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The Easter Masquerade: Why Religion Must Clash with Science

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII established our modern calendar and fixed the rules determining the date of Easter. This year Easter falls on April 20, but from year to year it can shift by as much as a month on the Gregorian calendar.

Finding Easter’s date for a given year requires a surprising degree of scientific acumen. The last things one might expect to see in, say, the Book of Common Prayer are tables of numbers and rules for mathematical calculations–but there they are, nevertheless.

At first glance, this seems to exemplify a kind of harmony between religion and science, a peaceful concord between faith and reason. Indeed, a variety of public figures–from prominent scientists to the Pope–have promoted the view that science and religion are not adversaries but complementary and mutually supporting fields. “Truth cannot contradict truth,” they declare, implying that the truths discovered by reasoning from sensory evidence cannot clash with the “truths” of religious dogma.

A closer look, however, reveals the long history of the hostility of faith towards reason–which continues to this day. Violent clashes between the two are not only possible but unavoidable, and the notion that religion can coexist on friendly terms with science and reason is false.

For reasons both biblical and astronomical, Easter is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). To get his calendar rules right, Pope Gregory had to rely on some of the best astronomers and mathematicians of his day. Ironically, one of these was Nicolas Copernicus, whose sun-centered astronomy engendered one of history’s most famous clashes between science and religion.

A faithful canon of the Catholic Church, Copernicus supported the calendar project happily. His scientific work was partly motivated by the goal of predicting more accurately the first day of spring and the subsequent full moon. He modestly expressed the hope that by facilitating the calculation of Easter his labors would “contribute somewhat even to the Commonwealth of the Church.”

At first Copernicus’s work was warmly accepted by Church officials–but only because they didn’t take it seriously. Sixteenth century common sense held that the Sun orbits the Earth, which is motionless at the center of the universe. More important, Church scholars held that the true structure of the world is established not by science but by official interpretation of Scripture. Hence, they regarded the motion of the Earth as nothing more than a convenient mathematical assumption–an idea justified solely by its utility in making astronomical predictions. Thinking they could evade a clash between reason and revelation, they denied the reality of the Earth’s motion but used the Copernican theory nonetheless.

This contradiction became inescapable decades after the Gregorian reform when Galileo removed the objections from common sense by explaining the physics of the moving Earth. But the objections from faith proved more intractable. Galileo’s outspoken defense of the Earth’s motion as a serious physical idea forced Church leaders to take a stand–and when they got off the fence, they came down firmly against science. That the Church persecuted Galileo for defending Copernican theory is well-known. Less frequently acknowledged is the utter hypocrisy of that act: the Church persecuted Galileo for defending the very ideas on which its Easter reform depended.

In 1992 Pope John Paul II grudgingly admitted–350 years too late–that his predecessors had been wrong. He called the Church’s persecution of Galileo a “sad misunderstanding” that “now belongs to the past.”

But does it?

Although few would now declare the Earth the motionless center of the universe, it is not difficult to find those who claim it to be 6,000 years old and deny the long, slow evolution of its species. More alarming is that the same Dark Ages mentality that dragged Galileo before the Inquisition now seeks to prohibit entire fields of scientific research, such as therapeutic cloning. The war of religion against science has merely shifted to new battlegrounds, but it still rages on.

Religion’s alleged harmony with science is a fraudulent masquerade, extending only insofar as religious dogmas are not called into question. True defenders of science must be committed to reason as an absolute principle–following facts wherever they lead and bowing to no authorities but logic and reality. And they must understand that the servile obedience demanded by faith is wholly incompatible with science–and with the rational thinking on which all human progress and prosperity depends.

Copyright2002 Ayn Rand Institute. All rights reserved.

  • Lionell Griffith

    When reason and faith come to the same conclusion, there is no problem.
    However, when they differ, there is an intractable clash. When reason is held to be primary, reliance on faith vanishes. When faith is held to be primary, reliance on reason
    vanishes. Thus when the conclusion is really important, the one banishes the other.

