Science v Scientism

Science v Scientism

Postby TMLutas on Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:24 pm

A useful article that covers a lot of what's been hashed around this forum but at a far, far higher level.

I strongly recommend reading the underlying pdf article from Michael Polyani, especially if you're one of the more scientifically oriented readers on the forum. Among other things, it realistically examines the marxist challenge to the previous worldwide scientific orthodoxy over Mendelian genetics and the implications for future challenges. I very much endorse it.
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Postby Luna_Northcat on Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:44 pm

Meh. You HAD to know I'd respond to this one, didn't you?

Polanyi makes a mistake very common to people with a deep religious view which takes precedence over any other way of doing things: he makes the assumption that the basis of any belief or way of doing things is equal to religion. Unfortunately, that can lead to him not questioning other people's beliefs and actions deeply enough.

For example: the bit about Lord Rayleigh. Yup, Lord Rayleigh's research got largely blown off and forgotten. But that was not because of blind faith in another view, it was because it was inconsistent with a LOT of other observations in physics, something Polanyi neglected to mention.

That said, Polanyi does raise some good points, that "belief in" science can be taken too far. Some people do take it to far. Speaking for myself alone, I think Dawkins takes it too far, for instance. But, it's not safe to assume that everyone who practices science does.

Not everyone takes science to mean
(1) only science reveals the Real and only science can discover truth;

(2) scientific knowledge of reality is exhaustive, not inherently limited, is holistic and sees reality as reality really is.

...even when they practice science. In fact, I think you would find that a lot of dedicated scientists speak out against going that far, because it only comes back and bites you when you claim something you can't do.

And, that said, there are actually times that Polanyi gets a bit too post-modernist for my taste, and crawls up his own bum with his definitions of things. :P

The blogger you link to is completely right in his analysis of Islam, though, as far as I can see.
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Postby Kerry Skydancer on Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:14 pm

Luna's got a pretty good breakdown so far - I'll add this:

Polyani is a post-modernist loon, from the looks of that document. Lysenko pretty much destroyed Soviet biological research with his nonsense. If he'd been given enough time to do the same to physics and chemistry, there would never have been a need for Mutually Assured Destruction, because Stalin would never have gotten an atomic bomb.

Lysenko did try just that, by the way - but Andrei Sakharov torpedoed his attempts when Stalin wanted to know why they didn't have a bomb yet. Sakharov, the rumors say, told Uncle Josef that if he wanted a bomb, he'd have to tell Lysenko to keep his stupid nose out of it, because the physics didn't care if it was Marxist-Leninist, bourgeous, or fascist. Lysenko fell out of favor shortly after Sakharov produced a weapon, and Stalin probably would've purged him if he hadn't died soon after that point. He -was- purged after his ideas led to disastrous crop failures on Kruschev's watch.

There was -never- any major challenge to Western Science by the Soviets - they either adopted what worked, or they didn't get anywhere. They were more likely to look for cooperative evolution vs. conflict-based evolution than Western biologists were, but they made their case in the standard way, with evidence, and their findings were accepted with no real squabbling.

Mesmer -was- a fraud. No less a personage than Benjamin Franklin ran a series of double-blind tests, and he couldn't do 99% of what he claimed -unless both he and the subject knew he was there-. Mesmer could -not- tell whether or not a subject existed behind a cloth screen, nor could his subjects tell whether or not -he- was on the other side. What Mesmer did was to poison the well for fifty years or so on the -legitimate- study of hypnosis, unfortunately - but he really was a charalatan.

