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Source: (consider it) Thread: What if Christianity never existed
lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
lilbuddha wrote:

quote:
Seriously? God created everything in six days: boom. That? That you think is intellectually stimulating for science? Or were you meaning other monotheistic religions than Christianity, Judaism and Islam?
I don't think the point was that everything about monotheism automatically leads to rigorous application of the scientific method. Rather, it's that monotheism contains within itself the ideas that eventually give rise to the scientific method.

Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but I don't think you can refute the argument simply by pointing out instances of monotheists, even in their sacred texts, making unscientific claims.

So far, the only "proof" for monotheism has been coincidence. Still waiting for anything else.

[ 04. July 2017, 02:55: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Galloping Granny
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
AFAIUI Islam owes a certain amount to Christianity and Judaism. Muhammad is believed to have had considerable contact with both Christians and Jews, and Jesus is revered as a prophet.

Ishmael was Abraham's first son, by Hagar, his wife's serving woman, and Sarah threw her and Ishmael out after Isaac was born, Muslims claim him as their forefather, the *eldest* son of Abraham and therefore senior to Isaac and his descendants.
I have an idea that they tell the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac, but with Ishmael as the son concerned.

GG

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Ohher
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I keep thinking that, with no Christianity, the governance and history of medieval Europe would have been so different, without a Church -- and celibacy -- to send all those best and brightest minds into . . .

Would there have been a lingua franca like Latin for scholars from different countries to confab in? That would have been a serious drag on scientific advancement . . .

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Latchkey Kid
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Latchkey Kid:
I understand that Buddhism has a much more civilised approach to schisms than does Christianity.

PS. I don't think that (one type of) Christianity is the only inspired religion, but I can't change my spiritual heritage.

Yet people move on from their spiritual heritage all the time. New religions and religious movements wouldn't exist if that weren't the case. Christians are particularly prone to this, ISTM.

In what sense does Buddhism have a more civilised approach to schism than Christianity?

I have moved on in the sense that I have left a more exclusivist open brethren upbringing to a faith that looks more to interdenominational and interfaith dialogue and understanding and away from the Book of Rules and propositional and systematic theology. But icons, statues (whether of saints, Christ, Buddha, Bodhisattvas, etc) and grand architecture I find interesting, but not spiritually inspiring as others do.

And its been a long time, but I understand that within Buddhism there is a "law" of schism whereby if a disagreement that cannot be resolved occurs (I think in a monastery) then the smaller group should separate and form its own school. No heretic calling or persecution AFAIK.

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'You must never give way for an answer. An answer is always the stretch of road that's behind you. Only a question can point the way forward.'
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Al Eluia

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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
I keep thinking that, with no Christianity, the governance and history of medieval Europe would have been so different, without a Church -- and celibacy -- to send all those best and brightest minds into . . .

Would there have been a lingua franca like Latin for scholars from different countries to confab in? That would have been a serious drag on scientific advancement . . .

Presumably Latin would have continued to be the language of learned discourse in Western Europe after the fall of the Empire, Christian or not. Of course it's entirely a matter of conjecture what institutions would have continued to preserve classical learning.

I do enjoy "alternate history" fiction and am currently reading a series based on "What if the Roman Empire had never fallen." It's set in our 13th century and involves Roman contact with Native American cultures of the time. There is some mention of Christianity, but as one religion among several practiced in the Empire. Presumably there was never a Constantine and his successors to make it the official religion.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Galloping Granny:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
AFAIUI Islam owes a certain amount to Christianity and Judaism. Muhammad is believed to have had considerable contact with both Christians and Jews, and Jesus is revered as a prophet.

Ishmael was Abraham's first son, by Hagar, his wife's serving woman, and Sarah threw her and Ishmael out after Isaac was born, Muslims claim him as their forefather, the *eldest* son of Abraham and therefore senior to Isaac and his descendants.
I have an idea that they tell the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac, but with Ishmael as the son concerned.

GG

It is a fundamental alternative history for modern Muslims despite "it is estimated that 131 traditions say Isaac was the son, while 133 say Ishmael [ancestor of the Arabs]." because the Qu'ran does not name the son.

The great Eid, Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice is the most sacred.

[ 04. July 2017, 09:08: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

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Martin60
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Sorry, the greater: Eid al-Kabir, "the Greater Eid".

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Love wins

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Do you think monotheism is important to scientific discovery?

I don't think it is now (although intellectual environments that don't share a couple of deep features with monotheism may not be conducive to it).(*)
(*) The feature here is roughly that the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified.

Seriously? God created everything in six days: boom. That? That you think is intellectually stimulating for science?
Yes. (Not the six days bit obviously.)
The argument goes that Greek philosophers believed that the cosmos was either eternally existing or that it was created according to the operations of logical principles. Logical principles are necessary and sufficient to determine the nature of the universe. As a result it was in principle possible to deduce the laws governing the universe from first principles.
Monotheists believe that logical and rational principles are insufficient to constrain God. Logical principles are necessary but not sufficient to determine the laws of the universe. God was free to make the universe otherwise if God had so chosen, to pass other laws. As a result you can't determine the laws of nature from first principles. You have to work out what they are by observation.
Seventeenth century writers arguing for the new learning repeatedly accused the ancients (and by extension their contemporary opponents) of pride in thinking they could understand God's creation merely out of their own heads without the humble effort of empirical research.
In passing: the phrase 'laws of nature' was not originally a metaphor. It was a direct analogy that the universe was governed by laws passed by God. A culture that wasn't monotheistic would probably not have come up with the concept of laws governing nature.

quote:
quote:

Do I think monotheism was important to the birth and early development of the sixteenth/seventeenth century scientific revolution. The jury is out.

No jury necessary. Those who think this is a factor are confusing stability and natural progress with influence from religion.
And you think you're able to generalise about people who disagree with you because?

quote:
quote:

The first scientist who can reasonably be called experimental, Alhazen, was a monotheist.

Ibn al-Haytham. But anyway, he is the father of the scientific method, not science.
If you routinely refer to Aristoteles and Platon, and never talk about Averroes and Avicenna, sure.

It seems to me that if we're talking about science in any kind of privileged sense that distinguishes it from other branches of human knowledge then we're talking about the use of the scientific method.

quote:
quote:

China, despite an impressive tradition of natural philosophy, never had a scientific revolution. China was philosophically more advanced than Europe at almost every point up to the fifteenth century; by the end of the seventeenth century Jesuits earned a place in the Qing Emperors court by explaining Western astronomy.

When China was in decline. But no, it must have been the Christians.
I do not see any reason to suppose that China was any more in decline during the early years of the Qing than during the early years of the Ming or Song or Tang.