    Reason
    brought us our technological civilization with a vast increase in
    wealth and quality of life. Faith brought us the ignorance, suffering,
    and pointless death of the dark ages. The difference between reason and faith is as clear as
    the difference between life and death. If you value live, choose reason. If you value death, choose faith.

  • writeby

    The primacy of consciousness religious metaphysics of Neo-Platonic Idealism, the emotionalist religious epistemology of faith and the self-hating Judeo-Christian ethics of self-sacrifice make possible the irrational politics of a supernaturalist totalitarian socialism.

    Rights, values and happiness – indeed, sustaining human life itself – are the results of man’s capacity to reason. They’re the products of man’s mind, the “Self”–or ego–in any human being. To practice self-sacrifice, then, requires that one act unthinkingly in ways that destroy one’s life, rights, values and happiness. That, in short, destroy one’s mind–one’s capacity to reason.

    That is why religion promotes humility, so men will doubt their judgment and therefore next accept faith, the destroyer of reason.

    ROME:

    Matthew 6:24: ‘No one can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or will follow the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and ego.’”

    GERMANY:

    “It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole … that above all the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual….”

    “This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture…. The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call-to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness-idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men” (Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Buckeburg, Germany, Oct. 7, 1933, explaining the moral philosophy of Nazism).

    AMERICA:

    “God’s order is that we put him first, others next, self last. Sin is the reversal of the order.” (John R.W. Stott. Basic Christianity. London: InterVarsity Press, 1971).

    “The essence and greatness of man do (sic) not lie in his ability to please his ego, to satisfy his needs, but rather in his ability to stand above his ego, to ignore his own needs; to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of the holy.” (Abraham Heschel. God in Search of Man, A Philosophy of Judaism. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983).

    The secular & religious supernaturalists (M2 in the terminology of Dr. Peikoff’s brilliant DIM Hypothesis) have but one enemy: the human mind–the “Self” in each of us–& the reason it employs.

    As for the Christian version of Easter–

    1 Peter 1:18-19
    “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (NLT)”

    –give me the Easter Bunny, baskets of candy and egg coloring and hunting to the cannibalism represent by communion and the worshiping High Mass of Death in the name of a blood drenched corpse.

  • William Yavelak

    So here is a bald assertion about science and faith, without clarifying the terms. Faith is vaguely associated with anything remotely associated with religion with which the author either disagrees or has indeed been shown false. The mistakes of various misguided religionists are trotted out as usual, but there is no analysis or critique of the basic idea of theism. The dirty secret is that you can’t dig a reasonably reliable consciousness that is not subject to determinism out of materialism. You end up having FAITH that the properties of volition and reliability for the intellect are just somehow buried in mindless matter and somehow made it out into the human being.
    Nor is there any mention of misguided scientists. For example, juvenile articles such as this one of course never mention the unwarranted movement in physics to claiming our measurement limitations evidence actual contradiction or indeterminate reality. “Oh, but we defend *reason,* not the unwarranted mistakes of some armchair philosophers in physics.” Right. Well, let me suggest, at the very least so you stop looking like such a fool, that you make the same realization and consideration the other way round. “Oh but religion was used to tyrannize.” Right. And Arianism? What do you suppose was that?
    The point is not tit for tat, but that these questions are far more complicated than you suppose. Stick to your blackboard.