As for 'scientism', it does exist - primarily among the scientifically ignorant sections of the Progressive Left. (Anthropogenic Global Warming, anyone?) I can't think of any serious scientists who subscribe to any of its tenets except perhaps the idea that the Universe is ultimately knowable - and not all of them even accept -that-. Science is a continuing process of looking for better answers, and is most emphatically NOT a finished product. Every Master's and Doctoral candidate in the sciences has to -extend- existing knowledge. They know it isn't complete. But they're on the right track - otherwise we wouldn't be arguing this on the Net.
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Postby Tom Mazanec on Sat Nov 18, 2006 9:07 am

I am reading PARALLEL UNIVERSES by Kaku. He states his belief that all physics can ultimately be reduced to one Cosmic Equation. Even if that is true, I wonder if we are smart enough to derive that equation. Each generation, a smaller percentage of scientists are able to derive the etherial mathematics of physics (as opposed to learning them). It takes longer to learn the fundamentals, and the creative phase of the human mind tends to fade with age as well. Our improving technology and growing NUMBER of scientists has masked this trend in the last century or so, but there is no guarantee that the curves won't intersect before we reach the God Equation (if it exists at all).
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Postby Sun tzu on Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:25 am

Tom Mazanec wrote:I am reading PARALLEL UNIVERSES by Kaku. He states his belief that all physics can ultimately be reduced to one Cosmic Equation. Even if that is true, I wonder if we are smart enough to derive that equation. Each generation, a smaller percentage of scientists are able to derive the etherial mathematics of physics (as opposed to learning them). It takes longer to learn the fundamentals, and the creative phase of the human mind tends to fade with age as well. Our improving technology and growing NUMBER of scientists has masked this trend in the last century or so, but there is no guarantee that the curves won't intersect before we reach the God Equation (if it exists at all).


But even then...How far away are we from intelligence augmentation?
There was an experiment done on lab mice that made them faster learners. I'm not saying we'll be able to increase human intelligence within the next twenty years, but I imagine it'll happen sooner or later...
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Postby TMLutas on Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:09 pm

Luna_Northcat wrote:Meh. You HAD to know I'd respond to this one, didn't you?

Polanyi makes a mistake very common to people with a deep religious view which takes precedence over any other way of doing things: he makes the assumption that the basis of any belief or way of doing things is equal to religion. Unfortunately, that can lead to him not questioning other people's beliefs and actions deeply enough.


Perhaps you might want to read the man's biography before you condemn him to your ghetto category of "people with a deep religious view". The man was a medical doctor, a scientist (chemist), and a philosopher of science. His son won the nobel prize in chemistry in 1986.

Luna_Northcat wrote:For example: the bit about Lord Rayleigh. Yup, Lord Rayleigh's research got largely blown off and forgotten. But that was not because of blind faith in another view, it was because it was inconsistent with a LOT of other observations in physics, something Polanyi neglected to mention.

Did they not peer review back then in the Proceedings of the Royal Society? This was published research and that presumes that it wasn't just some madman's crackpot ravings. A testable result that passed peer review and would have revolutionized its field if true yet was not only dismissed, but nobody ever bothered to write up a refutation? That's a bit strange, no? It reminds me of the oddity that nobody noticed that MBH 98's hockey stick paper had bad data in it until MM 03 examined it from an outsider's perspective. Science is supposed to replicate and check or rerun the experiment and debunk. It's not supposed to just sniff at a published result and functionally say "naaah".
Luna_Northcat wrote:That said, Polanyi does raise some good points, that "belief in" science can be taken too far. Some people do take it to far. Speaking for myself alone, I think Dawkins takes it too far, for instance. But, it's not safe to assume that everyone who practices science does.


Straw man much? This isn't what Polyani is saying nor do most "scientism" critiques hold that all scientists are practitioners of scientism. If that were the case, there would be general religious injunctions against entering the sciences by religious leaders who held that and I know of no religion or fraction thereof that does this.

Luna_Northcat wrote:Not everyone takes science to mean
(1) only science reveals the Real and only science can discover truth;

(2) scientific knowledge of reality is exhaustive, not inherently limited, is holistic and sees reality as reality really is.

...even when they practice science. In fact, I think you would find that a lot of dedicated scientists speak out against going that far, because it only comes back and bites you when you claim something you can't do.

And, that said, there are actually times that Polanyi gets a bit too post-modernist for my taste, and crawls up his own bum with his definitions of things. :P

The blogger you link to is completely right in his analysis of Islam, though, as far as I can see.


