Sunday, June 11, 2017

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The Aliens Were Here

From Atheist Republic a piece on strange beliefs unsupported by any reasonable evidence.

A friend recently told me that he believes earth was visited by alien beings many eons ago, and that they return from time to time to check on our development. When I questioned him about the evidence he used to support this conclusion, he referred me to articles he had read asserting the early Egyptian builders demonstrated skills beyond their capacity. The article stated that many of those same skills were also seen in other locations throughout the world. I suggested to him the possibility that there may be other more mundane explanations that could be investigated to discover the truth of coincidental technological development, but he rejected that possibility and chose to speculate.

Whenever we choose to believe in any proposition without supporting evidence to demonstrate the truth of that proposition, we must accept the fact that the proposition is probably wrong. Man is a curious species, and is always searching for the ‘reasons why’ things are the way they are and how they came to be that way. In the past, and without the benefit of scientific methodology, we have relied on speculation for answers, and in some cases accepted those answers as truth.

Accepting a belief that is based simply on speculation as true is the foundation of all modern religions, and is called belief through faith. Using scientific methodology we can now test many of the commonly held belief systems used by those who rely on faith for devising a world view, and when we do so we find virtually all of those belief systems fall far short of truth. We now look with ridicule on the belief that the sun was pulled by chariots across the sky, or that stars are the bonfires of our ancestors. With the tools brought to us through scientific methodology we can see that these faith based ideas were far from the truth. My point here is that none came close to the truth.

There was no religion that proposed as a basis for life the double helix self replicating molecule deoxyribonucleic acid. The mechanisms we devised for explaining the world as we found it were always extremely simplistic and very far from truth. The truth behind the actual mechanisms and forces that created the universe as we see it were until recently far beyond our ability to discern. Many religions claim knowledge of truth based on faith alone, and this fact has hindered progress in the discovery of actual forces and mechanisms that created the universe. If we today have an interest in discovering the truth about the origins of our universe and how we came to be, we must discard those belief systems based on speculation and insist that any knowledge we accept as true come to us through the use of scientific methodology. All speculation based belief including all faith based belief, belief in the supernatural, belief in alien visitation and any other belief systems based purely on speculation must be discarded or at least acknowledged as an unsupported speculation and probably profoundly wrong.

Of course one cannot prove evolution by attempting to disprove creation, and no one is trying to do so. The goal of scientific inquiry is the discovery of truth, and if that search leads us to god then so be it. But it does not. Certainly not to the god and young earth as described in the old testament, and certainly not to the Eucharist with transubstantiation, the ascension, virgin birth, etc. of the new testament. Evolution and creation as conceived by theists are not actually mutually exclusive concepts, and it could be argued that chaos may be a tool used by god if such an entity exists. But to assert that god exists at all is to start with a conclusion and work backwards. To start an inquiry with a conclusion, then justify that conclusion by looking for possible evidence is a flawed process that will not reliably lead to truth.

Science is not a belief or a doctrine, it is simply a method for discovering the truth about various processes including how the universe works. Science cannot provide insight into things that are beyond the scope of inquiry, and good scientific inquiry based on empirical evidence does not attempt to do so.

What are some other common claims you see people accept as fact without evidence?


Peter said...

If aliens gave the technology to the early Egyptians to build the pyramids they gave them duff info as the first ones were built badly and with the wrong geometry. Astrophysics and quantum mechanics are slowly but surely revealing our natural world and producing stunning ideas as to how the universe works. This knowledge is rendering religion obsolete. It is extremely hard for laymen like me to follow the complicated theories but thankfully some scientists are expert communicators. I recommend googling Dr Sean Carroll or watching some of his Youtube offerings. My favourite is this one, where he destroys a theist in a thrilling debate:

Henry JoY said...

We humans are meaning making machines. We come into the world with many broad templates, among which are capacities for imagination and for reasoning. Depending on what we're exposed to in our environment these faculties are manipulated and alas easily corrupted by theology and ideology.
All the more reason I'd contend that we ought be more judicious about which influences we allow our children (and ourselves) to become exposed to. Educators must encourage pupils to self-reflect, to be critical evaluators of even their most cherished positions. Educators (formal and informal) ought be encouraged to desist more from what, if I'm attributing correctly, Freire described as 'the jugs and mugs' model of education. Subject to the degree that we can continue to influence and nudge more of our educators away from such debilitating, disrespectful and dated pedagogy the less and less religious guff or Utopian ideations will hold sway or corrupt.

Steve R said...

Seen a few very strange things so can say 'we' as a species have not accounted for everything, though the evolution is cast iron, the pyramids were man-made with big, big whips for slaves backs and religion is a fairy story left over from early Man's attempt to understand his environment.

Henry JoY said...

We've all seen phenomenon and ascribed meaning according to our embedded scripts and experiences. Many of us pattern matched the UK election campaign to old narratives. How many of us cheered on the tragic hero as he valiantly took on the nasty dragon?

Humans rarely see or experience tbe world as it is. Rather they more often see and experience it as they imagine it. Long live god!