  • William Yavelak

    Nonsense. The definition of faith implied here is a straw man unlike what theists understand it to mean. Read Mortimer Adler, “How to speak, How to Listen.” If you don’t take the time and make the effort to understand another view AS those holding that view understand it, you are not even speaking of the same idea, and your refutation or agreement is irrelevant to the purpose of discussion and argument.
    A rational theist holds with reason in all areas judged accessible to reason, to all questions answerable by available evidence and the action of non-contradictory identification and integration. A rational theist, then, admits that his position that a Mind purposed existence including our minds, is based on faith, on Believing because the evidence points in this direction but does not permit Knowing. Contrariwise, the atheist claims our minds are derived *somehow* from eternal, inherently mindless, inherently non-personal matter, but then, astonishingly claims this is based on reason — that he *knows* this rather than *believes* this. But since he has no evidence regarding the properties of matter/energy that could conceivably, by non-personal factors inherent to matter, result in a volitional reliable intellect, and no philosophical treatise on how this position avoids the problems with mechanical materialism, he is no better than the mystic who screams “if you don’t understand, I can’t explain it to you.” To be honest, the atheist must admit his faith, his belief without *knowing* in properties and activities within mindless substance that somehow yields the intellect for which he claims reliability and volition. Or he can claim belief in eternal mindless matter and go the way of Marx.

  • Lionell Griffith

    Reason: that faculty of the mind of man that integrates his perceptions of reality, observations of what happens, and experiments to test his conclusion into a coherent world view. Alternatively: the use of logic applied to experience and experiment. Logic: the science of non-contradictory identification. Contradiction: an attempt to hold that a thing both has and does not have a particular attribute at the same time and in the same way.

    Faith: that faculty mind by which man knows or pretends to know without perception, observations, or experimentation of any kind. What is known by faith has no proof possible and proof is held not to be necessary. It is simply believed and that is held to be sufficient. Evidence, as such, is irrelevant to faith for if there were evidence and a sound logical argument based upon that evidence amounting to an actual proof, it would then not be based upon faith. It would thereby be reason.

    There is an important corollary to the above. It is totally pointless to try to argue with those who have faith in faith. This is because there is no foundation for any argument. An argument requires one to present the facts of reality and the logical interpretation of those facts backed up with a proposed experiment to demonstrate the validity of the argument. There is no fact of reality relevant to faith other than some believe or pretend to believe without or in spite of evidence, proof, or demonstration. Discussion beyond that point descends to the level of a word salad without reference to reality an is thereby without meaning.

    Ultimately, to have faith means you believe without evidence AND in spite of evidence to the contrary. The power of man’s mind to evade what is clearly in front of him is impossible to overestimate. The real challenge is to see clearly, think clearly, and thereby to know. In which case, belief is unnecessary.