Glad we can agree on some things. I wish you could see that if scientists outed the scientism advocates in their ranks for their misuse of science, religion and science would get on a great deal better. It's the scientism not the science that bothers most of the faithful, young earth creationists like RH being a very small minority.
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Postby TMLutas on Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:16 pm

Kerry Skydancer wrote:Luna's got a pretty good breakdown so far - I'll add this:

Polyani is a post-modernist loon, from the looks of that document. Lysenko pretty much destroyed Soviet biological research with his nonsense. If he'd been given enough time to do the same to physics and chemistry, there would never have been a need for Mutually Assured Destruction, because Stalin would never have gotten an atomic bomb.


I think that you're misunderstanding Polyani's point. It's not that he thought that Lysenkoism was correct but rather that the political point that the Soviets were making was correct. This sort of thing happens all the time.

Several rather important Supreme Court cases were later discovered to be fraudulent in important respects, including Roe v Wade. This has exactly zero relevance to the points of law established by those precedents and attempts to overturn such cases fail miserably (both Roe and Doe, the protagonists of the two crucial abortion cases, have swapped sides and alleged fraud). Similarly, Lysenko can be a crackpot fraud (which he was) without any effect on the allegation that western science is not entirely objective.
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Postby Kerry Skydancer on Sun Nov 19, 2006 9:53 am

TMLutas wrote: Did they not peer review back then in the Proceedings of the Royal Society? This was published research and that presumes that it wasn't just some madman's crackpot ravings. A testable result that passed peer review and would have revolutionized its field if true yet was not only dismissed, but nobody ever bothered to write up a refutation? That's a bit strange, no? It reminds me of the oddity that nobody noticed that MBH 98's hockey stick paper had bad data in it until MM 03 examined it from an outsider's perspective. Science is supposed to replicate and check or rerun the experiment and debunk. It's not supposed to just sniff at a published result and functionally say "naaah".


That's a bad example. MBH's paper was poked at from the first moment it came out. It wasn't the -data- that was bad, it was their computer model - and they refused to allow review of that model for several years. They only released their programming after several people challenged their work on the grounds that other models refused to produce that graph, and it was then discovered that their program was seriously FUBAR. Not that that has stopped the Useless Nitwits and other AGW fans from continuing to push it as Truth.

Yes, you sometimes get cultural bias leaking into science - but the West has the best track record of actually noticing this and correcting it sooner or later. The Soviet complaints in this regard were ... disingenuous, at best.
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Postby Luna_Northcat on Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:34 am

TMLutas wrote:Perhaps you might want to read the man's biography before you condemn him to your ghetto category of "people with a deep religious view". The man was a medical doctor, a scientist (chemist), and a philosopher of science. His son won the nobel prize in chemistry in 1986.


Yes...and? Believe me, being a scientist does not actually mean that someone does not have deep religious views, as odd as that may seem to you. I've read the man's writing, drawn my own judgements, and I see nothing in the Wiki biography to make me think that he had abandoned his faith.


Did they not peer review back then in the Proceedings of the Royal Society?


To be honest, I don't think they did. Until the 1950s, peer review was only an occasional thing.


It reminds me of the oddity that nobody noticed that MBH 98's hockey stick paper had bad data in it until MM 03 examined it from an outsider's perspective. Science is supposed to replicate and check or rerun the experiment and debunk. It's not supposed to just sniff at a published result and functionally say "naaah".


And to a large extent, that's what happens...except in the cases where we can tell with a look that too many things which we already know are being ignored. Notice, for example, how very few physicists spend time bothering to peer-review descriptions of perpetual motion machines.

See, the issue with a lot of these papers is not that we don't know and pretend that we do, as that we DO know, and the authors of the papers want us to pretend that we don't. But in general, there actually needs to be a very, very good reason to abandon established principles, and these only come along rarely.

Incidentally, are you lot not aware of how discredited the Macintyre & McKitrick criticism is, and the fact that Mann's results have been replicated and largely confirmed since then?

