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Are Science and Religion Compatible?
Posted: 02 May 2007 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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there is no f in sex….but there is a strong school of thought that says consciousness with all its imagination and language is an epiphenomenon and not at all necessary or in control of anything. Juts a noisy observer making notes after the fact.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism#Arguments_for

And one has to consider that most of the universe would be no worse (or even notice/care) if we humans hadn’t’ made up religion, philosophy, or science. Most of the stuff we discuss in this circle is of import only to a few ape like creatures on this pale blue dot.  8)

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Posted: 03 May 2007 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Looking back, I realized I had not addressed the questions posed by mckenzievmd. For purposes of space, I have paraphased the questions.

1. Religion and Science: fundamentally incompatible?

Depends on what is the fundamental outlook of all religions. If supernaturalism is the fundamental outlook, the answer is yes. If the experience called “spiritual”, referring to feelings of awe, wonder, transcendence - is the fundamental character, then, insofar as a religion emphasized the spiritual and kept away from the supernatural, then it would not be incompatible, but most active religions do not take that form.

2. Can some varieties of religious belief be fully compatible with a scientific outlook ?

As I said in a previous post, one solution is to say that if scripture is not compatible with science, then our understanding of scripture is at fault. But fundamentalists would not like to say that scripture is not true as written.

A religion of non-supernatural spirituality, if such is possible, could well be compatible with a scientific outlook.

However, I think that for many people fundamentalist religion provides a refuge from the uncertainties of the world. For example, to the fundamentalist homosexuality is a sin, end of story. There is none of the stress and conflict felt by the non-fundamentalist who, while not feeling comfortable with homosexuality, feels it wrong to mistreat or exclude homosexuals. Science, as opposed to fundamentalist religion, requires that one be open to uncertainty, so for the person whose emotional needs require a fundamentalist religion, compatibility with the scientific outlook is not possible.

I do not think a non-supernatural spiritual religion could be created. We should not overlook the social-historical aspect of religion. One need not believe in a god to enjoy the music, the ceremony, and the shared experience of a religious gathering. Dennet talks of this approvingly (I think of his interview with Bill Moyers). I think it is hard to create that experience anew: that is, tradition, the historical dimension of religious experience, enriches the music, ceremony and sharing of a religious service. A non-supernatural spiritual religion would need to draw from existing traditions, just as Christianity drew from Roman and Anglo-Saxon traditions (among others).

3. How could incompatible science and religion coexist?

One form of coexistence relies on the ability of the human mind to partition. Just as a hard drive can have Linux in one partition, and Windows in another, it is possible to be a naturalist in one’s work, and a supernaturalist outside work.

The kind of coexistence I see working is for science to say to religion, “I will not attack you head on, but if you make claims or take action that affect how I think or behave, then I reserve the right to put your claims and policies to the same tests and scrutiny as any scientific claim.”

Finallly, we in the naturalist camp need to pursue our own wedge strategy: to demand the teaching of comparative religion in the schools.

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Posted: 03 May 2007 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“Draxler P. Jinkens”]I suppose my point was that science is the method for investigation, it is a process like building a table, step by step, first this then that. Like makeing a fire or creating a universe (jk). surely science wouldn`t be communicated without language but the method may still exist (of course I don`t know either)—If I throw this object up in the air it will come back down, every time.

regarding this language/religion/science issue…

Is a beaver building a dam scientific?

An object falling is not a method, nor is it science. It just happens, regarless of analysis.

If a dog learns that each time a bell rings, he will be fed, is he scientific to come running when the bell rings? If the bell rings but there is no food, yet the dog salivates, does that make the dog superstitious?

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Posted: 10 May 2007 03:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Dr. Moreau typed:

regarding this language/religion/science issue…

Is a beaver building a dam scientific?

An object falling is not a method, nor is it science. It just happens, regarless of analysis.

Ok Dr. M.
Simply put, if we took the stance of naive observer splitting hairs with razor blades, a beaver building a beaver dam could be considered scientific- but not by a beaver. The beaver “thinks”, ” if i use this log over there it may stop the water, lets try! Hmm, the water has not stopped, that log must not have worked, but the water will stop with this log?” Trial/error method by which we (the beavers) investigate and test “hypothesis”.
  An object falling is not a method indeed, however you misread that I dunno, but if I want to test whether objects that are thrown into the air come back down, I use the Method of investigation- cause its objective ya dig. The man “thinks”, ” this ball will continue to hover forever if I throw it in the air. But how can I test it? Ah ha”, he mumbles, “perhaps there is a way. I will throw it up in the air and I will observe what happens and then, maybe, I`ll write it down”.

Dr. Moreau typed:

If a dog learns that each time a bell rings, he will be fed, is he scientific to come running when the bell rings? If the bell rings but there is no food, yet the dog salivates, does that make the dog superstitious?

No. That is classical conditioning. Pavlov was the scientist and he used a
method that would yield results to be observed, analyzed and recorded. How should I know if the dog is superstitious? It sounds like he was successfully conditioned but because we don`t know for certain lets just assume Pavlov was a dog, the bell was the scientist and salivation was the method of investigation.

