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Kevin Bonham
20-08-2004, 02:24 AM
http://www.rationalistinternational.net/archive/en/rationalist_2004/130.html#2

Article refers to Melrose Park School, St Marys Adelaide, describing it as an exclusivist Christian sect: "Its students are crippled by lack of technical understanding and skills and "blessed" with complete ignorance about basic chapters of modern science like the theory of evolution. This education excludes them from any higher education (universities are considered dangerous) and does not prepare them to master the challenges of modern day's world. " Article then criticises said school's access to government funding.

Anyone know more about the claims made in this article and able to comment further?

I was mysteriously signed up to said newsletter some years ago and have remained so because it sometimes carries interesting church/state issue material although I am definitely not a "rationalist". I have often wondered if antichrist signed me up.

faeces gambit
20-08-2004, 02:49 AM
Kevin, we have a few small offshoots of the Bretheren here in WA, mostly in small wheatbelt towns. They appear to have a semi Luddite view of the world, use of computers are banned although driving cars is allowed as long as they are not red for some reason. Thet are also very clannish and do not like members to associate with the general population or to marry outside the sect.

Oepty
20-08-2004, 01:59 PM
http://www.brfwitness.org/Articles/1968v3n2.htm
This website has the basic beliefs of the Brethren which seem not be do different to alot of Christians but the seem to have a desire to live lives that are more seperate from the rest of society than alot of churches today.

I know nothing in particular about the school mentioned, but I see no problem with the school not teaching evolution as a fact. It is not, it is a load of nonsense. I would though at least tell people about evolution seeing it is so commonly accepted by people.
Scott

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 02:02 PM
my religious opinions are known here, but i have no problem in schools if both points of view are taught ie creation v evolution. this then gives each student more information and the opportunity to make an informed choice and then they can choose for themselves.

Rincewind
20-08-2004, 02:44 PM
my religious opinions are known here, but i have no problem in schools if both points of view are taught ie creation v evolution. this then gives each student more information and the opportunity to make an informed choice and then they can choose for themselves.

Are they? You might have to refresh my memory.

I have a problem with creationism, creation-science (sic) or intelligent design or what ever other handle you come up with for religion being given time in a science class room. Perhaps in a general studies, history or even english, it would be appropriate in some contexts.

No science should be taught as "fact" in the strictest sense of the word. However, it is scientific and as factual as the periodic table of the elements or the formation of igneous rocks.

If anyone thinks they can debate that evolution cannot fly as a valid scietific theory please start a new thread and state your case...


And regarding the term "rationalist", it has been hijacked from it's original meaning and now applies to a specific subset of what I believe it was originally intended. Even though I don't make a habit of referring to myself as such I don't mind if people label me as such. As long as they don't then argue against the narrow definition of rationalism to which I don't adhere. Secular humanist is a more general term and one which I am more likely to use myself.

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 04:05 PM
Are they? You might have to refresh my memory.didnt say it was happening, just was commenting that i had no problem if it was.


I have a problem with creationism, creation-science (sic) or intelligent design or what ever other handle you come up with for religion being given time in a science class room. Perhaps in a general studies, history or even english, it would be appropriate in some contexts.most schools have religious education classes anyways. I didnt attend many when i was at school, usually cause i would start to openly question what was being said and i would get tossed out cause they couldnt give me decent answers:hmm:

arosar
20-08-2004, 04:20 PM
didnt say it was happening, just was commenting that i had no problem if it was.

I thought he was talkin' about your religious opinion?


most schools have religious education classes anyways. I didnt attend many when i was at school, usually cause i would start to openly question what was being said and i would get tossed out cause they couldnt give me decent answers:hmm:

Did they look up some sort of rule book and made an official complaint against you or something?

AR

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 04:25 PM
I thought he was talkin' about your religious opinion?
devote athiest (if that is a category)


Did they look up some sort of rule book and made an official complaint against you or something? kept saying i was disturbing the class
:lol:

arosar
20-08-2004, 04:29 PM
hey gray....you ever viasited Galleries Victoria in Sydney about 18-24 months ago?

AR

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 04:31 PM
hey gray....you ever viasited Galleries Victoria in Sydney about 18-24 months ago?

AR
nope

Rincewind
20-08-2004, 04:40 PM
most schools have religious education classes anyways. I didnt attend many when i was at school, usually cause i would start to openly question what was being said and i would get tossed out cause they couldnt give me decent answers:hmm:

Scripture in state schools is probably a necessary evil or at least so entrenched the time has not come to call for its removal just yet. While it remains optional and largely unfunded by the state, there are bigger fish to fry.

Rincewind
20-08-2004, 04:41 PM
devote athiest (if that is a category)

Asking an athiest for his religious opinion is like asking a bald man for his hair colour. ;)

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 04:43 PM
Scripture in state schools is probably a necessary evil or at least so entrenched the time has not come to call for its removal just yet. While it remains optional and largely unfunded by the state, there are bigger fish to fry.
it wasnt optional at my primary school and i went to a state school.

Kevin Bonham
20-08-2004, 04:56 PM
I know nothing in particular about the school mentioned, but I see no problem with the school not teaching evolution as a fact. It is not, it is a load of nonsense.

I don't think you're anywhere near qualified enough in the science involved to be making such a statement.

Feel free to have a quick read of the material at http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html and get back to me if you can disprove any of it scientifically.

My main field is biogeography and there is enough in biogeography alone to completely scuttle creationism of the Noah's Ark variety. This stuff should only be taught only in comparative religion classes if at all and even then should be given pretty short shrift.

Note: I have no problem with people thread-drifting on this thread if they want to. I expected when I started it that it would go off topic within five posts. faeces gambit: thanks for the info. The aversion to red cars is interesting.

Rincewind
20-08-2004, 04:57 PM
it wasnt optional at my primary school and i went to a state school.

Was it completely mandatory or could it have been optional but just not your decision as to whether you attended or not.

arosar
20-08-2004, 05:06 PM
Feel free to have a quick read of the material at http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html and get back to me if you can disprove any of it scientifically.

Youse atheists haven't really had much of a challenge have you - since FM Sarfati left? Wonder where he's gone to? I remember a coupla years ago I used to come in to work in the morn' and read all your essays!! FMD! Bloody 3000 word posts . . .

Now I wish youse atheists just leave religionists alone and youse religionists just leave 'em atheists alone. Mate, you're all never gonna bloody convince each other.

AR

Rincewind
20-08-2004, 05:14 PM
Youse atheists haven't really had much of a challenge have you - since FM Sarfati left?

I would have said it's been much longer than that. Mill did all the leg work in the 19th century and there has been little left to do since.

Goughfather
20-08-2004, 06:12 PM
I would have said it's been much longer than that. Mill did all the leg work in the 19th century and there has been little left to do since.

Perhaps you could elucidate upon that statement?

Kevin Bonham
20-08-2004, 06:24 PM
And regarding the term "rationalist", it has been hijacked from it's original meaning and now applies to a specific subset of what I believe it was originally intended.

There's a weak sense of it, commonly used popularly, which is simply a commitment to reason as opposed to other sources of conviction. There are various more restrictive senses including both the original philosophical sense (broadly nature of reality graspable through reason alone, everything reducible to reason - contrast with empiricist emphasis on experience) and the modern "rationalist" movement (which I find smuggles in a lot of political and moral beliefs into the sphere of "reason".)


Secular humanist is a more general term and one which I am more likely to use myself.

I tend to avoid that one too, because it fits me on some definitions, but other versions of it are political. Not that I necessarily disagree with the politics - I just don't think they follow from reason.

Cat
20-08-2004, 08:06 PM
I have a problem with creationism, creation-science (sic) or intelligent design or what ever other handle you come up with for religion being given time in a science class room. Perhaps in a general studies, history or even english, it would be appropriate in some contexts.


We've covered this before, but I'll say it again - religious belief and science are quite separate entities, and it is a complete misunderstanding to think that a cultural religious belief has any significance in a scientific sense. For example, no one would seriously consider aboriginal dreamtime to really be attempting to offer an alternative to the Big Bang or 42. It is entirely contextual, cultural, a way of describing man's relationship with the land and his environment within Aboriginal society. The stories are symbolic, they are not meant to be taken literally, they contain an element of mysticism which encourages respect and consideration of nature. No one would argue they carry huge significance to Aboriginal people, no one would ridicule or criticise them for their culture and there are many non-Aboriginal people who have great respect and admiration of the stories and these Aboriginal beliefs.

