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Senate Is there a conflict between Religion and Science?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ghost, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Ghost Chosen One

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    Recent research conducted by MIT:

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    The MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins: the Belief Gap
    Eugena Lee and Max Tegmark
    Dept. of Physics & MIT Kavli Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,Cambridge, MA 02139
    Meia Chita-Tegmark
    Dept. of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215
    (February 11, 2013)

    We present a detailed survey of how different US faith communities view origins science,particularly evolution and Big Bang cosmology. We find a striking gap between people’s personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution. This shows that the main divide in the origins debate is not between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science. The fact that the gap between personal and official beliefs is so large suggests that part of the controversy might be defused by people learning more about their own religious doctrine and the science it endorses, thereby bridging this belief gap.


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    IV. Conclusions

    We have presented a detailed survey of how different US faith communities view origins science, particularly evolution and Big Bang cosmology. We found a striking gap between people’s personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution.
    Why is this “belief gap” so large? Interestingly, this is not the only belief gap surrounding a science-religion controversy: whereas Gallup reports that 18% of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around Earth [12], 0% belong to religions supporting this view. The fact that the geocentric belief gap remains large even though the controversy was settled hundreds of years ago suggests that it has more to do with education than with intellectual disputes, and the same may be true for the origins science belief gap as well. A significant part of the controversy might therefore be defused by people learning more about their own religious doctrine and the science that it endorses, thereby bridging the belief gap.
    In this survey, we have examined the views of religious groups on science, and found that a large majority see no conflict between science and religion. This conciliatory view is shared by most leading science organizations. For example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science states that science and religion “live together quite comfortably,including in the minds of many scientists” [13] and continue: “Science and religion ask different questions about the world. Many individual scientists are deeply religious. They see scientific investigation and religious faith as complementary components of a well-rounded life.” The vocal intelligent-design critic Lawrence Krauss had this to say [14]: “State school board science standards would do better to include a statement like this: While well-tested theories like evolution and the Big Bang have provided remarkable new insights and predictions about nature, questions of purpose that may underlie these discoveries are outside the scope of science, and scientists themselves have many different views in this regard.”
    Albert Einstein agreed that there is no conflict between science and religion unless they overstep their boundaries, with science trying to dictate laws of ethics or religion trying to dictate laws of nature [15], and argued that they can complement each other: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
    In summary, mainstream religion and mainstream science are neither attacking one another nor perceiving a conflict. As Scott Hoezee puts it on the website of the Reformed Church in America [16]: “Most scientist and most believers do not fit the wilt-eyed fanatical stereotypes that create such great television drama when placed side-by-side on one of Sean Hannity’s split screen debates.” This means that the main divide in the origins debate is not between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science.





    The entire study can be found here:
    http://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/survey.html



    Also, here is a short anecdote:



    I think all this confirms my own experiences, and what I've thought for a while... that the main cause of the "religion versus science" narrative is inadequate education of religion.

    That certainly isn't the case for everyone, as the study shows, but the religions that are definitely at odds with science over issues like the Big Bang and Evolution are in the minority. They're vocal, but most people don't belong to these religions.

    The problems comes from both non-believers who assume that all religions think alike, and even more so from people who aren't educated or are misinformed about what their own religion's stances are on so-called "controversial" scientific issues.



    So, what do you think? Is there a conflict between Religion and Science? What evidence do you have for or against it? What are your personal beliefs? If you belong to a religion, what does it teach (do you even know for sure)?
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 12, 2013
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  2. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    i think it really comes down to that, I think there is potentially a conflict between science and faith, depending on what said faith does. Any faith that makes inherent claims about reality in a fashion that can be tested is, imo, setting itself up for a conflict with science at some point. So, if it's just morality and ethics, there's no real way for it to clash with science (like deism, which tends to be very hands off), but once claims start being made... from history, to science, to the structure or nature of the universe, that is setting it up for conflict. The trouble is that a large portion of religions claim to have the answers.... and are resistant to change. Some still totally do change, eventually, but then again, catholicism took something on the order of a century before saying it was ok with evolution. That's conflicting, just knowing when it's lost, at that point.
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  3. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    "The great thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not." --Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    Religion can make no such claim.
    Last edited by timmoishere, Feb 12, 2013
  4. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

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    Er well that's not exactly true. Science can be wrong too...we try to make the best assumptions about reality based on observations, but those assumptions can be wrong such as when Einstein's theory of relativity overturned Newton's laws. And there's a whole ton of crap about the universe we don't know a thing about.
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  5. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    The thing is, science invites you to try and prove it wrong. If you do, great, you've helped further our understanding of the universe. And while there is a ton of stuff we don't know about yet, science fully admits this; it doesn't try to make something up and pass it off as a fact.

