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← Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled?

Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled? - Comments

mrjohnno's Avatar Comment 1 by mrjohnno

The American lobby group Answers in Genesis, with its $13m annual budget, now has an office in the UK from where staff go round giving illustrated talks about how humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together.


Gulp. Sick mother fuckers

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:23:00 UTC | #249985

Damien Trotter's Avatar Comment 2 by Damien Trotter

Blaming professor Dawkins for the rise of religious scientific ignorance eh? And I thought I had heard it all.

At least the writer of the article got Dembski's name wrong and referred to him as a creationist, so it's not all bad.

DT

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:33:00 UTC | #249988

cerebate's Avatar Comment 3 by cerebate


"Dawkins sees religion as credulous, superstitious and prejudiced but mature religious traditions teach people to challenge all that," says Tina Beattie. "

Does anyone have any examples of a 'mature' religious tradition (given a suitably elastic interpretation)?
and if there are such things, whether they teach people to challenge them?

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:45:00 UTC | #249992

j.mills's Avatar Comment 4 by j.mills

where there appears to be a conflict between demonstrated knowledge and a literal reading of the bible then the scriptures should be interpreted metaphorically.


Anyone know what pi=3 is a metaphor for?

The writer's making a case for NOMA, but nowhere in this article is there any attempt (by writer or quotees) to address the question: do gods exist? It's the only one that matters. A clear proof from any religion would end the debate forever.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:47:00 UTC | #249994

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 5 by robotaholic

...can the divide between a nonexistent entity and rationality be reconciled? - no

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:48:00 UTC | #249995

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 6 by Steve Zara

I would love to know who these "most people" are who think that Dawkins sounds "odd".

Most people I know who work in science don't consider Richard Dawkins odd at all but as someone who is expressing in wonderful prose what they have known and felt all along.

Also, any conflict between science and religion is a minor part of the problem with religion. Religion conflicts with all of rationalism.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:57:00 UTC | #249998

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 7 by Steve Zara

Comment #263506 by cerebate

Yes. That describes some schools of Buddhism.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 13:59:00 UTC | #249999

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 8 by robotaholic

Creationism, like Coca-Cola, came here from the United States. The American lobby group Answers in Genesis, with its $13m annual budget


Actually, Answers in Genesis resulted from the merger of two Australian creationist organizations in 1980. One was founded in the late 1970s by John Mackay, Ken Ham, and others as Creation Science Educational Media Services who believed that the established Christian church's teaching of the Bible was being compromised. The group merged with Carl Wieland's Creation Science Association in 1980 becoming the Creation Science Foundation (CSF) that subsequently became Answers in Genesis.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:02:00 UTC | #250001

infidel_michael's Avatar Comment 9 by infidel_michael

can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled?

Of course, good evidence would do the work. If Jesus shows his face in the sky to all people, speaking to everybody in their own language, that would be pretty convincing. I can imagine lot's of miracles which could be considered as evidence for the supernatural. But of course, God must stay hidden and believers irrational.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:05:00 UTC | #250004

PaulJ's Avatar Comment 10 by PaulJ

Process theology embraced evolution and said men and women are called to play a part in an ever-ongoing creation.
It may well have said that, but what did it base that assertion on? Dogma. Anything based on dogma has no place in science. This is why, contrary to what all these religious moderates keep on saying, religion is fundamentally incompatible with science.
All of this mystifies the vast majority of the nation's Christians who have been taught since the time of St Augustine, who died AD430, that where there appears to be a conflict between demonstrated knowledge and a literal reading of the bible then the scriptures should be interpreted metaphorically.
It seems to me that Augustine was making stuff up. Taking that to its logical conclusion, the Bible can be seen as fact unless or until science contradicts it. Why? Because the Bible is incompatible with science.
Dawkins is just a throwback to 19th-century rationalism. He has a strong emotional antagonism that is very indiscriminate and treats all kinds of religion the same. A lot of fine distinctions that get lost in the polemics.
Fine distinctions, such as exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
The new atheism completely misunderstands the way that human beings experience the poetry and narrative of life.
And therefore religion completely understands it? This is the classic error of the creationist.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:17:00 UTC | #250006

cerebate's Avatar Comment 11 by cerebate

Comment #263513 by Steve Zara
Do you have any information/links which describe these traditions?

