"Reconciling" Science and Relgion

What is the motivation to reconcile science with religion? Cognitive dissonance?

If science happens upon a proposition already “answered” by religion, that proposition will receive no special treatment and will eventually be deemed “true” or “false” (provisionally, of course) via the so-called scientific method.

All proposition of religion are to be taken on faith. Period. Is not the act of inquiry itself “sinful” (in so much as it represents a lack of faith)?

There are those of us who believe that religion is about things like morals, values, how we should treat our fellow human being, and how we should act towards God (yes, I’m coming from a Christian perspective), and that science is about the natural world around us.

Then how is religion different from moral philosophy? Don’t most religions - or religious leaders - claim that their moral views have special importance from being handed down from an entity who has special authority by being powerful and/or a creator.

Now, how do you know this entity exists? For yourself, faith is fine, but if a religion wants to have authority over anyone, just assertions through faith are not going to be enough. There needs to be some evidence - and that is where religion and science collide, as science looks at the evidence religions offer for a god, and find it lacking.

If religion wants to be no more than a place where people of like ethnic or moral backgrounds gather to read poetry and listen to beautiful music, (and have bake sales) then no evidence is required. Anything more, and I want to see some data.

Now, you will probably respond that your brand of religion is not exclusive, and that your god never interferes in a way where evidence can be collected. I content that you would feel quite different 300 years ago, and your admirable view of religion is a result of science knocking down evidence that was used to support claims of truth. Ethical and intelligent religious people understand this and have withdrawn claims of being special. There are others who would rather ignore or try to refute science.

I have a live and let live attitude. I don’t care if you, or others, believe or not, so I’m not going to try and convince you to believe what I do. Also, the points you bring up have been debated to death around here so I see no point in debating them again.

More or less. Science makes religion looks like what it is; a collection of empty, worthless assertions. Or worse, outright denials of reality. Science makes religion looks bad because it works, while religion does not. And because science by seeking the truth has forced religion to retreat again and again from anything science gains the ability to study, to keep from being constantly embarrassed by science demonstrating that it is wrong. Religion is the vampire to the sun of science; it hides from the destroying light and goes up in smoke at its touch.

So every so often followers of religion try to either warp science to claim that science supports it; or they try to creatively interpret its claims to fit science; neither approach works very well. They are incompatible; science is about facts and reality, while religion is about delusion and empty claims; no amount of rhetorical wriggling on the part of the believers will change that. But they don’t like science overshadowing religion, so they keep trying.

Not much of a debate, then.

:frowning: I blew it again. STUPID! :smack: STUPID! :smack: STUPID! :smack:

OK, seriously, I answered the OP’s question, and I know that there are other theists here who will be more than happy to debate you guys.

It’s contained in the definition of religion. Philosophy is a category of knowledge. Religion is a communitarian function based around a particular philosophical ideal and the communitarian rituals that surround it.

You’re just using the word religion incorrectly. Religion merely refers to the community that coheres around a particular philosophical ideal. That’s it, that’s all. If there is no community, it’s not a religious belief it’s a philosophical one. But there is no difference outside of that. Religion still contains philosophy.

So the Religion is the tradition that imparts the moral philosophy. When you are going to speak in such vague categorical terms, nothing separates religion from moral philosophy because religion IS moral philosophy, it’s just moral philosophy with a structured social culture devoted to inculcating that moral philosophy.

The mistake is not in trying to reconcile in religion with science, the mistake is thinking that this is necessary for some reason. It’s not for the reasons pointed out above. Religion is about inculcating values, and maintaining a community. Science is about understanding the material world. There is no inherent conflict. Sometimes there is specific conflict like when a religious sect will not release a discredited comment on the nature of the material world due to doctrinal puritanism, but that doesn’t reflect on religion as a whole.

And no, theism is not a necessary part of religion. Belief in a higher power is, but that higher power could be something as vague as ‘truth’.

I understand that. I was brought up Jewish, and we had not the slightest interest in converting anyone, since we figured they were just as well off (and maybe better off) not being Jewish. Christians, I understand, think somewhat differently.

My question is this: do you think the moral values you have gained from belief are any more correct or persuasive than the ethical values I have developed through logic? Note I didn’t say through atheism, since atheism has nothing to do with ethical or moral values except saying that they do not come from any god.

You’re going to get into trouble with BillO. Bad enough taking Christ out of Christmas; you are taking God out of religion.
Ayn Rand collected a community of disciples around her philosophy. Is Randism a religion, despite it being explicitly atheistic?

Modern religions have matured into things where your “philosophical ideal” makes sense. (Kind of, but I’ll accept it for the moment.) Many religions, especially ancient and tribal ones, don’t. They are pretty much the pure worship of a powerful deity, with rituals growing around that worship incorporated. So, I don’t buy your definition, which seems to cover a philosophical school with very enthusiastic adherents.