Straw man much? This isn't what Polyani is saying nor do most "scientism" critiques hold that all scientists are practitioners of scientism.


This wasn't clear from the rather brief introduction of the paper, and I ended up with the impression that it was an accusation being levelled of most practitioners of science. I apologise for misinterpreting.

I wish you could see that if scientists outed the scientism advocates in their ranks for their misuse of science, religion and science would get on a great deal better. It's the scientism not the science that bothers most of the faithful, young earth creationists like RH being a very small minority.


Actually, I don't know about this. I hesitate to say that many scientists subscribe to scientism. I think Kerry is dead right on that, and it's more likely to be a trademark of a sort of "cult of lay followers". Most scientists are very aware of the limitations of our techniques; and the majority try to be careful about what statements we make. However, there are several things to take into account:

With Christianity, it is often the loudest and most obnoxious people who spend the most time in the news. This also applies in other arenas...iincluding science. It doesn't matter what most of the 140,000 practicing life scientists in America think, if the loud 2 keep making the news.

And one thing that science does hold to, is that science is unique amongst human disciplines for investigation of material phenomena; and that we can get a unique line on physical reality that way, and that no other tool gives us the same kind of insight. Science doesn't state that there is nothing outside the realm of what science can legitimately investigate; however, science does insist that what we can investigate, and what we have investigated, sets a standard for credibility -- that is to say, what is outside science should not actually contradict what we know through science. And THAT is going to tick off a lot of people who think that science is just being snotty about it. Which may mean there is no compromise between the science and religious positions on that.
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Postby Luna_Northcat on Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:38 am

Kerry Skydancer wrote:<snip>
As for 'scientism', it does exist - primarily among the scientifically ignorant sections of the Progressive Left. (Anthropogenic Global Warming, anyone?)<snip>


*sigh* I was with you and cheering you on for everything you said, aside from that. Kerry, I don't get it; anthropogenic climate change is evidence-based science, like it or not. I thought you had access to professional journals? Do you have access to any of the AGU journals? Or Climatology, or any of the standards?

(The misinformation that Mann tried to hold his data and models secret is not accurate, either; it's a "skeptic" talking point, but I know for a fact that he provided his data and statistical methods on request, because I downloaded them to have a look at. The only thing he kept "secret" was his software algorithms -- because the software was proprietary, and did not belong to him.

There has been a huge, and heated, and continuing debate about the robustness of the model and the validity of the results, culminating most recently in a cautious confirmation of most of the hockey stick -- uncertainty remains for temperatures previous to about 1600AD. However, see for example http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060626/ ... 1032a.html . Seriously, the journals are a far better place to follow these debates than the various "skeptic" websites. But if you think the study is not well done or valid, you can still discard it without actually impacting the assessment of the trends; it's only one study out of...nearly a thousand, I think. It was just one of the best publicised. Seriously, what journals do you have access to?)
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Postby TMLutas on Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:02 am

Kerry Skydancer wrote:
TMLutas wrote: Did they not peer review back then in the Proceedings of the Royal Society? This was published research and that presumes that it wasn't just some madman's crackpot ravings. A testable result that passed peer review and would have revolutionized its field if true yet was not only dismissed, but nobody ever bothered to write up a refutation? That's a bit strange, no? It reminds me of the oddity that nobody noticed that MBH 98's hockey stick paper had bad data in it until MM 03 examined it from an outsider's perspective. Science is supposed to replicate and check or rerun the experiment and debunk. It's not supposed to just sniff at a published result and functionally say "naaah".


That's a bad example. MBH's paper was poked at from the first moment it came out. It wasn't the -data- that was bad, it was their computer model - and they refused to allow review of that model for several years. They only released their programming after several people challenged their work on the grounds that other models refused to produce that graph, and it was then discovered that their program was seriously FUBAR. Not that that has stopped the Useless Nitwits and other AGW fans from continuing to push it as Truth.

