Darwin Day Lecture 2016

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Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#1

Post by GregD » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:17 am

A bunch of atheists walk into a bar...

Not exactly. A presentation by Dr. Jerry Coyne (professor emeritus at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution), during the British Humanist Association celebration of Darwin Day, 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sazo1J4Zsj4

Dr. Coyne's talk begins at about 8:30.

An example of what atheists talk about when they get together.

I concur with Coyne's conclusion that religion is fundamentally incompatible with science. Science is a game played by certain rules: "truth" is the best approximation you can demonstrate through experimentation and analysis. Religious belief does not follow those rules: "truth" can be "revealed" through some sacred book, some sacred person, or one's emotional reaction to some situation.

I also concur with Coyne's conclusion that science is leads to an accurate understanding of reality and that religious belief is rife with inaccuracies. The evidence is overwhelming.



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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#2

Post by BillyBob66 » Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:11 am

GregD wrote:A bunch of atheists walk into a bar...

Not exactly. A presentation by Dr. Jerry Coyne (professor emeritus at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution), during the British Humanist Association celebration of Darwin Day, 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sazo1J4Zsj4

Dr. Coyne's talk begins at about 8:30.

An example of what atheists talk about when they get together.

I concur with Coyne's conclusion that religion is fundamentally incompatible with science. Science is a game played by certain rules: "truth" is the best approximation you can demonstrate through experimentation and analysis. Religious belief does not follow those rules: "truth" can be "revealed" through some sacred book, some sacred person, or one's emotional reaction to some situation.

I also concur with Coyne's conclusion that science is leads to an accurate understanding of reality and that religious belief is rife with inaccuracies. The evidence is overwhelming.
I have not watched the video yet, but I will try to force myself to do so later. I hold rather the opposite opinion, at least when it comes to one religion, Christianity, and one so called scientific fact, i.e. evolution. Though I fully accept the hard science/chemistry/physics I learned in college, Nursing and Anesthesia school, such as Boyle's gas laws or voltage X current = power, that sort of thing, the sort that can be proved and repeated in a laboratory. Or even Pasteur’s Law of Biogenesis, still valid and not yet proved false as far as I know. Do you reject the Law of Biogenesis? Who knows, maybe while I have not been paying attention it has been proven false in a laboratory? Maybe they have evolved life from sterile/lifeless material?

When I was in college almost 40 years ago, I fully accepted the theory of evolution(taught as fact) that was taught to me in my science classes, especially in biology, right along with the hard sciences. But later I saw how ridiculous the entire theory is. Now, even if I were to reject Christ, I would still have an awfully hard time accepting that if I would just give it enough time and random accidents, my coffee table could one day become a microorganism which with a few million more years could become a Mozart or Einstein. The mathematical odds are so enormously against such accidental advances, and of course never observed in nature, that it just seems preposterous. In fact, taking it back to the beginning, it must rely on a belief in spontaneous generation.

In the meantime, there is a book which- though never meant to be a book of science, does occasionally make statements that can be either verified or proved wrong by science. And of course, it should always be wrong, if it was only written by these ancient men with virtually zero scientific knowledge. But when it does speak to these matters, it has been proven correct. Whether by predicting that no other creatures would ever evolve or come to exist that were anything like mankind, created in God's image separate from all the other creatures. So it can be readily observed(doesn't science begin with observation?) that though billions of other creatures have limbs, hearts, pancreas, eyeballs, digestive tracts etc etc, not a single one ever observed in the universe can participate in this forum, or perform surgery or put a man on the moon. Just as one would predict if the creation account is true. If evolution is correct, why wouldn't a single other creature have evolved with even a hint of the abilities of even a human child in these areas? And as the Bible goes on, the Laws of Moses all coincidentally obey the laws of modern germ theory of disease, which the scientists did not figure out until the late 1800s with Semelweiss(sp?). And it tells us that God hung the earth in the heavens on nothing, and that the Sun has it's own orbit through the heavens(and NEVER says the Sun orbits around the earth). Etc Etc Etc. And then of course, all of the large number of prophecies regarding the future punishment, scattering through the nations where they will be hated by all, and final gathering and restoration of the nation of Israel to the land of their fathers. All precisely fulfilled. Etc Etc.