  • William Yavelak

    “Faith: that faculty mind by which man knows or pretends to know without perception, observations, or experimentation of any kind.”
    What are you talking about?
    What I’m writing is that this is not what the rational theist does. It is the rational theist’s perception, observation, and experimentation as regards existence itself and its apparent beginning, and of his own mind, and by his rejection of mechanical materialism and determinism — it is by all this that the rational theist says – if I wish to suppose a reliable, independent, volitional, consciousness, then I can not place all that on top of a theory of existence based on the eternality of only mindless matter, from which came, without intent, somehow through the mechanics of matter, a non material entity (my intellect) that is NOT mechanical and determined, that is NOT just meaningless fumes over matter without personal significance. This is not pretending, nor wishful thinking, but reasoned conclusions based on what is perceived and learned about the universe and our own selves. It is not KNOWING however, because reason does not have full access to the totality of information necessary. If it did, this question wouldn’t arise.
    The fact of reality that requires adequate explaining and support is the volitional reliable human intellect – the human mind – consciousness that is NOT an epiphenomenon of mindless matter – consciousness that is NOT just meaningless quivering of atoms in the causal mindless chain of mechanical cause and effect. The rational theist says that it is REASONABLE to suppose a valid volitional human intellect derived from an eternal Mind, a God, because the alternative is not reasonable, nor is there any scientific nor philosophical suggestion of how dead, mindless matter might, entirely due to properties inherent to itself, yield the non-material self, the non material consciousness that is NOT mechanical, that IS volitional, and that is reliable in perceiving reality rather that simply being a meaningless sort of fume over churning mindless matter.
    The atheist who goes in for mechanical materialism and thus full determinism is at least honest about his belief that all there ever has been is mindless matter. He does not go on to claim volition and independent reliability and personal significance by “some” mechanism due to “some” properties of matter never conceived or observed.
    It is the atheist who wants to claim volition, real ‘self’, and independent reliability of the human intellect that is being disingenuous. He wants to say that all he uses is reason, but the fact is he has no reason at all to support his metaphysics. He seems to think consciousness is just a given in nature, forgetting that his faith is based on eternal matter, mindless in itself. He wants to say he ‘knows’ there is no God, but can not provide an even remotely adequate explanation for his own intellect as a derivation from the mindless dead matter he says is the eternal stuff of reality. He wants to say he isn’t cutting off the very branch on which his claim of reason and atheism rests, but like the most repulsive huckster just blusters and blows when asked how he supposes his intellect is to have become volitional or reliable when derived from mechanical cause and effect within mindless matter. He wants to say the universe was dead and mindless and mechanical, but somehow by the dead mindless mechanical processes we got a reliable, in touch with reality as it is, volitional, intellect.
    And even then, he wouldn’t be so insufferable if he just admitted he has FAITH in matter, in the intellectual efficacy of mindless matter. He has no idea how it could work or how it could yield true volition and contact with true reality by necessity – but he has faith that it happened. If he admitted his faith, that would be at least tolerable. But no – he wants to claim a higher threshold of knowledge here. He wants to say he ‘knows’ by ‘reason’ that this is what happened, somehow, some way. He says that to suggest that it is more reasonable to think mind comes from a Mind is just goofy fantasy-type-faith in fairies and ghosts and rainbow unicorns. He does this even when blandly confronted with his lack of even the hint of how for: mindless to mind, dead to life; mechanics within mindless material to volition by an immaterial intellect;
    Well – pphhhhhtttbbbbbbb! This sort of atheist is a more insufferable irrational mystic than the stereotypical shame and force brand mystics who do say ‘don’t think’ just ‘believe’ and pretend THAT is a virtue.
    Just be honest. Say: I have faith that dead mindless eternal matter, in some way I know not, by properties entirely inherent to matter of which I have no knowledge, managed to produce me, a conscious being with volition and valid apprehension of reality as it really is in its effects on my sense apparatus, and I can reason validly about reality as an independent self. You are perfectly free to do this, without complaint from me. But stop telling us you ‘know’ or that you have ‘reasoned’ that there is no God. We ain’t buyin’ it, Mr. preacher man.

  • Lionell Griffith

    I have not told you such a thing but I HAVE reasoned that god does not exist.

    In as much as the god of your belief has infinite powers, he cannot
    exist because infinity cannot be reached and therefor does not exist. As in, no matter how large
    the number, you can always add more to it without end. If this putative god has no infinite powers, he is as mortal and knowable as the rest of us and is thereby not a god.

    Since there is no evidence of the existence of this special creature you call god by whatever your definition, I do not believe in him any more than I believe in purple unicorns with golden horns and silver hoofs. It is nothing but a fantasy, a story told by tired frighted old men who fear losing power over others, an empty intellectual pretense, a farce, and a scam!

    If you have evidence of the existence of this thing you call god, present it. Otherwise, all you can and have done is assert. An assertion of belief is NOT evidence of anything except that you either actually believe or are pretending to believe. There could be nothing less relevant to the issue at hand and less interesting to me.

    It is interesting that you continue to prove that there is no point in arguing with those who have faith in faith.

  • writeby

    “It is interesting that you continue to prove that there is no point in arguing with those who have faith in faith.”

    Which interchange with such folks is always reduced in the end to the use of ad hominems. (See his reply to me below.)

    “…Well, let me suggest, at the very least so you stop looking like such a fool…”

    Yada, yada and more yada.

    Their faith is ultimately grounded in emotionalism; and that’s all they are left with in the end.

