JPL worker sues over intelligent design demotion

Apr 19, 2010

(AP) -- A Jet Propulsion Laboratory worker who passed out religious DVDs on the job is suing the JPL for discrimination after he was demoted.

David Coppedge's lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles County says he was demoted last April for discussing his views in the workplace. He wants a court order allowing him to discuss his beliefs.

Coppedge is an information technology specialist on the Cassini space mission exploring . He's also a Christian who promotes the concept that an intelligent being created the universe.

Defendants in the lawsuit include his supervisor, JPL and the California Institute of Technology, which runs JPL.

A call left for a JPL spokeswoman Monday wasn't immediately returned.

Explore further: SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies (Update 2)

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User comments : 82

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StarDust21
3.8 / 5 (17) Apr 19, 2010
well stupidity isn't good for scientific developments so I think it is justified to demote him..
LuckyBrandon
3.6 / 5 (14) Apr 19, 2010
agreed. you work with rocket scientists...literally...not the best idea to spit fairy tales and expect to keep your technical job at the same level.
If ther is a god, I'm sure he outsourced to build all this...and I bet an indian company got the contract :)
LariAnn
1.5 / 5 (17) Apr 19, 2010
Well, believers in ID can come up with what they consider to be reliable evidence of it, and those who believe in contemporary spontaneous generation (life from lifelessness) also come up with what they consider to be reliable evidence. The difference? The contemporary scientific establishment puts their imprimatur on those who believe all life came from nothing but lifeless atoms, so they claim the believers in ID believe in "fairy tales". I can think of no greater fairy tale than the belief that life has no purpose and came from nothingness, with no intelligence behind it. I don't have enough faith to believe that poppycock!
DozerIAm
5 / 5 (14) Apr 19, 2010
Before this spins off into the standard "believe in God" vs "doesn't believe in God" flame war, maybe we should consider several things, especially given that this article is incredibly short on details, such as:

1) what the company policy is on religious proselytizing during company hours or on company property.
2) What the company policy is on promoting a non work activity or business during company hours or on company property.
3) whether the employee was warned and then continued in these activities.
4) a lawsuit may be based less on justice or the law and more on the plaintiff's desire for media attention to their cause.

Here is a link to a newspaper article on the matter: http://www.sgvtri...14909557

Please note that he WAS warned, and then demoted the next month. Also, since he is a publisher of the DVD he was distributing, its reasonable to argue that he is promoting a non-approved external business. Which the lawsuit will surely help.
desolation0
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2010
Every man gets to decide the purpose of his own life, and it's his responsibility to do so. That Science doesn't expressly give a purpose for life, it doesn't mean that there isn't one. Scientists are among the first to admit they don't know everything.
DozerIAm
1.7 / 5 (11) Apr 19, 2010
Scientists are the first people to admit they don't know everything.

Except for AGW climate scientists, of course!
vortex0
2.5 / 5 (11) Apr 19, 2010
I would agree if we were talking about some technical issue, such as a lack of key knowledge about Physics or something like that. But the issue is about metaphysics! If it is not, just show experimentally that he is wrong. He is likely to accept the proof.

We tend to see as stupidity anything that does not comply with our understanding of reality. I've seen many competent people with different beliefs, including some ideas that sounded really, really stupid to me, but then I tried to talk to those people and understand their views and in general those ideas were internally much more coherent than I thought at first. We create labels for beliefs and tend to be trapped in straw man arguments.

It is not good for research when everybody thinks the same way. Brainstorms tend to be useful, even if they are triggered by stupid ideas.

Bottom line: it is not wise nor polite to regard people as stupid just because their metaphysics is different from ours.
JayK
3.9 / 5 (7) Apr 19, 2010
I'll bet the guy drops his suit after pressure from places like the Discovery Institute and even Templeton tell him that a dismissal or loss in court would do a large amount of damage to their non-scientific cause. It is my opinion that this would become a "god did it" vs. science battle in a courtroom, one that the intelligent design people have lost before and will continue to lose until they can pack the benches with "conservative" judges.

And just to annoy others: Announcing that science isn't infallible doesn't make "god did it" an acceptable answer.
Megadeth312
4.5 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2010
Well, believers in ID can come up with what they consider to be reliable evidence of it, and those who believe in contemporary spontaneous generation (life from lifelessness) also come up with what they consider to be reliable evidence. The difference? The contemporary scientific establishment puts their imprimatur on those who believe all life came from nothing but lifeless atoms, so they claim the believers in ID believe in "fairy tales". I can think of no greater fairy tale than the belief that life has no purpose and came from nothingness, with no intelligence behind it. I don't have enough faith to believe that poppycock!


