Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Assaulting Science-Islam's Claim: "Science Alone Is Not Enough for Humanity"

This article I am referencing can be found at Science-Islam

Mehdi Golshani [MG] claims that Science is not enough for humanity, we need religion (Islam).

This is based on 5 points which he laid out nicely so that I may deal with each in turn.  Thank you!
His points will be highlighted in blue

1) Science and technology have been used for the destruction of our fellow human beings and the pollution of our environment, and a large number of scientists have been working in military research establishments producing means of mass destruction, and unfortunately the scientific community has played a passive role in this regard.
   Well crap - political and religious affiliations and greed have forced us to use science and technology to harm other people/environments?  How is he defining science?  Science has really been in existence so long as man has possessed creativity.  We owe our houses and our clothing to scientific progress.  Surely MG enjoys being clothed.  Science can be used both constructively and destructively, but we need to advance our scientific understanding if we ever want to live in harmony with nature.  We must conduct studies and develop technology to know how to and to be able to interact properly with nature.  Good technology can be used to 'heal' nature and to reduce our impact on the earth.  Before modern technologies mankind still tore up the earth, made land infertile, and altered ecosystems.  Our scientific understanding has taught us how to treat the earth better.  For example we could farm land and then when the fields become depleted of nutrients clear more land and more land and keep moving.  People used to do this.  But we have learned about crop rotation and can figure out what crops to grow and when to keep the soil nutrients balance so that only one plot of land is used.  Genius!

Unfortunately military organizations do employ people to conduct research.  Is this 'sciences' fault?  Do religious people not believe in warfare?  Their holy books are filled with war and violence, so that can't be correct.  On its own pure science is not a weapon, different divisions must be in place for science to be used improperly.  Often the division are political, economic, or even RELIGIOUS.  No man made weapon has ever slaughtered more living creatures than did God when he flooded the earth - and no technology has ever been used to target only babies and slaughter them by the thousand as did God when he smote the first born of every Egyptian.  Not that I believe those things ever happened (they are not documented by any culture outside of the bible), but religious people believe they have occurred.  A true scientist performs research out of curiosity - it takes someone else to twist his work into a monstrosity.  Pure science operates outside of political and religious bodies - just look at all the global experiments in modern physics, for example the LHC brings together people worldwide to learn together - peacefully.

Science provides a way for us to help the earth and to live better - it is up to us as a race to choose how to use it. 

2) The goal of scientific activity has changed. Before the dawn of modern science, there were two main goals for the pursuit of scientific knowledge:
-   For some people, scientific activity satisfied their sense of curiosity about nature and its mysteries and beauties.
-   Another old popular view about the goal of scientific enterprise is the outlook of the monotheistic religions towards nature. Here, scientific activity is for the sake of understanding God’s Handiwork in nature and to make care of essential needs of human individuals and human societies.
During the twentieth century a third attitude toward science became prevalent: seeking science for its practical or material benefits. This view has become dominant among many of the contemporary governments of the world.

Stop. MG is clearly no scientist.  I been involved in scientific research at national laboratories, I have conducted research on the LHC with an international group of scientists.  Why do they work all day, go home, keep working, and get underpaid for their level of education and incredibly difficult work?  Because they are curious and love knowledge - they thirst to understand nature.  The first goal of scientific knowledge is still very much THE goal.

I am not convinced that the second goal MG lists was ever a goal of science.  To understand God's handiwork?  I guess the take care of humans part is a goal of science.  Hence modern medicine, even crop rotation aids humanity.  A lot of modern science is devoted to energy research so that we may secure a clean energy to aid future generations.  I don't understand how anyone could think scientific activity is no longer used to benefit humanity.  MG's idea that only monotheistic religions employed science is naive.  The Chinese were in no way monotheistic and they made the first great scientific advancements.  Many polytheistic cultures have used science (Think Greek).  Clearly his Islamic history lesson was distorted;  he is assuming that  understanding God's handiwork is different than a curiosity to understand nature (are the two not the same thing for a religious scientist?).  This portion of the second goal is then the same as the first goal.

