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Leap of Faith

Science versus religion

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Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
26-Nov-2009 20:53 Message #3043286
Have been wondering, how is that someone who is unable to believe in god, is able to believe that atoms exist?

Who ever saw an atom? They are very small. If you believe that atoms exist, then you are just taking someone else's word for it. You can't see them. How do you know that they are there?

Is your ability to believe or not believe in something that you can not feel, see, touch, smell, hear affected by who is delivering the message?

Why is it easier to believe a scientist than a preacher? Or, vice versa, of course?
oneofak1nd  Female  Lincolnshire
26-Nov-2009 22:01 Message #3043630
Exactly, Ltd.. they use those microthingies..
brisinger  Male  Lancashire
26-Nov-2009 22:01 Message #3043633
But atoms have been seen to exist. Take the experiment on the particle accelerator just the other day :):)
Argonaut  Male  Lancashire
26-Nov-2009 22:24 Message #3043728

I have just been watching the latest programme in a series that I have been avidly following, called "A History of Christianity" - I wonder how many believers have been watching the series?

Do you know how many variations of Christianity there are? How many variations of Judaism there are? How many variations of Islam there are?

The answers to those questions is immaterial - what is important is the fact that there are so many variations in a belief system - and why? The simple answer is: people make it up as they go along! Why do they make it up as they go along? The simple answer is because there is no evidence to show that what they believe in exists!

People visualise an atom as a group of Neutrons and Protons clumped together as a core with electrons whizzing around them in orbit. That, of course, is just a model that helps to explain some of the fundamental properties that have been discovered about the atom - for instance, it helps to explain an atom's atomic weight and valency, it also helps to illustrate various other more complex attributes of atoms - and when you get a group of them clumped together, they then help to explain the properties of chemical compounds.

Wherever you go in the world and, provided the other person has a rudimentary knowledge of atomic structure, these models are UNIVERSAL - no variance at all. It is only when you get into the higher echelons of atomic physics that a more complex model is required yet this more complex model is just an extrapolation of the simpler model.

How can one NOT believe in such a model?

I have found that some of the most devout believers in God know so precious little about him/her/it, religion, and theology!

Clueless-John  Male  Devon
26-Nov-2009 22:36 Message #3043767

May I point out the difference between knowledge and belief...

Knowing something exists (ie the atom) because there is physical proof of its existence...Electron-microscopy has proved without doubt the existence of atomic particles...

Believing something exists (ie God) is based purely on faith and requires no proof (well, maybe a bit of brainwashing)...
MikeMcc  Male  Hertfordshire
26-Nov-2009 22:43 Message #3043786
science requires predictions to be made, and experiments to be devised to prove or disprove hypotheses. It deals with the very real even when we can't directly access the objects that are being examined with our own limited senses.

Belief is simply that, it doesn't require evidence.
Spartacus  Male  Carmarthenshire
27-Nov-2009 00:31 Message #3044000
A scientist doesn't demand belief; a preacher does.

A scientist says "look, here are these theories, and here is evidence to support them, to say that x is made up of y, and this is what y looks like" - there is, if you like, a chain of evidence from self-evident truths right through to the weird stuff. You don't require faith to follow it, though you may have to take some of it on trust when it gets to the point where you need your own tunnelling electron microscope to reproduce the proofs. It's why scientific integrity is so important - we have to have that web of trust if science is to maintain credibility.

A preacher, on the other hand, will not expect to offer you documented proof, and repeatable experiments, to support his case. He will tell you that, so long as you believe fervently enough, live your life according to the tenets of the faith in question, and perhaps make some kind of donation to the church roof fund (it's "indulgences", 21st century style ;) ), you, too can share in the "knowledge" that god loves you.

Science is objective; religion subjective. That's why I find scientists easier to believe than preachers.
Steve1959  Male  Nottinghamshire
27-Nov-2009 00:50 Message #3044018
You don't have to see an atom as the proof is in our very being and the way the evidence is presented

As for faith then you need not look further than your nose end as it needs no proof
Steve1959  Male  Nottinghamshire
27-Nov-2009 00:56 Message #3044026
'Religeon also is progresive'. How on earth can you say that or anyone with an incling!

You actually said religeon is progressive...Man you need a wake up call like I need a woman
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
27-Nov-2009 08:09 Message #3044078
My goodness, you lot were up late! I thought this thread had sunk like a lead balloon! I will have to come back to this to read the replies properly.

