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“I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”

~Wernher von Braun

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Categories: Quotes
  1. 2011/02/13 at 21:48

    One more accomplished scientist that demonstrates their is no inherent contradiction between science and faith. Thanks for the quote, Nate.

  2. 2011/02/13 at 23:47

    Right. Because by believing there is no contradiction, he demonstrates that that is the case.

    Good logic.

  3. 2011/02/14 at 09:02

    No, but believing there are no contradictory results within the realm of science itself doesn’t mean that’s the case either.

  4. 2011/02/14 at 10:11

    I think the fact that one can be an accomplished scientist, and still have faith in God is such a demonstration.

  5. 2011/02/15 at 18:05

    Nate – I agree. What one individual believes does not make something true or false.

    Jack – I’m glad we’re sure of your logic. It’s still awful. But let’s take it to its conclusion: One can be an accomplished scientist and be an atheist. Is that a demonstration that there is a conflict between science and religion? Or how about if someone is a chemist and accepts alchemy? Does that demonstrate there is no conflict?

  6. 2011/02/15 at 19:09

    It may not demonstrate that there is no conflict, but it does demonstrate that there is not inherent issue with holding two, seemingly, conflicting views.

    As most atheists admit, while our current scientific understanding may not require a God(s), there is nothing that prohibits it, and it shall almost always remain as a valid possibility.

    And so while you may say science and religious faith ‘conflict’ it is not entirely true, our world religions and our current scientific understandings simply don’t overlap each other in any evidential, quantifiable way.

    Religions can and do change over time and certainly so does science.

  7. 2011/02/16 at 15:50

    I’m glad we’re sure of your logic. It’s still awful. But let’s take it to its conclusion: One can be an accomplished scientist and be an atheist. Is that a demonstration that there is a conflict between science and religion?

    I think it depends on how one sees science. If one sees it as process, a practical tool one uses as an aid to testing certain claims about natural and physical phenomena, then generally speaking one’s metaphysical inclinations shouldn’t matter all that much. This explains why there have been untold numbers of accomplished believing scientists. However if one sees it as a metanarrative, a way to view the whole of reality, then not only can it conflict with certain metaphysical beliefs but almost certainly will. This would seem to be an abuse of science though.

    Or how about if someone is a chemist and accepts alchemy? Does that demonstrate there is no conflict?

    Historically alchemy contributed to the development of chemistry. There was in fact an aspect of alchemy that was akin to spiritualism, and an aspect which had to do with working with and learning about the activity and interaction of various elements and compounds. I think if one held onto certain claims about how matter acted contrary to experimental evidence to the contrary, then that would be problematic – I don’t know enough about alchemy to know whether its mystical beliefs would contravene scientific practice.

  8. 2011/02/17 at 05:16

    If one sees it as process, a practical tool one uses as an aid to testing certain claims about natural and physical phenomena, then generally speaking one’s metaphysical inclinations shouldn’t matter all that much.

    So then believing there is no contradiction is irrelevant – even in your view – to whether or not there really is a conflict. Great. Do you want to retract your original post or are you going to try and maintain two entirely opposing positions?

    Historically alchemy contributed to the development of chemistry.

    Irrelevant.

    I don’t know enough about alchemy to know whether its mystical beliefs would contravene scientific practice.

    First, yes, alchemy is in conflict with chemistry. Second, this isn’t that difficult. Someone believes in A and B at the same time. Is this evidence that A and B are not in conflict. Correct answer: Nope. Just the same, someone can believe in A and reject B. Is this evidence that A and B are in conflict? Correct answer: Nope.

    In conclusion, the von Braun quote does not demonstrate “their [sic] is no inherent contradiction between science and faith.”

  9. 2011/02/17 at 10:46

    So then believing there is no contradiction is irrelevant – even in your view – to whether or not there really is a conflict. Great. Do you want to retract your original post or are you going to try and maintain two entirely opposing positions?

    No, I am saying we know there is no conflict in practice, partly based on historical evidence, and partly based on a reasonable assessment of what science is. That you don’t get that does not garner a retraction on my part.

    Irrelevant.