So you're argument is that both side believe they are right? With no qualifier as to what should be considered evidence and what should not? for example, scientific evidence versus baseless theory...

such silly people...
vortex0
4.1 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2010
A fundamental goal of the scientific research is to find out how "things" work. Believing in God does not change that. If the Universe was planned or not, we still have to unveil its mechamisms.

One of the greatest advantages of the scientific method is that it does not depend on philosophy or metaphysics. Why are so many people trying to identify a particular philosophy with science?
JayK
3 / 5 (10) Apr 19, 2010
The scientific method can be tainted and biased by those wielding religion as a tool much more rapidly than someone that is just plainly looking for answers.

Intelligent Design is just a fine example of how the question of "how" turns into "why" and then "god did it." Religion seems to keep good engineers and passable scientists from becoming great.
LariAnn
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2010
One problem is who decides what constitutes "scientific evidence"? The answer is humans of a similar genetic constitution as those who espouse "baseless theory". Each has their own agenda to pursue; if someone chooses to believe in the purposelessness of life, that is their privilege. I wouldn't entrust them with anything that might impact my life or well-being, however. As a whole, being a scientist does not make a person a noble being whose only goal is to find out the truth. Is it more likely that their goal is to keep their research position, get grants, professional acclaim, support, and promotions? That's basic human nature, as it is in any other profession, including religious leaders. Show me a group of pure, noble minded pursuers of truth and explain how they can remain untainted by their human nature, and I'm all ears!
vortex0
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 19, 2010
The way I see it, the problem is a little more general than religion: when we believe first and then desperately try to confirm our belief, or equivalently, if we know for sure that we are right and "they" are wrong, then our bias might be actually beyond repair.

My point is twofold:

1. The scientific method has mechanisms to fight back our bias (we are all biased one way or another).

2. We must be open to the possibility of being wrong.
JayK
3.7 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2010
Scientific evidence would be that which can be replicated and reviewed by others, that thing that Intelligent Design lacks? Peer review works. While it isn't perfect, the recent case against anti-vaccine nut Andrew Wakefield is a perfect example of how the system rights itself when things go wrong.

Luckily, though, we have people like LariAnn that distrust the scientific method and just need that little reassurance that they'll be rewarded for their ignorance.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (8) Apr 19, 2010
Each has their own agenda to pursue; if someone chooses to believe in the purposelessness of life, that is their privilege.

Yeah, science tells us there are many, MANY reasons for life. Religion tells us there is one. We can evidence the reasons under science, so far the whole heaven thing hasn't panned out.

Show me a group of pure, noble minded pursuers of truth and explain how they can remain untainted by their human nature, and I'm all ears!

Take a look at any group of progressive technologists.

Science allows us to further expand civilization, making the sick well and the hungry well fed.

Religion says God sent one guy down here to take care of that for a few years then he had to take off, but don't worry, you might not go to hell if you act exactly like him.

I'm picking science as the compassionate "belief" system. The rewards for faith in it are far better, and for everyone, whether they believe or not.
Megadeth312
3.5 / 5 (8) Apr 19, 2010
I'm picking science as the compassionate "belief" system. The rewards for faith in it are far better, and for everyone, whether they believe or not


Complete agree.
otto1923
4.5 / 5 (10) Apr 19, 2010
This guy was probably preaching on company time AND thinking it was more worthwhile than doing what he was hired to do; and I bet this will be NASAs quite credible and proveable defense. Religionists often think saving souls is more important than -well- just about anything. Hard to shut them up isnt it? And then you have people like the islamist psycho at Ft Hood, who acted in similar fashion before he decided to shoot people. Another good precedent for dealing harshly with workplace proselytizing.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2010
I like the Doctor Who reason for life. "To keep food fresh."
RobertKarlStonjek
4.8 / 5 (12) Apr 19, 2010
Holding a belief is one thing, evangelising in the workplace is quite another ~ his demotion was wholly justified, providing he was given fair warning that his behaviour was unacceptable and given time to demonstrate at least a minimal degree of sanity.

