Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
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07-07-2010, 02:29 PM
 
Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
So one of the "tenants" of this website is, "Religion and Science are not reconcilable." I don't believe this at all. Atheists are "logical" and "thinkers," which leads one to conclude that history is important in the eyes of atheists. I value history a lot: one must not make the mistakes previously made. This immense valuing of history is also important to atheists: they see the inconstancies in religious texts, doctrine, and the religious institutions in the past and present (which quickly turns into the past), see instances as unreconcilable, and wish to not repeat these mistakes. No arguments from anyone so far?

With the importance of history broken down, we can now turn to the issue of religion and science as being reconcilable. Why are these two things unreconcilable? Lets explore why the modern atheist believes these two things to be complete polar opposites: genocide, as in the world famous Holocaust, inter-religious disputes, depicted within the Muslim struggle between Suni and Shia Muslims, whose struggle is rooted in fine details of the religion, but the struggle's main conflict has to do with the rightful descendent of Muhammad, struggles between similar religions (Islam and Judaism in Israel/Palestine), religious missionaries leading idealogical and physical wars against natives, and more examples than people should be able to think of. All of these reasons point to something consistent, however correct or intended the consistency is: arrogance and ignorance. The atheist views these, and many other instances of religious strife and persecution as examples of disagreement sparked from a fundamental, unreconcilable thought of correctness of ones religion and ignorance of the others. So how does this affect the relationship between religion and science? Simple: the atheist views religious people as having the same views on religion as they do with other religions.

To a certain extent, the atheist is correct in having these attitudes. Over the past couple hundred years, religion has been used to suppress, oppress, subdue, and extinguish religious opposition. The Catholic church converting millions throughout Europe, asia, and the Americas, Muslims in Africa raping, killing, and mutilating thousands in the name of conversion or death for infidels, Muslims and Hindus murdering thousands of innocent people when India and Pakistan split. These are but a few examples of well-known religious strife that obscures the scope of religion. But with these examples of religious incomparability comes examples of the pertinent question of reconcilability between religion and science. Has there ever been a historical example, or preferably multiple examples, of religion and science meshing in harmony? Lets explore the question.

In the Golden Age of Islam, Muslims were regarded as highly civilized and scientifically advanced. Muslim kingdoms in Northern Africa and the Middle East were the first kingdoms to have hospitals, not religious healing temples or huts. These hospitals were dedicated to the advancement of medicine and human involvement in human health, not only relying on divine intervention. These hospitals were indeed religious institutions, but they did not rely on meager chanting and use of herbs; they actively sought out new methods and medicines to heal their patients. Muslim cities in this "Golden Age" were also well known for their religious acceptance. Christians and Jews were welcome with open arms in Muslim cities as brothers and sisters in worship of the same god. No religious wars were waged, only religious debate and revel in what they believed were common ground.

In the Christian world, Nicolaus Copernicus discovered and made it widely known that the earth orbited the sun in the early 16th century, contrary to Catholic doctrine, such as in Psalm. This contradiction was viewed as a threat, as blasphemy against the Catholic church. Copernicus' ideas were banned and he was an outcast, but were his ideas really against Catholic doctrine? Copernicus, and later Galileo Galilei, argued that these ideas of heleocentrism didn't contradict the Catholic faith and the idea that the earth was the center of the universe. These men used their faith and their curiosity of the world, along with tools to help them explain the world around them. Their ideas were actually a confirmation of faith for them, rather than condemning it. The Catholic church condemned and banned these men and ideas, but for these men, the ideas of science, exploration, and curiosity of the world around them, not just accepting facts blindly, was how they reaffirmed their faith.