I should say that I am a chemist by profession here and tinkered with all sorts of fun gadgets when I worked in the lab. Thing is, I have never ever seen an atom and I am taking someone else's word for it, to a degree.
You don't actually see atoms, the instruments only measure and record their effect on their surroundings and use some means of giving you a diagram or picture as a representation of those effects. Just like, you don't see radio waves either, only hear the music and speech from a gadget that converts the electromagnetic energy.
Although, I think that there are microscopes nowadays that do allow you to see individual molecules, but that is a comparatively recent development.

Oh, and I do not believe that the ancient scriptures are proof of anything, except that someone else believed the same things millennia ago. They may prove the existence of religion, but not of the existence of god. As a trained scientist, I would want to see a bit more than a heap of dusty manuscripts as proof.

As a scientist, I have also been trained to ask questions, some times uncomfortable ones, so why not question why people set so much faith in science too?. Much in science is not nearly as cut and dried as people think. It is a collection of theories that people have set out to prove or disprove. In many cases, on the balance of the evidence available, you are able to show that the theory is probably correct..
Argonaut  Male  Lancashire
27-Nov-2009 09:40 Message #3044114

You seem obsessed with the idea that there is a supreme being who created the Universe and all within it.

If you have so much awe and respect for this 'creator' then why don't you take a little time out and study some of his creations? Isn't that the most appropriate way of 'loving' him/her/it/them?

How much do you know about chemistry?
How much do you know about biology?
How much do you know about physics?
How much do you know about mathematics?
How much do you know about cosmology?
In fact, how much do you know about anything scientific?

Maybe if you did invest in some scientific studies you would be less prone to making contentious statements.

Hint: Spend a few years studying, in depth, Anthropology and Psychology and you'll get a good idea of why and how religions developed.

Orson  Male  Tayside
27-Nov-2009 10:44 Message #3044175
Orson wonders how a doctrine can be accepted universally when the Earth is the only known inhabited planet in our solar system?

Orson thought he would just mention this before this descends into the expected hundreds of posts of polarised opinion. In other words a typical Forum thread.

27-Nov-2009 11:17 Message #3044207
I've never understood why some insist faith and science must by necessity be in conflict - or why some spend hours and shedloads of bandwidth trying to "prove" that this is the case. Many find no conflict between these concepts - for example Jocelyn Bell Burnell (the astrophysicist who discovered radio pulsars - she was robbed of the Nobel Prize by her post grad thesis supervisor!)

What I do find curious though is how those who insist on a rational, scientific explanation for all phenomenon (and dismiss the very idea of religious faith on that basis,) could ever truly experience the joy of love. It has to be one of the most irrational, unscientific and impossible to quantify, define or prove concepts in the world.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd
27-Nov-2009 11:30 Message #3044219
Castaway, An excellent point, I've rated your post excellent. I think that many people like to butt heads over these questions, whilst the rest of us just get on with it. Many scientists believe in god, some in the total fundamentalist christianity, which I would of thought to be totally at odds with science.

Most of us live quite happily with all sorts of contradictions in our lives and accept that we won't know all sorts of things that we'd dearly love the answers to.

27-Nov-2009 12:07 Message #3044268
Ah, thanks gals - didn't realise it was that profound! (ha!)

Thing is, I've never felt that I personally HAVE to have an answer for everything, be it scientific or a matter of faith. I don't really understand how it is that information that would have taken a football pitch full of filing cabinets to contain can now be stored on a bit of plastic the size of my little thumbnail inside my phone.

I don't lose sleep wondering about it. I'm just glad that it works and I can marvel both at the science and the fact that I can use it as a "tool" to support my engagement and relationships with a bunch of other people. I don't feel I have to understand every last detail of EITHER in order to benefit from or enjoy what this tiny bit of plastic brings to me.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
27-Nov-2009 12:36 Message #3044292
Stu, tragically, I don't think that the poor people in either of those places saw anything coming at all.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
27-Nov-2009 12:52 Message #3044302
I have never looked down an electron microscope, Dela. Have you?

