There are many people who desperately want religion and science to be compatible, having been one of them I see why they want this.

However wanting something to be true doesn't make it true.

Usually people try to make this work by explaining away (or trying to) where religion and science contradict eacch other (eg. by saying genesis allows for evolution).

I've happened to entertain the idea that this goes deeper; that religion and science are fundementally opposed.
The basis of each goes against what the other stands for, i.e. science is based on free inquiry and needs to be questioned in order to function properly where religion requires faith and does not do well when questioned.

What do the rest of you think?

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Four words say it all:

Faith Is No Reason.

This is the basic equation: irrationality versus rationality, fact as opposed to myth, substance against wishful thinking.  To have faith is to believe because someone else said so, no questioning, no examination, nothing.  To know is to observe, apprehend, examine, analyze, deduce, and most of all to question.  This is anathema to faith, where you believe what you are told, regardless of how absurd the belief may be, where, indeed, their holy books elevate belief above knowledge for reasons as ridiculous as the concept is.

Science and religion are utterly at loggerheads, from where I sit.  You'd have an easier time getting oil and water to mix.

Technology and religion can work together.  Science and religion can't.  


The only reading of Genesis that allows for evolution, is one where Genesis is considered metaphor.  Religion claims knowledge from supernatural sources.  Science does not allow supernatural input.  Science seeks knowledge.  Religion opposes knowledge.  Science is physical.  Religion is metaphysical.


You are right, the basis of each goes against what the other stands for.  A scientist who is religious is compartmentalizing.  Any religionist who claims to follow science, is also compartmentalizing.

Loren said - Science and religion are utterly at loggerheads, from where I sit.  You'd have an easier time getting oil and water to mix. It might work if there was an emulsifier, like that used in salad dressings  Problem here, is that there is no emulsifier that I've ever been made aware of.

Stephen J. Gould tried, and in my humble opinion failed, when he tried to argue that science and religion represented Non-Overlapping Magisteria.  In 1997, Gould stated

Religion is too important to too many people for any dismissal or denigration of the comfort still sought by many folks from theology. I may, for example, privately suspect that papal insistence on divine infusion of the soul represents a sop to our fears, a device for maintaining a belief in human superiority within an evolutionary world offering no privileged position to any creature. But I also know that souls represent a subject outside the magisterium of science. My world cannot prove or disprove such a notion, and the concept of souls cannot threaten or impact my domain. Moreover, while I cannot personally accept the Catholic view of souls, I surely honor the metaphorical value of such a concept both for grounding moral discussion and for expressing what we most value about human potentiality: our decency, care, and all the ethical and intellectual struggles that the evolution of consciousness imposed upon us. 

Here's the problem with Gould's argument, as I perceive it. He is correct in that the concept of a "soul," like that of a pink unicorn, flying spaghetti monster, leprechaun, or other man made mythological construct, cannot be proven or disproven. But, since there is no basis for these beliefs in the real and natural world, and understanding that they are man made mythologies, why do we give them the slightest credence? But the real problem is when he says it does not impact his domain - science. It certainly does, and in a very large way. Darwin disproved the literal reading of Genesis. Science has disproven that lightening is a tool of Thor. Plate tectonics has disproven the goddess Pele of Mt. Kilauea,  and the Roman god Vulcan of Mt. Etna. Yet, when science disproves these ideas, the "magisteria" of religion and faith scream at the top of their lungs that they are being "attacked." Would anyone seriously consider abandoning forensic pathology for a return to the days of church sanctioned medical theory of cruentation?

Of course religion complains of being attacked.  They're being called on their bullshit, and when told to put up or shut up, they have nothing of substance to offer, yet cannot stop blabbing.  Their god or their savior or their prophet told them to spread the word, so spread it they must.  Their belief has reached the point of delusion, where what they believe is true, MUST be true, and anything or anyone who says otherwise indulges in heresy, regardless of proof.

We're dealing with the longest standing lie in the history of mankind, here.  It has existed for millennia and has the weight of that time in its social inertia.  If it could exist without spreading, without indulging in proselytism, without insisting on its own misguided dominance, it might be tolerable.  All the evidence and history says it CANNOT.  We're living in the time of the showdown between rationality and irrationality right now, and the outcome of that showdown will determine humankind's direction for uncounted years to come.

Pardon me if I sound melodramatic, but that's how I see it.

Sam Harris made the observation, and correctly I think, that not all religions are equal. Judaism, the Amish, Mennonites, to name a few, do not proselytize. Unlike the counterparts of Christianity, Islam and Mormonism.  While we agree that the latter are intolerable, and a threat to mankind, are the former "tolerable?"

And, my question is based upon this. Judaism, for instance, doesn't come knocking at my door, Jains don't threaten my life if I poke fun at them, and the Amish don't openly threaten my freedom of conscience, or association. However, they do keep their children locked in ignorance and superstition (I'm referring to the Hasidic variants of Judaism, though Orthodox would also fit in). On the one hand, they don't bother or threaten me. On the other hand, they represent a form of xenophobia of the outside world which, by their very nature, precludes their adherents from fully experiencing the freedom and participation in the world that is a basic right of every human.