The strongest support for the reconcilability of religion and science comes from sciences' biggest argument against religion: Charles Darwin himself. Darwin conceptualized and put into common and logical practice the ideas of natural selection and survival of the fittest, as well as the grand daddy of them all: evolution. His ideas of slow changing and evolving based on natural surroundings and the extinction of species not suited for survival revolutionized science, but did it revolutionize religion too? Did Darwin view evolution as negating and refuting religion entirely? Not a chance. Charles Darwin was himself a theist, even after writing his world famous book. True, his views on religion, mainly the church, became much less faithful and much more thoughtful and contemplative. Towards the end of his life he viewed himself as much more of an agnostic, not an atheist. He himself didn't see religion as completely separate; science could be the answer to how and religion could be the answer to why. He thought the idea of religion and a creator as highly possible, it was organized religion that he disagreed with. Why must one go to church on sundays? Why couldn't he take walks and contemplate religion and religious doctrine instead of attend a weekly service where he is dictated thoughts and ideas? In this sense, Charles Darwin was an atheist, but he believed in a creator and accepted the possibility, if not the probability of a creator and something beyond us.

The father of evolution, and thereby the father of modern atheists, or at minimum modern questioners of religion, had ideas of the reconcilability of religion and science. What a monumental thought. How could religion and science be reconcilable with so many examples of religions strife? It's because the widely known facts and figures are typically overrepresented, while the examples of acceptance and cooperation are underrepresented. The every day person doesn't use religion as a weapon of murder, discrimination, and hate, they use it as a way to make sense of their life and what they're doing. A majority of what we see between religion and science are between people who find the idea of science as completely disrespecting and repulsive with respect to religion and people who find religion as illogical and unthinkable to compare to science, but what about the people that do find these two ideas comparable, nay, inseparable? What about those Muslim kings, Christian astronomers, philosophers, Hindu faithfuls who are open to learning about other ideas, but a stronghold to their own? Are these people wrong? Just because a majority of people, or maybe even a majority of what we see as modern human beings, is religions strife, doesn't mean that they are incompatible. History is important to atheists; it shows us our mistakes as a species and we build upon these mistakes, but we must not neglect the other lessons that history teaches us. Religion and science have a history of instability and differences, but it also has a history of acceptance and stability. How does one view religion and science and how do they use them to explain each other or refute each other? Maybe religion is unreconcilable in the eyes of science, but is science reconcilable in the eyes of religion? Both of those questions are a personal belief, but the simple statement of, "Religion is incompatible with Science" may not be the case. One must look at the lessons of history, to the everyman, to the less viewed example of acceptance and curiosity in order to truly answer the question of science and religion.

After reading this short synapsis, how do my fellow atheists view me? Did you think I was an atheist from reading this? Well I am. I do see the inconsistencies with organized religion, which is why I choose to study religion, which in turn reaffirms my own beliefs in atheism. I believe in spiritualist and the belief in man and the world. I seek a certain tranquility in myself and in my relationship between me and the world and me and my fellow man, but this doesn't harbor animosity towards theists. I understand that some people need to believe in something, religion, and this might cause people to look over or rationalize inconsistencies. Not everybody has the will or the desire to stand alone and accept my view of mortality. I view my mortality and inability to "live forever in the kingdom of heaven" as a gift unmatched. In the light of religion, I believe that science is reconcilable with religion. If I look through the eyes of a religious faithful, I can reconcile these two ideas. In the light of science, there are some questions that man has about science that aren't answered and have the possibility of never being answered, so the possibility of religion explaining these possibly unexplainable questions isn't farfetched by any means. Religion and science ARE reconcilable, the extent and contexts are liquid and ever changing depending on the time period, region, and popular views, which is why the blanket statement between religion and science is not only inconsistent, but wrong.

I am not attacking this website, on the contrary, I appreciate a website dedicated the my own beliefs and a place that has literature and rationalizations based on specific instances with which I can better affirm my own beliefs, like where the website goes through a few examples of the bible. I'm simply voicing my disagreement with this tenant and wish for people to voice their agreement or disagreement. I appreciate a good debate, so all opinions are welcome. I guess this view comes from the fundamental acceptance, but not agreement with theists which might not be shared by all.
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08-07-2010, 08:07 AM (This post was last modified: 08-07-2010 08:14 AM by Unbeliever.)
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
First of all, welcome to the forums!

