Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Simpler Argument

Okay, all the complexity of arguing got you down? Don't want to have to become an expert in evolution to argue that the filthy unbelievers are wrong?

Here's an easier, simpler argument.

You have to bet on a basketball game between serious, young Michael Jordan and an asthmatic, obese old man. Who do you bet on?

Wait, lets make that easier. According to records, Jordan has already fought this guy in a dozen games. He won every one of them. According to the score sheets, they were complete shut-outs. Jordan does occasionally miss a shot, but he always lands them in the end.

Who do you bet on?

Let's look at the game record to date.

Religion says: Sun orbits earth.
Science says: Earth orbits sun.
Result: Science wins

Religion says: Earth is flat, or maybe on back of turtle.
Science says: Earth is round and not on anything's back.
Result: Science wins

Religion says: Leave out saucers of milk and the fey folk will help your crops.
Science says: Rotate your crops, leave some land fallow.
Result: Science wins

Religion says: Spoiled meat spontaneously grows maggots.
Science says: Flies lay eggs in spoiled meat, which causes maggots.
Result: Science wins.

Religion says: Mutations are god's displeasure/sign of royalty.
Science says: Stop marrying your sister, dumbshit.
Result: Science (common sense?) wins

Religion says: Minor keys are the devil's music.
Science says: Minor keys are a certain clever combination of waveforms.
Result: Science wins

Religion says: If you pay us, you will be absolved of sin.
Science says: If you pay us, you will be absolved of cancer.
Result: Definitely science.

Religion says: Diseases are the result of "demons" or karma.
Science says: Germs, bacteria, virii, um... bodily fluid imbalance?
Result: Science wins eventually

Religion says: Madness is a sign of divinity.
Science says: Madness is a sign of madness.
Result: Aliens anal-probe millions, the government uses mind control lasers.
Result: That means science won, in case you were wondering.

Religion says: God created all the living things on earth.
Science says: Evolution.
Result: ...

Why would science suddenly start being WRONG? True, science doesn't always have the right answer at the moment. But the right answer has NEVER turned out to be the one religion supposed, and is always discovered by science at a somewhat later date.

Michael Jordan doesn't sink every shot, either. But Michael Jordan will win the game against a fat asthmatic - a missed shot isn't a sign he's going to lose. It's a sign that he's not infallible.


Darius Kazemi said...

So on the "Earth orbits Sun" thing...

To your average not-too-bright guy, his experiential existence tells him that the sun orbits the earth. Doesn't matter if science can prove otherwise, because--get this--proof doesn't mean anything to this guy! You walking up to this guy and proving to him, however simply, that the earth orbits the sun is like some sports guy walking up to you and asserting that a panel of sports experts determined that Allen Iverson is the greatest athlete of all time.

You don't care about basketball, and similarly, the random dude doesn't care about the sun and the earth. You don't think a panel of sports experts could actually determine who the greatest athlete ever is, and similarly, the random dude doesn't think that millions of pieces of empirical data could actually for real determine what orbits what.

Now notice that my use of the term "doesn't think" in the last sentence is used in the literal sense of "no brain activity occurring in this direction," and not in the colloquial sense of "doesn't believe".

Random dude doesn't put any thought into this kind of thing at all. Most people believe these days that the earth orbits the sun. Not because science can prove it, not even because science HAS proven it, but because their parents believed it and they heard it once or twice in school.

I guess what I'm saying here is: you can't argue with someone who literally, LITERALLY, isn't thinking. For these people, science textbooks are like the Bible: assertions that someone made, and my people are right and your people are wrong.

Craig Perko said...

I know, but anything to rock the boat...

Anyway, back to game design soon!

Duncan said...

Faith says: God still holds it all in his hand.

It isn't about religion and science. They are both simply ways of looking at the world and attempting to understand it. Neither is wholly right, or wrong. Unchecked, both are dangerous.

Science does not disprove faith.

The more I see, the harder I find it to believe in a universe of chance. Behind everything is design. Evolution is just a definition of an observed emergent pattern.

Oh... and one final point: Who said that creation was finished, or static?

Craig Perko said...


What are you talking about? Science has won every conflict with religion when the dust settles.

It feels all warm and fuzzy to say that science and religion are equals, but when it comes to how the world really works, they aren't.

Science allows for new technologies: medicines, foods, clothes, bombs, computers... these are not things that religion has accomplished, even though religion has been around for literally a million times longer. Or, if you believe in the idiocy of a 6000-year-old-earth, ten times longer.

Science cannot disprove faith because faith is built specifically to be believed even when disproved. Science can, however, clearly show that the things people have faith in are flat out wrong. Every decade, we attack more of the misconceptions people call "faith". These preposterous superstitions fall one by one, each inviolate and wholly accepted... until science comes in.

