Science-based Religion Blog

Science and religion are not intrinsic enemies. Science strives for revelation. It is the revelation of the universe as we find it. The current picture of the universe is in perfect harmony with many religious perspectives and in stark contrast to others. This blog intends to explore these harmonies and conflicts of Science and Religion. Keep an open mind and a gentle heart please.

Location: Richmond, Virginia, United States

My family background is third generation German-American. I was the younger of two sons. My father was an English professor who had also served a Protestant minister and missionary to China. My mother was a nurse and social worker. I went to Purdue University, where I earned a B.S. degree in the Honors Physics program. I got a masters degree in Physics from the University of Southern California and also a masters and Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the USC school of religion. I have worked as a teacher and as an IT professional. I am married, with no children but two cats.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Need for Moderation

My main reason for this post is to commend the L. A. Times for an opinion by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum regarding the anti-religious confrontationalism of Richard Dawkins, P. Z. Myers, and Jerry Coyne, Must science declare a holy war on religion? I applaud this voice of reason on this very important issue of the compatibility of science and religion. The authors argue that in America, where scientific illiteracy is a major problem because many religious people fear belief in evolution is rejection of God, those who equate belief in evolution with rejection of religion are doing more harm than good.

I think the issue goes beyond the practical effect of attacks on religion on the successful teaching of evolution as a scientific theory (which, it should not need to be said, means it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt). Religion at large is being smeared because scientists, of all people, are allowing themselves to make a generalization the basis of a very limited sample of information.

This is religious bigotry in a weird kind of inverted form. Scientists are turning their hatred for the religion of some into rejection of all religion, even ones they know nothing about. It is furthermore the height of irrationality to reject religion for not perfectly mirroring the findings of science. Religious myth does not attempt to explain the world as science does. It is attempting to express various understandings about our place in the cosmos. These expressions are epistemologically the same as literature. Literature is made up of works of fiction and poetry. Neither conveys truth as science does, in propositions that can be tested with direct observation and experimentation. A book does not have to be literally true for it to convey truth to the reader. The same is true of poetry. Religious ritual has more in common with theater and dance than science. A religious ritual is not trying to express some proposition that must be tested with logic and observation. It is creating an experience for the person or people taking part in it.

If science invalidates religion, it must also invalidate all fiction, poetry, music, dance, and art. Please speak out about this whenever you hear someone argue that science has replaced or ought to replace religion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, your ideological parallel between fiction and religion is quite fitting. However, fiction as compared to religion is a sustainable institution as it often uses contrast to known truths to expose it's own use of fantasy for the purposes of entertainment. Sure sometimes the author might be a crackpot who thinks fiction is reality, or authors may intentionally present works which provoke thought, or even try to use fiction to sway social consciousness away from reality - but in any case the fiction which is proven to be fiction is labelled as such, and the knowledgable public conciousness moves on.

Religion however, tends to do the opposite - it tends to represent fiction as fact, and adheres to it's convictions long after they're put into very weakened positions. Case in point being the Christian Science religion. Christian Science in the end fails it's own people by the use of bad science. CS has done more to hurt religion than evolution by the strict adherence to very bad science. If anyone of the CS religion cares to investigate the science of CS, they will clearly see that the scientfic positions of CS religion are by great majority of scientific evidence and opinion, false. And as it turns out, the further you take your education into the fields of these particular sciences, the more you find that CS is nonsense. More scientific education = less Christian Science.

However, your thoughts are encouraging to me that you are able to find ways to address these types of contradictions, and find a more harmonious position between science and religion. It is undoubtedly very important for man to cultivate themselves through spritual growth.

However, in a world of growing technological ability, and freedom of information, it seems to me like the next logical outcome is that we all will need to look in and around us to find the next greatest religion - or stand by while the theologians address their long standing dogmas and contradictions. The religion which dominates the western world today is no more updated than it was when it's own clergy ordered the slaughtering of cities of people for learning to read, and for reading or owning books, including bibles.

1:09 PM  

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