Senate Is there a conflict between Religion and Science?

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

  1. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    I understand what you're saying. I agree to some extent, but my point was that religion is by it's nature based on holy scriptures and without these scriptures, can we really call them by their name (Islam, Christianity, Judaism)? When someone moves away from the scriptures and deny their credibility, then is that person really a christian or a muslim; most muslims and christians would answere no on that question. So when we're talking about religion we have to take into account the very core of these systems, the scriptures; and the scriptures are in conflict with science and reason.

    So when we ask if religion and science is in conflict then we can't leave the scriptures out of the picture, since billions of people base their entire lives on them.
    Last edited by Eternity85, Feb 20, 2013
  2. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    I would say that I'm a fairly spiritual person, but I always go for the scientific explanation rather than the religious explanation. There has always been some type of conflict between Religion and Science, and sadly, I think there always will be.
  3. Ghost Chosen One

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    As the original post of this thread shows, not every denomination takes all of its scripture literally.

    In fact, I doubt a single major Christian denomination that takes 100% of its scripture literally. The Catholic Church, for example, specifically values its Magisterium and Tradition over the Scripture. Even the Westboro Baptist Church doesn't stone its disobedient children to death, and they certainly don't love their neighbor as themselves or withhold judgment/condemnation of others.

    Also, what about other religions, like the Baha'i faith, or Sikhism, or Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Taoism, or Confucianism?



    What am I supposed to be taking away from that map, which I've seen dozens of times before and have saved to my computer for years?



    You: "But why do they all have to claim that their God is the right God, and everyone else is doomed.
    Every Christian born in the west would have been a devoute Muslim if they were born in the Muslim world. It's so convenient that a person was born in the right culture where they happen to hold the correct belief. Such luck, right?"

    Not true, in every point you make here.

    I wasn't raised to be Christian, I was raised to choose to believe whatever I wanted, and I chose Christianity. There are converts and atheists in the Muslim world, just as there are converts and atheists in the Christian world.

    Not every religion claims their God is the right one, and everyone else is doomed. For example, the Catholic Church, many mainline Protestant churches, and the Mormon church say non-Christians can go to Heaven. Buddhism doesn't have a God. Hindus believe it doesn't matter what you believe, you'll eventually be reunited with the ultimate reality in the end. Confucians and Taoists are silent in the belief of God. Eastern religions in general lack the Western idea of "hell." Many Muslims believe that hell is temporary (as do many Christians, and even the original Greek word that is usually translated into "eternal" when it comes to describing how hell/punishment is "eternal" in the Bible, aionian, actually means for ages, not for eternity). Jews believe their laws only apply to the Jewish people. Sikhs believe there are many paths to God, and their way is only one way. Baha'i believe in the harmony of all major religions, and specifically state the harmony of God with science.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 20, 2013
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  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    You're not actually disproving what Eternity said there in your last two paragraphs. He didn't say 'raised', he said 'culture'. And don't go telling me that the prevailing religion in the US is Islam. Also, obviously the converts and atheists in the Muslim world are in the minority. Can you say vast minority? Vast minority. All in all, you - like most other religious people - do claim the prevailing God in your region is the right one.

    You (and Eternity, too) oughta read American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

    Talking about Sikhims, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism - any religious -ism, I guess - is really kind of a straw man. Nobody believes that stuff in here. We don't have any people that know anything about it. When religion is discussed on these boards, it's Abrahamic-only. Comes with the territory. So the question in the title of this thread, especially in relation to literal readings of the source material, cannot be answered by us. It would be far more instructive to talk about "Catholicism vs. science", or any other denomination that people here can actually defend.
  5. Ghost Chosen One

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    The prevailing religious culture in my area is Atheism and Catholicism. I'm neither.

    I've also said before that I could always be wrong about my beliefs, too.

    And no, it's not a straw-man, because they're still religions. People do believe in that stuff here (both on the boards and in my neighborhood and family). I believe in some of their beliefs. I've studied them intensely, and gone to their religious services.

    One of the main things I've been trying to do over the years on these boards is disprove this: "When religion is discussed on these boards, it's Abrahamic-only. Comes with the territory. "
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 20, 2013
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  6. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Slight quibble, @SuperWatto, @Ramza is Buddhist.

