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Author Topic: A Question about Religion
King of Men
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Well yeah, Dags, that's kind of my point.
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Puppy
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quote:
Well, in the first place, the claims of religion are a pretty big thing to get wrong. And in the second place, being unable to get things 100% right is not a reason to stop striving to do so. I mean, duh, why am I even telling a religious person that?
My point is that as long as we maintain the values of science within our scientific communities, I don't see harm in supporting individuals who explore other means of learning within their own individual and community belief systems.

Of course we shouldn't stop striving to get things right. All I'm saying is that we shouldn't cut off certain lines of inquiry because you've made a personal value judgment that they are not worthwhile.

quote:
Fine. My subjective reasoning requires me to badger you when you believe things that are obviously wrong. Repent, or else.
Your subjective reasoning leads you to believe that scientific objectivity is the only valid means of seeking truth, and that people who believe otherwise and act on those beliefs are causing great harm to the world. Your personality requires you to badger me.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Puppy:
My point is that as long as we maintain the values of science within our scientific communities, I don't see harm in supporting individuals who explore other means of learning within their own individual and community belief systems.

Well then, I'll have to point you to the statistics on top scientists and atheism. Briefly, scientists as a whole are less religious than the general population, and this tendency increases towards the very top of the profession. So religious people are less likely to become scientists, and upon doing so, they are less likely to do the very best work. The obvious explanation is that people dislike applying a standard to their work that they aren't able to apply to their personal lives, and so they abandon either science or religion, in statistically significant percentages. That's harm right there. You are cutting off a large percentage of the population from being an effective part of the scientific community, because they lack, or are too honest to apply, the compartmentation that religious scientists need.

quote:
quote:
Fine. My subjective reasoning requires me to badger you when you believe things that are obviously wrong. Repent, or else.
Your subjective reasoning leads you to believe that scientific objectivity is the only valid means of seeking truth, and that people who believe otherwise and act on those beliefs are causing great harm to the world. Your personality requires you to badger me.
How do you tell the difference? I could just as well claim that only your personality is leading you to believe the doctrines of the LDS church.
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Scott R
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You've stuck a lot of subjective qualifiers in there, KoM:

"Top scientists"

"Best work"

"Effective part"

I'm not convinced at all.

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King of Men
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I'll point you to the studies later, it's half past midnight in Italy. Out of curiousity, though, suppose I were able to show (for the sake of argument) that no scientist of, say, Nobel-Prize caliber was religious, would you find that convincing? (I don't think this is true, the effect is not so large as that; I'm asking as a hypothetical.)
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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Some scientists who made "great discoveries" are actually quite arrogant (I'm thinking of this biologist who was interviewed on a documentary, I'll try to find the name) and are not quite the kind of person I'd want to be like. Truth be told: When I'm not "religious," I'm blabbing about some scientific topic. My literacy in most especially astronomy, physics, and biology came naturally to me; I could explain the theories of relativity in great detail and understanding at a very early age. I deduced through much of quantum mechanics and relativity in third grade, only to find a few years later that many of my hypotheses matched those predicted by physicists (most especially those regarding the need for the unification of gravity and electromagnetism to give a base for a grand theory of everything). I could name the properties of different isotopes of plutonium in fourth grade. I have a great value scientific ability and understanding.

However, I find that while many scientists were stunning in their ability to deduce truths about the world, a good many were arrogant jerks and not great role models. Take Isaac Newton, for example (who was in fact very religious, though he assumed very non-canon ideas about God) who was criticized by another scientist and spent the rest of his life getting even.

Being learned in what natural processes affect the world is very important to me, but not nearly as good as being a good role model for society. In the latter value, I find the most respectable and admirable role models more practiced in the field of religion.

So if you told me Nobel-caliber scientists were hardly ever religious, I'd ask "What about the Nobel Peace Prize?"

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Threads
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You are probably thinking of Watson
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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I don't think so, I know who James Watson is from seventh-grade. I haven't read enough about him to really analyze his personality.
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Threads
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I actually slightly misread what you wrote. Anyways, the recent controversy with Watson is that he made some racist comments. Link.

quote:
Watson was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really."

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Scott R
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quote:
I'll point you to the studies later, it's half past midnight in Italy.
Where are you in Italy?

quote:
suppose I were able to show (for the sake of argument) that no scientist of, say, Nobel-Prize caliber was religious, would you find that convincing?
You'd also need to connect the statistic with your claim-- that the reason they aren't religious is because they are scientists.

EDIT: Additionally, you'd need to show that the organizations that stamp "Top Scientist" on folks' lab coats don't have a bias against religious belief.

Also, define what "religious" means in terms of your data.

Also, show the correlation between religious beleif and degradation of empirical thought.

