…If the question is whether I think that there is a person who has created Heavens and Earth, and responds to our prayers, then definitely my answer is no, with much certainty.

If the question is whether I believe that “God” is a powerful something in the people, which causes a lot of disasters but also a lot of good, then of course I believe it. In fact, I am extremely curious about religion. I think that we should study what is religion much more than what is done. There is a sort of taboo in this, a sort of respect towards people who “believe in God”, which makes it difficult to understand better.

I think that viewing the “belief in God” just as a bunch of silly superstitions is wrong. The “belief in God” is one form of human religious attitude, and human religious attitude is something very general and universal about our functioning. Something which is important for man, and we have not yet understood.

…you can be great in solving Maxwell’s equations and pray to God in the evening. But there is an unavoidable clash between science and certain religions, especially some forms of Christianity and Islam, those that pretend to be repositories of “absolute Truths.” The problem is not that scientists think they know everything. It is the opposite: scientists know that there are things we simply do not know, and naturally question those who pretend to know. Many religious people are disturbed by this, and have difficulty in coping with it. The religious person says, “I know that God has created light saying, ‘Fiat Lux.’” The scientist does not believe the story. The religious people feel threatened. And here the clash develops. But not all religions are like that. Many forms of Buddhism, for instance, have no difficulty with the continual critical attitude of science. …

Response from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli, to the questions: “Do you believe in God?” and “Are science and religion compatible?”

August 21, 2014

…Einstein, Heisenberg, Newton, Bohr… and many … of the greatest scientists of all times … read philosophy, learned from philosophy, and could have never done the great science they did without the input they got from philosophy, as they claimed repeatedly. You see: the scientists that talk philosophy down are simply superficial: they have a philosophy (usually some ill-digested mixture of Popper and Kuhn) and think that this is the “true” philosophy, and do not realize that this has limitations.

Excerpt from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli of Aix-Marseille University and the Intitut Universitaire de France.

August 21, 2014

A beautiful interview, in many ways. Although I understand why it happens to an extent, it’s still baffling to see such an agitated response against philosophy, from some students of science.
Science stemmed from philosophy, from the human desire to understand the world around us. And it is a cycle: science does not only produce technologies, but philosophies as well. When we gain a new understanding of our universe, we also learn how to better respond to nature — how to live better. Philosophy in action.

What is the “mystery of the universe”? There isn’t a “mystery of the universe.” There is an ocean of things we do not know. Many of them we’ll figure out, if we continue to be somewhat rational and do not kill one another first (which is well possible.) There will always be plenty of things that we will not understand, I think, but what do I know? In any case, we are very very very far from any complete comprehension of everything we would like to know.

I have no idea what “absolute truth” means. I think that science is the attitude of those who find funny the people saying they know something is absolute truth. Science is the awareness that our knowledge is constantly uncertain. What I know is that there are plenty of things that science does not understand yet. And science is the best tool found so far for reaching reasonably reliable knowledge.

Responses from an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli, to the questions: “Can physics—or science in general—ever completely solve the mystery of the universe?” and “Can science attain absolute truth?”

August 21, 2014

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Russell’s Teapot

Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the celestial teapot or cosmic teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion.

Russell wrote that if he claims that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it is nonsensical for him to expect others to believe him on the grounds that they cannot prove him wrong. Russell’s teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God.


Holding out a Candle in the Dark:

Books that help clarify what science truly is, explain its history and methods, and inspire curiosity about our universe.

As well, the books that debunk the myths which lead to confusion about our world and how it works, that we may slowly change our relationship to nature: from fear and superstition to awe and understanding.

TIL that Jason Silva calls himself a Futurist.
I want to talk about this. Because someone has to offer an opposing view, lest minds — especially young ones who haven’t read enough to know better — fall in this hole, never to return again. Mine nearly did, but I chose to hear out and learn from the skeptics, despite their “negativity”.
Silva is simply a filmmaker who enthusiastically uses buzzwords like “mindgasm" and "feedback loops" and "Quest Physics" — he borrows credibility. Many people are evidently apt to confuse this with profundity.
For ease, the Wiki definition of a futurist:

Futurists (not in the sense of [the early 20th century art movement, futurism]) or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose speciality is … to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general.

