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Re: God in Academia

__/ [Lance] on Friday 21 October 2005 11:23 \__

> Roy Schestowitz wrote:
>> I  think  you raise an intersting point. It has itched my mind  for  quite
>> some  times  when I reveal that big professors and, at times  Nobel  Prize
>> winners,  make  a mentioning of some up-high man with a beard or  superior
>> intervention. I also talk about the best amongst physicists here.
>> I  often think that by the time these people become well-known and outspo-
>> ken  (also having their voice count), they have ages too. Age, you see, is
>> what  persuades many among us to believe in life after death. It leads  to
>> an inner conflict that is often won by our wishes rather than rationale.
> <snip>
>> My  solution: consult younger scientists whose reputation has not  matured
>> yet.  In terms of skills and abilities, they are often more competent than
>> most other. One contention I came across said that the mind of a methmeti-
>> cian  peaks  before the age of 30. Needless to say, at the age of  30,  no
>> mathematician will have a pile (or trail) of publications to brag about.
>> I hope my words did not upset anyone.
>> Roy
> Interesting. Do you anticipate becoming a believer as you get older?

No,  but I might have the desire or inclination. What would I have to lose
in that position, wherein mental sanity collides with wishful thinking? It
is  amazing what the human mind can be forced to believe if enough persis-
tent  effort  gets  invested and (self) re-enforcement fed with  a  silver

> Dawkins is getting on in years. When do you anticipate that wishes will
> triumph over his reason?

Intersting  that you mention this. I once posted an item about Kurzweil  <
http://schestowitz.com/Weblog/archives/2005/07/25/kurzweil-on-longevity/ >
and  an  acquittance of his (see comment at bottom) seemed to have  paral-
lelled with my views. Bear in mind that Kurzweil is scientist among scien-
tists and a man of AI.

Sooner  or  later both of them (as merely anyone whom I know at that  age)
might  wake up to face the mirror and opt either for a mental breakdown or
an  adjustment that accepts and acknowledges alternative views.  Selective
pursuit  for  non-factual viewpoints, often even citing figures like  Ein-
stein, is what they wind up embracing...

Vis-a-vis  selective  facts, I am currently involved in a separate  thread
where  people  argue  that steroids are benign. They are  very  passionate
about  their  views too, which often gets me under  excruciating  attacks.
People can be led to believe anything their mind lusts for.

> Have you any empirical evidence that older people are greater believers
> than younger people? Be careful to avoid a confound with a general
> decline of belief (especially in Europe) with the claim that older
> people (born at an earlier time) are more likely to believe.

There  is a factor here that must not be evaded. Children are educated  by
adults  and are often taught by seniors at schools. Likewise, school  cur-
ricula  are  conducted by the more senior people. What gives? The  'in-be-
tween  generation'  does not have its say on the issue. Perhaps  there  is
hope though as the age of retirement remains fixed (questionable in the UK
at the moment) while lifespan is dynamic.

Empirical  evidence?  I  have none that is based on  careful  quantitative
studies.  I am not a scientist of sociology, though I know what I  observe
around me.

> Seriously, lots of people have a great need to belong in their late
> teens and early twenties - and they make up quite a large part of the
> growth of "charismatic" churches. Strangely enough these churches are
> also rather inflexible in their doctrines (read fundamentalist) and so
> satisfy a greater need for certainty that again seems quite
> characteristic of younger people. So I doubt that you will find any
> genuine relationship between belief and old age. I suspect that,
> instead, many older people come to doubt what they once fervently
> believed.

The  age of 'enlightment' is often that when the person's interests do not
contradict  with rationale. Moreover, I might add that the motive for  be-
lief  if often uncertainty and the need to assemble answers, as clumsy and
aloof as they may seem at the start.

> How can people hold contradictory beliefs? Unfortunately, very easily.
> As Lewis Caroll demosntrated long ago, logic cannot force any person to
> draw a conclusion. The act of drawing a conclusion is voluntary. So
> even if a great amount of evidence and argument supports some
> conclusion X, no person need draw that conclusion. In this way, it is
> quite possible to be an excellent scientist and draw accurate and sound
> conclusions from evidence and argument about matters scientific, but
> refuse to draw the conclusions about God that are dictated by the same
> evidence and argument. (And of course, as Goerge Steiner and others
> have pointed out, the same holds for the arts and humanities, and for
> moral matters).
> Lance

Exactly.  The  hypotheses  one  bears in hand often lead  to  the  desired
conclusion/s  in one way or another. So, in principle, in our little vacu-
ous  mind,  just about anything can be posed as ground truth. It's a  real
barrier to science.


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