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Science Text Attempts to Reconcile Religion and Science

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the something-for-both-sides-to-hate dept.

Education 1071

terrymaster69 writes "The New York Times reports that the National Academy of Sciences has just published their third book outlining guidelines for the teaching of evolution. 'But this volume is unusual, people who worked on it say, because it is intended specifically for the lay public and because it devotes much of its space to explaining the differences between science and religion, and asserting that acceptance of evolution does not require abandoning belief in God.'"

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1071 comments

Logic vs Faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921216)

So how do you reconcile logic and faith.

Orthogonal concepts (2, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921264)

You see logic and faith as orthogonal concepts that supplement each other, rather than as competing concepts.

Or as the old Pope hold, science provides a description of how God created the world, while religion provides a description of why God created the world.

Re:Orthogonal concepts (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921584)

Sadly, the Bible explains the how, too.

Re:Logic vs Faith (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921266)

if (IQ >= 100) then evolution; else creation; endif

Re:Logic vs Faith (3, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921290)

Logic is something mostly objective, and provable in a mathematical sense.
Faith is subjective, mystical, and can have the appearance of utter hogwash to someone not participating therein.
The casual observer of one of my more meaningful experiences would have said: "Dude: you were parking the car".
Yet, at that time, in that context, I got a very deep message out of it.
The trick to peaceful existence is to keep a weather eye on the line of demarcation between faith an logic, and be respectful, if not accepting, of both sides.
And don't try to use elements of one to assail the other. Such is a quick trip to unhappy land.

Re:Logic vs Faith (4, Interesting)

vorpal22 (114901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921316)

Faith can be tempered by logic, and logical explanations can often be translated back into faith frameworks without loss.

It's like what happened at the turn of the 20th century where society began to discover psychopharmacology. There was an initial crisis that it would reduce the human experience to nothing more than a set of chemical interactions, which brought religion entirely into question. Similarly, again, was the discovery that "religious experiences" can be reliably induced by stimulating certain areas of the brain. Now, I don't see why the theory that consciousness and the soul are nothing more than functions of chemical reactions invalidates them from having a higher meaning, at least in a subjective sense; it simply requires a slight adjustment in thinking.

It's one thing to decide to adhere strictly to a faith-based approach or a science-based approach, but in my opinion, only a narrow mind sees the impossibility in rationalizing the two. I'm a philosophical Taoist mathematician with a good interest in science and I've never had any problems. My dad is a fairly devout protestant from a moderately conservative denomination (by Canadian standards), and holds a PhD in physics; he also doesn't find that there needs to be any clash between his scientific knowledge and his religious beliefs.

Re:Logic vs Faith (2, Insightful)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921350)

Human beings are rarely aware of much of what drives them to think or act or feel what they do. Science attempts to explain it all, but its answers aren't very reassuring and when it comes to it, religion is much better at satisfying people's feelings of emptiness and lack of direction.

So it's no surprise that, given the inadequacies of the current state of science, people are still believing in the supernatural.

Also, it's not a question of logic but probability. I mean, even science has basic assumptions, mantras and anecdotes here and there which occasionally turn out to be false and lead to radical rethinking on basic ideas.

Essentially, I think we needn't care too much about whether people choose to see everything as fitting into 'God's Plan' or being just 'Stuff that happens' or whatever, as long as everybody is committed to uncovering the truth, whatever it turns out to be.

Re:Logic vs Faith (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921378)

So how do you reconcile logic and faith.
An interesting philosophical treatise about this question can be found here [tinyurl.com]

Re:Logic vs Faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921594)

don't bother clicking that, just another troll

Trying to bring a god in classroom (3, Insightful)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921224)

Public education, science education in particular, should not mention gods at all. This may be an attempt to bring a god into the classroom.

Been done before.... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921330)

See here [youtube.com]

The limits of science (5, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921362)

Public education *should* include the limitation of science. Too many lay people see scientists as modern priests, and take our models as gospel. It is important to realize that unlike fundamentalist interpretation of religious texts, scientific laws and theories are mutable (they change whenever conflicting observations are made) and limited in scope (they are only really trustworthy within the scope of the measurements they are based on).