LariAnn,
we can all appreciate the most logical and intuitive scenarios and decide whether or not we choose to believe them, but science confines itself to the evidence ~ there is no evidence for any intelligent designer nor is there any sign of his work in the biology of life. Science does not know how life first emerged from non-life, but that mystery concerns events that must have occurred around 3~3.5 billion years ago. The bible does not mention God's creation of bacteria, or any other microbes...it only mentions the creation of organisms which are now known to have evolved from simpler forms...
vortex0
2 / 5 (8) Apr 20, 2010
Demotion for not complying with workplace rules makes sense. But some reactions here are disturbing.

People politely showing objective arguments to defend their (un)beliefs is interesting.

People affirming that their "opponents" don't have peer-reviewable evidence is risky. (Usually the same evidence is compatible with many mutually exclusive models. Sometimes, a fact is ignored because it does not fit what one is looking for, it is thrown in a "non-evidence" bucket, but it might be a strong evidence for another model. We might never realize it if we are too focused.)

People showing anger toward different belief systems sounds like terrorism (you're angry, but try to compensate for that, ok?). That attitude is far from defending science against superstition. It sounds more like defending a dangerous religion against other. Even if we are the true guardians of absolute truth (meaning that our bias is beyond repair), we should show some respect even for people with "crazy ideas".
Skeptic_Heretic
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 20, 2010
People showing anger toward different belief systems sounds like terrorism (you're angry, but try to compensate for that, ok?). That attitude is far from defending science against superstition. It sounds more like defending a dangerous religion against other. Even if we are the true guardians of absolute truth (meaning that our bias is beyond repair), we should show some respect even for people with "crazy ideas".

The time for polite atheism and agnosticism is over. The religous burned heretics at the stake for attempting to bring technology and science to the unwashed, illiterate masses so they could maintain control. Now I don't suggest we burn the religous for their beliefs, but we're sure as hell going to make them evidence it.

If you can't prove God using the scientific method, then don't bring him up in scientific pursuits.

Christianity is simply an older, more socially acceptable form of scientology. Whether it's Zenu or Yahweh it's faith, and it's wrong.
robert_bedard
5 / 5 (6) Apr 20, 2010
The banning of solicitation in the workplace is very common. Wouldn't the distribution of religious material constitute as solicitation? I'm not convinced that legally this is a religious issue.
Simonsez
3 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
The scientific method can be tainted and biased by those wielding religion as a tool much more rapidly than someone that is just plainly looking for answers.

Intelligent Design is just a fine example of how the question of "how" turns into "why" and then "god did it." Religion seems to keep good engineers and passable scientists from becoming great.


JayK: Please provide proof of your claim, such as evidence of engineers or scientists whose work was "destined" to elevate them to greatness, but who instead have been marginalized or ostracized due to their belief in a god/powerful entity/aliens being responsible for the creation of the universe, mankind or what have you.

I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that you actually have no such proof and simply are biased and painting your opinions and desires as fact. Feel free to go right on ahead carrying that torch, though.
JayK
3 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
@vortex0: Keep trying that angle, that there is a vast conspiracy keeping religious evidence away from the public at large and only putting forth the evidence that satisfies evolution. It really makes it much easier for other posters to just totally ignore everything you have to say on the matter.
JayK
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
Simonsez: That was my opinion after dealing with religious engineers and scientists for a long time, as well as watching what is happening with institutions such as Templeton. Those that have a religious bias tend to be more reserved and do conservative work, while those with no strong beliefs, or no beliefs at all, tend to be more outgoing and challenging. You might have misread my original post, or its intention, though.
Simonsez
1 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
@JayK

I can accept that, tendency to limit scope of one's life be it work or play, can stem from religious views, but can also stem from personal ethics and mores learned from society as a whole (read: mass media) in those who are not religious. It is arguable that those same ethical/moral values are derived from religious institutions, but that is hardly research I am willing to take up for the sake of argument.

Also I will add that an atheist counts as someone with strong beliefs - simply in opposition of prevailing monotheism. I wager we any of us would be hard pressed to find more than a tiny number of people who have no strong views on religion among the scientific community.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
@vortex0, Simonsez:

If you think there's room for a God of the Desert who believes you should kill your neighbors for being unrepentant atheists then you and I will never see eye to eye.

Your "crazy idea" calls for the deaths of billions while stifiling intellectual and social progress due to abstract commands from a delusion dreampt up in the stone age mind of a desert bedouin.
LuckyBrandon
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
The scientific method can be tainted and biased by those wielding religion as a tool much more rapidly than someone that is just plainly looking for answers.

