It deals with theories that try to explain the physical world. It's not a discipline dealing purely with the abstract, though. I'll try to be clearer. (But if you're being obtuse, please stop.)
"Who made up these rules, & why should I ..."
You don't have to use science. I was just describing the only process, evolved based on explanatory power, by which man has made real advances in useful knowledge. You could propose a more effective process, and it would likely be adopted.
"... what constitutes explanatory power?"
Roughly, theories which can make accurate predictions have more explanatory power than ones which can't.
I honestly don't get your accusation of (Gould and) my dogmatism? All scientific claims are subject to change based on further, better data (though it gets more rare the more supporting data a theory has.) Insisting that overwhelming data don't support a claim is perverse (not necessarily crazy). Sure, geocentrism was once popular. But it wasn't a scientific consensus that took Galileo's data into account.
So again: It sounds like you're implying that a theory (established in the way I previously described) isn't more valid to you than any given idea?
Neil wrote: I think you're saying, in short, that because logic is so often difficult to apply, subjective illogic is therefore acceptable.
No. I'm saying absolute deductive logic exists only for theoretical matters. Non-absolute inductive logic is not only useful, it's also all any human has to measure and understand our physical world.
The human endeavor of science is partly organic, prone to individual mistakes. That's why we don't accept single studies as established fact. And we especially don't accept press releases about single studies.
Instead we ask, is a theory the simplest explanation with the most explanatory power? Confirmed by the experiments and predictions of a plethora of studies, by many scientists, in a range of fields, with converging lines of evidence? Is it the overwhelming consensus of scientists in relevant fields who agree the theory explains the data the best?
If so, you've got a more valid theory than an idea I thought up over lunch. The theory deserves provisional consent from non-experts. To believe the theory and the idea have equal validity, would be perverse.
Maybe I'm misinterpreting you; but it sounds like you're implying that such a theory isn't more valid to you than any given idea.
Mapping is short hand for observing, hypothesizing, predicting, observing and possibly falsifying or adjusting, predicting, repeat ad nauseam. If we could reach the purely theoretical point of no possibility of erring, we could stop observing and predicting.
"If I cannot understand exactly what you mean by these ... then it is too vague for me to address ... I get the impression that such questions don't trouble you. But they trouble me."
Correct. Most people don't expect science, done in the real, physical world, and the opinions and language of and about real, physical humans to be observable and definable to a non-arbitrary and perfect degree that can only exist in theory.
Demanding such theoretical perfection from real world observations and conclusions, and refusing out of hand to give any higher or lower degree of value to conclusions if they can only approach (but never meet) such unreachable expectations, is simply unrealistic. Such rejection is an example of the excluded middle fallacy.
We seem to disagree about what "know" means, especially in science. The word "know" is short hand to mean
- independently, thoroughly tested over time by a broad range of scientists, in related fields, - exhaustively confirmed by experiment and predictions, any of which could have disconfirmed the theory, - with a robust web of supporting data and multiple lines of evidence, converging upon that theory being the best and simplest explanation with the most explanatory power, - is uncontroversial, in that it has achieved an overwhelming consensus of those in the scientific community who have relevant fields of study, and have evaluated the evidence to date, and agree that the theory explains it best.
Saying that is tiresome, except to explain how scientific theories are more valid than non-falsifiable ideas. If "know" didn't exist for the above, we'd have to invent it. What word would you use?
Yes, we use reliably working theories to map the observable world to real effect (computers and cars). Validation comes in a theory's continued prediction success. One can't apply a theory to 100% of all situations. We have to be satisfied with passing some arbitrarily huge barrage of situations we can throw at it. But that's a heckuva lot more than most hypotheses can provide.
We all must act on senses, judgment, & experience that are prone to error. But that doesn't mean we can't progress in knowledge. I don't assume that knowing theory of operation is prerequisite to use. What I meant with the "you seem agreeable to using" comment, was that we generally *do* live our lives by acting as if established theories and their fruits work, and we *don't* normally invest our well being in non-established hypotheses.
