Calling all skeptics, logicians, scientists, and the just plain cynical.

There are some things we know to be impossible under our currently accepted view of the universe, like accelerating normal matter faster than c. But existence of god is not one of them. God falls under the category of “not impossible, but no shred of reliable evidence to suggest it does exist” alongside Godzilla and invisible pink unicorns.

I’m not really trying to be adversarial but a squirrel tricking out a 454 is pert near impossible. I mean just getting enough torque out of a what, ten ounce body to loosen a bolt? Not to mention getting a tail caught up in a belt or something.

There are some things we know to be impossible under our currently accepted view of the universe, like accelerating normal matter faster than c. But existence of god is not one of them. God falls under the category of “not impossible, but no shred of reliable evidence to suggest it does exist” alongside Godzilla and invisible pink unicorns.

According to our accepted view of the universe, things happen by mechanical process. Canyons are carved by erosion, planets erupt from stars.
Telekinesis is not possible. Thought or hope or wishing won’t affect matter. Thus “Let there be light” just won’t hunt.

Well, it’s not **this **human’s experience.

Sure, I’ve been totally awestruck by the beauty of the universe, and have been moved to tears, and beyond, by experiences both natural and man-made. But even when I’m confronted by something that I personally can’t explain, or that nobody on earth can explain yet, I’d never use the word “inexplicable.” I don’t believe there is anything that we can **never **explain.

If anything, a moving experience doesn’t make me “question the nature of reality and [my] place in the universe,” but **confirms **it.

Yes, but that doesn’t mean we know they are impossible, period. Maybe our currently accepted view of the universe is wrong. Maybe there are invisible spirits that rig all our experiments and observations so that it seems that it is impossible to accelerate normal matter faster than c, while it is in fact quite possible. I ascribe this about the same degree of probability as I do the existence of god. In other words, the probability is nonzero, but it is pretty damn small.

I give nothing a probability of exactly zero. I simply refuse to say that anything is completely, totally, definitely impossible, because I don’t definitely know. I do say, however, that to the best of my knowledge there is no god, and to the best of my knowledge, there are penguins.

So you believe in nuns? :smiley:
(I thought your post was spot-on, btw – I’ve made the same statements to my mother several times; I just had to have fun with the penguin thing. :))

I’m wondering that if you ever stopped to realize what a slave you our by not opening your mind. You are the one watching the TV. Let me explain why I feel this way.

1: Science and mathematics are self-referencing and therefore make sense in and of themselves. I don’t need to explain this because we have gone over this over and over again. People who maintain something other than this fact usually fall by the way side. Mathematics may not be a priori and until you can prove that our minds can reason with concepts whose definitions do not depend on observation by the senses, you simply cannot prove your point of view. You do not understand as Charles Pierce put it:

I can further suggest that the view of the American pragmatist William James:

2: How are you sure that science will hold true 200 years from now? Observation may be consistent throughout human history but the beliefs behind them have changed. Gravitation goes from being caused by or is; the gods, to angels, to something (Newton described the phenomenon and did not define it), to a bending of spacetime. All made perfect sense to those of their time and the movements of the planets could be predicted by each. If humanity did not invest some sort of belief in these concepts and their societies were founded on lies, don’t you think they would have figured it out a lot faster than you give them credit for?

More and more my belief is that ideas must be constantly evolving in order for humanity to advance. If they did not there would be no change whatsoever. Ideas change all the time just like anything else in the world. This means that YES your science will be nothing more than alchemy to a scientist in the distant future maybe sooner. However, our beliefs work for now but will change just as they changed many times in the past. To think that we are better because we have science, mathematics, and technology is narrow-minded.

So you see, I don’t need to come outside. I already am. You have been watching the proverbial “TV” all your life and have never changed the channel. I’m not one of those people who believe that we need to teach something other than science in our classrooms. Creationism is even more loathsome. I believe that scientific beliefs are the most relevant to humanity at this particular period. However, it would be arrogant to suggest that our science is the best thing for explaining the universe for all times and places. This simply is not true.

Yes I do. I also believe that short women with large feet are statistically more likely to become nuns. This belief comes from a lifetime of observation. Of course, it could be the case that the nun lifestyle leads to shortening of the body and enlarging of the feet, but that’s crazy.