But I go back to my point. There are lots of schools of moral philosophy (let’s distinguish morals not rooted in god belief as ethics, to be clear) which don’t appeal to god, while morals coming from religions do. We can argue about not killing from an ethical point of view, but from a religious point of view we’d not commit murder because God said not to. (And then we can give reasons why this commandment is good.)

If a certain moral precept from a Holy Book could be shown to cause more suffering than it cures, or shown to be self-contradictory or illogical, do you think it can be ignored by believers? How would the list of things religious people consider to be moral rules change if God were to be proven not to exist - or their God anyway. Why should a religious person follow the word of God any more than the word of Yoda? The reason clearly is that they would think that God is real, and has special authority. That proposition is exactly where religion and science come into conflict.

Truth does not hand down commandments. Neither does the universe. And, I’ll repeat - if it were not for science making claims of traditional god existence increasingly tenuous, do you think you would have this position? Don’t get me wrong, it is a much better position than that of someone who closes his eyes to the evidence, but it seems to me one that accepts that God is dead, or, more accurately, never existed.

To answer not in the context of a reply to someone else, if “religion” makes no claims about the truth of the thing being worshiped, then there is no conflict. If the documents driving a religion are agreed on as fiction, there is no conflict. You may be inspired by the Wizard of Oz, but that does not mean you need to compute the carrying power of tornadoes. If, however, religious documents are seen as factual accountings of the universe, then science gets to check them.

Religion gets jealous because science gets all the cool toys and is playing “me too!”

I am not taking God out of religion, I am just using the word religion correctly.

I guess it depends on how the tradition is propagated. If it’s around one person during their lifetime and has no staying power that’s more of a cult than a religion, but really cult/religion is a matter of scale more than anything.

Not just modern religions. Eastern religions often lack some sort of God figurehead. Buddhists don’t worship Buddha anymore than Platonists worship Plato. Buddhism is older than Christianity.

No, from a Judeo-Christian-Islamist Middle-Eastern monotheistic religious point of view we can say that. Not all religions believe that individual human life is sacred. The Aztecs certainly did not seem to believe that. You are using religion synonymously with Judeo-Christian morality basically. You can just use the term Judeo-Christian, or Judaism, or Christianity or Islam. None of them encompass the entirety of the category that is ‘religion’. One can be religious and not believe in God, and one can be religious and believe that murder is an acceptable part of worship in the form of human sacrifice.

These sorts of issues are part of the religious dialectic that’s been occurring throughout all of history. There are plenty of historical examples for every example you have come up with. People have lost faith, schismatic sects have come up, cults with entirely invented yet derivative mythologies have gained ground, a la Mormonism or Scientology, both of which I think it is fair to argue have leaped from cult to Religion.

Again, there is no God of Buddhism or Taoism and yet they have moral precepts that they hand down through a religious tradition.

You are simply using it to confirm your own bias. Truth is truth, and religion is a cultural tradition whereby precepts related to the inculcation of truth can be handed down, a la Buddhist meditation, or Taoist Kung Fu/Tai Chi practices. Religion is related to the tradition of ritual handed down from one generation to the next. Using the word religion correctly neither confirms nor denies the existence of God. It doesn’t elevate or diminish any particular faith. It doesn’t claim or deny any sort of universalism. In short religion is just a category to describe human activity in relation to belief. You are refuting Judeo-Christian ideology and calling this a critique of religion, it’s not a critique of religion, because religion is a broad category that encompasses far more than the limited scope of Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any sort of Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern monotheism.

As for science, science deals with mechanism, it’s a purely practical study of the physical world in which we live. Whether God is dead or not is a statement of opinion, maybe he is maybe he isn’t, maybe God never existed. Science as yet has little of use to say on the topic.

No. No it isn’t, and I’m tired of reading this caricature of religion here on the SDMB.

Right, but then science conflicts with particular precepts, and not with the broader category of ‘religion’ which doesn’t really exist in any meaningful way. There is no such entity as ‘religion’ it’s just a category of human activity.

Which among the myriad of flavours of religion has the most useful take on the matter?

Some people, like me, believe that morals and ethics are basically the same thing, so I can’t really answer your question other than to say that right is right, and wrong is wrong, regardless of how you learn it. Now obviously people disagree on morals and ethics, but I personally believe that morals and ethics exist independantly of peoples beliefs. So, for example, if you ask me why it’s wrong to kill someone in cold blood, it would be like asking me why 1+1=2. It simply is.

And obviously I don’t expect you, or anybody else on this board to agree with me.

