I have frequently noticed people commenting that there are many unanswered questions but science may not be able to provide all answers.
I have always placed complete faith in science and have probably never thought in this direction or probably I am ignorant. Considering that science deals only with the nature, it is understood that it cannot be asked to find answers to questions about the supernatural. After finding the truth about the origin of the universe and the origin of life, the remaining questions are in my opinion just missing links. What are such questions then that science will not answer and why? What are its limitations? Time? Funds? Human resources? Lack of interest or efforts on the part of humans? Or is the present knowledge inadequate for further research? I would like my more enlightened friends here to educate me on this subject.
If science can't find answers about the supernatural, it is likely for the same reason that science doesn't find any answers about gods - there are none! Science concerns itself about what is and doesn't waste time about what is not. If a thing or a process is substantial and perceivable, science can study it and, with sufficient time and effort, quantify and understand it.
Question such as "Why are we here?" are of a completely different stripe. To ask this is to start down the road of matters of "Who put us here?", another specious question. Far as I'm concerned, we're here because the conditions were right for us to be here ... full stop. The question: "What is my purpose here," is a personal question, one which the asking party must answer for him or herself, as it is with may subjective issues. What it takes to answer is the bravery to face the question and not slough it off onto a non-existent god or its representative.
I've said many times: knowing is hard. It takes time and effort to learn something, whether it's about the universe or about ourselves. You want to learn? Take the time. Make the effort.
Science isn't the be all and end all of existence. It is the rational accumulation of knowledge. It is not a belief, though one must rely to some extent on the expertise of its theorists. This can be done fairly confidently because all theories are subject to proofs and their proponents subject to peer review. Solid theories stand up well to this process. Disproved ones are readily jettisoned by serious scientists.
Science indeed does not have all the answers, though it will forever strive to answer any and all questions. Scientific knowledge can't be beat as a foundational base for philosophy, the waters I do believe, Mr. Kulkarni, in which you want to swim. Science can teach how to ask the questions properly. It can teach you how to assimilate the answers you find rationally, without bias.
As a species we constantly sift through information to make sense of our circumstance. We strive for positive outcomes to our thoughts and actions. The conversation worth having is the one that that identifies the "what" and seeks the "how". An honest answer to an honest question is the best we can hope for.
One need not be pure Vulcan to appreciate a good scientific foundation from which to inform your world view. A sense of the numinous and the transcendent, as well as an appreciation of irony,art and history, to me, are essential parts of a personal philosophy.
Notice there is no need of a reference to the supernatural in anything I've said? Or of playing upon the superstitious? This is where the philosophical tool of Ockham's Razor comes in handy. Simply stated, Ockham's Razor is the reducing an answer to a question to its first and simplest form, this being the only correct answer. Any add on simply debauches or hedges its integrity.
If you want to inject unfounded supernatural claims into any inquiry you may have, you are adding less than nothing,but way more than necessary to the question.
I read the terms "numinous and transcendent" as referring to the supernatural. Human appreciation of "irony, art and history" is perfectly natural and is among the glorious consequences of our evolution as an intelligent species.
The terms numinous and transcendent are terms we share with those that believe in the supernatural, but I mean it in the sense of leaving concepts intact so as to not ruin its effect. Just like to read music is not quite the same as listening to it and letting your emotions soar
Tom Flynn of Free Inquiry has argued that it is a strategic mistake for atheists to use spiritual or supernatural language because theists can then claim that we are really believers after all, and that no one can do without belief. But I understand the temptation to use that language: I have had "religious" experiences from listening to Beethoven's ninth symphony and from gazing at the greenery in the Smokey Mountains where I live. These experiences are easy to interpret as coming from some force beyond our ken. But they are, as you suggest, the product of our own emotional responses to our cognitions; the emotional and rational parts of our brains are heavily networked together. And the cognitions do not necessarily depend on any particular sense: Beethoven himself was deaf when he wrote his ninth symphony, but he no doubt experienced it even more deeply than I do with my ears. We atheists know what we mean when we use "religious"language to describe our feelings, but we could give the wrong impression to others.
Tom Flynn of Free Inquiry has argued that it is a strategic mistake for atheists to use spiritual or supernatural language
But language influences consciousness, and excluding spiritual / supernatural language is a way of sweeping those experiences under the rug.
A lot of atheists are the kind of people who have no God-believing bone in their bodies, people who don't see how anyone could be religious. But not all of us, and our language can reflect that diversity.
theists can then claim that we are really believers after all
But then tell the theist "You're making too much of this experience, you see I have it also but I know it doesn't prove the existence of anything outside my head, and you too can see this obvious truth".
I don't believe we should cede any language to the other side. Mr. Flynn does not take into account that you rarely win over the one with whom you are debating. Those you are trying to convince are the ones listening in.
Take into account believers are from Venus and those of the skeptical vent are from Mars. So both may share the same vocabulary but one is speaking Martian and the other is speaking Venusian (i was going to say Venetian but that's already taken). Of course much gets lost in the translation. Also don't forget those from Venus think and dream in Venusian too.
What I'm trying to say is I'm pretty confident in my meanings and among my like-thinkers do not have to provide context. Mr. Price your point is well taken but perceived "strategic mistakes" can be made on purpose. Spiritual or superstitious language can provoke from the opposition exactly the talking points you wish to debunk. Their "AHA!" moment can then be turned against them.
Another way of putting it: If you're gonna catch a bass, you've got to think like a bass.
Laura you put it well. Be comfortable in the language you use and stand your ground. If you are going to be parsed or gadfly'd, then you are not in a serious ,mature, and worthwhile argument (it's also a sign you're winning!) Say what you have to say with these people. Hold on to the steering wheel. Never forget YOU are being listened to. In the Mars/Venus debate try to become fluently bilingual.
Disclaimer: the assignment of one side to Mars and the other to Venus was totally random and without prejudice. It in know way affects the opinion i have on either planet.
I meant skeptical bnet
bent (oh brother!)
Some liberal Christians may be essentially atheists, but they use different language. They make no miraculous claims for "God", use God as a metaphor, don't believe Biblical miracles really happened.
Belief in an afterlife is perhaps the last sticking point, since it doesn't require incredible assertions about this world.
Many Unitarians are atheists who like the God-language.
It might strengthen atheism to include people who say they believe in God, but don't believe in miracles, an afterlife or anything supernatural.
It seems to me you are describing the Deist position, which was a common view point held by the founding fathers of the US, which was a direct influence in the 1st Amendment in the Constitution, separating church and state
If Sam Harris can refer to numinous or transcendent experiences, then so can we. Hell, I've HAD 'em, and trust me, they're plenty real enough. But some deity tied up in 'em?