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 Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  03:51:45  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
NY Times : Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science.
quote:
"No!" declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."
Others disagree of course...

It would be silly to claim that believers in the supernatural cant contribute to science, but can you really be a good scientist if you rely on faith to answer such important questions?
But then what is a good scientist?




"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  04:57:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
He's never heard of gravity apparently.


"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  05:04:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

He's never heard of gravity apparently.
The last quote is from a fictional character and not from the article. Anyone?
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  05:59:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
Stewie?

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  07:31:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Starman

NY Times : Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science.
quote:
"No!" declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."
Others disagree of course...

It would be silly to claim that believers in the supernatural cant contribute to science, but can you really be a good scientist if you rely on faith to answer such important questions?
But then what is a good scientist?




"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."



Well, Newton was christian as far as I know, as well as Faraday, and Einstein was a jew. To say they weren't good scientists sounds a little... snotty, to me.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  07:43:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
Yes but Einstein was of the faulty assumption that there must be a unified or "god" theory, which caused him to make mistakes. So in that respect it was a hindrance. Newton was a mathmatician more than scientist and he lived during the time when not believing in God could get you killed, however his work does not seem to be affected by his devotion.

In short if you are not very careful, a belief in "the untestable" can end up ruining a good idea or start you on the path to fallacy, but as long as you keep that in mind...

Really it depends on the topic, a Christian doing Abiogenesis research could go to hell for reaching a particular conclusion. Where a Christian doing a heart study would not have that problem in the back of their head...

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Paulos23
Skeptic Friend

USA
446 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  08:00:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Paulos23's Homepage Send Paulos23 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Starman

quote:
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

He's never heard of gravity apparently.
The last quote is from a fictional character and not from the article. Anyone?



I know! Sherlock Homes

You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting. -- Robert A. Heinlein

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  08:55:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
I agree with you Siberia. It does not matter what a scientist's beliefs are as long as they let the facts guide their work.
Clearly if you try to mix mythology with scientific work you are going to have big problems. The scientists must simply keep his beliefs seperate from his work.




If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  09:35:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Starman

NY Times : Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science.
quote:
"No!" declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."
Others disagree of course...

It would be silly to claim that believers in the supernatural cant contribute to science, but can you really be a good scientist if you rely on faith to answer such important questions?
But then what is a good scientist?




"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."




Those folks who have faith to answer philisophical questions and act as a coping mechanism for the mortality of man only can definately be good scientists. As long as that faith does not arch into the realm of science, they are perfectly capable of logical and rational thought. Thinking that the work they do is discovering the rules that God set rather than insisting on a form of the calculation.

Evidentially he never heard of Johannes Kepler or Tycho Brahe either.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  10:42:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by furshur

I agree with you Siberia. It does not matter what a scientist's beliefs are as long as they let the facts guide their work.
Clearly if you try to mix mythology with scientific work you are going to have big problems. The scientists must simply keep his beliefs seperate from his work.



Faraday used to say he studied science, because he wanted to understand how God made His world work. He saw physics as manifestos of the Divine.

I believe that's how the evolustionist Christian's mind works. Of course, he wouldn't be studying abiogenesis (or would he?).

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  11:02:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe lived in earlier times when pretty much everybody was religious. Einstien was a Jew but I wouldn't say he was particularly religious. I actually think Herbert A. Hauptman makes a good point when he says that belief in the supernatural is incompatible with science.

quote:
Originally posted by Starman

...can you really be a good scientist if you rely on faith to answer such important questions?
I'm assuming that you mean 'important scientific questions'. I would say, no you can't be a good scientist in this case, but as Siberia, fursur and Valiant Dancer have said, if you keep your religious convictions seperate from your work as a scientist, then you can be a good scientist.

Young Earth Creationism is a rather extreme example of what can happen when people try to do science without keeping their religious beliefs seperate.
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  11:11:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
quote:
Thinking that the work they do is discovering the rules that God set rather than insisting on a form of the calculation.


Seems handy, but this logic is faulty. It may work fine in many cases but if there is no God and God didnt set rules, this line of thinking will eventually become problematic and/or a showstopper.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  12:27:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

quote:
Thinking that the work they do is discovering the rules that God set rather than insisting on a form of the calculation.


Seems handy, but this logic is faulty. It may work fine in many cases but if there is no God and God didnt set rules, this line of thinking will eventually become problematic and/or a showstopper.



In both cases, the individual is studying nature and discovering the natural mechanisms. The existance of God is a philisophical motivator to find the answer, not influencing what that answer might be.

(edited to add)

Religion is a set of philosophies which posit the existance of a supernatural being and an afterlife. When one studies the natural world, one is locked into an empirical frame of reference where philosophy has no place. The actual existance of theological constructs has no bearing on the evidence of mechanisms of change.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
Edited by - Valiant Dancer on 08/23/2005 12:33:13
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  13:12:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Siberia

quote:
Originally posted by furshur

I agree with you Siberia. It does not matter what a scientist's beliefs are as long as they let the facts guide their work.
Clearly if you try to mix mythology with scientific work you are going to have big problems. The scientists must simply keep his beliefs seperate from his work.



Faraday used to say he studied science, because he wanted to understand how God made His world work. He saw physics as manifestos of the Divine.

I believe that's how the evolustionist Christian's mind works. Of course, he wouldn't be studying abiogenesis (or would he?).



Abiogenesis can work the same way as theistic evolution does. God used abiogenesis to start life, then used evolution to develop it.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  19:05:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
quote:
dv82matt wrote
Young Earth Creationism is a rather extreme example of what can happen when people try to do science without keeping their religious beliefs seperate.

And the key word here is of course "TRY" (but failing miserably).

Believing in a god (or the tooth fairy) would not necessarily make you a less competent scientist, providing you stick with scientific principles in your work. Maybe a better question than "Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?" would be "Are you less likely to become a good scientist if you belive in God?". I'm quite sure I know what Richard Dawkins would say.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2005 :  19:23:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Creationists like to trot out the fact that while 10% of the population of the US is atheist/agnostic/nonreligious, that number jumps to 90% if you look at just the membership of the National Academy of Sciences (as if this proves that evolution was invented for and by atheists). Neglecting the creationists' argument from authority wrapped in a correlation-vs-causation problem, what do these numbers say, if anything, about a religious person's ability to do good science? Perhaps not much. It may just be that most of the NAS members got there by working seven days a week, instead of just six.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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