Christian beliefs possess similar qualities. The stories are largely symbolic, they describe enduring moral pirinciples of enormous value to Christian communities. They were never meant to be taken literally (at least at the time of composition) and to do so is a gross misunderstanding not only of their value, but also about how they came to be.

Since the reformation we have had a flourishing of alternative Christian belief which has been more extensive than at any time since Christ. In fact what has happened during our time is very similar to Christ's time, in that during a period of enormous social upheaval(The Industrial Revolution / Roman Imperialism) new belief systems abound, compete and successful belief systems survive.

In fact Marx and Engels relied heavily on early Christian and Mono-atheistic belief systems in their manifestos and since the collapse of Communism and Orthodox Religious belief, with the emergence of the Western Capitalism hegemony what we are seeing is a frightening rise in fundamentalist religious belief not only in Islamic countries, but in the West also. The emergence of 'creationism' is a symptom of this.

It's a reflection of the crisis in belief, the collapse of moral confidence and a sense of fear that is becoming pandemic throughout the world. Social systems and cultural patterns that have existed for centuries are breaking-down at frightening speed. Since the Industrial revolution we have witnessed mass extinctions with species pushed to the edge of survival, and humanity has been part of that displacement. We are creatures of limited intellegence and resources stretched to cope with industrial and social changes to the extreme of our abilities.

Now you might say, but we live longer, we are healthier, we are happier than we have ever been. Of course, the Industrial Revolution has brought enormous benefits and improvement in the lives of a limited number of people in developed countries, there's no doubt about it. But there's no such thing as a free lunch, there are costs, and the costs of that change has largely been ignored and misunderstood, especially during the period of unprecedented peace following the 2nd World War. It bred complacency, a belief that technology had solved the problems of mankind that had beset him for so long, that science was the way to solve all problems. Eventually it lead to a contempt for social issues, a belief that morality and ethics belonged to a romantic past, it lead to the trumpeting of market forces, a belief in the primacy of market law - it lead to monetarism.

Milton Freidman now says it may have been a mistake to place so much emphasis on money, maybe the rule of law was as important. Maybe all these notions are too simplistic.

If creationism jars in the throat, then maybe we're all guilty we've let things slip so far. But mocking the absurd reminds me of the Victorian Freak shows, so easy to deride the strange, so much better to understand it. Yes it is a menace, but not because it's religious but because it's not religious. It is a symptom of a disseminated disease. Poking fun at the symptom is part of the disease. Identifying the disease, providing definitive diagnosis and initiating the right treatment is the challenge.

Kevin Bonham
20-08-2004, 08:23 PM
Since the Industrial revolution we have witnessed mass extinctions with species pushed to the edge of survival, and humanity has been part of that displacement.

Actually extinctions have been a significant part of human impact for at least tens of thousands of years if not longer - this is not a new post-Industrial Revolution thing in the slightest and the "noble savage" view of ecology is simply a myth. Significant mass extinctions of megafauna were very probably caused by humans at a very low level of technological development, and often the first impact even at low population densities has been about as bad in extinction terms as later impacts at higher densities with more destructive technologies. The main reason for this is that the knowledge base for understanding and preventing extinction, and the will to do so, have also stepped up.


Poking fun at the symptom is part of the disease. Identifying the disease, providing definitive diagnosis and initiating the right treatment is the challenge.

Easy to say that but what is your "solution"?

Rincewind
20-08-2004, 10:43 PM
Perhaps you could elucidate upon that statement?

It was just an off the cuff comment. John Mill was certainly agnostic and while not a rabid atheist his views were unorthodox enough to have been considered dangerous. I have not seen any further evidence for creationism at least since his time so his arguments for as much of intelligent design as he allowed for have certanily been eroded to nought.

Of course you might have a different opinion. Assuming you think there is a supernatural first-cause to existence, why do you hold that view? Surely you are not swayed by the old chestnut "all events have a cause" argument.

Cat
20-08-2004, 11:36 PM
[QUOTE=Kevin Bonham]Actually extinctions have been a significant part of human impact for at least tens of thousands of years if not longer - this is not a new post-Industrial Revolution thing in the slightest and the "noble savage" view of ecology is simply a myth. Significant mass extinctions of megafauna were very probably caused by humans at a very low level of technological development, and often the first impact even at low population densities has been about as bad in extinction terms as later impacts at higher densities with more destructive technologies. The main reason for this is that the knowledge base for understanding and preventing extinction, and the will to do so, have also stepped up.

This is true, but the rate of species extinction in the last 150 years in unprecedented. I don't have the numbers right at my finger tip, but I read recently somewhere in excess of 70% of the planet's biodiversity has disappeared over this time. Every way you look at it, man is a menace.



Easy to say that but what is your "solution"?

As I say, it's a challenge. If one reads the Pentagons view of the planet, well one just as well give up and get what one can, but of course the is an easy way to justify greed and selfish behaviour.

In Australia we are in the possession of a crystal ball. What happens in the USA spreads to Europe (5-10 years, but sometimes it goes the other way) and then eventually arrives here (10-15 years). We can see what shape fundamentalism has taken in the USA, that's what we need to guard against.

Fundamentalism spreads in a spiritual vacuum. My prescription would be to protect traditional religious values in our schools, encourage orthodox religious teaching within a social and moral framework, provide comparative religious studies to encourage understanding of religious principles and encourage religious leaders to adopt a more enlightened and responsible social role. Religion will not disappear, lets have good faith, not bad.

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 11:40 PM
Fundamentalism spreads in a spiritual vacuum. My prescription would be to protect traditional religious values in our schools, encourage orthodox religious teaching within a social and moral framework, provide comparative religious studies to encourage understanding of religious principles and encourage religious leaders to adopt a more enlightened and responsible social role. Religion will not disappear, lets have good faith, not bad.
and my prescription would be the complete opposite to you.

Cat
20-08-2004, 11:46 PM
and my prescription would be the complete opposite to you.

Thankfully, most of us would grant you the freedom & tolerance that you would seek to deny others.

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 11:50 PM
Thankfully, most of us would grant you the tolerance that you would seek to deny others.
i have said just recently that i have no problem with both schools of thought(creation/evolution etc) being taught in schools. As long as it is done fairly and neither side preaches or outrightly claims their position as complete fact.

Cat
20-08-2004, 11:53 PM
i have said just recently that i have no problem with both schools of thought(creation/evolution etc) being taught in schools. As long as it is done fairly and neither side preaches or outrightly claims their position as complete fact.

Then your prescription wouldn't be the opposite, in fact, would have similarities, if less well defined.

Garvinator
20-08-2004, 11:55 PM
Then your prescription wouldn't be the opposite, in fact, would have similarities, if less well defined.
do you believe that evolution theory should be taught in equal amounts as creation theory?

Cat
20-08-2004, 11:59 PM
do you believe that evolution theory should be taught in equal amounts as creation theory?

Certainly not!

Garvinator
21-08-2004, 12:07 AM
Certainly not!
then we disagree completely, so my prescription is opposite to you.

Cat
21-08-2004, 12:11 AM
then we disagree completely, so my prescription is opposite to you.


So what, you want bad faith, not good faith?

PHAT
21-08-2004, 08:10 AM
Identifying the disease, providing definitive diagnosis and initiating the right treatment is the challenge.

The disease is genetic. Fundi symptoms manifest themselves in response to environmental exacerbaters. It's time we started sterilising the believers.

Cat
21-08-2004, 09:46 AM
The disease is genetic. Fundi symptoms manifest themselves in response to environmental exacerbaters. It's time we started sterilising the believers.

I suspect there's more than 1 gene involved in religious expression. And given the extent of genetic penetrance, its probable some of the genes, at least in certain combinations, have some beneficial effect. For example, God is the father, daddy, Jiminy Cricket, that little voice in all of us that tells us 'get out of Pleasure Island'. If it weren't for that gene we'd probably all be donkeys.

