Re: [humanism-174] Excellent and Informative Description of Science

From: Mark R. O.
Sent on: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:50 AM
Randy:

In my response to Chris on Nov. 23 I wrote:
"Dogma, is a doctrine; tenet; belief.  Ritual, a set form
or system of rites,
religious or otherwise.  Science, politics,
humanism, all have
dogma and ritual, and spots even more
so."  

You are using:

a: something held as an established opinion; especially; a definite authoritative
tenet.  (Tenet as defined by http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenet?show=0&t=1355071218,
A principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially: one held in common by members
of an organization, movement, or profession.) b: A code of such tenets <pedagogical dogma>
c: A point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds. 

I then put forth the following definition, on Nov. 25.

Dogma
1. That which is held as an established opinion;
esp., a definite and authoritative tenet, also a
code or formulation of such tenets, as by a
school of art or philosophy; as by pedagogical 
dogma

I've been consistent in context.  You are not, this is the first
time you, literally, defined dogma.   The next obstacle seems
to be "established opinion", using the dictionary you referenced,
we have the following: 

Establish
1: to institute (as a law) permanently by enactment or agreement
2obsolete : settle 7
3a : to make firm or stable
b : to introduce and cause to grow and multiply <establish grass on pasturelands>
4a : to bring into existence : found <established a republic>
b : bring about, effect <established friendly relations>
5a : to put on a firm basis : set up <establish his son in business>
b : to put into a favorable position
c : to gain full recognition or acceptance of <the role established her as a star>
6: to make (a church) a national or state institution
7: to put beyond doubt : prove <established my innocence>

Opinion:
1a : a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter
b : approval, esteem
2a : belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge
b : a generally held view
3a : a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert
b : the formal expression (as by a judge, court, or referee) of the legal reasons and principles
upon which a legal decision is based

Establish, the context I am using is 5. a, b, and c.
Opinion, the context I am using is 2, b. and I can accept
3.a.   This is the context in which I believe science, the system,
to be dogma.  To put it together: Dogma
1. That which is held as full recognition or acceptance
of a generally held view, esp. (but not necessarily), a definite
and authoritative tenet, also a code or formulation of such tenets,
as by a school of art or philosophy; as by pedagogical 
dogma.  All I did here was to establish the context and
define the terms within the definition.  I have not changed
the definition or the context.  The system that is science is
dogma. 

"Given that I have taught science for 21 years, hold at least one degree in a scientific discipline
(geology), and have had more than the minimum college level coursework in chemistry, biology,
and physics, I think it safe to say I know a great deal more about the body of knowledge we call
science, as well as the methodologies of science, than you. For you to say otherwise only reveals
you for the fool you have shown yourself to be in this exchange. But I'm sure you will find some
way to dismiss this difference in background and continue to convince yourself that you are as
qualified to discuss the subject of science as myself. Must be a happy delusion for you."


I don't know how you are able you make this claim.  I was, for 15 years a
forensic photographer.  My background was in physics and chemistry. 
My mentor was Mr. R. C. Hakanson.  I was a member of the Society of
Photographic Scientists and Engineers.  For you to say otherwise only reveals
you for the fool you have shown yourself to be in this exchange.
 
Back at you. 


"My use of the examples are exactly on point. You essentially claimed that Coel's essay
implied that a person is or can be called a scientist because they use the methods of
science. I simply pointed out that this is not true and used the carpentry and plumbing
examples to make that point. Furthermore, even if Coel did imply this (which I don't think
he did) then I would make the same argument with him. Coel would be wrong. You are not
a scientist because you use the methods of science to solve problems in your personal life
or in your chosen career or vocation, unless that vocation happens to be one of the many
disciplines of science itself."


The reference of this debate is only Coel's essay,  My use of my
profession is not logically reversible.  I assert that Coel's essay overtly
implies that anyone can be considered a scientist.   In this a carpenter
or plumber who investigates a problem by using observation and
reason. 
You went left this reference when you said: "I can build a cabinet
but this does not make me a carpenter. I can fix some plumbing in my home,
but this does not make me a plumber..."   The reference is Coel's essay,
he asserts that anyone who uses observation and reason is using science. 
Defining what makes a plumber a plumber is not within Coel's essay. 


"What I said was that this statement does not, nor any of the others in his essay, imply
that you are a scientist because you happen to use the "same rules of evidence and
reason" that scientists use in solving scientific problems or seeking answers to scientific
questions."