    EDIT: Just because you like my post doesn't mean you're off the hook, Ghost. When I finish work your post is going to get a dressing down!
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Feb 20, 2013
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  7. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    I'm probably not a unique phenomenon, either, considering the number of regions represented by members of the forums. Hell, even just looking at other Senate regulars Merk is Baha'i. That said, discussion does tend to pigeonhole into Abrahamic monotheism because that's generally what people are most familiar with, which is basically a necessary result of this being a primarily English language message board, but that doesn't mean it's a generally good idea to make broad statements about "religion" that only really apply to that pigeonhole.

    I mean, just off the top of my head Eternity keeps talking about how "all religions" hold their texts sacrosanct, but Chán/Zen teaches us to specifically disregard the canon or, at most, to consider it no more or less effective than any other path to enlightenment. Sticking to them too closely is just another form of attachment. Allegedly, Linji Yixuan really put it best:
    Last edited by Ramza, Feb 20, 2013
  8. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    Yes, mostly I was refering to the three big monotheistic religions, since they dominate much of the world and have such a great influence around the globe. I'm familiar with buddhism and hinduism. What I want to say is - and I mentioned this briefly before - that all religions separate themselves in pockets. But all religions have a spiritual aspect at the core and the problem is that they don't understand that there is a deeper principle at work here. This spiritual experience you can have belongs to no religion, everyone can have that experience of self-transcendence, even atheists. Buddhism, christianity, islam and every other religion has at it's core this yerning to connect with a greater reality, a greater realm of existence. But we have to come togheter and speak openly about all this, we don't need to separate ourselves in spiritual tribes, when all of us in principle are searching for the same thing. We don't need to ground these experiences in a religious system and explain it in terms of faith claims.

    My point is that science probably has a lot to contribute with in this discussion. We can learn to better understand the underlying principles of these human experiences. Many of you mention that some religious people don't really follow doctrine or interpret the texts literally. But at a certian point I would stop calling such people religious and particularly many buddhists don't call themselves religious and cannot really be called religious either. Buddhism do have a more systematic approach to their spiritual practice and many people refuse to even define buddhism as religion.

    We don't need religion in it's current form, it creates so much conflict and there are better ways to make progress. I'm looking forward to the day when people no longer define themselves as christian, muslim or buddhist etc.
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  9. Ghost Chosen One

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    I agree with you here.

    Religion is just a word.

    Organized religion definitely does need improvement, but my point to you is that it's not all as bad as you're describing. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
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  10. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    That surprises me, @Lord Vivec, @Ramza.
    So, learned something from this topic after all.

    Still, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism are religions that are only paid lip service to on here. We can not say how compatible it is with science. Moreover, somebody may be inventing a religion somewhere right now, and say it's 100% compatible with science. Ergo: I repeat: the question in the OP cannot be answered by us.
  11. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I know I'm sort of dive-bombing in on the conversation here, but this chart doesn't really show what people seem to think it does. If you made a map of doctor's preferences for first line treatment of a certain disease, or you would similarly find broad regional correlations of this sort. That doesn't mean that medicine is all fake and people are making it up. It just means that people are influence by their peers.

    We already know this. It's a part of human nature. It happens in religion just like in every other aspect of life. But I fail to see where that makes religion magically and singularly invalid.
  12. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    I don't think it's valid, however, to say taht there MUST be a conflict between religion and science by filtering out examples of where they don't conflict. And I have yet to see a good example of what it is about religion specifically that would make it conflict with science inherently. There's absolutely a certain subset of religions or the religious that conflict with science, and I don't think anyone is arguing otherwise. The far more interesting question is specifically if religion, itself, inherently conflicts with science or not. To do that, I think it has to encompass all religions, and be more about what traits make religion religion. Not just what traits some religions have.
  13. Ghost Chosen One

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    Hinduism and Taoism are the non-Christian religions I've studied the most, I'm most fascinated by, and some of their beliefs I find are not only compatible with Christianity but really help complement and even strengthen it. As for Sikhism, one of my friends in college had a Sikh family, and I've read about it. Not saying I'm an expert, but I know enough, and these all definitely fall under the umbrella of "religion."