PHAT
21-08-2004, 10:41 AM
I suspect there's more than 1 gene involved in religious expression. [/'quote]

True.

[quote]And given the extent of genetic penetrance, its probable some of the genes, at least in certain combinations, have some beneficial effect.

Maybe.


For example, God is the father, daddy, Jiminy Cricket, that little voice in all of us that tells us 'get out of Pleasure Island'. If it weren't for that gene we'd probably all be donkeys.

Evolution has successfully produced neural networks that perfectly balance pleasure rewards and pain avoidance and instincts. No animal needs the god meme to get by.

However, my personal theory on god goes like this: The human brain is, as far as we know, the only one that is capable of what I call "complex imaginings". The imagining of a god/spirit is likely to be a emergent capacity that has no specific evolutionary use.

A physical analogy could be, the development of our up-right gait and the subsequent comparitve weekness of the lumbar archetechture.

Rincewind
21-08-2004, 10:42 AM
I suspect there's more than 1 gene involved in religious expression. And given the extent of genetic penetrance, its probable some of the genes, at least in certain combinations, have some beneficial effect. For example, God is the father, daddy, Jiminy Cricket, that little voice in all of us that tells us 'get out of Pleasure Island'. If it weren't for that gene we'd probably all be donkeys.

My experience is faith is used to justify whatever action people want to perform anyway. Therefore, faith would be used to say, "Pleasure Island is a gift from (the) God(s) and should be enjoyed. To leave would be blasphemous."

Then again I totally reject the argument that religion has contributes more than it steals. Throughout history it has been a deadweight around the neck of humanity and the world would be a far, far better place without it. I accept that I am probably in the minority who share this view.

Garvinator
21-08-2004, 11:02 AM
Then again I totally reject the argument that religion has contributes more than it steals. Throughout history it has been a deadweight around the neck of humanity and the world would be a far, far better place without it. I accept that I am probably in the minority who share this view.
minority of two then.

eclectic
21-08-2004, 05:25 PM
minority of two then.

so if the acf reconstituted itself as "the church of the chessthren" with each of its member organizations being designated as duly authorized "rites" within the aforementioned church ... would that increase our chances of receiving better government funding?

we'd at least have tax exempt status then ... but most likely we do already as a technically non profit organisation

:hmm:

eclectic

Kevin Bonham
21-08-2004, 09:31 PM
This is true, but the rate of species extinction in the last 150 years in unprecedented.

This appears to be true globally although a cautionary note is required: such claims are based on documented extinctions of known species and therefore skew the data to downplay extinctions before that - often, species would have become extinct without ever being known.


I don't have the numbers right at my finger tip, but I read recently somewhere in excess of 70% of the planet's biodiversity has disappeared over this time.

If by "biodiversity" you mean species diversity then the figure is nowhere near that high. The correct figure is very difficult to work out but would probably not exceed 2%.


Fundamentalism spreads in a spiritual vacuum. My prescription would be to protect traditional religious values in our schools, encourage orthodox religious teaching within a social and moral framework, provide comparative religious studies to encourage understanding of religious principles and encourage religious leaders to adopt a more enlightened and responsible social role. Religion will not disappear, lets have good faith, not bad.

I find this a little naive. Part of the appeal of fundie sects has been in response to the multiple failures and crises of mainstream religion, which is seen both as conventional and stuffy, and also as having sold out. At the very least, before it can reclaim its former position, the mainstream needs to resolve the conflicts between its scriptures/institutions and modernity, reach intelligent positions on human sexuality and marriage, eradicate child abuse and actively counter the politicisation of its doctrines by political parties.

Cat
22-08-2004, 07:47 AM
I find this a little naive. Part of the appeal of fundie sects has been in response to the multiple failures and crises of mainstream religion, which is seen both as conventional and stuffy, and also as having sold out. At the very least, before it can reclaim its former position, the mainstream needs to resolve the conflicts between its scriptures/institutions and modernity, reach intelligent positions on human sexuality and marriage, eradicate child abuse and actively counter the politicisation of its doctrines by political parties.

Exactly. Mono-atheism was born out of a sense of enlightenment, the early Christians stood on the shoulders of the great thinkers. It's the doctrinal restrictions inhibiting thinking within the churches that's causing so much of the damage.

Institutions are part of our inheritence, for better or for worse. Rhobust institutions do not arise simply, to prove their measure they have to withstand the slings and arrows of life and adapt to changes in our culture. It's their failure to adapt that is the problem, the institutions are in decay. Eventually new order will emerge, but meanwhile we are all having to live through turbulent times. The question is what will that new order become? Understanding the forces at work permits us to have some impact on what will follow. If we simply throw out all that is gone, what arises might be far worse. Identifying what was good and ensuring some element of continuity allows us to carry on some of the successes of the past.

Each generation is trapped in their immediate space and time, we must search to the horizon.

Cat
22-08-2004, 08:09 AM
Then again I totally reject the argument that religion has contributes more than it steals. Throughout history it has been a deadweight around the neck of humanity and the world would be a far, far better place without it. I accept that I am probably in the minority who share this view.

This argument is hard to sustain. Most historians would argue religious belief was immensely important in helping to support social complexity and preventing endless conflict in regions & periods of limited resources. Social and politic power were closely associated with religious authority and for all it's terror, was also a necessity to stabilise a civilisation.

Where religious authority broke down, for example the Reformation, conflict followed. Most of us would pray to any God that saved us from war, no human experience is as tragic & awful. Religious orthodoxy also held essential information about the natural world, was about the only inspiration for sical concern within communities, spawned charities, poor relief especially at times of harsh economic deprivation.

It was a powerful creator of stable alliances. Even our current conflicts are divided on religious terms, the natural sympathies of Australia and Great Britian falling with Christian America, despite the obvious immorality of their position. Western sympathies even fall more heavily towards Judaism than Islam, as the Old Testament being a Jewish text permits easier identification.

Cat
22-08-2004, 08:17 AM
Maybe.



Evolution has successfully produced neural networks that perfectly balance pleasure rewards and pain avoidance and instincts. No animal needs the god meme to get by.

However, my personal theory on god goes like this: The human brain is, as far as we know, the only one that is capable of what I call "complex imaginings". The imagining of a god/spirit is likely to be a emergent capacity that has no specific evolutionary use.

A physical analogy could be, the development of our up-right gait and the subsequent comparitve weekness of the lumbar archetechture.

Some historians have suggested that complex social progression is determined by the fundamental laws of nature, that negative entropy is at work. In other words energy leads to complexity & order, as more energy is consumed more complexity arises. Religious belief is part of that essential human drive to create order within complex systems.

PHAT
22-08-2004, 08:46 AM
Some historians have suggested that complex social progression is determined by the fundamental laws of nature, that negative entropy is at work. In other words energy leads to complexity & order, as more energy is consumed more complexity arises.

WTF do historians know about physics. This is typical of the social sciences, including economics, trying to legitamate their theories by ascribing their root to the most basic natural laws. They actually need to do some study in complexity/chaos/ubiquity theory. Furthermore, they need to adapt their current theories to include c/c/u - not, as is usually the case, to take out of context fragments of c/c/u to support their pet theory.


Religious belief is part of that essential human drive to create order within complex systems.

Sure, relgion may well have become part of an essential human drive. However, while the drive, what ever it is, may be essential, the component you call religion probably is not essential to the drive. Why? Because other animals do not have it, and, there is a significant proportion of humanity (~10^9) who do not "have" religion - yet curiously, they get by OK.

I submit that religious belief is a disfunctional* attempt by a nuroplex to predict.

*a different thread.

PHAT
22-08-2004, 08:53 AM
WOW. Upon reading my last post I am struck by its succinctness. I must be quite lucid this morning :lol: Sorry for the hubris :cool:

ursogr8
22-08-2004, 09:21 AM
WOW. Upon reading my last post I am struck by its succinctness. I must be quite lucid this morning :lol: Sorry for the hubris :cool:

Matt

Must be the air in Wollongong maybe. Because Barry's posts also suffer from the 'wonderfully succint' tag. :clap:

starter

ps Post #43 , congratulating yourself on post #42, is a good post count trick that helps those of us betting on you today for the 'differential'.