    Science's methods are foolproof; its conclusions are subject to error and can be disproven with sufficient evidence.
    Last edited by timmoishere, Feb 12, 2013
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  6. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Einstein's theory of relativity didn't overturn Newton's laws, and there's a reason why Newton's laws are still taught. And of course, religion could just as easily make such a comment.... as it's worded like that, I don't think it has too much strength. I think it relies on not making a distinction between science as a methodology and science as a set of observed relations (which seems to be the way NDT intends it)
  7. Ender Sai Chosen One

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    I think there is, but there doesn't need to be. I think the key here is to separate out faith and dogma. Faith is simply a belief in something numinous, be it God, or Karma. Dogma is the attempt to give purpose, law and structure to the divine in order to give direction to, and exercise control over, man. The dogmatic side of religion, therefore, purports to have answers for which they claim absolute authority but cannot substantiate it.

    I would make two further points; 1) Why is Mormonism for all intents and purposes Pacman? and 2) Religion (dogma) has started fights with science it cannot possibly win. Yes, it feels threatened by science but let's be honest here - intelligent design was not the magic bullet they hoped for.
  8. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

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    A core tenet of the Baha’i Faith is that religion bereft of science is “mere superstition,” while science bereft of religion is “mere materialism.” The Faith also teaches that if there is an apparent conflict between science and religion, it’s because one of the two doesn’t have the whole picture; however, the Writings are conspicuously mum on saying which of the two doesn’t have the whole picture.

    As I see it, we have a rational faculty, and a spiritual faculty. To develop one without the other is unhealthy. Plus, it’s kinda :eek: :cool: to be reading the Writings and randomly come across stuff about topics like neurotheology, parallel dimensions, and alien life [face_hypnotized]
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    The pie charts are a lot of fun.

    Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution.

    So, what does that mean?

    1. Gallup's methodology is bad, or
    2. People feel pressure to misreport their religious beliefs to Gallup, or
    3. People don't really know the doctrines of the religious organizations they belong to, or
    4. People often disagree with the doctrines of their respective faiths, or
    5. MIT didn't do a good job characterizing the doctrines of the various faiths

    Good luck trying to convince people that they misunderstand their own religion. I've tried to explain Christianity time and time again to the many Christians in this forum who misunderstand their own faith, to no avail. Obviously.

    In my view, there are 230 million Christians in the United States practicing 230 million different religions, and there are enough people who reject science on religious grounds that it interferes with education and science-based public policy. And that's a problem.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Feb 13, 2013
  10. Mortimer Snerd Force Ghost

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    Don't forget this study leads to the assumption that Mormons are obsessed with Pac-Man.
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  11. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Because I don't use this article enough, the religiosity among scientists is vastly lower than the religiosity among the populace in America.

    Roughly half of American scientists identify with a religious group compared to 80% of the rest of the population. So is there a conflict between religion and science? Science has never produced a valid theory that suggests supernatural explanations, which is counter to many religions's claims (regardless of how many quotes one can muster of various religious leaders giving lip service to not sound like they want to be antiscience). This is always going to be a case of religion making a claim that science will disprove or prove otherwise, and those religions that can't handle it will always end up being on opposite sides in this "war."

    This ends up with many scientists choosing to forgo religion. The link I put above shows only a small percentage of scientists believing in "god." Who knows what "higher power" means but I'd wager it's not as strong a sentence as "I believe in god."
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Feb 13, 2013
  12. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    I think the question "Is there a conflict between faith and science" is kind of simplistic, generic, obvious, and, well... wrong.

    Since the question doesn't specify what religion, we have to assume it applies to all religion. And that's demonstratively wrong, as Merk showed. So then we have to adapt the question to suit our own viewpoints. That leaves us with as many interpretations of the question as there are faithful, which will result in an overall meaningless answer.

    Making the question more distinct would reveal how obvious its answer is. "Is there a conflict between a literal interpretation of Genesis and the science of evolution?" Well, yes. "Is there a conflict between a spiritual interpretation of Genesis and the science of evolution?" Not necessarily. And so on, for each holy book. Kind of a no-brainer.

    What I wonder is: why ask this question? After "Fear of Hell/loving God"... and "If there is a god, why is there evil"... Are you having a crisis of faith, Ghost?
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  13. Ghost Chosen One

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    I don't think the conflict even comes from trying to give purpose and some order... as Lowbacca said, when a religious denomination strictly sticks to ethics then there isn't any real conflict with science.