MG's qualm about modern science is that it is used for practical or material benefits.  The scientist, that is, the researcher, is still conducting research because of his curiosity.  Only after the science is developed can the material products be made.  The material products are typically produced by engineers and they are made because of their benefits (one of which may be happiness).  Practical benefits are not a poor goal to work towards.  Because developing a cure for cancer is a practical benefit is MG suggesting that doing research towards such an end is wrong?  Many scientists do not even feel the field of medicine is a science however, in which case science is still typically a pursuit of knowledge because of curiosity.  Governments may invest in developing a certain item, be it weapons or clean energy, but this practical approach is not the scientists fault and many of the practical uses are beneficial.  Weapons will be developed because of outside pressures or backwards individuals - just as religious extremists will do extreme things, humans are not perfect.

3) Before the development of modern science, scientists had a more comprehensive outlook towards the study of nature and were after giving a unified picture of the world. All parts of science had to be accommodated within their holistic world view. We can see this attitude among all of the eminent Muslim scientists of the Islamic civilization and among the pioneers of modern science ( Galileo, Kepler , Newton, Boyle,…).
In our time, however, scientists have become specialists who are mostly concerned with their own specialty rather than being after a holistic view of nature.
One reason for the development of this attitude has been the absence of philosophical concern among scientists and the prevalence of an instrumentalist attitude among scientists ,being content with empirically adequate theories. The existence of some conceptual problems in some empirically successful theories, like quantum theory , has intensified this outlook.

First off - Modern Science -> arbitrary cut off point.  At what point does science become modern?
Anyway, is seems that scientists no longer are after giving a unified picture of the world, nope science does not need to holistic, or relate to the whole.  WHAT!? All the different areas of active science research are after the same overarching goal, a complete picture of nature/the universe! Does chemistry relate to physics and do both relate to biology?  Why yes.  All parts are necessary and all scientists care about the whole.

This poor man, MG, is upset because "modern science" requires so much education that scientists must specialize.  By the time graduate school is done with we are some where around 25 years old at least!  Science has progressed so far that there is a lot to learn, of course scientists specialize.  That does not mean that they are not longer working on pieces of the same whole.  That means that lay people may not understand intricate contemporary theories and therefore make crude assumptions, like MG's assumption that scientists have no philosophical concern.  Almost every lab has a research department and a theory department.  Theorists love to theorize, that is all they do!  They can do so without needing empirical evidence.  Philosophers interact with the scientific field too.  I suspect that MG idolizes scientists of the past because they did not have to specialize as much.  Science was not as advanced.  However, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton all specialized to an extent - for none were biologists!  All of them also used empirical evidence when it was available.  Theories often start without evidence, they were philosophical then and they are philosophical now.   This third point was absurd, someone needs to brush up on his philosophy of science*.

4) Modern science confines itself to the material real, and confers reality only to those things that can be rooted in sense data. 
Empirical verification is the court of ultimate appeal. Therefore, spiritual realities are considered either as unreal or reducible to physics. This has led to the negligence of God and the spiritual dimension of humankind and the separate development of science and culture, and it has led to the confinement of human beings to the material realm, with no higher aspiration than fulfilling their material needs.

What is this point addressing? Science is not enough for humanity was his thesis.  Science considers spiritual reality unreal.  Therefore, science is not enough?  So here MG is making the unmentioned and unwarranted assumption that either spiritual realities are real and/or humans have spiritual needs that need fulfilled.  This no longer even an attack on science but rather a bold assertion.  If humans cannot live happily without a sense of spirituality, than we should not find many atheists and certainly not any happy ones.  But many philosophers and scientists (...and probably other people too) are atheists and are content.

Empirical verification is our only means of verification.  As flawed as our senses are, we must still employ them.  We just cannot over rule reason with sensory data and should not be surprised when theories or past observations are shown to be wrong or misleading.  For example when we drop a rock we see it fall straight, it land directly beneath the point of release.  If the earth was rotating the rock should fall parabolically and land elsewhere, for the earth will have moved during flight.  Our senses tell us the rock fall straight, because we share the rotational motion with the rock therefore, we cannot observe it.  The rock really is falling parabolically, just not within our reference frame.  Our senses can easily be wrong.  Just because science neglects God or reduces his impact on the world/evidence to scientific standard does not at all imply that science is not enough.

5) It is a commonly held view in the scientific circles that science and ethics are two independent spheres of human concern.

...Depending on who you ask. If you ask a physicist what his study of super conductors says about ethics or whether he knows of physics research that makes a statement of ethics he would probably be confused and reply that ethics is not related to his study of inanimate material.  If you ask a biologist and/or a neuroscience researcher if there research is related to or makes statements about ethics they may tell you that it does.  The biological correlates of human ethics and behavior are becoming increasingly studied.  Just reading "Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions" by Victor S. Johnston, or Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values" will open your eyes to this growing field of research.