Intelligent Design is just a fine example of how the question of "how" turns into "why" and then "god did it." Religion seems to keep good engineers and passable scientists from becoming great.


JayK: Please provide proof of your claim, such as evidence of engineers or scientists whose work was "destined" to elevate them to greatness, but who instead have been marginalized or ostracized due to their belief in a god/powerful entity/aliens being responsible for the creation of the universe, mankind or what have you.


einstein: he fell short of his ultimate goal due to his belief in god....not fully for that reason, but his beliefs kept him from finding answers where he didnt look...
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
einstein: he fell short of his ultimate goal due to his belief in god....

Darwin would be more apropos. He refused to publish his works outlining his thoughts on abiogenesis until well after his death due to potential persecution from a Christian populace.

He sacrificed his hypotheses of abiogenesis to prevent evolution from being declared heresy against the church.
Simonsez
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
@LuckyBrandon

Have you even read anything about Einstein's beliefs? They hardly synch up with accepted Christian views. Besides that, he remains one of the greatest scientists in history.
JayK
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 20, 2010
@LuckyBrandon: Please explain. Einstein's belief, despite out-of-context quoting, wasn't very well defined, and he most likely could have been though of as a universal spiritualist, rather than a supporter of any specific religion.

@Simonsez: the studies that show that the religious seem to have lower intelligence is a good starting point. Intelligence tests do have biases in them that may select against religious influences in the same manner that minorities score lower. It could very well be that the bell curve that is testable is just shifted for the heavily religious. That would be a good study, actually.
Simonsez
1.8 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
@vortex0, Simonsez:

If you think there's room for a God of the Desert who believes you should kill your neighbors for being unrepentant atheists then you and I will never see eye to eye.

Your "crazy idea" calls for the deaths of billions while stifiling intellectual and social progress due to abstract commands from a delusion dreampt up in the stone age mind of a desert bedouin.

Actually, my "crazy idea" has little to do with the spiteful God you describe, and is in fact far removed from general accepted Christian beliefs; a result of years of consideration and measuring against empirical science. I don't fault you for lumping me in with everyone else, though, as I am sure my evaluation of the nature of God (which seems roughly in tune with Einstein's, as a point of brevity) would be considered heresy by most Christians, and is rare to the point of having not encountered another to date who shares it.
Quarl
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
Ummm, "passed out religious DVDs on the job..." Not too many jobs I can think of where this would be acceptable even if they were his self-promoted music. After work, sure. But during...uh uh.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2010
Since you've spent years considering theology vs science why haven't you followed through?

"It amazes me that throughout all of history religion hasn't looked at science and said 'hey, this is better'" - Carl Sagan
Birthmark
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
Oh silly religions :)
Slick
5 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
My religious friend believes in evolution, his wife does not, their god dictates. Who is right, and why? One being wrong seems to negate the idea of infallibility, though they always have excuses. Galileo was persecuted for his belief in science, the trend in religion is always in that direction as power is gained. Separation of church and state is an important tool to prevent religionists from gaining that power. They will never respect your beliefs if they gain the power. And of course, spreading their nonsense makes a lot of money.
vortex0
3.5 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
@vortex0: Keep trying that angle, that there is a vast conspiracy keeping religious evidence away from the public at large and only putting forth the evidence that satisfies evolution. It really makes it much easier for other posters to just totally ignore everything you have to say on the matter.


That was not my point. My point is that the scientific method is good and we should stick to it; we are all biased; sometimes we make the same mistakes as our "opponents"; it is hard to see what we are not expecting; accepting things like that is good to lower our adrenaline level; anger and science do not blend well.

Intolerance makes us paranoid and clogs our reason.
marjon
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 20, 2010
"It amazes me that throughout all of history religion hasn't looked at science and said 'hey, this is better'" - Carl Sagan

Science can't answer all questions and still can't answer the most important questions in people's lives.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
Science can't answer all questions and still can't answer the most important questions in people's lives.

But science doesn't cop out and say "My Imaginary friend did it." We can actually say I don't know.