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:25:00 UTC | #250007

Demotruk's Avatar Comment 12 by Demotruk

The truth is, religion has been leeching on the areas of other academics and other areas of life for years. They have an illegitimate claim to morality which belongs to philosophy. They have an illegitimate claim to some facts about the universe, which belong to science. They have an illegitimate claim to spirituality. They have an illegitimate claim to the arts, at least for some, who don't seem to think that great pieces of music can be made without being about God. They have illegitimate claims to authority, and they accept money from their followers whether they be poor or wealthy.

Science is just the first to actually take a stand on this, perhaps because it's the only academic area that inherently has a system for killing off the wrong ideas (a bad idea can be maintained by philosophy for centuries).

Honestly, I don't mind that more people are pushed towards fundamentalism by Dawkins, if it's even true. Better fundamentalism where you accept the simple literal authority of the bible than the anti-intellectualism required to say that the bible is just metaphors. There is no evidence to suggest that the bible is meant metaphorically, it's just a relatively recent idea to try and keep the myth alive in a world of scientific knowledge. And even then, what about the huge amounts of inconsistencies? Why take any of it as fact at all?

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:28:00 UTC | #250009

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 13 by aquilacane

I think the real question here is whether or not the divide between unicorns and rationality can be reconciled. We have all seen the arguments for god, and they have proven themselves faulty, but what is the official stance of unicornism. Horses and narwhals do in fact exist, so there is some biological evidence to suggest the potential of the argument; however, with no existing specimen, scientists remain in the dark, despite countless eye witness claims.

Can unicorns fly? Some say yes despite not having wings like their distant cousin the Pegasus, which we know can fly. Anyone who has ever seen a Tri Star film knows this, its common knowledge. If the unicorn can fly, that changes everything. How do they fly? Science will need to answer this question and more, how magical is the unicorn's horn, for instance. I don't think focusing our efforts on outrageous claims such as god will solve that problem, despite how popular god may be.

Unicornology is in it's infancy, and we really need to focus on what we don't know, not what we do.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:32:00 UTC | #250011

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

Comment #263522 by cerebate

Just search for "Therevadin Buddhism". It is basically an atheist worldview, which does accept and sometimes even encourage scepticism.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:34:00 UTC | #250014

AmericanGodless's Avatar Comment 15 by AmericanGodless

That an article about the history of the warfare of science with theology in Christendom could be written without even a nod to the book of that name (A.D. White) is disappointing. But then it missed out on the two authors who shaped my own scientific atheism in the 60's and 70's, Jaques Monod (Chance and Necessity) and Jacob Bronowski (Ascent of Man, Science and Human Values, The Common Sense of Science, etc).

But it also goes to great lengths without ever mentioning the core point of contention between science and religion: supernaturalism versus naturalism. Not "philosophical naturalism" or "methodological naturalism," but the naturalism that is by now the most tested and confirmed unifying theory in all of science. The supernatural claims of religion have by now been shown by science to be highly improbable, and so Richard, among others, points out that this means that "God almost certainly does not exist." How can any historian or commentator on the subject miss this?

In all of us there will always be a struggle between the craving for certainty, purity and closure and the acceptance of mystery, brokenness and provisionality.
Right. And which is which? I expect the author thinks science is on the side of certainty and closure; Wrong. That is religion. Provisionality is the realm of science. The author of this piece needs a good education in modern scientific epistemology.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:35:00 UTC | #250015

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 16 by Styrer-

Perhaps the conflict is not between science and religion but between good and bad ways of doing both. In all of us there will always be a struggle between the craving for certainty, purity and closure and the acceptance of mystery, brokenness and provisionality. At their best, both scientists and people of faith are in a permanent state of awe-struck humility before the wonder and strangeness and messiness of things. At their worst, they are arrogant, dogmatic, and incurious. There's a bit of both in all of us, of course.