As regards children, that may be the next argument in this business.  Would teaching an unproven or questionable doctrine to a child, insisting on that doctrine and indeed, indoctrinating a child before he or she has the means to evaluate it for him or herself, amount to a violation of that child's civil rights?  In a society where religion is an option and not a given, such a train of thought should at least be considered.  Religions will protest, of course, since childhood indoctrination in religion is one of the primary means they employ to survive and expand, yet the untoward impact of religion on unsophisticated youth is well documented.

How the rights of children might be codified regarding early instruction would be a neat knot for someone schooled in the law to unravel.  About all I can do here is acknowledge the existence of the knot and the need for it to be examined.

You've certainly identified the Gordian Knot. Our society guarantees freedom of association which, when applied to these cults, means the freedom to be a xenophobe. Add to this, what in Illinois law is recognized as the "superior rights doctrine." What this doctrine states is that absent abuse, neglect, dependency, or a parent's inability or unwillingness to carry out normal day to day decisions concerning a child's welfare (food, clothing, shelter, and "basic" education), a parent has superior rights to direct and control their children over anyone else on the planet. And, of course, this applies to religious inculcation. There are limits, but the limits are the same as those placed on adults practicing their preferred form of superstition. No actual human sacrifice (symbolic cannibalism in the form of communion, however, is OK), no child participation in adult naked sex based fertility rituals, and... well, you get the idea. Short of these extremes, I don't really see the law changing this, so much as I see social pressure being the primary catalyst.

" ... this doctrine states is that absent abuse, neglect, dependency, or a parent's inability or unwillingness to carry out normal day to day decisions concerning a child's welfare (food, clothing, shelter, and "basic" education), a parent has superior rights to direct and control their children over anyone else on the planet."  When a child's right to learn facts not approved by the parent's belief system, such as evolution, ancient earth, and finding truth through science, this  limits the child's occupational options to a huge degree.  Indeed, a strictly limited education can preclude acceptance into a legitimate university program.  Such a case would be an aggressive stance for a lawyer to take, but I think there is some argument here.

A showdown would be nice, but religion is so evasive.

It is a privilege to live in a time where religion has lost its grip on the world and there is a contest rather than reason being punishable by death.

It depends on what one means by religion.  Einstein was religious in a way, and he had passionate convictions about how physics would work, that amounted to a kind of faith.  I read that when developing his theories, he would choose the most beautiful way, considering that to be the right way. 

And scientists can be kind of culturally religious, enjoying the traditions of their religion. 

Some liberal Christians seem to be essentially atheists, without supernatural beliefs, although they would passionately deny being atheists. 

By religion I mean something that requires belief in the supernatural and (most relevant to this disscussion) revealed knowledge.

As for people who do not believe but practice religion, (speaking under correction) they often "believe in belief" and do not have as much reason to oppose or reject science.

But, what is "supernatural"?  A cellphone would be a supernatural object to someone who was from a pre-technological society.  We have faith that it isn't supernatural.  Most of us don't know much about what exactly a cellphone is doing, but we trust that it comes from people who made it by reasoning and experimenting. 

Phenomena can be transferred from supernatural to natural by knowledge and exploration and reasoning. 

I think what you are talking about is whether one believes knowledge that comes from inner experience as a valid way of knowing the outside world.  

People can find things out about themselves by prayer or meditation or visions.  They can find out about their buried feelings, what they really want in life, find compassion and love for others.  And people can find things out about human nature, this way. 

But when people take their inner experiences as a valid way of knowing the universe, it's a mistake.  Doing that doesn't account for one's subjectivity, ignores the possibility of illusion. 

Mistakes can be fruitful, for scientists too.  Einstein DID have a faith that the universe worked a certain way, which didn't come from reason or experiment.  It was just his conviction.  It may have been misleading, for example he Believed that "God doesn't play dice with the universe" and it led to him rejecting quantum mechanics and being somewhat marginalized as a physicist later in his life.  But his faith may also have helped him in developing his relativity theories. 

Many scientists passionately believe in some theory, even when evidence piles up against it.  It's all the different scientists conflicting and discussing that gives science a long-term ability to figure out the truth, not any individual scientist being super-rational. 

As for whether religion necessarily conflicts with science, that depends on the religion.  I could make up a religion that doesn't conflict with science.  Perhaps our universe was designed by aliens long ago.  Perhaps our whole universe is a ball rolling on a floor in some higher universe, with a baby alien giggling at it.  You could believe that without cognitive dissonance. 

I found out about my subjectivity when my experience of the world changed a lot, because I quit eating gluten and a lot of other foods I had immune reactions to.  And many years before that, many things changed because of meditation.  I had, and I still have sometimes, spiritual experiences, a sense of the presence of God, different sometimes than others.  But I never took these experiences as evidence of the nature of the universe, objective reality.  It really is going too far, to do that, and it's going too far to take someone else's spiritual experiences as showing something about objective reality. 

So because my subjectivity changed, I got a sense that I was subjective.  This isn't something people naturally start out with, it's natural to take your subjective experience as having a kind of authority.  But science somewhat counteracts that illusion. 


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