(07-07-2010 02:29 PM)aulen Wrote:  With the importance of history broken down, we can now turn to the issue of religion and science as being reconcilable. Why are these two things unreconcilable? Lets explore why the modern atheist believes these two things to be complete polar opposites: genocide, as in the world famous Holocaust, inter-religious disputes, depicted within the Muslim struggle between Suni and Shia Muslims, whose struggle is rooted in fine details of the religion, but the struggle's main conflict has to do with the rightful descendent of Muhammad, struggles between similar religions (Islam and Judaism in Israel/Palestine), religious missionaries leading idealogical and physical wars against natives, and more examples than people should be able to think of. All of these reasons point to something consistent, however correct or intended the consistency is: arrogance and ignorance.

This is not why we believe science and religion to be irreconcilable. This is called a straw man argument.

We believe science and religion to be irreconcilable for the simple reason that they are polar opposites. Whereas science says "Oh, I don't know how this works. Let's go look and see if we can find out," and is willing to change its position if new evidence becomes available, religion works by dogma. Its position doesn't change no matter how much evidence is given to it. Rather than starting from a position of ignorance and working towards truth, religion states "We already know. This is the answer, and there is no possibility of it being anything else."
This is not to say that there are not certain areas of scientific research which religion condones, or even encourages, as you bring up here:

Quote:In the Golden Age of Islam, Muslims were regarded as highly civilized and scientifically advanced. Muslim kingdoms in Northern Africa and the Middle East were the first kingdoms to have hospitals, not religious healing temples or huts. These hospitals were dedicated to the advancement of medicine and human involvement in human health, not only relying on divine intervention. These hospitals were indeed religious institutions, but they did not rely on meager chanting and use of herbs; they actively sought out new methods and medicines to heal their patients.

This is entirely true, but this is not really an example of science and religion working in harmony as much as it is an example of them leaving each other alone. Islamic holy texts did not advance the cause of science. Actual empirical research did. Islam just got out of its way.

Quote:In the Christian world, Nicolaus Copernicus discovered and made it widely known that the earth orbited the sun in the early 16th century, contrary to Catholic doctrine, such as in Psalm. This contradiction was viewed as a threat, as blasphemy against the Catholic church. Copernicus' ideas were banned and he was an outcast, but were his ideas really against Catholic doctrine?

Yes.

Quote:Copernicus, and later Galileo Galilei, argued that these ideas of heleocentrism didn't contradict the Catholic faith and the idea that the earth was the center of the universe.

Source? And even if it is true, it hardly matters, as they were quite clearly wrong. Heliocentrism is, by definition, the position that the Earth moves around the sun, which would mean that the Earth is not the center of the universe.

Quote:These men used their faith and their curiosity of the world, along with tools to help them explain the world around them.

No. They used their curiosity and the tools available to them to make the discovery. Afterwards, they attempted to reconcile it with their faith.
Faith didn't make that discovery. You are attempting to equivocate between scientists having belief and belief being scientific.

Quote:The strongest support for the reconcilability of religion and science comes from sciences' biggest argument against religion: Charles Darwin himself. Darwin conceptualized and put into common and logical practice the ideas of natural selection and survival of the fittest, as well as the grand daddy of them all: evolution. His ideas of slow changing and evolving based on natural surroundings and the extinction of species not suited for survival revolutionized science, but did it revolutionize religion too? Did Darwin view evolution as negating and refuting religion entirely? Not a chance. Charles Darwin was himself a theist, even after writing his world famous book. True, his views on religion, mainly the church, became much less faithful and much more thoughtful and contemplative. Towards the end of his life he viewed himself as much more of an agnostic, not an atheist. He himself didn't see religion as completely separate; science could be the answer to how and religion could be the answer to why.

And again you misunderstand by what we mean by "incompatible". Science is incompatible with a dogmatic, religious mindset, the kind that will reject any scientific theory that contradicts their belief. Belief which does not necessitate such rejection, however, is hardly incompatible with science. Fallacious, yes, as it rests on god-of-the-gaps arguments and bare assertion, but not incompatible with science.