Much of the creationist/ID nonsense is due to people not understanding how science should be hold to different standards than religious texts. "The theory of Evolution" is very much different today than what Darwin proposed. This would have been a weakness in a religion, but is a strength for a scientific theory.

Re:The limits of science (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921590)

Public education *should* include the limitation of science

True, but it has absolutely no relevance to cult beliefs. The solution to limited scientific knowledge is better science, not to give up and invent a god of the gaps.

Re:The limits of science (1)

smussman (1160103) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921666)

Public education *should* include the limitation of science

True, but it has absolutely no relevance to cult beliefs. The solution to limited scientific knowledge is better science, not to give up and invent a god of the gaps.

Whether it's the astronomical amount of knowledge out there (which seems only to grow as we learn more) or the imperfect instruments we use, scientific knowledge will always be limited.
The solution is neither to try to make scientific knowledge larger, nor a god of the gaps, but an understanding of science that accepts its inherent limitations.
I applaud the authors of this book.

Re:Trying to bring a god in classroom (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921446)

Into the SCIENCE Classroom. There are religious classes as well...

Be that as it may, remember this book was not (afaik) written by religious people, but by scientists. The flip side is that it may be an attempt to bring science into the church. Should I also fight tooth and nail against that?

I think it is time that something like this has been done. I am tired of the pointless to-ing and fro-ing going on, and it is time Christians (I mention them since I am one, other religions can speak for themselves...) realise that acceptance of science (yes it is that bad sometimes) let alone the study of evolution does not mean abandoning of their faith.

Re:Trying to bring a god in classroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921456)

It's not entirely a bad idea to mention religion at school. I'm not talking about general education of the principles and values as dictated by other religions than christianity, which is a prerequisite to understanding other cultures, but rather, I'm talking about the fact that we haven't been able to explain everything with science yet, and that this is the reason why many people believe in a religion. I think it's a good thing to explain how science has devised answers to questions that could only be answered by religion in the past, and that it has actively caused a major paradigm shift even among religious people themselves. Draw parallels between the old and the new, and people will understand how science alters thinking.

I'm an non-religious person who believes that religion is a very important thing to know about. Depending on how you teach it, it doesn't have to "replace science" or otherwise distort a student's mind. Religion is simply a part of the whole picture, as it always has been, and I see no point in ignoring it because it supposedly is a danger to modern, scientific thinking.

Re:Trying to bring a god in classroom (2, Interesting)

univgeek (442857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921546)

In my science text-book (in India), the section on theories of creation of life simply went in the following order:
1) Creation by God (ID) - not the Christian God :)
2) Spontaneous Evolution
3) Pre-existing life
4) Evolution

It stated simply that 2, and 3 were dis-proved by the following experiment, and then went on to explain evolution in detail. No more fuss about ID. Of course no statements that Evolution is *just* a theory either.

I think that such a mention of theories is very valuable in explaining the rise of evolution as a theory that is the prevalent scientific consensus.

Re:Trying to bring a god in classroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921622)

Public education...should not mention gods at all.

It would be rather hard to teach Theology.

Sellouts (-1, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921240)

If you believe in science AND god then your a bloody hypocrite because the scientific method can never be used on god.

This book is just trying to get more evolution supporters by saying that believing in god is ok.

Its irrational to believe in something there is no proof of.

Re:Sellouts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921254)

"... because the scientific method can never be used on god"

Richard dawkins disagree's with you.

Re:Sellouts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921466)

Its *Dawkin's*.

Re:Sellouts (0, Troll)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921304)

Its irrational to believe in something there is no proof of.

Millions of people claim to have felt a connection to a higher being / existence. It is irrational to dismiss evidence because it does not fit your paradigm.

Re:Sellouts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921420)

Millions of people are psychotic.
That doesn't means we should start worshiping voices in their heads.

Re:Sellouts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921450)

Millions of children believe in unicorns, therefor they *must* be real. Great deduction.