[ November 16, 2007, 07:54 AM: Message edited by: Scott R ]

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Threads:
I actually slightly misread what you wrote. Anyways, the recent controversy with Watson is that he made some racist comments. Link.

quote:
Watson was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really."

It was a double-whammy, as he was both racist and wrong about the data.
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Mucus
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer: Thats a bit of a implication leap there. You claim that the scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant. Later, you make the claim that religious figures tend to be less arrogant.

I would say that it is not so much that scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant, but rather that making great discoveries tend to make one arrogant. Heck, doing anything great, whether sports, politics, science, or writing probably helps make one more arrogant simply because you have an actual reason to be arrogant.

I'm reminded of this exchange:
quote:

Mark Antony: You seem to forget that our war is not over yet. Cato and Skippy are still at large, given time they will raise another army.
Caesar: And when they do I shall crush them.
Mark Antony: I'm glad you're so confident ... some would call it hubris.
Caesar: It's only hubris if I fail.

As for why religious figures tend to be less arrogant, I would both disagree in some cases* and in the cases where that it not true I would point out that they may very well have done less on Earth to be arrogant about [Wink]

* Depending on the figure, thinking that there may be a generic god is not inherently arrogant. Claiming that not only a specific god exists, but that he talks to you or has given you personal instructions (or in very extreme cases talks through you specifically) seems to be almost the definition of arrogance.

[ November 16, 2007, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Scott R: Thats a bit of a implication leap there. You claim that the scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant. Later, you make the claim that religious figures tend to be less arrogant.

No I didn't.
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Mucus
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Whoops, read the wrong name. That was for "C3PO the Dragon Slayer"
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lynn johnson
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C3PO asked if atheism was a religion.
Here's an interesting article I just read.
http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_11_05/article.html

It reports on a convention of atheists and the writer slyly points out all the religious aspects of the group. Fun to read.

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Puppy
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quote:
Well then, I'll have to point you to the statistics on top scientists and atheism. Briefly, scientists as a whole are less religious than the general population, and this tendency increases towards the very top of the profession. So religious people are less likely to become scientists, and upon doing so, they are less likely to do the very best work. The obvious explanation is that people dislike applying a standard to their work that they aren't able to apply to their personal lives, and so they abandon either science or religion, in statistically significant percentages. That's harm right there. You are cutting off a large percentage of the population from being an effective part of the scientific community, because they lack, or are too honest to apply, the compartmentation that religious scientists need.
It's not a question of honesty. A faithful person can recognize the limits of what faith can teach him, and refuse to apply it to his scientific work because of its inherent subjectivity. Recognizing the subjective nature of faith doesn't imply denial or lack of faith in other words, a religious scientist doesn't have to say, "I believe THIS at home, but believe THIS at work." There are other approaches that are both completely honest and completely responsible.

(Conversely, the same scientist also recognizes the limits of what science can teach him, and pursues other lines on inquiry to obtain answers about moral questions that are irrelevant to science.)

In any case, I think that the individuals who are rendered unsuitable for scientific work by their faith would be unsuitable for it without their faith. There are different ways to approach faith, and those who value intellectual rigor, and who are not particularly credulous, DO find their way into science when it suits them, with or without faith. Those who pursue the highly-credulous, hungry-for-something-to-believe-in form of faith are not well-suited to scientific work, no matter what they are taught. If it's not the Bible, it's Lysenkoism.

quote:
How do you tell the difference? I could just as well claim that only your personality is leading you to believe the doctrines of the LDS church.
I'm sure my personality does play a part. There are plenty of personalities I might have had that would have driven me away from the church for one reason or another. When I'm already recognizing that my choice of religion is a subjective one, attributing some part of that choice to personality isn't exactly intimidating [Smile]
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by lynn johnson:
C3PO asked if atheism was a religion.
Here's an interesting article I just read.
http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_11_05/article.html

It reports on a convention of atheists and the writer slyly points out all the religious aspects of the group. Fun to read.

Well, if you would equate a Star Trek convention as a kind of religion, then I would agree with you.

But in all seriousness, I don't think atheism is a religion.

But even if it was...so what?

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
I'm reminded of this exchange:
quote:

Mark Antony: You seem to forget that our war is not over yet. Cato and Skippy are still at large, given time they will raise another army.
Caesar: And when they do I shall crush them.
Mark Antony: I'm glad you're so confident ... some would call it hubris.
Caesar: It's only hubris if I fail.


Gaaaaahhhhh! [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash]

His name is SCIPIO....not SKIPPY!

[Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Cry]

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by lynn johnson:
C3PO asked if atheism was a religion.
Here's an interesting article I just read.
http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_11_05/article.html

It reports on a convention of atheists and the writer slyly points out all the religious aspects of the group. Fun to read.

Define "religious". It seems that you think atheists are religious because some of them are passionate about their beliefs. That's not a standard definition.

Remember, atheists only share one belief.