    But a well-reasoned argument on your part, Lionell, nonetheless. For those rational folks reading the exchange, your point is proven.

  • Lionell Griffith

    “For those rational folks reading the exchange, your point is proven.”

    If there is any point to arguing with those who have faith in faith, that is it. Their word salad rants should not go unchallenged. Especially in a public forum.

  • William Yavelak

    Again, you have faith in mindless matter behind your mind. This is foolish unless you have some REASON to suppose it can yield what you hold about your mind.
    You repeatedly say you have proof or reason but give none. Put up, or shut up. Admit your faith, or proceed to just bluster with no rational support for your position.

  • William Yavelak

    Do you suppose ‘infinity’ is in the Christian text? Once again, the atheist shows he has not taken the question truly seriously, and looked for himself, honestly.
    Do you really think that theism comes crashing down because some people have illegitimately inferred ‘infinity’ from the ideas of all powerful, or everlasting?
    Regardless, your position rests on the infinite regression of mindless matter – as eternal. Do you wish to now say that this means such is impossible?
    Can you really realize that ‘something’ must be eternal, but then in the next breath ridicule the idea?
    Is this your ‘proof” of no God? You take an illegitimate inference from the least able of theists, apply the general idea that is the solution to xeno’s paradox, and that’s it? Come on, man. Think for yourself.
    Again, you may have faith in matter. But stop telling us it is reasonable unless you have any explanation at all for the qualities you claim for the human mind, either philosophically or scientifically. Or go the way of honest materialism and admit the determinism and meaningless mechanics.
    It is much more reasonable to suppose our mind rests on an eternal Mind, than on dirt. Read Atlas Shrugged again, marking the fantastic and true things Rand says about the human mind, the intellect, about man’s life as the standard of value, of joy as man’s virtuous goal. Then explain to me even the faintest notion of how this is supposed to come from mindless matter by mechanics inherent to mindless matter. Rand provided the most convincing argument for an eternal Mind that I have ever read.
    However, the rational theist remains honest, he calls his position faith – belief, on an issue that reason can not fully probe. Admit your faith, or continue to appear as the blustering huckster I mentioned above.

  • Lionell Griffith

    You deny our reasoning because we cannot explain what you yourself cannot explain except by asserting “god said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”. While what we do is to observe that it is and what it is. Then reason from there to our conclusions. After which we test our conclusions to make sure we didn’t leave something out or made a mistake.

    Our position depends upon knowledge while your position depends upon ignorance. Hence your god is nothing but ignorance! Something you clearly have in abundance and wish to add still more. While I and others are working to diminish the scope and intensity of ignorance and expand knowledge as much as possible within our life times.

    Finally, you claim that we can’t know anything without knowing everything. We claim we can know something without knowing everything. Further, we have proved it by building a technological civilization beyond the wildest fantasy of the founders of religion. Religion has done nothing but fight the advance of civilization and promote faith. Faith has and always will produce poverty and death in wholesale quantities but can do little else.

    Bluster on about that oxymoron (contradiction in terms) “rational theist”, I have nothing more to say to you.

  • William Yavelak

    No. I am not a materialist because it is irrational. You have faith in matter and pretend it is more than belief. I believe in an eternal mind because it is more reasonable, but do not lie to myself by calling this belief more than it is.

  • William Yavelak

    It really irks you that your arrogant claim to knowledge, proof, and reason is exposed as the empty blustering of blind faith akin to the very worst of the laziest mystics. It should upset you. If it didn’t, you would be in even worse shape.