[ 04. July 2017, 10:44: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Martin60
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Fascinating. Robust as ever. So C17th monotheists (Galileo, Bacon, Kepler and predominantly subsequent British Protestant luminaries) gave us empiricism as the theory bound scholasticism of the previous half millennium of Catholic monotheists gave out? Simplistically isn't the scientific revolution an immediate, superficial product of the liberation in the Reformation? A common enough trope. But we wouldn't have had the latter without the former? Surely the (similarly old) proposition is that we would? Vastly earlier. What am I missing in my dotage? Did Islamic monotheism give us empiricism through Alhazen, Avicenna and Averroes over half a millennium earlier? Monotheism is still the key?

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Love wins

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
A culture that wasn't monotheistic would probably not have come up with the concept of laws governing nature.

The counter to that is "God makes it happen, nothing further needed." That is a more logical following of the text.
ISTM, what you are describing is more projection than proof.

quote:
And you think you're able to generalise about people who disagree with you because?
Because there is no proof. Nothing to test, therefore it must not be right.

quote:

It seems to me that if we're talking about science in any kind of privileged sense that distinguishes it from other branches of human knowledge then we're talking about the use of the scientific method.

Science evolved from other branches of thought. There is no clean dividing line, even today.

quote:
I do not see any reason to suppose that China was any more in decline during the early years of the Qing than during the early years of the Ming or Song or Tang.
It would take a secondary tangent on the history and stability of China at various points to work this out. And I think this tangent is way to big anyway.
Stability, freedom and time are the necessary ingredients to feed curiosity and progress. This leads to science becoming more rigorous, not God.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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wabale
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The development of the Scientific method seems as much to do with the cross-fertilisation of ideas among different cultures as it is to do with monotheism.

I do wonder if the idea that the scientific method required monotheism is an historical misunderstanding that arose out of our perception of the colonial experience in Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Even great places of learning like Timbuctu found themselves hundreds of years behind the times, and much of Africa had to learn European languages and culture before they could learn ‘modern’ science. But this is the sort of adjustment that comes about throughout history, when any people find themselves out of synch. with the newest technology.

Earlier this year students at the School of African and Oriental Studies demanded to be taught a more global perspective on history; or, as the Daily Telegraph put it: “University students demand philosophers such as Plato and Kant are removed from syllabus because they are white”. In ‘The argumentative Indian’ Amartya Sen argues that Indians invented the Socratic method hundreds of years before the Greeks did, and many advances were made in mathematics and many other branches of science that arose out of their argumentative tradition. The invention of the zero in the subcontinent, for example, may have owed something to Babylon, but it certainly didn’t owe anything to monotheism.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
What am I missing in my dotage?

The Renaissance.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:

Do you think monotheism is important to scientific discovery?

Not as such.

I suspect the important thing is rejecting animism, the view that everything happens because of spirits. As long as you're thinking of natural phenomena as quasi-persons to be influenced by prayer and sacrifice, you're not going to get very far with cause-and-effect reasoning, which is one of the elements of science.

So I incline to the view that, whether or not you count the acievements of the ancient Greeks as being science, they could have gone further in that direction, because their polytheism had the Gods sufficiently far away (the top of Mount Olympus) from everyday reality most of the time, for it to be possible to study that reality as sonething impersonal, something outside of religion.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
A culture that wasn't monotheistic would probably not have come up with the concept of laws governing nature.

The counter to that is "God makes it happen, nothing further needed." That is a more logical following of the text.
Some monotheists have thought that way. That's irrelevant to whether other monotheists thought another way. Monotheists have been known to disagree among themselves.

You want to believe it is a more logical following of the text (which text? have you been taking stylistic tips from Aijalon's posts?). What you want to believe is nothing to do with what people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries actually believed.

That the phrase 'laws of nature' was directly due to monotheism is not a projection. It is a fact.
From the Oxford English Dictionary, under 'law':
quote:
The ‘laws of nature’, by those who first used the term in this sense, were viewed as commands imposed by the Deity upon matter
quote:
quote:
And you think you're able to generalise about people who disagree with you because?
Because there is no proof. Nothing to test, therefore it must not be right.
This is blatantly untrue.
Pretty much the entirety of history (the subject) is made up of statements for which there is no proof and which can't be tested any more than the thesis about monotheism and the scientific method can. That doesn't mean none of the statements can be right.
Your post is entirely made up of statements for which there is no proof and cannot be tested.

In mathematics, let alone less provable subjects, there's actually a mathematical proof that there are statements that cannot be proven or tested and yet are right.

quote:
quote:

It seems to me that if we're talking about science in any kind of privileged sense that distinguishes it from other branches of human knowledge then we're talking about the use of the scientific method.

Science evolved from other branches of thought. There is no clean dividing line, even today.
This is true, but not relevant.

quote:
quote:
I do not see any reason to suppose that China was any more in decline during the early years of the Qing than during the early years of the Ming or Song or Tang.
It would take a secondary tangent on the history and stability of China at various points to work this out. And I think this tangent is way to big anyway.
Stability, freedom and time are the necessary ingredients to feed curiosity and progress. This leads to science becoming more rigorous, not God.

Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries managed to feed curiosity and progress. It wasn't obviously more stable or free than any other period of European history.

--------------------
we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

You want to believe it is a more logical following of the text (which text?

The Bible. Nothing in it implicitly encourages scientific exploration.
quote:

have you been taking stylistic tips from Aijalon's posts?).

Really cute.
quote:

Your post is entirely made up of statements for which there is no proof and cannot be tested.

As are yours.

quote:

Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries managed to feed curiosity and progress. It wasn't obviously more stable or free than any other period of European history.

Link to stability and scientific progress.

You want to make a case for monotheism being the best thing for scientific advance. All I see is temporal coincidence.

Polytheistic societies managed astronomy, invention, massive construction, etc. that required experiment, observation, maths, etc. All long before anything in the monotheistic world.
Both Christendom and Islam built on Greek discovery. It is as reasonable to say without polytheism, monotheistic science would have never developed as it did as it is to say that monotheism built what polytheism could not.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Martin60
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So, if you put the Queen Mary in a close fitting tea cup, rivets and all, but not so close that Van der Waal's forces, viscosity and what not affected displacement, wouldn't the vertical displacement by the ship's great mass go all the way up the sides on to the deck and if piped in to the tea cup to supply demand, sink her? And wouldn't that happen due to viscosity anyway if thin enough?

In C17th Protestant Britain you had the necessary freedom that was lost in Islam and Catholic Europe. Simplistic I know as it was Aquinas that gave us Aristotle back after a thousand years.

[ 05. July 2017, 09:28: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
What am I missing in my dotage?

