On 17 Feb 2011, at 20:05, Brent Meeker wrote:

On 2/17/2011 10:25 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:


Dear John,

Dear Bruno,
I wonder if you read my essay of 2000 "Science - Religion" upon which Russell wrote in ire: "Don't you dare calling my science a religion!" expressing similar (almost) basis - not in the spirit of this list (or your particular stance), but visualizing what I call 'conventional' science, the figment developed over the past millennia upon halfway (maybe less) understood and partially observed phenomena. - I mean 'THAT' efficient and miraculous technology, what humanity uses as of yesterday.

The only difference I can see as fundamental to your present post is the application of the word: " T r u t h " of which you state: 'there is'. I think: 'there is not'. There is YOUR truth and MY truth and in our individual mini-solipsism (Colin) certain aspects may match - giving some sort of communal belief system in scientific terms as well, so a ('partial') truth has merits, what many may believe. Or: believe IN.


I am a neoneoplatonist believer, John, I believe in truth, and that is the motor of my research.

Now what is a truth? In my youth I was rather optimistic and define it as a queen which wins all wars without any army, but taking sometime very long detours. I asked my father what he thought about truth, and he told me that truth is what the men fear the most.

As a scientist, I know I can never offer the truth, but only theories, and reasoning in those theories, and interpretations (model) of those theories, themselves depending on other theories. And *all* theories are conjecture, even the banal theories like "there is a moon out there".

May be you are confusing the 'unknown truth' and the 'inner truth' (partially known for the best or the worst), when you say that there is no other truth that "my truth".

The real prospect of science is religious in the sense of "religare" that is sharing truth with others as a way to link us with others, and for that, sharing faith, be it faith in a physical universe, faith in reason, faith in some first principle, in number theory, in plant and/or animals, in earth, in the sun, or in <what's its name?>, etc.

It isn't faith if it's based on evidence (even if it's wrong).

It is faith when you lack proof. You are confusing faith and blind faith.





Then courage makes progress possible, when we have to reset the faith in what is beyond our theories, when we discover that 'we were wrong'.

But faith is exactly what religions forbid one to "reset".

Here you confuse religion with the current style of religion currently dominating on Earth. In the USSR you were forbidden to criticize genetic as conceived by Marxist. This has lasted for many years, and in religion this lasts one millennium and half, but it is the same process: a "good idea" transformed into an authoritative argument. It is easy for atheist to condamn theology and abandon it to those who pervert it so that it remains easy to criticize.







I find it dangerous to include funding from billionaires into establishing more credit for the hearsay-based so called 'religions' - there is too much in the world, without it.

I am certainly a bit anxious about that. But it is not the fault of religion per se that humans pervert the original inquiry.

That is far too generous.  Religion is the perversion of inquiry.

Not religion. Religion after its abandon to political authorities. I try to use those words in the ideal sense. We don't confuse genetic and USSR Lyssenko genetics OK? We should do the same with theology.



It is the substitution of faith and revelation for evidence and investigation. You write as though religion was something apart from humans and that it is not humans who define it - or maybe you reserve to yourself the power to define it?

I use the term 'theology' in his original sense. Not in the sense of those who have reserve the bloody power to redefine it.






Theology is obviously the most fundamental science,

It is not obvious to me that the study of gods is a science at all.

If you decide that some study in some thing is bullshit, it will remain bullshit. There will be no motivation for distinguishing between theories. This has made the atheists the objective allies of the pseudo-religion.




and we are still living in an era where it belongs to authoritative societies. By separating theology from the other sciences, we have tolerated an unhealthy lack of seriousness in theology and, altogether, in science. Science itself is made into a pseudo- theology which hides its status.

Now if Templeton might be open to scientific theology (which means only that we search truth, but present *only* hypothetical theories, and actually NEVER pretend to get the truth, as any sincere scientist is or should be aware), then, why not. Is it not about time to be a little more serious in such a fundamental subject.

People saying that GOD does not exist will automatically impose on you their own conception of GOD, be it matter, power, money, politics, social security, the local guru, whatever.

And the people who say GOD does exist won't impose their conception on you???


Sure they do. Like those who say that the primitive universe exist. In science we say "God exist?" or "The universe exists?". Science makes only hypothesis and reasoning, and experiment, and interpretations ...



You must not read the world news. Is there a nation where you can be executed for denying the existence of matter?

The USSR. And apparently belgium and france, although the execution is less bloody and discrete. They don't want advertizing, and in a sense it is worst. To be burn alive for your idea is a way of respect.







It not only stifles free thinking,

Free thinking is always stifled. Always. Even, if not especially by those who pretend to defend free thinking. Free thinking is a personal eternal endeavor, needing courage and vigilance. But you have to believe that 2+2=4, to be free. George Orwell get that point.