PHAT
22-08-2004, 11:13 AM
... helps those of us betting on you today for the 'differential'.

I feel like a girl who has been seduced by someone to win a bet.

Rincewind
22-08-2004, 11:23 AM
I feel like a girl who has been seduced by someone to win a bet.

So do I, but they're hard to come by. ;)

ursogr8
22-08-2004, 11:32 AM
So do I, but they're hard to come by. ;)

Baz,
While I recognize you have a prediliction to weave lines from songs into your posts; in regard to your latest post I 'Can't touch this'. :hand:
starter

Goughfather
22-08-2004, 01:04 PM
This thread reminds me of a paper that I wrote for "Internation Relations of the Middle East". One aspect of the question required me to comment about the allegedly "political nature of Islam". I had concluded that although the origins of Islam had been inherently political, it did not necessarily follow that Islam was a "political religion", per se. While I believed this, I proceeded to state that when Islam became an institutionalised force in a region such as the Middle East, it had a tendency to be caught up in the political process, often in a detrimental way. This however could, and has been true of any religious belief, or indeed any ideology given an environment conducive to systematic abuse.

Of recent, I have had a profound reappraisal of the writings of Jean-Jacques Rosseau, who basic premise is of the "noble savage" corrupted by institutionalism. While I disagree with Rosseau's concept of the "noble savage", I can acknowledge the extent to which institutionalism can corrupt the individual and the body corporate. I often feel that institutionalism provides a vehicle by which to organise our inherent ignobility with much more systematic and hence devastating effect. Without such organisation, our ignobility tends to be relatively harmless.

At various times throughout human history, religion has impacted upon the world, both positively and negatively. However, I think that history has shown us that religion is at its most destructive when it projects itself from a position of power, and at its most constructive when it speaks out from the margins. Perhaps strong institutions provide a sense of complacency and a lack of accountability, which inevitably breeds abuse of power. This however is not true only of religion, but any kind of ideology capable of mobilising itself. Communist Russia under Stalin, which prided itself on being explicitly atheistic, is a case in point. Should we regard atheism as being responsible for the destruction and genocide that followed? While perhaps a catalyst, I don't necessarily think this would be a responsible depiction of atheism as an ideology in general.

Perhaps when we proceed with cost/benefit analyses, it would be pertinent to remember that their are other variables involved in the equation. Institutionalism and the inherent desire for power in human beings are simply two such factors of influence. To neglect these other variables in our calculations only breeds ignorance and intolerance. Are these not two characteristics that we are fighting against in the first place?

Regards,
Goughfather

Rincewind
22-08-2004, 01:52 PM
Stalinist Russia was fair from completely atheist. Sure atheism was rpomoted but respectible low-key theism was, by and large, tolerated. Also while atheism was a characteristic of socialism, it was not an inspirational force and very little policy was generated or justified due to its appeal to atheism.

This was quite the reverse of the situation in Catholic Spain during the Inquisitions.

Goughfather
22-08-2004, 01:59 PM
Also while atheism was a characteristic of socialism, it was not an inspirational force and very little policy was generated or justified due to its appeal to atheism.

Perhaps you could elucidate upon what these "inspirational forces" were?

Oepty
22-08-2004, 04:38 PM
Kevin. I am of course not scientifically qualified, but it only takes a knowledge of the Bible to see that evolution is complete and utter nonsense. I have read a lot of stuff from Talk Origins including the FAQ so I won't be doing it again. I don't think I can be bothered with getting into a creation/evolution debate as I see it as being totally useless.
Just to clarify my position, I am NOT a creation scientist, I am a creationist. I read one of Pilmers books and he called creation science junk, and I think I would largely support that notion.
Scott

PHAT
22-08-2004, 05:26 PM
Just to clarify my position, I am NOT a creation scientist, I am a creationist.

I am reminded of the bastard who said, "I am not a paedophile, I just like ****ing children."

Goughfather
22-08-2004, 05:38 PM
Just to clarify my position, I am NOT a creation scientist, I am a creationist. I read one of Pilmers books and he called creation science junk, and I think I would largely support that notion.

Perhaps it would be good to clarify your clarified position and explain the differences between the two terms. As a Christian, I'm not even sure I understand the distinction.

Kevin Bonham
22-08-2004, 07:25 PM
Kevin. I am of course not scientifically qualified, but it only takes a knowledge of the Bible to see that evolution is complete and utter nonsense.

Not true. You would have to not only know the Bible, but also believe everything it says that is relevant to evolution is true. The latter does not follow from the former.

Kevin Bonham
22-08-2004, 07:33 PM
Exactly. Mono-atheism was born out of a sense of enlightenment, the early Christians stood on the shoulders of the great thinkers. It's the doctrinal restrictions inhibiting thinking within the churches that's causing so much of the damage.

I don't think it's only the doctrinal restrictions - another part of the problem is that when the churches try to break out of those restrictions they frequently do so in a foolish manner. This can include deliberately trying to throw their weight around in political issues they know next to nothing about, or just following whatever they think is "trendy" in order to be well received by young people. I've seen a lot of this thing from churches in the environment debate - to the point that the trendy end of Anglicanism (especially) often ends up turning former supporters against it.

Kevin Bonham
22-08-2004, 07:37 PM
WTF do historians know about physics. This is typical of the social sciences, including economics, trying to legitamate their theories by ascribing their root to the most basic natural laws.

Matt is spot on here.

Cat
22-08-2004, 08:44 PM
[QUOTE=Matthew Sweeney]WTF do historians know about physics. This is typical of the social sciences, including economics, trying to legitamate their theories by ascribing their root to the most basic natural laws. They actually need to do some study in complexity/chaos/ubiquity theory. Furthermore, they need to adapt their current theories to include c/c/u - not, as is usually the case, to take out of context fragments of c/c/u to support their pet theory.

I was a little imprecise & rushed, in fairness the suggestion was not an attempt to a set in place a system of predictable historical natural law, not at all. I share your revulsion of the way market law has been elevated almost to the level of natural law.

However, there is some really interesting data relating energy consumption and availability to social progress & development. For example, the introduction of American maize into Europe created an enormous increase in kilojoule yield, something like about 80 x's. This was really important to European development. Similarly, industrialisation increased manpower yield to over 1000 x's that in agrarian societies.

Now there's good science behind this kind of research, it's not populist. There's nothing sacrosanct about science, what distinguishes science is empirical enquiry. This is exactly what the historians have been attempting to do and I see nothing wrong in trying to discover mechanistic elements in a historical context to try to improve understanding. It's very similar to what the biologists have ben doing and the borders between biology, anthropology and history are definitely blurring.



Sure, relgion may well have become part of an essential human drive. However, while the drive, what ever it is, may be essential, the component you call religion probably is not essential to the drive. Why? Because other animals do not have it, and, there is a significant proportion of humanity (~10^9) who do not "have" religion - yet curiously, they get by OK.

I submit that religious belief is a disfunctional* attempt by a nuroplex to predict.

Some means of complex communication would seem a prerequisite to religious belief. Who knows, maybe there's a dolphin God?

I guess when you say a significant proportion of humanity don't have it, it's important to distinguish between religion and a belief in a God. Religion is so entwined in our social culture it's almost impossible for any of us not to be affected in some way by it's influence. Our morality, customs, holidays and institutions are all handed down our peculiar Christian religion. Religion is so pervasive in human societies, it's almost impossible to find a society where it doesn't exist.

As for being dysfunctional, it depends how you use the word. Religion may be riddled with inaccuracies, but in a pragmatic sense I would say it is essentially functional. Its hard to imagine what society would be like without religion and religious authority effectively arose as an attempt to find an alternative to military conflict.

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 12:28 AM
Perhaps you could elucidate upon what these "inspirational forces" were?

Religion was rebelled against by the Socialists because it is was considered that the religious institutions were being manipulated by those who control the mean of production to subjugate the proletrariat. However, Socialism was not a theological moverment, per se, but athesim was picked up along the way almost incidentally.

The inspirational side of socialism was more to do with the key ideas underpinning socialism. The proletariat controlling the means of production. Each contributing to society according to ability and taking from society according to need. Furthermore, I think history shows that Stalin himself while outwardly atheist, did not convincingly demonstrate a ernest conviction to atheism.