Intolerance makes us paranoid and clogs our reason.
And reason has no place in religion, so intolerance is required to navigate the conversation.
thermodynamics
4 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
vortex0: I am not going to argue the issues here (because arguing science and religion just goes in circles not to conclusions). Instead, I am going to pick on your choice of words. You use the term "opponent." As soon as you do that you move away from science. Don't get me wrong, it happens every day in ever branch of science - but it is not professional and not the way science is supposed to work. Theories should always be tested. That is our job as scientists. In fact, I am constantly testing my own theories and asking people to take their best shot at them because that is how we make progress. Those people testing my theories are not "opponents." They are reasoned scientists working to show me my mistakes so I can improve. They are my friends and co-workers. Once you step over the line to "opponents" you have left the realm of reasoned science and stepped onto the slippery slope of opinion and dogma.
vortex0
2 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
The religous burned heretics at the stake for attempting to bring technology and science to the unwashed, illiterate masses so they could maintain control. Now I don't suggest we burn the religous for their beliefs, but we're sure as hell going to make them evidence it.


Yes, that makes me angry too, but those people used to torture and kill anyone with different beliefs they could have their hands on, including Christian people who were trying to follow the original Christianism (lots of changes were added along centuries). The problem was greed for power and intolerance.

Oh, and requiring evidence is good. I like to do that too.

And I agree that giving political power to some religion is a recipe for reviving the medieval intolerance and ideas enforcement again; that would be really bad for science. I am completely against those practices and ideas, and that is an important reason why I dislike intolerance so much.
vortex0
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
vortex0: You use the term "opponent." As soon as you do that you move away from science.


@thermodynamics: excellent comments! Maybe I was unfortunate with my choice of words, but I was thinking exactly that the way you describe is the best. My concern is that when we find out that our co-workers believe in some metaphysics, we change that healthy attitude and start to label them as opponents.
Skeptic_Heretic
2.5 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
Yes, that makes me angry too, but those people used to torture and kill anyone with different beliefs they could have their hands on, including Christian people who were trying to follow the original Christianism (lots of changes were added along centuries). The problem was greed for power and intolerance.

The problems you list are still at play.

Why do you think Hitler targetted the Jews? The reason is because he had a compliance christian citizenry that had already been indoctrinated for centuries to hate the Jews.

You say you believe in god, that means you are opposed to science. The two share no middle ground, that is unless you have a logical proof for "his" existence.
vortex0
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
The problems you list are still at play.


Exactly.

You say you believe in god, that means you are opposed to science.


Are you talking to me? I didn't say that.
Javinator
2 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2010
Pardon me for my polite agnosticism, but I don't believe god and science need to contradict one another. There are things that the scientific community theorizes about with little actual evidence other than that there has to be some explanation for what we observe (ie. theories about the ever accelerating universe with dark matter and all that).

I don't necessarily believe in a god or gods, but I won't discount it as a theory for how things got started until we have evidence against it. Just because some specific religions may have gotten it wrong and fight the evidence doesn't mean ID of some kind isn't at play.

Belief in some higher power doesn't necessarily constitute belief in any specfiic religion or any specific religious books written by people. A lot of peoples' arguements against the possibility of a "god" seem to be arguements against specific religious statements such as those in the Bible.
JayK
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 20, 2010
Fine, Javinator, define "god" without using religion.

Or prove that lost socks don't go into a terminal orbit around the planet Uranus while a light blue teapot orbits Saturn.

What is being said is that there will always be unknowns and that using "god did it" as an excuse negatively impacts science, learning and progress. It causes more problems than it solves, except for possibly opiating the masses. I'd rather have the masses well educated and inquisitive, rather than relying on a poorly defined "god" to answer things for them through sociopathic religious leaders.
Chase_O_
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2010
Here's the key phrase "on the job"

You can say anything you want about whatever you want... "free speech" but no company has to let their employees talk about their religious views when they're supposed to be working.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2010
Pardon me for my polite agnosticism, but I don't believe god and science need to contradict one another. There are things that the scientific community theorizes about with little actual evidence other than that there has to be some explanation for what we observe (ie. theories about the ever accelerating universe with dark matter and all that).

God and science cannot coexist. Science allows humanity to explore the unseen and learn more about their environment.

Name one religion, one God, that encourages curiosity and thorough examination of the Universe at large.

Better yet, explain your logical proof for high probability in God, or if you prefer, a higher authority.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
Just a downrank and no reply, typical.
Javinator
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2010
I never said there is a god or that there's a high probability of one or that we should rely on one instead of trying to figure out the world around us. I just said the theory of a god is as good as any other untested theory for things we don't understand until proven otherwise. We just have no idea.