Re:Sellouts (3, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921612)

It's not evidence, it's anecdote. If we'd apply the same standard of proof to god that we would apply to a shoplifting then religion would be out of business pretty quickly. The funny thing is that religion should be held to a *HIGHER* standard because of all the outrageous claims they make and the wisdom they claim to profess.

Re:Sellouts (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921306)


From what I have read about some of the recent thoughts in Physics, a lot of that new theory cannot be tested with a scientific method either...

Re:Sellouts (1)

epine (68316) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921334)

The whole point of God is that it is rational to be irrational. The magic junction box is known as faith. It's a black rectangle with dimensions 1x4x9 that can't be scratched by a laser or any other known tool. If sufficiently perplexed, it will heat up enough to fry your latkes. Does not work as a contraceptive, and might result in bleeding.

As for belief in faith, any day now I'm expecting to see it show up on an advanced fMRI scan, right beside Husband Hill.

Re:Sellouts (4, Interesting)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921348)

If you believe in science AND god then your a bloody hypocrite because the scientific method can never be used on god.

No! That's what some creationists say, but it is a fallacy. It is well known that science makes the materialistic assumption that everything has a natural cause, and this obviously excludes supernatural things such as God. However, that doesn't mean that scientists must believe in ontological materialism in order to be scientists. They just need to understand it. It is perfectly possible for someone to "think like a scientist" and also have strong religious faith, and there is a long list of scientists who have done so, including the "father of physics" Isaac Newton.

Re:Sellouts (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921372)

If you believe in science AND god then your a bloody hypocrite because the scientific method can never be used on god.
I'm not seeing the logic here.

A hypocrite is someone who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

Let's say for the sake of argument (I don't actually agree with this) that there is no aspect of God and religion (specifically in this case Christianity) to which the scientific method can be applied.

If I stated that the scientific method provides the only valid grounds for any kind of belief, and then acted in a way that implied I believed in God, and if we also accept the earlier point that there is no aspect of God to which the scientific method can be applied, then I would be a hypocrite.

However, if I never claimed that the scientific method provides the only valid grounds for any kind of belief, then I would not be a hypocrite to believe in the scientific method and also in God.

So please, don't be too hasty in calling Christians hypocrites. It's one of those words that too often comes out in this kind of discussion, and is not always appropriate. Yes, I'm sure I do act hypocritically at times, over all sorts of things. I try not to, and I don't think that believers have a monopoly on hypocrisy.

In any case, I don't think there is any hypocrisy at all in the pursuit of science as a Christian.

Re:Sellouts (1)

DMNT (754837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921392)

If you believe in science AND god then your a bloody hypocrite because the scientific method can never be used on god.

If you believe in science AND human rights then you're a hypocrite because scientific method can never be used on human rights. So you have a false dichotomy going on right there.

The other one is an ideology. It doesn't require scientific proof and it's a personal attribute. Science by definition is about modeling things with scientific method. So what you're saying is that if you believe in scientific method and in something that's not testable then you are in conflict. People who can't see outside the box sometimes live a life without ever thinking that there might be exist things that are not testable. Then they bend science even further and claim that the laws of physics are the reality (they're not, they're modeling the output given inputs!). I know I'm on slashdot, but studying philosophy isn't that bad an idea. It'll teach you to think outside the box and the progress on any branch of science, even computer science, is made by those who think outside the box.

Theory of evolution doesn't say if gods exist or if they don't. They don't say gods didn't have anything to do with the appearing of man or if they did. I think this is an important aspect to be stressed in teaching evolution, since it attacks directly the false creationist claims (evolution and (Judeo-Christian God) cannot both exist).

Re:Sellouts (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921676)

If you believe in science AND human rights then you're a hypocrite because scientific method can never be used on human rights
A scientist can still come to a belief in human rights based on his own upbringing and morality, or because he thinks it's a better way to run society or from some concept concerning utility. The two things are parallel, but don't overlap, and if they don't overlap they can't contradict.

Religion, however, often does conflict with science - the obvious example being creationism vs evolution; both cannot be true.

Re:Sellouts (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921588)

Its irrational to believe in something there is no proof of.