    Hinduism is also the third-largest religion in the world, and definitely should count as a "religion." (By far, the four biggest are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, in that order).

    The 12 main world religions are: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Shinto, and the Baha'i faith.

    Also, in the original post, it's clear that many Christian denominations have very little conflict with science. As well as other religions, like Hinduism/Buddhism/Judaism.

    [IMG]


    Mhmmm... o_O



    Exactly.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 20, 2013
  14. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    #Jabba-wocky#

    Go to the arabic countries and see how many arabic born people are christians. Go to america and see how many american born people you can find that are muslims. The point is then to ask these people why they believe their religious faith holds more truth than another religious faith. See if you can get a good answere. They were born into a culture, it was not their choice. Most people don't choose their religion, just as people don't choose which country they grow up in. This is just one simple example I proposed to make a point. It's not like I was trying to invalidate the truth of all religion with this single argument. I just want people to be aware that they have the capacity to think for themselves. Break away, start asking questions. Why am I a christian, how did I come to believe what I believe? Why should I believe that the Quran contains the true words of God? Was Jesus really God in the flesh? Should I just take their word for it because it feels good?

    Science challenges us, it forces us to accept certain things that we might not like. Religion is created by humans for humans, it gives us comfort and hope. Science can be a cynical bastard, but it depends how you look at it. I view science as a liberating process. Maybe i'm uncomfortable with the fact that i'm an ape, but it's true whether I like it or not.

    There has been so many Gods throughout human history, where is Odin and Thor, where is Poseidon? Did they just vanish, or what? No, they were replaced by something new. Look, anyone can invent a religion. Scientology and mormonism is the same thing as christianity and islam; the difference is that scientology and mormonism was bad timing. Not many people are gullible and uninformed enough these days to believe that an alien named Xenu, whatever.... you can look it up. The point is that if scientology had been presented to people at the time of Jesus, then scientology and the story of xenu would have been a world religion today.

    Catholic church = Condoms bad (HIV is second priority) This is the leader of a world religion speaking. You can't deny that when it comes to religious belief you have to leave some of your critical faculties behind and embrace ignorance like a friend you don't want to part with. If you're going to talk about religion you can't disregard all the things that are negative and all the ways in which it has collided with science throughout history.

    I can also ask you of how critical religion is of their traditions? Do they operate like science, where the prime objective is to try and disprove a theory or a hypothesis?
    It's not difficult to find common themes that all religions share. The fact is that religion started to employ reason and arguments to defend themselves against the threat posed by science, if science had never happend we would still live on a flat earth in the center of the universe. Religion also adopt scientific discoveries and tailor them so they conform to a religious world view.
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  15. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    But your point isn't supported by what you are showing.

    Go to China and see how many Chinese healthcare professionals think accupuncture works. Go to American and see how many American health professionals you can find that think accupuncture works. The point is then to ask these people why they believe what they do about accupuncture when others disagree. They were born into a culture, it was not their choice. Healthcare workers don't think for themselves.
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  16. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    It is actually. If you don't want to see the pattern then that's your choice. It's not really my main argument, it was something I wanted people to be aware of and think about, it's not like it's something I want to continue arguing about. It's just food for thought. The point is that religious truth is relative to what kind of tribe you're part of. Science can help us understand that there are deeper principles at work that transcends the relativism of religious doctrine and belief. If a person is a christian or a muslim he should start by asking the question of why he became a christian or a muslim. I'v written about this in several of my earlier posts and don't want to repeat the same thing over again.
  17. Saintheart Chosen One

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    I will say I'm glad I deleted my previous two posts, because with the chat on this page it's clear I would've attacked Eternity's position without realising we're actually not that far apart on our views at all.

