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firm believer 157 28.19%
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:15 PM   #841
Quakeboy02
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Let's review this again:
Quote:
Quakeboy02: It is nonsensical to make statements of the order "The earth is flat. Prove me wrong".

Jay73: What? That is exactly how it works.
I suggest that you are being deliberately obtuse and selective in your response. Give me an answer, *in specific*, where a scientific theory is based on the "<make unfounded assertion> Prove me wrong" paradigm.

Last edited by Quakeboy02; 02-23-2009 at 03:29 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 04:33 PM   #842
XavierP
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The first question is phrased wrongly. Remember: the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Instead of trying to prove the negative, the claimant must prove their claim first.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 05:01 PM   #843
jay73
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Quote:
The first question is phrased wrongly. Remember: the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Instead of trying to prove the negative, the claimant must prove their claim first.
Which first question?
 
Old 02-23-2009, 05:32 PM   #844
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Quote:
Give me an answer, *in specific*, where a scientific theory is based on the "<make unfounded assertion> Prove me wrong" paradigm.
That is awfully confusing. How can any theory be considered "unfounded" until it has been shown to be wrong. Yet that is exactly what you would like me to give examples of. The proper representation would be "I propose X. Prove me wrong", not "I/we know that X is wrong but I posit it anyway; now you prove me wrong".
 
Old 02-23-2009, 05:47 PM   #845
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In fact we know the roots of all the major languages, and the rules that would be necessary to construct new ones.
WE DO? I graduated just over ten years ago (M.A. in linguistics), a lot must have changed since then. I doubt it, though. The artificial languages we have do not nearly exhibit the depth, complexity and dynamics of a natural language.
As with the other examples - and I believe I did point that out - the mere fact that they may have their foundation in evolution does not tell us all that much. How successfully could science predict the state of literature, English, morals, nations, etc. in two centuries from now? Can science tell us anything at all about the exact reasons why all of these came to be the way they are today? Obviously, I am not asking for a historical account and neither will I accept any theory as vague as to lump together Aristotle, Shakespeare, Duchamp, Diaghilev and others as that-thing-called-"culture" that men invented to wow women - I am asking for motivation and motivation in detail. More importantly, how can science tell us anything whatsoever about the meaning of any of these artefacts?

Last edited by jay73; 02-23-2009 at 05:49 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 06:48 PM   #846
Quakeboy02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
That is awfully confusing. How can any theory be considered "unfounded" until it has been shown to be wrong. Yet that is exactly what you would like me to give examples of. The proper representation would be "I propose X. Prove me wrong", not "I/we know that X is wrong but I posit it anyway; now you prove me wrong".
You miss the point altogether. An unfounded assertion is simply that: an assertion for which no foundation has been laid. e.g. "The world is flat". In order to provide a foundation for such an assertion, you would have to establish that the horizon is actually at infinity, or perhaps take a deep space image that shows a flat space, or something else that would support the assertion that the earth is flat.

Normally, in a theory, we would say something like: "The horizon for an observer at 6ft above ground level is approximately 5 miles (or whatever the figure is). From this we can conclude that the earth is at least roughly spherical". Notice that this does not follow the mode off "The world is round, prove me wrong."
 
Old 02-23-2009, 06:56 PM   #847
Quakeboy02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
WE DO? I graduated just over ten years ago (M.A. in linguistics), a lot must have changed since then. I doubt it, though. The artificial languages we have do not nearly exhibit the depth, complexity and dynamics of a natural language.
Could it just be that there aren't enough people speaking these languages, and that as a result there is no actual depth to them? We know very clearly how to construct languages. We know how the evolve (nasty word, that) from usage, and how languages merge and split from each other due to local usage. Waving your hand and saying "no we don't" is pointless.


Quote:
As with the other examples - and I believe I did point that out - the mere fact that they may have their foundation in evolution does not tell us all that much. How successfully could science predict the state of literature, English, morals, nations, etc. in two centuries from now?
Given that we are talking about the end result of the actions of billions of people, each with his own skills, intelligence, goals, and opportunities, not much. I don't see your point here. I have established that the scientific method can explain the evolution of each of these things. There is no reason to imply that science has a crystal ball. Magic is not the purview of science. Well, maybe for quantum mechanics.

