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Science and Theology: Incompatible?

religion; metaphysics beliefs; philosophy

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#1    DeWitz

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:52 PM

Often in UM, people of faith and religious belief are rejected by the scientifically-minded posters. My question is whether faith and reason are always, ultimately, at odds. Much of the dialogue tends, in my opinion, to reducing positions to stereotypes (the rigid scientist; the gullible person of faith). There are great historical (the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) and contemporary (Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne; David Ray Griffin) figures who have knit a synthesis of sorts between science and faith. I believe their work is instructive and commendable.

Are there UMers who consider such a synthesis possible, if not desirable?

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#2    ambelamba

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 10:31 PM

Synthesis, not sure. Ugly clash? Definitely.

They came with a Bible and their religion. stole our land, crushed our spirit, and now they tell us we should be thankful to the Lord for being saved.

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#3    redhen

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 10:42 PM

Sure it's possible. A quote from Galileo comes to mind; "The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.".

I think your choice of Teilhard de Chardin may be misplaced, he was after all condemned by the Jesuit order.

There are several modern scientists that can serve as examples though. Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project wrote a book on the topic; The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

The biologist Ken Miller also wrote a book; Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution

They both make compelling arguments, and I see no inherent conflict. The showstopper for me is the problem of evil.  

I think Stephen Jay Gould is on the right track with his Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) theory; "that science and religion each have "a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority," and these two domains do not overlap".

Reading that again, it sounds like we've come full circle to Galileo's proposition.



Edited by redhen, 07 May 2014 - 11:05 PM.


#4    Kenemet

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:37 PM

They have diffferent standards of "how to determine the truth."

In other words, the way a religious teacher determines whether something is true is by consulting their deity/spirits and consulting their religious books or other religious material.  Occasionally it is also done by divination methods.

They would never conduct hundreds of experiments to determine (for example) what is the exact way to say the word, "Amen" and tweak it until saying "amen" produced the exact same results every time you said it, no matter what religion you belonged to.  They would not run comparisons between deities, measure deity power levels, and refuse to believe in any deity that did not produce results for 95% of the time.


#5    lightly

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:43 PM

hm    if  science ever discovers  God..  or some sort of unified awareness as being the source of physicality,  the two will become one.    Until then, it looks like some will believe and some won't.

Important:  The above may contain errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and other limitations.

#6    notforgotten

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:44 PM

As camera technology improves -  we will see more and better evidence of the spirit world.


#7    willowdreams

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:45 PM

I Think religious pple tend to forget that science is not about them. Science really could care less about the bible.

Science has nothing to do with 'god', as in proving or dissaproving.

If religous people want to, al lthey need to do is tell themselves that science is just another way of proving HOW god did something.

Here is the main issue to me. I really could care less about religion in general as long as religious pple keep their religion to themselves. Do not bring it into the schools. Science belongs in schools. You do not see scientist going to church and protesting. You do not see scientist or athiest protesting on church lawns, you do not see scientist or athiest protesting inside the homes of parents about them teaching religious beliefs to their kids.

So keep religion out of the science class and school in general unless it is in history/social science classes and religion of a region is being taught in order to understand the people and what their traditioins means.

Thats my take on it.

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#8    DeWitz

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:48 PM

View PostKenemet, on 07 May 2014 - 11:37 PM, said:

They have diffferent standards of "how to determine the truth."

In other words, the way a religious teacher determines whether something is true is by consulting their deity/spirits and consulting their religious books or other religious material.  Occasionally it is also done by divination methods.

They would never conduct hundreds of experiments to determine (for example) what is the exact way to say the word, "Amen" and tweak it until saying "amen" produced the exact same results every time you said it, no matter what religion you belonged to.  They would not run comparisons between deities, measure deity power levels, and refuse to believe in any deity that did not produce results for 95% of the time.

View PostKenemet, on 07 May 2014 - 11:37 PM, said:

They have diffferent standards of "how to determine the truth."

In other words, the way a religious teacher determines whether something is true is by consulting their deity/spirits and consulting their religious books or other religious material.  Occasionally it is also done by divination methods.

They would never conduct hundreds of experiments to determine (for example) what is the exact way to say the word, "Amen" and tweak it until saying "amen" produced the exact same results every time you said it, no matter what religion you belonged to.  They would not run comparisons between deities, measure deity power levels, and refuse to believe in any deity that did not produce results for 95% of the time.

This is plainly true. Science and theology operate with completely different methodologies. I would not expect those disparate methodologies to intersect much at all.

Edited by DeWitz, 07 May 2014 - 11:51 PM.

[previously incarnate as 'szentgyorgy']

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#9    DeWitz

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:49 PM

View Postnotforgotten, on 07 May 2014 - 11:44 PM, said:

As camera technology improves -  we will see more and better evidence of the spirit world.

How so?

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#10    willowdreams

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:55 PM

View Postnotforgotten, on 07 May 2014 - 11:44 PM, said:

As camera technology improves -  we will see more and better evidence of the spirit world.

Camera has improved a thousandfold when you consider more then just the 'camera'. Have you see images from space from telescopes and such?

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#11    DeWitz

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:58 PM

View Postwillowdreams, on 07 May 2014 - 11:55 PM, said:

Camera has improved a thousandfold when you consider more then just the 'camera'. Have you see images from space from telescopes and such?

Cameras will capture 'the spirit world?'

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#12    Paranoid Android

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:19 AM

I think science and theology are asking fundamentally different questions.  Science attempts to explain the What and the How of our universe - How did it come to be, what processes were involved.  Theology attempts to explain the Who and the Why - Why am I here, Who caused it to be so.  Using this broad approach, there's no reason why science and theology cannot work together.  It is only the hardcore extremists (on both sides) who demand that you must accept one at the expense of the other.

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#13    willowdreams

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:22 AM

View PostDeWitz, on 07 May 2014 - 11:58 PM, said:

Cameras will capture 'the spirit world?'

to me, capturing the events of the history of the universe, IS about as spiritual as you can get!!!

If we were going to capture something like the spirit world that notforgotten is talking about, wouldn't we have done so by now? I do not believe in it to begin with, but there ya go.

Again, this is my opinion and I am well aware that many pple believe in heaven and hell and the 'so called' spirit world.

I do not.

Edited by willowdreams, 08 May 2014 - 12:22 AM.

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#14    aka CAT

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 05:11 AM

One can be a scientist and believe in God.
Many scientific discoveries have affirmed my faith,
as there is much I cannot accept as mere chance.
Plus, while some would rationalize anything,
thankfulness won't let me deny miracles.


#15    Arbenol

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 05:16 AM

View PostDeWitz, on 07 May 2014 - 09:52 PM, said:

My question is whether faith and reason are always, ultimately, at odds.

Not always, no.

But when religious beliefs can be shown to be demonstrably wrong then it's inevitable.

So, you may as well ask the same question of any irrational belief.

Religious beliefs don't necessarily have to fall into that category, but they often do. Any belief that is consistent with what is known about how our universe works will not find itself in conflict with any scientific knowledge.

I think the conflict is amplified when people demand of religion the same standards of evidence that science uses. To me, this is not unreasonable, but many believers cry "foul" at this. Some will claim that science answers the "how, what" questions, whilst religion addresses the "why". But, if you don't use the same standards of proof, you can't claim to answer the question to an equivalent standard.

Scientific endeavour has striven, with considerable success, to answer the 'what' and 'how' questions. Religions appear to have settled and stagnated on the (many) centuries old answers to the 'why' questions.





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