    I love the way you proclaim things irrelevant without any explanation. I suppose with that logic one could just answer ‘irrelevant’ to every post., then shout, “I’m the winner!”

    Nonetheless the question was, does a chemist accepting alchemy conflict with science? (presumably in this case, the science of chemistry).

    The relevant answer was, “not necessarily in the past” But as I said (and you redacted –odd since anyone can see what I wrote just above) “I think if one held onto certain claims about how matter acted contrary to experimental evidence to the contrary, then that would be problematic”. So on that count I actually agree it would conflict, not that you are apparently astute enough to notice that.

    But as to the mystical claims of ancient alchemy I don’t know how they would conflict; and neither apparently do you.

    So you have failed to prove your point insomuch as practice of alchemy isn’t equivalent to a metaphysical belief that requires no alteration of one’s practice of science. In fact it quite verifies my original formulation on the subject.

  10. 2011/02/17 at 19:16

    No, I am saying…

    I’m going to stop you right there. Your goal-post moving is tiresome. You said that an accomplished scientists also being a believer is a demonstration that there is no conflict between religion and faith. It’s what you said. Don’t run from it, as embarrassing as I’m sure it is.

    I love the way you proclaim things irrelevant without any explanation.

    I forgot I need to take things down a level when dealing with you: The history of a practice doesn’t tell me if there is a conflict between it and a different set of ideas. Thus, your grammatically painful meandering is irrelevant.

    Nonetheless the question was, does a chemist accepting alchemy conflict with science?

    Really? This is incredible. Go back and read. Just do it. Really read what I said. If you do (and you won’t), you’ll see that I asked if a chemist believing in alchemy proves there is no conflict between the two. It may very well be that there is no actual conflict (though there is), but the fact that someone accepts two things is not proof that those two things gel just dandy.

    The relevant answer was, “not necessarily in the past”

    It helps if you read. Please. Try it.

    So on that count I actually agree it would conflict, not that you are apparently astute enough to notice that.

    Right. You’re the intelligent one. I don’t know, maybe this is just a logistical issue.

  11. 2011/02/17 at 20:56

    I’m going to stop you right there. Your goal-post moving is tiresome. You said that an accomplished scientists also being a believer is a demonstration that there is no conflict between religion and faith. It’s what you said. Don’t run from it, as embarrassing as I’m sure it is.

    I’m not running from it Michael, I think that statement is accurate. What part of that don’t you understand?

    I forgot I need to take things down a level when dealing with you: The history of a practice doesn’t tell me if there is a conflict between it and a different set of ideas. Thus, your grammatically painful meandering is irrelevant.

    Actually it does. It is evidence that a particular belief doesn’t conflict with a particular practice. If you have thousands of Christians being successful practicing scientists for hundreds of years then you have good evidence that Christianity doesn’t conflict with science.

    Really? This is incredible. Go back and read. Just do it. Really read what I said. If you do (and you won’t), you’ll see that I asked if a chemist believing in alchemy proves there is no conflict between the two. It may very well be that there is no actual conflict (though there is), but the fact that someone accepts two things is not proof that those two things gel just dandy.

    I am not sure which of your few neurons aren’t firing here. The previous ideas of alchemists conflict with our modern understanding of chemistry – if someone retained those ideas, those ideas would certainly hinder them from practicing chemistry as we understand it.

    It helps if you read. Please. Try it.

    It helps if you think. Please. Try it.

    Right. You’re the intelligent one. I don’t know, maybe this is just a logistical issue.

    No, in this case I think it’s you.

  12. 2011/02/17 at 23:37

    I’ll tell you both what is irrelevant.

    This whole conversation. Lets say that science and religion conflict. So what?

    Even within itself, particularly when talking about different disciplines that overlap, often times you get ideas and theories that contradict each other. Science contradicts science? Absurd of course.

    Scientists tell us that there is no need for God for creation. That’s fine with me. The lack of a need for something doesn’t conflict with a things possible existence.

    Conflict is a fact of life. It doesn’t make puppies and kittens cry. It exists between Catholics and Protestants, Geologists and Archeologists, Sociologists and Anthropologists, Boyfriend and Girlfriend, Dog and Cat, everywhere, all the time.