Quote:
Can science tell us anything at all about the exact reasons why all of these came to be the way they are today?
Since I've already established that the answer is yes, why do you ask again?

Added:

Jay, you have fallen into the rut of nitpicking. At every step along the way, you have effectively conceded defeat, but tried to worm out by either changing the subject or emphasizing some minor issue in my response. At some point real soon, this will be too boring to bother to continue. If you have serious arguments (even one) to make, then make them, and stop searching for nits in my comments to attack. It is delusion to think that contesting a minor point invalidates a complete thesis.

Last edited by Quakeboy02; 02-23-2009 at 07:03 PM. Reason: Added
 
Old 02-23-2009, 07:15 PM   #848
jay73
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Quote:
Could it just be that there aren't enough people speaking these languages, and that as a result there is no actual depth to them? We know very clearly how to construct languages. We know how the evolve (nasty word, that) from usage, and how languages merge and split from each other due to local usage. Waving your hand and saying "no we don't" is pointless.
Again, we do not and it is very likely that we never will. I would urge you to read "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker. The key issue is that we can produce language that breaches all rules of proper usage and yet be understood. Language is not simply rule-following. If you know better, I urge you to contact MIT, you will be received with open arms.
Here is a poem by an American poet I like a lot; I wonder whether any scientific theory could "get" what is being said here:

Quote:
she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburator cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give

her the juice,good

(it

was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

the
internalexpanding
&
externalcontracting
brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
-ling
to a:dead.

stand-
;Still)
Quote:
Given that we are talking about the end result of the actions of billions of people, each with his own skills, intelligence, goals, and opportunities, not much. I don't see your point here.
That is what I feared. There are billions and billions of stars. This is no obstacle to the formulation of one or more laws that govern all of them regardless of size, age, distance, etc. Why then is it that - as soon as we turn to human affairs - diversity becomes an excuse. Sure, you could point out that stars are not animate and that this makes all the difference. OK, but then science is clearly not as powerful as you seem to believe and there really are principles that science will never explain. This is beginning to resemble theology: if its fits the bill, call it God - if it does not, let's call it satan and declare it inferior. The analogy: as long as it can be explained in a scientific way, it is great - if not, it is an anomaly, trivial, "magic".

Quote:
Jay, you have fallen into the rut of nitpicking.
nitpicking, eh? Seems to me I am getting to the fundamental question: does science have limits, where can they be found and what are the implications. I have to congratulate you on turning personal all of a sudden; in my experience, lashing out at the person is a lot more damning than being a "nitpicking bore".

Last edited by jay73; 02-23-2009 at 07:32 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 07:49 PM   #849
Quakeboy02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Again, we do not and it is very likely that we never will. I would urge you to read "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker. The key issue is that we can produce language that breaches all rules of proper usage and yet be understood. Language is not simply rule-following.
Nitpick. We know how to produce languages. The fact that we don't have to follow the rules of a language (artificial or found in the wild) speaks more to the abilities of the human brain than to linguistic rules.

Quote:
That is what I feared. There are billions and billions of stars. This is no obstacle to the formulation of one or more laws that govern all of them regardless of size, age, distance, etc. Why then is it that - as soon as we turn to human affairs - diversity becomes an excuse. Sure, you could point out that stars are not animate and that this makes all the difference.
To answer this specific question, there are billions of stars, true, but they don't appear to interact on any meaningful level. They are inanimate objects. We have classified them into something around 20 classes, we know how they are formed (within reason) we know their lifecycles, and how they will die. Humans (in fact, all animals, and plants for that matter) interact with their neighbors; it's just that human interactions are more personal, because we can participate. I fail to see how this is merely an excuse.

Quote:
OK, but then science is clearly not as powerful as you seem to believe and there really are principles that science will never explain.
OK, let's pursue this. Give me an example and let's have a reasoned discussion on a single topic and not just jet all over the place from nit to nit.