This is an old dodge: “Even though I can’t provide any evidence of the supernatural, you can’t PROVE it doesn’t exist!”

No, you’re right, I can’t.

I can’t PROVE the sun rose yesterday either. However, the overwhelming preponderence of evidence suggests that it did.

Do you believe the sun rose yesterday?

Unbelievable! The strength of empiricism is capacity for revision in the face of new evidence. You act as though these advances in the understanding of gravitation were mere whims or fashions.

No. A good lie is a powerful drug. Weeding out untruths requires a great deal of discipline and intellectual rigor.

We’re not better. But we certainly have a more accurate understanding of how the universe works. And mysticism and other supernatural entities have no place in that understanding.

Prove it.

Science does explain the universe. It doesn’t explain it completely. Maybe it never will. But it does explain large chunks phenomenally well.

Tell me one thing that mysticism explains. Show me one tiny corner of the darkness that it illuminates.

Dammit, now I’ve got Petula Clark in my head.

But alchemy wasn’t “science”. It was a mysticasl; philosophy predicated uopon beliefs rather than observation. Things that we do recognize as science haven’t been replaced, although they have been refined. Euclid’s mathematics are still as valid now as when written. The discoveries of non-Euclidean geometry don’t invalidate them, but show the limits of Euclidean geometry, and offer extensions into those regions they don’t cover. Newton’s laws and mathematics are stoll excellent in predicting motions of projectiles and satellites, but they don’t cover relativistic situations, which go into regions beyomd Newton’s experience.

The point is that “science” is a self-correcting philosophy and method for knowledge, and its imperfect nature is not a problem – it’s a given. But since science doesn’t have a fixed philosophy of strarting beliefs, but is ruled by observation and experiment, it can correct its notions in the loight of increasing knowledge and experiment. As our “bubble of knowledge” expands into new realms we discover new laws, but the old ones generally remain acceptable as approximations or limiting cases still good in the old regimes. Alchemy couldn’t do this.

In the future, it’s unlikely that Newton’s laws will be disproven in the regimes it’s used today – F = ma will still hold true for everyday experience, but if we find ourselves jumping through wormholes to other partsd of the universe (or something equally outre) that new experience will require additions made since Newton’s time.

And when we get where we’re going, we’ll be subject to Newton’s laws again.

Hey, nobody said he was* good.*

You’re using the belief in gods and angels to debunk science? I am confident that science will be the best tool humans will have available to describe the universe 200 years from now. I am certain that advances in our understanding of that universe will improve upon our current knowledge. We already know that General Relativity is an incomplete explanation for gravity, but it is the best we have right now. We can only look for even better explanations. Or we could just dump the whole pursuit and call it a mystical something or other that we can never understand.

Do you want to know when the next total eclipse will be? You could look to “self-referential” astronomers and mathematicians who will give you the exact time and date and tell you the reason the sunlight disappears. Or you can attribute the whole thing to some kind of mysticism, pray to god to find out when the next one will occur and run and hide when the sun unexpectedly goes dark.

And speaking of turning off your TV, you wouldn’t have one if the scientific principles upon which it operates were not solid.

Not really, and I had an out-of-body experience when I was a kid. Turns out that they can be reproduced in the lab by electromagnetically exciting the angular gyrus, IIRC.

If one were to show me something that seems inexplicable and demand an explanation, I’d just shrug and say, “I don’t know.” I’ve remarked elsewhere about my place being haunted or being tested by god in Ireland—apparently I passed, because I won a trip back to Dublin. But odd feelings that coincide with coincidences don’t make me question whether there are supernatural forces or thingies at work. We’re too excitable, confusable, and impressionable for those things to really qualify as evidence for much of anything other than the conclusion that life has little interesting moments that should just be enjoyed and not botherd about. Don’t mistake what I’m saying; if there were real supernatural forces at work, we’d detect them. Think about what we have been able to discover in the universe. If supernatural forces really meaningfully affected the world around us, how could we not find their footprints as well? Or, as a friend of mine once said, if ESP were real, it would be scientists who would develop it.

