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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wikipedia Is a Godsend

Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature that is supported by many facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena. -- National Academy of Sciences

This is a note for both theists and atheists. When reading someone's claim, why don't you at least read the Wikipedia article on it before rebutting it? Below is one thing from theists I wish they would turn to Wikipedia about and one thing from atheists I wish they would turn to Wiki about.

Theists: Theory vs Science

One of the biggest irritations from theists I commonly have is statements about science. I won't even be as specific as false science statements as "evolution is unfalsifiable" or that "light is invisible." I mean general statements. Flinging dust points out two comments on Ray's blog by theists making completely false statements about general science principles and terms.

The second comment says:
Wow! You guys think gravity is a theory! You need to get out more. It was proven to be a Law a long time ago.
The commenter is a Christian. What always baffles me about comments like this from Christians is I was raised with a fundamentalist father who is currently working on correcting translations of the Bible. God removing a rib from Adam to create Eve is far different than removing a part from Adam to create Eve. One would think Christians, in general, would have a better appreciation for terms.

Of course, there is no hierarchy in validity among law, theories, and facts. In lay terms, a theory is more a hypothesis or conjecture while a fact is something proven. Scientific illiteracy is shown when you then bungle the lay uses with the scientific uses. A quick search of gravity or theory and fact on Wikipedia would have removed the words from your mouth which made you a fool.

One of the top results, in fact, is an article on evolution and gravity BOTH as theories and also as facts. You could also go straight to Newton's law of gravity which introduces it in the first sentence as a theory.



Atheists: Newton's Religion

As much as we hate when people like Ray Comfort make ignorant statements about the religious views of people like Einstein and Hawking, it is always quite shocking to see an atheist doing the same to Newton. I have never seen quote-mining on the part of atheists with respect to Newton's religion. What I usually see is them making some ignorant statement about him or saying they are skeptical about the claims that Newton believed the Bible.

Why? Because it's quite shocking to them that a scientist as great as Newton could believe such a thing. In this, they are as guilty as Ray Comfort in claiming what he does about Einstein because it's shocking to him that Einstein couldn't believe in his definition of God.

A quick navigation to the Wikipedia article on Isaac Newton would quickly clear it up. In fact, you can read the article dedicated to his religious views.

3 comments:

Brittany said...

Hi,

"There is a great toll to pay if you believe and are wrong. You do not simply "lose nothing." You lose, by virture of having only one life, everything. There is a serious price to pay for compliance."

Could you maybe explain this a little more? What does a Christian lose by believing?

Thanks!

In Christian Love,
Brittany

DisComforting Ignorance said...

Hey Brittany,

It's not a loss for believing, per se. It's everything that goes along with it in Christianity. I'll list a few examples that I think are applicable to most:

* The constant belief that most people are going to Hell. This applies a lot to family. For example, my mother knows that I am an atheist, and I have seen her cry about it several times. The night I told her when I was visiting will forever be seared into my mind. It caused her great pain and she cried the entirety of the several hours.

I have a gay sister who has a five year old daughter. She is constantly in fear that she will end up in Hell and not be there for her daughter in the afterlife.

The many families who were told that their unbaptized children weren't going to Heaven, but instead Limbo.

* The sexual repression demanded by Christianity (and most religions). Again, just a personal story, my gay sister. Now that she has a daughter, she is so concerned about it that she completely abstains. She not only abstains from sex, she abstains from relationships altogether. This leads to a rather miserable and depressing state for her, as she's quite lonely. She also tries to stay away from her old circle of close friends as they are all gay and she can't risk the temptation.

There are many teenagers who are taught that what they are feeling and thinking is sinful, immoral, and displeasing to their Father. Boys are taught that masturbation is sinful. They must either live miserably by refraining from such a natural actions, or live with the guilt by engaging.

* Guilt. As has been the theme with above examples, there's a great deal of guilt intrinsic in Christianity. Guilt not just for actions, but for mere thoughts.

* Certain ideas in Christianity require hatred/dislike/mistreatment/distancing of individuals, specifically women, gays, and atheists. In families, this causes great problems. Many families have to lose certain individuals as they disown them due to their sexual and intellectual predilections. If my mother were true to the Bible, she would shun me. I am sure this has crossed her mind as she knows the Bible, which compounds the guilt by her not doing so. If my father ever knew, he indubitably would.

* Conflicts with science and technology. While I am not of the camp of religion-science incompatibility, there are costs the individual encounters for belief when it conflicts with science. The evolution-creation "controversy" is the most obvious and needs not any elaboration, except that people like Ray make people think it is either God or evolution.

There's conflicts with contraception. Via onanism, contraception (including coitus interruptus) is seen as immoral. So, sex requires that it is done without contraception, which bears the burden of a larger family, or abstaining altogether.

There's also a cost of not accepting scientific advances if they conflict with Scriptures, such as evolution, heliocentricity, cloning, principles of geology and cosmology, and future advances in understanding.



These are just some costs to the individuals with Christianity alone. There's of course the cost to society such as influences on public policy, on foreign policy, hate crimes, mistreatment of women, miseducation of sex/human health and evolution, and so forth, which are the cost to the society from the individual believing.

- JT

Brittany said...

Hi!

"If my mother were true to the Bible, she would shun me."

Somehow, someway you have been greatly deceived about the Bible.

If your mother was indeed true to the Bible, she would NOT shun you.

Why!

The Bible, the Old and New testaments, basically focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus, instead of shunning the sinners, embraced them. He is an example of how we Christians should treat sinners. We should love the sinner, but hate the sin.

Thanks for commenting!

In Christian Love,
Brittany