Quote:
This is beginning to resemble theology: if its fits the bill, call it God - if it does not, let's call it satan and declare it inferior. The analogy: as long as it can be explained in a scientific way, it is great - if not, it is an anomaly, trivial, "magic".
The problem is that there is nothing that fits the "God bill". There seems to be a rational explanation for everything in the universe, with no need to turn to god, satan, or any other mysticism for an explanation. If you have found an anomoly, then point it out. So far, you are only carping about trivialities such as expecting science to make predictions on the behavior of over 6 billion people over a period of, what was it?, 200 years. Sure, E. E. "Doc" Smith entertained such an idea in his "Lensmen" scifi series, but we know that science cannot do such a thing; the permutations of even one life are too great to compute. We also know that religion cannot, either; except through general principals and vaguely worded "prophesy" which corresponds remarkably well with chance when it comes to specifics.

Quote:
nitpicking, eh? Seems to me I am getting to the fundamental question: does science have limits, where can they be found and what are the implications. I have to congratulate you on turning personal all of a sudden; in my experience, lashing out at the person is a lot more damning than being a "nitpicking bore".
Jay, I have been at this god vs no god "thing" for quite a long time. The refuge of the believer seems to fall into a number of major categories when challenged. Among them are false dichotomy, changing the goalposts, and nitpicking. In the past it was interesting and educational for me to pursue these evasions. I'm afraid I'm pretty much over that. If you have non-trivial anomalies, spell them out, and let's see where it goes.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 08:55 PM   #850
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Nitpick. We know how to produce languages. The fact that we don't have to follow the rules of a language (artificial or found in the wild) speaks more to the abilities of the human brain than to linguistic rules.
Sigh. Once more, if the brain is not exhausted by rules, what are the chances that science can explain it all? Don't repeat that that is not the point of the whole scientific enterprise: if it is not, then either one should recognize its limits or declare anything non-scientific to be nonsense. I see that you take the latter approach and that is where we disagree. Considering that this disagreement is a matter of values - not scientific principles - there is nothing whatsoever to solve this. Ask any contemporary psychologist to explain our behaviour and they will tell you it is a combination of nature and nurture. In your view, it is mostly nature and a bit of nurture; and addtitionally, you appear to think that nurture can be reduced to a few gross scientific principles, too. I will disagree.
If, say, cultural activity is simply a means of attracting the opposite sex, then it is absolutely unexplainable why many of the greatest artists have gone beyond the rudimentary that seems to do in most cases, often isolating themselves from the rest of society (including the opposite sex) to devote themselves entirely to their work. The only explanations I can think of are either insanity or some weird sort of altruism (what is altruistic about producing art that does not appeal to the majority of the planet or even one's own tribe?).

Last edited by jay73; 02-23-2009 at 09:56 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 09:55 PM   #851
Quakeboy02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Sigh. Once more, if the brain is not exhausted by rules, what are the chances that science can explain it all? Don't repeat that that is not the point of the whole scientific enterprise: if it is not, then either one should recognize its limits or declare anything non-scientific to be nonsense. I see that you take the latter approach and that is where we disagree.
You are right: I do. Well, at least somewhat. You choose a place beyond which science may not proceed. For me, at least, the problem with that choice is who gets to do the choosing, and what are the reasons for the choice. Do you choose wisely and wait until science is completely exhausted before you say "here is God"? Or do you give up at the first opportunity? The difference between the two is that of slaving behind a plow for your daily bread and having your values enforced upon you by the representatives of the holy arbiter/interpreter, vs having modern technology, spare time, and the ability to make the decisions about your life that you choose. We have plenty of contemporary examples of the former. I don't think it's the way that anyone really wants to go. At least under secular governments one is able to choose. Under secularism, or the scientific method if you choose, the "God solution" is put off as long as possible, thus giving the most opportunity to improve our lives and discover the rules of the physical universe.