Quote:The father of evolution, and thereby the father of modern atheists

No. You are confusing correlation with cause and effect. Atheism and an acceptance of evolution often occur together, yes, but evolution is not the reason for atheism. Not all atheists accept evolution, and there were atheists prior to the discovery of evolution.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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08-07-2010, 11:36 AM
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
As frustrating as it may be, I find myself once again needing to define "atheist". It really is simple, and too often over complicated. "Atheist" simply means "not theist". Therefore, you cannot define an atheist by what they believe, only by what they DO NOT believe.

There's a section on this site called "what we believe". Just because I belong to the forum doesn't nescessarily mean I agree with that part, nor do I think it's titled properly. Yes, for the most part I do believe what is in that section, but it's not what defines an atheist. What defines an atheist is their lack of theistic beliefs. Simple. Thats it. Thats all. No more explaination should be nescessary.

Evolutionist does NOT equal atheist

Satan worshipper does NOT equal atheist

Immoral does NOT equal atheist

Darwinist does NOT equal atheist

Flying spaghetti monster idolizer does NOT equal atheist

Atheists tend to share similar beliefs, simply because, as atheists, they do not believe in theism, and therefore often reason in a similar manner. There are exceptions, and this is not a defining characteristic of an atheist, only a similarity.

Do I really need to ramble on about it any more?
Seriously, stop trying to make blanket statements about something until you can define it!
I am an atheist. THAT IS THE ONLY THING YOU KNOW ABOUT ME. I AM NOT A THEIST!!!

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08-07-2010, 02:54 PM
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
(08-07-2010 11:36 AM)Stark Raving Wrote:  As frustrating as it may be, I find myself once again needing to define "atheist". It really is simple, and too often over complicated. "Atheist" simply means "not theist". Therefore, you cannot define an atheist by what they believe, only by what they DO NOT believe.

doesnt theist mean a person who believes in a personal god? and deist means a person who believes in a god who doesnt affect the world after creating it?
so all god-believers are not considered theists and all non-theist are not atheist.

i might be fucking a comma here, but thats what nerds with no imagination doSmile

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08-07-2010, 03:28 PM
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
(08-07-2010 11:36 AM)Stark Raving Wrote:  As frustrating as it may be, I find myself once again needing to define "atheist". It really is simple, and too often over complicated. "Atheist" simply means "not theist". Therefore, you cannot define an atheist by what they believe, only by what they DO NOT believe.

There's a section on this site called "what we believe". Just because I belong to the forum doesn't nescessarily mean I agree with that part, nor do I think it's titled properly. Yes, for the most part I do believe what is in that section, but it's not what defines an atheist. What defines an atheist is their lack of theistic beliefs. Simple. Thats it. Thats all. No more explaination should be nescessary.

Evolutionist does NOT equal atheist

Satan worshipper does NOT equal atheist

Immoral does NOT equal atheist

Darwinist does NOT equal atheist

Flying spaghetti monster idolizer does NOT equal atheist

Atheists tend to share similar beliefs, simply because, as atheists, they do not believe in theism, and therefore often reason in a similar manner. There are exceptions, and this is not a defining characteristic of an atheist, only a similarity.

Do I really need to ramble on about it any more?
Seriously, stop trying to make blanket statements about something until you can define it!
I am an atheist. THAT IS THE ONLY THING YOU KNOW ABOUT ME. I AM NOT A THEIST!!!

I find myself is a similar situation all too often. I've watched arguments about theism. The theist claims that atheism is a religion, the atheist retorts with "Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color" and I have to disagree with both sides. Atheism is a lack of belief in a god. It is not a lack of religion, you can follow an atheistic religion, such as Scientology or Buddhism. The reason why atheism is not a religion, is because it is simply to vague. No tenants, no rules, no organized structure. An atheist is not a logical thinker who follows science, an atheist lacks a belief in god. It use to bug me a lot, but I've never been against the evolution of language. While it still annoys me, I've come to admit that atheist no long just means "A lack of belief in a god".