I gave you a specific passage the supports my position. 
You now have the burden to respond with whatever passage(s)
that supports you position.  Please show me what passage
supports your claim that, "A scientist is defined and described not
simply by the methods he or she uses, but also by the extent of his
or her training in those methods."  Again, one of Coel's concluding
paragraphs is "So the natural world is a unified whole and all aspects of that world and all areas of
human interest are accessible to investigation using observation and reason. And because the natural
world is a unified whole the resulting knowledge we gain about that world is a seamless entity in which
the same rules of evidence and reason apply throughout."
Please explain how this does not apply to plumbers, carpenters or
anyone else.  Coel uses the 'you' not the word scientists in his
concluding remarks. 

"Finally, this diversion into a discussion about Coel's essay does not provides you an escape
from addressing my original, and as of yet uncontested, charge that you have not provided a
convincing argument accompanied by evidence and/or examples, to support your original claim
that science is a dogma. Thus far you have offered only a definition and then one assertion
after another and nothing more." 


This debate is centered over the word dogma.  My evidence is
the only evidence that one can logically assert.  The framework is
Natural Language, the only authority regarding natural language is
the dictionary.  Or is it your assertion that there is no authority
regarding language? 


M. Orel

On[masked]:52, Randy Pelton wrote:
See my comments below in red.


From: Mark R. Orel <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Monday, December 3,[masked]:06 AM
Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Excellent and Informative Description of Science

Randy: 

Okay: 

"I in fact did not deny it. I argued that (1) it is incomplete and that
(2) it does not apply to science in the form you offered it and even less
so with the additions that I and Tim made to the definition.


The definition was complete. It was complete for the dictionary you used. Incomplete in that it leaves out components of the meaning of the word found in other dictionaries. Refer to the post I sent you yesterday with some examples of these definitions.  I gave both the secular and
theological definitions.  Did you read what you wrote?
"...with the additions that I and Tim made to the definition."
I didn't know you were both lexicographers. 

Not a lexicographer. Just one who does not treat a specific dictionary as holy scripture. However, I will concede that my phrasing did not carry the clarity for which I was aiming.I did not mean to imply that I was taking upon myself authority to add to the definition. What I was adding to the definition you offered is meaning found in other dictionaries. What I added was not of my own making. The definition you provided is incomplete because it does not contain the other components of the meaning of dogma. I sent you another e-mail, which I am sure you have already read, that contains dictionary definitions that incorporate the additions I spoke of. I did not create this definition. It is out there in other dictionaries and in common usage. Just because it is not in the dictionary you used does not mean the word does not have the additional meaning that I have been arguing it does. I have given you examples that clearly demonstrate this. All this said, it is all irrelevant to the point I have made several times now, and will repeat in the hopes that you will actually address it: science is not dogma because it is not a set of "established opinions".  Again, this is because all conclusions in science and all the foundational tenets of science are based on evidence, and while some opinions may be based on some evidence, this is not a requirement for it to be an opinion. All conclusions in science require evidence.
 
"The only thing to which I will agree to disagree with is that you
know what the hell you are talking about when it comes to the

subject of science and dogma."  
Back at you.

Given that I have taught science for 21 years, hold at least one degree in a scientific discipline (geology), and have had more than the minimum college level coursework in chemistry, biology, and physics, I think it safe to say I know a great deal more about the body of knowledge we call science, as well as the methodologies of science, than you. For you to say otherwise only reveals you for the fool you have shown yourself to be in this exchange. But I'm sure you will find some way to dismiss this difference in background and continue to convince yourself that you are as qualified to discuss the subject of science as myself. Must be a happy delusion for you.

Regarding religion and morals:  Yes religions are fractured. 
Yes, morals do vary in one way or another from religion to
religion.  That is my point, while a particular religion may
see their set of morals as absolute another religion may
have another set of absolutes.  One purpose of religion is
to teach these absolutes to the faithful.  The fact that no
absolute exists allows for other sets of morals to flourish. 
This in turn allows religion to flourish and self-propagating.   

"I can build a cabinet but this does not make me a carpenter.
I can fix some plumbing in my home, but this does not make
me a plumber. A scientist is defined and described not simply
by the methods he or she uses, but also by the extent of his or
her training in those methods
."  Your point is well taken but not
valid.  The examples I gave are not contrary, we are not defining
carpentry or plumbing.  I never said we were. You obviously did not understand my use of the examples. My use of the examples are exactly on point. You essentially claimed that Coel's essay implied that a person is or can be called a scientist because they use the methods of science. I simply pointed out that this is not true and used the carpentry and plumbing examples to make that point. Furthermore, even if Coel did imply this (which I don't think he did) then I would make the same argument with him. Coel would be wrong. You are not a scientist because you use the methods of science to solve problems in your personal life or in your chosen career or vocation, unless that vocation happens to be one of the many disciplines of science itself. In this case the burden of proof is on you. For what claim is the burden of proof on me? It was you, not I, who claimed that Coel implied something that he did not explicitly say. It was you who read "between the lines" and suggests there is something more there than what the words themselves actually convey.
Where does he imply anything other than: So the natural world is
a unified whole and all aspects of that world and all areas of human
interest are accessible to investigation using observation and reason.
And because the natural world is a unified whole the resulting
knowledge we gain about that world is a seamless entity in which
the same rules of evidence and reason apply throughout.
 