The Renaissance.
How so Sir? Do I not agree with my betters here who deny that we have Christianity as a whole to thank for modern science? On the contrary? Or, more nuanced, it delayed it by a thousand years and then rapidly facilitated it, an analogy being a dynamic chemical reaction which exponentially tilts? But the swing, though rapid and sufficient, cannot give us back the time that was lost? Probably half a millennium at least?

[ 05. July 2017, 09:39: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
All I see is temporal coincidence.

Do you have any evidence for that?

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Brenda Clough
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I do this all the time. So I will just note:

1. You will never get a definitive answer to these questions. It's impossible to tease out the threads chance happenings (the butterfly-wings theory) with the drive of history, AKA the will of God. Proof? Consider a smaller canvas, your own life, let us say. How did you meet your spouse? How large an element of chance was in that meeting? Could it have worked out differently, she looked left instead of right, sat beside some other guy at the prayer service, accepted admission at some other school?

2. But, not to worry! Quantum physics has determined that we live in one of what is very possibly an infinite number of universes. (Would anything less be satisfactory, to an infinite God?) Infinity is a neat concept, because any subset of infinity is also infinite. So: there are an infinite number of universes different from this one. But there are an infinite number of universe exactly like this one. There are an infinite number of universes in which you are sitting here irritably reading this post. And, blessedly, there are universes where you can go and look at all the possibilities generated upthread. What happens if there was no Christianity? No Islam? No Pythagoras? That universe in which William Shakespeare's mother miscarried in the third month? Yes, let's go see!

How, you say? Ah! That's the difficult part. I just did my bit. I did it with words and a keyboard. Some boffin has to go and do theirs, if we want to see it in the physical world.

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Martin60
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The history of ideas narrative is deterministic.

How does God's will drive history? Backwards?

Whatever drives the Godlessly necessary infinity of universes, it isn't quantum mechanics. Unless you are running amok with the analogy of electrons being everywhere between source and target. Which is a tad imparsimonious.

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Love wins

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
All I see is temporal coincidence.

Do you have any evidence for that?
sigh
Science progresses with time. As our understanding builds it moves forward. The coincidence is the rise of powers that happen to be monotheistic occurred relatively recently, after huge amounts of the basic building blocks of science were laid.
Proof? There can be no proof. I am going with the more logical, less exceptional interpretation.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
All I see is temporal coincidence.

Do you have any evidence for that?
sigh
Science progresses with time. As our understanding builds it moves forward. The coincidence is the rise of powers that happen to be monotheistic occurred relatively recently, after huge amounts of the basic building blocks of science were laid.
Proof? There can be no proof. I am going with the more logical, less exceptional interpretation.

ISTM, what you are describing is more projection than proof.
Because there is no proof. Nothing to test, therefore it must not be right.
sigh

[ 05. July 2017, 15:58: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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lilBuddha
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And what you are doing is projection as well.
I have faith in human curiousity and you appear to have faith in faith.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
A culture that wasn't monotheistic would probably not have come up with the concept of laws governing nature.

The counter to that is "God makes it happen, nothing further needed." That is a more logical following of the text.
Some monotheists have thought that way. That's irrelevant to whether other monotheists thought another way. Monotheists have been known to disagree among themselves.
First off, it should be noted that a polytheist like Archimedes was able to derive "laws governing nature" like the principles of buoyancy or leverage, so the concept obviously isn't completely alien to non-monotheists. In fact, I've heard it argued that because Greek religion was such a non-explanatory hodge-podge it actually encouraged the search for answers or patterns in non-religious ways. I'm not sure I buy that particular argument, but it's at least as plausible as saying that non-monotheists are incapable of recognizing and analyzing patterns in nature.

At any rate, from an historical perspective Goddidit seems to be the predominant answer monotheists come up with when faced with unanswered questions and get quite upset when alternative explanations are proposed. Opposition to heliocentrism is an a well-known and obvious example, but it extends even to fields we'd consider non-scientific, such as political science.

quote:
In the pre-modern world, a firestorm of accusations of atheism and wickedness awaited anyone who raised a powerful and persuasive alternate answer to some question whose traditional answer depended on God. This firestorm fell even if the author in question never made any atheist arguments, which, generally, they didn’t. It happened often, and fiercely.

Thomas Hobbes awoke one such firestorm when his Leviathan suggested that savage man, living in a state of terror and war in his caves and trees, might through reason and self-interest alone come together and develop society and government. Until that time, Europe had no explanation for how government came to be other than that God instituted it; no explanation for kings other than that God raised them to glory; no explanation for what glue should hold men together, loyal to the law, other than fear of divine punishment. Hobbes’ alternative does not say “There is no God,” but it says, “Government and society arose without God’s participation,” a political theory which an atheist and a theist might equally use. It gives the atheist an answer, and thereby so terrified England that she passed law after law against “atheism” specifically and personally targeting Hobbes and banning him from publishing in genre after genre, until he spent his final years producing bad translations of Homer and filling them with not-so-subtle Hobbesian political notions one can spot between the lines.



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mousethief

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Allow me to humbly point out that heliocentrism, for all the RCC defended it, was not a Christian invention. We inherited it from the Greeks, specifically Ptolemy I believe. It is not a "goddidit" explanation.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Allow me to humbly point out that heliocentrism, for all the RCC defended it, was not a Christian invention. We inherited it from the Greeks, specifically Ptolemy I believe. It is not a "goddidit" explanation.

I think you mean "geocentrism".

The main objection to heliocentrism from the point of view of a seventeenth century Christian is that it contradicts several Biblical passages stating that the Earth is fixed and does not move. The idea that the Earth wasn't the center of the Universe, while troubling, was considered a second order problem to the idea that the Earth was actually in motion.

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hatless

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I think that's geocentrism.

My impression is that many of those associated with advances in understanding were individualist in matters of faith as well as science. I don't think many of them were typical monotheists or polytheists or whatever the aggregate of their neighbours is thought to have been. They thought for themselves in science and in faith and in politics, and were often unhappy in their times because of it.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Allow me to humbly point out that heliocentrism, for all the RCC defended it, was not a Christian invention. We inherited it from the Greeks, specifically Ptolemy I believe. It is not a "goddidit" explanation.

I think you mean "geocentrism".
Right you are. Apologies.

quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The main objection to heliocentrism from the point of view of a seventeenth century Christian is that it contradicts several Biblical passages stating that the Earth is fixed and does not move. The idea that the Earth wasn't the center of the Universe, while troubling, was considered a second order problem to the idea that the Earth was actually in motion.

It also plainly contradicts the evidence of the eyes. Anybody, scientist or moron, can see that the sun moves across the sky. To accept heliocentrism is to give up what is obvious for a theoretical construct which is invisible. It's the ultimate in trusting the math over the evidence. The chief argument for it was that it makes a more elegant and mathematically simple system of equations and diagrams. It's Occam's Razor in spite of the evidence of everyone's eyes. It's an amazing leap. The term "Copernican Revolution" has become something of a cliché (and of course a pun) but at the time it really was a revolution. A huge leap.