Quote:
Considering that this disagreement is a matter of values - not scientific principles - there is nothing whatsoever to solve this.
But it is interesting that a deliberate retreat to "god did it" is the one that provides the fewest choices and the least amount of personal freedom, along with the poorest lifestyle.

Quote:
Ask any contemporary psychologist to explain our behaviour and they will tell you it is a combination of nature and nurture. In your view, it is mostly nature and a bit of nurture; and addtitionally, you appear to think that nurture can be reduced to a few gross scientific principles, too. I will disagree.
Here's an interesting article that is in Yahoo news today. Paragraph one pretty much says the whole thing. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090223/sc_nm/us_art_sex_1 I agree that we are a combination of nature and nurture. But, once again, I'd say delay making the decision as to how much of which until the final bell has rung.

Quote:
If, say, cultural activity is simply a means of attracting the opposite sex, then it is absolutely unexplainable why many of the greatest artists have gone beyond the rudimentary that seems to do in most cases, often isolating themselves from the rest of society (including the opposite sex) to devote themselves entirely to their work. The only explanations I can think of are either insanity or some weird sort of altruism (what is altruistic about producing art that does not appeal to the majority of the planet or even one's own tribe?).
Here's our old friend false dichotomy once again. You will notice that in my posts, I try to use a large variety of words to avoid boring repetition. The same must be true of art, mustn't it? What would be the point of painting the same paintings over and over? Sure, it's important for the student to develop skills, but nothing is really added to art, as a result. There is also the case that sexual diversity is not only wider than you know, but it is probably wider than you can even guess. In a nutshell, no matter what expression the artist chooses, there will be some set of potential partners who find it appealing. Yes, you may think that they are isolating themselves from the opposite sex, but I wonder what happens in private?

Quote:
As a lover of art, I can only deplore the accelerating deterioration of our culture
Who died and made you the judge? Art is what it is. As mentioned above, after a thing has been said a certain number of times, it becomes boring to such an extent that anything, and I do mean anything, is preferable to still another rehash of a once-popular theme.

Quote:
I cannot think of a single work of the imagination produced since the late sixties that comes even remotely close to that produced during the heydays of the West.
Eric Clapton. Freddy Mercury. Ian Anderson. David Drake. The list of musical and fiction artists is as long as you like. I'm not a connoisseur of fine art, so I can't offer any suggestions.

Quote:
Nowadays, we have feminists, marxists, anti-colonialists, you name it, all fckin up our rich tradition because no-one seems to care about it anymore; it is all about the short term gain and atheism plays perfectly in their hand.
I can't see that atheism has anything to do with it. I can't imagine having anything in common with marxism/socialism/communism. If you're feeling out of place and time and desire a return to the <insert decade here> I can't help you. I personally loved the 70s, but there's that pesky Vietnam war, the Cold War, and all the rest that my mind slips past in its fond remembrances.

Atheism isn't the problem. I'd suggest you might look closer to home. Just like all other life, cultures evolve. To remain the same is to die.


Quote:
Now, trust me - or do your research - decline in the arts is not a trivial phenomenon. Looking back at ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Rome and Greece, one will see that it heralds the collapse of the culture as a whole. They got out of touch with themselves, only to be overrun by less civilized tribes.
Here we must disagree, and quite strongly. When we look at each of these societies, what we see preceding their fall is the inevitable result of wealth and ease: compassion and the desire for popularity. Once compassion for your fellow man enters the picture, your choices narrow. We will be overrun by "less civilized tribes" because we choose to in the name of multiculturalism. The inevitable result, balkanism, is always destructive. We have entered that point in the progression of a society where the desire for the good will of our peers overrides common sense. So, yes, things go down from here.

Quote:
Well, they are here already, they have no interest in science whatsoever and their numbers are growing. Can we go back? I think not, I think it is an illusion that cultures can be controlled.
I don't disagree. It may surprise you that I am both an atheist and a conservative. Maybe that's an odd combination. I don't know.

