Briefing notes and report on May meeting

Science

The Scientific Method

A method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.

Karl Popper Falsifiability

One of the tenets behind science is that any scientific hypothesis and resultant experimental design must be inherently falsifiable. Although falsifiability is not universally accepted, it is still the foundation of the majority of scientific experiments.

Can the existence of God be proved or disproved?

Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science.

Darwinian Philosophy of Suffering

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins

What are the benefits of Science
Can the scientific method give meaning and purpose to life?

Atheism or Anti-theism

Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.
Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Dawkins

Book Title:  God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Christopher Hitchens

It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself. Richard Dawkins

The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no. Richard Dawkins


Is the existence or non-existence of God a scientific question?

Religion

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11: 1-2

The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed by God as saviour of humanity, and hold that Jesus’ coming was the fulfilment of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.


“Christians will be found in the neighbourhood of Jesus – but Jesus is found in the neighbourhood of human confusion and suffering, defencelessly alongside those in need. If being baptized is being led to where Jesus is, then being baptized is being led towards the chaos and the neediness of a humanity that has forgotten its own destiny.”
― Rowan Williams


If we hang our faith on the absolute historical accuracy of Scripture in every detail, we risk making Scripture a sort of ‘magic’ book that turns up the right answers to all sorts of rather irrelevant questions, instead of being a book that gives us, in the wonderful words of the Coronation service, ‘the lively oracles of God’. The Bible is not intended to be a mere chronicle of past events, but a living communication from God, telling us now what we need to know for our salvation.”
― Rowan Williams

What are the disadvantages of a religious worldview?

 

 

 


Pascal’s wager

An argument that asserts that one should believe in God, even if God’s existence cannot be proved or disproved through reason.
Blaise Pascal’s original wager was as a fairly short paragraph in Pensées amongst several other notes that could be considered “wagers”.[1] Its argument is rooted in game theory and that the best course of action is to believe in God regardless of any lack of evidence, because that option gives the biggest potential gains. Pascal’s original text is long-winded and written in somewhat convoluted philosophy-speak,[2] but it can be distilled more simply:
1. If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven: thus, an infinite gain.
2. If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever: thus an infinite loss.
3. If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded: thus, an insignificant loss.
4. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life: thus, an insignificant gain.
The Wager can also be seen in table form and it becomes clear that belief gives you a reward or (practically) nothing, while disbelief gives you punishment or nothing:
God exists God does not exist
Believe in God Infinite gain in heaven Insignificant loss
Disbelieve in God Infinite loss in hell Insignificant gain

Pascal concluded that it was a much better choice to believe in God rather than not.
What are the benefits of betting in God?


Science

The Scientific Method

A method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.

Karl Popper Falsifiability

One of the tenets behind science is that any scientific hypothesis and resultant experimental design must be inherently falsifiable. Although falsifiability is not universally accepted, it is still the foundation of the majority of scientific experiments.

Can the existence of God be proved or disproved?

Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science.

Darwinian Philosophy of Suffering

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins

What are the benefits of Science
Can the scientific method give meaning and purpose to life?

Atheism or Anti-theism

Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.
Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

 

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Dawkins

Book Title:  God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Christopher Hitchens

It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself. Richard Dawkins

The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no. Richard Dawkins


Is the existence or non-existence of God a scientific question?

Religion

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11: 1-2

The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed by God as saviour of humanity, and hold that Jesus’ coming was the fulfilment of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.


“Christians will be found in the neighbourhood of Jesus – but Jesus is found in the neighbourhood of human confusion and suffering, defencelessly alongside those in need. If being baptized is being led to where Jesus is, then being baptized is being led towards the chaos and the neediness of a humanity that has forgotten its own destiny.”
― Rowan Williams


If we hang our faith on the absolute historical accuracy of Scripture in every detail, we risk making Scripture a sort of ‘magic’ book that turns up the right answers to all sorts of rather irrelevant questions, instead of being a book that gives us, in the wonderful words of the Coronation service, ‘the lively oracles of God’. The Bible is not intended to be a mere chronicle of past events, but a living communication from God, telling us now what we need to know for our salvation.”
― Rowan Williams

What are the disadvantages of a religious worldview?

 

 

 


Pascal’s wager

An argument that asserts that one should believe in God, even if God’s existence cannot be proved or disproved through reason.
Blaise Pascal’s original wager was as a fairly short paragraph in Pensées amongst several other notes that could be considered “wagers”.[1] Its argument is rooted in game theory and that the best course of action is to believe in God regardless of any lack of evidence, because that option gives the biggest potential gains. Pascal’s original text is long-winded and written in somewhat convoluted philosophy-speak,[2] but it can be distilled more simply:
1. If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven: thus, an infinite gain.
2. If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever: thus an infinite loss.
3. If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded: thus, an insignificant loss.
4. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life: thus, an insignificant gain.
The Wager can also be seen in table form and it becomes clear that belief gives you a reward or (practically) nothing, while disbelief gives you punishment or nothing:
God exists God does not exist
Believe in God Infinite gain in heaven Insignificant loss
Disbelieve in God Infinite loss in hell Insignificant gain

Pascal concluded that it was a much better choice to believe in God rather than not.
What are the benefits of betting in God?

