The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

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Igor
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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Igor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:58 am

So, everything has once again come down to the classic debate:

Person 1: What is your theory on why/how the universe exists?
Person 2: I don't know, but what you think is stupid.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:48 am

You forgot one.
Person 3: You're both stupid.

For the record, the only person here I've suggested is actually stupid is jonny (Huckleby is just stubborn once he digs his heels into any position.) How else would you describe someone who, when asked to please explain what they mean by some specific terms they use, responds with this gem: "Interesting. But it just looks like contradiction"?

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby dave esmond » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:13 am

Dangerousman wrote:Simply put: wrong. By definition scientific theories are not "proven."


Yes they are. They're always open to mew ideas and work but for something to be a scientific theory it needs to be proven. Not set in stone but proven for now.

It's a problem because the common way people use the word theory means "I have an idea". I've got theories about where the ants in my kitchen are coming from. It's not a scientific theory however.

A scientific theory starts with a hypothesis, then you need to design an experiment to prove it, then you need to share that idea and experiment with others so they can repeat it. Once enough people get the same results it becomes a theory. It's a tough thing to do.

The THEORY of evolution is not the same as the IDEA of intelligent design.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Galoot » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:17 am

Dave, DM is completely correct on this one. No theory is ever considered proven, ever. All science is tentative. A theory is either still supported by the evidence, or it is falsified by new evidence.

That doesn't mean a theory is on shaky ground--the theory of evolution, for example, is on far better ground than either the theories of gravity or theory of electromagnetism (by which I mean quantum electrodynamics or the Standard Model).

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby dave esmond » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:47 am

Galoot wrote:Dave, DM is completely correct on this one. No theory is ever considered proven, ever.


Fine. It's not just any old idea tho'. And that's my point.

And of course, as I said it's not set in stone and always open for new experiments.

You've convinced me not to call it "proven" however. Because it's NOT set in stone and you're right "proven" isn't quite right.

Would "as close to being "proven" as possible at this time" be better?

They are more then just ideas.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby dave esmond » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:00 am

jonnygothispen wrote:If I put you and the Professor on my ignore list, does that mean you don't exist? This is what atheists do since the proof that something greater than mankind (something that can do things that man cannot do) is all around us.



Swing and a miss.

Atheists don't ignore the forces of nature and the universe. Nor do they deny those forces exist. They just don't think there's a supernatural being behind them.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:36 am

dave esmond wrote:Would "as close to being "proven" as possible at this time" be better?

Scientific theories are the best approximate models of reality we can formulate based on current available evidence.

Too wordy? "Conditionally proven" works for me too.

Truth be told, if I had my druthers, scientists would abandon the word "theory" entirely and make up something new which applies across disciplines and doesn't conflict with other usages. I cringe every time I see the phrase "string theory" because it really shouldn't be on the same footing as QED or evolution, and this just causes additional confusion.

But it's important to note that scientists actively pursue experiments which could disprove theories. Scientists are still testing the predictions of relativity to ever more accurate degrees. They do this because any experimental results which contradict it will likely reveal new science nobody's even conceived of yet. That possibility excites scientists (and it's one of the biggest reasons why the notion that science is just another religion is so ludicrous. Would Catholics be excited to learn that they've gotten it wrong all these years?) As nutria keeps saying, even if an experiment could be designed that would theoretically prove the existence of God, it's highly doubtful that a null result would actually cause believers to abandon their belief in favor of the evidence (see: every study ever done about the efficacy of prayer.) Abandoning models that don't work is standard operating procedure in science (even if it takes a generation or two for people to come around.) Religion is self-perpetuating; Science is self-correcting.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby dave esmond » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:54 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Religion is self-perpetuating; Science is self-correcting.


Thanks Prof. That's what I was getting at but you said it much better then I did.

I should have just stayed out of it. I'm just a dumb artist who's read just enough science to probably make me know far less then I sometimes think I do.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:19 pm

dave esmond wrote:I'm just a dumb artist who's read just enough science to probably make me know far less then I sometimes think I do.
Oh, I hear ya. There are lots of folks on this forum who are far more informed about science than I -- nutria, galoot, kurt_w all leap to mind -- they just don't have the same zeal (or spare time) for defending it against goofy arguments that I do.