You object to calling a theory valid unless it is formally valid. Sure, it's good to remember that scientists are human and prone to human foibles. But that doesn't imply we must equate theories that have an explanatory mechanism, supporting evidence, predictive power, and correlation observable by all to the physical world, and others that have none of those.
What it sounds like you're claiming (I may be wrong) is that if there's no perfect standard to confirm theories as valid, then all theories have equal validity. That'd be a Fallacy of the Excluded Middle. Some theories progress beyond "just working hypothesis" -- that isn't controversial. Many are "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent" (- S. Gould).
Still, we probably agree, that article's study seems ridiculously speculative.
Neil wrote: ... what laws? ... they have to believe these on faith - just as Christians believe the Scriptures on faith.
Well, not "just as". I agree Scriptures are believed on faith. But laws which "they" accept (and that are behind the technology you seem agreeable to using): A - start as observations of how nature seems to work, B - become hypotheses that describe what's been observed C - make predictions of what should be observed (by anyone) in the future D - become validated, changed, or discarded based on further observations (by anyone) E - Eventually, if accepted as valid theories, make many predictions of phenomena observable by anyone, but are always subject to an endless loop of steps C and D.
I don't get how some Christians never seem to understand why secularists have a problem with the more enthusiastic Muslims, Christians, and Jews who try to make laws align to their religion. i.e., There must be prayer to *my* god in public. Children must be indoctrinated in *my* religion in schools to the exclusion of others. And people's private lives must align with *my* religion's ideas of work, recreation, or sex.
It is somewhat amusing, though sad at the same time, that people who believe there is a God are so vigorous in their attempts to make others act as if there is. If there is an eternal afterlife why name-call the non-believers? All the railing against secularism and atheists will not stop it, nor produce a mad outbreak of Christianity.
I'm glad there's no mindless secularist dogma to quote. Repeating trite ad hominem quotes always comes across as an unwillingness to understand an issue.
revivalandreformation wrote: Yes I indeed meant those ... who thought they were Christians, who thought they were saved ... They weren't saved, sealed and elected...
Then I think I disagree. By that reckoning, nobody who thinks they're saved -- including yourself and anyone you truly believe is or was saved when they died -- very well may have had doubt overcome them as they approached death, and therefore never were saved in the first place.
In fact, taking that stance one could then say it's possible that nobody in the whole history of mankind, except those specifically mentioned as saved by God, have ever gone to heaven.
Neil: "... he probably meant abandonment of the *pretense* of faith. Or at least, he should."
I agree he should have. I doubt he did, only because he seems to be speaking to the common phenomenon of those who believe themselves to be saved, but eventually quit the faith, perhaps because "It's a hard road and many will abort when the pressure gets too much."
I've met too many people who meant "those who leave were never saved in the first place" to mean no matter how sincere you are, you're simply not yet saved if you ever leave the fait. But r&r, please correct me if I've misrepresented your intent.
r&r: "If they left the faith, then they weren't truly saved in the first place."
That's an illogical assertion. In a nutshell, that's a version of what Joseph Heller made fun of in his novel, "Catch 22". i.e., you can request and leave the military if you're insane. But anyone who wants out of the military is sane, so doesn't qualify.
If once you're truly saved, you can never leave the faith, then what's the criteria for being truly saved? ... Well, it must be that you die before you leave the faith.
Time and again we've been shown that anybody might leave the faith. Which would mean that nobody can ever be said to be definitely saved.
They're letting other atheists -- those who feel pressured by a mostly religious culture to feel shameful about being themselves publically -- know that there are plenty of others who reason like them. That they're in no way alone amidst a sea of easily upset believers.
They're also letting believers know that there's no reason to shame non-believers into keeping their non-belief hidden.
r&r: "they make the mistake of considering Christianity, or following Jesus Christ as a religion. ... they don't think God has the right to tell them how to live their life"
I don't think using the word "religion" or "religious" gives any sort of false impression. But if you, unlike most people, wouldn't use the word "religion" to describe phenomena such as following Jesus Christ (or laying yourself at the feet of God in submission), then what word would you suggest that has that commonly understood meaning?