Last edited by Quakeboy02; 02-23-2009 at 10:00 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 10:14 PM   #852
jay73
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LOL, that last post must be confusing to whoever gets to read it. I deleted most of my post before your reply appeared so now folks are bound to wonder where you got all those quotes.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 10:37 PM   #853
Quakeboy02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
LOL, that last post must be confusing to whoever gets to read it. I deleted most of my post before your reply appeared so now folks are bound to wonder where you got all those quotes.
I don't see that you have anything to be ashamed of in that post to the point that you'd delete it. It's a good post; you're just wrong. LOL

At this point, I think you deserve a few more comments from me to judge as you will.

A few years ago on a Yahoo board I noted that atheism is most definitely NOT the same as secular humanism, but it generally leads to it. I still feel that way, and the observation now causes me concern. As much as it pains me to say it, I do hope that Christianity prevails in America. I can live with that, as I share the same culture and values. I'm pretty sure that things would go wrong for me pretty quickly in an Islamic state, even the "neutered" one that we hope we are developing here in the US and Canada. So, to the extent that atheism promotes secular humanism, it is a failure and should only be tolerated in small doses. Widespread atheism would probably be just as doomed as widespread pacifism; and for the same reason: lack of an over-riding instinct for self-preservation.

As noted above, I feel strongly that cultural liberalism is the recipe for disaster. The "Great American Melting Pot" has turned out to be a myth. Just as white Europeans didn't assimilate into Native American culture (we stole their country), blacks have not assimilated into white society, nor have the members of any other race/ethnicity that have since immigrated. We are no longer "One Nation" (as in the original pledge) much less "One Nation Under God" (as amended). This is not a good thing for any of the divided races that populate this great nation.
 
Old 02-24-2009, 01:21 AM   #854
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I think the gloves should come off. Those who teach and preach hate, no matter what their skin color is, should not be tolerated. Living to double standards where a muslim can call for the death of those who try to make humor of muslims is essentially the same thing. I propose lobotomy for those who teach and preach hate and extremism.
 
Old 02-24-2009, 06:15 AM   #855
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quakeboy02 View Post
Science is incremental. There are no really big gaps left for the scientists to work on. To this point, there is no physical or logical evidence of a god, whether "one true" or otherwise. From what we know about the physical universe, and we know a LOT, there is simply no necessity for a god.
No really big gaps???

Such a bold statement, and so untrue.

What is life? What is consciousness? The science of physics has barely even scratched these subjects.

If our universe is an N-dimensional manifold maintained in an M-dimensional space (and it certainly appears to be), then what is the nature of that M-dimensional space?

What is gravity? Science continues to wrestle with that one. Perhaps we are zeroing in on the answer to that, but we don't have it yet.

Dark matter, dark energy? The philogiston of the 21st century - a patchwork to explain phenomena that we can't explain.

No gaps? Perhaps not. But in that case, our total sum of knowledge must be treated as a ball that exists in a sea of unknowns. That which we have not yet learned, or even perceived, most certainly seems to vastly outweigh that which we HAVE learned.

Quote:
And, as I mentioned the problem of infinite regression makes it extremely difficult for any scientist to seriously postulate a god. Why? One of the arguments for a god is some serious misreading of the 2nd law of thermodynamics; where the arguer believes that since the universe tends toward disorder, it must have started with perfect order. Somehow this then gets perverted to imply (and then insist) that the perfect order would be god. However, we see that life works in the exact opposite fashion, and goes from the simple to the complex, disorder to order.
Actually, one of the more intriguing aspects of life is that it tends to violate the second law of thermodynamics, at least locally and for a period of time.

So perhaps, like Newton's laws, the so-called laws of thermodynamics aren't really? Perhaps they are a special case of something larger and more fundamental? I can tell you that if you take a statistical mechanics approach to the development of thermo, you wind up concluding exactly that; thermodynamics is certainly not fundamental.

Quote:
There's also the issue of the philosophical difference between god and science. With a firm belief in god, there is no science. As we saw in Behe's attempt to usurp science, when "god did it" is asserted (and believed) as the answer to any unknown, then the search for answers inevitably stops.
This is certainly true, and yet totally irrelevant to the existence or non-existence of a god. That it is true is certainly a reason to postulate the non-existence of a god for purposes of science, but such a postulate also bears no relevance to the existence of that god.

