Atheism is inconsistent with scientific method, prize-winning physicist says

#1
https://www.scientificamerican.com/artic...cist-says/

Marcelo Gleiser ... has won this year’s Templeton Prize. ... Across his 35-year scientific career, Gleiser’s research has covered a wide breadth of topics, ranging from the properties of the early universe to the behavior of fundamental particles and the origins of life. ... He is also the first Latin American to receive the prize. Scientific American spoke with Gleiser about the award.

[...] Why are you against atheism?

I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. "...even though I have no evidence for or against...” Period. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations. We say, “Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that.” And so an agnostic would say, look, I have no evidence for God or any kind of god [...] But on the other hand, an agnostic would acknowledge no right to make a final statement about something he or she doesn’t know about. “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” and all that. This positions me very much against all of the “New Atheist” guys—even though I want my message to be respectful of people’s beliefs and reasoning, which might be community-based, or dignity-based, and so on. ... It’s not just me; it’s also my colleague the astrophysicist Adam Frank, and a bunch of others, talking more and more about the relation between science and spirituality.

So, a message of humility, open-mindedness and tolerance. Other than in discussions of God, where else do you see the most urgent need for this ethos?

You know, I’m a “Rare Earth” kind of guy. I think our situation may be rather special, on a planetary or even galactic scale. So when people talk about [...] the ‘principle of mediocrity’ that states we should expect to be average and typical, I say, “You know what? It’s time to get beyond that.” When you look out there at the other planets (and the exoplanets that we can make some sense of), when you look at the history of life on Earth, you will realize this place called Earth is absolutely amazing. ... we are these amazing molecular machines capable of self-awareness, and all that makes us very special indeed. And we know for a fact that there will be no other humans in the universe ... we are unique products of our single, small planet’s long history.

The point is, to understand modern science within this framework is to put humanity back into kind of a moral center of the universe, in which we have the moral duty to preserve this planet and its life with everything that we’ve got, because we understand how rare this whole game is and that for all practical purposes we are alone. [...what...] we really need right now in this increasingly divisive world is a new unifying myth. ... It has to be a myth of our species, not about any particular belief system or political party. ... we can do that using astronomy ... to position ourselves and say, “Look, folks, this is not about tribal allegiance, this is about us as a species on a very specific planet that will go on with us—or without us.” I think you know this message well.

I do. But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment [...] Some would say now is not the time to be humble, given the rising tide of active, open hostility to science and objectivity around the globe. How would you respond to that?

This is of course something people have already told me: “Are you really sure you want to be saying these things?” [...] There is a difference between “science” and what we can call “scientism,” which is the notion that science can solve all problems. To a large extent, it is not science but rather how humanity has used science that has put us in our present difficulties. Because most people, in general, have no awareness of what science can and cannot do. So they misuse it, and they do not think about science in a more pluralistic way. ... Is it going to just be the technologist from Google who decides? Let us hope not! You have to talk to philosophers, you have to talk to ethicists. And to not understand that, to say that science has all the answers, to me is just nonsense. ... the world is too complex, and science has methodological powers as well as metodological limitations.

[...] There is a quote from the physicist Frank Oppenheimer that fits here: “The worst thing a son of a bitch can do is turn you into a son of a bitch.” Which is profane but brilliant. I’m not going to lie about what science can and cannot do because politicians are misusing science and trying to politicize the scientific discourse. I’m going to be honest about the powers of science so that people can actually believe me for my honesty and transparency. If you don’t want to be honest and transparent, you’re just going to become a liar like everybody else. Which is why I get upset by misstatements, like when you have scientists—Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss among them—claiming we have solved the problem of the origin of the universe, or that string theory is correct and that the final “theory of everything” is at hand. Such statements are bogus. So, I feel as if I am a guardian for the integrity of science right now; someone you can trust because this person is open and honest enough to admit that the scientific enterprise has limitations—which doesn’t mean it’s weak!

MORE (details): https://www.scientificamerican.com/artic...cist-says/
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#2
Any intellectually honest person already knows all this, and that much of the "open hostility to science and objectivity" comes from the left, with their denial of two genders with inherent differences, evolutionary psychology, and the actual impacts of there policies.
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#3
Quote:It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. "...even though I have no evidence for or against...” Period. It’s a declaration.

I have said this about belief in anything for decades. If you want to believe in something then go ahead. But one must understand it's a belief, it's personal. If declaring it makes you feel better than by all means declare. The most difficult thing about religious belief isn't proving it, it's keeping it to yourself. 

I'm getting up there in age and I'm probably in the last quarter/third of my life. Many of the friends I grew up with were at the most agnostics as we grew older. Now I find there are more and more of them beginning to wonder about afterlife & God. Call it the Foxhole Syndrome effect if you like but it's obvious to me that Pascal's Wager is being played here. I haven't got to that point and don't know if I ever will. 

Here's my attitude and I guess it could be construed as a wager but I've maintained it all my life. If there's a God then I think he/she/it would appreciate the fact that the total lack of evidence regarding He/she/it's existence means the atheists of the world came to the only logical conclusion possible....No reason for believing in God. Pretty simple. So simple that a god couldn't argue it.
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#4
You seem to have trouble keeping your atheistic belief to yourself.

Your "only logical conclusion possible" is just that, your belief, as you cannot successful argue such an absolute statement. "It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief..." That you've convinced yourself that would be enough to avoid any potential eternal consequences is quaint. At the very least, you deny the evidence that exists within your fellow man, of whom a vast majority have some sense of something greater or divine. A sense compelling enough to not require tangible proof...like accepting that someone loves you without any grand, heroic gesture as irrefutable evidence.