How does this not apply to everyone?  Did not say this doesn't apply to everyone. Perhaps it does. What I said was that this statement does not, nor any of the others in his essay, imply that you are a scientist because you happen to use the "same rules of evidence and reason" that scientists use in solving scientific problems or seeking answers to scientific questions.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14213-talmud

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2368-bahya-ben-joseph-ibn-pakuda

The Talmud is an incredible set of documents.


Finally, this diversion into a discussion about Coel's essay does not provides you an escape from addressing my original, and as of yet uncontested, charge that you have not provided a convincing argument accompanied by evidence and/or examples, to support your original claim that science is a dogma. Thus far you have offered only a definition and then one assertion after another and nothing more.   



M. Orel



On[masked] 16:49, Randy Pelton wrote:
"At this point we will have to accept that we disagree."

You may be satisifed to to do this. But for me this is simply a rephrasing of the wishy-washy "let's agree to disagree" statement, a weaselly way of squirming out of an argument for which you are ill-equipped to continue. You have run out of intellectual ammo and are now running for the hills. You have failed to directly engage and address most of the points I have made throughout this argument. In some cases you have misrepresented my arguments, such as when you charge that I have denied the definition of dogma that you offered. I in fact did not deny it. I argued that (1) it is incomplete and that (2) it does not apply to science in the form you offered it and even less so with the additions that I and Tim made to the definition. Finally, those few points of mine along the way that you did engage with were handled with such poor skill that it is no wonder you are now resorting to the "agree to disagree" tactic. The only thing to which I will agree to disagree with is that you know what the hell you are talking about when it comes to the subject of science and dogma.

"I'm referring to religion in its entirety." 

You will need to explain to me what it means to look at religion in this way. Since religion is so highly fractured into both major divisions and smaller denominations, and within these ranks are minor and major squabbles over what they should believe, I find it hard to understand how you can draw any conclusions worth consenting to about what religion naturally or inherently leads to, including moral prescriptions. 

 "I will only add that it is redundant to use the phrase 'provisional truth' as all truth is provisional.  There are no absolute truths."

While I agree with you that there are no absolute truths, you and I aren't the only people on the planet. There are many who believe otherwise. I and you, of course, think them wrong. But the fact that so many people do believe there are absolute truths, and since you and I cannot provide absolute proof that there are none, I will continue to use the two-category system in conversation with the rest of the world. I will try to remember, however, to not use the descriptor "provisional" in future conversations with you.

"Why does religion exits (sic) and persist?  I think it is because morality is not an absolute."

I fail to see how the question is answered or explained by the statement that follows. You offer no argument here, let alone one that would compel a person to accept the claim as true. Offer an argument and maybe I can be convinced of the truth of the claim you are making. I am doubtful that religion persists because morality is not absolute. I am also doubtful that you could get anywhere near a majority of those more knowledgeable on this subject than you or I to agree with this claim.

"In order to propagate moral beliefs they have to be taught.  Religion serves this easily and neatly."

I don't disagree that one of the functions of or roles played by religion is to teach morality. But you don't get to make the claim uncontested that religion in general teaches morals that are not absolute. You don't get to dismiss, as you appear to be doing, that religion in general is excessively dominated by the three monotheistic religions to which I referred. These three religions account for about 55% of the world's population. And they ALL three teach absolute morals, not relative morals. They all three teach absolute truths, not provisional truths. A little less than half (19.4%) of the rest of the world's population are adherents of Hinduism and Buddhism, two religions that arguably don't teach moral prescriptions, or if you can call what they teach morals, their approach differs markedly from that of the dominant religions mentioned previously. It seems that, if anything, religion in general is conflicted about whether morals are absolute or not. The three dominant religions teach that they are and the next two in size teach they are not or ignore the issue altogether. Thus fails your claim that religion in general teaches there are no absolute truths nor absolute morals. If religion in general led to and taught a non-absolute code of moral "truths" then it makes no sense that there are more adherents of religions that teach absolute morals than of religions that do not. The numbers are oddly the opposite of what should be the case if what you claim were true.

"I am not saying that one cannot have morals without religion.  I am only saying it makes it is easier to teach."

The fact that religion makes morals easier to teach has no relevance to the fact that the world's dominant religions teach morals and truths as dogmas and science does not teach nor employ dogma.