As j.mills mentioned, the issue is whether God exists or not, and is emphatically not about 'good and bad ways of doing both' science and religion. The final paragraph quoted shows up the pathetic attempt to follow NOMA lines of appeasing both sides, and is a red herring, dressed up poorly as incisive and supremely fair-minded comment.

Best,
Styrer

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 14:56:00 UTC | #250019

Logicel's Avatar Comment 17 by Logicel

There is a definite danger of our desire for research outstripping our capacity to anticipate the ethical implications of those advances," says the feminist theologian, Tina Beattie,...
_____

Excerpted from Wikipedia (describing Beattie's new feminism):

Critics of the movement argue that it was created by a patriarchal structure for its own maintenance. "It will always mean that men are defining women and telling women what it is like to be a woman," according to Sister of Mercy Mary Aquin O'Neill, director of the Mount Agnes Theological Center for Women in Baltimore. [46] Until women are members of this higher authority, it can never make authoritative decisions about their perspectives because they are excluded from the vote.[47]

Other critics maintain that no movement that opposes abortion and birth control in the form of contraception can be positive for women. New Feminism may also be a form of gender or biological determinism, which some see as old prejudices in a new guise.[48]

_______

Religites and their apologists keep trotting out their rabid nonsense in different costumes because they can't prove gods and the supernatural exist.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 15:45:00 UTC | #250025

cerebate's Avatar Comment 18 by cerebate

Comment #263529 by Steve Zara
Thanks steve. I do doubt that a follower would take kindly to questions like "Was buddha truly the enlightened one" or the method of Siddhartha's birth
but then I guess Im judging it by its practioniers. Ill take a look at some articles and see (my exposure to Buddhism is mostly Osamu tezuka's manga buddha :)

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 15:55:00 UTC | #250028

mmurray's Avatar Comment 19 by mmurray

John Hedley Brooke, who recently retired as the first Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford


In a little more detail from wikipedia:

"John Hedley Brooke was the first Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion within the Faculty of Theology at The University of Oxford"

Forgot to mention he was Theology Faculty.

Michael

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:04:00 UTC | #250032

polestar's Avatar Comment 20 by polestar

"...says Tina Beattie. 'Science will never offer an answer to the parents of Madeleine McCann...'"

This is stooping as low as you can get with manipulative, sentimental, mendacious and irrelevant mud-slinging: I don't think I'll be borrowing her book.

It does raise the slightly interesting question of what she thinks the Christian answer might be: "it's all part of God's plan"? Yippee! Where do I sign up?

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:14:00 UTC | #250036

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment #263543 by cerebate

Thanks steve. I do doubt that a follower would take kindly to questions like "Was buddha truly the enlightened one" or the method of Siddhartha's birth


Buddhism covers so many different sets of ideas and approaches that I think you will have no problem finding a Buddhist who has no problem at all with such questions. There is no standard description in Buddhism of Siddhartha's birth. You can find Buddhists who have no problem with the Buddha being an ordinary human being, born just like any other.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:20:00 UTC | #250037

cerebate's Avatar Comment 22 by cerebate

Comment #263552 by Steve Zara

You can find Buddhists who have no problem with the Buddha being an ordinary human being, born just like any other.

True. And you can find such christians too. I just wonder what the philosophy actually states.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:28:00 UTC | #250039

polestar's Avatar Comment 24 by polestar

The strong reaction by some scientists to the Royal Society's Director of Education's statements were neither excessive nor pre-emptive.

Some of the comments by Professor Reverend Michael Reiss of the Royal Society looked fairly reasonable at first glance but in the speech at issue he also said: "Just because something lacks scientific support doesn't seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson." Well, actually, it does, just as German is omitted from French lessons and geography is omitted from PE.

This was not a momentary slip. He also said: "There is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts - hardly a revolutionary idea in science teaching - and doing one's best to have a genuine discussion." The Royal Society's official response to the furore said "if young people put forward a creationist perspective in the classroom, it should be discussed."

