Scientists Invade Religion

first_imgScience and religion, those uneasy combatants in turf wars, do not get equal treatment in the media.  The referees in the science news media frequently overlook invasions by science into religious territory, but fail to heed calls of foul by the invaded.World religion:  Last month in New Scientist, Kate Douglas theorized about what an “ideal religion” would look like if humans could start one from scratch.  She acknowledged that religion is “good for some things” like a sense of community and promotion of happiness, but she accepted the speculations of researchers who treat religion as something that can be classified like plants, focusing on outward ritual activity instead of epistemology.  (The article was posted, after all, on New Scientist.)    From there, Douglas speculated about how an ideal world religion would promote a blend of physical activities like chanting and dancing “to stimulate the release of endorphins” and “social cohesion”  It could even include few tame myths to keep people coming back.  It would even be polytheistic: “With many gods and great tolerance of idiosyncratic local practices, the new religion will be highly adaptable to the needs of different congregations without losing its unifying identity,” she continued.  “The religion will also emphasise worldly affairs – it would promote the use of contraceptives and small families and be big on environmental issues, philanthropy, pacifism and cooperation.”  She even proposed a name for it: Utopianity.Free willy nilly:  Theologians have debated free will for centuries; does science have a better position to provide answers?  New Scientist has posted several articles recently about the subject.  In one, MacGregor Campbell promoted the answer from some secular neuroscientists that free will is an illusion.  The short article includes a video beginning with a cartoon of a tea-party patriot SUV waving American flags, whose owner turns out to be a murderer.    The video states without criticism that “every choice you have ever made was predetermined billions of years ago at the moment of the big bang” accompanied by a cartoon of evolutionary progress.  It continues claiming our brains are lying to us, and that murderers (like said tea party patriot) are not responsible for their actions.  As scientific justification for these radically deterministic views, the narrator says, “Many neuroscientists think that what we call free will is just the result of electrical and chemical signals in the brain, explainable ultimately by the laws of physics.”  (No critics were called on to point out that the narrator was predetermined to say that, or that laws of physics are not composed of matter.)    The narrator continued, with apparent scientific authority, to opine that belief in free will and moral accountability is a useful fiction, because “a society that doesn’t believe in free will would suck.”  It ended by advertising the April 16 issue of New Scientist, with its cover story, “Free will: the illusion we can’t live without.”    In a follow-up article on New Scientist that showed the same video, freelance writer Dan Jones again gave the scientific edge to neuroscientists who present the “manifest truth of determinism”.  He made matter-of-fact statements claiming materialism is scientific truth, such as Francis Crick’s remark, “you are nothing but a pack of neurons.”  Jones did acknowledge that when people are taught that free will is an illusion, their ethics, altruism and values plummet.  But he never questioned the materialistic view; he just presented arguments that belief in free will is so ingrained, we will probably not have to worry about an amoral society.Convert the Muslims:  In another article in New Scientist, Michael Bond interviewed “scientist imam” Usama Hasan, who thinks Muslims need to talk about evolution.  “I want Muslims to question creationism, says the physicist and imam who has had death threats for supporting evolution.”  As could be expected, there were no calls for any scientists to question Darwinism.Experimental cheating:  Psychologists at the University of Oregon used human guinea pigs to measure the effect of one’s view of God on the propensity to cheat.  The write-up on Medical Express includes a video that tried to correlate cheating on a sample test with the student’s view of God as forgiving and loving or God as vengeful and punishing.    According to the results, “students who specifically perceived God as punitive, angry and vengeful showed significantly lower levels of cheating.”  Nowhere did the press release question the ethics of this kind of experimentation – or its validity as a scientific investigation.  Should a priest, rabbi or preacher have evaluated the psychologists instead?Psychological swearing:  Swearing isn’t a sin; it’s good for you.  That was the message of an article on PhysOrg taken from the Los Angeles Times based on experiments at Keele University, England.  The “researchers” found that swearing helped subjects endure pain when their hands were immersed in ice water. The “experimental research” described above begs some epistemic questions on several levels.  Are moral experiments on human guinea pigs ethical?  Do they generate knowledge, or merely reinforce the researcher’s bias?  Are psychological investigations of religion scientific?    A rare article that questioned the validity of psychological/psychiatric research was posted recently on Medical Express, “Rethinking Psychiatry” by Candace O’Connor.  She started by noting the difference between positions of the American Psychiatric Association today and that of a few decades ago, when “Everywhere, psychiatry departments were dominated by psychoanalysts, who focused on Freudian theory.”    She quoted George E. Murphy, who said, “I remember one meeting, when I told a psychiatry professor about a study I had read showing that no two psychiatrists could agree better than chance on diagnosis,” implying the obvious: “our diagnoses don’t mean anything.”  Since then, instead of relying on Freud like a modern Moses, the field has tried to live up to “evidence-based approach to clinical psychiatry.”  She seemed supportive the latest iteration of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but ended by quoting a psychiatrist eager to keep asking questions: “We want to keep reminding people that we haven’t done enough and to keep asking: ’Where is the next thing coming from?’”  (See 02/17/2010.)    Admirable as that inside-skeptical spirit may be, it leaves open the possibility, illustrated by the evolution from DSM-II to DSM-V, that the “next thing” may undermine today’s current thing.  By contrast, religions tend to be stable over centuries, an observational fact that may lead to questions about science’s pretensions of epistemic authority.The presumption that science can study religion and answer ultimate questions is a kind of religion itself.  Instead of the gamesmanship between the Science Building and the Arts and Humanities Building, academics need to realize they are fallible human beings, not purveyors of absolute truth.    The secular materialists who honor themselves as “scientists” disqualify themselves, when making claims about free will and the “ideal religion,” by committing the self-refuting fallacy.  If beliefs are determined, so is their belief in determinism.  It cannot make any independent claims to validity or truth.    The ideal religion proposed by Kate Douglas sounds a lot like the end-times mythology predicted by the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:1-5).  Prediction is supposed to be valued in science.  Here’s a prediction 2,000 years old that was right on.    Notice also that Paul did not have to keep revising and repudiating his documents like the APA does.  Since the observational evidence for Paul’s validity appears superior to those who have disqualified themselves by shooting their own feet, it seems justified to take seriously Dr. Paul’s advice, “Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 6:5) and “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’” (I Timothy 6:20-21).(Visited 18 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Manage Your Task Lists Collaboratively With Flow