I find math essentially impenetrable (I'm no good with foreign languages either, and I suspect there's a correlation), so I'll always be getting only part of the story when it comes to anything in physics, for example. But I can't stop trying to better understand this stuff because it's fucking mind-blowing. Every new concept I grasp even a little makes me feel a little closer to the rest of the universe and this is the only sense in which I would describe myself as "spiritual" -- we are all connected to everything else. Our bodies are connected to stars which ceased existing millenia ago. The photons in sunlight which my eye records today began their journey hundreds of thousands of years ago. Every animal and plant I've ever seen has a common origin. I find reality to be both humbling and empowering.

I remember as a child when I first learned that time was not universal, but flowed at different rates for different observers. Whoa. Mind blown. Shortly thereafter, I learned that two different observers traveling at different speeds would measure the length of an object differently. Whoa. Mind blown again. And I vividly remember when I finally wrapped my brain around the idea that things appear to travel through space and time differently to different observers, but everything is traveling at exactly the same rate through space-time. Mind destroyed.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Mean Scenester » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:37 pm

Galoot wrote:Seriously, johnny, what is a "soul", and what is the scientific evidence for the existence of one?

"Soul is a hamhock in your cornflakes."
-- George Clinton

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby jonnygothispen » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:44 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
nutria wrote:I'm actually really disappointed with this. I asked you in a straightforward way to clarify your position, and you respond with this inane bullshit.

Yeah, I started to answer all his questions, but somewhere during the explanation of whether water is wet, I realized he's not interested in answers -- he already knows everything he ever will.

Just to put how his brain works in perspective: The last time I had a knockdown-dragout with jonny, it was in response to his insistence that 9/11 Truthers had a pretty good case and we should take their evidence seriously. His understanding of science has clearly not improved since then.
Um, I was taken into heaven more than several times in the late 70s. What I know is likely more than you know. But you didn't know that, so I digress. yet something you haven't experienced makes you somehow an expert above and beyond something another has experienced, and in a vitriolic way. A simple "fuck you!" on your part would've worked better.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:58 pm

jonnygothispen wrote:A simple "fuck you!" on your part would've worked better.
I had much more fun inserting it between the lines when answering your inane questions.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby jonnygothispen » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:08 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Yeah, I started to answer all his questions, but somewhere during the explanation of whether water is wet, I realized he's not interested in answers -- he already knows everything he ever will.

Just to put how his brain works in perspective: The last time I had a knockdown-dragout with jonny, it was in response to his insistence that 9/11 Truthers had a pretty good case and we should take their evidence seriously. His understanding of science has clearly not improved since then.
Lets put the 9-11 thing into perspective for a minute. I started a thread about Nathan Comp's ad hominem attack on Kevin Barrett that didn't disprove a single thing he said about 9-11. There are a lot of intriguing and unexplained facts surrounding 9-11, but none were mentioned or disproved in Comp's article. Instead, Comp chose to compare Barrett to a shirtless frisbee thrower he met at James Madison Park, and kept returning to that. Likewise, I didn't know a lot about 9-11 at the time I started the thread, but learned as I went that NIST was not peer reviewed, etc. But no way would anyone let me be anything but what they imagined a "truther" was, and it went from there. So that delusion was solely yours and a few others and not mine. Thanks for reminding me.

The conclusion I decided on during that debacle is best summed up by something Matt Rothschild said: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Despite that enormous amount of suspicious anomalies, and despite that even a 15 year NIST fire science chief, Dr. Quinterre, said that the NIST report was highly flawed and deviated from their standards, the smoking gun was never proven, There were many other things to wonder about politically, so I moved on.
Last edited by jonnygothispen on Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:43 pm

In a nutshell: You have no intention of responding directly to any of the questions you've been asked on this thread, and no intention of presenting any evidence whatsoever for the claims and positions you've put forth.

Please just put me on ignore already. Pretty please.

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Re: The Rise of Atheism in America & Who to Thank

Postby jonnygothispen » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:52 pm

In a smaller nutshell, I have responded as best I can. You're not happy with the answers and instead come off looking like a condescending prick.


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