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hatless

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You could say that Plato's Cave is an allegory to show how what is obvious to everyone may turn out to be mere shadow play when compared to the truth, and to encourage us to look for other examples where the truth is surprising, wonderful and liberating.

I'm really not persuaded by the significance of monotheism. Shouldn't there be evidence of particular patterns of thought, if it were true?

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The main objection to heliocentrism from the point of view of a seventeenth century Christian is that it contradicts several Biblical passages stating that the Earth is fixed and does not move. The idea that the Earth wasn't the center of the Universe, while troubling, was considered a second order problem to the idea that the Earth was actually in motion.

It also plainly contradicts the evidence of the eyes. Anybody, scientist or moron, can see that the sun moves across the sky. To accept heliocentrism is to give up what is obvious for a theoretical construct which is invisible. It's the ultimate in trusting the math over the evidence.
There were other, more complicated pragmatic arguments against the idea that the apparent motion of the Sun was actually the rotation of the Earth (e.g. if the Earth was spinning a man who leapt into the air in Athens would land somewhere in near Corinth, the Earth having spun away while he was aloft), but none of these were actually cited by the Church at Galileo's trial.

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Ohher
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Leaving aside the whole science argument for a moment, here's a different take:

If there were no Christianity, there would now be no dividing line between the era we used to call Before Christ (or now, Before the Common Era) and the era we’re in now: Anno Domini, or (now) C.E.

What is now the Common Era 2017 might instead be dated from the dissolution of the Roman Empire in 1453, so it would now be the year 564. Or possibly it would now be 1541, since we could be dating the current era from the collapse of ancient Rome in 476.

Since Judaism doesn’t actively proselytize, it’s likely that religious group would have remained relatively small. After the Romans destroyed the Second Temple on the 9th of Av in the Hebrew year 3830, the Diaspora would have further diminished this group’s influence. The Roman pantheon, with the current Caesar as high priest / god, would have become the dominant religion up until ancient Rome fell. A kind of amalgam of assorted Northern pagan traditions and Roman beliefs/practices including both animal and human sacrifice would have held sway until Islam, founded in the early (CE) 600s, began to spread westward.

As the Middle Eastern Islamic peoples , with better-organized societies and more advanced technologies, worked their way into southern and central Europe, they easily defeated the pagan tribes and converted these. Assuming the introduction of a more sensible calendar by the mathematically more-sophisticated Islamic scholars, who might date this era Post Mohammed from, say, the year of Mohammed’s revelations in (CE) 610, we would now probably be mostly bi-lingual (Arabic and national language) Muslim followers, living in the Islamic year 1407.

So, no, I don't think Latin would have hung on as long as it did absent the Church to keep it burbling along, though it might have survived alongside Arabic for the sake of preserving texts in the sciences and mathematics.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
A culture that wasn't monotheistic would probably not have come up with the concept of laws governing nature.

The counter to that is "God makes it happen, nothing further needed." That is a more logical following of the text.
Some monotheists have thought that way. That's irrelevant to whether other monotheists thought another way. Monotheists have been known to disagree among themselves.
First off, it should be noted that a polytheist like Archimedes was able to derive "laws governing nature" like the principles of buoyancy or leverage, so the concept obviously isn't completely alien to non-monotheists. In fact, I've heard it argued that because Greek religion was such a non-explanatory hodge-podge it actually encouraged the search for answers or patterns in non-religious ways. I'm not sure I buy that particular argument, but it's at least as plausible as saying that non-monotheists are incapable of recognizing and analyzing patterns in nature.
Archimedes called his principles postulates, as Euclid calls the theorems in his book. He didn't call them laws. He doesn't use a metaphor of anything governing anything. So Archimedes is conceptually grouping the theory of floating bodies with Pythagoras' theorem and he is not likening his theories to laws. I think that in order for someone to have the same concept as we do it has to cover roughly the same sort of conceptual space. A postulate is something that you prove from axioms without reference to empirical observation as Archimedes proved his principles. A law of nature is not.
Not all recognising and analysing patterns in nature uses the same conceptual tools. The writer of Genesis 1 was capable of recognising patterns in nature such as the distinction between animals and plants; it would be a brave person who said that this showed they had the concept of the tree of life.

quote:
At any rate, from an historical perspective Goddidit seems to be the predominant answer monotheists come up with when faced with unanswered questions and get quite upset when alternative explanations are proposed.
I'm not aware of any monotheists who gave the answer 'Goddidit' to any question. I've never seen the word used except by an atheist and I don't think before the internet.
Oh, you mean metaphorically not literally? I note that if someone were inclined to run a No True Scotsman argument or the reverse fallacy (No True non-Porridge Eater) it would be much harder to pin the fallacy down if they can strategically expand and contract the metaphor rather than be constrained by a concept with a literal definition. But I'm sure such dishonesty couldn't be further from your mind.
'Predominant' could also be a weasel word. No matter how many counterexamples one piles up one can always say, yes, but it's still the predominant answer. How exactly without a methodical survey would one show or assert that a particular example is predominant?

I think by any criterion by which 'Goddidit' could be reasonably said to be a predominant answer among monotheists it could also be reasonably said to be a predominant answer among members of the Hellenistic culture.

In any case, if someone claims that all animals above 100 tons are mammals this claim is not refuted by the observation that predominantly mammals weigh less than a kilogram.

quote:
Opposition to heliocentrism is an a well-known and obvious example, but it extends even to fields we'd consider non-scientific, such as political science.
quote:
Until that time, Europe had no explanation for how government came to be other than that God instituted it; no explanation for kings other than that God raised them to glory; no explanation for what glue should hold men together, loyal to the law, other than fear of divine punishment.
This would seem to be an exaggeration.
Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity:
quote:
But forasmuch as we are not by ourselves sufficient to furnish ourselves with competent store of things needful for such a life as our nature doth desire, a life fit for the dignity of man; therefore to supply those defects and imperfections which are in us living single and solely by ourselves, we are naturally induced to seek communion and fellowship with others. This was the cause of men’s uniting themselves at the first in politic Societies, which societies could not be without Government, nor Government without a distinct kind of Law from that which hath been already declared.
Book 1, Chapter 10.1
quote:
To take away all such mutual grievances, injuries, and wrongs, there was no way but only by growing unto composition and agreement amongst themselves, by ordaining some kind of government public, and by yielding themselves subject thereunto; that unto whom they granted authority to rule and govern, by them the peace, tranquillity, and happy estate of the rest might be procured. Men always knew that when force and injury was offered they might be defenders of themselves; they knew that howsoever men may seek their own commodity, yet if this were done with injury unto others it was not to be suffered, but by all men and by all good means to be withstood; finally they knew that no man might in reason take upon him to determine his own right, and according to his own determination proceed in maintenance thereof, inasmuch as every man is towards himself and them whom he greatly affecteth partial; and therefore that strifes and troubles would be endless, except they gave their common consent all to be ordered by some whom they should agree upon: without which consent there were no reason that one man should take upon him to be lord or judge over another; because, although there be according to the opinion of some very great and judicious men a kind of natural right in the noble, wise, and virtuous, to govern them which are of servile disposition1; nevertheless for manifestation of this their right, and men’s more peaceable contentment on both sides, the assent of them who are to be governed seemeth necessary.
Book I, Chapter 10, 4.
Yes, Hooker does think God ordained positive laws for the Jews and he talks about that in some of the sections I've omitted. But he here seems quite clearly to have explanations that don't require God and to put them forward.