Therefore the evils of Stalinist Russia cannot be laid at Atheism's door. No more than the horrors of Hitler's regime can be attributed to Christian theology. Although in that case at least you did have have anti-Jewish retoric being bandied about couched in the Christian mythos,and presumably finding purchase in the general Christian populace's psyche.

Cat
23-08-2004, 08:37 AM
Matt is spot on here.

Chaos theory is a mathematical model used to describe aspects of atomic and sub-atomic behaviour. Entropy is an immutable universal law. History is no more free from entropy than it is from gravity. We are all held captive to the law of entropy, just as we are all pinned to the earth by gravity. Using an understanding of entropy to identify characteristic patterns in history, is akin to understanding the laws of gravity to dismiss theories of (say) Eric Von Danniken as unlikely. Historians are simply attempting to plough their trade within the natural laws of the universe.

Cat
23-08-2004, 08:40 AM
Religion was rebelled against by the Socialists because it is was considered that the religious institutions were being manipulated by those who control the mean of production to subjugate the proletrariat. However, Socialism was not a theological moverment, per se, but athesim was picked up along the way almost incidentally.

The inspirational side of socialism was more to do with the key ideas underpinning socialism. The proletariat controlling the means of production. Each contributing to society according to ability and taking from society according to need. Furthermore, I think history shows that Stalin himself while outwardly atheist, did not convincingly demonstrate a ernest conviction to atheism.

Therefore the evils of Stalinist Russia cannot be laid at Atheism's door. No more than the horrors of Hitler's regime can be attributed to Christian theology. Although in that case at least you did have have anti-Jewish retoric being bandied about couched in the Christian mythos,and presumably finding purchase in the general Christian populace's psyche.

In fact Marx & Engel developed many of their theories from the Christian principles of antiquity.

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 09:00 AM
Chaos theory is a mathematical model used to describe aspects of atomic and sub-atomic behaviour. Entropy is an immutable universal law. History is no more free from entropy than it is from gravity. We are all held captive to the law of entropy, just as we are all pinned to the earth by gravity. Using an understanding of entropy to identify characteristic patterns in history, is akin to understanding the laws of gravity to dismiss theories of (say) Eric Von Danniken as unlikely. Historians are simply attempting to plough their trade within the natural laws of the universe.

I agree that the social sciences should be scientific (ie adhere to the scientific method) however there is a limit to the applicability of physical theories (like entropy, gravity, etc) and applying them to their field. These theories were never meant to apply to the social sciences and by doing so you are attempting to give history a scientific credibility borrowed from physics, where that borrowing and associated credibility is not justified.

Cat
23-08-2004, 09:26 AM
I agree that the social sciences should be scientific (ie adhere to the scientific method) however there is a limit to the applicability of physical theories (like entropy, gravity, etc) and applying them to their field. These theories were never meant to apply to the social sciences and by doing so you are attempting to give history a scientific credibility borrowed from physics, where that borrowing and associated credibility is not justified.

Barry, this is simply nonsense. Gravity and entropy are not theories they are natural laws that belong to all fields and arenas. The mathematical models are rightfully placed in the physics domain, but their effect and presence is ubiquitous.

Oepty
23-08-2004, 03:43 PM
Okay, I will clarify my position further. I am a creationist because the Bible teaches creation, for no other reason. Creation Scientist's attempt to use science to build a case for creation. I don't think that it is possible to prove creation through science so I think their efforts though very well intended are futile. This means I am not a creation scientist.

Kevin. Prove to me all scientist are perfect and I will become an evolutionist. Those who think they have proved evolution true have made an error.

Scott

PHAT
23-08-2004, 04:22 PM
Prove to me all scientist are perfect and I will become an evolutionist.

Prove to me that the Bible is perfect and I will see ya in church.

PHAT
23-08-2004, 04:40 PM
Chaos theory is a mathematical model used to describe aspects of atomic and sub-atomic behaviour.

Actually, it applies to the macro world too.


Entropy is an immutable universal law. History is no more free from entropy than it is from gravity. We are all held captive to the law of entropy, just as we are all pinned to the earth by gravity.

What goes up, must come down. Gravity at work. I am living in a house - not dieing, crushed under tonns of debris. The house has not come down.

Hmmm.

The macro effect of gravity is not always immeadiate. The effect of entropy is similarly unpredictable.

Historians need to stop using the physical "laws" as explanations for events. My house is a perfect example. Physical laws say I should be smashed and dead, but I am typing this. Entropy says the whole surface of the Earth should be lifeless water on top of lifeless mud, but it ain't.


Historians are simply attempting to plough their trade within the natural laws of the universe.

Ploughing manure.

PHAT
23-08-2004, 04:42 PM
The mathematical models are rightfully placed in the physics domain, but their effect and presence is ubiquitous.

Ubiquitous? Yes.
Homogenously applicable? No.

Alan Shore
23-08-2004, 05:04 PM
Kevin. Prove to me all scientist are perfect and I will become an evolutionist. Those who think they have proved evolution true have made an error.


Prove to me that the Bible is perfect and I will see ya in church.

This kind of dogmaticism from both sides will never get you anywhere. I will maintain:

1. Science is fallible
2. 'The Bible' is fallible

Premise 1 is something that should be able to be admitted even by scientists themselves - as new discoveries constantly emerge, theories that were thought absolute simply crumble. Take Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian space simply being chucked out the window after Einstein's work on relativity or more recently Hawking having to backtrack on the notion that the surface areas of black holes are ever increasing, with the discovery in 1974 that the vacuum fluctuations near their event horizon (outer region) are exotic, that defocus light beams gravitationally.

Whether you understand the science is irrelevant for the point should be clear enough. As with evolution, it is a mere theory, albeit a strong one yet it still has inexplicable aspects attributed to it.

Premise 2 touches on a more sensitive subject yet I will defend my view thus: firstly one cannot even speak of such a thing as 'The Bible', rather there are 'Bibles' with different translations, different content (apocryphal writings) but more importantly, different interpretations. Historical criticism of the Bible has now been debunked - when trying to harmonise its history with Christian literary context it simply ignores all other aspects for what has been intended by it authors. Wellhausen attempted to chronologically sort the Torah to give an explanation as to how it was gradually refined, then arrives at the conclusion the gospel is required as a fulfillment. What these scholars (Eichrodt too) fail to consider are Jewish midrahs interpretations of scripture - they are attempting to mould the old scripture like a glove around Christianity and it simply is fallacious and many contradictions arise that are brushed under the carpet. I (and I am not alone) find these are desperate scholars who cling to old passages in the Tanakh to justify prophecy some three millennia into the future! Mark 9:1 is simply brushed aside and reinterpreted somehow. Verses in Psalms and Isaiah are ripped out of their context.

I hope this also makes it clear you cannot refer to 'The Bible' as a source for it quite simply doesn't exist - it can only be a personal reflection and interpretation - there is no absolute to follow.

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 05:54 PM
Barry, this is simply nonsense. Gravity and entropy are not theories they are natural laws that belong to all fields and arenas. The mathematical models are rightfully placed in the physics domain, but their effect and presence is ubiquitous.

Sorry, but the effect of gravity has no place in history. Historic events do not attract each other, the more historic the events the greater the attraction but inversely proportionally the the cube of the distance between the two events. This is the sort of nonsense I was talking about and you eluded to with your comment on entropy.

Of course gravity operated in the past, that goes without saying. But that is different to applying the theory of gravity to the field of history. Please don't confuse this point as it is pivotal in this debate.

arosar
23-08-2004, 06:06 PM
Give us a name of an historian who uses Newtonian physics in analysing history. Can you name one?

AR

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 06:07 PM
This kind of dogmaticism from both sides will never get you anywhere. I will maintain:

1. Science is fallible
2. 'The Bible' is fallible

So your position is that there is no magic bullet of truth. This is true enough but to fnd your way in this world you must have a way to come up with relative truths. A reality generation engine, if you will.

The scientific method is to observe an collect data, develop hypothesis, try to disprove the hypothesis and if they standup to the rigors of scrutiny adopt them as theories. Using this method you will be pretty certain of not being too far off the right track up to the limit of what you know by observable data. The down side is there may be untestable truths which you miss, progress may be slow while hypothesis are eliminated and it may take some time for the "best" hypothesis to surface to the theory level.