    “”You deny our reasoning because we cannot explain what you yourself cannot explain except by asserting “god said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”. “”
    You’re getting closer here. The fact is that in this sense we are both agnostics. We do not know. The difference is that I admit belief, not ‘because God said it,’ but because I can not explain the valid volitional human intellect without the idea of an eternal Mind. You refuse to admit *belief,* by faith, in mindless matter. Who is honest here? I am not asking you to believe in God. I am refusing to accept your claim of knowledge about eternal mindless matter as the sufficient foundation of a valid volitional intellect. I am stating that is your faith, and you have yet to provide the first reasoned argument as to why it is more than Faith.
    “”While what we do is to observe that it is and what it is. Then reason from there to our conclusions. After which we test our conclusions to make sure we didn’t leave something out or made a mistake.”
    State these reasons. State the rational argument from dead mindless matter to reliable volitional, non-determined, non-mechanical, intellect. State your tests and evidence and reasoned proof. Let’s hear it.

    “””Our position depends upon knowledge while your position depends upon ignorance. Hence your god is nothing but ignorance! Something you clearly have in abundance and wish to add still more. While I and others are working to diminish the scope and intensity of ignorance and expand knowledge as much as possible within our life times.””
    What knowledge? State it. State this knowledge of the route or even vague notion of how dead mindless matter yields the intellect that Ms. Rand described. I’m waiting.
    And, before you dodge and weave here, I do not claim knowing certain knowledge of the eternal Mind – I call it reasoned Faith. Faith – because I do not know. Reasoned – because what we KNOW about our minds can not be reasonably expected to come from dead mindless matter without purpose.

    “”Finally, you claim that we can’t know anything without knowing everything. We claim we can know something without knowing everything.”””
    I will choose to think you simply misunderstand. When I use the terms “to know,” I refer to reasoned certitude. When it comes to the question of the nature of the eternal substance(s), we KNOW something(s) must be eternal, because it is contraction to hold that something can come from nothing without cause. But we do not KNOW with certitude the nature or characteristics of that (or those) eternal something(s.) We only have our analysis, and reasoned knowing of our current universe, to the degree that we have penetrated it with observation and reason. (This is contrary to your misunderstanding about my position.) We can know many things about our observable universe, but reasoning about these facts only brings us so far as we attempt to deduce the nature of the eternal something(s). We are in two basic camps. My camp says the eternal something must be some sort of MInd, else our own minds can not be adequately explained. Then there is the materialist that says it is mindless and mechanically determined all the way down to the eternal dead mindless matter. There are also a great many disguised materialists, such as objectivists, who want to try to claim reliability, meaning, and volition for the human intellect, but also claim certain knowledge that only mindless dead matter was the eternal substance. Since this group has never provided any remotely plausible theory of how mindless stuff, mechanical in itself, produces immaterial reliable volitional intellect, they are the least honest and least rational group of all.
    “Religion has done nothing but fight the advance of civilization and promote faith. Faith has and always will produce poverty and death in wholesale quantities but can do little else.”
    So you wish to base your metaphysics on what men have done? Really?
    Mine is the tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas and Adler- of men attempting to explore and by reason understand that which Reason brought forth. Every instance where men have used force against other men, to treat them as means rather than ends in themselves, has been ugly. In every instance where men have supposed they must close their eyes to see, has been disastrous. Do I need to mention Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and all the rest of the materialist monsters? Do I have to point out the several thousand killed by the Spanish Inquisition of 400 years, vs the millions slaughtered by Pol Pot in just a few? In this is the LEAST of the monsters. Of course this is not tit for tat, but stop fooling yourself about the purity of materialism and atheism. It doesn’t lead to reasoned respect for individual life. It leads to Marxist self immolation or slavery at the point of a gun.

    “”Bluster on about that oxymoron (contradiction in terms) “rational theist”, I have nothing more to say to you.”””
    I know you don’t.
    The rational theist states that he can not explain mind without a Mind, but does not claim ‘knowing’, but believing in this as the solution to the question of how we are to explain our mind, realiability, volition, and meaning.
    The materialist either admits mindless mechanics as the cause of all phenomena, or the dishonest materialist tries to have his cake and eat it too, by claiming certain knowledge of eternal mindless matter but always evading the question of how this is conceivably the foundation of man’s immaterial, reliable, volitional, intellect.