  13. 2011/02/18 at 07:38

    That is an interesting standard you are proposing there Nate – ‘Does it make puppies and kittens cry?’ if so, don’t do it.

    Not applicable to standard vaccination shots of course. 🙂

  14. 2011/02/18 at 14:42

    I’m not running from it Michael

    Right. Just like you don’t run from commas.

    Here is what you originally said: One more accomplished scientist that demonstrates their is no inherent contradiction between science and faith.

    Here is you running from that: There is no conflict in practice, partly based on historical evidence, and partly based on a reasonable assessment of what science is

    You said a person believing that two things aren’t in conflict is evidence that those two things really aren’t in conflict. If you were right, then a person believing in Allah and God would prove there was no conflict in the mutual existence of those cultural gods. A person believing two things simultaneously does not prove there is no conflict between those things.

    You’re wrong. It’s obvious. Figure out the logistics of how to swallow your pride.

  15. 2011/02/18 at 14:43

    This whole conversation. Lets say that science and religion conflict. So what?

    One is true.

  16. 2011/02/18 at 16:33

    Well certainly one is provable, testable, that doesn’t mean the results of scientific investigation are in fact the ‘truth’. Science is by nature an evolving beast, we get new data, new technology and we find out that theories need to be revised, equations don’t work out any more, etc. So in fact yesterdays truth, is not true any more.

    Where as the question of the existence of God is true to me, and not to you. Using all the same evidence and coming to different conclusions. At the end of the day which of our beliefs on the matter are true? We don’t know.

    If there is a God than science is our exploration and investigation of God’s creation, and I don’t know of many scientific ‘truths’ that would change if God came down and said “hey guys, whats up” tomorrow afternoon. The periodic table would remain the same. My car would still start. Doctors would still be effective. In other words, very little would change.

    Ones view of scientific investigations and their results wouldn’t necessarily be affected by the proven existence of God, at least not directly. Speaking for myself, if I didn’t believe God existed, I would care LESS about how the world works.

  17. 2011/02/18 at 23:18

    You said a person believing that two things aren’t in conflict is evidence that those two things really aren’t in conflict. If you were right, then a person believing in Allah and God would prove there was no conflict in the mutual existence of those cultural gods. A person believing two things simultaneously does not prove there is no conflict between those things.

    You’re wrong. It’s obvious. Figure out the logistics of how to swallow your pride.

    I assume by “a person believing in Allah and God would prove there was no conflict in the mutual existence of those cultural gods.” you mean Allah and Jehovah, or Allah and Christ or some such since ‘Allah’ and ‘God’ are synonymous in the minds of Muslims.

    Which would cause one to wonder what the relationship between two religions has to do with the relationship between Christianity and science? Obviously a person couldn’t claim to believe to be a believing Christian and a practicing Muslim and yet we know that a person can and has been a believing Christian and a practicing scientist. Your own example seems to prove my point.

    But I’m rather tired of your silliness. Hopefully you will come up with something new and not continue to bore everyone.

  18. 2011/02/19 at 00:37

    Oh your god, Jack. You’re an idiot. An utter idiot.

    and yet we know that a person can and has been a believing Christian and a practicing scientist.

    And Richard Dawkins is an atheist and a practicing scientist. There. EVIDENCE! That’s totally evidence that there is a conflict between science and faith. Awesome logic.

    Then, I’m not the bio program dropout.

    Nate,

    If there is a God than science is our exploration and investigation of God’s creation, and I don’t know of many scientific ‘truths’ that would change if God came down and said “hey guys, whats up” tomorrow afternoon.

    Evolution would not be a contingent process governed by random variation and no predictable outcome.

  19. 2011/02/19 at 06:51

    You don’t think so Michael? It could be God’s ‘Plinko’.

    I’m 99% sure there is a difference between God and what man says about God. Reality could be much further from what the most religious expect. There isn’t any reason to think evolution isn’t predictable though. It’s simply too complex a system with such huge numbers of variables for us to predict, probably ever.

