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← God and Science: An Inner Conflict

God and Science: An Inner Conflict - Comments

theantitheist's Avatar Comment 1 by theantitheist

Rationality vs irrationality

Probably more the culture you're raised in I suppose with a bit of hard wiring on the side

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:14:00 UTC | #306013

Godfree Gordon's Avatar Comment 2 by Godfree Gordon

I never get tired of your avatar...

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:24:00 UTC | #306024

mconsul's Avatar Comment 3 by mconsul

ugh. does every article on science v. religion have to start with a reference to Galileo?

and when will people stop pointing to past scientific minds who were also theists of some sort as proof that there is no conflict? what about the extent to which those individuals gave priority to the kind of scientific thinking that has since showed the worldviews to be rather at odds? do any of the people making this claim want to adopt the worldview in toto of, say, an Isaac Newton?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:33:00 UTC | #306038

m 1 g's Avatar Comment 4 by m 1 g

But creationists are just heretic nut people that want to put God under the microscope
How dare they say that god is a testable idea
They should burn in hell for this...

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:37:00 UTC | #306046

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 5 by aquilacane

This conflict is good, it suggest acts of reasoning.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:58:00 UTC | #306077

isaone's Avatar Comment 6 by isaone

If you read the entire article it is a waste of time. In essence they tested to see if people can believe that God Did It at the same time that they believe that Science Did It concerning the creation of the universe. Amazingly enough they found that people could not at the same time believe both things. This is science ?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:59:00 UTC | #306080

polestar's Avatar Comment 7 by polestar

"...our minds are conflicted, making it so we have trouble reconciling science and God because we unconsciously see these concepts as fundamentally opposed..."

What a load of rubbish: these concepts can only be fundamentally opposed so how could they be reconciled?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 14:22:00 UTC | #306118

Eshto's Avatar Comment 8 by Eshto

If society has been primed that science and religion have been in conflict, and that is the dominant narrative, then maybe all we are seeing is the effect of that priming, rather than the actual conflict

This is absurd. The dissonance occurs because the two positions inherently contradict one another logically. It would be similar for any two contradicting statements.

And where is the evidence that society is primed to view this incompatibility? Last I checked most people were religious. If anything it's the other way around, society for too long has primed people to believe they can be compatible!

Logic. Ur doing it wrong.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 14:59:00 UTC | #306154

root2squared's Avatar Comment 9 by root2squared

Well doh!

One is a non-explanation with zero evidence; the other provides the best possible explanation based on current evidence.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 15:11:00 UTC | #306164

Beachbum's Avatar Comment 10 by Beachbum

With the smell of burning heretics still trapped in your nose (even I would be a deist - in public) you could be forgiven for claiming to be "god fearing", one must consider the climate of the time. Unless, of course, one has an agenda to push.
Facts are at odds with lies, myths, misrepresentations. Intelligence is at odds with the godhead. Freethought is at odds with its repression through dogma. Period.
My ass is hardwired to clinch at this crap.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 15:15:00 UTC | #306166

keith's Avatar Comment 11 by keith

But what is the source of this seeming "irreconcilable difference" — are we hard-wired for it, or is it tenacious cultural baggage?

...Or maybe there is a real rather than 'seeming' irreconcilable difference between God and science, in the same way that the difference between, say, fairies and Mathematics is neither due to how brains are hard-wired, nor to 'seeming' differences but to, well, differences.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 15:28:00 UTC | #306178

EvidenceOnly's Avatar Comment 12 by EvidenceOnly

Science explains what we know and is working on what we don't know. God-did-it explains nothing at all.

Saying that gods & science are in conflict is just as meaningful as saying that astrology & astronomy or alchemy & chemistry are in conflict.

It is impossible to understand chemistry and believe in alchemy at the same time or understand astronomy and believe in astrology at the same time.

Why is it so hard for those who understand science to see god as a failed hypothesis?