  • writeby

    Your argument for a mind god–despite your verbose composition, unwarranted assumptions, putting words in other people’s mouths, ad hominems and the like–is the same as was the caveman’s of 100,000 BCE:

    Ug, cannot conceive of how wind comes from matter; therefore there is a wind god.

    In short, your argument rests on logical fallacy–proper est in spades–to support an impossible–given the nature of reality–primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

    No wonder you need faith.

    Why not a gravity god or an electromagnetic god? These are forces, not matter; but like consciousness, these forces require matter to exist. Perhaps consciousness is an advanced form of an electro-magnetic field, the end result of one’s sense data & perception, both automatic, which in turn result in a volitional being.

    Accurate or inaccurate, that explanation has the virtue of staying within the realm of reality, instead of conjuring up some timeless, omnipresent “consciousness creating” specter.

    As aside, about that whole free will thing: You have only one choice, to think or not. Choose the former and other choices open; choose the latter–as you have done–and no choice in the genuine sense is possible. Instead, compulsion and emotion take over, as they have with you.

    Oh, but what about life from non-living matter? Cannot conceive of it, so there must be a creator god.

    But rational man will have none of such primitive drivel:

    http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

    Perhaps he’s wrong; but at least he’s proceeding from a premise grounded in reason and fact.

    Not “I cannot conceive of it; therefore some god– whose existence is impossible given the identity of reality–must be the source.”

    Talk about arrogance.

    I think that will suffice.

  • writeby

    faith (f³th) n. 1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing. 2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust. 3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters. 4. Often Faith. Theology. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will. 5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Moslem faith. 6. A set of principles or beliefs. –idiom. in faith. Indeed; truly. [Middle English, from Anglo-Norman fed, from Latin fid¶s. See bheidh- below.]

  • William Yavelak

    “””Perhaps consciousness is an advanced form of an electro-magnetic field, the end result of one’s sense data & perception, both automatic, which in turn result in a volitional being.”””
    This is your first actual attempt at an answer.
    A terrible answer, but a VERY good sign. It means you’re starting to see the point. It is fine to observe phenomena and say “we don’t understand the causes of this phenomena, but through sensory investigation and reason, we will come to understand.” Generally, you do not have to explicitly state the hidden premise here. Check your premises, though. A premise here is that ‘we will come to understand entirely in terms of mechanical material explanation.” This is fine, until you come to a phenomenon, the human intellect, for which you have claimed volition, selfhood, moral responsibility. Now, that unstated premise becomes problematic.
    Assuming wind, or rain, or lightning, or magnetism can be explained in terms of mechanical material causes does not impinge on the possibilities of the human intellect.
    Now, you can go ahead and assume the human intellect is just like wind and fire, but then stop claiming Rand’s mind.
    I can claim belief in a Mind behind mind — though this is faith at the end of my reasoning that an apparently successful argument showing the human mind as entirely a material phenomenon would ruin my ability to suppose volition, real selfhood, moral responsibility, etc.

    What you can not HONESTLY do, is to assume the human intellect is just like wind, AND just blithely ignore the logical consequences of that assumption to the possibility of continuing to suppose volition, etc.
    Your purely material explanation assumption is just fine, unstated, until you try to apply it to human intellect. If you do make this assumption as regards the eventual explanation of the human intellect, then, since we are aware of the mechanical cause/effect behavior of the material world, we are left to insert some other factor or property or operation that would permit the volitional intellectual self. You can try to claim that other factor / property or operation is entirely material in nature too, but don’t try to claim this is ‘knowing.’ It isn’t ‘knowing,’ it is believing, it is assumed conjecture — conjecture that impersonal matter in some way, entirely unknown and unlike anything ever observed as regards matter, is capable of forming material that we call living, capable of operations we call knowing, capable of operations we call choosing, judging, imagining, and MORE – that all this is in some way YOURS – personal. It takes a goodly amount of faith just to do the first part, it is an enormous leap of faith for the last part.