Atheists can be moral, religious people can use ethics to decide which parts of their holy books to ignore (typically the parts about killing people).  Ethics seem to come from an outside source.  The Greeks did not need gods to determine ethics.  Plato and Aristotle wrote brilliantly without the God of western religions.  This 5th point is an assumption.  An assumption that is becoming increasingly false.

If MG wishes to claim that Science is not enough for humanity than he must show what it is missing.  He is claiming we need God.  Science does not provide God.  Therefore, Science is not enough.  Well he must first demonstrate that we need God.  So far as I am concerned his argument was weak.

In his conclusion he states, "I don’t think that the commitment of Muslim scientists to the Islamic worldview would dissuade them from being equal partners in the world scientific community. The history of the glorious Islamic civilization is a good witness to this claim."  Is he talking about how the Islamic civilizations begun developing slower than the rest of the world?  The Islamic culture stagnated after the crusades both ethically and scientifically.  Where western civilization has yet to pervade the Islamic world they still stone people to death and fail to properly employ science.  I do not know what glorious civilization he is speaking of.  The most glorious portions of the Islamic community are those where the governments have at least partially shaken off the shackles of religious doctrine.

*The philosophy of science may be discussed in a later entry.

Monday, October 11, 2010

God's Omniscience and Free Will

Do we have free will? Do I have any choices in life? Am I writing this because I want to, or because god is forcing me to do it? Most of us would like to think we have a choice. Most of us believe in "free will" where we actually effectively choose our fate.

We must be careful where we place our beliefs. Is god omniscient? If he is truly the omnipotent, omnibenevolent, creator god, he must be omniscient. Omniscient meaning all knowing. By all, I mean god must know what is, what has, and what has not yet come for all eternity (past, present, and future). If that is the case, god knows what you will do before you do it. Since one cannot contradict god, you must choose as god has determined you will choose. Then, do you have free will?

Let us look at it from another perspective. You have the choice to continue reading this passage, or to stop right now and do an infinite end of other possibilities. For the sake of argument, we will leave it to either keep reading, or not. You have that choice, that fork in the road right now before you. If you are still reading, you have chosen as such. In the same instance of time, god knew you would choose as you did. God knew you would keep reading, and he has known this forever if he is a truly omniscient being. In that context, the fork you believe you are seeing is no fork at all. You cannot choose otherwise, or you would be defying god's omniscience. To do that, would deny god's existence.

I will end now, but I will most likely resume this post at a later time.

Monday, September 13, 2010


We can all agree that Greek, Roman, and other ancient extinct gods are nothing more than a humorous story that we point and laugh at. How so many people could believe that stars and planets were actually gods, and could dictate what happened on Earth. Since then, the term "Greek Theology" has been changed to "Greek Mythology", for it has been proven and is widely believed that no such gods exist. Both the Greeks and Romans had different names for their gods, and later the Romans took some of the Greek gods since they were better; they were all grouped and denied. A series of gods who were believed in by most religions at the time, were abandoned.

Afterward, another series of religions were created. They each had their own belief's on how the world worked, but all agreed that they came of one central god (again, with different names). These, however had their own books to spread the religion. Since my focus is on Christianity, I'll confine my story toward it.

The Christian god was first noted in the Book of Genesis, which is "the direct word of god" though written by man. Basically, some guy ran out and said, "Everyone listen! God has come to me in a vision, and told me to write this book. You too can have a copy for only $19.95 plus shipping and handling!" Okay, so the infomercial part probably didn't happen. Anyway, god's words were now on paper for all to learn. Fast forward a few years to "the virgin Mary", a woman who told a great story about how "an angel came from heaven, and told me I was to bear god's child" rather than confessing she had pre-marital sex. Thus, Jesus was born "of a virgin". After spending 20 some odd years of his mother telling him he was the son of god, Jesus believes so. One of my favorite stories is of Jesus restoring sight to a blind man.

Jesus walks up to an old beggar sitting by the street. He kneels down next to the man, and spits into some dirt, creating mud. He then smears the mud in the beggars eyes and the old man screams, "I'M BLIND! PLEASE HELP ME!" Jesus then tells the man to wash the mud from his eyes with water from a nearby stream. The man returns and exclaims, "You have cured me of blindness. You must be the son of god."