Hobbes had other commitments that made him unpopular. He believed that justice was merely the fulfilment of explicit contract and an advocate of the absolute power of the monarch.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
Since Judaism doesn’t actively proselytize, it’s likely that religious group would have remained relatively small. After the Romans destroyed the Second Temple on the 9th of Av in the Hebrew year 3830, the Diaspora would have further diminished this group’s influence. The Roman pantheon, with the current Caesar as high priest / god, would have become the dominant religion up until ancient Rome fell. A kind of amalgam of assorted Northern pagan traditions and Roman beliefs/practices including both animal and human sacrifice would have held sway until Islam, founded in the early (CE) 600s, began to spread westward.

But with a vastly diminished Judaism and no Christianity, would there have been an Islam, at least in a form anything like the Islam that actually developed?

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
If there were no Christianity, there would now be no dividing line between the era we used to call Before Christ (or now, Before the Common Era) and the era we’re in now: Anno Domini, or (now) C.E.

What is now the Common Era 2017 might instead be dated from the dissolution of the Roman Empire in 1453, so it would now be the year 564. Or possibly it would now be 1541, since we could be dating the current era from the collapse of ancient Rome in 476.

Maybe we'd simply have continued on dating ab urbe condita, making this the year 2770 AUC.

quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
Since Judaism doesn’t actively proselytize, it’s likely that religious group would have remained relatively small. After the Romans destroyed the Second Temple on the 9th of Av in the Hebrew year 3830, the Diaspora would have further diminished this group’s influence.

"Relative" to what? The massive number of Jews in the world today? (Slightly less than 0.2% of the global population.) An alternative view is that the Jews might be doing a lot better in the absence of nearly two millennia of Christian pogroms, expulsions, and forced conversions. Quite frankly I'm not seeing any evidence that the existence of Christianity was anything other than a hindrance to Jewish survival for most of the period since the destruction of the Second Temple.

quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
A kind of amalgam of assorted Northern pagan traditions and Roman beliefs/practices including both animal and human sacrifice would have held sway until Islam, founded in the early (CE) 600s, began to spread westward.

As the Middle Eastern Islamic peoples, with better-organized societies and more advanced technologies, worked their way into southern and central Europe, they easily defeated the pagan tribes and converted these.

First off, given the syncretic influence of Christianity on Islam, I'm not sure you can postulate its development in exactly the same way in a world without Christianity.

Leaving that aside, you seem to be conflating the "better-organized societies [with] more advanced technologies" of the Muslims from (approximately) the tenth or eleventh century through the sixteenth, with the relatively primitive Arab society of Muhammad and his immediate successors. Pre-Islamic Arab society was kind of backwards compared to their Roman and Persian neighbors. In a lot of ways they resembled the Mongols; a divided people who honed their military skills as mercenaries for their more settled and technologically advanced neighbors. Eventually all it took for them to expand at the expense of their neighbors was a unifying leader happening along at a time of relative division amongst those neighbors. And like the Mongols and other "barbaric" people who find themselves in control of more technologically advanced civilizations, they learned fast from their new subjects.

At any rate, I don't think you can postulate a post-Roman Europe of primitive "pagan tribes" and an advanced Islamic society.

An interesting theory I've heard about one of the reasons Islamic learning outstripped that of the former Roman Empire in the Middle Ages is the Hajj. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca was kind of the Internet of its age, bringing together a whole bunch of people who could then share ideas. So if someone invents an astrolabe in Cordoba one year, the next year they're sharing that idea with fellow pilgrims in Mecca, and the year after that the idea could have traveled to Sumatra.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Archimedes called his principles postulates, as Euclid calls the theorems in his book. He didn't call them laws. He doesn't use a metaphor of anything governing anything. So Archimedes is conceptually grouping the theory of floating bodies with Pythagoras' theorem and he is not likening his theories to laws. I think that in order for someone to have the same concept as we do it has to cover roughly the same sort of conceptual space. A postulate is something that you prove from axioms without reference to empirical observation as Archimedes proved his principles. A law of nature is not.

Interestingly this puts special and general relativity outside the category of "laws of nature". They were rather famously derived from postulates rather than empirical observation.

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Ohher
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
But with a vastly diminished Judaism and no Christianity, would there have been an Islam, at least in a form anything like the Islam that actually developed?

Diminished doesn't mean vanished. And the Jews historically -- even though relatively few in numbers -- have nearly always attracted the attentions of those whom they lived among. Their devotion to their traditions and understanding of themselves as The Chosen People, their maintaining their scriptural language, practices and worship, observance of their Sabbath, etc. have always set them apart. As we know, this notice has often proved deadly.

As the Jews, like the Arabs, began as middle-eastern Semitic people, it seems inevitable that pre-Mohammed Arabs would naturally have encountered the Jews of their time and place; it seems likely that the Judaic scriptures would have been known to and would have informed the theologically-inclined literati of the Arab world. No doubt this accounts for the similarities we find between the Torah and the Koran.

Issa, or Jesus, would not have figured in the Koran, but Islam, of course, is a proselytizing religion.