    I'm of the Richard Rohr school on Catholicism: the Catholic Church is best at the first third of one's spiritual life -- the part which teaches rote belief, spiritual discipline, and a basic mythic cosmology, and which has a reflection in how we teach children the basics of spelling, mathematics and the difference beteween right and wrong. The Church's problem is that it tends to suck at the other two thirds of the spiritual journey because it takes many of the images it uses as the reality, when the images are much more instructive as metaphors for the spiritual journey. Rohr makes very powerful advocacy that it may well be entirely necessary for a person to leave rigid observance of their religious faith at or just after adulthood and go and live in the real world for a while. In that experience, and in continuing to read and think on your own, Rohr makes the case that the images then become understood at an unconscious level - and it's a possible explanation for why so many people leave their religious institutions in early adulthood only to return in late adulthood or old age. Not because they take the service as a literal explanation anymore, but because they understand the metaphor at an unconscious level. It's funky stuff, and I'd have to go back to Quest for the Grail to review if I've got that right, but in sum there are two key propositions:

    (a) (Borrowing from one of the Buddhas a bit here) Healthy religion is a finger pointing at God. It is a finger pointing at the spiritual dimension of life. That's all it can ever be in human hands, though most religions I think keep faith in the idea that the finger's direction is at least partially adjusted by divine inspiration. Humanity's chief problem is that it tends to focus on the finger, to the point of risking missing all that heavenly glory. And humanity tends to argue a lot about who has the correct finger. Does your finger save, or does mine? Rohr's answer is: none. God alone saves. Catholicism, at least in catechism, does acknowledge that in a grudging sort of way: it does not preclude salvation for people outside Christianity, because of God's grace.

    (b) Unhealthy religion tends to manifest in, more than anything else, literal interpretations of documents I think were intended to be regarded as inspirational and metaphorical. People who insist on the literal truth scientific correctness of, say, Genesis, astound me -- not just because science seems to indicate other than its literal truth but because they entirely miss the massive metaphors and deeper spiritual teachings embedded in the text. For example, it's not until I think the fourth day of creation that God starts to say "and it was good". In particular, he does not say that when heaven and earth are separated that it was good. Why is that? Well, one interpretation for that difference is that the story was aimed at teaching a fundamental truth - that it's not good to separate heaven (the spiritual side of life) from earth (material matters). It's a call to keep in mind that you can't, at a fundamental psychological level, ignore the spiritual dimension to existence.

    Literalists over Gensis impress me as the kind of people who would kill over whether the hare had brown fur or white fur in Aesop's fable of "The Tortoise and the Hare". Again, it's an argument about the finger - what matters most in that fable, the colour of the hare's fur, or the moral(s) of the story that complacency leads to defeat? That slow, steady perseverance wins out in the end? In that respect, I would say science rendering Genesis impossible or highly unlikely on a literal reading was possibly the best thing that could have ever happened to those texts, not because they invalidated religion as such, but because they forced people to look at them in a new, and I would say more meaningful light. They enhanced them. Science to me is part of reveals God's work, step by step, wonder by wonder; how can it possibly be in conflict with God?

    Science and healthy religion, then, to me, are not in conflict because they're talking about entirely different things. Science is not speaking the same language as healthy religion because healthy religion is concerned with the spiritual dimension to life, concerned with helping people reach a deeper understanding of where they stand in respect of God. Healthy religion calls science a subset of its concerns, but since God (I think) is almost by definition not amenable to scientific scrutiny, religion isn't really talking the same language. Unhealthy religion, which to me amounts to Biblical literalism or the assumption that there's no new spiritual insight to be had, in large part, certainly can come into conflict with science -- but because religion ignores its true purpose, which is to point a finger at God and not regard the finger as the totality.

    I'm aware that has a tang of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy about it, but that's my personal view. Hell, you can see doses of unhealthy religion just by typing the words "Richard Rohr heretic" into a search engine; doesnt take a lot of search results to wind up in a Catholic forum where they're still grumbling about not being able to say the Mass in Latin and still cursing John XXIII for daring to convene Vatican II and bring all these miserable heretics into the Church. Christ Almighty, Vatican II was about opening up the Church, about bringing it into the modern era, about embracing the very idea that maybe Catholicism doesn't have all the answers and that it should engage with other faiths.

    Anyway, I think Eternity's right when he encourages people to think for themselves in respect of religion. I would expect healthy religion to do exactly the same. Fundamentalists and literalists to me strike me as spiritually immature: if you don't apply your critical faculties or indeed your conscience to your faith, how do you grow in faith? What worth is your faith other than dry words recited in a church?