Quote:
There's also the question of how to find god if he/she/it doesn't want to be found. In order to "bell the cat" you must be smarter and more powerful than the cat.
Or more persistent. Or luckier. Or catch the cat on a bad day. Or escape from the lab.

Quote:
Our inspection of the known universe has shown it to be a consistent universe with consistent laws whether god is hiding his tracks, or there is a dreamer, or it's a computer simulation, or something else, entirely. In order to advance the cause of science, only the "not god" case is relevant.
And more recent investigations are bringing even this consistency argument into question. It is being widely considered at the present time that the isotropy of space which is at the heart of our physics may be a false assumption. See "dark matter" and "dark energy" for the reasons why; fact is that cosmology is presently being turned upside down and nothing makes sense.

Quote:
I would suggest that you look into this a bit more. Einstein did not throw out Newton's laws. What he did was refine them and fill in the blanks.
Considering that my degrees are all in physics, it is a safe assumption that I HAVE looked into it, in great detail, for many years.

Einstein showed that Newton's Laws were nothing of the sort. They were merely approximations of the true reality, valid only within a certain domain of mass and velocity.

And now, even Einsteins work is being questioned; does it too merely characterize a subset of the "true" reality?

Quote:
Science has come a long way since the dark ages. It has been a very long time since any major area of scientific knowledge has been shown to be wrong.
Uh. Yeah. It was...well...about six years ago that that the Standard Model of high energy physics got overturned. Seems that the neutrino has mass. That upset a lot of theorists and has broken the standard model. Which still has not been fixed.

Quote:
What we continue to see is stepwise refinement, not major discovery.
Oh, this is sooooooo false.

Physics: Neutrino has mass; what, then, of the Standard Model? Dark Matter and Dark energy make everyone unhappy; clearly a patch and possibly suggests that space is not isotropic. CERN accelerator may open a window into the M-dimensional space, by at least telling us the extent of our universe in the unperceived dimensions which we know exist. String theory remains as intractable as ever, but quantum gravity seems to be not holding up too well (surprises me...). Still no way to bring electromagnetism, strong force, gravity together.

There is an emerging new field: quantum neurophysiology and its partner, quantum neuropsychology (science of thought).

Quote:
This is true, but at this point, as just stated, it's unlikely to the point of improbability that something as fundamental as evolution or general relativity will be shown to be wrong. The theories are simply too well supported by fact.
Evolution looks solid, but there is serious consideration underway that relativity is....not wrong, any more than Newton's Laws are wrong...but that it is an approximation, valid only under local conditions and not generally.

And "well supported by fact" historically has meant that "we haven't yet found the fact that contradicts it". And the history of science is the finding of such facts, and that process continues to this day. In fact, I reiterate that physics is presently being turned on its head yet again as more inconvenient facts emerge. Relativity may not survive as a fundamental description of the universe.

Quote:
No such answer will ever be contemplated by a scientist, because, as already stated, it is a dead end. If we discover the higgs (or not) and if that leads us to some point that we cannot cross (i.e. brane theory is falsified) then the point will be marked as "unknown at the moment", not as "here is god".
Correct, as far as it goes. Should we reach a situation where we see all of the initial conditions, we will be seeing them within the framework of a reality that is outside of our reality. So we will start exploring that reality. And it could be that we'll conclude that we are someone's lab experiment. But at that point it wouldn't matter any more; reality IS whether we were created or not, and we would continue to explore reality.

And, before you ask; Yes. Science is virtually certain that this larger reality exists. The evidence for it is well nigh overwhelming, though its nature is almost totally unknown.

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As explained, the statement "there is no god" is the rejection of an answer that is a dead end. If there is some cryptic paranoid god/creator, then we will never know. Science won't be able to measure it, and thus it will never be put forward as "the answer".
You are making many assumptions here. Very many assumptions.
 
  


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