I don't think George Orwell knew much about the philosophy of mathematics.

The point of Orwell is not a point in philo of math, but of the human attitude with possible truth. Only truth or common sense hurts the people using authoritative argument. Orwell's 1994 hero is tortured for refusing to say "2+2=5".






it may give justifiction to aberrant behavior, brutality, wars, oppression and hate, above all the overpopulation of this Earth in the name of a "God-given-SOUL" at conception.
(Never mind the animals and the artificial fertilization processes).

Hmm... some chimpanzee are already like that. Men, many apes and wolves have the problem that apparently they are cabled for following leaders blindly.

I think "blindly" is unjustly pejorative. Men, apes, and wolves are successful as species because they cooperate in endeavors that would individually be impossible. Such endeavors need leaders. I any large cooperative venture some people will find that they must follow a plan they don't completely agree with. This doesn't mean they are blind or fools.

I am not saying that such blindness did not have some evolutionary roles. Just that we might try to update them, but that this might be hard due to the very long habituation/use.




It is very plausible that our deeper prejudices are inherited from our very long history. Our limited current surface only single out that problem, but the problem is in us, not in the last "fake god" in fashion. It runs deeper. With the self-turing-emulability assumption, you can even understand that the vice is already in the ideally correct Löbian machine. Souls fall. It is a theorem, in the comp theory (accepting neoplatonist theology and its theoretical computer's science interpretation through comp).

You're assured of a Templeton grant with language like that! Go for it. I'll even help you write the application.

I appreciate very much, Brent. We could try. I don't have too much illusions tough, because if the atheists don't like too much my work, many religious people are not glad with it too. Today they are both aristotelian and anti-platonists. But I do appreciate, especially from an aristotelian ;) and who knows? Sometimes I feel that the coming back on "serious" theology is an urgent necessity for humanity.



“Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar…but we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”
   --- Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, which I like very much, confuses religion and clergy. It is like criticizing an algorithm by confusing it with its incorrect implementation. But then you have no chance to see a "correct" implementation (which in our case just means adding interrogation marks and putting it in the science curriculum.

Bruno








I could see a 'difference' between what people call religion vs, what people call science in the methodology: in the former the hearsay-provided teaching is believed in faith - while in the so called (conventional) sciences the hearsay of (poorly- maybe mis- understood) observences (by lit and reputable professors) is belived at face value, sometimes re-checked occasionally by a methodology based on instruments designed FOR such belief system proper, applying the (re)trospectively occurring (presumable) results for a (usually mathematical?) match, as the big 'scientific achievement' and proof(?), before including them into a faithful belief.


Proof are always made in the frame of a theory, and theories are *always* conjecture. I took time to understand that not all scientists are aware of that. Some are really 'believers', which would not be a problem except that they believe not to be believers, but being knowers!. That's not science not religion, that's pseudo-science or pseudo-religion, or madness.

Working in a theory is fun. And it is the only way to luckily realize our theory is wrong, so that we lean something, which is both fun and useful in the quest for 'truth'. To accept and understand and appreciate our ignorance, we have to bet on truth, whatever it is or is not, so that we can say, perhaps wrongly!, we were wrong.

Best,

Bruno




On Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 3:47 AM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote: Thanks Brent. But I am soooo bad in selling and advertizing. I might make an attempt because I surely agree we should bring bridges between religion and science, although I would say we should not build bridges, but demolish instead the artificial wall we have build in between science and religion.

There is no difference at all between science and religion. Both, when separated, are pseudo-science or pseudo-religion. There is truth, and we are searching it, that's all. Just that politics and short term goal (power) interfere with this.

Bruno



On 17 Feb 2011, at 01:02, Brent Meeker wrote:

Need funding, Bruno? "The Theology of Arithmetic" should be a shoo-in.

Brent

-------- Original Message --------

From this week's Nature re: why some scientists are uneasy with Templeton -

Opening paragraph:

"At the headquarters of the John Templeton Foundation, a dozen
kilometres outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the late billionaire
seems to watch over everything. John Templeton’s larger-than-life
bust stands at one end of the main conference room. His life-sized
portrait smiles down from a side wall. His face peers out of framed
snapshots propped on bookshelves throughout the many offices.
It seems fitting that Templeton is keeping an eye on the foundation that he created in 1987, and that consumed so much of his time and energy. With a current endowment estimated at US$2.1 billion, the organization continues to pursue Templeton’s goal of building bridges between science and religion. Each year, it doles out some $70 million in grants, more than $40 million of which goes to research in fields such as cosmology,
evolutionary biology and psychology."

Brian

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<Faith in Science.pdf>

http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/




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