Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Science

I love science. It's given us a lot of things that I'm really grateful for. I don't really know how I'd fare in a less scientific world.  The fact that I can work from my with a computer over the internet, enjoy an air conditioned living space in the heat of summer and warmth in the winter, and have all sorts of entertainment and educational options without even going anywhere is truly amazing.

Science, however is a tool, not a belief system in and of itself.  It fits into the framework of larger beliefs, called metaphysics, or fundamental views about who and what we are, what existence is, and what - if anything - we're doing here.  Science only describes the interactions of physical materials and energy: it doesn't tell you what to believe about the larger questions. That's our choice.

Some people confuse the personal metaphysical beliefs as expressed by many scientists, like materialism or atheism, with a conclusion of science itself.  As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence that there is no god, and there is no scientific evidence that there is no afterlife.  Therefore, these cannot be scientific conclusions, but are rather metaphysical beliefs.

When someone says that spiritual or religious people are "anti-science", they are making what is called a categorical error; it is not the physical descriptions of the interactions of matter and energy that the spiritual and religious generally disagree with, but rather the metaphysical interpretations and beliefs some scientists profess as if they are scientific conclusions.  We (the spiritual and/or religious) take issue with the metaphysics of scientists being presented as a part of science itself; we don't take issue (generally speaking) with the actual science.

The point of the above is to make the case that if some people feel compelled to believe what scientists tell them as if everything scientists say are incontrovertible facts, the important thing to remember is that there is a difference between describing a physical interaction, which is what science does, and making a metaphysical claim about what those descriptions mean. We are still free to believe whatever we wish about the meaning surrounding those descriptions, even if we accept the description itself as true.

5 comments:

  1. I really like this part : "As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence that there is no god, and there is no scientific evidence that there is no afterlife. Therefore, these cannot be scientific conclusions, but are rather metaphysical beliefs."

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  2. It can be restated as such : "As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence that there is no Ceiling Cat, and there is no scientific evidence that there is no afterlittertray. Therefore, these cannot be scientific conclusions, but are rather metaphysical beliefs."

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  3. Exactly, snotkop. Unless something is scientifically defined and characterized, and evidence for or against presented, one can reach no scientific conclusions about anything - even invented terms applied in an attempt to ridicule.

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  4. What evidence (even hypothetical) would tilt you towards "there is no god/afterlife"?

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  5. There is no evidence that could tilt me that way, because what I believe is not based on what I can support exists via evidence. I believe whatever aids me in my life to (1) be a good person, and (2) enjoy life. I also do not believe things that directly contradict my experience. Believing in God and the afterlife (1) helps me be a good person and (2) helps me enjoy life, and neither belief contradicts anything I actually experience.

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