An alternative reality generation engine is to believe eveything you are told by your parents. This has the advantage of requiring very little effort and is self propogating as you will naturally pass this wisdom on to your offspring. However, there seems to be little room for advancement and human progress would grind to a halt.

So the question is not the fallibility of science or the Bible but by which method are you most likely to discover truth? This question is particularly poignent when (as you right say ni your post) there have been thousands of bibles and no scheme has yet been determined to pick the right one, except that most people tend to settle on the one their parents used.


Just one comment on the rest of your post...


Historical criticism of the Bible has now been debunked - when trying to harmonise its history with Christian literary context it simply ignores all other aspects for what has been intended by it authors.

I would say then that historical criticism of the bible has been entirely successful and those who promote the idea that the bible has any value as an historically accurate document should be tarred, feathered and run out of town. :D

Cat
23-08-2004, 06:29 PM
Sorry, but the effect of gravity has no place in history. Historic events do not attract each other, the more historic the events the greater the attraction but inversely proportionally the the cube of the distance between the two events. This is the sort of nonsense I was talking about and you eluded to with your comment on entropy.

Of course gravity operated in the past, that goes without saying. But that is different to applying the theory of gravity to the field of history. Please don't confuse this point as it is pivotal in this debate.

Barry, even you are not a gravity-free zone. Similarly entropy permeates the real world. Consider any system, let's say its China, and the following scenarios.

China is entirely devoid of energy - everything in China descends into disorder and disintegration, according to the law of entropy.

China has no industrial fuel - industry descends into disorder & disintegration according to the law of entropy.'

China has no domestic fuel -elements within China descend into disorder & disintegration.

China has no food - individuals in China will die & rot.

You see the law of entropy applies to any system, there are not some systems that are effected and others that are not. Its very simple, everything needs energy and complexity requires more energy to sustain it. Any system that has insufficient energy will descend into disoder.

There's no magic or mysticism here, you guys are being too precious. There's no heirarchy of knowledge, that some kind of knowledge (history) is empirically inferior to another (physics). You're treating this as if some holy word, only to be used by those in the priesthood.

Cat
23-08-2004, 06:32 PM
Give us a name of an historian who uses Newtonian physics in analysing history. Can you name one?

AR Stephen Hawking.

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 06:45 PM
China is entirely devoid of energy - everything in China descends into disorder and disintegration, according to the law of entropy.

Sorry, but that is total rot. It might happen, but it is not due to the force of the immutable "law of entropy".

Cat
23-08-2004, 06:53 PM
The effect of entropy is similarly unpredictable.


Ok, I'll give you my predictions;

The US economy is too heavily dependant on fossil fuel consumption. Due to political intransigence and corporate fossil-fuel interests they fail to develop a proper alternative to fossil fuel consumption, nor do they attempt to limit their energy supply and energy supply becomes critical. To maintain their supply of fossil fuels, they extend their military operations overseas in order to preserve their supremacy. Civil-war, famine and social dislocation eventuate, as the territories they annex themselves become energy poor.

At the same time food consumption in the USA blows out to way beyond what is sustainable and can be produced in the USA. In order to supply their food energy needs, more and more land is turned over to food production. Large areas of the USA become barren and impoverished as the land becomes increasingly degraded. The market value for imported foods such as sugar and coffee, mainly obtained from third world countries in Africa & South America, is driven down by Western market-power. Africa becomes energy poor and descends into chaos. Morbidity and mortality rates rise, hunger, famine and civil war ensue.

Not that hard really!

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 06:56 PM
The US economy is too heavily dependant on fossil fuel consumption. Due to political intransigence and corporate fossil-fuel interests they fail to develop a proper alternative to fossil fuel consumption, nor do they attempt to limit their energy supply and energy supply becomes critical. To maintain their supply of fossil fuels, they extend their military operations overseas in order to preserve their supremacy. Civil-war, famine and social dislocation eventuate, as the territories they annex themselves become energy poor.

At the same time food consumption in the USA blows out to way beyond what is sustainable and can be produced in the USA. In order to supply their food energy needs, more and more land is turned over to food production. Large areas of the USA become barren and impoverished as the land becomes increasingly degraded. The market value for imported foods such as sugar and coffee, mainly obtained from third world countries in Africa & South America, is driven down by Western market-power. Africa becomes energy poor and descends into chaos. Morbidity and mortality rates rise, hunger, famine and civil war ensue.

So, business as usual then?

Again your predictions are nothing to do with the "law of entropy".

Cat
23-08-2004, 07:07 PM
Sorry, but that is total rot. It might happen, but it is not due to the force of the immutable "law of entropy".

Ok some crystalline structure in some remote point in space, close to absolute zero, over time descends into disorder, is that entropy?

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 07:11 PM
Stephen Hawking.
Can you cite an actual example from one of his published works.

Cat
23-08-2004, 07:13 PM
Can you cite an actual example from one of his published works.

What about a Brief History of Time ( I guess it was relativity rather that Newtonian, but that's because he's a modern historian)?

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 07:14 PM
Actually, it applies to the macro world too.



What goes up, must come down. Gravity at work. I am living in a house - not dieing, crushed under tonns of debris. The house has not come down.

Hmmm.

The macro effect of gravity is not always immeadiate. The effect of entropy is similarly unpredictable.

Historians need to stop using the physical "laws" as explanations for events. My house is a perfect example. Physical laws say I should be smashed and dead, but I am typing this. Entropy says the whole surface of the Earth should be lifeless water on top of lifeless mud, but it ain't.



Ploughing manure.
This is going to make you feel uneasy but I agree with you. ;)

Cat
23-08-2004, 07:16 PM
This is going to make you feel uneasy but I agree with you. ;)

You see Matt, even Bill's demolished your argument!

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 07:18 PM
What about a Brief History of Time ( I guess it was relativity rather that Newtonian, but that's because he's a modern historian)?
So what. I'm not talking cosmological events.
I mean cite an example where he shows that historical events occuring in earth's past have a newtonian and/or relativistic effect on future events or where he claims there is evidence of entropy.

Cat
23-08-2004, 07:20 PM
So what. I'm not talking cosmological events.
I mean cite an example where he shows that historical events occuring in earth's past have a newtonian and/or relativistic effect on future events or where he claims there is evidence of entropy.

Newton didn't know about entropy.

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 07:20 PM
You see Matt, even Bill's demolished your argument!
You wish.
Your arguments are as useless as your rating ones.
So far you are on a hiding to nothing in this debate with Barry and Matt.

Cat
23-08-2004, 07:22 PM
You wish.
Your arguments are as useless as your rating ones.
So far you are on a hiding to nothing in this debate with Barry and Matt.

Ok guys, I'm afraid the party's over, the Bovver Boy's arrived - end of debate, we'll all have to get out of here. I'll try and continue this some other time when he's not looking.

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 07:23 PM
Newton didn't know about entropy.
So you, I was just allowing you to cover all bases and as usual you failed to answer the question. You said Hawkig was in to relativity.
Therefore I'll ask the question again in terms you might be able to comprehend.

Cite an example where Hawking shows that historical events occuring in earth's past have a relativistic effect on future events or where he claims there is evidence of entropy.

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 07:25 PM
Ok guys, I'm afraid the party's over, the Bovver Boy's arrived - end of debate, we'll all have to get out of here. I'll try and continue this some other time when he's not looking.
Just sounds like you cant answer the questions as usual.
You name Hawking but cant quote an actual example.
This is just your typical behaviour which has been evidenced on this board in the past.

Kevin Bonham
23-08-2004, 09:57 PM
Our morality, customs, holidays and institutions are all handed down our peculiar Christian religion.

This is nonsense which I have disposed of several times before.

Kevin Bonham
23-08-2004, 10:06 PM
Prove to me all scientist are perfect and I will become an evolutionist.

I might as well ask you to prove to me that no Christian has ever sinned and say I would become a Christian if you could. This is a ridiculous way to argue because the issue is not whether any scientist has ever made an error, but whether the arguments for evolution (backed by numerous pieces of verified research by literally thousands of scientists) are accurate.


Those who think they have proved evolution true have made an error.


If you say that but cannot provide any evidence then you are just showing you don't know enough about the subject to comment.

Again we have this problem that you will assume something is true without further argument provided that it is written in the Bible. You need to say why you assume things to be true just because they are written there. If it is because you think the Bible is the word of God, you need to prove that using evidence from outside the Bible. You cannot just sit in a loop of saying the Bible is true because God wrote it because the Bible said so and the Bible is true because God wrote it ... ad nauseum. To do so is circular because what you are trying to prove true depends on what you are trying to prove, being true.

Kevin Bonham
23-08-2004, 10:24 PM
Ok guys, I'm afraid the party's over, the Bovver Boy's arrived - end of debate, we'll all have to get out of here. I'll try and continue this some other time when he's not looking.

Judging from your evasive responses to the questions about Hawking it looks like the one who has stopped debating here is you. :hand:

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to discover scientific-style laws of history - the problem is that because the entity being studied (essentially the totality of human existence on a "significant event" scale) is so complex, simplistic attempts to do so are very likely to be wrong. There's a long history(!) of such crude attempts in the social and political sciences.

Alan Shore
23-08-2004, 10:37 PM
So your position is that there is no magic bullet of truth. This is true enough but to fnd your way in this world you must have a way to come up with relative truths. A reality generation engine, if you will.

If there is a magic bullet of truth, I am yet to see it.. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's impossible, yet I am of the persuasion that meaning is something one creates for themselves in life but not by themselves.


The scientific method is to observe an collect data, develop hypothesis, try to disprove the hypothesis and if they standup to the rigors of scrutiny adopt them as theories. Using this method you will be pretty certain of not being too far off the right track up to the limit of what you know by observable data. The down side is there may be untestable truths which you miss, progress may be slow while hypothesis are eliminated and it may take some time for the "best" hypothesis to surface to the theory level.

You're talking to someone who's studied research methodology and statistics very in depth.. no need to tell me ;)



An alternative reality generation engine is to believe eveything you are told by your parents. This has the advantage of requiring very little effort and is self propogating as you will naturally pass this wisdom on to your offspring. However, there seems to be little room for advancement and human progress would grind to a halt.

Not to mention grave inaccuracies in passing down things.. 'My father used to make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark..'


So the question is not the fallibility of science or the Bible but by which method are you most likely to discover truth? This question is particularly poignent when (as you right say ni your post) there have been thousands of bibles and no scheme has yet been determined to pick the right one, except that most people tend to settle on the one their parents used.

Precisely why people need to realise that what they hold as true cannot be completely universal. Yet there's always those who will hang on for grim death to their dogmaticism.


I would say then that historical criticism of the bible has been entirely successful and those who promote the idea that the bible has any value as an historically accurate document should be tarred, feathered and run out of town. :D

Um... no, you misunderstand entirely. I mean it as a methodology of biblical scholarship that has been used historically by trying to understand what the authors were saying, yet in interpreting this it is impossible to maintain such objectivity as the exegist is simply creating their own meaning and interpretations out of the text - something that is unavoidable.

Rincewind
23-08-2004, 10:40 PM
Um... no, you misunderstand entirely. I mean it as a methodology of biblical scholarship that has been used historically by trying to understand what the authors were saying, yet in interpreting this it is impossible to maintain such objectivity as the exegist is simply creating their own meaning and interpretations out of the text - something that is unavoidable.

Is there is a difference?

Alan Shore
23-08-2004, 10:43 PM
Is there is a difference?

..... Damn I am tired. I actually misread what you originally said. Yeah, strike that then. But I guess, to what extent the accuracy can be claimed would have some merit.

Cat
23-08-2004, 11:49 PM
This is nonsense which I have disposed of several times before.

KB, you couldn't dispose of a ham sandwich. It was simply your bigoted opinion you were giving.

Cat
23-08-2004, 11:52 PM
Just sounds like you cant answer the questions as usual.
You name Hawking but cant quote an actual example.
This is just your typical behaviour which has been evidenced on this board in the past.

Bill, if you read back, I wasn't suggesting that anyone was constructing a set of rules to describe historical progression, I think you & Barry are getting the wrong end of the stick.

Cat
23-08-2004, 11:58 PM
[QUOTE=Kevin Bonham]Judging from your evasive responses to the questions about Hawking it looks like the one who has stopped debating here is you. :hand:

It was just a little humour!


There's nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to discover scientific-style laws of history - the problem is that because the entity being studied (essentially the totality of human existence on a "significant event" scale) is so complex, simplistic attempts to do so are very likely to be wrong. There's a long history(!) of such crude attempts in the social and political sciences.

Correct, and Matt was saying the same thing. However, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, just simply one needs to be aware of the pitfalls. Returning to the China example, which Barry described as 'rot' - consider the opposite;

China is entirely devoid of energy - everything in China continues as normal.

China has no industrial fuel - industry continues as normal.

China has no domestic fuel - China continues as normal

China has no food - no one starves or dies.

None of these things are possible because they would defy the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Biological systems must obey these rules and awareness can sometimes assist interpretation. In fact, barely a second of my day passes where I am not reminded of entropy!

Bill Gletsos
23-08-2004, 11:58 PM
Bill, if you read back, I wasn't suggesting that anyone was constructing a set of rules to describe historical progression, I think you & Barry are getting the wrong end of the stick.
Well in response to Amiels question
"Give us a name of an historian who uses Newtonian physics in analysing history. Can you name one?"
your replied Hawkings.

You then said he did this in The History of Time but using relativistic rather than Newtonian.
Therefore other than cosmological events please cite an example from the book that demonstrates that Hawkings used relativistic physics to analyse history.

Cat
24-08-2004, 12:07 AM
Well in response to Amiels question
"Give us a name of an historian who uses Newtonian physics in analysing history. Can you name one?"
your replied Hawkings.

You then said he did this in The History of Time but using relativistic rather than Newtonian.
Therefore other than cosmological events please cite an example from the book that demonstrates that Hawkings used relativistic physics to analyse history.


Bill, it was a joke okay. Look, next time I'll put a smiley out so you'll know. Besides which the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics was discovered in 1850, 350 years after Newton died.

Kevin Bonham
24-08-2004, 12:23 AM
KB, you couldn't dispose of a ham sandwich. It was simply your bigoted opinion you were giving.

This must be another one of your stupid "jokes". You're not worth the time of night and on this one I won't bother giving you it. :eek:

Bill Gletsos
24-08-2004, 12:27 AM
Bill, it was a joke okay. Look, next time I'll put a smiley out so you'll know.
Its easy to try and say now it was a joke, but you followed up naming Hawkings with pointing out he used relativistic rather than newtonian physics.
If you intened it as a joke, you would not have mentioned relativity at all.


Besides which the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics was discovered in 1850, 350 years after Newton died.
Again I say so what.
Hawkings certainly was aware of it and as you pointed out he used relativistic physics, so when Newton died is irrelevant to hawking's and relativistic physics.

Cat
24-08-2004, 12:32 AM
Its easy to try and say now it was a joke, but you followed up naming Hawkings with pointing out he used relativistic rather than newtonian physics.
If you intened it as a joke, you would not have mentioned relativity at all.


Again I say so what.
Hawkings certainly was aware of it and as you pointed out he used relativistic physics, so when Newton died is irrelevant to hawking's and relativistic physics.

Bill, are you trying to construct an argument here? Look, no one has credibly attempted to construct a historical model in that way as far as I know, and that's not what's being discussed here. You've got the wrong end of the stick.

Bill Gletsos
24-08-2004, 12:38 AM
Bill, are you trying to construct an argument here? Look, no one has credibly attempted to construct a historical model in that way as far as I know, and that's not what's being discussed here. You've got the wrong end of the stick.
I'm simply repeating what you posted on this thread.

Amiel asked a question.
You posted a reply.
When I sasked for an example you cited Hawkings The History of Time.
Now you are trying to deflect the fact you cannot back it up by suggesting you were joking.

Cat
24-08-2004, 12:40 AM
I'm simply repeating what you posted on this thread.

