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  1. #161
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    I will laugh on the day both sides are proven wrong....

    In all seriousness, I believe the following:

    1. Regarding religion:

    a. Before complex political and economic institutions were established, religion provided the framework necessary to maintain order and structure.

    b. Other institutions have adopted the role for these functions; however, many people still require a moral and ethical framework as justification for correct behavior.

    c. Therefore, religion still needs to be in place for people who need it or for people who feel more comfortable without it.

    d. If you do not want to believe in it, leave it alone.

    2. Regarding science:

    a. Through many individuals hard work, many of whom were clergy because clergy were simply better educated than most people at that point in time, we developed an alternative explanation.

    b. These explanations, contrary to religion, provided a rational, fact-based alternative for those people who require systems and logic rather than faith and belief.

    c. Although we have a great deal of proof for several theories, not the least of which is evolution, we cannot deny that science is a growing, developing field.

    d. At the end of the day, many that the theories we now take for granted, may indeed be proven false by science's own development.

    So is either system perfect? Far from it. Are they totally incompatible? No, indeed not. Several people believe in both religion and evolution. Some people believe only in religion; others believe only in evolution.

    And honestly, who gives a shit? We all need systems, whether they are logically based or faith-based, to understand the world around us. No matter what it's based on for you, as long as you come clear with the world and can function properly within it, who cares?
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  2. #162
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    I will laugh on the day both sides are proven wrong....

    In all seriousness, I believe the following:

    1. Regarding religion:

    a. Before complex political and economic institutions were established, religion provided the framework necessary to maintain order and structure.

    b. Other institutions have adopted the role for these functions; however, many people still require a moral and ethical framework as justification for correct behavior.

    c. Therefore, religion still needs to be in place for people who need it or for people who feel more comfortable without it.

    d. If you do not want to believe in it, leave it alone.

    2. Regarding science:

    a. Through many individuals hard work, many of whom were clergy because clergy were simply better educated than most people at that point in time, we developed an alternative explanation.

    b. These explanations, contrary to religion, provided a rational, fact-based alternative for those people who require systems and logic rather than faith and belief.

    c. Although we have a great deal of proof for several theories, not the least of which is evolution, we cannot deny that science is a growing, developing field.

    d. At the end of the day, many that the theories we now take for granted, may indeed be proven false by science's own development.

    So is either system perfect? Far from it. Are they totally incompatible? No, indeed not. Several people believe in both religion and evolution. Some people believe only in religion; others believe only in evolution.

    And honestly, who gives a shit? We all need systems, whether they are logically based or faith-based, to understand the world around us. No matter what it's based on for you, as long as you come clear with the world and can function properly within it, who cares?
    This is fine with religions that practise the separation of Church and State.

    And it is fine with religions that follow the rule of law; and equality under the law.

    And it is fine with religions that accept the equality of women, lesbians and gays and all citizens.

    But it is not fine with a religion that does not practise the separation of Mosque and State.

    And it is not fine with a religion that divides us all into Muslims, Dhimmi and Infidels. And where Muslims, Dhimmi and Infidels do not have equal rights under Sharia Law.

    And it is not acceptabe to teach that Muslims have a religious duty to murder infidels unless they convert to Islam.

    And it is not acceptable to murder those who leave Islam - who are apostates.

    And it is not acceptable to strangle free speech.

    So who cares?

    I care.

  3. #163

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    You've made several good points here so let me see if I can further elaborate on what you've said and also present my viewpoint of things. (Warning: this will not be brief.)


    I think it is reasonable to assume that natural laws behave in the past as they do in the present. The problem when constructing the past is assuming that only said natural law is responsible for your current data. For example, say a person used current knowledge of gravity to extrapolate the paths of our solar system's planets up to billions of years ago. However if it was later discovered that another solar system had passed very close to ours about 1 million years ago, then all of the previous calculations would be thrown off for earlier dates. Everything would have to be recalculated (if possible). In this situation there is nothing wrong with gravity. The problem is assuming that our solar system is a closed system.
    There have been plenty of comets and other celectial bodies that have affected our solar system in them past. However, the implicit order we see indeicates that nothing too teribly disrubtive has happened so far. It is possible by accident that perhaps our orbits were drastically changed by a celestial event. But it would need to be something very precise. The conservation of angular momentum tells us a lot about the 8 planets, by them selves.

    The cosmological theories that are put together tend to be very imprecise in their implications, also. There are other unkown processes that could have been at work, but we simply use the simplest explantation that makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Now the nice thing about a planet's orbit is that it really can only be affected by something with a significant gravity field. On the other hand if you think about the parent-daughter ratio of elements used in radioactive dating, there are all sorts of things that could affect the ratio over time: chemical reactions, earthquakes, erosion, underground water flow, organisms in the ground, etc.... There is nothing wrong with the decay rate itself, but there are other factors which affect the ratio of the two elements used in the time calculation.

    Or perhaps I am making something out of nothing? Perhaps all radioactive materials exist in a state similar to temporal stasis where nothing in the outside world can affect them?

    Actually I can see either viewpoint being correct. The only way to know which is correct is to perform some type of test. The best one I can think of is to find other models which match the results of radioactive dating. If there are several good ones, then the method is solid. If there are none, then the method should be highly suspect. I personally do not know if there exist independent models that confirm radioactive dating, but the ones I tried did not match, so I became skeptical.

    (Aside: I also take issue with the illogical conclusion that all life descended from a single microorganism, but I'd rather stay on one topic, so I'll save that for a later time.)
    I think Myrcoft's and Blackmail's point stands here. Of course it depends on the conclusion being drawn. But the age of the Earth is calculated using many different methods. They won't all agree perfectly, especially since many tend to give lower bounds and not expected values.

    The wiki article on the age of the earth is:
    Age of the Earth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    This is good, and I'd like to elaborate. Radioactive decay is very similar to a binomial probability model. An analogy often used goes something like this: Say a person flips 80 quarters and then takes away all the coins that turned up heads. Then they flip again and remove again, and so on. After the first flip the expected value is 40 quarters, 20 after the second flip, then 10, 5, etc.... In reality you usually don't get 40 heads after the first flip, but there is a margin of error (based on the standard deviation). If you used more quarters then the standard deviation increases too. The increase in the standard deviation is proportionate to the increase of the square root of the mean.

    Now apply this to the idea of radioactive decay. Say for carbon-14 (half-life 5730 years), each carbon-14 atom has a .5 probability of decaying during any given 5730 year interval. After 5730 years half of the carbon-14 will decay modified by the standard deviation and confidence interval. The standard deviation is based on the amount of Carbon-14 originally present. This means that when you do the time calculation the "+ or - x" is applied to the exponent rather than simply "+ or - z years". And here I am referring only to the theoretical standard deviation that can be measured in a laboratory. The standard deviation of any sample taken in the field is always going to be greater than the theoretical standard deviation.

    Now I don't really have a problem with this part of the theory. I'm just explaining, because I think it's useful to know how it works, and to see how easily the calculation could go wildly off. An increase in the standard deviation affects the exponent. It is easy to see that if the parent-daughter ratio of the sample elements started to vary significantly it would have a huge effect on the final time calculation. So this is a process that requires a high degree of accuracy in the original sample.
    Well, there are a couple issues with this statistical argument. First, the model for radioactive decay is a Possion model not a binomial model.

    The second issue is that of the central limit theorem. Because there is an averaging over time, the std.-deviation of the average (or sum) will actually get relatively (relative to over-all sum) smaller not bigger. This is counter-acted a bit by the exponential nature of decay, and because the process is not memory-less. But the interval does not quite explode the way you illustrated.

    Also, the use of multiple samples, and large samples will adittionally make use of the central limit theorem so that the std.-deviation of the average is actually smaller.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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