So, I see no reason to place faith in a theory of evolution over the Bible. And it would require great faith for me to believe in evolution. But obviously many will disagree with me, and I am a very tolerant type, so that is fine. I am grateful for both freedom of speech and religion(or no religion).

Bill
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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#3

Post by sarge » Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:03 am

I concur with Coyne's conclusion that religion is fundamentally incompatible with science. Science is a game played by certain rules: "truth" is the best approximation you can demonstrate through experimentation and analysis. Religious belief does not follow those rules: "truth" can be "revealed" through some sacred book, some sacred person, or one's emotional reaction to some situation.
I disagree with Coyne's contention that truth is an approximation. If that is his definition of truth, then I reject any conclusions he comes to regarding truth. An approximation is not, and never can be, the whole of anything.
You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me. ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#4

Post by BillyBob66 » Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:18 am

sarge wrote:
I concur with Coyne's conclusion that religion is fundamentally incompatible with science. Science is a game played by certain rules: "truth" is the best approximation you can demonstrate through experimentation and analysis. Religious belief does not follow those rules: "truth" can be "revealed" through some sacred book, some sacred person, or one's emotional reaction to some situation.
I disagree with Coyne's contention that truth is an approximation. If that is his definition of truth, then I reject any conclusions he comes to regarding truth. An approximation is not, and never can be, the whole of anything.
For that matter, if I accept evolutionary theory, I must reject any conclusion you might draw, or that Coyne, myself or the OP might draw. If we are only here due to a series of random accidents and mutations over billions of years, then our very existence is essentially meaningless, as meaningless as the existence of any virus. Also, if we are the result of meaningless, random accidents or mutations, then so are our brains. And if our thoughts are simply the result of the random interaction of electrons and chemicals in our brains, then who is to say which person's random electrons and chemical reactions are correct? Who can prove that mine are more correct than yours, or yours moreso than Hitler's or a person who is locked up with the criminally insane? I mean, if every bit of it is simple chemical reactions? So I rejct any conclusions anyone draws, including myself! ;) Or, I would if I was an atheist/evolutionist. But you can't go by me, because all is random!
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#5

Post by GregD » Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:33 am

sarge wrote:[
I disagree with Coyne's contention that truth is an approximation. If that is his definition of truth, then I reject any conclusions he comes to regarding truth. An approximation is not, and never can be, the whole of anything.
For the record, Truth is an approximation, is my characterization.

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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#6

Post by GregD » Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:39 pm

sarge wrote:
GregD wrote:I concur with Coyne's conclusion that religion is fundamentally incompatible with science. Science is a game played by certain rules: "truth" is the best approximation you can demonstrate through experimentation and analysis. Religious belief does not follow those rules: "truth" can be "revealed" through some sacred book, some sacred person, or one's emotional reaction to some situation.
I disagree with Coyne's contention that truth is an approximation. If that is his definition of truth, then I reject any conclusions he comes to regarding truth. An approximation is not, and never can be, the whole of anything.
OK, but that doesn't seem very logical.

Suppose the meaning of "truth" is restricted to the actual reality, or a perfect representation of the actual reality. Then a truth can only be known by some entity with the cognitive capacity to fully understand that truth, and moreover the cognitive capacity to fully understand that the truth happens to be perfectly accurate. Humans have a limit to their cognitive capacity and reality is very complicated. Why should it be expected that a human is even capable of comprehending any significant truth? For example, Newton's equations of motion are not truth under this definition because although they work quite well under many conditions they are inaccurate in other conditions. Many humans do not have a working knowledge of calculus and without that they do not have the ability to understand even Newtonian mechanics. Quantum mechanics is a better approximation than Newtonian mechanics, but only people with a considerable working knowledge of differential equations have some hope of understanding it. And things are even more complicated than that. It seems quite obvious that truth by this definition is in general beyond the grasp of humans.

I see no problem in allowing "approximation" include perfect representations. And there is ample evidence that humans are capable of understanding approximations.