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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Christians don't always agree on things either.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:
Christians don't always agree on things either.

Right, but atheists only have to have one thing in common. I could literally be the opposite of someone on every belief and philosophy they have...but if we both don't believe in god, we're both atheists.

But again, if we're a religion, so what?

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TomDavidson
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Lynn: I don't think the word you wanted was "slyly." I think you meant "smugly."
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steven
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"...he said slyly." [ROFL]
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Javert
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I think he said it dryly, actually.
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Scott R
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Tom's a the-glass-is-half-full kind of guy-- but either way, the glass isn't dry.
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
C3PO the Dragon Slayer: Thats a bit of a implication leap there. You claim that the scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant. Later, you make the claim that religious figures tend to be less arrogant.

I would say that it is not so much that scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant, but rather that making great discoveries tend to make one arrogant. Heck, doing anything great, whether sports, politics, science, or writing probably helps make one more arrogant simply because you have an actual reason to be arrogant.

I'm reminded of this exchange:
quote:

Mark Antony: You seem to forget that our war is not over yet. Cato and Skippy are still at large, given time they will raise another army.
Caesar: And when they do I shall crush them.
Mark Antony: I'm glad you're so confident ... some would call it hubris.
Caesar: It's only hubris if I fail.

As for why religious figures tend to be less arrogant, I would both disagree in some cases* and in the cases where that it not true I would point out that they may very well have done less on Earth to be arrogant about [Wink]

* Depending on the figure, thinking that there may be a generic god is not inherently arrogant. Claiming that not only a specific god exists, but that he talks to you or has given you personal instructions (or in very extreme cases talks through you specifically) seems to be almost the definition of arrogance.

On the issue of making great discoveries leading to pride: I agree completely. I don't think it's inevitable, as long as the guy is constantly watching himself for signs of pigheadedness.

I did not claim that religious figures tend to be less arrogant. I claim that those who are visible, yet humble are more religious. From my limited experience, those who are not visible, are humble, and considerate of others are even more devout in their faith.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by lynn johnson:
Dean Radin has studied ESP for several years, published in peer-reviewed journals.

lynn johnson, I went through the publications list on the linked DR website, and I think this only works for a certain definition of "peer-reviewed:" namely, reviewed by other people who are doing research in paranormal activity.*** The non-paranormal journal articles didn't seem to be about ESP, or they were in magazines for the lay press (e.g., Nature, Psychology Today, "Journal of Irreproducible Results").

I won't quibble with that use of "peer review," other than to comment that it might be implying a different level of review than might be the case. However, I could be missing something in my read, if your definition of "peer review" was not limited to parapsychology peers.

----

*** Edited to add:

These are the journals to which I am referring:
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing
Journal of Scientific Exploration
Shift: Journal of Alternatives
(? I think this is the reference)
Journal of Consciousness Studies
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
Noetic Sciences Review
Journal of Parapsychology
Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine
European Journal of Parapsychology
Journal of Parapsychology
Parapsychology Review
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research


There is also a publication in the APA's Psychological Bulletin, but that seems to be a comment on a statistical meta-analysis, not an original article establishing the existence of ESP. Similarly for an article in British Journal of Psychology, which is about the collaboration between skeptics and paranormal investigators (a sociological take), not an article establishing the existence of ESP.

I also see a few things in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, which uses "open peer commentary" (not the same thing as "peer review," which is an exclusionary process).

----

Edited again to add: And I don't mean to say that this isn't a valid use of the term "peer review." I just mean to clarify what you mean by the term so that I understand the claim made about his work and its publication. I was expecting a peer base for the review broader than what I seemed to find, but as I said, I may be missing something.

Moreover, it may also be true that one cannot do this research and get it accepted for review by persons other than those already involved in this research -- and that may be a due to a bias that should be critiqued. My post is directed toward understanding what you meant, not whether you were right or wrong in saying it. I hope that makes sense and that asking about it (or the way I asked) does not cause offense.

[ November 18, 2007, 08:16 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Scott R
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CT, you're so cool.
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soccer-head
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
C3PO the Dragon Slayer: Thats a bit of a implication leap there. You claim that the scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant. Later, you make the claim that religious figures tend to be less arrogant.

I would say that it is not so much that scientists that make great discoveries tend to be arrogant, but rather that making great discoveries tend to make one arrogant. Heck, doing anything great, whether sports, politics, science, or writing probably helps make one more arrogant simply because you have an actual reason to be arrogant.

I'm reminded of this exchange:
quote:

Mark Antony: You seem to forget that our war is not over yet. Cato and Skippy are still at large, given time they will raise another army.
Caesar: And when they do I shall crush them.
Mark Antony: I'm glad you're so confident ... some would call it hubris.
Caesar: It's only hubris if I fail.