    Or even when it sticks strictly to the theological (ex: trying to explain the trinity/incarnation, atonement/heaven, and the resurrection in Christianity), that doesn't necessarily conflict with scientific evidence, even if those beliefs aren't arrived at by using the scientific method and are solely from faith and personal experiences.

    It's only when they try to offer historical or scientific explanations that religious denominations get into a conflict with science... but as the MIT study showed, the religions denominations that over 80% of Americans belong to mostly or totally defer to the science on these issues now (particularly on the Big Bang and Evolution).

    #1 and #5... it's definitely possible for them to be a little off... but there's a huge difference between 46% and 11% and I don't think Gallup or MIT could be that bad.

    #2... I don't understand why that would be the case.

    #3 and #4 are the most likely. And #4 may be caused by #3.


    I strongly believe that some religious education should be a part of junior high and high school history/culture/humanities classes. Not giving one preference to any religion, of course, but an objective education on understanding the major world religions and their denominations.


    And yeah, I really like the pie charts too!

    Still, roughly half =/= hardly any, right? There's not necessarily a conflict. And honestly, I think many people who call themselves Christian and go to church might not really believe either.

    Science can't produce a valid theory that suggests supernatural explanations, or it would be science... :p
    (and you know my line... religion doesn't have to be supernatural... remember that Arthuc C Clark quote)

    And this quote from you: This is always going to be a case of religion making a claim that science will disprove or prove otherwise, and those religions that can't handle it will always end up being on opposite sides in this "war." should be corrected to this: This is always going to be a case of a religion making a claim that science will disprove or prove otherwise, and those religions that can't handle it will always end up being on opposite sides in this "war."

    Is there a conflict between some religious denominations and science? Of course. But not all religions should be lumped together, as this MIT study shows.


    As for your first point... that's the point I'm trying to make here, and have been trying to make for years

    And in case you haven't noticed, I love talking about religion! :D
    The God/suffering/evil one is a fascinating question that really goes to the heart of most religions, and I made that thread in September after Vivec's evolution poll thread was kind of hijacked by it.
    And I decided to resurrect the old "Understanding Christianity" thread on Christmas Eve, because it disgusts me when "Christians" say they only believe and go to church because they don't want to go to hell, and it really disgusts me even more when they also use that mindset to justify their ignorance and prejudice and hatred and authoritarianism.
    This is a point I've been trying to make for years on here, and when I saw the MIT study, I just had to share it. Plus this discussion kind of came up in those other religious threads, and deserves its own thread.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 13, 2013
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  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    His link, though, does show that you can't really point to the latter bit of it..... the poll has scientists vs the public, so that should allow for a direct comparison. 83% of the public believed in a god, but only 33% of scientists felt the same. that's not none, but that's a huge difference from the population. I think it also gets a tad more significant when you keep in mind that the number that don't believe in god or a higher power increases by a factor of 10. It's definitely a significant difference there.

    I would think of it more that anything that does anything observable isn't supernatural. Science is more the method of testing ideas about something observable.
  15. Ghost Chosen One

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    Oct 13, 2003
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    "Science can't produce a valid theory that suggests supernatural explanations, or it wouldn't be science..."

    Fixed.


    And while it's a big difference from the general population, it's not hardly any. And I really do think there are more people who don't believe in God than would admit it. When people ask my dad if he believes in God, he says yes, but then later he tells me that he really doesn't think there is a God. And I've come across a lot of people who say they're Christian or say they believe in God, but if they ever really start talking about it, they actually don't. I don't realy understand it, and it's no scientific survey, just an observation I've noticed a lot.
  16. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Yeah, but if the same survey finds that discrepancy, it should skew both results the same way, I would think. So my point is more that if one number is low, then the other number can be argued to be equally low.

    And science could, it's a method, and I don't think it's a requirement that what it focuses on is 'natural' in the conventional sense, but rather that it has to be observable.
  17. Saintheart Chosen One

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    There's an interesting book, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science that goes through some of this ground. It is not, as you might otherwise expect, a diatribe on the superiority of religion over science. Rather, it's a fairly systematic analysis of science as practiced and how the system can be perverted (and how it in fact, is). The two authors -- a pair of science journalists -- dissect the idea that the philosophy of science comes to us as a single noble pursuit over time. Rather, its three principles -- experiment, reproducibility, and peer review -- came together as a hodgepodge of history and philosophy. The truth is, science can be and is often perverted for fraud or for careerism.