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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#7

Post by GregD » Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:07 pm

BillyBob66 wrote:
For that matter, if I accept evolutionary theory, I must reject any conclusion you might draw, or that Coyne, myself or the OP might draw. If we are only here due to a series of random accidents and mutations over billions of years, then our very existence is essentially meaningless, as meaningless as the existence of any virus. Also, if we are the result of meaningless, random accidents or mutations, then so are our brains. And if our thoughts are simply the result of the random interaction of electrons and chemicals in our brains, then who is to say which person's random electrons and chemical reactions are correct? Who can prove that mine are more correct than yours, or yours moreso than Hitler's or a person who is locked up with the criminally insane? I mean, if every bit of it is simple chemical reactions? So I reject any conclusions anyone draws, including myself! ;) Or, I would if I was an atheist/evolutionist. But you can't go by me, because all is random!
It depends on what you mean by "meaningful". Your concern that evolution concludes that diversity of life is a result of random events and natural selection and as a result renders life "meaningless" should be even more concerned about Astronomy and Cosmology. Astronomers expect the Sun will die in about seven billion years, likely resulting in the death of any life on Earth (I would think). Cosmologist suspects that the universe will eventually be completely obliterated, maybe followed by another big bang, and maybe not.

Observations and analyses can (sometimes) prove that assertions are more correct (more accurate approximations) than others. Whether the assertion comes from me, Hitler, a criminally insane person, or whatever is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is whether it fits the data.

There are many very useful computational techniques that use random sampling to obtain valuable results. I don't understand the apparent distaste for random processes. They have many desirable characteristics.

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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#8

Post by Traillium » Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:12 pm

When I'm sick — I have prostate cancer — I rely on knowledge and experience that's determined via the principles of science.
As my evangelical minister father stated, the Bible is not a scientific document.
I don't see why religion is separated from science. I don't see one as inimical to the other.
I do see rigid interpretations that separate the two. But on both sides, I believe those are abominations.


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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#9

Post by GregD » Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:15 pm

Traillium wrote:When I'm sick — I have prostate cancer — I rely on knowledge and experience that's determined via the principles of science.
As my evangelical minister father stated, the Bible is not a scientific document.
I don't see why religion is separated from science. I don't see one as inimical to the other.
I do see rigid interpretations that separate the two. But on both sides, I believe those are abominations.


Bruce Traillium
I am very sorry to hear of your illness. I hope your treatment goes well.

Coyne's presentation includes several reasons to support his contention that religion and science are fundamentally at odds. There is no compromise that is also logical. However he also gives examples that show that a human does not need to be logically self-consistent. There are many prominent scientists that are also very religious. Apparently the current head of the CDC is also an evangelical Christian. I have a friend that is both a competent scientist and very religious.

There are only a few simple rules to the game of science, but they are quite specific and on some points not the least bit flexible. It is at least possible that other people have a different concept of religion than do I, so I do not presume to know exactly what you mean when you say religion. Maybe by your definition religion is flexible. I was raised Catholic in a traditional Catholic family and felt no tension between Catholicism and science for a long time. But when I had occasion to think about it from time to time the fundamental difference between the practice of science and the practice of Catholicism became overwhelming. Unlike others I could not compartmentalize the two - for me one of them had to go and the choice was obvious.

Another point that became overwhelmingly obvious is that each individual absolutely positively needs the freedom to make up their own mind.

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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#10

Post by BillyBob66 » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:42 pm

If by science you mean observation that leads to hypothesis and testing of the hypothesis, and such things as decreasing the volume of a contained gas by 1/2 doubles the pressure(if memory serves), or that doubling voltage while leaving resistance unchanged doubles current- that sort of thing, then I see no conflict. For us, the God who created the universe would also have created the laws of physics and chemistry etc by which that universe would operate, so I see no problem. I had a career using those physical laws every day, for example applying X amount of pressure to expand a person's lungs a desired amount, or mixing spinal medications to be either hyper or hypobaric relative to spinal fluid so that it would either sink or float to the desired end of the spinal canal.

But during the last 1/2 of that 36 year career, I came to increasingly believe the Bible, and I never felt there was any conflict with hard science.

But if you mean theories like evolution and spontaneous generation, theories about what happened in the far past which could not possibly ever be observed, and one species evolving into another species which also can never be observed(as it was before any one could record it) and has never (at least so far) been observed in human history, then yes, there is indeed a fundamental difference, they are in conflict. I totally agree on that point. There is no evolution or spontaneous generation of life in the Bible, just as neither has ever been observed by any witnesses. Any so called science that claims an insulin secreting pancreas, or an eyeball to send signals along an optic nerve to a brain which can interpret these signals, or a male with sexual organs and desire for a female with complimentary organs and desires, evolving at the same time for that new fangled sexual reproduction - that all of these and more have all developed by accident without a designer- is certainly in conflict with the Bible.

