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DeWitz

Science and Theology: Incompatible?

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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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Synthesis, not sure. Ugly clash? Definitely.

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Posted (edited)

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
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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.

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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.

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

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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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Posted (edited)

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.

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

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

How so?

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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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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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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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Posted (edited)

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
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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.

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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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Posted (edited)

Not always, no.

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

In regard to the bible,

much wasn't intended to be literal,

it is subject to misinterpretation

and there is dispute over which books

were or were not actually inspired.

Admittedly, not all of them inspire me.

And, to complicate things,

some religions leave beliefs, not core,

and devotions optional.

I wonder how people can believe

in physical evolution

and not spiritual evolvement.

The former without the latter

reflects survival of the worst

(namely, eugenicists).

Edited by aka CAT

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I wonder how people can believe

in physical evolution

and not spiritual evolvement.

The former without the latter

reflects survival of the worst

(namely, eugenicists).

Well you see one has evidence. Bringing up eugenics kind of implies you're trying to invoke emotion, and not anything remotely factual.
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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.

I couldn't have said it better myself. I'm a theist, a Christian, and I think evolution is the most logical explanation that we have for the world around us, at least at this time. But in no way does this conflict with my faith. I don't believe in a God of the Gaps; rather I believe there is a God behind all of creation and the natural world. Like Saint Thomas Aquinas argued, He is the first uncaused cause that sets everything else into motion. Precisely how that happened, I will leave that to the realm of science to discover. The Bible should not be used as a science textbook; it should be used as an instruction manual on how to have a relationship with God.

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People say that certain historical figures have melded science and faith, but they're wrong. Someone of faith who practices good science is not combining the two. Science is science, it doesn't matter if its a priest, a surgeon or a window cleaner doing it. But you cannot practice good science by using religious faith as your guide - saying, for example, that light splits into colours through a prism because that's the way God wants it, will get you exactly nowhere.

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I do not think science and spirituality are incompatible. I think in the end, they will support each other. The problem really lies at the extremes of the two. Opposite ends of a bell curve are very different but still on the same curve. The answer usually lies somewhere in the middle. I think much of spirituality really is really trying to answer more fundamental questions than science is capable of, but dogma develops and the now religious view is unable to be let go of as science catches up. In a way spirituality is leading science as philosophy generally tends to do that. By "leading", I mean pointing the arrow of inquiry.

I'm a fan of science even trained in a social science myself, and I'm also what someone might call an agnostic theist. But I don't like the label of theist because the very nature of the word implies I am basing my views on theology. I am not. There is plenty of room in known science for a creator or even simply a universal intelligence. Does that mean there has to be one? Of course not. The god of the gaps is a valid criticism, but so is the non god of the gaps. Science at the moment has only peeled back some layers of fundamental realty, dispelled many myths, and makes other ones improbable, but it has also revealed that we sit on the top of an iceberg in an ocean of seawater and oil with a few if not many unknown layers. The fundamentalists have their doctrine, and the empiricist's have theirs. Yes these two clash, but they just make the most noise. The rest live in the middle somewhere probably much closer to truth then either. That's my opinion anyway.

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Posted (edited)

Science do not require any kind of synthesis with theology, in the contrary, science must keeped free from any kind of theology

originated influence. Some scientific results or research projects may be subjects for discussions inside the theologic community

but this one-way road should be kept as it is. A theologic influence on science would just lead to hindrance and deferment.

Here is a very good example on how the church try to prevent scientific research in case it will not fit into their matrix. Stepen Hawkings visited a cosmology conference held at the Vatican in 2006 and a statement given by Pope John Paul II, was quoted

by Hawking as follows: "It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because

that was the moment of creation and the work of God."

This is an unacceptable statement and a very clear indicator therefore that the church still try to limit and prevent science as it did in

the middle ages even if the tools of suppression like torture, burning and execution are not a part of their exertion of power anymore

but the basic concept is still present and executed.

Edited by toast

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Posted (edited)

With respect the question asked in the OP title, there is no law stating that a theology must be unreasonable, so I would suggest a synthesis of faith and reason is perfectly reasonable. That is not to suggest that I view any particular faith as 'reasonable'. ;)

I'm not sure we can confidently claim religion/faith and science have different purposes, as in both the practitioner seeks to explain what is unknown. One difference between them is the methodology used in seeking that explanation. I would agree with Emma and others that the different methodologies cannot be successfully combined to produce a discipline which, like science, is based on rational, empirical, observations.

Science and religion/faith certainly are able to co-exist - but I would argue they cannot "work together" as PA and others have argued. This is not because they ask different questions - as I do not believe they do - but because the practitioner is required to make different, and incompatible, fundamental assumptions about the universe before applying the methodology each discipline employs to answer the questions they seek answers to.

Edited by Leonardo

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

I agree, although I wouldn't use the word irrational. I would put it that science can co-exist with almost any ideology. I'm sure there were more than a few Nazi scientists that believed in the national socialist goals and not merely paid lip-service to it.

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I'm not sure we can confidently claim religion/faith and science have different purposes, as in both the practitioner seeks to explain what is unknown. One difference between them is

Science and religion/faith certainly are able to co-exist - but I would argue they cannot "work together" as PA and others have argued. This is not because they ask different questions - as I do not believe they do - but because the practitioner is required to make different, and incompatible, fundamental assumptions about the universe before applying the methodology each discipline employs to answer the questions they seek answers to.

I think people that are frontline scientists, yet also highly spiritual would disagree with this.

Methodology leads to results, then there is the interpretation.

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Posted (edited)

I think people that are frontline scientists, yet also highly spiritual would disagree with this.

Why? As I said, it is possible for religion and science to co-exist, so a person could be both religious and a scientist. That does not mean they apply some sort of mixed religio-scientific methodology to either discipline (or if they do they are not performing 'science'). Both disciplines apply different methodologies using different assumptions about the universe to glean the answers to enquiries. The disciplines do not "work together", but can co-exist.

Edited by Leonardo

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