Amiel asked a question.
You posted a reply.
When I sasked for an example you cited Hawkings The History of Time.
Now you are trying to deflect the fact you cannot back it up by suggesting you were joking.


Good night Bill!

Bill Gletsos
24-08-2004, 12:42 AM
Good night Bill!
I thought so. :owned:
Once again you demonstrated you are a goose. :hand:

PHAT
24-08-2004, 06:57 AM
... but inversely proportionally the the cube of the distance between the two ...

the square, actually ;)

PHAT
24-08-2004, 07:20 AM
China has no food - individuals in China will die & rot.


David, mate, the "law" of entropy is real. It can be used analogously for, say, explaining history. But it is only by analogy. Like all analogies, the entropy law starts to break down when we get down to details.

Eg.
China has no food - everyone dies.
China has 50% of required food - 25% die.
China has 90% of required food - everyone lives longer due to restricted calorific intake, and their total life contribution actually increases.
China has 200% of required food - they all get fat and die early.






There's no heirarchy of knowledge, that some kind of knowledge (history) is empirically inferior to another (physics). You're treating this as if some holy word, only to be used by those in the priesthood.

History ain't rocket science, it is much harder to understand. That is why using the simple tools of physics (the physical laws), is like using an axe to do microsurgery.

Cat
24-08-2004, 08:47 AM
[QUOTE=Matthew Sweeney]David, mate, the "law" of entropy is real. It can be used analogously for, say, explaining history. But it is only by analogy. Like all analogies, the entropy law starts to break down when we get down to details.

Eg.
China has no food - everyone dies.
China has 50% of required food - 25% die.
China has 90% of required food - everyone lives longer due to restricted calorific intake, and their total life contribution actually increases.
China has 200% of required food - they all get fat and die early.


That's exactly right, as I said in my earlier post, no ones trying to construct a defining law of history, as you say, its too complex. However the fingerpirints of the 2nd law of thermodynamics is more obviously apparent in the historical record than one might think. As I say, anthropologists and paleontologists are doing the same kind of mechanistic analysis to reconstruct a picture of extinct creatures. Its an entirely legitimate exercise, its limitations are understood, its simply a means to analyse different scenarios within the known constraints of the real world. Computer modeling makes analysis of these different scenarios possible.




History ain't rocket science, it is much harder to understand. That is why using the simple tools of physics (the physical laws), is like using an axe to do microsurgery.

Thats right, our tools are primitive, but their as good as any others we have. Look if humans took that cynical attitude then nothing would ever have been discovered. Its unlikely we'll ever truely understand our history, but at least we can attempt to introduce some methodology into the process, that's how all discovery proceeds.

Oepty
24-08-2004, 01:54 PM
I might as well ask you to prove to me that no Christian has ever sinned and say I would become a Christian if you could. This is a ridiculous way to argue because the issue is not whether any scientist has ever made an error, but whether the arguments for evolution (backed by numerous pieces of verified research by literally thousands of scientists) are accurate.



If you say that but cannot provide any evidence then you are just showing you don't know enough about the subject to comment.

Again we have this problem that you will assume something is true without further argument provided that it is written in the Bible. You need to say why you assume things to be true just because they are written there. If it is because you think the Bible is the word of God, you need to prove that using evidence from outside the Bible. You cannot just sit in a loop of saying the Bible is true because God wrote it because the Bible said so and the Bible is true because God wrote it ... ad nauseum. To do so is circular because what you are trying to prove true depends on what you are trying to prove, being true.

Kevin. You are right, my comment about you proving all scientists perfect was stupid. Sorry for making the comment. I have started a thread on the Bible so you will see my thinking there. I don't think my arguments are circurlar, but I guess I will find out

Scott

arosar
24-08-2004, 03:28 PM
It's interesting how some of youse blokes have been talkin' about social scientists vs physical scientists.

Take a look at this. Looks like some economist, a social scientist, started a bit of an excitement a while back: http://www.economist.com/science/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=3104321

AR

PHAT
24-08-2004, 03:55 PM
[QUOTE]


That's exactly right, as I said in my earlier post, no ones trying to construct a defining law of history, as you say, its too complex. However the fingerpirints of the 2nd law of thermodynamics is more obviously apparent in the historical record than one might think. As I say, anthropologists and paleontologists are doing the same kind of mechanistic analysis to reconstruct a picture of extinct creatures. Its an entirely legitimate exercise, its limitations are understood, its simply a means to analyse different scenarios within the known constraints of the real world. Computer modeling makes analysis of these different scenarios possible.



OK, that is fair enough. I agree to this. I (and others) thought you were suggesting that the 2nd law TD could help us understand the reasons for Irish potato famine. I can see how, VERY broadly, a HUGE sample of complexity, can display some physical characteristics of a closed system.

Kevin Bonham
24-08-2004, 09:22 PM
However the fingerpirints of the 2nd law of thermodynamics is more obviously apparent in the historical record than one might think. As I say, anthropologists and paleontologists are doing the same kind of mechanistic analysis to reconstruct a picture of extinct creatures. Its an entirely legitimate exercise, its limitations are understood, its simply a means to analyse different scenarios within the known constraints of the real world. Computer modeling makes analysis of these different scenarios possible.

Can you give an example of this sort of analysis in the field of history? (Not saying there isn't one, just curious about it.)


Look if humans took that cynical attitude then nothing would ever have been discovered.

I don't think Matt's attitude is cynical at all. Indeed, not taking it has led us down a lot of blind alleys in all sorts of fields of enquiry.

Alan Shore
24-08-2004, 09:39 PM
Actually you'd get a reversal of entropy in some instances of closed causal-loop time travel: Like in Dr Who, in the year 2000, takes a steel ball from Times Square, goes to 1900 and leaves it there, only to take it back again in 2000. Over that 100 years it's going to decompose, rust, become dirty etc. so when it travels back, there is required to be some kind of mechanism to reverse entropy.

I've often wondered too, what the best argument against entropy is when considering the process of evolution? Anyone want to step up to the plate?

Cat
24-08-2004, 09:57 PM
QUOTE=Kevin Bonham]Can you give an example of this sort of analysis in the field of history? (Not saying there isn't one, just curious about it.

Well as I say, it's the sort of thing anthrolopogists have been doing to try to piece together information of our distant ancestors. More recently, for example, to try to understand some of the mechanisms at work at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Many factors were at play, but it probably couldn't have been achieved (in Europe) without the introduction of American miaze. The calorific yield was 80x's the traditional European crop and provided the food energy required to free labour from subsitance farming.


I don't think Matt's attitude is cynical at all. Indeed, not taking it has led us down a lot of blind alleys in all sorts of fields of enquiry.

There's nothing wrong with being cynical, it's a British trait. But cynicism too can be a handicap.

Kevin Bonham
24-08-2004, 10:36 PM
Well as I say, it's the sort of thing anthrolopogists have been doing to try to piece together information of our distant ancestors. More recently, for example, to try to understand some of the mechanisms at work at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Many factors were at play, but it probably couldn't have been achieved (in Europe) without the introduction of American miaze. The calorific yield was 80x's the traditional European crop and provided the food energy required to free labour from subsitance farming.

This sounds a fair bit more fudgy than "mechanistic analysis" to me (although some of the analysis used in reconstructing the lifestyles of ancient critters has been fairly fudgy and contentious in itself.)

Cat
25-08-2004, 10:21 AM
This sounds a fair bit more fudgy than "mechanistic analysis" to me (although some of the analysis used in reconstructing the lifestyles of ancient critters has been fairly fudgy and contentious in itself.)

Not at all, but you should read the research rather than making your judgements on BB postings.

Kevin Bonham
25-08-2004, 03:14 PM
Not at all, but you should read the research rather than making your judgements on BB postings.

What I meant is that the "cause" of the Industrial Revolution is one of these ongoing topics that's been bashed around between dozens of competing theories for decades and I greatly doubt that any new theory popping up will suddenly kill that debate stone dead or establish any one single factor as conclusively necessary as opposed to more likely. (Actually reading your post before last this is about the same as what you were saying - you did, for once, include appropriate qualifiers. :clap: :clap: )

If there's an online summary feel free to post a link to it, Mr Dickinson believes I need to broaden my horizons. :hmm: