Science vs Religion

I already introduce our theist of the day, J R Dickens and in those post he outdoes himself in trying to convince us of two things, one that science is compatible with religion and that Atheism is a religion. Whenever you see anyone say that, just know they are either of two things, accommodationists of whatever stripe or they are deeply religious people.

There are two basic worldview choices: theism and atheism. Most scientists today are grounded in the religion of atheism—the belief that God does not exist. They subscribe to a form of science that can be described as naturalism or materialism (the two of which are closely related). Naturalism is the belief that all we see in the universe must be explained only in terms of natural laws—by definition, no supernatural explanations are allowed. Materialism assumes that the universe is nothing more than “matter in motion”—there is no guiding purpose or intelligence, only random forces producing visible effects.

For beginners, Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. How this translates to a religion is anyone’s guess. Is there any among you who can explain the phenomena in any terms that are not natural and what really is the problem with materialism. Is there an instance in your life where there is no interaction of matter?

Before I proceed, allow me to define our terms. Merriam Webster dictionary defines religion thus

a : the state of a religious 
(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
Someone please tell me at what point does lack of a belief translates to a religion.
The choice to reject the possibility of supernatural causes is a religious commitment, not a scientific commitment.
When Laplace responded to Napoleon that he didn’t see the need for the god hypotheses, he was not making a religious commitment. He was just saying a fact as he had observed it. If you think there are supernatural causes, can you tell us where and how they can be tested by science? If they can’t be observed or tested, then the working assumption of no supernatural causes is not a religious commitment but a statement of facts as we know them. As you a scientist that our apologist says he is, he must show us where the supernatural acts for us to accept his assertion that we have decided to throw the supernatural outta the window whereas it is actually measurable.
Secondly, notice that the up-front assumptions of naturalism cannot be tested by any scientific (empirical) methods. In other words, naturalism depends upon a starting premise that is self-contradictory—that everything (physical) must be explained in terms of natural (metaphysical) laws which would not exist if naturalism was true.
First of you are lying to claim that naturalism depends upon a self-contradictory premise, unless am wrong, you are making a claim here that naturalism is a priori belief. It ain’t. The reason scientists and philosophers have adopted the naturalistic world view is because based on the knowledge of the universe as we have it, appears to us to not involve any interaction with the supernatural. It is based on experimentation, observation and volumes of studies in different disciplines so that the claim of self-contradiction has no place.
Please give an instance where the assumptions of naturalism can’t be tested by any scientific methods and then tell us what is used to test religious claims, that is if they can withstand any testing for that matter!
In addition, the scientific (empirical) method depends upon logic to hypothesize, test, and draw conclusions. And science depends upon mathematics to describe what it observes. The laws of logic and mathematics form the basis for scientific investigation, and yet these are metaphysical assumptions that are beyond the reach of empirical scientific investigation. Likewise, “laws” that govern the behavior of matter and energy exist only in the metaphysical realm, though we observe the effect of those laws in the physical realm.
It is not easy to notice the problem with this statement. It lies in his definition of science. He takes a very narrow view so that mathematics, social studies, morality are not included in the definition of science. It is this question of definition that is at the core of his misleading statement!
The bias in this “scientific” worldview should be apparent: No supernatural causes are possible because we say so. Therefore, any theories that involve any kind of supernatural guiding intelligence are rejected out-of-hand as “unscientific.” Materialistic science only produces materialistic causes because those are the only kinds of causes that are possible in this worldview. But there is no scientific basis for assuming exclusively material causes—this assumption is entirely an article of faith.
I only ask for one supernatural theory with supporting evidence that it is at least plausible and can be tested by different scientists then we can have a debate. In the absence of any such theory, this claim is then not sustainable. Scientists at least the ones have read their work leave a small room for the existence of a deity but even such little room the deity has refused to claim.
It is therefore absurd 1) to claim that Atheism is a religion without supporting such an assertion; 2) to claim naturalism and materialism are based on self-contradictory premises; 3) that the working assumptions that there are no supernatural causes is a religious commitment; unless you can go ahead to show that everything must be religious to make it correct!

Faith vs Reason

Allow me to introduce our new apologist, J R Dickens, who I will be looking at some of his posts and offer a response.

In this post, our friend tries to show through torturous reasoning that faith and reason are synonyms and that reason starts with faith. Allow me first to define our terms; the Merriam Webster dictionary defines faith as

1a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty

 (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
(1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
 (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction;especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

while reason is defined as

1a: a statement offered in explanation or justification
b: a rational ground or motive

c: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense;especially: something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact
d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible
(1): the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways :intelligence(2): proper exercise of the mind (3):sanity
b : the sum of the intellectual powers
archaic : treatment that affords satisfaction
With the matter of definitions behind us, now I want us to consider what our friend is talking about in the usage of these two words and see whether we can agree with him or not.
According to the popular view of philosophy, faith and reason are mutually exclusive and consequently incompatible. But this is only true when “faith” is defined to mean a belief that contradicts the known evidence—i.e., that you choose to believe something in spite of the evidence.
From his blog, in his about he says he is keen on apologetics. In this case therefore I think when he talks about faith he must be referring to the faith [trust in things not seen even against contrary evidence]. In this case the only way a believer can test the truth of this claim is after they are no more- especially since I don’t think there is an afterlife. The believer thus cannot revise this belief. Whereas, where one believes something for which he has evidence then we are talking about justified true belief. To mix these two meanings is misleading and that is what he does in his post. I need not add that no one chooses to believe, you believe as you can and not differently.
Since there is no evidence for Abe neither for a god, to consider the story of Abe sacrificing his son to be a measure of faith to me seems to be to see the biggest problem with particular verse. How could anyone consider it a thing of grandeur to want to kill your child because you had a voice in your dreams? This aside though, to argue that Abe had unflinching faith in god is also to cherry pick the good book. Why for instance does Abe sleep with Hagar if he believes god is going to give him a child in his old age? Therefore this belief can’t qualify as 1, talking about fidelity!
Another way of describing faith is simply trusting in the future fulfillment of what has already been promised. If someone borrows $20 and promises to return the money in a week, we are trusting that they have both the means and the desire to pay us back.
Whereas from the surface this statement looks correct, it would be insane to lend a jobless person without the ability to pay and have a belief that your money shall be paid at the end of the week. The reason we are lending money here is because we have evaluated the ability of the borrower to repay us and have confidence that she will pay but we can adjust this belief if our money is not paid back. The same can’t be said of any religious belief.
Notice that we have to use our powers of reason in order to exercise faith.
What reasons do you have for believing that god loves you, that he died for your sins, that there is heaven and hell[that is if you believe they exist], for believing your god exists and that yours is the one true religion?
In order to exercise the powers of reason, we have to start with an assumption that reason is possible and that it depends upon the laws of logic and inference. In other words, I cannot “reason” unless I adhere to a set of rules that guide the reasoning process. But those rules must exist beforehand and apart from reason itself. These are the assumptions I must place my faith in before reason can be exercised. In the absence of logic, my thoughts are incoherent and useless for drawing inferences or conclusions.
You don’t need faith to reason. It would only be absurd for you to try to be skeptical on every subject. The process of argument will not even leave the ground. In the Problems of Philosophy, we notice, we must start from some belief to acquire knowledge of the world around us. We can take it that I exist as the starting point and evaluate every proposition after that to see whether it can be considered as true belief or not. Faith therefore is not a prerequisite for reason.
In the end, we see that faith and reason are inseparable allies. Everyone has faith. The only question is, “faith in what?”
No! That is not the only question.  The question most important question is why? Faith and reason are separable. One only need to see the definition of reason and faith to see where the two can be separated and while at it, it is important also to distinguish what one means when they say I have faith in something or else we commit fallacy of equivocation.

The value of philosophy

The only thing I can be certain of its existence and even this not fully is that exist. This is what the great philosopher Rene Descartes meant when he said I think therefore I am.

In his book the Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell says this about the man who does not like philosophy

the man who has no tincture for philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from habitual beliefs of his age or his nation and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason.

He continues to say

to such a man, the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects raise no questions and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected.

While admitting that philosophy is unable to provide us with some of the answers to the questions we seek, he has this to say

philosophy is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from tyranny of custom.

In this way

it greatly increases our knowledge as to what maybe; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.

In conclusion therefore,

philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can as a rule be known to be true but rather for the sake of the questions themselves, because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.