I’ve had one or two wierd things happen… none of them induced by drugs or alcohol… but I was very tired. :dubious:

Still it hardly woobled my skepticism. I did once start a thread about how the supernatural isn't necessarily antagonic to Atheism for example. Its the jumping to conclusions or overdoing the religious mumbo jumbo that is silly.

Read the post more closely this time. You are projecting meaning on what I am saying and this is something that humans do all the time. There is no such thing as an impartial observer. Normally, I would get very displeased at a straw man argument like this but I’ll let you slide.

Are you assuming that people without science did not know about these things? I could explain the movement of Mars in a terra-centric solar system with epicycles. Doesn’t make it true. Are you saying that science is taking credit for the sun’s rise? I’m sure the ancients and medievals knew that the sun was going to rise each day. The argument in my last post covers this about the explanations for the same observed phenomenon over the years.

You assume this as well. How do you know this for sure? **It is my belief that a person’s thoughts should be unencumbered by dogma of any kind. **Ideas are tools that are to serve us, not things that we are to be slaves to. Science, in my estimation is part of the overall evolution in human thought. It will evolve into who knows what. Could an ancient predict our world? If you unshackle your mind you might just become the greatest scientist of all time.

:smack: Sorry the above was me.

I find it somewhat insulting to have it implied that my sense of wonder is more artificial than yours. I can remember the most recent time my sense of wonder was tripped–it was Tuesday evening at I was reading a New York Times article about jellyfish. The main point was that jellyfish weren’t as primitive as once thought. At the end of the article, it said that jellyfish might be a more appropriate model for human biology than fruit flies. This is because cnidarians (the phylum that includes jellyfish) have retained some genes that vertebrates also have, but that other bilateral animals (including insects) have lost. Reading that was indescribably cool. Imagine all of the chance events that have happened over millions of years. Why did insects lose those genes but cnidarians and vertebrates keep them? What sort of future applications will this have in medicine?

Since you mentioned Carl Sagan, I thought I’d quote this passage from Contact (the book, not the movie), to you:

I am an engineer turned website support and I have had several very inexplicable experiences in my life, Here is the main one I wrote up in 1997

Back in 1992 I had a dream that I can only call a vision. It lasted all night long and kept waking me up with it’s intensity, but I kept going back into it.
The next morning I had about 6 years of someone else’s memories in my head, even now after 5 years I remember them better than I remember high school.
The memories include day to day activities, working, sleeping, eating cleaning, everything that comprises living.
NOTE: I am going to refer to the person I was in the dream as “I” or “me” as opposed to the me sitting here typing this.
The person I was in the dream was a physicist working on the first successful, energy producing, hot fusion experiments in the year 2032.
I now have very intimate knowledge of how to build super-Gauss superconductors, how and why superconductors work. “I” carpooled with the physicist who had invented the super-Gauss superconductors that made the whole thing possible and he was very talkative.
“My” department and “I” in particular were concerned with the reaction experiments themselves, so I also can tell you all about the proper Iron-Indium mix for the reaction base as well as the Hydrogen - Deuterium seeding process, the design of the reactor itself and billions of details about life in 2032.

I consider my self a very practical person and engineer, I never start a project with out a good solid look at the bottom line and the show stoppers along the way.
This knowledge from the dream was very neat, but unless I could verify it as being real it’s just a neat dream, unusual , but nothing to act upon. I desired to get to the bottom of where the dream came from and extract the information from it.
I always consider skills and knowledge a valuable asset. So in my spare time, started studying self-hypnosis and psychic phenomenon, after about twelve totally stupid and useless books I ran across “How to become a Psychic” that had step by step instructions of how to train your mind to go into a deep trace on demand and exercises to build up mental tools to become a psychic.

I would not say I ever became psychic, but I soon got good enough to get into a deep trance and achieve very good recall and to age regress into my own past as well as the into “my” past.
Here’s where I started getting interested in the content of the dream, “I” had learned the unifying theory in collage and it made sense even when I came out of the trance. I didn’t have enough math or physics background to understand what “I” had learned in school, I hadn’t taken the perquisite classes.
Many more pages left off here.