Set me straight Doc. maybe Im lost or I don`t understand but never the less I like a good crass flogging.

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Posted: 10 May 2007 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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My only point is discovering useful behavior does not necessarily mean that science (or a scientific method) was involved, nor does the appearance of logical behavior mean that reason is the source. How much of our seemingly scientific behavior is not much more than dogs salivating or beaver’s building dams? I have no idea.

The best illustration is evolution. There are many behaviors among animals (humans included) that are very beneficial, and seem brilliant, but are inspired by DNA, not experimentation and analysis.

Anyway, what I consider most important is what you said in your post - ‘science is the method for investigation’. (Almost all) Religion and Secularism clearly, as your post implies, have comletely different methods of investigation (e.g., bible study vs. science) and often vastly different subjects they tend to investigate. Religion doesn’t like to investigate subjects that have conclusions handed down from heaven beyond what was ‘revealed’.

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Posted: 09 June 2007 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Acher - 03 May 2007 12:01 AM

I do not think a “non-supernatural spiritual religion” could be created. We should not overlook the social-historical aspect of religion. One need not believe in a god to enjoy the music, the ceremony, and the shared experience of a religious gathering. Dennet talks of this approvingly (I think of his interview with Bill Moyers). I think it is hard to create that experience anew: that is, tradition, the historical dimension of religious experience, enriches the music, ceremony and sharing of a religious service. A non-supernatural spiritual religion would need to draw from existing traditions, just as Christianity drew from Roman and Anglo-Saxon traditions (among others).

Now this is indeed the very core of the matter, Acher.

I like your “non-supernatural spiritual religion” category, that moves us out of the theists’ realm. I would further allow spiritualism to be simple sensation and ecstasy, with contemplation deeply felt.

So let’s look at your statement that “A non-supernatural spiritual religion would need to draw from existing traditions, just as Christianity drew from Roman and Anglo-Saxon traditions (among others).” My suggestion here is retain the edifice of the Church with the ethics and discard the theism and their metaphysics.

Now take that wonderful stone building you have left and fill it with atheists sharing songs from a Humanist hymnary - you may experience “tradition, the historical dimension of religious experience, enriches the music, ceremony and sharing of a religious service.

What you have is a Humanist Church, and if you think atheists buiding a church sounds oxymoronic -well, think about it one more time, because it isn’t. Religion is not theism, and Man has evolved the Church to carry us forward beyond the skills we can muster in a single generation.

Dwight

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Posted: 09 June 2007 08:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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“non-supernatural spiritual religion”  I can go along with the first word, the third one really causes me problems, but the second one is a good enough reason for me to not attend a group that embraced that.  “Spiritual” always devolves into theism sooner or later.  I don’t mind awe at the complexity of the universe.  I wouldn’t even mind singing “When the Atheists Come Marching in”, having Sunday school for the kids, potlucks, etc.  But, “church” and “spiritual” would have to go for me to be involved.

Occam

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Posted: 09 June 2007 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Occam - 09 June 2007 08:24 PM

  But, “church” and “spiritual” would have to go for me to be involved.

Occam

I have no use for the word “spiritual” myself, Occam. Let’s dispense with that.
But keep the edifice of the Church, let’s take it back from the theists and bring in a Humanist crew.

Pirates of the High Seers, we be.

Dwight

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Posted: 03 July 2007 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Several times on POI and even in many general discussions a particular question is raised. Are religion and science compatible, or can they coexist?

The way the question is often worded presupposes that science and religion are equal and opposite entities or that only one should exist, or that one can trump the other. Science and religion are not on the same plane. Science is not something that governs the universe. It is not something you hope for. Science is not technology. It is not gadgets. It is not medicine. It is not knowledge. It is not an animate thing.

Science is merely a method. It is not a “what”, it is a “how”. It is a method by which the truth may be objectively found. When people say things like “religion is constant, science is changing”, this is a little misleading I think. Science is rock hard solid. The method of the scientific method is rock hard solid. What actually changes are the theories that were obtained USING science. The scientific method (SM) did not change when they discovered the earth was round. SM did not change when the structure of the atom was discovered. SM did not change when they discovered and implemented penicillin. Science is constant, theories are changing.

Some folks have a hard time with the notion that “science does not have answers to religious questions” such as the meaning of life and such things. Anyone who has a problem with this is assuming that there ARE answers. Sure there is a possibility of answers. There is a definite tried and true way to discovering them objectively without doubt. That way is through the scientific method.

Given the way people categorise science and religion, they most definitely CANNOT coexist. How is it that people do not see that religion has answers based on gut feelings and not facts, and that science is the one definite way to get the facts.

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Posted: 03 July 2007 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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If someone believes in a kind of demiurgo, a god who created the universe, dictates the rules and then went to sleep and doesn’t involve itself into the dayly things, I’d say two things: first, this kind of ‘religion’ doesn’t contradict science. Second, to believe in this demiurgo and believe in nothing is the same in the practical sense,

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Posted: 03 July 2007 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Deep Sandwich - 03 July 2007 12:56 PM

Several times on POI and even in many general discussions a particular question is raised. Are religion and science compatible, or can they coexist?