  • writeby

    aith (f³th) n. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

    1. Plenty of evidence consciousness–as are forces–is not material but requires matter to exist, although origins and relationships are as yet unknown.

    2. No logical proof & zero evidence of the existence of a ghost consciousness from which all other consciousnesses come.

    Conclusion: You’re using unproven #2 to explain (as yet) unknown #1.

    That is irrational; any further debate with you would irrational, too.

    That you’re an MD only makes your mindlessness that much more frightening.

    QED.

  • William Yavelak

    Surely, by now, you know that your ‘lack of logical *proof*’ or material evidence applies to your position. So the QED really starts to make you look silly. Where is your logical proof of volitional personal self from dead mindless mechanical matter? Where is your material evidence? I do not claim a ‘proof’ nor material evidence beyond just the material evidence of everything that is, especially the features of the human mind, the nature of matter, and the fact that life and mind and even perhaps all the universe of which we have some knowledge apparently once was not. Again, I am not asking you to believe or have faith in God. Just admit your faith in matter, or dispense with the claim to a volitional self. Just because you assume from the start that all phenomena can be reduced to matter or the properties of matter doesn’t make it rational. In fact, if there is no presentation of how volition and reason is to come from mindless mechanical stuff, this might be the mother of all stolen concepts. Using the idea of forces does not change anything at all, either. Mindless forces which are due mechanically from mindless properties of matter doesn’t move you any further to the quality or logical process you need for your position to make sense. Don’t you see that you not only have to get the immaterial intellect out of dead mindless matter, but you’ve also got to get it out of there somehow in a way that loses the mechanistic nature of matter, and more, has to transcend ‘stuff’ to be a meaningful self – a reasoning, choosing, self aware ‘you?’ You realize your position holds that once there was no consciousness, no life – just stuff – mindless, mechanical stuff. Now, you’ve got to believe, have faith, that it’s all mindless material or mindless ‘forces’ inherent to mindless material all the way down – but ‘somehow’ – ‘poof’ – by mechanical properties in mechanical stuff we get –ta da! volitional selves! I don’t think it is possible, but I’m honest enough to say reason and the evidence can’t definitively ‘prove’ one view or the other. You must realize, that your position would be perfectly reasonable EXCEPT that you do not want to give up the truly volitional, reasoning, self. So long as you want to hold on to that, you will be stuck with faith in some heretofore unheard of and frankly, (in?) conceivable, method of getting volition from inherently mindless stuff. I agree with you that you *should* persist in affirming a real, personal, volitional, self. I think direct experience of our own consciousness is sufficient to affirm that position. But, you could say, that the faith in ‘some way’ to get to the volitional self from mechanical mindless material is of equivalent magnitude of faith as in supposing an eternal Mind.

    If you want other input than just this Christian physician, look at Dr. Dolhenty’s remarks on objectivism. A thread based on his question of objectivism’s metaphysics is here: http: // www. physicsforums .com/ showthread. php?t=158265
    (there are some spaces entered into the link to keep the auto review feature from holding my post)

  • William Yavelak

    Oh, why should you be frightened by mindlessness? That’s the logical conclusion of your metaphysics. You should feel right at home.

  • docbnj

    Some of these arguments are well phrased, but miss the point. You cannot argue someone into accepting faith.
    So, I will not try. I am tired of hearing about all the bad things that have happened “in the name of religion.” Consider that bad things also been done in the name of love, or logic, of good intensions, &c., &c.
    If one has no external standard for good and evil, one is legally almost insane by the McNaughton Rule.
    But I imagine that I am convincing no one. So I will back off. Please consider this one modest observation: If you believe in God, this has an important implication for human freedom, because then there is one thing which you really know with great confidence, and that is that you are not He. And neither is the local great leader.
    Religion is a good control on the worst anti-freedom tendencies in history: ego-centrism (self-worship, narcissism), and leader-worship.