Why is it so hard for the non-scientist to accept the science of others and fly on a plane, use computers and cell phones, take medication, watch HDTV, and at the same time not follow science's conclusions that there is no evidence whatsoever for gods and that therefore religion should be rejected?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 16:06:00 UTC | #306211

Beachbum's Avatar Comment 13 by Beachbum

In one experiment, 129 volunteers, mostly undergrads, read short summaries of the Big Bang theory and the Primordial Soup Hypothesis, a scientific theory of the origin of life.

I would be interested in a comparison of the results, with 129 volunteers from some backwater baptist church or a fundamentalist church of latter day saints.

As Daniel Dennett made clear in his book, Consciousness Explained, measuring the timing of a response is speculative do to mental state variables and the subject's health or preoccupation at the time.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 16:11:00 UTC | #306220

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 14 by NewEnglandBob

Dumb article. Its premise is incorrect.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 17:58:00 UTC | #306340

AmericanGodless's Avatar Comment 15 by AmericanGodless

"..the idea that evolution explains biology but God set the process in motion, does not exist in our brains."

So I guess Francis Collins, the Catholic Church, and many other mainstream religions (wherein this idea indeed does exist) have no brains (or keep their ideas elsewhere).

All they could possibly be testing here is an emotional response, not an intellectual weighing of alternatives. It used to be easy (and still is for most people) to make an emotional choice to believe in God and not worry about the details of the science. And why should it be any surprise that priming people with either a positive or negative view might affect an emotional response?

But what does that have to do with the fact that religion (in general) posits a pre-existing intelligence that has created order in the universe from the top down, while science is building on the theory that intelligence is a late arrival that is the result of mutation and selection (chance and necessity) creating order from the bottom up? It is, as Dan Dennett says, the difference between skyhooks and cranes. The conflict is one where the human intellect must decide which is a more coherent and probable story. Neither Galileo nor White had the benefit of Darwin, Mendel, Watson and Crick, and all of modern biology and cosmology to frame the question (and neither does the average undergrad taking part in this kind of experiment).

This article says nothing at all about the intellectual conflict, and nothing of interest about people's emotional response to a perception of a conflict.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 17:58:00 UTC | #306341

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 16 by Border Collie

How can the churchies know what they don't believe when probably more than 99% of them have never read Origin?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 19:06:00 UTC | #306384

NakedCelt's Avatar Comment 17 by NakedCelt

One thing I've noticed is: people with expertise in a given field who also believe in God -- even a miracle-working God -- somehow never believe that God has worked miracles in their own field. I've encountered a palaeontologist who believed evolution was purely Darwinian, but God must have intervened in some way in human evolution; a palaeoanthropologist who believed the precise opposite; a linguist who could accept a literal Noah's Ark but not a literal Tower of Babel; a textual critic who believed in God, Satan, angels and demons, but baulked at the idea that God had miraculously preserved the Bible unchanged across the centuries.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 20:20:00 UTC | #306407

Daniella's Avatar Comment 18 by Daniella

Anecdotes about Galileo are not science. It doesn't prove anything.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 20:38:00 UTC | #306411

Jeremy Anglesea's Avatar Comment 19 by Jeremy Anglesea

I really don't understand why some people can hold to the idea that science and religion are compatable. Either a god/gods created the unverse or natural processes did. Either all life on earth evolved from lower forms or goddidit. Science and religion have got on in the distant past because science has only (relatively) recently started to explain things about life and the universe that religion previously had a monopoly on, and invariably science offers a much better explanation. This is the root of the incompatability.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 21:27:00 UTC | #306425

ridelo's Avatar Comment 20 by ridelo

Some people seem not to see the difference between facts and opinions.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 23:30:00 UTC | #306456

beanson's Avatar Comment 21 by beanson

People rarely think about these problems, however, so most people live their lives without paying much attention to how the universe started or how life began, Preston said.

that's the kicker

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 23:35:00 UTC | #306458

m 1 g's Avatar Comment 22 by m 1 g

Some people don't like soccer, some people don't like religion, and some people think the debate religion vs science is boring. That's life...