And every decade, we win our fights. We replace blind faith with medicine, with iPods, with satellites and world-wide economies.

Science unchecked has never been dangerous. Science forced to serve a political or religious master has been dangerous. Science itself is merely a method to get more information. Unless you think that knowing more is inherently dangerous - and most religions seem to - science itself is in no way dangerous.

Also, this bullshit about evolution being chance? Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

It shows a total and complete uncomprehension of the basic idea of evolution. It shows a total and complete uncomprehension of simple logic.

Patrick Dugan said...

Duncan, think of it this way, God designed the world as a stochastic algorithm that with certainty will produce exponential gains in phenomenal complexity, given a broad enough range of instances (solar systems in the universe) and time (billions of years). Its kind of a paradox, certain chaos producing emergent complexity.

Of course saying "God designed" is just a McGuffin for "we don't know whats behind the big bang, but hey, God sounds catchy". Some have postualated that black holes create new universes, a great minority of which fail to quickly collapse and a vast minority of those succeed settling into the right laws of physics and allow the sort of emergence we enjoy (and in fact, are) today. An untold, probably extremely vast but still finite number of universes later and you can infer a phenomena of evolution in the laws of physics, to an instantiated universe which has the "right stuff". Its actually quite a bit like game design. But if this hypothetical process is indeed what effected the birth of our universe, then you can trace it back to simpler and simpler things, until you run into another problem, because you can't trace it back to any one entity, particularly not an anthropomorphic one. Its closer to the brahma of hinduism, but a better word for this prime designer is NOTHING.

Think about that. Nothing literally created the universe.

Textual Harassment said...

B-b-but the fat old guy is my friend; I really want him to win the game. Isn't life so much nicer when we believe that which we wish to be true--what feels good?

Your analogy is poor, though, Craig. Instead of using charicature, you ought to explain why science is so useful for figuring things out. You really think this "trust us" approach will convince anyone?

Also I think you are confusing religion with plain old ignorance. You don't need to be a mystic to perceive that the earth is flat. That's just kind of how it looks from down here. Where religion goes wrong is when it causes rational, subversive thought to stagnate.

Craig Perko said...

They have ten thousand examples of how useful and powerful science is within the building they are in. I thought that, instead, I would use logic more similar to what religions use.

"Also I think you are confusing religion with plain old ignorance. You don't need to be a mystic to perceive that the earth is flat. That's just kind of how it looks from down here."

... Heh, did I? :D

Aarneus said...

>Science allows for new technologies: >medicines, foods, clothes, bombs, >computers... these are not things >that religion has accomplished...

This is like saying that a hammer >is better than a candle, because a hammer is better for putting nails on boards. A candle simply weren't designed for this purpose.

> Why would science suddenly start > being WRONG?
You know, it's basic philosophy and logic that you can't rely on something only because it's happened before.

> Religion says: If you pay us, you > will be absolved of sin.
> Science says: If you pay us, you > will be absolved of cancer.
> Result: Definitely science.

And how exactly do you confirm this? It's arguable which is more lethal, sin or cancer. Popular choice isn't a viable proof.

> Religion says: Sun orbits earth.
> Science says: Earth orbits sun.
> Result: Science wins
You know, Copernicus was a priest.
Even the Pope supported his theory. This argument is more towards religious community rather than religion itself.

> Religion says: Earth is flat, or > maybe on back of turtle.
> Science says: Earth is round and > not on anything's back.
> Result: Science wins

Actually, science agreed with this.
See Aristotle. Nowadays, neither agrees. (At least in protestant Christianity)

Btw, all results are arguable.

Science says: Weak people should die
Religion says: We should help those weaker than us.

Science says: There might exist other worlds.
Religion says: There exists another world.

Science says: Laying in warm pigshit will heal you. (Solon, you know, the wisest man in Ancient Greece?)
Religion says: God's mercy will heal you.

Also, you should say what you mean by science, is it the empirical method? Technology? A certain state of mind? Mathematics?

We shouldn't fight against science or religion, we should respect each others views. Science and religion can coexist. We have gradually growed in intelligence, in both religion and science. Witch hunts were considered as much religion as science. They were born of fear, not of religion or science.
"God has given us brains so we may use them" - Martin Luther

Finally, a list of people who saw the light in the coexistence of religion and science:

Nicolaus Copernicus (astronomy)
Galileo Galilei (empirical method)
Albert Einstein (although a bit obscure)
Gregor Mendel (Genes, inheritance)
Sir Isaac Newton (physics)
Johannes Kepler (astronomy)
I could go on...

Craig Perko said...

Dude, this is an old fuckin' post. Stop zombie posting.