 "By defining science as broadly as Coel does, anyone and everyone can define themselves as a scientist.   As example, I am a carpenter and now a plumber, by Coel's definition when I have a plumbing or carpentry problem and as I investigate the solution I am preforming science and therefore a scientist."  

You are not a scientist because you employ the methods or techniques of science. I can build a cabinet but this does not make me a carpenter. I can fix some plumbing in my home, but this does not make me a plumber. A scientist is defined and described not simply by the methods he or she uses, but also by the extent of his or her training in those methods. You are not a scientist because you don't have this level of training nor the credentials and education that accompany this training and the label. I have far more training in science than do you but I too am not a scientist. Coel's definition does not imply that one is a scientist simply because he or she uses the methods of science in investigating some problem, topic, issue. You are putting words into Coel's mouth that he did not utter. Until I hear directly from Coel that he implied what you are saying he implied, I do not accept that he implied this. And you also don't know that he implied this. You are simply projecting your own thought process onto what Coel said. I draw no more from his words than what he actually said. You are taking a leap into unsupported conjecture.

"This is a basic tenant (sic) of Judaism."

Finally, please provide a reference or two to the above claim so that I may read for myself where one of the fundamental tenets of Judaism is that "you should be continually seeking to do better, testing your conclusions, and checking for biases."  Again, you make a claim without providing any support for the claim. It seems to me that if this is what practitioners of Judaism have been and should be doing, then Judaism would have talked itself right out of existence. Likewise for Christianity in all its many brands, Islam, Hinduism and even the more spiritual, mystical forms of Buddhism and other minor religions.

Randy

Source for percentages cited in this post: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups


From: Mark R. Orel <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Sunday, December 2,[masked]:27 PM
Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Excellent and Informative Description of Science

Randy: 


Your second point first: Nor have you provided a
convincing argument that science is not dogmatic. 
An established opinion neither requires or demands
evidence to be empirically derived.  At this point we will
have to accept that we disagree.  I will only add that it is
redundant to use the phrase 'provisional truth' as all
truth is provisional.  There are no absolute truths. 

To your fist question: You are looking at religion from
the perspective of specific religions.  I'm referring to
religion in its entirety.  Why does religion exits and
persist?  I think it is because morality is not an
absolute.  In order to propagate moral beliefs they
have to be taught.  Religion serves this easily and
neatly.  This is not the only function religion serves
I am only addressing your question here. 

I am not saying that one cannot have morals without
religion.  I am only saying it makes it is easier to teach. 

I would like to add one other thing.  By defining science
as broadly as Coel does, anyone and everyone can
define themselves as a scientist.   As example, I am a
carpenter and now a plumber, by Coel's definition when
I have a plumbing or carpentry problem and as I investigate
the solution I am preforming science and therefore a scientist. 
His definition goes even further, by his definition one can argue,
and I am, that a theologian can also be defined as a scientist. 
"Science entails an obligation to do the best you can. It is acceptable
to draw conclusions from limited data if you have nothing more; and
you can do without rigorous controlled experiments if they are
impractical. But to be scientific you should be continually seeking to
do better, testing your conclusions, and checking for biases.
"
This is a basic tenant of Judaism.  Though it does not apply to
all theologians, it does apply for those who are still searching
and asking the difficult questions. 

When you cast with a wide net you will usually be surprised
at what you find.  I do like his definition, we are all scientists,
though for those whose profession is science, they may
prefer a more concise definition of science.  
 

M. Orel 


On [masked]:24, Randy Pelton wrote:
I am puzzled by this statement of yours:

" "He also believes that morality is not absolute, this gives credence to religion."

How, exactly does Coel give credence to religion by arguing that morality is not absolute? You must have a very different understanding of religion from that of myself and everyone else I know. At the very least, the three large monotheistic religions - Christianity, Islam, Judaism - claim moral absolutes.

I did not deny the definition of dogma that you offered. As I said before, I reject your contention that this definition and therefore the term dogma applies to science. Again, the system of science is not dogmatic. You have not provided a convincing argument that science is dogmatic. The definition you provided is not evidence that science is dogmatic. Science, to repeat once again, is not a collection of "established opinions." The underlying, foundational tenets of science are not a set of "established opinions." It is true that these tenets were discovered and developed by a body of experts, who may be described as a body of authorities. But these tenets upon which the scientific enterprise is built are not opinions. Since dogma is founded upon opinions and science is not, science is not based on a dogma. As I said before, the conclusions derived by science through its examination of empirically-derived evidence, and tenets upon which the entire enterprise rests, are provisional truths, based on evidence, observation and testing. The standard of evidence required for these conclusions is significantly higher than the standard required for an "established opinion." In fact, as I have said before, an opinion, established or not, does not require evidence whereas evidence is an indispensable component of science and scientific conclusions.


Randy







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