    Jesus had a parable on exactly this point: about the master who went away leaving his three servants with about five talents (ingots, basically) each. When the master returned, he asked them what they'd done with the money. The first and second servants invested their money and came back with differing returns on it; the master doubled the cash of the one who'd made the most and gave a bonus to the runner-up. The third servant had just hidden the money away and buried it, not wanting to lose any of it. In that servant's case, the master took the money off him and gave it to the first servant. To me, that parable is not talking about financial management, it's talking about spiritual management. You don't take your faith and hide it away, leaving it unchanging and doing nothing with it. You go out into the world and use your brain. You risk your faith. The unspoken part of that parable is that the first two servants literally risked everything they'd been given by going out and investing the talents they had; if they'd lost the talents, they might well have been punished by the master for doing so. But doing so, you make your faith stronger or more powerfully pointing at the spiritual - and for which a blessing comes.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2013
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  18. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

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    The prevailing religious belief in the neighborhood which I grew up in was Rastafari... and we were Irish immigrants. Growing up po' certainly helps a person bi-pass statistical certitude.
  19. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Well, at least you had green in common with the neighbours... :D
  20. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Ghost, I was basically trying to say what Lowie just said there. So, you'd first need to define what makes religion religion. Once you've done that, I think you will realize that there is no way you can track down all the positions of all the religions. And I don't think 'I had a friend in college' gives the insight needed here.
  21. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    the difference is these regionally based religions are claiming that they are the ONE true faith... for all of mankind, and with potentially terrible consequences for those who do not believe that particular faith. Chinese healthcare professionals do not maintain that everyone in the West will perish because their techniques in Medicine are different.
  22. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

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    Do not hesitate to attempt hyperbolic overstating of our shared profound hatred of British Imperialism as well. You will never reach the actual meter reading.
  23. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    The constrast your making doesn't hold. The two sides are in fact equally diametrically opposed. Chinese practitioners do claim that Westerners are empirically, factually, emphatically wrong in dismissing accupuncture. There is no side that the other side will "perish" because that's fundamentally not an element of the debate in question.
  24. Eternity85 Jedi Grand Master

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    Why keep focusing on this issue? We have moved on because the core point of the argument was that religion promotes relativity. There is one truth for a christian and this is false according to a muslim. A muslim is wrong according to a jew. The point is that we are all humans, we are all searching for the same thing. We seek to connect with something greater, a greater realm of existence, a greater state of mind. Why then do all these religious people have the obsessive need to ground these fundamental human experiences and needs within the context of institutionalized religious systems? We all share these experiences and needs, every human on the planet. Let's not be so selfish as to claim that our way is the right way. Don't define yourself as christian or muslim or buddhist. Let's all come togheter and talk about this as human beings and not as a christian or a muslim, because then we will at some point clash, there will be conflict. This conflict arise out of a misunderstanding between people and a great deal of ignorance. A muslim and a christian and a buddhist have the same desire, the same yearning to connect with a greater truth. So please let us talk openly about it and stop defining ourselves by categories.

    Please read the entire posts and don't be so selective, because it get's us nowhere. Saintheart understood that we might not disagree as much as we might think and i'm happy he said that.
  25. Ghost Chosen One

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    Saying I have to "define religion" first is like asking me to "answer the meaning of life" first. I'd rather just list enough major religions, so the vast majority of people are covered (sorry Neopagans, Wiccans, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Norse, Satanists, New Japanese religions, etc.)


    Religions:
    * Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Restorationist)
    * Islam (Sunni, Shia)
    * Hinduism (Advaita, Vishnu-centric, Shiva-centric, Shakti-centric)
    * Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana)
    * Taoism
    * Confucianism

    I could include the six other major religions, but these are the largest and most influential, and they give a broad enough view (2 from the Middle East, 2 from India, 2 from China).

    If anyone wants to make a blanket statement about Religion, it has to at least include those 6 religions listed above.


    The MIT study was able to track down the positions of most of them, as I said in my original post and posted again above.



    I studied the religions intensely in college, as well as on my own throughout my life. And my point was that yes, Sikhs do live in our society too.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 21, 2013
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