But then, maybe such people don't really believe in love, except as a moment to moment contingency or convenient social construct.
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#5
(Mar 21, 2019 05:02 PM)Syne Wrote: You seem to have trouble keeping your atheistic belief to yourself.

Your "only logical conclusion possible" is just that, your belief, as you cannot successful argue such an absolute statement. "It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief..." That you've convinced yourself that would be enough to avoid any potential eternal consequences is quaint. At the very least, you deny the evidence that exists within your fellow man, of whom a vast majority have some sense of something greater or divine. A sense compelling enough to not require tangible proof...like accepting that someone loves you without any grand, heroic gesture as irrefutable evidence.

But then, maybe such people don't really believe in love, except as a moment to moment contingency or convenient social construct.

Well, good for you. No really, good for you. If you're happy about your choice then be my guest. 

However, belief in a deity is to me, one of the most pointless things to argue about. You won't get one from me. Say what you want about atheism, I don't care, really I don't. I don't know if there's a description for those who couldn't care less about arguing a belief. I might toss in a question or two re facts but what can I really say about atheism/theism that can prove one or the other correct? If one disappears the other will probably take over. Whoop-de-doo.
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#6
I am an atheist but only in the sense that I am also an a-mermaidist, an a-satyrist, or an a-unicornist. There's simply no reason to posit a being for which there is not a shred of evidence. And the fact that many people believe in God is an argument ad populum. IOW, it doesn't make it true that people believe in it.
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#7
(Mar 21, 2019 05:16 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote:
(Mar 21, 2019 05:02 PM)Syne Wrote: You seem to have trouble keeping your atheistic belief to yourself.

Your "only logical conclusion possible" is just that, your belief, as you cannot successful argue such an absolute statement. "It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief..." That you've convinced yourself that would be enough to avoid any potential eternal consequences is quaint. At the very least, you deny the evidence that exists within your fellow man, of whom a vast majority have some sense of something greater or divine. A sense compelling enough to not require tangible proof...like accepting that someone loves you without any grand, heroic gesture as irrefutable evidence.

But then, maybe such people don't really believe in love, except as a moment to moment contingency or convenient social construct.

Well, good for you. No really, good for you. If you're happy about your choice then be my guest. 

However, belief in a deity is to me, one of the most pointless things to argue about. You won't get one from me. Say what you want about atheism, I don't care, really I don't. I don't know if there's a description for those who couldn't care less about arguing a belief. I might toss in a question or two re facts but what can I really say about atheism/theism that can prove one or the other correct? If one disappears the other will probably take over. Whoop-de-doo.
Same to you, with your choice. Just pointing out that it's rather silly to talk about someone not keeping their beliefs to themselves while expressing your own.

Your "only logical conclusion possible" belies your professed nonchalance. Just because you're not willing to argue it doesn't make it any less a belief. Plenty of people hold beliefs they neither examine nor could argue.



(Mar 21, 2019 05:27 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: I am an atheist but only in the sense that I am also an a-mermaidist, an a-satyrist, or an a-unicornist. There's simply no reason to posit a being for which there is not a shred of evidence. And the fact that many people believe in God is an argument ad populum. IOW, it doesn't make it true that people believe in it.

Never said enough people believing makes anything true, so that would be a straw man. Only that its prevalence is evidence of something, even if only an evolutionary propensity to see significance in patterns...like your ghosts and UFOs.
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#8
Quote:Only that its prevalence is evidence of something, even if only an evolutionary propensity to see significance in patterns...like your ghosts and UFOs.

There are thousands of eyewitness accounts and photos and videos of ghosts and ufos. There is no such evidence for God. He is a literary character from ancient fables. People believing in him is evidence of nothing. You might as well believe in lightning bolt-hurling Zeus. Is Zeus a "pattern" too?
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#9
I am, but if we discovered otherwise, I'd change my mind. However, if it turned out to be a God like the three major religions describe, I'd walk away. 

Went to a funeral about a month ago. It was a close relative of this friend.

Great guy. A World War II vet…Normandy. He made everyone feel like they were part of his family. I loved our visits. Someone said that he was an outstanding citizen and he was. Here he was a nineteen year old boy, jumping out into the beach, and climbing over dead bodies. The guy next to him, blown all to hell. He takes some shrapnel to the leg, and immediately falls down, pretending to be dead. He laid there until he heard American voices. He suffered from PTSD his entire life.

His daughter; (extremely religious) started off his eulogy well by saying that he was her rock. Always there and even during the most difficult times he would never even flinch. But it went downhill from there. She went on to say that when he was dying she was very concerned that she wouldn’t see him again in heaven because of some of the things he had done during the war. She told him that she needed reassurance and asked him if he believed that Jesus died for our sins. He said, yes. She then asked him if he accepted Jesus as his savior. He said, yes.

Next up, pastor so-and-so, who then gave a salvation message and went on and on about his concern over this man and all of us making into heaven.

They have an exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. You walk around a circle and there’s pictures of each veteran with telephones next to them. You pick up the phone and it’s a recording of them telling their story about the war. It’s one of the saddest things that I’ve ever listened to.

In my mind* "We sent him there, you fucking idiot. He was only nineteen. If there was a heaven, your ungrateful ass would never make it in. So, STFU!"  (Keep quiet and walk away. It’s just people being people.)
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#10
Quote:Your "only logical conclusion possible" belies your professed nonchalance. Just because you're not willing to argue it doesn't make it any less a belief. Plenty of people hold beliefs they neither examine nor could argue.

Again, believe whatever you want. Why defend a belief.....could it be because the believer can’t keep it private? What makes a belief worth defending?
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