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 06:30:00 UTC | #306819

flying goose's Avatar Comment 23 by flying goose

I think that this is an historical question rather than a scientific one.

The conflict hypothesis, first put forward I think by Huxley, maintains that there has always been a conflict between science and religion.

This is an historical question.

As AC Grayling asks;

What, then, is history? Is it an art that creates, or a science that discovers? Either way, is there'can there be–such a thing as historical truth?
There is ambiguity in the very name. "History" can either mean past events, or writings about past events. But what if the former is a creation of the latter? The past, after all, has ceased to exist. Here in the present we find documents and other objects which, we suppose, survive from the past, and we weave interpretations round them. These objects, and our interpretations, belong to the present. If history is different narratives constructed in the present, is it any wonder that historians disagree among themselves?
The idea that the past is another country, spread out "behind" us, which we could visit if we had a time-machine, is naive. Yet our realism is offended by the claim that the past is created in the present

It suits some, especially in the media, who love a conflict, to see the conflict hypothesis as truth uncovered by historians.

I think that historical truth, if it exists, is ill served by such a narrative.

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 06:46:00 UTC | #306831

JonLynnHarvey's Avatar Comment 24 by JonLynnHarvey

I think that the conflict is partly real and partly culture. Pre-Newton, Western culture had very different concepts of causality (mostly from Aristotle) in which a supernatural realm operated along lines similar to the visible natural realm. Newton and Copernicus profoundly upset this notion of causality.
It's also worth noting that in the case of Copernicus and Darwin there's a long delay before the uprising of religious opposition suggesting that in some ways revelatory scientific discoveries are being scapegoated.
Darwin published in 1858, and encountered some oppostion immediately from religious figures like Wilberforce, but many evangelicals made their peace with Darwin and in the early 20th century there is suddenly a groundswell of evangelical uprising against Darwin far larger than what had previously existed.
Copernicus died in the 1540s, but it is around 60 years later when Galileo is being quite the upstart and discovers moons orbiting around Jupiter that that Catholic church starts to see the Copernican view of the solar system as a serious threat. Many don't realize that moons orbiting around Jupiter is a really serious threat to Aristotelian physics which the Catholic church by that time had seriously invested itself in.
There's certainly a conflict between science and mythical thinking- it gets harder to draw the line when religion gets less mythical and more mystical

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 18:14:00 UTC | #307027

flying goose's Avatar Comment 25 by flying goose

On Beyond Belief, Radio 4 the Philosopher AC Grayling said,


Karl Popper once famously said 'A theory that explains everything explains nothing.'
If your theistic belief is consistent with any interpretation, you could be a Bible believing Christian and an evolutionist or creationist or whatever, you are in a position where you really do have to face up to some tough questions about; What you really mean by evidence? What really tests evidence? What would disconfirm your belief that there are supernatural agencies in the world required to explain the alleged differences between human beings and other animals on this planet and so on. One thing that one notices about this always is that here we have this open ended enquiry, the great adventure of science, very many questions as yet unanswered, of course it’s a challenge, it takes intellectual courage to accept that there are lots of things that we don’t yet understand, and to apply to it this urge that a lot of people have who are theistic in one way or another, to have a sort of simple closure, here is the world in all of its variety and depth, something must have caused it. So let’s call that thing Fred or Roger or God or just pluck it out of the air and say that’s responsible for it, that seems to me to be intellectually irresponsible.

What struck me is this;

Science at is best presents us with an open ended narrative where as religion on the whole tends towards a closed ended narrative.

The conflict with religion on the whole arise because religion does not allow open ended enquiry, it assumes the answer has to be God.

A religion that became open ended in its enquiry might not be in conflict with science.

This by the way is why I think Richard has got Theology as a subject wrong. In my university at least it had to be an open ended enquiry into Religion.