Yes, you sometimes get cultural bias leaking into science - but the West has the best track record of actually noticing this and correcting it sooner or later. The Soviet complaints in this regard were ... disingenuous, at best.


Actually, I recall that part of the problem with MBH 98 was actually the data was bad. There were some errors in their available data that would have showed up like a sore thumb when examined by anybody with a decent eye. From Steve McIntyre's site a relevant quote:
In the case of the Mann et al [1998,1999] study, used for the IPCC’s “hockey stick” graph, Mann was initially unable to remember where the data was located, then provided inaccurate data, then provided a new version of the data which was inconsistent with previously published material, etc. The National Post has recently reported on my experience as this unfolded.


Glad you're on board that their computer model was bad but the data was no great shakes either. I can't quickly find the early articles M&M published complaining about the data but no doubt they're archived somewhere.

Now the article I'm linking to actually works somewhat against my larger point by making the assertion that peer review can be so cursory as to be largely worthless to rely on. But isn't that the reason why people replicate experiments and publish their confirming or contradictory results?

Polyani's point that stuff can come so far out of left field that it is rejected out of hand even though proper peer review procedure is followed. The issue of MBH98 remains that it fulfilled so many dreams of the practitioners in the field that nobody seems to have wanted to poke at it too hard. It was too beautiful a result. It's not exactly the same point, but it is a closely related one and supports the larger charge that there is such a thing as scientism and that scientists must beware of falling into its seductive traps.

Again, I happen to agree that the Soviets were being disingenuous. That doesn't mean that they were wrong. And the fact that other cultures are even worse at sorting out cultural bias from their science gives me little comfort (though I do agree with you that it's true). We should be doing better than being the brightest failing idiot in the class.
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Postby TMLutas on Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:05 pm

Luna_Northcat wrote:
TMLutas wrote:Perhaps you might want to read the man's biography before you condemn him to your ghetto category of "people with a deep religious view". The man was a medical doctor, a scientist (chemist), and a philosopher of science. His son won the nobel prize in chemistry in 1986.


Yes...and? Believe me, being a scientist does not actually mean that someone does not have deep religious views, as odd as that may seem to you. I've read the man's writing, drawn my own judgements, and I see nothing in the Wiki biography to make me think that he had abandoned his faith.


Having deep religious views seems to be something of a pejorative in your opinion. Did Gregor Mendel's deep religious views invalidate his observations on genetics? My point was that aside from being a philosopher, the guy was a capable scientist who achieved some distinction in his work and then moved on to the philosophy of science because it interested him more.

If you've got some sort of beef with the man because of writings you've read and perhaps I have not, why not reference them? "Polyani lost me in his book XXXX when he said YYYY and now I don't believe a word he utters" is a perfectly reasonable thing to say because it gives a basis for future conversation. "I've read the man's writing, drawn my own judgements" doesn't give any basis because I just don't know what's your beef.

Luna_Northcat wrote:
Straw man much? This isn't what Polyani is saying nor do most "scientism" critiques hold that all scientists are practitioners of scientism.


This wasn't clear from the rather brief introduction of the paper, and I ended up with the impression that it was an accusation being levelled of most practitioners of science. I apologise for misinterpreting.


s'okay. If you haven't read it, it's only 5 pages long and pretty easy to read.

Luna_Northcat wrote:
I wish you could see that if scientists outed the scientism advocates in their ranks for their misuse of science, religion and science would get on a great deal better. It's the scientism not the science that bothers most of the faithful, young earth creationists like RH being a very small minority.


Actually, I don't know about this. I hesitate to say that many scientists subscribe to scientism. I think Kerry is dead right on that, and it's more likely to be a trademark of a sort of "cult of lay followers". Most scientists are very aware of the limitations of our techniques; and the majority try to be careful about what statements we make. However, there are several things to take into account:

With Christianity, it is often the loudest and most obnoxious people who spend the most time in the news. This also applies in other arenas...iincluding science. It doesn't matter what most of the 140,000 practicing life scientists in America think, if the loud 2 keep making the news.