[ 05. July 2017, 23:27: Message edited by: Ohher ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:A postulate is something that you prove from axioms without reference to empirical observation as Archimedes proved his principles. A law of nature is not.
Interestingly this puts special and general relativity outside the category of "laws of nature". They were rather famously derived from postulates rather than empirical observation.
As I understand it the postulate in question was an interpretation of the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment (namely that light travels at a constant speed relative to an observer regardless of the observer's motion). I wouldn't really call that an axiom.
More broadly, Einstein would have expected his results to be accepted by the scientific community because any predictions they made were borne out by experiments rather than solely because he'd done his mathematics correctly. It is rather a great man theory of science to not count experimental observations performed by other people.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:A postulate is something that you prove from axioms without reference to empirical observation as Archimedes proved his principles. A law of nature is not.
Interestingly this puts special and general relativity outside the category of "laws of nature". They were rather famously derived from postulates rather than empirical observation.
As I understand it the postulate in question was an interpretation of the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment (namely that light travels at a constant speed relative to an observer regardless of the observer's motion). I wouldn't really call that an axiom.
It seems to be an artificial distinction to claim that Einstein's use of observations by Michelson & Morley doesn't count as an axiom but that Archimedes claim that "a solid lighter* than a fluid will, if immersed in it, not be completely submerged, but part of it will project above the surface" does. Both seem equally amenable to observation, though different levels of technical sophistication may be required.

Still, this seems rather like moving the goalposts from your original assertion connecting monotheism to the idea that "the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified". Archimedes certainly didn't think that buoyancy was incomprehensible, or that leverage was a purely localized phenomenon. Then you shift to add a requirement that "the universe is intellectually comprehensible, consistent, and unified as decreed by the will of some external being". I'm not sure that the modifier is necessarily beneficial to understanding the physical universe. It might even be harmful, as there is no reason beyond personal prejudice to assume that such an external being's decrees would necessarily be comprehensible, consistent, or unified.

I take a different tack. People don't just arbitrarily assume that the universe is "intellectually comprehensible, consistent, and unified", they notice that it is so, which would seem to be as much of an observation of physical reality as the Michaelson-Morley experiment.


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*Archimedes means "less dense" rather than "lighter" here, but chooses not to use the term for density from a previous proposition which he expressed as "solids which, size for size, are of equal weight with a fluid". I expect the decision was made in the interests of brevity.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It seems to be an artificial distinction to claim that Einstein's use of observations by Michelson & Morley doesn't count as an axiom but that Archimedes claim that "a solid lighter* than a fluid will, if immersed in it, not be completely submerged, but part of it will project above the surface" does. Both seem equally amenable to observation, though different levels of technical sophistication may be required.

Archimedes Proposition 4 is not an axiom because Archimedes deduces it from earlier propositions and from his postulate 1 (which is an axiom).
On your account Archimedes decided to deduce the thing that was amenable to observation, whereas postulate 1 'Let it be supposed that a fluid is of such a character etc.' which appears rather less amenable to observation is just supposed. That appears odd.
What is also odd is that you presumably know what an axiom is and what is meant by prove from axioms and yet you talk about a view that Proposition 4 is an axiom. It's as if you're deliberately misrepresenting the argument.

quote:
Still, this seems rather like moving the goalposts from your original assertion connecting monotheism to the idea that "the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified". Archimedes certainly didn't think that buoyancy was incomprehensible, or that leverage was a purely localized phenomenon.
Oddly my 'original' assertion connected that idea to non-monotheistic systems as well. But you don't mention that. So either you innocently misunderstood the post, which is possible or you've deliberately misunderstood the post, which is equally possible.

The rest of your post continues to look like deliberate misrepresentation.

quote:
People don't just arbitrarily assume that the universe is "intellectually comprehensible, consistent, and unified", they notice that it is so, which would seem to be as much of an observation of physical reality as the Michaelson-Morley experiment.
Some aspects of the universe appear comprehensible, consistent and unified and some do not. The weather for example appears neither comprehensible, consistent, nor unified. Diseases do not appear comprehensible, consistent or unified. Inductive reasoning works sometimes and fails to work other times.
There are appearances of consistency too. But you don't just notice that the appearances of consistency are guides to the underlying nature of the world, and that the appearances of inconsistency are misleading.
In order to notice that the world is consistent, comprehensible and unified you have to use inductive reasoning. But inductive reasoning is notoriously not rationally founded; in order to consider it reliable you have to have a prior assumption that the world is consistent and unified enough for inductive reasoning to work.

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Martin60
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What if Archimedes had never existed?

Would Van der Waals still sink the Queen Mary?

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rolyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
What if Archimedes had never existed?

We would not have had the old schoolyard joke about you-reeker

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quetzalcoatl
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Dafyd wrote:

quote:
Some aspects of the universe appear comprehensible, consistent and unified and some do not. The weather for example appears neither comprehensible, consistent, nor unified. Diseases do not appear comprehensible, consistent or unified. Inductive reasoning works sometimes and fails to work other times.
There are appearances of consistency too. But you don't just notice that the appearances of consistency are guides to the underlying nature of the world, and that the appearances of inconsistency are misleading.
In order to notice that the world is consistent, comprehensible and unified you have to use inductive reasoning. But inductive reasoning is notoriously not rationally founded; in order to consider it reliable you have to have a prior assumption that the world is consistent and unified enough for inductive reasoning to work.

Terrific stuff. I think that observing and noticing are not raw experiences; in other words, they are shrouded by assumptions, or if you like, undercurrents which are guesses.

This reminds me of arguments with Buddhist friends, who argue that 'neither I nor the world' exist, and where I have got to, is an instrumental position. In other words, I don't know if I or the world exist, but it is useful to guess that they do.

In fact, you could say that scientists don't observe reality, but appearances. For some reason, this cheers me immensely.

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the main fear that flat-earthers face is sphere itself.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
What if Archimedes had never existed?

We would not have had the old schoolyard joke about you-reeker
That stinks.

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Love wins

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quetzalcoatl
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Sorry, that should be 'neither I nor the world exist'.

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the main fear that flat-earthers face is sphere itself.

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quetzalcoatl
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duplicate.

[ 07. July 2017, 14:55: Message edited by: quetzalcoatl ]

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the main fear that flat-earthers face is sphere itself.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It seems to be an artificial distinction to claim that Einstein's use of observations by Michelson & Morley doesn't count as an axiom but that Archimedes claim that "a solid lighter* than a fluid will, if immersed in it, not be completely submerged, but part of it will project above the surface" does. Both seem equally amenable to observation, though different levels of technical sophistication may be required.

Archimedes Proposition 4 is not an axiom because Archimedes deduces it from earlier propositions and from his postulate 1 (which is an axiom).
On your account Archimedes decided to deduce the thing that was amenable to observation, whereas postulate 1 'Let it be supposed that a fluid is of such a character etc.' which appears rather less amenable to observation is just supposed.

In whole, Archimedes' Postulate 1 from On Floating Bodies is translated into English as something like:

quote:
Let it be supposed that a fluid is of such a character that, its parts lying evenly and being continuous, that part which is thrust the less is driven along by that which is thrust the more; and that each of its parts is thrust by the fluid which is above it in a perpendicular direction if the fluid be sunk in anything and compressed by anything else.
The Greeks regarded postulates slightly differently than we do. We treat them as "things which are assumed but cannot be directly proven". They considered them more along the lines of "things which are so inherently obvious that proof is unnecessary."