first_img4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Web workers and small teams are always on the lookout for really solid, affordable productivity apps, especially when it comes to task management. Although the field may already seem crowded with popular products like Remember the Milk, Things and Producteev, there’s one more that’s worth checking out, called Flow.Flow is a new task management Web app that comes from MetaLab, a design firm that specializes in very slick, app-like interfaces for Websites, desktop and mobile applications. Accordingly, Flow is particularly well-designed, with a clean interface and the feel of a desktop app. In terms of features, it offers the usual: entering and managing tasks, deadlines, tags, and the ability to enter new tasks via email. What’s a little different about Flow, at least compared to something like Remember the Milk, is that it can be used collaboratively, as well as on an individual basis. Team members can be added and tasks can be delegated to them. Rather than a static list of to-do items, each task can be commented on by team members. 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… john paul titlow In Flow, task lists can be broken down by “project,” but that’s about as far as things go in the direction of project management. Flow isn’t trying to be a substitute for more robust productivity suites like Basecamp and Highrise, but by the time it comes out of beta, it may give other task managers like Things and Remember the Milk a run for their money.One common shortcoming in some of these to-do list managers is cross-platform compatibility. For those of us who work off of several devices each day, a Web-based desktop solution is not enough. We need native or Web apps for iPhone, Android, iPad and Blackberry for these tools to truly be useful. Remember the Milk, for example, has iPhone, Android and Blackberry versions, but its iPad app is still under development. Meanwhile, Things is really impressive, but it’s only available for Mac and iOS and it’s not cheap. So far, Flow is only available as a Web app, but they’re working on an iPhone version, which is “almost done” according to a recent tweet from MetaLab. Flow is currently in private beta, but you can sign up for an invite here. 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Tags:#biz#Reviews last_img read more

Punjab plans ordinance route for CM’s advisers

first_imgAmid the ongoing controversy over the appointment of six Minister-rank advisers to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the Punjab government on Thursday decided to bring in an ordinance to exclude adviser (political and planning) from the ambit of the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952.The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting held at Dera Baba Nanak that was presided over by the Chief Minister.No disqualificationAn official statement said the ordinance will amend the law to add these posts to the list of posts that are not considered office of profit for the purpose of disqualification of MLAs. With the amendment, these MLAs will not be disqualified.The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952, had been enacted in terms of Article 191 of the Constitution, to declare certain offices of profit as not disqualifying the holders of such office from being members of the State legislature.“Enacted in 1952, the Act has undergone minor amendments from time to time. However, such amendments have not taken into account the complexity of modern day governance. Further, these amendments to the said Act have not taken into account the reports and studies of various parliamentary committees which addressed the issue of office of profit. Therefore, the Cabinet felt the need to amend Section 2 of the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952,” said the statement.The Cabinet also authorised the Punjab Governor to approve and recommend the draft ordinance for promulgation, said the statement.Six advisersThe Punjab government had earlier this month appointed six Minister-rank advisers to the Chief Minister. Five Congress MLAs were given the status of Cabinet Ministers while the sixth was given the rank and status of a Minister of State.last_img read more

Katie Holmes’ stunning photo shoot

first_imgKatie Holmes, the woman with a million dollar smile, got a new uber chic look for a lifestyle magazine, which was reportedly shot days before she parted ways with husband of seven years, Tom Cruise.Katie, who used to keep a low profile when she was with actor husband Tom Cruise, looked very impressive in the photo shoot for C magazine’s September issue.Katie Holmes has now shifted her base to New York and is enjoying her work and family time with her parents and Suri.In the magazine, she sports four different looks. In one, she is seen in a ballgown, while for another she is sporting unkempt hair and is wearing a loose white shirt. The cover has gorgeous girl in a little black dress with her hair left open and flowing.last_img