Sat, 17 Jan 2009 01:12:00 UTC | #307170

Rosbif's Avatar Comment 26 by Rosbif

To my way of thinking, science vs religion and science vs god are two seperate issues.
Science has proven that the teaching of religion on the universe and evolution to be wrong.
So religion moves the goal posts to find something that their god did do.
If religion was wrong before:
1. It was lying about its connection with god.
2. Why should anyone follow that religion in its new teachings.

Until there is a new profit and a bolt of lightning which writes an addendum to the holy books, this "repositioning" of god's role can only be an attempt by religion to recoil from its proven false statements of the past and find new ground to pretend it gets its world view on the hot-line from a god.

Sat, 17 Jan 2009 07:13:00 UTC | #307365

mrjonno's Avatar Comment 27 by mrjonno

What I do find amazing about some of the comments on the from the christians who think while they accept that science and religion arent compatible but say that this is different from science and Jesus being the son of god crap is.

As Jesus is true and all the other 1000's of myths in the world arent :)

Sun, 18 Jan 2009 14:22:00 UTC | #308209

HellboundPagan's Avatar Comment 28 by HellboundPagan

*yawn* The story looks like a load of fertilizer to me.

For one, if something flashes by so quickly that persistence of vision does not register it, how does this become 'subconsciously registered'? That sounds suspiciously like the 'subliminal advertising' claptrap which has never been demonstrated to work.

The other thing is that I never had an "inner conflict" and I really resent it when people make absurd general statements and attempt to label all people somehow. There simply is no basis whatsoever for believing in superstition. I grew up in a catholic family in a catholic neighborhood and if anything, the only conflicts I had were in trying to reject the hokum that I was being fed without being outcast from society. Religions use every dastardly trick out there to coerce children into conformance, but I quickly learned to be a 2-faced devil. I imagine that others who grow up in an environment similar to mine might instead be brainwashed and conform; I imagine it could be incredibly difficult for such people to shed all that superstition at a later time. Never having bought into superstition in the first place seems to be a great starting point.

So - what is the conflict between science and religion? There is absolutely none. Religion is mere superstition and science is not at all concerned with superstition. Despite the fact that science does not concern itself with the celestial bogey-man, religions are terrified of science because the proponents of religion know that if people can think for themselves, they would probably decide (quite correctly) that religion is a load of bunk.

@flying goose:

"This by the way is why I think Richard has got Theology as a subject wrong. In my university at least it had to be an open ended enquiry into Religion."

That's funny; I had to suffer through theology classes as well. My impression was that although lecturers wanted everyone to belive that they were thinking and asking meaningful questions, the reality was that no free thought was tolerated. After all, if the scientific line of inquiry were applied to any religion whatsoever, that religion would have to be instantly rejected.

Sun, 18 Jan 2009 22:00:00 UTC | #308462

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 29 by Quetzalcoatl

Flying Goose-

A religion that became open ended in its enquiry might not be in conflict with science.

True, but would it be a proper religion? No matter how open-ended it tried to be, if it believes in the existence of God then enquiry will always be restricted by virtue of that fact, even if said restriction is unconscious.

Mon, 19 Jan 2009 00:56:00 UTC | #308513

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 30 by Laurie Fraser

Comment #322317 by flying goose

I think you're wrong about this, Flying Goose. Certainly, any academic study into religion should be open-ended, if by that we accept that whatever rational imperatives that flow from our inquiry will not be occluded by pre-conceptions (of the sort that are Creationism's downfall). But the point that Richard makes in TGD is correct: Theology, in itself, is shrouded from, or, better still, conceals itself from, genuine and authentic inquiry precisely because of its preconceptions. For instance, it presumes there is a god, and that holy writ attests to this. The problem for theology is not to enquire skeptically into its foundations, but tease out the possible deductions from competing interpretations. This makes theology, at best, a pseudo-science.

Mon, 19 Jan 2009 01:39:00 UTC | #308526