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Can Science And Religion Coexist?


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#1 locally pwned

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 11:23 PM

The collision between scientific theory and religious belief can be seen across everyday experience. It often leads to anger and frustration; each side digs its trenches deeper. Many seek legislation to protect or prevent the integration of science or religious teachings in various levels of government institutions such as schools and courtrooms.

This conflict has gone on far back into history; the most clear example that comes to mind is the resistance of the Catholic Church to the adoption of the Copernican model of the solar system. For many centuries the Church openly claimed that Aristotle's model was in fact true to nature. Yet as Galileo demonstrated, anyone with eyes, patience, and a crude spotting scope could see that in fact Aristotle was wrong. Celestial spheres were not smooth and perfect; all objects did not revolve around the Earth.

Why did the Church resist something so easily observable? Was it politics? Was it fear of going back on what it had claimed to be "truth?" Ultimately, whether or not the Earth was the center of the universe had no real effect on the Church's continued survival or the faith of future Catholics.

Our lives are saturated by science and technology, yet only when scientific method is applied to questions of the origins of humanity and the universe does science become an apparent threat. This to me is the most curious point: the same methodology used to provide the computer you're now using, the CAT scan you just had, or the car in which you drove to the doctor is precisely the same methodology being used to develop Big Bang theory and evolution.

"Evolution is only a theory!"

Yes, but so is quantum mechanics, through which modern electronics are possible; so is relativity, which has been confirmed countless times and is also factored into modern technology such as GPS satellites.

Perhaps the casual use of the term "theory" can be source of confusion. A scientific theory is not the same as "a theory on who ate the last piece of the pizza." Hypothesis doesn't roll of the tongue quite so easily, but a guess, even an "educated" guess, is not the same as a theory. A working scientific theory is constructed from a hypothesis once observation and experiment is conducted and validated many times by many groups of scientists around the world.

Strictly speaking, all scientific "laws" are theories as well. You can't prove something with scientific method; you can only disprove it. If you do an experiment 1000 times and on the 1001th time you get a different result, you have to start from scratch. The term "law" is used when a theory has gone through rigorous testing for so many years that it generally accepted as accurate (or, "the truth," if you prefer).

Understanding wrought through vigorous scientific method is accumulative; one theory gives way to a more accurate one. For example, while Newton's theory of gravity...his "laws"...work in everyday experience, they less accurately describe the universe than Einstein's theory of general relativity. For the most part, noticeable relativistic effects happen only in the most extreme situations; nothing we will ever experience. However, we have a more intimate understanding of space and time because of his superior theory. In the same way, one day a new theory will combine quantum mechanics and general relativity into a unified quantum theory of gravity. The new theory will take the place of the old ones not because they were wrong but because it more clearly and completely describes the universe.

The point: does general relativity, replacing Newtonian gravity, threaten your view of god? I am guessing not! But on the other side of the coin, if god exists and science has led us to a more clear picture of the universe, don't we have a greater understanding of god because of science?


How can we accept scientific theory in so many aspects of our lives, then deny its validity as a problem-solving methodology for a handful of specific applications?


What of evolution? Few theories have sparked more conflict. Evolution does indeed contradict many elements, many themes of the bible. There are many people who simply dismiss it completely out of hand; many of whom know very little about it. There are others who try to interpret scientific research in such a way that creationism - in some form - is still feasible...or that evolution is disproved completely.

Yes, as long as it is a valid theory it will be taught, or at least referred to, in high school science classes because you can't easily separate modern scientific theories. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, geology, ect are all interconnected...they are all elements of one big picture.

There are those who view their spiritual beliefs as completely abstract. Their beliefs may shape the way they look at the world and perhaps their behavior but they see no need to make reality match those beliefs. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who try to make the world fit neatly within their belief structure; such as the Amish, who abandoned technology in their daily lives (in fact, they simply drew a line in the sand at which they would not let technology advance further; they do indeed use technology). The majority of us are somewhere in the middle. Is there a balance through which people could continue to maintain their religious views without feeling that their beliefs were being threatened?

Edited by locally pwned, 29 April 2008 - 02:44 PM.

"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." - Albert Einstein

"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands." - Douglas Adams

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#2 ryan_w_quick

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 12:28 PM

true science and religion cannot exist. The reason is because most religions work off of concepts, based on ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE of how the universe works. at least religions have come a little way, like when the pope finally admitted the earth orbitted the sun, which is an idea the catholic church had earlier held as herocy. People who follow a religion are just ignorant enough, that they will blindly follow whatever their holy book of choice tells them, even if the truth slaps them in the face their whole life.
"To do less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine

"The things you own end up owning you." Tyler Durden

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo

#3 jgweed

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 01:14 PM

It might help to clarify the discussion by making some distinctions.