JayK, you sound like marjon for science. It's like you didn't even read the post I made and you're asking me to prove teapots orbit Saturn. You're jumping to conclusions and aren't even addressing points I made.

Oh and I never downranked you SH.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
I just said the theory of a god is as good as any other untested theory for things we don't understand until proven otherwise. We just have no idea.


So do you believe in magic and unicorns and cyclopeia? And no you didn't, Vortex0 did.
Javinator
not rated yet Apr 21, 2010
No I don't believe in any of those specific things that people made up just like I don't believe in the specific religions people have made up either. I just believe that there's a lot of stuff we don't know for sure.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2010
No I don't believe in any of those specific things that people made up just like I don't believe in the specific religions people have made up either. I just believe that there's a lot of stuff we don't know for sure.

Right, so if you don't believe in Unicorns and other such fantasy, because it's highly improbable, what makes a God or higher power more probable/believable?
Simonsez
1 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
I really feel that expounding on my beliefs and conjecture here will only be construed and reacted to as an attack furthering the science vs. religion cause, and frankly it's a bit stale and boring for me having seen it appear in over half the articles' comments in recent times.

If you are interested in my conclusions I would be happy to discuss them at length; I think doing so in this thread is counterproductive.

I will say this: I encourage scientific discovery and exploration; I have no reason to nor do I disbelieve all that science has proven; I am not content with "God did it", I want to know the mechanism by which it works; the only place where my perception of the universe deviates from empirical understanding is in that I think it is folly to observe the perfect chaos/order of existence, including life/consciousness, and to say that it is a random accident as opposed to intentional or hidden universal law. Neither theory can be proven or disproven at this time.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
I think it is folly to observe the perfect chaos/order of existence, including life/consciousness, and to say that it is a random accident as opposed to intentional or hidden universal law.


It isn't a random accident, it's the evolution of the Universe based on the effects of the known and as yet unknown forces at play.

You don't recognize that you're merely attempting to anthropomorphosize things like Gravity, Electromagnetics, the Coulomb Force, and Planck energy?

Without gravity, none of us would be here, however you perfer to grant attributes of intellect and design to gravity.

It's just gravity.
Javinator
1 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
God, as described by religions, is no more probable than Unicorns and other such fantasy. Fantasy is when we try to imagine that which we do not know.

The possibility of a higher power isn't fantasy any more than "as yet unknown forces at play". Trying to blindly theorize what a higher power is/does/looks like is where the fantasy lies.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
The possibility of a higher power isn't fantasy any more than "as yet unknown forces at play". Trying to blindly theorize what a higher power is/does/looks like is where the fantasy lies.


So you're stating that the certainty of statement that there is more we don't know about the Universe is directly proportional to whether the Universe was intentionally created by a preexisting intelligence.
JayK
3 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
Even making the claim of a "higher power" is a low level definition. If there is evidence, then there is evidence. So far, there isn't any. Simonsez's theorizing that the orderly chaos is somehow indicative of a higher power is another attempt to define it without having to do any work for evidence.

The example of the teapots and such is to show that you have absolutely no reason to theorize a higher power, because there is no evidence that needs it to even be theorized. My silly teapot has as much evidence as your silly higher powers, as of this moment.
Javinator
1 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010

So you're stating that the certainty of statement that there is more we don't know about the Universe is directly proportional to whether the Universe was intentionally created by a preexisting intelligence.


I'm saying the certaintly of the statement that there is more that we don't know about the Universe introduces the possibility, not the probability, of a higher power.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
I'm saying the certaintly of the statement that there is more that we don't know about the Universe introduces the possibility, not the probability, of a higher power.

That means that everything, including what you believe is false, is true unless you can prove otherwise.

You can't ignore probability.
JayK
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
You can't ignore probability.

Exactly.

You also can't just rename god to "higher power" and expect people to just politely excuse you from it. Those days are over, Intelligent Design advocates, such as the guy in the article, are not going to be given free reign as if they have arguments equivalent in evidential strength to the science they are opposing. Right now you're going to start seeing it within science based medicine the most, people that enable woo like homeopathy or anti-vax or anything that doesn't use evidence based arguments to form a theory.
Javinator
1 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
It means a lot of what I believe COULD be false, not that a lot of what I believe IS false. Not being open to the possiblity that what you believe might be false is just bad science.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
Not being open to the possiblity that what you believe might be false is just bad science.

