the human organism. They are arbitrary artifacts. That's your position. This means human beings don't and can't understand human beings and their needs; can't objectify morality or ethics. There can be no objectivist philosophy save in name only.

--Brant

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12 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

That's true; they don't. I think this is the first time you've said this. The conversation is elsewhere--to wit, morality and ethics don't correlate to the physical nature of the human organism. They are arbitrary artifacts. That's your position. This means human beings don't and can't understand human beings and their needs; can't objectify morality or ethics. There can be no objectivist philosophy save in name only.

--Brant

Actually rules of behavior do correlate (empirically) with the human organism to the extent that they sometimes reduce the occurrence of violence and force in communities and sometimes promote mutual aid and defense.  These are empirical observations    But at no time  do any benefits from rules for reciprocal behavior  follow logically or mathematically from the physical laws (insofar as we know them).  In short, there are happenstantial benefits which sometimes  result  from the conventional laws of morality.  However no logically necessary connection has been established between observance of moral constraints and benefits  to our biological organisms.  In short one cannot   mathematically and logically derive Ought and Should from physical law.  The path from Is to Ought is empirical and happenstantial.  There is no mathematically or logically necessary connection.   

I am perfectly content  to use good old common sense and follow empirically derived procedures which have in the past  produced  benefits for me. Furthermore I will continue to do so as long is it works to my benefit. Why not  use something that works?  But does it ALWAYS work?   Can something other than these moral constraints also produce benefits?   

 

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On 2/16/2018 at 2:02 AM, Wolf DeVoon said:

Fine, let's talk about biology. Evolution favored a class of primates with normative abstractions, which eventually made physical science possible.

You can't win this one. Physical laws of nature have to be known and obeyed to yield useful application (useful to who?)

Physical survival of an individual or an entire clan depends on good behavior (reason, law, justice).

Of course, only human life makes feasible (and essential) - value; and human reason made science possible. 'Man's mind' is the prerequisite for scientists' minds (et al). The primacy of science types chose to invert the latter, and have finished up with a modern, collectivist Faith. This happens with their killing off of metaphysics, only to return to primacy of consciousness, a new mysticism, ironically. Science can't answer to value, I agree, necessitating all the more a philosophy and ethics which can.

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8 hours ago, anthony said:

necessitating all the more a philosophy and ethics which can.

Huh? Ought from is, a slam dunk. Man is a being of specific identity, physically and mentally. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.

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12 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Huh? Ought from is, a slam dunk. Man is a being of specific identity, physically and mentally. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.

All true. You know that, but many apparently don't accept it. You emphasize my point about the reductive materialism which has spilled over from science into contemporary philosophy, affecting how man's "specific identity" has been widely treated. Biology, then chemistry and ultimately, our atoms, must be the extent of man's 'identity'. Those are causally determinist too, of course - there goes volition!

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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise...[From a book review I saw, on the page of Wolf's book reviews]

 

"...follow the data..."

 

Does the data tell all? Is science and technology saving us from ourselves? Is there soon to be an "Enlightenment Now"? Despite Pinker's data and glowing rah-rahs, I think not in the long run, if not accompanied by liberty, freedom, free minds - individualism -, as was much of the 'first' Enlightenment . Science's output is now more of a panacea making things outwardly better than they are and making people feel self-righteous for what they weren't a part of, vicariously.  Undoubted improvements of scientific progress and a mixed capitalism ("health, prosperity ...") but which the state ultimately allows, regulates or controls and so controls populations. "Good?" For whom - for what purpose? People of late are more lazily dependent for 'certainty' (they didn't find in religions), from science/tech 'knowledge' and as result their independent conceptual faculty and judgment declines and atrophies (feeding collectivism, authoritarian obedience, anti-individualism). Science (or politics) fills the vacuum and masks the growing cracks in the "humanities". I fancy Pinker could be the poster boy for Progressivism.

Too good a subject to quietly drop. (jts?)

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