First, one must distinguish between differing theological models (dogmas) in the abstract, and their interpretation by organised religion(s). Thus, it would be conceivable that some religion would interpret its dogma so that there would be no clash between it and science, just as there is no opposition between say, aesthetic or moral values and the periodic table of elements because the horizons they attempt to describe are completely different in nature.

Second, one must distinguish between the social, political, and economic implementation of any interpretation of dogma by organized religion, and the religious dogma itself. Historically speaking, the intervention of the Roman Catholic Church in areas of human freedom and inquiry were the result of one possible interpretation of Christianity that was limited in time to a certain period in human history; now, for example, the Church accepts---at least in general---the theory of Evolution. The workings of religion in history are the workings of human and not divine institutions. While Catholicism has become more open to the acceptance of other belief systems and independent thinking, the exact opposite seems true of Islam, which began with a high degree of tolerance.

Cheers,
John
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.

#4 ryan_w_quick

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 01:46 PM

It might help to clarify the discussion by making some distinctions.

First, one must distinguish between differing theological models (dogmas) in the abstract, and their interpretation by organised religion(s). Thus, it would be conceivable that some religion would interpret its dogma so that there would be no clash between it and science, just as there is no opposition between say, aesthetic or moral values and the periodic table of elements because the horizons they attempt to describe are completely different in nature.

Second, one must distinguish between the social, political, and economic implementation of any interpretation of dogma by organized religion, and the religious dogma itself. Historically speaking, the intervention of the Roman Catholic Church in areas of human freedom and inquiry were the result of one possible interpretation of Christianity that was limited in time to a certain period in human history; now, for example, the Church accepts---at least in general---the theory of Evolution. The workings of religion in history are the workings of human and not divine institutions. While Catholicism has become more open to the acceptance of other belief systems and independent thinking, the exact opposite seems true of Islam, which began with a high degree of tolerance.

Cheers,
John



I see what you are saying, but I still blame christianity as the root of the problem. Because there are so many instances throughout history that could take the bolded part of your text as the escape for their failures. For 2000 years, Christians have been able to still validate their cults behavior for the reason you mentioned. But, they still leave all the decisions of the catholic church in the hands of one man. the pope. Why do they do this? because the people who follow these religions are too ignorant to make decisions for themselves, and actually ask, what does the bible say i should do now? no, they cannot do it. they are so ignorant, that they must let a man, one single man, determine how their religious view on all things of this world should be. And you guessed, that includes science. whatever the few in power in any religion say, the masses will follow because of their ignorance. they just can't think for themselves. So i still say, christianity and science cannot exist. I am not a scholar or former practicing member of any other religion, so i will not speak against all of them. but i must say, the muslims do not do much too help their image of hate for the civilized, technologlically advanced regions of our planet.

on a related note, to all the catholics that would respond, Why do you follow the pope? Where in the bible does it say, "And the people will follow a pope that tells them everything to do, and when he dies, they elect a new one to take over the job." Where does it say this??? Or are there any catholics out there that are ready and willing to admit that the pope is simply a tradition created by man???

but in conclusion, I dont ask this question to gain validation for myself. I personally don't believe the bible to be inspired or written by god, since it has been written by man, and there have been several books and volumes that were ommitted from the bible for whatever reason. I can only surmise that these omissions occured because the church feared that these volumes did not serve the purpose to control the masses. I only want you to ask yourself this question in order that you may, see the foolishness of your ways, and break free from the chains of the organized control that is religion.
"To do less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine

"The things you own end up owning you." Tyler Durden

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo

#5 ryan_w_quick

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 01:53 PM

Also, to add to the original post of why the pope/catholicism did not accept the copernicus theory or galileos theory of the planets, is this

there is a passage in the bible that goes something like this

"And gideon asked the lord to stop the sun in the sky so that he would be able to continue fighting in the daytime"

again, dont quote me on that, cause i already know that those aren't the exact words

but just think, the ignorant catholics would not accept a fundamental truth about our solar system, and ultimately a principle that the entire universe adheres to, because of one simple piece of scripture in the bible. catholics, i ask you, if those who wrote your bile were wrong about this, and if your pope was wrong about this, what else may the bible and your pope be wrong about? if you don't ask yourself this question, then you truly are ignorant to the realities of our earth and universe, and you only seek to be told what do believe, and cannot make a decision for yourself.
"To do less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine

"The things you own end up owning you." Tyler Durden

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo

#6 Neerdygeeek

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 03:07 PM

I would argue that the foundation of religion is science and vice versa, what one must consider is the time period in which the data was collected and processed. The science of the world as it was created when man began to cognitively decipher cause and effect was done so when mans tools and resources were limited, thus the results were interrupted as basic as mans environment would allow. Religion was indeed the first science, the why to how, the eventual goal of all science.

