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The 'hubris' of atheism/science/physicalism - and the rest

In relation to some of the vague mysticism, traditionalism, and sometimes even outright (theistic?) hostility towards 'atheists' that occurs around here - one of the main charges against their opponents is the arrogance/hubris/gall of science.

A very religious charge, interestingly.

"Scientists think they know everything" is the basic line. This is, possibly, the biggest straw man, and illustration of lack of familiarity of subject matter at hand, in history.

I would like to call my first witness to the stand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdWj8fXHQLg

A a collective, there is a supreme humility towards reality in the physical sciences. Acknowledgement of doubt, and willingness to sacrifice time, riches, women and 'earthly' pleasures (has anyone attempted a PhD?).

This stands in contrast to movements and individuals throughout history who claim to be 'the voice of god', to have 'special access to the truth', and to characterize the nature of reality without ever having to wade into territory that is psychologically unpleasant or threatening. It is no surprise that religious ontology usually comes with an upshot for the individual - whether this be reincarnation, relaxation, a sense of 'unity', inner peace, disillusion of the ego, individual rights, equality etc.

Building a railroad to Mars is never going to work.
That's a metaphor, by the way.
Whereas building a railroad to Philadelphia is a worthy and doable project.
If you live in the Americas.

Science would do better sticking to the physical.
Leave the metaphysical to those who intuit.
Squawk!

Building a railroad to Mars is never going to work.
That's a metaphor, by the way.
Whereas building a railroad to Philadelphia is a worthy and doable project.
If you live in the Americas.

Science would do better sticking to the physical.
Leave the metaphysical to those who intuit.

Part of my worry, connected with my first post, and one that will connect with your own thinking, is that IMO the metaphysical (in your sense of the word - not analytic metaphysics in current philosophy) is simply the EGO taking over. Science (not necessarily the ethical beliefs of individual scientists - but the methodology or philosophy of doing science) is nihilism in action. Religion, traditional metaphysics, mysticism - is just the EGO (the evolved human brain) coming up with (different sorts of) anthropocentric theories - or theories that have upshots for humans-all-too-humans - about 'reality'.

Good point. Ego rules, and that's a fact, however unfortunate.
Hard to tell when ego is absent, seeing as how it almost never is.
And it never is, per individual, until that individual intentionally and unequivocally demolishes it.
SPLAT!

Squawk!

Thanks.

I don't believe individuals can rid themselves of EGO. I think it needs institutions - collective practices (not necessary a 'state' - I mean to stay away from politics/ethics here). THIS is why science is making (ontological) progress - because its not about the individual. You are criticized, lynched, tested, cross-examined, peer-reviewed, and ultimately will do something small and arduous for your career - but this thing will be a small piece in a bigger, more glorious pie.

Just like reality in-itself, science is an IMPOSITION upon the individual, not an avenue for warm self-fulfillment or some instant achievement of mystical union of self with all. It's hard, boring, tedious, and compartmentalized - but when you look back on it from a higher perspective (such as when reading a popular science book on cosmology, or a paul davies book) - it is beautiful.

Agreed. Science is indispensable to human achievement.
Unfortunately, it is what humans use it for that gets it an understandably well-deserved bad rep.
Squawk!

Agreed. Science is indispensable to human achievement.
Unfortunately, it is what humans use it for that gets it an understandably well-deserved bad rep.

Agreed. Valuable, useful things can be abused and even the most nourishing food can kill you if you eat too much.

The scientists want to know everything, and the religious think that they know everything.

Maybe knowing nothing more than is necessary is best. Maybe simply through living, that which is important duly reveals itself.

Between Imposition and Vigilance, you two really woke me up.
I can be downright scary when I'm awake.
I'm gonna try to go back to sleep again, OK?
Before I completely overrun the forum.
Squawk!

Ah! But don't you sometimes want to know what is at the bottom of a quark, if other life exists in the universe, where matter goes when it enters a black hole, what was 'there' before the big bang, and what will happen to the universe?

The religious parts of my brain fire incessantly to these questions :)

Between Imposition and Vigilance, you two really woke me up.
I can be downright scary when I'm awake.
I'm gonna try to go back to sleep again, OK?
Before I completely overrun the forum.

And I should get back to work. Good day to you all.

Ah! But don't you sometimes want to know what is at the bottom of a quark, if other life exists in the universe, where matter goes when it enters a black hole, what was 'there' before the big bang, and what will happen to the universe?

The religious parts of my brain fire incessantly to these questions :)

Haha, I have no desire whatsoever. And if I did, I would need to restrain it!

Indeed. The only thing I desperately wanted to know was if there was any point, meaning or purpose to life.
Now I know. I have no more questions.
Squawk!

Indeed. The only thing I desperately wanted to know was if there was any point, meaning or purpose to life.
Now I know. I have no more questions.

Not that we know of.

I believe that we give a meaning to life. As all meaning and intention is bestowed by individuals.

If there is a meaning and purpose inherent to our life that we know of it is reproduction of our species.  The continuation and survival of DNA.  Beyond that, we know nothing of a greater purpose in the universe.

There's always hubris in the midnight hours of civilization. The only meaningful response to this is to preserve the methods not necessarily the specifics of the formal schools of your dying civilization.