    Much like weather, which yes, is also unpredictable. We only know what we have observed. There is every reason to think that given IDENTICAL everything and started over life would still be where it is right now. If given almost the same everything who knows where life would be, as with weather the complexity is such that small changes at any stage are likely to produce massive differences.

    Random is not a word that has any meaning when applied to large scales of time or instance. I flip a quarter 100 times it might come out 99 heads 1 tails, but we all know that if the quarter were flipped, say a million times a year for the next 3.2 billion years that the result would be pretty 50/50. So with all random process’s even the most complex ones.

  20. 2011/02/19 at 08:08

    Evolution isn’t a matter of not being precisely predictable merely because we don’t know all the factors. It isn’t predictable because it’s a contingent process, because genes drift, because genes mutate, because environments change, because boulders fall on heads, because asteroids hit the planet, because diseases spread, because diseases don’t spread, because mountain ranges disturb crops, because microbes change the atmosphere, because humans change the atmosphere, because organisms mate according to general rules – not hard and fast rules, because DNA’s fidelity falls short of perfection, because because because. We know evolution is absolutely, positively not goal-oriented; it is not guided. The only thing in evolution that is sure is death. And even then the nature of spores make me wonder.

    There is every reason to think that given IDENTICAL everything and started over life would still be where it is right now.

    Link

    Random is not a word that has any meaning when applied to large scales of time or instance. I flip a quarter 100 times it might come out 99 heads 1 tails, but we all know that if the quarter were flipped, say a million times a year for the next 3.2 billion years that the result would be pretty 50/50. So with all random process’s even the most complex ones.

    Randomness still underlies the law of large numbers. At no point is one coin flip reliant on a previous one, but I digress. Evolution is a contingent process that virtually guarantees a different outcome every time, especially if “time” is being measured in the billions of years. I would certainly bet on never seeing the same parade of organisms if we could re-run life – I would sooner bet that every atom in the torch-holding hand of the Statue of Liberty would move on way and then another, as if to wave to us all (or at least those in the harbor).

  21. 2011/02/19 at 09:57

    Nothing you said means that it couldn’t be a contrived process and the arrival of a deity wouldn’t do anything to change that.

    Goal oriented or not, really makes no difference.

    The E. Coli study is interesting but has one small issue that I see. 12 small populations of the same organism in 12 self contained environments. Of course they will evolve differently. It’s Darwin’s finches all over again.

    Another issue with my flipping analogy would be the fact that it is very likely also too complex to be predicted, did it start head up or down, am I applying the same force to the same place each time, is my thumb getting tired, what is the air pressure, is there a breeze, what is the temperature etc etc etc.

    You never addressed the real issue you had before though, that God showing up would somehow change our understanding of evolution, when that isn’t necessarily true. That is totally contingent on assumptions you or others have made about God and the effect of a Gods existence. There is nothing to say that short of a God that earth isn’t a genetic experiment started by an alien billions of years ago. In no circumstances that I see do either of those occurrences invalidate our current evolutionary understanding.

    Although we are almost certainly wrong, as our understanding will continue to evolve itself, something that wouldn’t happen if we had got to the bottom of the damn thing.

  22. 2011/02/19 at 21:43

    Oh your god, Jack. You’re an idiot. An utter idiot.

    You would think that since the Ad Hom is your primary argument, that you would be more creative at it.

    And Richard Dawkins is an atheist and a practicing scientist. There. EVIDENCE! That’s totally evidence that there is a conflict between science and faith. Awesome logic.

    Well I agree Dawkin’s atheism wouldn’t necessarily conflict with his practice of science if he ever decided to practice science again.

  23. 2011/02/19 at 23:50

    The E. Coli study is interesting but has one small issue that I see. 12 small populations of the same organism in 12 self contained environments. Of course they will evolve differently. It’s Darwin’s finches all over again.

    That experiment shows how evolution will not take the same path. In order to evolve to consume citrate they must go through at least three mutation processes. The first two experience virtually no selection pressure – they’re random and their maintenance is random. The odds that one of those will happen is somewhat low. The odds that two will happen is very low. The odds that those two will not just disappear is even lower. The odds that the third mutation will come along tells us that it is not likely that E. coli is going to develop this ability. The fact that all the lineages are in controlled environments only increases these odds; it’s far from being an “issue”. If they were in a natural environment, the odds of any of this happening across different groups would be radically smaller.