Religion tends to attempt to argue with science when and where the religion feels that the science is contradicting it. There is a tendency for religions to see these as deliberate attacks on its credibility, perhaps going so far as to assume that the only reason for the contradicting claims is to discredit them and steal converts or otherwise reduce their influence. You can see that they are operating from these assumptions when they attempt to characterize scienists as conspiracy of liars, or when they claim that the science is fraudulent due to contradiction to the religion’s holy books.

These positions are comparable to conservative claims that the majority of news organizations are slanted liberal, which are countered with the quip “reality has a liberal bias”. The comparable and much more unambiguously true statement here is, “reality has a scientific bias”. Which is does, because science relies wholly on reality to dictate its claims, excepting the odd case where scientists deviate from scientific principles to an impactful degree.

Note that not all religions and religious people do this; there is the alternate approach of “conceding ground gracefully” that some do: the Catholics on evolution, for example. They do this by stating that there is actually no contradiction - even if that requires them to “clarify” (or retcon) their institution’s prior claims and beliefs so that there is no disagreement with science.

And, of course, there are numerous cases where science and religion aren’t and weren’t in disagreement at all. I don’t recall hearing that religions rose in ire about the claim that objects fall at the same speed regardless of mass, for example. Though, some people will downplay the fact that cases like these exist due to the fact that it’s easier to characterize science as being wrong when they conflict with religion if you don’t admit that they’re usually pretty much right in every other case.

On which matter? On the God existing matter?

Nobody Morals deal with right and wrong in an absolute sense. Ethics deal with a more specific and technical sense of right and wrong. For instance table setting etiquette is a form of ethics. Does it matter where the salad fork goes? No, not in an absolute sense, but there is a fundamental reason why it’s arranged the way that it is. That is that knives are weapons with which you can kill a person. So the knife goes on the right (because most people are right handed) next to the plate with the blade facing the plate. This isn’t universal, but it’s important to know, because of the ethics that are involved. But the ethic involved is specific to the place setting at the table. That’s in a nutshell the difference between morals and ethics. Which is why people talk about morality without modifying it, but you hear about ethics with some kind of modifier, journalistic ethics, legal ethics, medical ethics and so on.

You are anthropomorphizing religion. Religion ‘feels’? There is really a huge amount of debate internally within major religions about these sorts of things. A Catholic is much more likely to accept science than a Church of God in Christ Pentacostal. As such, the ‘religion’ isn’t opposed to science, it is sects made up of people who are unwilling to accept it. Religion, or even more specifically ‘A’ religion such as Christianity might not have a uniformity of opinion on such things. Official Catholic doctrine accepts evolution for instance, the Pope has ruled as such that it should accept evolution. You could argue that taking more than a century to get to Pope John Paul II who I believe is the Pope that ruled on this is unseemly, but I personally would chalk that up to the glacial inertia of one of the world’s largest and oldest bureaucracies.

Well, the liberal bias thing has some merit considering that something like 80% of employed journalists in America are actually registered Democrats. Now, I am not going to hang my hat on that statistic, but it’s something that can be verified by looking at a cross-section of political registration amongst journalists.

But I agree with you that MATERIAL reality has a Scientific bias. I’ll definitely consult a scientist over a Priest if I want to learn more about the molecular structure of hemoglobin.

Of course this resolves nothing regarding whether or not there is more than material reality. We can continue to argue that one. Though, in my long years of arguing with you, Der Trihs, Sentient Meat and others, I think we actually agree more than we disagree on such things. For me the differences are largely semantic.

Ha, ok, you used the Catholics on evolution case to support your argument too. :wink: I’ve been caught not reading the whole post first. :wink: The Catholic church has been more favorable to intellectual inquiry than it is ever given credit for. IMHO anyway. But in the end it’s a slow moving bureaucracy and doesn’t keep up with cutting edge science.

Well claims by scientists really are wrong all the time. Scientists are wrong far more often than they are right. That’s the entire point of the scientific process, to be wrong again and again in order to rule out causes until you find one that you cannot falsify. To say that Science is pretty much right in every other case is ‘not even wrong’, because it’s a statement that doesn’t really make any sense. A lot of scientific theories are right, but a lot of them are wrong. Sometimes throughout history they have been accepted as correct and then disproven or supplanted by a more elegant theory later.

My view on it is that obviously religion isn’t as antagonistic to science as the common wisdom likes to believe, otherwise how do you explain this? These sorts of things are often considered to be the height of the expression of God’s magnificence by the religious. It clearly requires some supplication to the dictates of material reality in order to accomplish it no? Mathematical elegance is an important factor in religion. Either Science is right, or it is not, but Empirical reality is what it is, and if you CAN build something such as that Cathedral in Milan, it proves that the builders were capable of understanding the dictates of physical reality well enough to accomplish that feat.

I will go on record as saying that if Science supplants and disproves some aspect of religious doctrine, then it has to be accepted, because Empirical reality is Empirical reality.