There's no proof the universe exists outside your mind. There's no proof you have free will. Between those two alone everything else you might choose to beleive (or think you chose to beleive) is pretty moot.

Why is tagged Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921624)

It may have been mentioned a million times before and as such not be particularly Interesting or Informative, but it sure as hell is not Flamebait.

What created the universe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921244)

In my opinion science should pursue everything that can be learnt. However science has no way of proving that their is no creator.

For example, as we know it there are some parameters in the standard model of physics that have to be set just right in order for the universe as it is currently set to exist. That is for the strength of the gravitional force, magnetic force, atomic etc.

I believe the it is a more difficult miracle for God to set this stuff up into motion 15 billion years ago so that today you have humans walking around than to have created everything 3000 years ago with the illusion of having been created so long ago.

Re:What created the universe? (1)

wanderingknight (1103573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921284)

In my opinion science should pursue everything that can be learnt. However science has no way of proving that their is no creator.
Huh? You don't understand the scientific method. If there's no evidence, it doesn't exist. Asserting "you can't prove it doesn't exist" is a logical fallacy, because there's no evidence of its existence in the first place. That science still can't prove everything today is completely irrelevant.

Re:What created the universe? (1)

keean (824435) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921620)

Actually science can never prove anything, only disprove things. How it works is this... we don't understand something, somebody proposes an idea (a hypothesis), people conduct experiments. If no evidence contradicting the idea is found it is promoted to a theory. However there is the possibility that new evidence can be found at any time that contradicts the theory, and invalidates it. Hence the scientific method can only ever disprove theories... positive proof is impossible as it would require complete knowledge of everthing ever done, or going to be done, which is omniscience, ie God.

For example, Rutherford proposes his model of the atom (a hypothesis), people all around the world conduct experiments, and none of them (for a while) contradict his hypothosis, so some vague time later it gets generally accepted as a theory. Eventually some weird results show up, and people have to propose a quantum hypothesis to explain where Rutherford went wrong - however because Rutherfords model is still useful to understand things in an approximate way, it still maintains its status as a theory.

So here we see infact _all_ theories are wrong, in that they are either inaccurate (but we still use them) or they are yet to be proved wrong by some more in-depth experiment yet to be performed. (note: this itself is a hypothesis, as statistically a theory might be correct by chance, however in an ininitely complex universe, this probability tends to zero)

On this basis, I propose the hypothosis that God exists, If after some time you cannot disprove my hypothesis, it gets promoted to a theory. Infact as there connot be any proof that God exists (as proving God exists would deny faith, and faith is a necessary part of religeon) what we have is the "null hypothesis", that is something that is by definition impossible to disprove, and therefore God exists! corollary: but therefore He doesn't, because that denies faith.

However we know from above _all_ theories are wrong, so God does not exist. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to work out the effect on the corollary to my theory, under the assumption that all theories are wrong.

Re:What created the universe? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921322)

A true scientist wouldn't make up such grand and unprovable reasons for things he couldn't yet explain. Reality is far more interesting than the silly things our minds make up as reasons for it.

Re:What created the universe? (1)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921454)

For example, as we know it there are some parameters in the standard model of physics that have to be set just right in order for the universe as it is currently set to exist. That is for the strength of the gravitational force, magnetic force, atomic etc.


Yeah and if those constants where different, the universe would be completely different and we probably wouldn't be there to describe it as a miracle... That argument is circular because there is absolutely no reason for us to assume the current laws that structure our universe are in any way better then an imaginary alternative.
One thing you also forgot to mention is that the standard model also predicts randomness. If there is randomness in the universe, it is impossible to predict the future, if it is impossible to predict the future, then in no way is it possible for a superior being to intend our existence in this universe, and therefore it is rationally impossible for us to even start thinking that we are the people "chosen" by God.