    Some branches of science are more amenable to fraud or deceit than others -- if there's a continuum, hard mathematics lies at the "most honest" end of the spectrum and psychology at the other end -- but it's fairly clear that science as philosophised and science as practiced in the world are two very different animals.

    Science in its "pure" form is meant to be a step-by-step process of: experiment, observe data, make hypothesis, test hypothesis, reproduce, peer review. But even some of its most leading lights have perverted that process Newton, Galileo, Ptolemy, Mendel, and Dalton are all demonstrated to have faked or massaged their results in support of preconceived conclusions. Dalton's experiments in particular cannot be reproduced by modern chemists with 21st century technology. And the book goes into some detail about the faked data controversy of Cyril Burt, whose principles influenced educational psychology for 40 years under entirely false data.

    Its methods, therefore, are not foolproof. Or rather, just like every other branch of human knowledge, they are subject to subversion or fraud, just as the conclusions are; there is no special magic in scientific principle that makes it practiced uniformly or without deceit. In some branches it's harder to get away with fraud, but still not impossible. And politics and careerism influence or pervert the course of science just as much as they can be said to do so in religion: Newton abused his position to falsely claim sole credit for discovery of calculus; Arthur Eddington basically used his reputation to hound Chandrasekhar out of reputable science for what was ultimately a correct conclusion (the Chandrasekhar limit), thus setting back the course of astronomy for at least 20 years -- and that was even with names like Niels Bohr, Pauli, and Fowler agreeing with Chandrasekhar's proposals. This sort of dispute would not be out of place in theological circles.
  18. GenAntilles Force Ghost

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    In my persona opinion, and to quote Lord Vader, 'There is no conflict'. At least to me. God created this universe and gave us the capacity to learn about it, to study it. I have yet to see science prove anything that contradicts my faith, nor would I expect it to. When there is a question I first ask myself, 'has science disproven this? Or has science disproven my interpretation of this?' In every case it is the latter.

    Other than studying scripture, science is the best way to understand God. The fact that so many fellow Christians despise science is to me close to insulting God, by denying and ridiculing the truth he shows through His creations. 'Come now, and let us reason together saith the LORD' the fact that so many Christians reject science, critical thinking, and reason is absolutely appalling to me.
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  19. Saintheart Chosen One

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    I suspect part of that is fundamentalist Biblical literalism, Ant, not that it's something we probably need to get into here...
  20. Obi-Zahn Kenobi Chosen One

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    This is a Senate thread. No drive-by posting. Read the sticky thread if you have any questions.
    Last edited by JoinTheSchwarz, Feb 14, 2013
  21. LandoThe CapeCalrissian Jedi Master

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    "Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution."

    Id imagine the majority of people that believe this live down south.

    Those bible belt Evangelicals, the Creationists, man are they good for a serious laugh. They have so many ridiculous claims and millions upon millions worship it as scripture.

    .
  22. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    Jul 4, 1999
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    there needn't be, if religion continues its trajectory toward being simply a personal system of faith to individuals and small communities. it needn't weigh in on any scientific, political or moral issues pertaining to the world, and if it doesn't, there will be no issue.
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  23. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    I don't know that I agree with him that science is about truth. Truth is a philosophical concept -- science is about degrees of certainty.
  24. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    I think what Tyson means to say is that science works, it actually works and that's the amazing thing! We know how to make cars, we know how to make a big machine fly in the air and how to get boat that weighs 200 tons to float on water. We know how to put a man on the moon and we can cure disease. All these things are based on our understanding of how the world works. We can't deny that, the better we understand the physical world around us the closer we will be to understand the truth about ourselves and the Universe. We can probably never know the truth completely, but we can know part of it.

    There is no doubt that Religion would have continued to exploit people if it were not for what happened during the age of enlightenment. The critical faculties were put to use and suddenly Religion started to lose it's grip on humanity, at least to some extent. It's funny how America despise monarchy so much, but not it's closest ally, Religion. You would think they would get rid of both while they had the chance. America is a seculare society only in theory, but not in practice. You can't be President unless you believe in God. It's a shame.
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  25. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Aquinas wasn't critical? Aristotle wasn't critical? Or alternatively, are scientists, engineers, builders, etc all non-religious?

    Religion and science are concerned with different things entirely, and I find it exceedingly tiresome when people on either side insist on pitting them against each other or convincing themselves that one should replace the other. (more on this later)
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Feb 19, 2013
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