What's even worse is that too many different people claim too many different definitions of the word "Atheist". A person who denies god, a person who has no religion, a logical thinker who follows science only, a person without a soul, a person who worships Satan, a person who claims that there is absolutely no possibly of there being a god. Well, I'm sticking with "A person who lacks a belief in a god". I call myself an atheist, because my full title is "Hard atheistic agnostic determinist". A little bit too wordy for my tastes.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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08-07-2010, 07:41 PM
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
I get the whole evolution of language thing. I really do. The problem is, like you said Ashley, there are too many "definitions" of atheist. Thats why I think it's all that much more important to stick to the real definition. In english, by putting an "a" in front of the root word, you are making it "not" the root word. For example, symetrical means a mirror image, or even on both sides. (If you want a dictionary definition so be it, but you get the point) Asymetrical mean NOT symetrical, or uneven.

If you really want to mince words, I suppose atheist doesn't cover deism. If I get into that deep a conversation with someone I don't mind explaining that I don't believe in any god, personal or not, if that individual needs me to make that distinction. But whatever way you look at it, atheism isn't a belief, it only describes a lack of belief. Atheists don't have tenets, morals, rules, laws, or beliefs that they share solely because they're atheists.

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08-07-2010, 08:04 PM
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
In regards to Stark Raving
And yet sop people, both atheists and not, regard atheism as a set of beliefs, rather than just lacking one belief. Really, I would love it if atheist just kept it's current meaning, but I'm becoming part of a shrinking population. As I said, both atheists and theists are adopting new definitions. It's counter-productive for a language when you use a definition of a word that isn't commonly accepted.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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09-07-2010, 02:57 AM
 
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
(07-07-2010 02:29 PM)aulen Wrote:  So one of the "tenants" of this website is, "Religion and Science are not reconcilable."

Actually, science can reconcile with religion quite easily. All it takes is a scientific theory supported by evidence which predicts a god-shaped gap in scientific knowledge that cannot be explained by anything else, and then scientifically prove the existence of an omnipotent supernatural being which fits perfectly into the gap. Do not confuse this with the religious god-of-the-gaps approach as these gaps are clearly not god-shaped at all.

If religion can reconcile with science, well, that's a completely different question.
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09-07-2010, 09:47 AM
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
On this note, did anyone watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night when he interviewed Marilynne Robinson about her book, "Absence of Mind"? Very disappointing all in all for Jon. Marilynne makes the claim that science and religion don't contradict, that science deals with the natural world, and that religion deals with the supernatural. Another point was later made that science and religion both use faith a lot. It's not on YouTube yet, so I can't get a video.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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09-07-2010, 07:23 PM
 
RE: Religion and Science: Historically Reconcilable
Well, I never expect Jon to be a defender of the sciences (not really his role), but I hope his audience is sensible enough to see the fallacy of that. It also pissed me off during the Morgan Freeman interview (I love you Morgan, but stay the fuck out of science if you don't know what you are talking about), where Jon just let Morgan say that in the end, science had accomplished nothing, and what they can't explain, they simply call God. That is quite ridiculous, and while I do enjoy Morgan's show (it gives exposition to some of the more fringe scientific theories instead of the usual crappy Big Bang animations and rambling on about basic physics concepts as if the people who watch the Science Channel are your average Joes), it is quite clear that Morgan has no idea what he's talking about.

Jon is a Jew, though I'm not sure if he's a secular Jew. Very little is posted about his religious affiliations.

I think often in debate science is often framed like a separate set of "beliefs" that is quite like another religion. This is incorrect. Science is the pursuit of knowledge, answers, and the exploration of our universe (or something like that). Science seeks explanations. Religion originally was man's best explanation before the advent of modern technology and the scientific method.

"Reconciling" science and religion is like comparing apples and oranges. You could argue that two Abrahamic religions are reconcilable, because they are two sets of beliefs, similar to two political philosophies. Science is not as set of beliefs. Scientists do not go out and indoctrinate their children in any set of morals derived from science. Theists will often attempt to fight science as if it is another heretic religion. If tomorrow, overwhelming evidence was found for the existence of the Christian God, then the scientific community would accept this to be true, because they seek only knowledge and the truth about what really is out there. Religion is one of the possible routes to finding this truth (just another theory), but it has been proven to be false by evidence, and is therefore no longer considered among the realm of science. That is different than thinking that a certain religion is heresy and killing those who follow it.

My two cents, if it makes any sense.
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