I also completely agree with you on: "Another point that became overwhelmingly obvious is that each individual absolutely positively needs the freedom to make up their own mind.".
Last edited by BillyBob66 on Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#11

Post by BillyBob66 » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:47 pm

delete .............. repeat of previous post in error
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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Re: RE: Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#12

Post by GoatHanger » Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:25 am

GregD wrote: And things are even more complicated than that. It seems quite obvious that truth by this definition is in general beyond the grasp of humans.
I think this sums it up for both sides, and it's how I see it. We can never fully understand existence while we are alive. Some believe in something greater, that will offer us an explanation once our physical lives cease.

Science and religion, both require faith. We just differ in what we put our faith in.

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Edit: Just wanted to say that I appreciate the level of respect that everyone shows here, regardless of belief system.
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Re: RE: Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#13

Post by sarge » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:32 am

GoatHanger wrote:
GregD wrote: And things are even more complicated than that. It seems quite obvious that truth by this definition is in general beyond the grasp of humans.
I think this sums it up for both sides, and it's how I see it. We can never fully understand existence while we are alive. Some believe in something greater, that will offer us an explanation once our physical lives cease.

Science and religion, both require faith. We just differ in what we put our faith in.

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Edit: Just wanted to say that I appreciate the level of respect that everyone shows here, regardless of belief system.

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
C. S. Lewis - Mere Christianity


In other words: the most powerful argument for another existence beyond the one we have now is that we cannot find truth in this one.
You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me. ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#14

Post by GoatHanger » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:56 am

sarge wrote:

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
C. S. Lewis - Mere Christianity


In other words: the most powerful argument for another existence beyond the one we have now is that we cannot find truth in this one.
It's been years since I've read that book. Thanks for the quote (it's a great one), which has served as a reminder to read it again.

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Re: Darwin Day Lecture 2016

#15

Post by GregD » Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:13 pm

BillyBob66 wrote:If by science you mean observation that leads to hypothesis and testing of the hypothesis, and such things as decreasing the volume of a contained gas by 1/2 doubles the pressure(if memory serves), or that doubling voltage while leaving resistance unchanged doubles current- that sort of thing, then I see no conflict...

But if you mean theories like evolution and spontaneous generation, theories about what happened in the far past which could not possibly ever be observed, and one species evolving into another species which also can never be observed.
It is my understanding that evolution and the big bang resulted from the same process that lead to the ideal gas law and electrodynamics. In each case the result was obtained by analyzing the data. In some cases the data set is not so large and the analysis is simple and easy to follow. In other cases, particularly evolution and the big bang, the data set is quite large and diverse, and the analysis is not so simple and is not so easy to follow. For example, I have a bit of trouble following Einstein's reasoning that starts with the observation that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and concludes that space and time are inherently related and not independent. Further, Einstein's theory blows my mind; it is so contrary to my experiences. By comparison evolution seems unsurprising if not rather obvious.

I can empathize with someone unable to comprehend the data and analysis behind evolution and having a lot of skepticism as a result. But there is no logical justification whatsoever in asserting that evolution is anything other than a scientific result. It is the result of a scientific process. That doesn't mean that it is necessarily complete or correct; it only means that it is a good-faith, competent, and well-informed effort to understand all the available data.

BTW, none of the objections to evolution that I have seen to date appear to be competent, well-informed efforts to understand all the available data. Each one seems seriously flawed in at least one regard. For example, the fact that "no one was there to observe it" only means that observations are challenging. Many, many, many physical process that are well understood cannot be directly observed for a variety of reasons. Instead, what have been observed are key features, sometimes very few, and careful analysis has successfully deduced what cannot be observed.

By contrast, how does an individual come to place confidence in the accuracy of some old text such as the Torah, Bible, or Koran? Where is the underlying data? Where is the analysis? For that matter, what exactly does it even mean? There is no shortage of mutually conflicting interpretations.

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