The way the question is often worded presupposes that science and religion are equal and opposite entities or that only one should exist, or that one can trump the other. Science and religion are not on the same plane. Science is not something that governs the universe. It is not something you hope for. Science is not technology. It is not gadgets. It is not medicine. It is not knowledge. It is not an animate thing.
...
Some folks have a hard time with the notion that “science does not have answers to religious questions” such as the meaning of life and such things. Anyone who has a problem with this is assuming that there ARE answers. Sure there is a possibility of answers. There is a definite tried and true way to discovering them objectively without doubt. That way is through the scientific method.

Given the way people categorise science and religion, they most definitely CANNOT coexist. How is it that people do not see that religion has answers based on gut feelings and not facts, and that science is the one definite way to get the facts.

Facts are not human, gut feelings are - by such are Humanists identified. Science cannot instruct us about aspiring to the joy of finally bonding as a species, instead of as an order of greedy criminal short-lived apes.

Science can’t explain to us the complete ecstasy found though looking out Life’s window. I define ecstasy as pure sensation experienced within the warm bosom of mystery. As such, it is cherished by every living thing, and if you doubt it, threaten the life of any organism and see how it craves to remain living. Notice any gods in this concept yet? Any science? No.

What I’m suggesting is that Humanists can have an ascending reverence for Life, our Planet and Universe, and especially a love of our own kind, and need nothing else - save the edifice of a secular church to institutionalize our interests and bring them forward - again without gods, theists or sundry other necromancers.

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Posted: 03 July 2007 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Nothing in my experiences enhances reverence for life like learning more about it. Wonder and reverence do not require mystery (a fancy word for ignorance). Sure, you can be a humanist without being a scientist, but secular humanism requires a method for engaging and understanding the universe other than religious mythology, and I claim science is the best such method. Carl Sagan was perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson for science as a way of enhancing and reveling in our appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the universe, and while I can’t do his prose justice, I share his sentiment wholeheartedly.

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Posted: 03 July 2007 10:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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mckenzievmd - 03 July 2007 09:42 PM

Nothing in my experiences enhances reverence for life like learning more about it. Wonder and reverence do not require mystery (a fancy word for ignorance).

Mystery helps a lot. The fears and wonders of a child are born of mystery. Save the hard science for later.
As an adult I have little fear now. But, like my sense of smell and taste, I think I miss it…

Sure, you can be a humanist without being a scientist, but secular humanism requires a method for engaging and understanding the universe other than religious mythology, and I claim science is the best such method. Carl Sagan was perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson for science as a way of enhancing and reveling in our appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the universe, and while I can’t do his prose justice, I share his sentiment wholeheartedly.

Not to harp on it, but methinks the world is too much with you, Mac.

An old woman in Iraq can look at her grandchildren skipping through a ruined street, feel uplifted by that sight, and be a Humanist. She knows bugger all about science and could care less -that just brought her “shock and awe” and DU. She despises priests as well.

She’s a Humanist. And she isn’t a philistine who thinks science rules (not that you are, Mac), but there are many who do, and they, like the overstuffed “atheist egos” think they’re Humanists when they’re part of the problem, passing off the views of hardass lab science as Humanism.

What happened, did anthropology fail us or what??

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Posted: 03 July 2007 11:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I suspect the old woman in Iraq, if she is a humanist (and you’d probably find few grandmothers in Iraq who who thank you for calling them such), is a religious humanist. Not that that’s all bad. I’m all for making common cause where we can, but there’s more to humanism than just loving your grandkids. It’s also a way of thinking about what’s important and what’s true, and I think science is a better way to inform humanist thinking than religion. I, for one, do NOT need to be “a pagan suckled in a creed outworn” to wonder and marvel at the beauty of life.

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Posted: 04 July 2007 12:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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mckenzievmd - 03 July 2007 11:29 PM

I suspect the old woman in Iraq, if she is a humanist (and you’d probably find few grandmothers in Iraq who who thank you for calling them such), is a religious humanist. Not that that’s all bad. I’m all for making common cause where we can, but there’s more to humanism than just loving your grandkids. It’s also a way of thinking about what’s important and what’s true, and I think science is a better way to inform humanist thinking than religion. I, for one, do NOT need to be “a pagan suckled in a creed outworn” to wonder and marvel at the beauty of life.

When you say ” I think science is a better way to inform humanist thinking than religion.” you oppose the two, as if it’s one or the other gets the contract, one or t’other is dismissed.

They should be apposed, if only because secular religion can exist, if you subtract the supernatural you can be left with an edifice that is invaluable. In fact, it can look a hell of a lot like a suit of armour..

Further, I suspect that both of us revere Life to the extent that it qualifies as a religious experience. If so, you may be a proto-religious Humanist. I can be a member of a Humanist Church and not wonder if I’m being rhapsodic enough in my reveries, or short on visions and frenzies - I’m much more concerned with dispatching my duties in that church, such as taking away depleted uranium, as an exercise, from the military.

That’s a confluence of religion and Humanism.

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