And my belief is that the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judiasm doesn't exist. I'll go beyond belief, I'll assert it directly. The abramhic and in turn all gods dreampt up by man do not exist. Not at all, not before, not in the future, never.
Simonsez
1 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
The universe is governed by laws of physics. We can all agree on that, as we have defined a great number of those laws mathematically and proven most experimentally.

Where did those laws come from? They always existed. We can all agree on that, for the same reasons.

How/why were those laws imbued in the singularity from which the Big Bang "banged"?

Don't worry, I'll be patient.
Simonsez
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
To be topical, I think the guy in the article got what he deserved; a workplace, unless that workplace specifically encourages theological/philosophical debate, is no place to espouse one's beliefs by solicitation. I don't agree with the idea of "magical" ID, it really is ludicrous and ascientific in the most flagrant ways and has no place in a scientific environment (particularly public education system).
JayK
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
They always existed.

There is error #1.
How/why were those laws imbued in the singularity from which the Big Bang "banged"?

There is error #2.
Clearly both are assumptions based on a layman's understanding of current scientific theories. #1 is wrong because many of the physical laws are functions of time. #2 is wrong because it makes multiple assumptions that may or may not be correct about the origins of the universe.

Go ahead, be patient. You'll have to be if you keep using bad assumptions as your proof of a "higher power".
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2010
the comment about einstein wasnt meant to put him into any specific religious affiliation. the fact is, he believed in a higher power, and yes, he was one of the greatest scientific minds ever...however, in a nutshell, he thought that god made the universe how it was, and that it was static..he fully rejected the idea of the big bang, and black holes from what I recall...
These are some pretty big truths to figure out the theory of everything, his ultimate goal...without them, you cant have the theory of everything...unless that theory were to be "god did it"
Skeptic_Heretic
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
As JayK said, your understanding of scientific origin theories is lacking.

We do not think that all "laws", as they are, existed for all time. Considering we cannot speak to what happened before the singularity, and have great difficulty explaining what happened immediately after the "big bang", you'll have to wait for those answers while we determine them from our experimentation.

Or if you prefer a pseudo religious context in the answer: God hasn't told us yet....
the fact is, he believed in a higher power, and yes, he was one of the greatest scientific minds ever...however, in a nutshell, he thought that god made the universe how it was, and that it was static..he fully rejected the idea of the big bang, and black holes from what I recall

You recall incorrectly. Einstein also did not believe in a "higher power".
DozerIAm
1 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
You recall incorrectly. Einstein also did not believe in a "higher power".


Apparently its complicated. I checked out http://wiki.answe...e_in_God
and it appears that while he considered the bible to be "man made" and the concept of a personal god to be false, he did see the footprint so to speak of a higher power, and he thought that science and religion went hand in hand.
Simonsez
3 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
@JayK
Go ahead, be patient. You'll have to be if you keep using bad assumptions as your proof of a "higher power".

I never said it was proof, and I really am unsure of how much clearer I can convey that I have no proof - in fact I stated, plainly I thought, that it is my personal opinion after consideration of hard science and my personal observation of our circumstance. We are still allowed to have opinions, no matter how silly or uneducated, right? Reading back, I never tried to pass my "crazy idea" off as fact or in any way verifiable, nor does it prevent me from accepting scientific discovery. It may be that someday science will define every last piece of information in existence and thereby finally provide proof one way or the other, but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. I fully understand that trying to claim it as fact without proof is ridiculous, and it was never my intent.
Simonsez
2 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2010
As JayK said, your understanding of scientific origin theories is lacking.


I will own up to this freely; I have, unfortunately, not had opportunity just yet to attend physics and related courses - classes I fully intend to take. Posting on the internet about things of which I have only a basic, layman's understanding is hardly a wise thing to do, or rather, doing so as a method to defend a stance for which the other side has many misconceptions, and for which I really am not interested in debating on an internet forum with people who hate any and all spirituality (no offense if you fall in that category). Entirely my fault it ended up that way, I try to avoid getting into that kind of detail and generally only ask questions/make observations in this forum, exactly because of my lack of formal education.

Or if you prefer a pseudo religious context in the answer: God hasn't told us yet....

If this was meant as a dig, it is both ineffective and disappointing.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
Apparently its complicated. I checked out http://wiki.answe...e_in_God
and it appears that while he considered the bible to be "man made" and the concept of a personal god to be false, he did see the footprint so to speak of a higher power, and he thought that science and religion went hand in hand.

