Bruno Marchal wrote:
> On 14 Nov 2009, at 01:33, Brent Meeker wrote:
>>> Why should we use the term "God" in the sense of those who clearly
>>> have confused science with temporal authoritative argument?
>> Because that's what most people who use the term mean. And if we tell
>> them we're agnostic about God
> Who them? Which Christians? There are many Christian theologians who 
> have reasonable (with respect to comp, or to the scientific attitude) 
> conception of God.
Many being a few thousand? But there are billions of Christians who are 
*not* theologians and a large fraction of them (at least in the U.S.) 
use their votes and money to make Christian dogma public policy.

> The difference between some american and european christians can be 
> bigger than the difference between european atheists.
> But once we know some group does not argue, but use authoritatively 
> some dogma, anyone with a scientific attitude should use its usual 
> critical mind.
>> we will be telling them that we have no
>> good reason not to believe in their sky father and hence no good reason
>> to resist the revealed morality they want to impose through laws.
> Then it is like rejecting the "object" of a theory, because we 
> disagree with a theory.
> It is like concluding that earth does not exist, because some people 
> said it to be flat.
> There are no reasons to do that (except bad habits).
When we disagree with the Earth being flat it is because we have a 
better theory about the shape of the Earth.
If I disagree with the theory that human events are controlled by 
immortal beings living on top of Mt. Olympus, should I still entertain 
the proposition that immortal beings live on Mt. Olympus as a reasonable 
scientific hypothesis. Am I a dishonest atheist because I don't believe 
in Zeus?
>>> The word and concept God have been used in all culture and tradition,
>>> and refer to to some projection of our ignorance, close to the idea of
>>> infinite, or inconceivable, in-something.
>>> May be this is due to the fact that many got a christian education. I
>>> did not. For me "God" refer to the all transcendant and ineffable
>>> things described by mystics and rationalized by the thinker who are
>>> searching.
>>> Like I said, atheists and christians defend the same concept of God,
>>> the first to believe in its non-existence, the second to believe in
>>> its existence. Why does atheist choose the definition of those in
>>> which they does not believe the theory. It is like to say "genetics is
>>> crap" because of Lyssenko.
>>> The agnostic search without prejudice and with a critical eyes on any
>>> theory.
>> Does your eye ever become so critical as to reject a theory - not reject
>> for sure, but for all practical purposes you consider it false?
> Yes. One refutation is enough (in principle). The refutation can be 
> internal, like when the theory is shown inconsistent, or external, 
> when the theory is contradicted by some experiment.
> Or we can reject a theory because we don't like it, if we want. taste 
> and esthetic features can play a role.
> Without contradiction, it is hard to conclude a theory is "false".
> With comp "true" and "false" are by themselves very complex and 
> delicate notions, in need of theories.

Then to say you uncertain about the existence of God when speaking to 
non-theologian Christians or Muslims or Mormons you are being a 
dishonest agnostic. This can be a very convenient position for academics 
in the U.S. where the funding of research may depend on politicians who 
are sensitive to the votes of believers.
>>>> You say you are agnostic on (primitive) matter; but you usually claim
>>>> to have proven that matter doesn't exist, because to assume it does
>>>> leads to contradiction.
>>> Not at all. I am entirely agnostic about Matter.
>>> What I am pretty sure of is that Matter is incompatible with Digital
>>> Mechanism. I do believe that Comp entails Matter makes no sense.
>>> I am agnostic on Matter, because I am agnostic on Digital Mechanism.
>>> And then diabolically enough, I have too, because none correct machine
>>> can know for sure Digital Mechanism is true (even after surviving a
>>> classical teleportation).
>> If not knowing for sure makes one an agnostic then I'm an agnostic on
>> everything. But that definition implies science is no better than
>> guessing and all opinions are equal.
>> I think we need to keep a
>> distinction between knowing for sure and knowing in the sense of having
>> good evidence for.
> Well you right, and I just have insisted on this on the FOR list. But 
> yes, I do believe that a scientist never know for sure, and that he 
> does not commit *any* definitive ontological commitment. All theories 
> are hypothetical. But this does not mean that all theories are equal. 
> Some theories takes more time to be refuted. Some theories are more 
> fertile, and can be more interestingly false.
> A scientist can judge a theory much better than another, without 
> saying "I believe it to be true". He will say "I believe it to be more 
> plausible than some other theories. We have to take our theory 
> seriously until we find a better theory.
>> Scientific theories are never proved. That doesn't mean we're agnostic
>> about whether the Earth is flat or spheroidal.
> We can judge that "spheroidal" is far more plausible, and useful, 
> given our current knowledge, but we can hardly say that science has 
> proved that the earth is spheroidal, or that earth really exists. In 
> science there are just no proof about anything concerning reality. 
> Only radical atheists (unlike atheists like Carolyn Porco) can pretend 
> that science has proved anything.
Depends on what you mean by "proved". There is "proven in court", 
"proven by experiment", and "proven in mathematics" - remember the base 
meaning of "proven" is "tested". I would say Porco is a radical agnostic 
- one who doesn't want to reject popular religious ideas no matter how 
much the evidence is against them because we can always reinterpret them 
in a way that they *might* be true.

> Certainty is not among the goal of science. The goal of science is the 
> "quest" of the truth, but it is a /quest/. I could say that religion 
> is the goal, and science the means.
But every religion claims to have the truth - by tradition, by visions, 
by revelation - and makes a virtue of belief beyond or even contrary to 
evidence. I agree with what you say about science, but I think you are 
making up your own definition for religion.

> It is like opening our eyes and observing, and then trying to figure a 
> mental coherent picture of what we see. But no one can prove that we 
> have find the last correct picture. No one. neither the scientist, nor 
> the priest. Only politicians behave like that sometimes, and usually 
> for opportunist reasons. There is nothing more modest than science. 
> But by opposing science to (honest) religion, we tend to make science 
> into a pseudo (authoritative) religion.

No, we emphasize the difference between provisional belief proportioned 
to evidence and unquestionable belief in authoritarian revelations.
> I said in different forums that the divorce between science and 
> religion is a symptom of schizophrenia. A human temporary (I hope) 
> laps of insanity. Religion can only extends science. The Islamic 
> al-Ghazali (eleven century) did already explains this in great detail.

The Abrahamic religions conflict with science because they teach that 
there are miracles (scientifically inexplicable events with are answers 
to pious prayers). Science has tested this theory and found no evidence 
for it and so scientists don't believe it; it is proven false to a 
standard higher than courtrooms but less than mathematical.

> A religion which fear science can only be based on bad faith.
All the religions I know of claim that science supports their beliefs 
(with "interpretation") - unfortunately their beliefs are mutually contrary.

“People are more unwilling to give up the word ‘God’ than to give up the 
idea for which the word has hitherto stood”
--- Bertrand Russell

> A religion which fear the spirit of free research and free exam can 
> only rely on lies and dishonest way to keep power. Some atheist today 
> (in Europa) are acting like that, because they want to hide that 
> atheism is a religion, actually a typically Aristotelian (easily 
> anti-platonist) religion.
> As scientist we don't know, but can study and test different theories.
> Bruno
> <>
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