At any rate, Archimedes' Postulate 1 seems more a definition of what is meant by "fluid" than anything else. It consists of two properties which, in less rigidly technical language would seem to boil down to "if you push on a fluid it will get out of your way and redistribute itself to places where you're not pushing on it" (the bit before the semi-colon) and "the lower bits of a body of fluid are pressed down by the bits of fluid above it". It also seems like something which not only can be observed, the first half of Postulate 1 is the subject of the second-most famous (though likely apocryphal*) observation of physical phenomena in history. People who know nothing else about Archimedes of Syracuse are familiar with Vitruvius' account of his bath. So our options here are either that the events happened as Vitruvius described and Archimedes observed Postulate 1 in action, or Vitruvius made it up to add a bit of color to Archimedes' own rather dry and technical style, which shows that an observable demonstration of Postulate 1 in action was immediately obvious to Vitruvius, who was much less technically proficient than Archimedes. Either way, Postulate 1 seems very amenable to observation.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Still, this seems rather like moving the goalposts from your original assertion connecting monotheism to the idea that "the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified". Archimedes certainly didn't think that buoyancy was incomprehensible, or that leverage was a purely localized phenomenon.
Oddly my 'original' assertion connected that idea to non-monotheistic systems as well. But you don't mention that.
Your assertion was "I don't think it is now", in response to the question of whether monotheism is important to scientific discovery. You then went on to speculate that monotheism was critical to scientific discovery in the past, because monotheism supposedly has certain inherent properties, such as:

quote:
The feature here is roughly that the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified. This is obviously shared by the leading forms of scientific materialism, and AIUI by e.g. Chinese philosophy; but not by, say, Lovecraftian materialism.
The obvious test here is whether someone operating not just in a non-monotheist milieu but a pre-monotheist one would or could treat "the universe [as] intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified". Archimedes would seem to qualify. Arguably others would as well.

To go a bit further the concept of an ordered universe doesn't seem like a necessary characteristic of monotheism. It's just as easy to imagine that a universe which only operates by the whim of a single omnipotent being might be chaotic and unpredictable.


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*It's likely apocryphal because we can gather from his description of Archimedes test of the crown described by Vitruvius likely would not have worked and does not show an understanding of the principle of buoyancy described by Archimedes in On Floating Bodies.

[ 10. July 2017, 15:50: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Archimedes Proposition 4 is not an axiom because Archimedes deduces it from earlier propositions and from his postulate 1 (which is an axiom).
On your account Archimedes decided to deduce the thing that was amenable to observation, whereas postulate 1 'Let it be supposed that a fluid is of such a character etc.' which appears rather less amenable to observation is just supposed.

In whole, Archimedes' Postulate 1 from On Floating Bodies is translated into English as something like:

quote:
Let it be supposed that a fluid is of such a character that, its parts lying evenly and being continuous, that part which is thrust the less is driven along by that which is thrust the more; and that each of its parts is thrust by the fluid which is above it in a perpendicular direction if the fluid be sunk in anything and compressed by anything else.
The Greeks regarded postulates slightly differently than we do. We treat them as "things which are assumed but cannot be directly proven". They considered them more along the lines of "things which are so inherently obvious that proof is unnecessary."

I think the idea that floating bodies less dense than water stick out of the water might qualify under that definition. Yet Archimedes decides to prove that in Proposition 4.

The change in the view of axioms that you describe is I believe attributable to the consideration of Euclid's Fifth Postulate. Euclid's Fifth Postulate (wikipedia calls it the Parallel Postulate) was for a long time thought not quite so inherently obvious that proof was unnecessary. And finally it was realised that it is something assumed but which cannot be directly proven (since in non-Euclidean geometries it isn't necessarily true).
So it would seem that Euclid was rather closer to the modern definition than to ours.

quote:
At any rate, Archimedes' Postulate 1 seems more a definition of what is meant by "fluid" than anything else. It consists of two properties which, in less rigidly technical language would seem to boil down to "if you push on a fluid it will get out of your way and redistribute itself to places where you're not pushing on it" (the bit before the semi-colon) and "the lower bits of a body of fluid are pressed down by the bits of fluid above it".
To be pedantic, the second half says that the lower bits of a fluid are pressed to the side by the bits of fluid (or other material) above it.

I think your proposed restatement of the first half is not directly equivalent. In particular, the first half talks about the fluid pressing on itself. You can probably deduce your statement from Archimedes' postulate (although I'm not sure - you may need additional premises about the conservation of volume). This is important because Archimedes is going to be aiming to show that in the situations he considers two parts of the liquid must be pushing on each other equally.

As Dave W was at pains to insist Archimedes nowhere talks about water levels changing in response to bodies immersed in them.

quote:
It also seems like something which not only can be observed, the first half of Postulate 1 is the subject of the second-most famous (though likely apocryphal*) observation of physical phenomena in history. People who know nothing else about Archimedes of Syracuse are familiar with Vitruvius' account of his bath. So our options here are either that the events happened as Vitruvius described and Archimedes observed Postulate 1 in action, or Vitruvius made it up to add a bit of color to Archimedes' own rather dry and technical style, which shows that an observable demonstration of Postulate 1 in action was immediately obvious to Vitruvius, who was much less technically proficient than Archimedes.
Either way, Postulate 1 seems very amenable to observation.

Your restatement of postulate one seems to be amenable to observation. However, as I noted it's not Archimedes' statement. I don't think one could easily observe that the fluid is pushing on itself internally. One could probably deduce it, but Archimedes doesn't. Again, one could probably deduce from observations that the lower parts of the fluid are pushed sideways but Archimedes doesn't.

We will note in any case that what you mean by 'dry and technical style' here is a style that doesn't mention any observations.

A word more about the role of observation here. Kekule allegedly realised the structure of benzene in a dream. However, modern science does not accept 'I saw it in a dream' as reliable grounds for knowledge. So Kekule, however he came by his insight, established the structure of benzene by showing that it agreed with all the observations.

Archimedes may have deduced that fluid pushes the fluid below it sideways by observing holes in barrels. However, he does not appear to regard 'observing holes in barrels' as a reliable ground for knowledge any more than he appears to regard 'observing objects less dense than water floating in water' as a reliable ground for knowledge. Instead he regards deduction from premises either the result of prior deduction or taken as supposed as reliable grounds for knowledge.

Even under modern experimental science 'I observed this while in my bath' would be regarded as not sufficiently rigourous (anecdotes are not data).

quote:
quote:

quote:
Still, this seems rather like moving the goalposts from your original assertion connecting monotheism to the idea that "the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified". Archimedes certainly didn't think that buoyancy was incomprehensible, or that leverage was a purely localized phenomenon.
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Oddly my 'original' assertion connected that idea to non-monotheistic systems as well. But you don't mention that.