We must assume they would also suggest discussion with pupils propounding numerancy in a mathematics class and astrology or Flat Earthism in astronomy. There wouldn't be much time left for teaching.

Reiss and co. are either creationist entryists or they are expressing themselves poorly: either should exclude them from the Royal Society.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:29:00 UTC | #250041

j.mills's Avatar Comment 23 by j.mills

Comment 13, aquilacane:

Unicornology is in it's infancy, and we really need to focus on what we don't know, not what we do.


Alas, it is a very difficult subject to research, as apparently unicorns can only be approached by virgins...

A unicorn met with a virgin.
They talked about their futures mergin'.
One look at his horn
And her mind filled with porn.
She mounted without further urgin'!

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:29:00 UTC | #250040

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 25 by Szymanowski

"Science will never offer an answer to the parents of Madeleine McCann. Nor will it ever be irrational to go to a Mozart concert, though science can never explain the genius of his music. The new atheism completely misunderstands the way that human beings experience the poetry and narrative of life."
Bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit!

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:43:00 UTC | #250044

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 26 by Cartomancer

In the past 30 years an area of inter-disciplinary activity has opened up to explore this. Areas of research include cognitive neuro-sciences and issues like freewill and consciousness and whether human minds are merely matter or something more. In evolutionary psychology they have also explored together questions like the origins of altruism �" asking whether evolutionary biology can give an adequate account of why people are willing to sacrifice themselves on behalf of others. In paleobiology they are asking questions like how eyes evolve in different lineages �" suggesting that evolution isn't a random or chance process but is channelled by certain chemically-determined pathways. In cosmology there is a universe versus multiverses debate.

"All that going on, but all the public knows about is Dawkins," says Dr Denis Alexander of the Faraday Institute in Cambridge.
And there was me thinking that Richard has rather a lot to say on issues of cognitive neuroscience, human consciousness, evolutionary psychology, altruism, the evolution of the eye, the non-randomness of evolution and multiverse cosmology. Perhaps I have been reading a different Dawkins to the one this article is referring to, or falling asleep and dreaming all those bits in Richard's books...

Or? Maybe? No, it can't be. Perish the thought. Someone as eminent as that household name Dr. Denis Alexander couldn't just be working on scurrilous straw-man parodies and popular misconceptions of Richard could he?

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 16:52:00 UTC | #250047

alexmzk's Avatar Comment 27 by alexmzk

"Science will never offer an answer to the parents of Madeleine McCann. Nor will it ever be irrational to go to a Mozart concert, though science can never explain the genius of his music. The new atheism completely misunderstands the way that human beings experience the poetry and narrative of life."

*vomits*

yet another twat equating doubt in the existence of the supernatural with the inability to experience emotion.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 17:03:00 UTC | #250049

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

Comment #263554 by cerebate

I was describing Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism (at least according to my understanding) works in quite a different way from Christianity. In Buddhism, the core belief is that the central figure is just a normal chap who happens to have hit upon a set of philsophical principles which are claimed to assist people to live happier lives. You don't have to follow all the principles - they are just a guide. This core is added to in many different versions of Buddhism, with all kinds of myth and magic included, but they aren't necessary for someone to be a Buddhist.

In Christianity, the core belief is that the central figure is divine, and that there are commandments from God. People can say that they believe that Jesus was just a person, and the resurrection a useful myth, but that is really stretching Christianity to breaking point.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 17:19:00 UTC | #250051

cerebate's Avatar Comment 29 by cerebate

Comment #263566 by Steve Zara
Oh i see your point now. Understood

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 17:23:00 UTC | #250053

JeremyH's Avatar Comment 30 by JeremyH

Science's goal is to find out how things work.

Religion's goal is to convert people.

Religion has the upper hand in this debate, because it has EVOLVED to thrive in this exact environment. We don't have that luxury. We can't change our mind when an idea gets a bad reception, we have to trust the evidence. Religion can mutate to whatever form is most pleasing to the public.

Sat, 11 Oct 2008 17:29:00 UTC | #250054