 


Science

The Scientific Method

A method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.

Karl Popper Falsifiability

One of the tenets behind science is that any scientific hypothesis and resultant experimental design must be inherently falsifiable. Although falsifiability is not universally accepted, it is still the foundation of the majority of scientific experiments.

Can the existence of God be proved or disproved?

Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science.

Darwinian Philosophy of Suffering

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins

What are the benefits of Science
Can the scientific method give meaning and purpose to life?

Atheism or Anti-theism

Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.
Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

 

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Dawkins

Book Title:  God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Christopher Hitchens

It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself. Richard Dawkins

The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no. Richard Dawkins


Is the existence or non-existence of God a scientific question?

Religion

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11: 1-2

The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed by God as saviour of humanity, and hold that Jesus’ coming was the fulfilment of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.


“Christians will be found in the neighbourhood of Jesus – but Jesus is found in the neighbourhood of human confusion and suffering, defencelessly alongside those in need. If being baptized is being led to where Jesus is, then being baptized is being led towards the chaos and the neediness of a humanity that has forgotten its own destiny.”
― Rowan Williams


If we hang our faith on the absolute historical accuracy of Scripture in every detail, we risk making Scripture a sort of ‘magic’ book that turns up the right answers to all sorts of rather irrelevant questions, instead of being a book that gives us, in the wonderful words of the Coronation service, ‘the lively oracles of God’. The Bible is not intended to be a mere chronicle of past events, but a living communication from God, telling us now what we need to know for our salvation.”
― Rowan Williams

What are the disadvantages of a religious worldview?

 

 

 


Pascal’s wager

An argument that asserts that one should believe in God, even if God’s existence cannot be proved or disproved through reason.
Blaise Pascal’s original wager was as a fairly short paragraph in Pensées amongst several other notes that could be considered “wagers”.[1] Its argument is rooted in game theory and that the best course of action is to believe in God regardless of any lack of evidence, because that option gives the biggest potential gains. Pascal’s original text is long-winded and written in somewhat convoluted philosophy-speak,[2] but it can be distilled more simply:
1. If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven: thus, an infinite gain.
2. If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever: thus an infinite loss.
3. If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded: thus, an insignificant loss.
4. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life: thus, an insignificant gain.
The Wager can also be seen in table form and it becomes clear that belief gives you a reward or (practically) nothing, while disbelief gives you punishment or nothing:
God exists God does not exist
Believe in God Infinite gain in heaven Insignificant loss
Disbelieve in God Infinite loss in hell Insignificant gain

Pascal concluded that it was a much better choice to believe in God rather than not.
What are the benefits of betting in God?

 

Report of PCN Meeting Held on 3rd June 2017 at Wintringham School Grimsby.

The meeting was attended by ten people. The subject was
‘Science and Religion’

John Cottingham who had been tasked with leading the session explained that when he Googled Science and Religion he got in excess of nine million hits. He therefore wanted to confine the discussion to Science and the Christian Religion to make the subject somewhat more manageable.

the meeting opened with a group discussion on the subject exploring whether science and religion were complementary to, or in conflict with each other.

The idea of a monotheistic creator was posited as a source of order in the universe, and that made science possible because the created order is predictable, and subject to laws which can be examined by scientific experiment.

The discussion strayed back into the nature of truth and how it might be established; scientifically, by revelation or a bit of both. The idea of falsifiability was mentioned, this is from Karl Popper and suggests that truth established by scientific experiment must be able to be disproved if and when better evidence comes along later. The existence of God cannot therefore be proven or disproven by science.

John suggested that modern science, and especially Darwinism has been turned into the belief system of naturalism in which the universe has come about pretty well by blind chance with no overarching purpose.

But can science describe the ‘what’ of truth and religion give a credible explanation of the ‘why’

As ever there were different opinions expressed on all aspects.

The meeting then broke into three groups to discuss some statements that John had researched with the broad themes of Science
Religion
Atheism and Anti Theism
Pascal’s Wager

Questions were attached to each subject and the group discussions were maybe centered around the written soundbites and the questions posed.

We then reconvened the whole group for a brief plenary session. As is the norm for Grimsby PCN some addressed the questions posed, and some approached the subject quite tangentially; there was not any universal agreement with some of the written premises.

But out of all of this we might, at least, have come to a better understanding of the science v religion debate.

John Cottingham
8th May 2017

 

 

 

Group Bulletins