Another good one is when Jesus walks across water. I walk across water all the time. It's called a bridge. If that isn't good enough for you, I still walk on water all the time. Ever heard of ice? That's water buddy. For real, I'm not lying. I'll bet as Jesus walks across the ice, some fat guy broke the ice and fell in. Then it's a miracle. There are plenty of other "miracles of god" that are just as amusing, but I'm not going to get in to all of them.

Here's another thing I don't understand. God creates the world, universe, everything in it, including humans and all that in 7 days. If Adam and Eve are around then, when did the dinosaurs exist for centuries, and were after wiped out. All that came before Adam and Eve were around. Aside from that, if Adam and Eve were here on earth, knew god existed, why did they not tell all 600 or so kids they supposedly had to believe in him? There were the two of them who knew and conversed with god himself, and yet failed to convince their children to pass down that knowledge from generation to generation. After so many years there were hundreds of gods, from many different religions, when all their ancestors going back far enough were the direct creation of the one, Christian god.

Throughout history people have been brainwashed to the point that they have nothing but blind faith. At no point in their life do they even question anything about religion. I was born and raised by a catholic family. I was forced to attend church every sunday until I entered college. I am even friends with the priest. I've tried to figure out how all these people have been caught by what I believe is a tragic lie. Then it hit me. Like almost all catholics, they were born and raised into it. Forced to go to church, to got to church school, where they worked their way from baptism to confirmation. The catholic church has a perfect design to capture believers for many years to come. They mold children's minds, and teach them not to question, and not to actually think about what is said and what is happening. Better yet, the parents reinforce those ideals put forward by the church because they were brainwashed as children too. My mother and sister are perfect examples of this. My mother was raised much the same as I have been. Church was a commitment from birth, including church school as a child. In all her life, she has never questioned her faith. No matter what argument is put forth, no matter what is said, there is no thought. She ignores the question, and keeps on believing. Now, my sister went through the same thing. She has been going to church and church school from baptism to confirmation. She has since passed confirmation, and has no doubt in the existence of god. She is a strong believer in the catholic religion, and yet she knows almost nothing about the catholic religion. She is completely oblivious to any real text from the bible, and has no idea what I'm talking about when I argue against the existence of god.

There's a guy I used to work with, his name is Todd. Todd is another believer in god, however he only had one argument for the existence of god. His only line was "the bible says there will never be peace in the middle east. The proof is in the pudding!" Well, Todd, you're fucking retarded. because the real question is, will there ever truly be peace in the world at any point? The closest thing to true peace is Canada. They never get into any kind of international trouble, and the only thing keeping it from being labeled a truly peaceful place is the everyday crime. Todd says "there is peace right here in the U.S." No, actually the U.S. is in two wars right now. Just because the war isn't on American soil doesn't mean we are at peace. Even without the wars, there are thousands of murders, rapes, and robberies taking place daily. I wouldn't call that a peaceful nation. The day that nobody in the world is harmed in any way by another person is the day we have true peace. sadly, that day will never come.

Yet another thing; if god is up there, and has been forever, why doesn't he do something? If he is the omnipotent god he is believed to be, then why doesn't he show it? People pray for everything, but most of the time their prayers aren't answered. If this omnipotent god is up there, why does he kill so many innocent people? Natural disasters kill thousands, and he is the one who makes it happen. A big story breaks out, buried under the rubble people found a child alive after 4 days. A hundred thousand died, but that one is god's miracle. People die horrible deaths from diseases. God created those too. God created cancer, an incurable disease that kills almost everyone it touches, from the wicked to the kindest gentlest person you have ever met. God created cancer, and he gave it to millions of people. My grandmother died of cancer, and a good friends mother is currently battling cancer. She is one of the nicest people you have ever met, and she deserves to die of cancer? The answer is no. But hey, god's got a plan right? Just like the terrific planning he has for stillborn children. After a couple has a stillborn child they say "god planned on us getting through this" or "god didn't want to give her up yet, so he called her back." Wow. God had a plan for you to get over the stillborn child, but he had a terrible plan for that child. What is wrong with this picture? Yea sorry kid, you won't make it out of the womb alive. Too bad! There is a family that had a stillborn child, and it strengthened their faith in god. How does that make sense? Yea, sorry about giving you false hope in having a child, she won't live to see you. I personally was born 6 1/2 weeks early, and was taken straight to an incubator. I was given a 50/50 shot at life. My parents faith was strengthened when I came through alive. I wonder, had I died would they feel the same way?