But back to the topic, it is not the role of science to make irrational assumptions such as the existence of a magical superior entity. Until something tangible brings science towards that assumption of course. It is also not the role of science to give any credit to such assumptions, since all they do is waste time (there is an infinite amount of unprovable assumptions that we can make). This attempt to reconcile faith and science is quite absurd, but it might be necessary, seeing the role the IDers/creationists are taking in the American society. If history is any indication, every time such a fundamentalist movement has gained power in any civilization (Romans, Persians, etc... ), it was followed by a steep decline in scientific progress (just think about how many Persian Nobel prizes have been awarded, when they are at the root of mathematics (the 0, decimal numbering, algebra, astronomy,... )).

In the end, most of the economy is driven by scientific progress, so it's a matter of survival for modern economies to guide their societies towards real, rigorous science.

This of course doesn't mean we should exclude religion, far from it, it just means that we should teach and put a stress on scientific methods, while leaving individuals completely free to make any assumption they want to make. As long as the merits of science are recognized by a society, this society will go forward.

Re:What created the universe? (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921492)

For example, as we know it there are some parameters in the standard model of physics that have to be set just right in order for the universe as it is currently set to exist. That is for the strength of the gravitional force, magnetic force, atomic etc.
Who's to say there wouldn't be something else if it were differen't? Were there even of these mystical 'force dials' in the first place?

I believe the it is a more difficult miracle for God to set this stuff up into motion 15 billion years ago so that today you have humans walking around than to have created everything 3000 years ago with the illusion of having been created so long ago.
While we're at it, maybe we just appeared five minutes ago with fabricated memories. Also, gods are omnipotent by definition; there's no 'difficult' miracle'.

Really, I don't see why people get so flustered about 'conflict' between science and religion. For all we know, the universe could just be a bubble, freely manipulated by beings outside of it. It's not like getting 'gravity now repells' into a respected journal makes it happen, nor does spending my life writing a new holy book make a new god; it's all observation and hypotheses.

Why make concessions? (5, Insightful)

geekpowa (916089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921258)

I once used to think that making concessions to people who oppose this branch of science because of their religious sensitivities was a decent and reasonable thing to do.

Public figures like Sam Harris help me realise that they simply don't deserve it. Their position and the means they used to arrive at that position have no merit what-so-ever.

The evolution of gods (4, Interesting)

dalesc (66212) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921286)

Over time, as man has evolved, he has reduced his need of gods from many (Sun God, God of Love, etc.) down to one - though, not necessarily the same one. The more fully evolved on the planet have made the final step and eliminated that one, too.

God is a product of man, not the other way around.

Re:The evolution of gods (2, Funny)

throup (325558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921426)

fully evolved
? Evolution does not have a target or a final destination. It keeps on going. Richard Dawkins is no more evolved than George Bush, who in turn is no more involved than an earthworm.

Oh goodie. (4, Interesting)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921296)

Okay. I have just one question though. Are they also going to come out with a guide "explaining the differences between science and religion, and asserting that acceptance of chemistry does not require abandoning belief in God".

I guess I have to reluctantly agree, ok it's "good" that they came out with a guide explaining there is no conflict between evolution and God, but it's really-really-sad and really-really-wrong that they had to do so. Evolution, chemistry, either one it's just plain silly.

-

Two Baskets (5, Interesting)

Howzer (580315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921300)

Imagine two baskets.

One contains all the things explained by the phrase "god did it". The other contains all the things explained by "science".

A long time ago, everything was in the god basket, and nothing at all was in the science basket. The weather? God did it. Pregnancy? God did it. Disease? God did it. Where does stuff come from? God did it.

Then, as humanity learned more stuff, things got taken out of the god basket and put into the science basket. The weather. Pregnancy. Disease. Where stuff comes from, right back until a few billionths of a second before the big bang, getting closer all the time.

So what's left in the god basket? Good question -- but that's not where I'm going with this, because actually that's irrelevant.

The point is this: there has never -- never ever ever -- been a single thing that has been taken out of the science basket and put back in the god basket. Not one. Ever.

The traffic is all one way.

So I choose the basket that contains all human knowledge. I choose the basket that keeps getting new and fantastic stuff put in it. I choose the search for truth over the abrogation of understanding.

The god basket? You believers are welcome to that. It's basically empty, getting emptier all the time. But you're welcome to keep hanging on to it. The moment something is taken out of the science basket and put back into the god basket, you let me know, ok?

