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Religious fundamentalism


Holmbo
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This is VERY off-topic but I think people on this board give good advice in general and are not judgemental, so I'll give it a try.

I'm a participant in this language buddy program where native Swedish speakers are paired up with new  Swedes learning the language. I'm parried up with a woman from Syria who is married with three kids. She's a very sweet person who works very hard to learn the language and I enjoy hanging out with her and her family. She's very religious, which I'm not used to since Swedes in general are very indifferent to religion but she's never judgemental about it, so it hasn't been an issue between us.

 

However, the other day she brought up that she doesn't believe the earth moves around the sun because the Quran says the sun moves around the earth. I couldn't help to respond that it's not true. To ignore basic science for religion is just too strange to me. Her 11 year old son got involved in the conversation and both he and his mother stated that everything the Quran says is true. I knew they believe in Islam and follows all of it's rules but I didn't think they took everything literal. I worry about the children growing up believing this, to me it seem akin to child abuse to convince them of such a rejection of science. I'm afraid such a view will make them feel like outcasts in Swedish society. Most Swedes would mock such thinking as extremely ignorant and even find it offensive or threatening.

 

I think the way I handled it was the total wrong way, to just reject it outright and say that it's wrong. A better way would have been to ask questions about it and try to make them see it from a new angle but I'm not sure really how. I tried searching for advice online but only found a bunch of Islamophobic stuff. Then I tried instead of searching for advice about people taking the bible too literary but this gave me the opposite problem in that all the search results was about how to convince people who didn't believe in the bible :S

 

Does anyone have reflections or advice about this? Maybe I'm overacting and the kids will be fine.

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The kids will probably be fine, they will feel confused and left out in science class when it comes up, especially if they speak up. They will also probably fail all the tests associated with the solar system, so maybe they will have to choose between grades and inflexable beliefs. Hopefully whatever school they go to has an effective anti-bullying system if they do get targeted if they do speak out. If that sort of thing happens and you still have contact with the family I guess reassuring them that the targeting is not because they are Muslim, but because they are ignoring science, which is a highly regarded collection of information in ALL western countries. I'm fairly sure most religions (Christianity, Judaism, Chinese folk religion/Taoism, the ancient Indo-European Religions such as the Roman and Greek Pantheons, Ancient Egyptian, Hinduism) had Earth as a fixed presence with the sum moving above. Really I even think the celebrated Islamic scientists of the 13th century, or before then, had the planetary orbits around the sun worked out, far before the Mediterranean and European cultures stopped punishing people for saying it. 

 

I don't know how you could help them see it differently. They would have to want to scientifically educate themselves. Change cannot be forced upon the religious, they get even more steadfast if they feel their beliefs are being undermined.  

 

I guess the main point is that, to them, their beliefs are their knowledge, they know this stuff to be true. They may understand differently in the future, but for now maybe tell them that their knowledge is different from your, and the majority population of Sweden, knowledge. And your reaction, however inadequate or bad you think your reaction was, it is probably the standard reaction they will get from other Swedish people on this topic. If the family is accepting (or at least tolerant) of different religions having a differing viewpoint shouldn't really be an issue between you as long as they understand that their view is not common (or even particularly tolerated) where they are now. 

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Only a system in which the earth is spinning around its own axis daily can really explain both night/day and seasons, which are “offset” in the southern hemisphere by 6 months. So that's the question: How can she explain this?

 

But this only refutes that the daily observed movement of the sun (from sunrise in the east to sunset in the west) is caused by the sun going around the earth. The problem is that a variation of the Tychonic system (IIRC already developed by Tycho Brahe's student, Longomontanus), that is the Tychonic system with a center earth but not an immobile earth (doing a full rotation around itself every 24 hours, but not rotating around the sun) and the correct order of planets, is already very advanced and difficult to refute with layman's arguments. If you have a strong bias for geocentrism and you are really convinced of a gigantic conspiracy of scientist on this issue, AFAIK there's sadly no way to convince yourself of heliocentrism without becoming a well-equipped amateur astronomer.

 

576px-Tychonian_system.svg.png

(The Tychonic system)

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15 hours ago, DeltaV said:

really convinced of a gigantic conspiracy of scientist on this issue

yeah, how would the conspiracy theorists explain the outer solar system probes (the Pioneers and Voyager probes)? some theory about 1970s photoshop?

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3 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

yeah, how would the conspiracy theorists explain the outer solar system probes (the Pioneers and Voyager probes)? some theory about 1970s photoshop?

So, what's so surprising about this? As you know, they already faked the moon landing. Stanley Kubrick was part of the conspiracy. 2001: A Space Odyssey was basically a NASA-supported trial run.

 

Because, as we all know, Muhammad split the moon in half, so how can it be that it was still a whole when Neil Armstrong landed there? You can inform yourself about the “moon landing theory” here, closing with:

Quote

Consequently, based on the apparent meaning of the Quran the moon landing was a hoax. And Allah knows best.

Here, for entertainment purposes (because everybody has seen this scene too often), with the original and later discarded soundtrack by Alex North. No CGI, no photoshop. And with low resolution (2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed on 70 mm! => very high resolution) it would look far more realistic. Alex North was dropped by Kubrick because he was too nosy about Kubrick's involvement with the NASA.

 

On a more serious note, why should the flight path of the probes disprove the system of Longomontanus (or William Gilbert)? Of course, even the most advanced variants of the Tychonic system are incompatible with the Newtonian law of gravity, so we can't really explain the flight path. But who says that the law of gravity is true? It might as well be part of the conspiracy.

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@Apathetic Echidna So I now wonder if I understood your argument with the outer solar system probes correctly… did you mean that they should have reached the “fixed stars sphere” if a geocentric model was correct?

 

Anyway, this discussion made me think about if I should get into amateur astronomy, lol.

  • buy a telescope
  • measure the stellar parallax of Proxima Centauri
  • confirm to you that the earth indeed revolves around the sun…

but I guess that would be too cliché… too sheldonesque.

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On 19/11/2017 at 10:37 AM, Holmbo said:

However, the other day she brought up that she doesn't believe the earth moves around the sun because the Quran says the sun moves around the earth. I couldn't help to respond that it's not true

 

It's not quite as cut-and-dried as "the Earth moves around the Sun and that's that!" I think about the worst you can say about a geocentric model (vs. a heliocentric one) is that it's a perverse coordinate system to use in a rotating system where most of the mass is in the sun. It makes the calculations harder. But my understanding is that it's not "wrong" as such. This article goes into more detail.

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On 11/19/2017 at 5:37 AM, Holmbo said:

e earth moves around the sun because the Quran says the sun moves around the earth.

it's relative. from the perspective of the earth, the sun moves around the earth. religious folk prefer the perspective of the earth.no need to correct what isn't actually wrong. they don't like the yang to their yin, that's perfectly ok, both yin and yang are as one, and where one is acknowledge the other is still true, even if only a shadow.

 

your need to have her see yang and not yin is no different than her need to have you see yin and not yang, I know you find it hard to believe that the sun revolves around the earth but it's just as true. if you want the objective truth, go be the sun, then the earth, then the solar system, then the universe, and don't forget to be each molecule and atom too. they all judge those around them in such a fundamentally different way that we can't even fathom what it's like to be them.

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21 hours ago, NullVector said:

It makes the calculations harder.

What can be said without having to resort to the concept of space in physics, though, is that even in the most advanced geocentric models, which were ever seriously proposed (Christian Severin, William Gilbert), the Sun's distance to the other fixed stars changes periodically over a year. And this is not true. Instead one would need a complete transformation of all the movements of celestial bodies into the coordinate system in which the Earth does not move.

 

Sadly, I don't know that much about general relativity; there are again sites contradicting the statement you linked. It seems to be a similarly vexing situation as with Goedel's theorems: O.o

 

There is one key element left out of this success story, however, and it is crucial to understanding why most physicists reject Einstein's claim to have eliminated absolute states of motion in GTR. [continued]

 

PS: regarding to your link, allow me one feuilletonistic remark... It seems that modern physics is in general more friendly to ancient cosmology than classical physics. Like Aristotle's distinction of natural movement (which happens without a cause) vs. enforced motion. The movement of the planets and gravity he considered "natural movement", like today they are not seen as caused by a gravitational force but as movement in the curved geometry of spacetime. Similarly his idea of potentiality and actuality fits better with quantum mechanics than with classical physics.

Spoiler

In throwing dice we do not know the fine details of the motion of our hands which determine the fall of the dice and therefore we say that the probability for throwing a special number is just one in six. The probability wave of Bohr, Kramers, Slater, however, meant more than that; it meant a tendency for something. It was a quantitative version of the old concept of 'potentia' in Aristotelian philosophy. It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.

 

in Werner Heisenberg: Physics and Philosophy

But maybe that's all just because things became so complicated that we slip into some postmodernist vagueness where any old idea contains some kernel of truths.

 

Aren't there some members of the "Grey Tribe" here so that we can have some action? xD Yeah, Amazing Nontheist, Shoe0nToe, Fortified Skeptic, Cynic of Science, Shepherd of Logic, D4wkins F4n .... where are you guys?

2 hours ago, cute kitty Meow! Mewo! said:

no need to correct what isn't actually wrong.

Well, the stituation is similar as in the following story told by William James:

Spoiler

 

SOME YEARS AGO, being with a camping party in the mountains, I returned from a solitary ramble to find every one engaged in a ferocious metaphysical dispute. The corpus of the dispute was a squirrel – a live squirrel supposed to be clinging to one side of a tree-trunk; while over against the tree’s opposite side a human being was imagined to stand. This human witness tries to get sight of the squirrel by moving rapidly round the tree, but no matter how fast he goes, the squirrel moves as fast in the opposite direction, and always keeps the tree between himself and the man, so that never a glimpse of him is caught. The resultant metaphysical problem now is this: Does the man go round the squirrel or not? He goes round the tree, sure enough, and the squirrel is on the tree; but does he go round the squirrel? In the unlimited leisure of the wilderness, discussion had been worn threadbare. Every one had taken sides, and was obstinate; and the numbers on both sides were even. Each side, when I appeared therefore appealed to me to make it a majority. Mindful of the scholastic adage that whenever you meet a contradiction you must make a distinction, I immediately sought and found one, as follows: “Which party is right,” I said, “depends on what you practically mean by ‘going round’ the squirrel. If you mean passing from the north of him to the east, then to the south, then to the west, and then to the north of him again, obviously the man does go round him, for he occupies these successive positions. But if on the contrary you mean being first in front of him, then on the right of him, then behind him, then on his left, and finally in front again, it is quite as obvious that the man fails to go round him, for by the compensating movements the squirrel makes, he keeps his belly turned towards the man all the time, and his back turned away. Make the distinction, and there is no occasion for any farther dispute. You are both right and both wrong according as you conceive the verb ‘to go round’ in one practical fashion or the other.”

And so one would also have to first ask what they mean by "the sun revolves around the earth".

 

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20 hours ago, NullVector said:

 

It's not quite as cut-and-dried as "the Earth moves around the Sun and that's that!" I think about the worst you can say about a geocentric model (vs. a heliocentric one) is that it's a perverse coordinate system to use in a rotating system where most of the mass is in the sun. It makes the calculations harder. But my understanding is that it's not "wrong" as such. This article goes into more detail.

 

Well, that is true. Maybe I can just think of it as a coordinate transformation problem and I'll be less upset :)

 

 

On 2017-11-23 at 3:39 AM, Apathetic Echidna said:

The kids will probably be fine, they will feel confused and left out in science class when it comes up, especially if they speak up. They will also probably fail all the tests associated with the solar system, so maybe they will have to choose between grades and inflexable beliefs. Hopefully whatever school they go to has an effective anti-bullying system if they do get targeted if they do speak out. If that sort of thing happens and you still have contact with the family I guess reassuring them that the targeting is not because they are Muslim, but because they are ignoring science, which is a highly regarded collection of information in ALL western countries. I'm fairly sure most religions (Christianity, Judaism, Chinese folk religion/Taoism, the ancient Indo-European Religions such as the Roman and Greek Pantheons, Ancient Egyptian, Hinduism) had Earth as a fixed presence with the sum moving above. Really I even think the celebrated Islamic scientists of the 13th century, or before then, had the planetary orbits around the sun worked out, far before the Mediterranean and European cultures stopped punishing people for saying it. 

 

I don't know how you could help them see it differently. They would have to want to scientifically educate themselves. Change cannot be forced upon the religious, they get even more steadfast if they feel their beliefs are being undermined.  

 

I guess the main point is that, to them, their beliefs are their knowledge, they know this stuff to be true. They may understand differently in the future, but for now maybe tell them that their knowledge is different from your, and the majority population of Sweden, knowledge. And your reaction, however inadequate or bad you think your reaction was, it is probably the standard reaction they will get from other Swedish people on this topic. If the family is accepting (or at least tolerant) of different religions having a differing viewpoint shouldn't really be an issue between you as long as they understand that their view is not common (or even particularly tolerated) where they are now. 


I hope you're right. I'm just worried this will make them feel like outcasts. Hopefully they will teenage rebel by reading Charles Darwin or something.

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4 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I'm just worried this will make them feel like outcasts.

WARNING this following advice is probably not helpful at all: You could relate it to the LGBT+ experience. They have to keep quiet and 'in the closet' about their beliefs or risk possible persecution. < yeah, totally not helpful. Don't say that. 

 

4 hours ago, Holmbo said:

Hopefully they will teenage rebel by reading Charles Darwin or something.

We can only hope!

 

@DeltaV I was just meaning all calculations for the flight paths were based on a heliocentric model with a basically unmoving sun mass. Also contact was not significantly and unexplainably blocked at any point in the Voyager probe communications, which would have happened if the sun was passing between the probe and Earth. Light values would have also fluctuated on the photographed planets and moons if the sun had been swinging around the earth - but they didn't. Light values diminished steadily as if the sun was in a fixed place. 

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20 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

I was just meaning all calculations for the flight paths were based on a heliocentric model with a basically unmoving sun mass.

Yeah, well, from the standpoint of Newtonian mechanics it's easy: There are inertial systems and the Sun is at rest in one of them, while the Earth moves around the Sun etc.. And so the flight paths of the probes are as the calculations predicted. Case closed. Similar with Foucault's pendulum. But if we go to general relativity, that argument doesn't seem to work anymore... if there is no absolute space, how can we say what revolves around what? Still the SEP link already mentioned above contradicts the site to which NullVector linked a bit in the sense that it claims that most physicists aren't convinced that GR has really done away with absolute states of motion.

 

But I'm not a physicist, so don't let this transform into some exhibition of the Dunning-Kruger-effect. -_-

20 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

Also contact was not significantly and unexplainably blocked at any point in the Voyager probe communications, which would have happened if the sun was passing between the probe and Earth. Light values would have also fluctuated on the photographed planets and moons if the sun had been swinging around the earth - but they didn't. Light values diminished steadily as if the sun was in a fixed place. 

For the classical geocentric models that would be right, but if you'd do a complete transformation of the all the movements to the coordinate system which moves with the Earth (so Earth is at rest in this coordinate system), there is no such contradiction.

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On 29/11/2017 at 6:16 AM, DeltaV said:

For the classical geocentric models that would be right, but if you'd do a complete transformation of the all the movements to the coordinate system which moves with the Earth (so Earth is at rest in this coordinate system), there is no such contradiction.

wait wait, are you saying that the points I noted could occur if a complete transformation of the coordinate system was done. So the trajectory and images could be explained in a geocentric system? 

and yeah, I was sort of trying to ignore the general relativity, which seems to me the sort of thing like the argued definition of greysexuality by Kristina Gupta based on the Foucault work on sexual orientation labelling ultimately being a harmful form form of social control and limitation of a fluid experience. 

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On 28/11/2017 at 7:46 PM, DeltaV said:

But I'm not a physicist, so don't let this transform into some exhibition of the Dunning-Kruger-effect. -_-

 

I was training to be one at some point, but these days I'm barely able to comment on such things myself! (e.g. I couldn't make much headway with that Stanford article you linked :D) Also, I never made a really serious study of General Relativity, aside from reading a few books and taking one or two undergrad courses on it. Einstein's field equations for General Relativity are kind of notoriously hard to work with and solve! Because of feedback effects between the matter-energy distribution and space-time backround, I think it is; the two co-evolve together and can't be treated independently, so only a handful of exact solutions e.g. Schwartzchild's are known. It's a lot easier when you have a fixed space-time background, like with Newtonian gravity (or Quantum Field Theory, for that matter, which still hasn't solved the gravity-incorporation problem)

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On 11/30/2017 at 9:00 AM, Apathetic Echidna said:

wait wait, are you saying that the points I noted could occur if a complete transformation of the coordinate system was done. So the trajectory and images could be explained in a geocentric system? 

To put it succinctly: on the level of kinematics, there's no contradiction, only on the level of (Newtonian) dynamics there is. And the light intensity isn't a problem too for the geocentric model.

On 11/30/2017 at 9:00 AM, Apathetic Echidna said:

and yeah, I was sort of trying to ignore the general relativity, which seems to me the sort of thing like the argued definition of greysexuality by Kristina Gupta based on the Foucault work on sexual orientation labelling ultimately being a harmful form form of social control and limitation of a fluid experience. 

But that's not an uninteresting question. Sure, not many people get that upset and obsessed about greysexuality...

On 11/30/2017 at 7:56 PM, NullVector said:

e.g. I couldn't make much headway with that Stanford article you linked :D

So it now boils down to an argument of authority. Nick Huggett and Carl Hoefer claim that the scientific consensus tends more in the direction that absolute states of motion do exist; hopefully they got that right.

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This is not usually the place I would expect to find discussions on physics... :rofl: 

I am a sophomore physics and astronomy double major (I know... you would never guess from the profile pic), but I think I will wait until at least next semester (when I will be taking the course Light, Relativity and Quantum) to comment.

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