I was forced to go to church weekly by my mom, in hopes that one day I would "come back" to god and believe whole hearted. listen, the only way I will ever believe god exists would be if god himself came down from heaven, walked across a lake that wasn't frozen, and gave me a swift kick in the balls. Then yell, "I EXIST ASSHOLE!" turn around, walk back across that lake, and then fly back up to heaven. Then, once I have made sure it wasn't some Hollywood scam, I might believe in god. Aside from that, it won't happen until I die and see him for myself. Just to let you all know, I'm faithful that neither will happen.

Now, I know this hasn't convinced all of you to become atheist, but I do hope that you now question your faith. I would rather have you think and believe than thoughtlessly submit to either belief or atheism.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Fish and Life Lessons

Recently, I have seen a lot of talk about how atheists respond to death, how they grieve/cope, and the advantages of religious beliefs. Many people, not myself, think that religion gives people any easy way to cope with the loss of loved ones. Religions typically prescribe the conditions of an afterlife and everyone assumes that their loved ones end up in the "good" portion of the afterlife. "Knowing" that the deceased have gone to "a better place" gives religious people solace - supposedly. I think most atheists overrate how placated believers are by the existence of a pleasant afterlife. We all still feel a vast sense of loss and thinking that your loved one is in a better place does not yield any less tearful nights (In my opinion). The sense of loss is still there, and nothing but time really closes the pit. If an afterlife does exist, then most people end up in the "bad" portion - irregardless of anyone's thoughts.

Big Fish, the movie, actually lays out an incredible concept: you are a sum of your stories. Just as the father lived on, so too to each of us go on to an afterlife consisting of the legacy we left behind, stories, memories, physical objects, anything. We live far past our life-spans in the "collective consciousness" of mankind. When an atheist losses a loved one we still need to grieve, but no more than our religious brethren. We posses the memories and the stories of those who passed. Simply remembering or sharing them brings the deceased to life and we can learn (over much time) to appreciate the joy they gave us and come to terms with the fact that they left their mark - their story is written, they have become the big fish. They will no longer grow and over time their stream will dwindle, but there is no reason to be more hurt by a loss than a religious person would be.

Of course if there was an afterlife that was paradise everyone would be ecstatic, we'd cherish death. However there is no good evidence for one and almost everyone is skeptical, otherwise we would happily embrace death and celebrate the passing of loved ones (some eccentric people do).

I may expand this later.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Leaving Jesusland

My last quick post.

NOFX hit home with their 2006 song "Leaving Jesusland", which luckily you can listen to below!
The lyrics are located immediately below that.  The current Mosque outrages across America really highlight the homogenized close minded country that Jesusland is creating.  The John Stewart post and this post go hand-in-hand.  


We call the heartland not very smartland, IQ's are very low but threat levels are high
They got a mandate, they don't want man-dates, they got so many hates and people to despise

In the dust bowl, cerebral black hole, the average weight is well over 200 pounds

I hate to generalize, but have you seen the thighs, most haven't seen their genitalia in a while

Maybe that's why they're so pissed at us

They're all jealous we're having better sex

Queers, transgends, and lesbians, vegans and vegetarians

All you brownish red and yellow ones come out and join us on the coast

No longer svelte, they gotta punch new holes in the Bible belt

They've blown out the fire under the melting pot, the red blood of America is starting to clot
No compromise, no sight thru others' eyes, they're just flies spreading pieces of shit
You gotta emigrate, stop living in hate, what makes this country great is dwelling on either side

They don't want visitors in Jesusland

They want life bland and canned in the fatherland

We want people with college degrees, drug use experience and STD's

People with open-minded philosophies, come hug California trees
Cultural revolution now, neo-conservatives run outta town
We're gonna burn Orange County down,
And then we're off to Riverside, Bakersfield and Fresno too, then we're comin' after you

The fear stricken, born again Christian, they got a vision a homogenized state

Texas textbooks, Bibles, and prayer books,
They want them memorized, but don't want you to think

They don't want visitors in Jesusland

They want life bland and canned in the fatherland

Punk Rockers and emo kids, people doin' things the church forbids

Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists we're moving out of jesusland
Art students and thespians, (excluding country) all the musicians
We want all hookers and comedians, nihilists are welcome too

No longer svelte, they gotta punch new holes in the Bible belt