And one thing that science does hold to, is that science is unique amongst human disciplines for investigation of material phenomena; and that we can get a unique line on physical reality that way, and that no other tool gives us the same kind of insight. Science doesn't state that there is nothing outside the realm of what science can legitimately investigate; however, science does insist that what we can investigate, and what we have investigated, sets a standard for credibility -- that is to say, what is outside science should not actually contradict what we know through science. And THAT is going to tick off a lot of people who think that science is just being snotty about it. Which may mean there is no compromise between the science and religious positions on that.


The religious would be ecstatic if the scientists shot down scientism inside the fraternity. Most clerics understand quite well that self-policing will spot problems sooner and react to them more effectively than any externally driven effort. It's the perception that the many non-scientism believing scientists aren't adequately policing science of those few adherents to scientism that make false claims in the name of science that is at the heart of most modern science/religion friction (at least from the religious viewpoint).

Again, young earth creationists like RH aside. He and the others like him provide a mirror image problem best dealt with inside the religious fraternity and you can believe that mainstream christians are working on biblical literalism from the theological side because it's just incorrect from a christian viewpoint. It misunderstands the history of how the Bible was written and why it was written. It also profoundly denies why it was possible to write the Bible. Long, long before the theology gets fully corrected, the bits that are likely to bother scientists go away as a side effect.
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new information

Postby TMLutas on Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:54 pm

Open Book links and comments on a recent foray by the scientism advocates to raise atheistic jihad.

Somewhere along the way, a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., which might have been one more polite dialogue between science and religion, began to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told.

Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., called, half in jest, for the establishment of an alternative church, with Dr. Tyson, whose powerful celebration of scientific discovery had the force and cadence of a good sermon, as its first minister.

She was not entirely kidding. “We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,” Dr. Porco said. “Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome — and even comforting — than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.”
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Postby BlackfootFerret on Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:23 pm

It's important to note that both religious philosophers and scientists have a common goal: To discover Truth, or as much of it as humans are capable of finding.

Science has embarrased organized religion many times, proving, for example, that the Sun is the center of the solar system instead of the Earth. Or that the 'Sphere of Fixed Stars' isn't just a Christmas display for the benefit of Earth, but are actually countless other Suns and worlds in addition to our own.

However, Science does have limits. At the end of the day, with every particle and reaction and force catalogued and mapped, the best the scientific method can give you is a complete map of how our present universe works and that the laws governing it are. That oppositely charged particles attract each other, and similar ones repell, etc.

That's great.. but WHY do oppositely charged things attract? WHY did the Big Bang happen in the first place? WHY does mass have gravity so humanity doesn't get thrown off the face of the spinning Earth? And while you're at it, why do creatures require -consciousness- at all when a biological machine could just carry on with simple unthinking robotic precision just like a mechanial one?

Well.. you can take a guess at some things. You'd pretty much need gravity and chemisty if you wanted stuff to live on a planet. As to the big bang though.. no clue.

Science itself is bound by the rules set down for our universe, it can't tell you why that universe exists or how it was set in motion. For those things, you need philosophy, which may or may not incorporate religion depending on the person.

This may sound strange to some, but learning about evolution actually increased my faith in God, because it's a much smarter way to design a world. In a static world, where every minor variation of bird, tree or creature must be individually created, and would behave more or less like Legos. God in his infinite wisdom would be condemned to an eternity of hard work and ultimate boredom as every little thing worked out precisely as he planned, with no surprises, or any sort of excitement at all. A dynamic world though is always changing, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill, and evolving creatures would be able to do some of the repair work themselves in case a meteor strike turned a forest into a desert, slowly gaining the ability to live in the new environment. God could then focus on the big things, like making new worlds and such, then come back and view the unfolding history of the earlier planets as sort of a Christmas present, giving things a nudge at times but more or less leaving the humans in charge of things and learning their own wisdom from the odd successes and misadventures.