As for why religious figures tend to be less arrogant, I would both disagree in some cases* and in the cases where that it not true I would point out that they may very well have done less on Earth to be arrogant about [Wink]

* Depending on the figure, thinking that there may be a generic god is not inherently arrogant. Claiming that not only a specific god exists, but that he talks to you or has given you personal instructions (or in very extreme cases talks through you specifically) seems to be almost the definition of arrogance.

On the issue of making great discoveries leading to pride: I agree completely. I don't think it's inevitable, as long as the guy is constantly watching himself for signs of pigheadedness.

I did not claim that religious figures tend to be less arrogant. I claim that those who are visible, yet humble are more religious. From my limited experience, those who are not visible, are humble, and considerate of others are even more devout in their faith.

Sorry for being sort of lurky, but since you both made unsupportable claims, isn't this whole argument moot?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Well then, I'll have to point you to the statistics on top scientists and atheism. Briefly, scientists as a whole are less religious than the general population, and this tendency increases towards the very top of the profession. So religious people are less likely to become scientists, and upon doing so, they are less likely to do the very best work. The obvious explanation is that people dislike applying a standard to their work that they aren't able to apply to their personal lives, and so they abandon either science or religion, in statistically significant percentages. That's harm right there. You are cutting off a large percentage of the population from being an effective part of the scientific community, because they lack, or are too honest to apply, the compartmentation that religious scientists need.
You seem to conveniently forget to point out that Mormonism specifically went against this trend, and that the entire study was conducted again for Mormon scientists and the religion still bucks this trend.

Not every religion either in theory or in practice requires scientists to choose sides.

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lynn johnson
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Claudia, you make a very good point. I agree that "peer reviewed" may be a bit narrow for Radin. On the other hand, I have been a peer reviewer for journals, only when they deal with areas I know something about and have some expertise in. I am sure it is the same for you. So I guess it doesn't surprise me to see Radin publishing in journals that are interested in ESP.

In any case, Radin's argument is that ESP is clearly established by many studies of similar effect size and significance levels. Since I have seen that at a personal level, I tend to think he is onto something.

There is a dilemma. I am not sure you could get main-line psychologists to serve as peer reviewers for psi publications, and you generally cannot get a pub into a journal that isn't appropriate for the topic. So where else will he publish?

Last year I read Blum's _Ghost Hunters_ and found her reporting the same kind of attitude a century ago. The scientific model that William James and others used was different than ours today, but the social dynamics were the same. Rather than look at the data, the whole enterprise was simply attacked and dismissed. These are areas where people have made up their minds, proving I suppose that scientists are only open-minded where they choose to be. It is not necessarily a general trait.

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ClaudiaTherese
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*nods

Getting to the point of being accepted for peer review, especially in one of the more standard scientific journals, is a huge hurdle. It's rather like deciding which hypotheses will be even entertained for testing -- so much work is done in the initial assumptions, and that is generally an unexamined process. It's surely a source of much bias.

Thanks for the clarification.

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LargeTuna
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Love is my Religion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heUVrcYWqOc
[Party]

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, for example, believes religion and science can coexist harmoniously, and has faith that both Christianity and Darwinism are true to enough an extent to base a solid lifestyle and framework for a rough view of fact and reality.

This is just one example among many. Most of the really famous scientists are either moderately or fervently religious, while the ones who don't gain notoriety are the ones who tend to scoff at religious premises.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:
Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, for example, believes religion and science can coexist harmoniously, and has faith that both Christianity and Darwinism are true to enough an extent to base a solid lifestyle and framework for a rough view of fact and reality.

This is just one example among many. Most of the really famous scientists are either moderately or fervently religious, while the ones who don't gain notoriety are the ones who tend to scoff at religious premises.

Unfortunately, in the case of Collins, he doesn't use the same criteria to judge his faith that he uses to judge science. Luckily he doesn't let his religious faith interfere with his work.
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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He holds that religious faith needs not interfere with his work. He believes that God could have been perfectly capable of creating the Universe through means that comply with the laws of physics he invented.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:
He holds that religious faith needs not interfere with his work. He believes that God could have been perfectly capable of creating the Universe through means that comply with the laws of physics he invented.

Exactly. Which I have no problem with it, although I would disagree with him about his beliefs.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
I'll point you to the studies later, it's half past midnight in Italy. Out of curiousity, though, suppose I were able to show (for the sake of argument) that no scientist of, say, Nobel-Prize caliber was religious, would you find that convincing? (I don't think this is true, the effect is not so large as that; I'm asking as a hypothetical.)

I realize that this is a hypothetical, but it is worth pointing out that it is rather emphatically not true. Several recent Nobel laureates are devoutly religious; many other renowned scientists are as well.
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steven
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Rivka is correct. *shrug* The fact of what she said doesn't mean anything totally specific to me, but it's true...
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