Your assertion was "I don't think it is now", in response to the question of whether monotheism is important to scientific discovery. You then went on to speculate that monotheism was critical to scientific discovery in the past, because monotheism supposedly has certain inherent properties, such as:

quote:
The feature here is roughly that the universe is such as to be intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified. This is obviously shared by the leading forms of scientific materialism, and AIUI by e.g. Chinese philosophy; but not by, say, Lovecraftian materialism.
The obvious test here is whether someone operating not just in a non-monotheist milieu but a pre-monotheist one would or could treat "the universe [as] intellectually comprehensible, consistent and unified". Archimedes would seem to qualify. Arguably others would as well.

I'm not sure by what criteria Chinese philosophy isn't pre-monotheist and Archimedes is pre-monotheist. I can't think of any that are relevant. You could point out that Greek philosophy is causally contributory to philosophical monotheism, but I don't think that supports your argument.

Yes, Archimedes does qualify as operating in an worldview that took the world to be 'intellectually comprehensible, consistent, and unified' and that therefore would have supported experimental science if it had counterfactually been aware of experimental science.

quote:
To go a bit further the concept of an ordered universe doesn't seem like a necessary characteristic of monotheism. It's just as easy to imagine that a universe which only operates by the whim of a single omnipotent being might be chaotic and unpredictable.
Actual historically existing monotheists have usually claimed that God does not operate on whim.

As I think I said before the argument is not that monotheism is sufficient for the scientific revolution, but that it was necessary. (Or to be less stringent certain aspects of monotheism were causally contributory.) That some imaginable forms that we would describe as monotheism would not be causally contributory is not therefore an objection.

I'll go further to meet your objections. The form of monotheism prevalent among the educated population in central and western Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth century was a philosophical monotheism that owed as much to Plato and Aristotle as to Isaiah. I'm quite happy to assert that the Greek philosophy component was just as necessary as the Jewish prophet component.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
The Greeks regarded postulates slightly differently than we do. We treat them as "things which are assumed but cannot be directly proven". They considered them more along the lines of "things which are so inherently obvious that proof is unnecessary."

I think the idea that floating bodies less dense than water stick out of the water might qualify under that definition. Yet Archimedes decides to prove that in Proposition 4.

The change in the view of axioms that you describe is I believe attributable to the consideration of Euclid's Fifth Postulate. Euclid's Fifth Postulate (wikipedia calls it the Parallel Postulate) was for a long time thought not quite so inherently obvious that proof was unnecessary. And finally it was realised that it is something assumed but which cannot be directly proven (since in non-Euclidean geometries it isn't necessarily true).
So it would seem that Euclid was rather closer to the modern definition than to ours.

The highlighted bit would seem to be just as true of any of Euclid's postulates.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Your restatement of postulate one seems to be amenable to observation. However, as I noted it's not Archimedes' statement. I don't think one could easily observe that the fluid is pushing on itself internally. One could probably deduce it, but Archimedes doesn't. Again, one could probably deduce from observations that the lower parts of the fluid are pushed sideways but Archimedes doesn't.

Fluid flowing would seem to be the obviously observable (as well as etymologically obvious) example of fluid pushing sideways on itself internally. As I said earlier, postulate 1 seems to be more along the lines of Archimedes defining what he means by "fluid".

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
To go a bit further the concept of an ordered universe doesn't seem like a necessary characteristic of monotheism. It's just as easy to imagine that a universe which only operates by the whim of a single omnipotent being might be chaotic and unpredictable.
Actual historically existing monotheists have usually claimed that God does not operate on whim.
And yet they're always going on about "mysterious ways", which would seem to violate the "intellectually comprehensible" part of your formulation. You can't go around calling something 'ineffable' and then claim you can eff it.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
As I think I said before the argument is not that monotheism is sufficient for the scientific revolution, but that it was necessary. (Or to be less stringent certain aspects of monotheism were causally contributory.)

I think a more interesting question is not whether monotheism is necessary for the scientific revolution (i.e. history unfolding as it did), but rather whether it's necessary for any scientific revolution (i.e. any reasonably possible history). This is, by necessity, a lot more speculative, but the fact that the putative contributions made by monotheism to the scientific revolution (comprehensible universe, etc.) were 'on offer' elsewhere would seem to answer the question in the negative.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Callan
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Originally posted by Croesus:

quote:
I think a more interesting question is not whether monotheism is necessary for the scientific revolution (i.e. history unfolding as it did), but rather whether it's necessary for any scientific revolution (i.e. any reasonably possible history). This is, by necessity, a lot more speculative, but the fact that the putative contributions made by monotheism to the scientific revolution (comprehensible universe, etc.) were 'on offer' elsewhere would seem to answer the question in the negative.
To an historian the question of "what happened, and why did it happen?" is infinitely more interesting than the question "what might have happened." If only on the grounds that the former admits the possibility of an answer.

More generally I think that large assertions about the nature of monotheism are a bit pointless. Lesek Kolakowski wrote a book entitled "Religion" and joked in the preface that the only book with a broader subject matter was Sartre's 'Being and Nothingness'. Monotheism is clearly narrower than that, but a category which embraces Akhenaten, Xenophanes, the author of 'Joshua', Judas Maccabeus, Jesus Christ, Paul, Tertulllian, Augustine, Mohammed, Maimonides, Averroes, Aquinas, both Torquemadas, Luther, Bossuet, Locke,Newton, Voltaire, Jefferson, Robespierre, Chateaubriand, Kierkegaard, Pio Nono, Hitler, Bonhoeffer, Pope John XXIII, C. S. Lewis, Gustavo Gutierrez, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Emmanuel Levinas, Rabbi Kahane, Osama Bin Laden and Simon Conway Morris is problematic when one considers the question as to whether or not the category 'monotheism' tallies with 'is favourable towards science'.

It's a bit like asking whether or not science best flourishes in a monarchy or a republic without specifying whether or not the monarchy is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the United Kingdom and whether or not the Republic is France during the Great Terror "The Republic has no need of scientists" or France under M. Macron.

Science emerged under the tutelage of one lot of monotheists, whilst another lot were trying to suppress it in order to protect the philosophy of Aristotle and whilst yet others were generally indifferent. This leads me, as a monotheist who is in favour of scientific enquiry, to conclude that there is not a necessary relationship between the two. I incline to the view that the same is true of other iterations of the Great Perhaps.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
You can't go around calling something 'ineffable' and then claim you can eff it.

Oh, I think they can eff it. It is yet another special case construction.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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