    You never addressed the real issue you had before though, that God showing up would somehow change our understanding of evolution, when that isn’t necessarily true.

    Yes, I did. Presuming you mean one of the Abrahamic gods, our understanding of evolution would have to be that it is goal-oriented. It isn’t. We’re lucky, not destined, to be here.

    If you mean a hands-off god, merely a deity, then that is compatible with evolution. It’s just that almost nobody believes in a 100% hands-off god like that.

    Well I agree Dawkin’s atheism wouldn’t necessarily conflict with his practice of science if he ever decided to practice science again.

    Practice. Nice goal-post moving. Does it bother you that if your children ever read your Internet pukings that they’ll know what a liar their father is?

  24. 2011/02/20 at 01:26

    Practice. Nice goal-post moving. Does it bother you that if your children ever read your Internet pukings that they’ll know what a liar their father is?

    Actually some of my children have read my interactions with you Michael, as have a number of friends and when they aren’t laughing at your adolescent over-the-top emotionalism or feeling sorry for you, they are worried I have attracted a lonely psychotic web-stalker.

  25. 2011/02/20 at 05:28

    Over-the-top emotionalism? You mean like this?

    You know Michael, I almost never feel compelled to deal with anyone physically, but you are very lucky your puny little bank teller body is in Maine, because i would kick your butt from one side of the room to the other if you said that to my face. Of course you wouldn’t because you are a coward.

    I’m just glad I didn’t have my phone number posted for you to find.

  26. 2011/02/20 at 09:26

    You mean in response to derogatory comments you made about my wife? No, most normal men would do that. I was thinking more about when you invited your cousin onto your blog to threaten to kill me and rape my wife. That sort of emotionalism.

    I’m just glad you didn’t give him money for a pone ticket.

  27. 2011/02/20 at 11:14

    Actually, I called you fat. That you thought I was referencing your wife reflects your feelings toward her, not mine.

  28. 2011/02/20 at 11:57

    I’ll make another post about this specifically later on. Its getting all muddled and such.

  29. 2011/02/20 at 16:06

    Actually, I called you fat. That you thought I was referencing your wife reflects your feelings toward her, not mine.

    No Michael, you made a claim about my sexual relationship with my wife; on top of inviting your cousin to post about raping her and killing me. I am never sure why you want to make a trail on the interenet for all your potential future employers to see Michael Hawkins express hatred for Christians, the elderly, middle-aged people, people who aren’t as thin as you, women who disagree with your views on feminism, attacks against business owners who you don’t care for, etc.

    If I was a potential employer or anyone considering you for any position I would be so concerned about the potential for lawsuit over your toxic and harrassing posts that I would toss your resume in the trash as soon as it appeared on my desk.

  30. 2011/02/20 at 18:03

    I would never make that sort of claim. It would require a presumption that someone of your size can actually be found sexually attractive by another person. And as you well know, I’m not terribly disposed to much faith.

  31. 2011/02/20 at 18:13

    As I find it you are both undermining your respective and considerable intelligences by behaving like children yelling at one another across a school yard.

    Or to put it another way, like two squirrels fighting over one nut, while the forest is full of them.

    While it’s nice to have two so differently minded individuals discussing my feeble ideas and posts if it digresses to ‘yo mama’ jokes its of no use to anyone.

    Both of you are educated so far as I know yet here I sit seemingly ‘above it’. Me a person trained more in violence than in scientific or theological thought. My ‘expertise’ in classical history and western civilization not withstanding.

    I humbly ask both of you to return to some form of discussion which might lead us to some interesting points on both sides.

  32. 2011/02/20 at 19:01

    I’ll be happy to add to your new post in not too long.

  33. 2011/02/21 at 01:16

    Michael, how would know what size I am and why would you obsess about it? I have never had a guy so concerned with how I look – I think you have others issues to wrestle with.

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