Actually Einstein states clearly that there is no God, and that the statements of a "God" are an anthropomorphozation of natural forces.
fleem
1 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2010
What's even stupider are the comments to this article that make it clear so many people are incapable of understanding the simple concept of legal precedent. JPL is state funded. Shall we all give the state the power to dictate what we are allowed to talk about? Yes, let's. -- Now if the guy was yammering so much that it took time away from his job duties, then that's another matter. But that's not what he is claiming. Sheesh people, learn some history.
migmigmig
4 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2010
Ooops!

There was a physorg article referencing god.

And the meltdown flamewar commences.

The purpose of Science is to understand what repeatedly happens when God/Gods/SpaghettiMonsters are not opting to affect the results with their noodly appendages.

Just because we don't have an answer now doesn't make for prima facia noodly evidence.

But just because we're focused on empirical reality doesn't make for the absence of morality, faith, or purpose in one's life.

Just because I believe my purpose is different from one dictated by noodles or crescents or crucifices doesn't make it any less valid (and I do keep my meat quite fresh, thank you).

AND NONE OF THAT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS ARTICLE.

Mr Fleem rightly points that out -- and then ignores the fact that the bozo who got demoted was apparently warned that his behavior was disruptive before being punished for it.

The state's power to dictate what we can or cannot say ends at the door of your private workplace.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2010
Shall we all give the state the power to dictate what we are allowed to talk about? Yes, let's. -- Now if the guy was yammering so much that it took time away from his job duties, then that's another matter. But that's not what he is claiming. Sheesh people, learn some history.

Would you prefer that federal employees do whatever they wish on the citizen's dime without rules?
But just because we're focused on empirical reality doesn't make for the absence of morality, faith, or purpose in one's life.

Would you allow someone who has faith in dinosaurs being contemporary to man, perform any form of research, of any kind?
croghan27
5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2010
Getting back to the story .... : "David Coppedge's lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles County says he was demoted last April for discussing his views in the workplace. He wants a court order allowing him to discuss his beliefs."

A lot depends upon how 'discussing' is defined ... if he wastalking about it with a workmate, not prothelizing, just talking about it, then he has a good suit there.

On the 'flip' side - I wonder how long his church would put up with him taking a pro-science position on the ID question.

DozerIAm
5 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2010
A lot depends upon how 'discussing' is defined ... if he wastalking about it with a workmate, not prothelizing, just talking about it, then he has a good suit there.

I would argue that this thread here proves that its darned near impossible to attempt to discuss "intelligent design" when one of the parties isn't already a believer without ending up with everyone being annoyed (and presumably spending time doing things other than work).
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2010
Sometimes, Dozer, you just have a phenominal way of hitting the nail squarely on the head.
otto1923
not rated yet Apr 26, 2010
@thermodynamics
it happens every day in ever branch of science - but it is not professional and not the way science is supposed to work
Competition drives innovation in every venue. Scientists work harder and think clearer when they're working to justify their role in life, just like everyone else. We evolved from fierce intraspecies conflict- tribal warfare- competion for resources and reproductive rights- over the course of a million years. It's what drives us. Our enemies natural and human are our motivation. Nobody- no scientist- is above that. If you think differently then reexamine your motives.

GOD DOESNT EXIST
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2010
Scientists work harder and think clearer when they're working to justify their role in life, just like everyone else.

Disagree.

Tunnel vision is a bitch, even I've fallen prey to it before.
croghan27
5 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2010
I would argue that this thread here proves that its darned near impossible to attempt to discuss "intelligent design" when one of the parties isn't already a believer without ending up with everyone being annoyed (and presumably spending time doing things other than work).


That is a good and valid point, Doser - but that is not mentioned in the story. He 'claims' he was terminated for 'discussing' - not for either advocating or being argumentative. You have illustrated a gap in the article.

(By-the-bye - he sounds like an irksome little fool to me - looking for some negative feedback so he can claim his rights are being violated by those large hairy 'big bangers'.) (Also not mentioned in the article.)
InfoJunky
5 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2010
Why do "Christians" believe they have a right to trample the rights of everyone else? That Dominionist teaching has these jerks thinking they're entitled to do as they please. That's as bad as any other religion. I do not want to talk about religion at work. If you were really a "Christian" you wouldn't have to keep hitting people over the head with it, they would be able to tell. Respecting other people is not optional for "Christians", and respecting what the other people believe. He got what he deserved. That kind of thing makes for a tense working environment. I'd have fired his a**.

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