Friday, December 21, 2007

(239) The Science of Belief, and £10 the price and prize of a quiz on meaning.

On May 31st 2007, this Guardian blog went up -
The science of belief by
Inayat Bunglawala
Believers and scientists have moved on: now the debate has turned to an exploration of how faith and science can be compatible with each other.
It continues
... Bill Clinton spoke
... concerning... decoding of the human genome: "... more than just an epoch-making triumph of science and reason... when Galileo discovered he could use... mathematics and mechanics to understand the motion of celestial bodies, he felt... that he had learned the language in which God created the universe. Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift."
But was Clinton wrong... to refer to God?... Francis S Collins - who headed the Human Genome Project... , believes... Clinton was right.
In The Language of God, Collins seeks to reconcile the findings of science with faith in God. "Science's domain is to explore nature. God's domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science. It must be examined with the heart, the mind, and the soul - and the mind must find a way to embrace both realms."
... Collins... rejects the bleak worldview that Dawkins espoused in his River Out of Eden:

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is... no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."
... Stephen Jay Gould ... remarked, just as it was important for religious scholars not to overstep their boundaries by making unsupported assertions about issues... within the domain of science, it was also unhelpful when scientists made similarly unsupported atheistic claims about what science had to say regarding questions of meaning and purpose. So, the same data that Dawkins used to advocate his atheistic worldview can also be interpreted in a quite different way. "
... And Collins makes... this case... ie God caused the universe... and set its laws and physical parameters precisely right to allow the creation of stars, planets, heavy elements and life itself. Such a belief ... is consistent with both science and faith. ... the scientific method has been astoundingly successful at investigating the natural world.
Still... the tools of science are powerless to answer some of our profoundest questions such as "Why did the universe come into being?", "What is the meaning of human existence?" and "What will happen to us after we die?" and yet there is clearly a deep-rooted human desire to seek answers to these questions.

It spawned a substantial thread, which had reached this comment

- cynicalsteve Comment No. 614821 June 2 13:57GBR ...
I'm not too proud to learn, but I do like my info to come from the real, verifiable world....I don't think anyone here has yet made a case that we should treat religious teachings as on a par with rationality....

- when I chipped in with my jokey post -
JamesPlaskett Comment No. 614862 June 2 14:32ESP
If you want scientific proof of the spiritual reality, just read my book, Coincidences. And, if you are unenlightened afterwards... well, at least I´ll have your money.

I then discovered, when I looked at my post, that almost simultaneously this had gone up (the only posting by the handle BusinessPages on the entire thread) -

BusinessPages Comment No. 614864 June 2 14:33SAU
ooo - I love quizzes. "Why did the universe come into being?" Because it did - remember lots of stuff hasn't come into "being" too. "What is the meaning of human existence?" -there isn't one "What will happen to us after we die?" It will all get very dark and quiet. Do I win ten pounds?

The thread continued with a variety of opinions on what it´s all about and whether or not science can determine anything about that. Some were humourous, even allowing for the antagonism -

Biskieboo Comment No. 614875 June 2 14:43GBR
BusinessPages Sorry, all your answers were incorrect. You win the booby prize - a night out with Richard Dawkins - and you have to pay. The correct answers are - 1) don't know 2) don't know 3) don't know

spk76 Comment No. 614912 June 2 15:21GBR
1) There is no why. It happened. Of more interest is 'how did the universe come into being', something we may never know but about which science is nevertheless providing increasing knowledge.
2) Other than providing a means to pass on genes to the next generation, there is no meaning to human existence.
3) When we die, that's it. Best make the most of it while you can.

doesnotexist Comment No. 614917 June 2 15:28AUS
Biskieboo, well yes, "don't know" is as good an answer as any to a pointless question. (But why should a question have a point?) Booby prize? ... hmm, depends on how you envisage "booby" - Richard Dawkins does not necessarily spring to mind.

I came back in to point out the coincidence which is the reason for this Blog Entry, (238)

In his book Revelations Of Chance, Dr Roderick Main speculates that the essentially spiritual origin of synchronicity is revealed by the tendency of coincidences to themselves generate coincidences, something he termed "synchronicity?s self-referring tendency".
Q.E.D. My light-hearted post about my book proving spiritual reality goes up at 14:32 ... and a minute later we get this from BusinessPages -

BusinessPages ooo - I love quizzes. "Why did the universe come into being?" Because it did - remember lots of stuff hasn't come into "being" too. "What is the meaning of human existence?" -there isn't one "What will happen to us after we die?" It will all get very dark and quiet. Do I win ten pounds?

A tenner is exactly the cost of a copy of Coincidences. BusinessPages... how apposite a handle. Money for meaning... ? ...
See also

And it carried on in similar vein -

spk76 Comment No. 614964 June 2 16:11 GBR
1) Sorry to be the one to break it to you but in truth, there really is no meaning to the universe, no underlying intention - it just exists. How that came about, however, that's certainly up for debate.
2) Again, I'm just the messenger here, but human existence is at its root no different to the existence of any other life form on earth. The only purpose of life is to propagate genetic information. That's it. It may be your opinion that you'd like for there to be more to life than this but in truth there is not.
3) Likewise, when you're time's up, you die, that's it. Make the most of it now. Of course there are certain rules we must abide by, mainly the natural laws of the universe... You seem to be searching for a moral framework to live your life. The following essential tenets should provide you with the basics to live a happy, worthwhile life in the short time you have here. "The greatest happiness for the greatest numbers," and, "People should be free to engage in whatever behaviour they wish as long as it does not harm others." None of this requires subservience to or intervention by supernatural forces...

PassingStarship Comment No. 615182 June 2 19:15 GBR
Biskieboo wrote: 'This is your OPINION. You are entitled to it. Nobody else has to agree with you because it is not "truth".' Nobody *has to* agree with anything... The question to ask is: what makes some people agree with spk76's opinions, while other people agree with yours?
Another question for the science of belief to examine.

- until the author summed things up with a nice quote -

... from ... Rock of Ages by... Stephen Jay Gould...: "Darwin did not use evolution to promote atheism, or to maintain that no concept of God could ever be squared with the structure of nature. Rather he argued that nature's factuality, as read within the magisterium of science, cannot resolve, or even specify, the existence or character of God, the ultimate meaning of life, the proper foundations of morality, or any other question within the different magisterium of religion."

No comments: