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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Religion vs Science (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Religion vs Science
happymann
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I had a friend of mine post on facebook:
quote:
Dear Religion: This week I safely dropped a human from space; you shot a 14-year old girl in the head for wanting to go to school.
-Science

I found this comment over-simplifying the complexity of the world in which we live. To me it feels like he lumped all of Religion into one "evil" and all of Science into one "good" (the science side I have no problem with. science is awesome. it's lumping all of religion into an "evil" bucket that gets me). Am I wrong in being disgusted by this post?
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TomDavidson
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I don't know if I'd be disgusted, but it's certainly ignoring the amount of good in the world that is motivated by religious beliefs of various stripes. Whether that outweighs the harm done in the name of those religious beliefs or not is something I can't answer, but is something that's being left out of the equation by that post.

Heck, it kind of misses the point: science generally answers "how" or "what would happen if..." questions, while religion and philosophy try to provide justifications for "why." Science told us how to drop a man from orbit, but not why we should; religion told some people why they should shoot a girl, but science actually told them how to make the gun.

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Orincoro
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It's pithy. More the type of agitprop a would-be clever person posts on their wall to show how progressive and hip they are than to make a meaningful point.

A two-pronged test can be applied to Facebook posts in this regard: 1: does it attempt to make a point that appeals to those of differing opinion (not preach to the choir). 2: does it specify the deficiencies of opposing viewpoints?

Anything that doesn't meet this test is just run of the mill bullsht.

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happymann
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He lives in Salt Lake City, if that helps in identifying what his motivations are.
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BlackBlade
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I don't really see how it does.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Over simplification of the worst kind, with a large side helping of righteous indignation. All and all I'd say your friend is more interested in hearing the sound of his own voice, and sounding pithy, then actually addressing any real problem or suggesting a real solution.

Or to put it a more eloquent way, your friend is acting like a tool.

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JonHecht
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I don't understand why many people think that science and religion must be antithetical to one another. I find it to be one of the great tragedies of the world. Since the class I'm AIing for this semester is all about God, I've tried to impress upon my students at various points that this is not so. I'd like to think that some of the students have become more open minded and less hostile as a result.

Of course, they also no longer believe (by polling) that induction is rationally justified, so I may have caused more harm than I relieved...

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happymann
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I have met several atheists from all over the nation (U.S. Military exposes me to people from all over) and in my own experience, without any sort of statistics to back me up scientifically, it's the atheists that come from religion-heavy regions (Utah and the South mostly) that are the ones who must let you know that religion is the anti-science. California and New England atheists are much more respectful. That's why I mentioned that he's from SLC.

Also, I am having the worst time spelling "atheists" this morning. "Athiests" is NOT how it's spelled!

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Foust
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quote:
Originally posted by happymann:
I have met several atheists from all over the nation (U.S. Military exposes me to people from all over) and in my own experience, without any sort of statistics to back me up scientifically, it's the atheists that come from religion-heavy regions (Utah and the South mostly) that are the ones who must let you know that religion is the anti-science. California and New England atheists are much more respectful. That's why I mentioned that he's from SLC.

Also, I am having the worst time spelling "atheists" this morning. "Athiests" is NOT how it's spelled!

It's the religion-heavy places where evolution in schools gets challenged, though.
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happymann
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
Originally posted by happymann:
I have met several atheists from all over the nation (U.S. Military exposes me to people from all over) and in my own experience, without any sort of statistics to back me up scientifically, it's the atheists that come from religion-heavy regions (Utah and the South mostly) that are the ones who must let you know that religion is the anti-science. California and New England atheists are much more respectful. That's why I mentioned that he's from SLC.

Also, I am having the worst time spelling "atheists" this morning. "Athiests" is NOT how it's spelled!

It's the religion-heavy places where evolution in schools gets challenged, though.
I can't speak for the South, but going to junior high and high school in Utah I didn't have any issue learning about evolution in my science classes.
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Javert
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If you are horribly frustrated that such things still happen in the 21st Century, I can understand the desire to post something like that.

Is it oversimplifying matters? Totally. But I can somewhat understand it.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
Originally posted by happymann:
I have met several atheists from all over the nation (U.S. Military exposes me to people from all over) and in my own experience, without any sort of statistics to back me up scientifically, it's the atheists that come from religion-heavy regions (Utah and the South mostly) that are the ones who must let you know that religion is the anti-science. California and New England atheists are much more respectful. That's why I mentioned that he's from SLC.

Also, I am having the worst time spelling "atheists" this morning. "Athiests" is NOT how it's spelled!

It's the religion-heavy places where evolution in schools gets challenged, though.
BYU is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Prayers are said at the beginning of many classes, there are religious devotionals every week during which facilities shut down so students will pay attention. There's an honor code, that includes staying away from tobacco, alcohol, and having premarital sex.

They've been teaching evolution to some degree since 1909. I don't think any faculty teach creationism today.

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Rakeesh
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It's a poor comparison in any case. The space skydiving wasn't a moral event, one way or another. It wasn't a good or an evil.

Now, secular humanism vs religion...

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
It's a poor comparison in any case. The space skydiving wasn't a moral event, one way or another. It wasn't a good or an evil.

Now, secular humanism vs religion...

According to the bible it is. Tower of Babel anyone?
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Strider
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That quote is taken from a meme that was being passed around. Can't find it at the moment.
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Darth_Mauve
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Dear Civilization:

Today I dressed myself up with the name "Science" and played my atheist card. Chaos ensued. You lost.

Yours forever

Troll

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happymann
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The discussion degenerated to the point where we were both accusing each other of straw man arguments so I quit while I could.
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advice for robots
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I'll echo JonHecht about wondering why religion and science have to somehow be so much like oil and water. One doesn't necessarily negate the value or truth of the other. They can coexist and compliment each other much more than many think they can. A stupid comment like the one happymann's friend made only pushes the gulf of understanding wider, when it doesn't even have to be there.
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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by happymann:
I had a friend of mine post on facebook:
quote:
Dear Religion: This week I safely dropped a human from space; you shot a 14-year old girl in the head for wanting to go to school.
-Science

I found this comment over-simplifying the complexity of the world in which we live. To me it feels like he lumped all of Religion into one "evil" and all of Science into one "good" (the science side I have no problem with. science is awesome. it's lumping all of religion into an "evil" bucket that gets me). Am I wrong in being disgusted by this post?
If we had dropped an Atom bomb instead of a man, I wonder if he'd be singing a different tune.

Blaming religion for any atrocity is not only ignorant (since there are thousands of religions, each with a different set of moral principles and beliefs), but it also shows that this person is motivated by hate. He hates religion, and he hates all of it completely. It's the same hate that fuels religious wars; it's the same hate that blew up the towers, exiled Galileo, denied Darwin's theories, and made slaves out of African tribesmen all those years ago. It's a hate of separation, of looking out across the river and seeing the other man on the other side looking back at you and hating him for no other reason except that he's different. It's the worst possible kind of hate, and it's the reason for just about every war our tiny little race of hairless apes has ever had.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
I'll echo JonHecht about wondering why religion and science have to somehow be so much like oil and water. One doesn't necessarily negate the value or truth of the other. They can coexist and compliment each other much more than many think they can. A stupid comment like the one happymann's friend made only pushes the gulf of understanding wider, when it doesn't even have to be there.

Because you have scientists like Hawking that understand the nature of the universe like most of us never will saying there is no god, and religions that take their holy books written hundreds if not thousands of years ago 100% literally.
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
It's the same hate that fuels religious wars; it's the same hate that blew up the towers, exiled Galileo, denied Darwin's theories, and made slaves out of African tribesmen all those years ago. It's a hate of separation, of looking out across the river and seeing the other man on the other side looking back at you and hating him for no other reason except that he's different. It's the worst possible kind of hate, and it's the reason for just about every war our tiny little race of hairless apes has ever had.
Damn, you seem to be hating a lot on those damn haters.

I so hate hater-hating people. :-)

More seriously, and more explicitly: don't you think that hateful overgeneralizations and hyperboles don't really make the point well about how bad hateful overgeneralizations and hyperboles are?

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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
quote:
It's the same hate that fuels religious wars; it's the same hate that blew up the towers, exiled Galileo, denied Darwin's theories, and made slaves out of African tribesmen all those years ago. It's a hate of separation, of looking out across the river and seeing the other man on the other side looking back at you and hating him for no other reason except that he's different. It's the worst possible kind of hate, and it's the reason for just about every war our tiny little race of hairless apes has ever had.
Damn, you seem to be hating a lot on those damn haters.

I so hate hater-hating people. :-)

More seriously, and more explicitly: don't you think that hateful overgeneralizations and hyperboles don't really make the point well about how bad hateful overgeneralizations and hyperboles are?

You are free to disagree, but I stand by what I said.
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Darth_Mauve
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Why can't science and religion be allies instead of enemies?

If you are searching for truth, then science, religion, and logic are allies.

The first Western scientists were clergy.

If you believe that you have the truth then logic, science, and religion most be enemies.

Better yet, Religion is the enemy of Science if that religion demands one follows dogma, allows only faith, and demands control. Dogma is the enemy of skepticism. Faith is the enemy of the Scientific Method. Control is the enemy of curiosity.

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advice for robots
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quote:
If you believe that you have the truth then logic, science, and religion most be enemies.

Huh? I'd say if you believe you have the truth and you need nothing else, then yeah, other ways to knowledge are going to be your enemies, whether they're religion or science. But if you believe there's always more to learn and not just one way to learn it, religion, science, et al are definitely allies.

Not sure how faith is the enemy of the scientific method. It's faith, in its most general terms, that sparks the questions and allows someone to search for solutions and verification in the first place. Faith in God, specifically, doesn't in and of itself put you in opposition to the scientific method. Why would it?

Your religion should open you up to the search for knowledge, not close you off from it. Honestly, I haven't seen too many religions that close out all paths to knowledge except faith. Are we thinking of the same ones? People get overzealous and close themselves off all the time from other avenues of knowledge--people all over the religion-science spectrum.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I agree with Aris. It is horribly simple generalities which are sparking off the original badness in this discussion and I feel that Jeff's conclusions about the original generalizer's motivations are just so much more over simplified gasoline on a already dubious fire.

I also agree with AFR. Faith should not be associated with the antithesis of the thirst for knowledge. Fundamentalism certainly could be though.

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iglee
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My Church never taught me how to change the clutch in my pickup truck. Nor did any Sunday School class ever show me how to solve a quadratic equation.

But then, no science class I ever attended showed me how to make sure my neighbor’s children had enough to eat. Nor did any math class or book, nor Steven Hawking, Sagan, or Asimov show me how to comfort a friend who had just lost his wife or that I even should do such a thing.

No Church I'm aware of ever taught my cardiologist and surgeon how to diagnose and correct a blocked artery nor invent the machines that helped them to do so.

But it wasn't the doctors or nurses or inventors that showed up at my house day after day and helped with the heavy lifting until I could resume those things myself.

This conflict between science/engineering and religion is just something I've not had to deal with in my daily life. Oh sure, I'm aware that there are warped people out there that claim to be religious who do disgusting things, and I'm aware that there are people out there who claim to be scientists who brandish the name of science as a bludgeon against god. I've just never experienced that stuff on a personal level.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by iglee:


But then, no science class I ever attended showed me how to make sure my neighbor’s children had enough to eat.

Maybe not your neighbor, but it sure feeds a lot of the planet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug
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iglee
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Stephan, you'll get no argument from me. I would not ever want to do without the benifits of science and I honor people like Louis Pasteur,Frederick Banting and Norman Borlaug and all those other giants who have made my life easier.

I wrote the following before I came back to the forum and read read your post but I'm going to include it also:

I could also mention the time my car broke down late in the afternoon in a small town in a southern US state. And about the good Christian man (owner of a repair shop) who is of a denomination on which my denomination is not traditionally on the best of terms. I could tell you how he not only went (literally) the extra mile and drove my wife and I to a motel and then went out of his way to get the part needed to fix my car, and then got me back on the road the next day. And how he charged me only a FAIR price. I was totally at his mercy and he did NOT gouge me like he could have done.

I honor the science and engineering that gave him the skills to fix my car, and I honor the upbringing he had in Church and at home that gave him the compassion to help a fellow being in need.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by iglee:
Stephan, you'll get no argument from me. I would not ever want to do without the benifits of science and I honor people like Louis Pasteur,Frederick Banting and Norman Borlaug and all those other giants who have made my life easier.

I wrote the following before I came back to the forum and read read your post but I'm going to include it also:

I could also mention the time my car broke down late in the afternoon in a small town in a southern US state. And about the good Christian man (owner of a repair shop) who is of a denomination on which my denomination is not traditionally on the best of terms. I could tell you how he not only went (literally) the extra mile and drove my wife and I to a motel and then went out of his way to get the part needed to fix my car, and then got me back on the road the next day. And how he charged me only a FAIR price. I was totally at his mercy and he did NOT gouge me like he could have done.

I honor the science and engineering that gave him the skills to fix my car, and I honor the upbringing he had in Church and at home that gave him the compassion to help a fellow being in need.

Personally it depresses me that people think that we need religion to tell us to do such wonderful acts of kindness. It was certainly necessary in the dark ages with little law and order. My children are growing up in an atheist household, but it will still be a very moral one.

There is a sign in front of a church I pass by on the way to work every day. It has a very simple message about forgiving others. Nothing about burning in hell, or Jesus being the only path, just a simple forgive and move on. I do like seeing that. But then last week a sign was placed next to it about voting no on the upcoming gay marriage question on my state's ballot. It nearly broke my heart to see a message of hate next to a sign I liked seeing every morning.

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Personally it depresses me that people think that we need religion to tel us to do such wonderful acts of kindness.
I'm not sure anyone is sayine there is a -need- for religion to teach morality, just people pointing out that it in fact -does- while science -does not-.
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Rakeesh
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afr,

quote:
Not sure how faith is the enemy of the scientific method. It's faith, in its most general terms, that sparks the questions and allows someone to search for solutions and verification in the first place. Faith in God, specifically, doesn't in and of itself put you in opposition to the scientific method. Why would it?
I'm not sure what you mean by suggesting faith is what pushes people to search for solutions and verification. Could you explain that remark in more detail? I've tried to read that in several different ways, and am not coming up with a reading that is sensible. Faith in what? That there is an answer that exists and can be found?

quote:
Your religion should open you up to the search for knowledge, not close you off from it. Honestly, I haven't seen too many religions that close out all paths to knowledge except faith. Are we thinking of the same ones? People get overzealous and close themselves off all the time from other avenues of knowledge--people all over the religion-science spectrum.
'Search for knowledge' is not something I'm sure I understand your meaning in using either. Could you be more specific?

--------

Iglee,

quote:
I could also mention the time my car broke down late in the afternoon in a small town in a southern US state. And about the good Christian man (owner of a repair shop) who is of a denomination on which my denomination is not traditionally on the best of terms. I could tell you how he not only went (literally) the extra mile and drove my wife and I to a motel and then went out of his way to get the part needed to fix my car, and then got me back on the road the next day. And how he charged me only a FAIR price. I was totally at his mercy and he did NOT gouge me like he could have done.
There is something remarkable in this event, but I'm not sure it is what you thought it was. It sounds very much like you would've *expected* him to at least not go the extra mile, or even perhaps stick it to you a little, because of your differences in faith. That his faith community might've taught him to disdain you, and that yours taught you to expect disdain from that group. That this man rose above both your expectations and the leanings of his faith community seems to me to he a credit to him, not to his faith.

-------

As for science and faith co-existing...just because people are able to comfortably embrace both without their heads exploding doesn't mean they actually do coexist as concepts. Examples demonstrating that abound throughout history.

There's a lot of talk, in this thread and throughout all societies, about religion teaching people morality. I simply don't see it, particularly in the discussions that commonly happen in the US. For starters, no religion that includes anything in the realm of eternal damnation can be said to be really teaching morality-in any human affair except religion, someone doing something when threatened with torture, much less eternal torture, would get neither credit nor blame. Right off the bat, that takes many religions off the table.

As for the rest, well, many have asked varieties of this question but the form I know it best in was asked by the late Christopher Hitchens: who can name an idea believed, or an action take that would be completely unthinkable to an otherwise decent, sane individual without some sort of faith-based backing; also, who can name a good belief held or action taken that could *only* be done for religious reasons?

Many people do believe that their religion teaches them morality, but in some cases-such as those that include hellfire-it is simply nonsense. In cases that don't, we have to ask ourselves: where do these moral ideas in religion come from? Cooperation, mercy, forgiveness, love, restraint, peacefulness, are any of these things impossible without religion? Is it religion that teaches us these things, or the other way around? And why is it when these conversations are had, that religion so often gets the credit for the good moral beliefs, while humanity gets the blame for the bad?

Sure, science didn't teach anyone's neighbors to care for one a other...except science can and does teach us that communities that cooperate and look out for one another are happier and healthier. Science doesn't teach anyone to speak words of comfort to a grieving friend, but does religion? That is a universal human tendency.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:

Sure, science didn't teach anyone's neighbors to care for one a other...except science can and does teach us that communities that cooperate and look out for one another are happier and healthier. .

No, it doesn't, because science has no way of defining something like happiness.

Once we use philosophy to define happiness, science can provide useful data to help us decide what is a good course of action and what will lead to happiness ... But that's not quite the same thing.

I agree with some of what you're saying here, Rakeesh, but you've overstated your case in this area. It's a common overstatement, so don't think I am trying to harp on you specifically.

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Rakeesh
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Science doesn't have to define happiness, because I didn't mean it as a physical state or something, like a positive charge. Rather that science can help us learn which actions will cause humans to feel happier, y'dig?
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
afr,

quote:
Not sure how faith is the enemy of the scientific method. It's faith, in its most general terms, that sparks the questions and allows someone to search for solutions and verification in the first place. Faith in God, specifically, doesn't in and of itself put you in opposition to the scientific method. Why would it?
I'm not sure what you mean by suggesting faith is what pushes people to search for solutions and verification. Could you explain that remark in more detail? I've tried to read that in several different ways, and am not coming up with a reading that is sensible. Faith in what? That there is an answer that exists and can be found?

quote:
Your religion should open you up to the search for knowledge, not close you off from it. Honestly, I haven't seen too many religions that close out all paths to knowledge except faith. Are we thinking of the same ones? People get overzealous and close themselves off all the time from other avenues of knowledge--people all over the religion-science spectrum.
'Search for knowledge' is not something I'm sure I understand your meaning in using either. Could you be more specific?


Yeah, that there is an answer worth going through the trouble to find. That's faith in its most general terms, not tied up in religious thought. How many things do you venture to do if you don't at least have some faith in a favorable outcome? Faith is intrinsic to inquiry.

I separated that from faith in God specifically, which a religion may teach. I don't see how faith in God is the enemy of the scientific method any more than faith in general is. Having faith in God means acting as though God exists and has a certain reliable influence in your life; it doesn't necessarily preclude looking for answers about the universe through scientific means. My faith in God does not prevent me from turning to and relying on science for much of what I know about the world around me and for much of how I'm able to live in it.

I don't see religion as a substitute for gaining knowledge that is normally in the domain of science. I do accept certain things as true that science isn't really equipped to prove one way or another, and pattern my life to a certain extent based on that certainty. I guess you could say it's my religion that provides the structure for that pattern as well as pathways to knowledge within it--knowledge of God, who he is, how that affects my life, for example. I guess that's one facet of faith in God, maybe the most visible one from the outside. I accept something that science dismisses as unprovable and lacking in evidence in the way science looks for knowledge. However, rather than just seeing faith as flying in the face of science, I see it as being its own pathway to knowledge, one that has no reason to hinder science.

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Rakeesh
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afr,

Ok, I thought that might be what you meant, thanks for explaining.

quote:
Yeah, that there is an answer worth going through the trouble to find. That's faith in its most general terms, not tied up in religious thought. How many things do you venture to do if you don't at least have some faith in a favorable outcome? Faith is intrinsic to inquiry.
This doesn't seem to be very applicable at all-I'll explain why. First, we can't help but ask questions. We hear a noise, we try and guess what it might be. Our families die-or live-and we try and think of reasons why, or for the less faithful and more inquisitive they try and actively discover the truth. I think that when you say we try and learn answers because we have faith there will be a favorable outcome, you're assuming what you need to prove.

Faith that there is an answer to be found at all? Well, that's a little better than assuming a favorable outcome, but I think a better word would be 'hope'. We *hope* when we try and learn an answer we don't know that it will be within our capacity to find it, but that's not really the same thing as having faith that the answer exists, much less that we will find it, is it?

quote:
I separated that from faith in God specifically, which a religion may teach. I don't see how faith in God is the enemy of the scientific method any more than faith in general is. Having faith in God means acting as though God exists and has a certain reliable influence in your life; it doesn't necessarily preclude looking for answers about the universe through scientific means. My faith in God does not prevent me from turning to and relying on science for much of what I know about the world around me and for much of how I'm able to live in it.
It sounds like what you are saying is that your religious faith informs those parts of your life that science and strict reason haven't yet informed, but I don't think that's what you mean. Could you explain it in another way, because I'm not quite getting you? So far it sounds as though this is pretty arbitrary if we look at history. A thousand years ago, religion didn't just answer questions about the intangible emotional sides of life, but the actual physical shape of the universe. Four hundred years ago it didn't just answer questions about how we might be better humans, it explained how we came to exist as the life we are today. Two hundred years ago, it didn't just so on and so forth. It seems that in *every* case, when we look to find where the dividing line between science and religion is drawn, it is never drawn in a new place because of some advancement or discovery religion has made, but rather some various ideas or practices religion has been compelled to surrender by the advancement of science and reason.
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Darth_Mauve
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Let me try to explain a little of what I meant.

Science and Religion are allies if you are seeking truth. We agree on that.

Faith, as I have seen it defined, is a belief with out need of, or in spite of, proof to the contrary.

The Scientific Method is belief only after proof, and then question and test that proof.

Faith does not have to be in religion, but can be faith in your pet theory, the science you learned in 3rd grade, or that Pluto is a planet.

Faith is part of ones religion. If the religion demands complete faith in a core thought, then it is the enemy of the Scientific Method which would challenge that thought.

Faith in God is a type of Faith. Faith in God, as in you believe that God exists and is active in the world does not make someone an enemy to the scientific method. However, Faith that God would do something specific--such as allow his faithful to always win Football Games would make someone an enemy of the Scientific Method that would test the people who claim faith in God, and their loss record against those who don't.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Science and Religion are allies if you are seeking truth. We agree on that.
We do?

quote:
Faith does not have to be in religion, but can be faith in your pet theory, the science you learned in 3rd grade, or that Pluto is a planet.
Certainly someone can believe in a scientifically researched and tested idea on the basis of faith rather than doing the research and testing one's self. That in no way means that both are avenues to discovering the truth, nor does it mean that science is faith based. One of the key differences being: even if one does believe, say, the world is round not because they have taken measurements or ascended high enough that they can see the curvature but rather because it's something everyone knows, they can always-at any time-perform the measurements or ascend the height to see for themselves. And if when they do that, the measurements don't back up the globe idea, then science as a collection of knowledge must confront that.

That is one of the critical differences: if you believe in a faith-based idea for reasons of faith, then should you start to question that idea, your only recourse is to apply more faith in a different way. If you believe in an idea investigated and discovered by science for faith based reasons, and you begin to question that idea, you have an extra choice: to follow the same path that achieved the idea in the first place, and duplicate the results. You don't see that in religion-the only time the same ideas are reached after a process of doubt is if the doubted has been informed what the ideas were to begin with.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Faith in God, as in you believe that God exists and is active in the world does not make someone an enemy to the scientific method.
It doesn't make you an enemy to the scientific method, if and only if you're willing to put that hypothesis to the test and discard it if the test fails.

The core of science is being willing to discarding false hypotheses after evidence to the contrary is presented.

If you believe in God, and you call this belief compatible with science, you need to tell us what kind and what amount of evidence would convince you to the contrary regarding this hypothesis.

Same holds with atheists btw -- for their atheism to be compatible with science, they'll have to have *some* evidence in mind that if presented would convince them they're wrong.

e.g. I'm an atheist, but if the Second Coming ever comes, with angels and trumpets and beasts with seven heads and twelve horns and the like -- that'd be pretty damn convincing evidence I an wrong regarding this.

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Rakeesh:

As far as faith: I'm not trying to sell you on some metaphysical concept here. if today you're acting on the assumption that certain things will be how you expect them to be tomorrow, you're acting on faith. Planning out Tuesday on Monday is you acting on faith that the sun will rise like it always does and that a hundred variables will align like they usually do in order for you to accomplish your plans. Beginning the process of some scientific inquiry is acting on faith that your work will produce something of value. What don't you know that you're using this process to find out?

I would argue hope is what drives you to decide something's worth doing. You hope the results will be such and such. That sparks the action. You align all your actions toward a goal you hope to achieve and execute them as if that end is assured. That's faith. I'm not sure humans can do it any differently regardless of the pursuit.

I'm saying religion has a place in my life that science by its nature can't fill, yes--and not that science just hasn't been able to yet. A thousand years ago, at least in western Europe, the Church took on the job of answering questions about the universe, conveniently aligning them with religious doctrine in some cases, taking what the Bible said as infallible and starting from there in other cases. The Bible gave some understandable explanations of how the world and humans came to be, and without modern science, how could anybody know any better? Religion, or the various religious institutions that have been in power over the centuries, has been uneasily conceding to science what belongs to science as science learns to answer those questions reliably on its own.

How my religion compares to the evolution of Christian doctrine over the past couple of millennia is another long discussion. I'm not going to defend Christianity over its actions in regard to scientific knowledge and the people promoting it. However, IMO, religion and the institutions formed around it aren't necessarily the same thing when it comes to how religion and science coexist.

I suspect this still isn't going to be satisfactory; I apologize in advance. I'm not trying to be cagey.

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Darth, thanks for the clarification. I agree with you almost completely. I guess can't quite buy into your definition of faith, however:

"Faith, as I have seen it defined, is a belief with out need of, or in spite of, proof to the contrary."

I'm not sure why faith never gets to have verification of convincing evidence. Of course it can. Faith is action taken in hopes that that evidence will eventually be obtained. And once the evidence is obtained, it's sure easier to act on again. You have stronger faith, in other words. Faith and evidence work together. On the flip side, if the action you take in faith doesn't produce the desired evidence or results, your faith is going to be much weaker and you're likely not to try that course of action again.

Edit: I want to argue against the notion, since it was brought up, that faith in God is merely acting on belief without any evidence. Of course there's evidence. It's not just a matter of pumping more faith into the system to stave off doubt.

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Darth_Mauve
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Afr, you seem to be defining Faith as a particle. I see it more as a wave. Lets wait for an Einstein to come around and prove we are both correct.

Don't confuse Faith with belief. Faith, with a capital F, is much more stubborn than belief. I believe that the world is round though I never took the time to do the math to prove it. I don't have Faith that the world is round in the same way as people have Faith in God. If someone were to prove to me, using good evidence, that the Earth was actually a multidimensional cube that just appears to be round, I could believe that. Beliefs can change with evidence. Faith can not.

Faith is a binary state. You either have it or you don't. Agnostics try to change this, but they are shouted down from both sides. If you have Faith that God made the world in 7 Earth days, then you can not believe in any science that disputes that finding.

I know people who have similar Faith in the science they learned in 3rd grade. They can not except new findings that contradict this. There are no particles smaller than an atom. There can never be anything faster than the speed of light. And any evidence that contradicts these points of view must be denied.

Like you, I don't see much that can be done to change the people who have such Faith. Yet by recognizing it and not antagonizing it, perhaps it can be channeled into doing good--helping others, hospitals, social advancement--instead of doing evil--massacres, genocides, intolerance destroying lieves.

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T:man
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quote:
Originally posted by JonHecht:
I don't understand why many people think that science and religion must be antithetical to one another.

Especially when so much scientific thought was fueled by religion and religious people.
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MattP
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Since most people are religious, it follows that most thought of any sort was fueled by religious people. That doesn't say much one way or the other about religion itself. Presumably right-handed people are also responsible for most scientific thought. Also, most pizza thought.
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Rakeesh
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afr,

No worries, even if it had sounded to me like you were being cagey, if I read your words that way, I would suspect I was misinterpreting somewhere.

quote:
As far as faith: I'm not trying to sell you on some metaphysical concept here. if today you're acting on the assumption that certain things will be how you expect them to be tomorrow, you're acting on faith. Planning out Tuesday on Monday is you acting on faith that the sun will rise like it always does and that a hundred variables will align like they usually do in order for you to accomplish your plans. Beginning the process of some scientific inquiry is acting on faith that your work will produce something of value. What don't you know that you're using this process to find out?

Eh, I suppose this is technically true, but these two sorts of faith-religious faith and faith in things observed repeatedly-are so far apart as to just about be different in type, not just degree. For example, the sun rising. Well yes, it is true neither I nor anyone else knows the sun is going to rise tomorrow. We don't understand the Earth, the Sun, or the forces acting upon them both together or separate to absolutely guarantee that.

But I've seen it with my own eyes hundreds, even thousands of times (when I was a kid I worked a third shift job), and when I haven't seen it because I slept past sunrise, the sun was precisely where I would've expected it to be based on what the clock said. No amount of religious faith offers that kind of evidence to substantiate it, so I think it's a serious stretch, even a dodge (though I don't think you meant it that way) to liken faith in that to faith in religion.

As for an example closer to faith than 'faith' in a sunrise, such as beginning scientific research, actually here again the example is invalid. While people generally engage in what seems the most likely to be correct avenue of research, they know also that even if they're wrong, they will still have something of value-the elimination of an incorrect answer, which by itself is useful, and sometimes as a bonus throws new questions or even answers into consideration. This again, while not as concrete an example as a sunrise, is a process which can be looked back to in history, in documentation, and (rather than only) in personal experience to discover that there is value in the process.

quote:
I'm saying religion has a place in my life that science by its nature can't fill, yes--and not that science just hasn't been able to yet. A thousand years ago, at least in western Europe, the Church took on the job of answering questions about the universe, conveniently aligning them with religious doctrine in some cases, taking what the Bible said as infallible and starting from there in other cases. The Bible gave some understandable explanations of how the world and humans came to be, and without modern science, how could anybody know any better? Religion, or the various religious institutions that have been in power over the centuries, has been uneasily conceding to science what belongs to science as science learns to answer those questions reliably on its own.
How do you know? Or rather, why do you know it's a case of science not only not filling these needs yet, but being incapable of fulfilling them period? Had you lived five hundred years ago, you probably would have said religion was the only thing capable of telling you what your place in the cosmos was, too.

quote:
How my religion compares to the evolution of Christian doctrine over the past couple of millennia is another long discussion. I'm not going to defend Christianity over its actions in regard to scientific knowledge and the people promoting it. However, IMO, religion and the institutions formed around it aren't necessarily the same thing when it comes to how religion and science coexist.

This next bit I'm going to say isn't addressed to you personally, but rather just me speaking about the institution generally: organized religion, in all of its stripes, is not a system that has rationally and after careful consideration decided 'science can answer some questions better than we can'. It has been forced, over millenia of struggle in battles of ideas, to reluctantly-so reluctantly[/i]-concede that it doesn't have the answers. It has been perfectly willing to use violence in defense of its claims, and it's only been when societies have decided to pull the teeth of organized religion to enforce its decrees that it has come to make these admissions. So when people say that religion and science can coexist, I look at that claim with enormous skepticism, because religion itself doesn't seem to 'think' it can coexist with science.

quote:
I'm not sure why faith never gets to have verification of convincing evidence. Of course it can. Faith is action taken in hopes that that evidence will eventually be obtained. And once the evidence is obtained, it's sure easier to act on again. You have stronger faith, in other words. Faith and evidence work together. On the flip side, if the action you take in faith doesn't produce the desired evidence or results, your faith is going to be much weaker and you're likely not to try that course of action again.

This is again technically true, but it appears to me-correct me if I'm wrong-that you're putting faith on a sliding scale, which seems valid to me. Where you appear to me to go off the rails is that you would, on a scale of 1-1000, say, rate faith in Zeus as, say, 999 points of faith and faith that the sun will rise at 1 point of faith. Does that make sense, and if it does am I reading you correctly?

If so, this defining of the word 'faith' seems to me to strip it of most of its meaning. Certainly the word isn't generally used that way-human beings have come to recognize that there are things we know will happen, such as a sunrise some amount of time in the future, things we're pretty sure will happen, such as it needing 20m to get to work, and things we hope will happen, such as receiving an answer from God while praying.

---------

quote:
Especially when so much scientific thought was fueled by religion and religious people.
This doesn't seem very relevant to me. Charity and greed are opposites, and yet plenty of greedy people give to charities, and even the most generous of givers will usually have something they treasure themselves.
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Annie
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Anything I could say here would get super wordy super quick, so I'll just link to a blog post I wrote on this subject for those who don't mind the wordiness.
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Samprimary
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One of the interesting things I took from that blog post was that people (or science as an entity, or whatever) shouldn't 'put god in a box' and then delight in pointing out that it's not there. But like the "god in the clouds" catholic teaching that they received, it's not the people with the sensors that put God in the box. It's people with the sensors responding to claims that people have made on behalf of god — and when religion tries to make claims on behalf of god that are in any way scientifically testable, they're gonna have a bad time.
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TomDavidson
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Heh. I said something very similar on her blog, Sam, except that you were more succinct and admirably pithy about it.
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Annie
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I'm still working on a reply to Tom's comment, but for a short answer: I don't think a great many of the religious people are getting it right either. I don't believe that all religions' answers are equally valid. Which could sound squirrelly, I concede, but I would say that scientists are just as prone to point out bad science as religious people are to point out bad religion.
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TomDavidson
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I have to admit that when you talk about "bad religion," (insert obligatory band reference here) I don't know what metric you're using to measure its badness. Bad science is science that is not predictive; what is bad religion?
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GinetteB
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I can't remember ever to have heard a religious person pointing out bad religion, other than considering their own beliefsystem superior and other beliefsystems inferior.

Bad religion would be doctrine that is seriously harmful for society. For example by increasing fear and strong emotions, despise and hate towards those that have another - or no - belief or towards those that the doctrine considers immoral, instead of encouraging love and respect for others, using our intelligence.

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