But man is a soft creature, it does not have the natural gifts given to them like the rest of the animal kingdom, its greatest tool is it's desire to comprehend. The majority of it's existence, man has understood the world on it's most basic of terms. Even as we rapidly began to expand our tools, our evolution, it is understandable that unlearning the spectrum of spirituality would be no easy task. And today we still struggle to evolve beyond what the most simple and mystical definitions of the world around us, ultimately they are the easiest to learn.

The important debate here is not science vs. religion, but science vs. spirituality. The duality between a world in which we touch and a world in which we feel, both of which are very real. No one can measure the total amount of quality, it truly cannot be defined yet it drives every question ever posed in both a physical and spiritual way. There is nothing scientific about love, yet it exists and therefore even the brightest of scientists must agree that there is more to life then what we can measure.
I am a robot...*BEEP* *BEEP*
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#7 ruby1

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 04:07 PM

Christians have been able to still validate their cults behavior for the reason you mentioned. But, they still leave all the decisions of the catholic church in the hands of one man. the pope. Why do they do this? because the people who follow these religions are too ignorant to make decisions for themselves, and actually ask, what does the bible say i should do now? no, they cannot do it. they are so ignorant, that they must let a man, one single man, determine how their religious view on all things of this world should be

maybe you forget that any member of any religion or tradition chooses to be IN that tradition ; what the Pope says and beleives and what the individual people within the Roman Catholic Church tradition believe may be , I suggest, somewhat different

and Darwin's Theory of Evolution can co-exist very easily with what the Creation stories ( note the plural) in the Old Testament Book of Genesis state

this surely IS one way in which science and religion respect each other...........

#8 jgweed

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 08:54 AM

As I remember, Papal Infallibility is a rather recent doctrine, and applies only to areas of faith and morals, and has its origins in the historical tradition of the Early Church, when the Roman Pontiff as Bishop was considered first among equals. One must remember, as well, that the Roman Catholic Church is collegiate, and the Pope does not make arbitrary doctrinal decisions without careful consultation.
And as for committing brutal acts in the name of God, the various Protestant sects have not exactly had clean hands.
The real enemy of science and freedom of thought is not religion, but superstition and ignorance when either has political power.
Cheers,
John
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.

#9 ryan_w_quick

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:18 PM

Christians have been able to still validate their cults behavior for the reason you mentioned. But, they still leave all the decisions of the catholic church in the hands of one man. the pope. Why do they do this? because the people who follow these religions are too ignorant to make decisions for themselves, and actually ask, what does the bible say i should do now? no, they cannot do it. they are so ignorant, that they must let a man, one single man, determine how their religious view on all things of this world should be

maybe you forget that any member of any religion or tradition chooses to be IN that tradition ; what the Pope says and beleives and what the individual people within the Roman Catholic Church tradition believe may be , I suggest, somewhat different

and Darwin's Theory of Evolution can co-exist very easily with what the Creation stories ( note the plural) in the Old Testament Book of Genesis state

this surely IS one way in which science and religion respect each other...........


but the question was science, not just darwin's theories

and the topic is not asking about "one way" , but more of an exceptance by both sides, but neither will ever yield
"To do less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine

"The things you own end up owning you." Tyler Durden

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo

#10 CheckNerd

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 01:17 PM

hey.. check this link out .. perhaps it'll answer your question ..

http://www.irf.net/irf/download/index.htm( Check out the verbatim script on Quran & modern science )

According to the famous physicist, Albert Einstein, who had got the Nobel prize, he said – ‘Science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind’.
Nobody is perfect & I'm Nobody.

#11 RADIUM-V Interactive

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 06:18 PM

I believe religion is a catalyst for scientific evolution, and once science has enough motivation to move along itself, religion isn't necessary.

We have religions because we need guidance. When History (writing stuff down) began, so did religion. We created something to believe in to create motivation. The motivation has lead to a need for better technology, and more scientific experimentation.

Take for instance the reason most technological advancements start with armies and military research. And broadly speaking, armies and militaries were originally formed to protect religious ideas and beliefs (or in most cases, force ideas and beliefs on others). Holy wars throughout history are the reason we advance technology - it's so we can beat the competitors.

Eventually science and technology (not just computers/electronics but technology in general [tools]) are the motivators themselves and we see no need to wait around for the next conflict in history to advance us. Religion dies out and evolution wins.

But there could also be the problem with evolution getting too powerful and collapsing on itself. Once religion dies out, evolution continues to a point and plateaus. That leaves a possibility for new beliefs to arise, and evolution will step back a while. And the process will repeat itself. Only when something is so powerful that we don't have the means to describe it at all with science will it last throughout the generations. There will always be a belief of a higher power, since there's always the question of who created us. And that we'll never know.

