Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 22nd Feb 2017 22:43 UTC
In the News

Not just one, but seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for biological signs of alien life outside of the solar system.

The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light years, or about 235 trillion miles, from Earth. That is quite close, and by happy accident, the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail.

One or more of the exoplanets - planets around stars other than the sun - in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water, astronomers said, based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star.

Science is awesome.

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RE[2]: Nice to hear
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 24th Feb 2017 03:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice to hear"
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I like many physicists, believe in the presence of a God, an unknowable entity behind creation, because I believe in the presence of a soul.

What's the significance of there being physicists who believe in a god? That seems like the "honour by association" fallacy (the inverse of "guilt by association). Einstein married his first cousin - yet the fact that he was a noted physicist doesn't automatically make that a good idea.

know a lot of intellectuals disagree with this notion of spirituality, but science and religion or science and faith go hand in hand. To have faith in there being something greater than ourselves outside of our understanding takes no greater leap of faith than believing science is the true answer to everything.

False Equivalence. The only aspect of science that's taken on "faith" is the assumption that natural phenomena have natural, non-magical causes. No one who properly understands science would claim that it is (or is intended to be) "the true answer to everything."

Really our greatest problems will be solved when we embrace both science and faith - faith to give us a moral and social grounding and science to advance us and our understanding of our surroundings.

Except that no positive correlation between religious faith and moral behaviour has ever been shown. In fact, there's statistics suggesting it's the opposite (at least when measured by the moral standards of most religions): the most religious areas of the US also have the highest (per capita) rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion, unwed mothers, etc.

To dismiss the spiritual is to bite off your nose to spite your face.

False dichotomy - a scientific worldview in no way precludes spirituality or religious belief. Off the top of my head, that's demonstrated by people like Kenneth Miller (a cell biologist & well known opponent of creationism, who's also a Catholic) and Robert Bakker (a paleontologist who's also a Pentecostal minister) - as well as the "physicists [who] believe in the presence of a God" that you mentioned earlier.

Many biologists are fixated on evolution as this disproves the creation stories in the Bible and therefore equate this to mean that its all a bunch of lies.

By "many," I take it you mean Dawkins? And who else...? Also, not sure if you're aware, but that's one of the favourite arguments used by "Young Earth" creationists - though it's usually stated a bit less subtly, along the lines of "people only accept evolution as a excuse for not believing in God."

In reality, biologists are "fixated" on evolution because it's a well-supported, robust theory that's also a major aspect of their fields of study. Would you also criticize computer scientists for being "fixated" on programming languages?

intelligence doesnt just pop into existence, our self awareness didnt just evolve there is a reason for our existence, we evolved, but our evolution was designed and intended to produce us.

I was agreeing that the rest of that paragraph, right up until this sentence. First of all, that claim doesn't pass the "Hitchen's Razor" test: "Positive claims require positive evidence; extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; and claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

Secondly, while my interests are more in cosmology and astronomy, I'm aware of several scientific explanations that have been proposed for the evolution of consciousness/sapience - for example:

Third, no one claims intelligence "pop[ped] into existence" (no one honest/informed, at least). It almost certainly came about as the result of a series of many small successive changes that compounded over large periods of time - just like every other trait that came about via evolution.

Its crazy how history gets corrupted, I mean at school I was taught that people actually believed the earth was flat, and scientists where killed trying to prove the earth was a sphere.

That's correct, though there are plenty of valid examples of religion holding back the advancement of knowledge by hundreds of years - with the persecution of Copernicus & Galileo (and anyone else who challenged Ptolemaic geo-centrism) being the obvious examples.

Without balance, without understanding, without morality, without humility we are all screwed.

On that point, I agree with you. But I see no reason to believe that religious faith is the only way, or the best way, or even a particularly good way to achieve that.

I'll cherry-pick humility, since this is already getting fairly long: in terms of making one conscious of their own insignificance in the grander scheme of things, religion doesn't hold a candle to science - especially the "big picture" fields like cosmology. The sum total of human history is barely even a rounding error when measured against the scales of time, size, and distance of our universe; every single atom that makes our bodies was part of something else before we existed, and will go on existing long after we're dead. I wouldn't exactly describe the comprehension of those concepts as "spiritual" experiences (if only because that seems horribly pretentious to me) - but to the extent that I've ever had any use for spirituality, that's been more than sufficient.

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