Naturally, this doesn't answer the question of *WHICH* religion best describes who or what God he/she/it/them is like, and there appears to be no way science can answer this question either. I have a feeling this was done on purpose, why make a universe filled with mysteries for its inhabitants to solve, and then ruin the surprise by giving away the answer to the greatest question of all time?

Considering the variety of creative ways organized religions around the globe have found for slaughtering each other's adherents throughout history, I'm personally inclined towards being an Agnostic, since it seems like every one of the Big Religions has abused its 'Holy' power for worldly gain, despite every promise to the contrary. I like the power Science has for settling disputes (ie, what's at the center of the solar system?) in definite ways instead of endless unproductive argument and war. But that's just me, and Science, regardless of its strengths, isn't a religion, and can't take it's place.

For further reading, I'd suggest Steven Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and watching the movie "Contact". I think folks on either side of the debate would enjoy them both - Blackfoot
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Postby Atarlost on Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:11 am

BlackfootFerret wrote:I like the power Science has for settling disputes (ie, what's at the center of the solar system?) in definite ways instead of endless unproductive argument and war.


Oh, that's just hilarious. You do realise the math works out just fine if the sun revolves around the earth, right? Or even if the sun revolves around the Earth and the Earth revolves around the Moon. There are no special reference frames.
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Postby Axelgear on Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:54 am

Not really. The laws of physics go out the back door in that case. The Earth is smaller and far less massive than the sun, and hence has a weaker gravitational pull, and as such, it orbits it. The same can be said for the moon and earth. It is a smaller object, and hence orbits the larger one.

Soooo... Yes. The math DOES break down if Earth or the Moon are at the center. Hope that clears it up.
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Postby BlackfootFerret on Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:09 am

Early on, before Copernicus, Galileo and other famous astronomers, it was widely held that all celestial bodies must be perfect spheres traveling in perfect circular orbits, since anything Heavenly must be perfect. Then, as stargazing records got more accurate, astronomers found that this perfect circle model wasn't functioning-you couldn't use it to predict where a planet would be in the future. So, they kept the perfect circles, but tacked on that each planet was also moving on an 'epicycle', like a wheel which *itself* moved in a perfectly circular orbit. Still, this wasn't good enough, so astronomers bent over backwards adding more and more epicycles, circles moving in circles around circles hanging off of other circles, until a map of the solar system resembled a Rube Goldberg machine using the entire contents of a Home Depot to ring a doorbell.

Then, Copernicus noted that the whole tangled wad of celetial yarn could be replaced by a much simpler model that did yield predictable results.. if people were willing to accept that the planets moved on ELIPSES instead.

Still took a long time for it to catch on :)
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Postby Jwrebholz on Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:57 am

Glad we can agree on some things. I wish you could see that if scientists outed the scientism advocates in their ranks for their misuse of science, religion and science would get on a great deal better. It's the scientism not the science that bothers most of the faithful, young earth creationists like RH being a very small minority.


I've always thought that science and religion weren't mutually exclusive. One way to look at it is that science is your brain and religion is your heart..they do different things, true, but they each depend on each other, and you can't really live without either.
^ the above was me sounding like I know WTF I'm talking about.
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Postby Tom Mazanec on Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:34 am

Earth is denser than the sun.
Kepler is the one to introduce ellipses. Copernicus introduced Heliocentrism (which was better, but still not perfect).
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Postby Kerry Skydancer on Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:55 am

You beat me to it. Copernicus got rid of a -lot- of the overcomplexity by putting the sun at the center with the planets (including Earth) in offset circles (as it turned out, he'd estimated that the center of the circles were offset to the point where the sun occupies the elliptical focus in Kepler's model). He still had to keep a few epicycles, though.

Kepler realized (for completely loony astrological reasons, btw) that you could use ellipses and do away with the epicycles entirely. He actually -stole- Brahe's data after he died to work out the exact orbit of Mars.

And yes, you can make a model of the universe using -any- reference frame you choose. BUT most of them don't make sense from a physical point of view. Heliocentrism simplifies the nature of the forces incredibly.
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