That's just my stance on it. Be nice when you rip it apart please :thumbsup:

#12 ryan_w_quick

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 08:44 PM

I believe religion is a catalyst for scientific evolution, and once science has enough motivation to move along itself, religion isn't necessary.

We have religions because we need guidance. When History (writing stuff down) began, so did religion. We created something to believe in to create motivation. The motivation has lead to a need for better technology, and more scientific experimentation.

Take for instance the reason most technological advancements start with armies and military research. And broadly speaking, armies and militaries were originally formed to protect religious ideas and beliefs (or in most cases, force ideas and beliefs on others). Holy wars throughout history are the reason we advance technology - it's so we can beat the competitors.

Eventually science and technology (not just computers/electronics but technology in general [tools]) are the motivators themselves and we see no need to wait around for the next conflict in history to advance us. Religion dies out and evolution wins.

But there could also be the problem with evolution getting too powerful and collapsing on itself. Once religion dies out, evolution continues to a point and plateaus. That leaves a possibility for new beliefs to arise, and evolution will step back a while. And the process will repeat itself. Only when something is so powerful that we don't have the means to describe it at all with science will it last throughout the generations. There will always be a belief of a higher power, since there's always the question of who created us. And that we'll never know.

That's just my stance on it. Be nice when you rip it apart please :thumbsup:



i hope one day, we give birth to AI. and i cannot wait until someone teaches the robot about christianity. they will tell him everything he needs to do in order to be saved, halellugjahhhh!!!!!! (did i spell that right?) and then, if he's like an inphant, i'd love to see him buy into all the crap. and then the person who tought him will be like, "look, i tought this robot christianity. does anyone think this robot is goint to heave??? of course, everyone would say "no" unless they are complete morons, and hopefully it would illustrate how ridiculous it is tghat all those who believe in any relgions are jsut scared.
"To do less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine

"The things you own end up owning you." Tyler Durden

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo

#13 62blue

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 02:00 PM

Locally pwned,

Nice post (because I happen to agree with it :thumbsup: ), although when I was growing up, I had the impression that science and religion coexisted peacefully. There was no conflict that I was aware of. Religious people freely went about their lives unbothered, and science went on without religious interference. The current conflict, as I see it, has arisen because one decided that its belief system should be imposed on the other.

I'm not a religious person, but if people want to believe every word of the bible literally, that's fine with me. They have every right to their beliefs and to express them, as I do mine. It's when they try to force their beliefs on the rest of us that conflict arises, as it would if I tried to make them live by my creed. Personally, I was really offended that some people thought my kids should be taught religious dogma when they were supposed to be discovering how the world works. I can imagine that religious people would be rightfully offended as well if they were forced to teach evolution in a religion class. No wonder fists are flying.

As you said, some believers, probably most, are able to keep their religious life separate from the real world. It's a small minority who can't seem to do that, though, and they're the ones raising the ruckus. Eventually, the dust will settle, but I think it's also a given that peace doesn't last forever. That seems to be the nature of the beast that we are.

#14 locally pwned

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 04:39 PM

...I had the impression that science and religion coexisted peacefully. There was no conflict that I was aware of. Religious people freely went about their lives unbothered, and science went on without religious interference. The current conflict, as I see it, has arisen because one decided that its belief system should be imposed on the other.

I'm not a religious person, but if people want to believe every word of the bible literally, that's fine with me. They have every right to their beliefs and to express them, as I do mine. It's when they try to force their beliefs on the rest of us that conflict arises, as it would if I tried to make them live by my creed. Personally, I was really offended that some people thought my kids should be taught religious dogma when they were supposed to be discovering how the world works. I can imagine that religious people would be rightfully offended as well if they were forced to teach evolution in a religion class. No wonder fists are flying.


I think the problems arise when people feel "attacked," that science is trying to subjugate their religion. I believe there are individuals and institutions that purposely incite this feeling; their motives might range from political or economic gain to true personal conviction. Nevertheless, I think they only do harm and cause division between us.
"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." - Albert Einstein

"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands." - Douglas Adams

#15 Haviland Tuf

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 06:59 AM

Good topic with some very interesting posts. I think the real issue here is not limited to just religion unless you take it in the very broad sense. The ability to believe in unfounded, irrational ideas is profound. From ghosts to homeopathy or power giving crystals people will believe in anything. I like to have some element of scepticism as my base. Many do not. Science is the rational expression of scepticism. It investigates but remains neutral to the outcome. If somehow GOD is ever proven scientifically then he (or she or it?) will be accepted and we will have a theory of GOD. As it stands, he remains a sky fairy.

Edited by Haviland Tuf, 07 June 2008 - 07:01 AM.

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