I don’t know if he does any of the above, but I can infer from what I’ve seen of it that Silva’s work does NOT involve science. It cannot. A scientifically literate person would not ever say the things this man says.
While many futurists do hold fringe beliefs/values/etc., futurism stems from a consideration of science and technology, and where they may lead us. Not New Age philosophy. NOT “The Secret”, not “intentions”, not “positive energy”, not mystical quantum anything. Some futurists may espouse those ideas, but they aren’t intrinsic to the movement.
For more info about futurism, please visit:
To learn more about differentiating between New Age BS and science, please visit the following links. (In no specified order, just a small sampling):
Scientific Literacy (list on Goodreads)If you don’t have time for whole books, at least start with a few quotes or a wiki summary. But please don’t make the mistake of rejecting outright or arguing based on a few excerpts. (Here, one might try to say the same about how I’m reacting to Silva. But the truth is, I was deeply immersed in material like his in my teen years, ergo I accepted and understood it before critically dissecting and rejecting it.)
Skepdic: New Thought"The dominating idea of all forms of New Thought is that thoughts or beliefs have an effect on things and people around us independently of our doing anything. Thinking creates reality."
Skepdic: “Energy” (New Age)"New Age spiritualism has co-opted some of the language of physics, including the language of quantum mechanics, in its quest to make ancient metaphysics sound like respectable science."
Skepdic: “Law” of AttractionAn offshoot of New Thought. Central tenet of “The Secret”.
Carl Sagan’s CosmosVideo series; a historical overview of science. Part of Sagan’s agenda toward scientific literacy. Things we all should’ve learned in grade school. Available for free, nearly everywhere.
"Science Saved My Soul" by Phil HellenesA 5-min excerpt of the original video.
Excerpt from Feynman’s The Meaning of it All

All that said… it’s difficult to live. People need the inspiration and personal values and philosophies that help them do so. Understanding that, I’m not anti-god nor anti-spirituality, etc. I am anti-obfuscation. There’s much more to this than I can cover in several paragraphs on a blog post.
I’m writing this not out of anger (although let’s be honest, some of this shit makes my blood boil), but in hopes of holding out yet another Candle in the Dark to anyone who may not otherwise have an opportunity to see one.

TIL that Jason Silva calls himself a Futurist.

I want to talk about this. Because someone has to offer an opposing view, lest minds — especially young ones who haven’t read enough to know better — fall in this hole, never to return again. Mine nearly did, but I chose to hear out and learn from the skeptics, despite their “negativity”.

Silva is simply a filmmaker who enthusiastically uses buzzwords like “mindgasm" and "feedback loops" and "Quest Physics" — he borrows credibility. Many people are evidently apt to confuse this with profundity.

Read More

“Atheism” is a fine word, and I’m happy to describe myself as an atheist. God is an idea that has consequences, and those consequences don’t accord with the world we experience any better than countless other ideas we’ve given up on. But given a choice I would always describe myself first as a “naturalist” — someone who believes that there is only one realm of reality, the material world, which obeys natural laws, and that we human beings are part of it. “Atheism” is ultimately about rejecting a certain idea, while “naturalism” is about a positive acceptance of a comprehensive worldview. Naturalists have a lot more work to do than simply rejecting God; they bear the responsibility of understanding how to live a meaningful life in a universe without built-in purpose.
The Case for Naturalism
By Sean Carroll | May 7, 2012 9:03 am
The naturalistic fallacy refers to the misguided belief that whatever is natural is good.

Sea Otters Are Jerks. So Are Dolphins, Penguins, and Other Adorable Animals.
By Brian Switek


That applies to preference of products with natural ingredients, and extends to the belief that humans are separate from animals and nature — that human-created means unnatural. Whether it’s the cliche complaint, “Kids these days spend too much time with technology. It’s unnatural,” or naive religious/sexual views.



See on Scoop.it - Philosophy everywhere everywhen
What’s the harm in believing in unproven concepts like Chinese medicine’s theory of Qi if its remedies seem to help?


Philosophers of science have been preoccupied for a while with what they call the “demarcation problem,” the issue of what separates good science from bad science and pseudoscience (and everything in between). The problem is relevant for at least three reasons.The first is philosophical: Demarcation is crucial to our pursuit of knowledge; its issues go to the core of debates on epistemology and of the nature of truth and discovery. The second reason is civic: our society spends billions of tax dollars on scientific research, so it is important that we also have a good grasp of what constitutes money well spent in this regard. Should the National Institutes of Health finance research on “alternative medicine”? Should the Department of Defense fund studies on telepathy? Third, as an ethical matter, pseudoscience is not — contrary to popular belief — merely a harmless pastime of the gullible; it often threatens people’s welfare, sometimes fatally so. For instance, millions of people worldwide have died of AIDS because they (or, in some cases, their governments) refuse to accept basic scientific findings about the disease, entrusting their fates to folk remedies and “snake oil” therapies.

See on opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com


She told me that she could no longer bear living on this planet. She wanted to be caught high up in the gravity, weightless, orbiting afar; appreciating the marvel, the splendor of it all—a hypothetical, transcendent, post-biological being of sorts. She wanted the Earth and its glowing spark to…

The history of philosophy has always been the agent of power in philosophy, and even in thought. It has played the repressor’s role: how can you think without having read Plato, Descartes, Kant and Heidegger and so-and-so’s book on them? A formidable school of intimidation which manufactures specialists in thought—but which makes those who stay outside conform all the more to this specialism which they despise. An image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it stops people from thinking.
Deleuze, ‘Dialogues’ (via aidsnegligee)
Socrates started the conversation about philosophical conversation. This shabby eccentric who wandered the marketplace in fifth-century Athens accosting passersby and cross-questioning them in his celebrated style set the pattern for philosophical discussion and teaching. His pupil Plato crafted eloquent Socratic dialogues that, we assume, capture something of what it was like to be harangued and goaded by his mentor, though perhaps they’re more of a ventriloquist act. Socrates himself, if we believe Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus, had no great respect for the written word. He argued that it was inferior to the spoken. A page of writing might seem intelligent, but whatever question you ask of it, it responds in precisely the same way each time you read it — as this sentence will, no matter how many times you return to it.

Without conversation, philosophy is dogma – Nigel Warburton – Aeon (via wildcat2030)

Understandable. After all, everything is always in flux. Shouldn’t our conversation be fluid as well?

On the other hand, it’s why I love writing: rather than floating words and confusion, writing is set down. Mistakes are fewer. There’s time to craft a sentence into what you really mean, instead of going back and forth uselessly repeating things and stumbling over impolite interjections by an impatient listener. You didn’t catch something? Read it again — it’s all there.

And more so, isn’t writing “digitally” the best of both worlds? Quick and fluid like conversation, direct and anchored like print, but without the concrete irreparability of the latter.

Whenever philosophical education lapses into learning facts about history and texts, regurgitating an instructor’s views, or learning from a textbook, it moves away from its Socratic roots in conversation. Then it becomes so much the worse for philosophy and for the students on the receiving end of what the radical educationalist Paolo Freire referred to pejoratively in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) as the ‘banking’ of knowledge. The point of philosophy is not to have a range of facts at your disposal, though that might be useful, nor to become a walking Wikipedia or ambulant data bank: rather, it is to develop the skills and sensitivity to be able to argue about some of the most significant questions we can ask ourselves, questions about reality and appearance, life and death, god and society. As Plato’s Socrates tells us, ‘These are not trivial questions we are discussing here, we are discussing how to live.’