Actually, I fib. I have looked down an electron microscope in the pathology lab. I didn't however see atoms, but I did see cells.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
27-Nov-2009 13:15 Message #3044329
Soul-Provider  Male  Hampshire
27-Nov-2009 15:57 Message #3044474
Lets see,who to believe,thats hard,scientists like doctors can be wrong,and when any one says something,another will come along,and disagree,so who IS RIGHT,

Religion,what proof have they got ???old manuscripts,which over time,have been rewritten,and in those days,they were not exactly in the know,and if I may say.ignorant to facts we know to day,

so,to conclude,the world will end,only when I am alive to see it,
religion,will believe in spirits etc when I SEE them,even tho I've seen programs,where mediums,have spoken to so called dead people,
you can have an atheist talking about why no god,=and you will believe him,on other hand,you can have the pope talk to you why there is a god,and = you will believe him. glad you never mentioned politics lol.
27-Nov-2009 16:38 Message #3044533
Dela, I accept your high level of knowledge and experience of the scientific pursuits and respect for those who choose to follow these. However, from your description, one might suggest that perhaps you don't hold rthe same breadth of understanding of the many facets of faith experience.

Joycelyn Burnell is a gifted scientist and a person of deep faith. Does that make her a hero, deluded fool or something else to you?
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
27-Nov-2009 19:59 Message #3044779
"my unhinged premise"???

Mr Beach, will you kindly go away and patronise someone else please?
May I remind you that this is a serious thread in "The Forum". It is not Trucker who is spoiling it at this precise moment.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
27-Nov-2009 20:34 Message #3044864
There are lots of interesting contributions to this thread and thank you all for your comments. Some random thoughts inspired by your replies.

The reason for asking my original question is that there are many things that we take on faith, because we have not seen it ourselves, or experienced or witnessed it. We go by what other people tell us and choose whether we can or will believe it, or not.
This applies to many subjects that we perceive ,as fact.

I think that some of it must come down to how you perceive the truth.
I remember someone saying that there are always three versions of the truth; i) my version, ii) your version and iii) what really happened.
When it comes to spiritual matters, there are probably as many truths as there are people, I would think.

I personally, do not think that spiritual beliefs and being a scientist are incompatible at all. The more that I know about the universe, the more I view it with wonder.

I do have difficulty in believing in the fickle, willful and random god described in the Old Testament. I can’t believe that on 26 December 2004, (s)he chose to randomly send the poor people scratching a living on the coast of Sri Lanka to their end , whilst my relatively wealthy friend, who was there, on holiday was equally randomly saved, just because she chose to take a taxi cab into the mountains on that particular day.

I think that it is supreme arrogance to think that mankind is superior to nature. Humans are governed by the forces of nature and the laws of physics, just like everything else.
In the life of the universe, we have been here for mere winking of an eye. It is my belief that one day, humankind will leave it, much as a sheep leaves an overgrazed field. Now, there’s a grim thought.

On another track, science does not really deal with absolutes at all. It is constantly evolving and things that we perceived as truths in previous times is adjusted, as new evidence comes to light and we are able to expand our knowledge and understanding. This can change drastically how we perceive the truth, as we see it from a new perspective.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
28-Nov-2009 12:39 Message #3046064
Well, it looks like the thread is well and truly hijacked now!!!

A couple of people seem to have misunderstood the orginal question, most notably one gentleman whose post has been removed. Fortunately, most people could see what I was asking.

My OP was asking why and how it is that we choose to believe some things that we can not see, on the basis that someone else has told you that something is true. To me, that takes a degree of faith, even for some things that we commonly accept as being factual.
The atoms were only a banal example of something that you can not actually see yourself, unless you are one of the very lucky people. Of course, I was not saying that atoms do not exist. Crikey, I am a chemistry graduate, after all!

I politely and respectfully ask that if you want to discuss whether god does or does not exist and the iniquities of religion, then perhaps it would be more appropriate to migrate to a thread where this is more in line with the OP. : - )
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire
28-Nov-2009 12:41 Message #3046067
And Trucker is back, bang on topic! Thanks.
Don1947  Male  South Yorkshire
29-Nov-2009 06:30 Message #3047313
Fascinating thread well done MTM for initiating it.

Was really enjoying following it. Tacticians there, presenting and arguing their cases... the usual stenoric voices irritably stamping down their hobnailed boots when provoked and the same by some with stiletto heels, pushing them in at groin level, yet constantly a highly intelligent stream of conversation.
Then wtf?? This stupid scammer type intrudes, sending in ten posts and all the same drivel.Have had my say about this state of affairs and refer to what I wrote about it on SM's posting about Matrons.

Don... completely lost the mood... But of the opinion that Faith and Atom go hand in hand. Both discovered by man and all part of this fantastic universe we exist alongside each other in.

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