Re:Two Baskets (4, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921384)

The moment something is taken out of the science basket and put back into the god basket, you let me know, ok?
That is precisely what the creationists are trying to accomplish: putting the question of the origin of species back into the god basket. Don't let these people out of your sight...

Re:Two Baskets (2, Insightful)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921400)

Well, i think a God setting a few universal constants and booting up His Great World Simulation is definitely an plausible God to me.

A God (or gods) sweating on putting all the dinosaur bones into the soil just to 'trick us' is plain pathetic.

I'm not a believer in any of these 'gods', but i can live with the former :)

People who deny evolution based on their god fantasy need to wake up.

Re:Two Baskets (0)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921410)

The point is this: there has never -- never ever ever -- been a single thing that has been taken out of the science basket and put back in the god basket. Not one. Ever.

We can both agree that is not a rigorous proof.

The god basket? You believers are welcome to that. It's basically empty, getting emptier all the time. But you're welcome to keep hanging on to it. The moment something is taken out of the science basket and put back into the god basket, you let me know, ok?

Weather? God did it. He created the laws of the universe. All atoms, and weather systems operate under it. God defined the strength of the electomagnetic field, the gravitional field, the inter atomic forces, the speed of light. All science has done is allowed us to make some predictions or interactions with it.

Pregnancy? God did it. Can you explain how self awareness exists? Sorry science has not fully explained this one either. It has only helped us understand some of the dynamics.

Disease? God did it. Viruses, pathogens, genetic problems .. all happen according to the fundamental laws of the universe.

Where does stuff come from? God did it. Not sure how you put that in the science basket.

Re:Two Baskets (1)

mad_robot (960268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921654)

What a load of tripe!

If everything happens according to the fundamental laws of the universe, then how it is possible for your omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent god to function?

Re:Two Baskets (2, Insightful)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921418)

So what's left in the god basket?

take a look at the sectarian violence in the middle east now between shias and sunnis over minor interpretation of gods will (tho i suspect religion is just an excuse for racial hate that we are seeing, nowhere in the koran does it say killing innocents is ok)

nowadays religion brings nothing good it seems, what happened to compassion and love thy neighbour? instead we get peadophile priests and sexual abuse cases,

what happened to helping the poor? last i checked the Vatican is rich beyond belief and is rung better than most corporations out there

Re:Two Baskets (4, Informative)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921506)

nowadays religion brings nothing good it seems, what happened to compassion and love thy neighbour? instead we get peadophile priests and sexual abuse cases,

If the only interaction with organised religion is through what the media reports, then yes it seems that it brings nothing good. However, for every pedophile priest, there will be 10,000 quietly busting their guts out for their parishioners.

what happened to helping the poor?

Again, what have you done for the poor in the last year? Most church members I know give a massive amount of cash and time for the poor. Who is giving the homeless meals and a place to stay? In my town it is the church. The government won't feed or home anyone who cannot pass random drug tests, which is basically all the homeless in the west. (At least here in Europe, if you are not on drugs and have half a brain then you can easily earn enough to eat at least).

Re:Two Baskets (1)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921422)

It would be extremely ironic to your point if one day god comes down for a visit and says 'Yeah, science, I did that. Sorry to burst your bubble. Can I have my baskets back now?' Not that I want to make a case for that. Science can be attributed to allowing us as humans to understand the nature of the universe. But the understanding of it has never allowed us to claim 'we did that' - it just allows us to better take advantage of the already existing principles behind anything. If there was a god, why would there be something in his universe that completely undermines his existence? So basically, you can't prove the existence of god, but you can't disprove it either :). All you really have is a stalemate. The question is how much do you want to argue with dangerous religious nuts?

Re:Two Baskets (1)

ACDChook (665413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921698)

So basically, you can't prove the existence of god, but you can't disprove it either

DISCLAIMER: I am an atheist, and don't believe in deities, but acknowledge that it's within the realm of possibility that I could be mistaken.

Yes you COULD prove the existence of a god. If that god did suddenly appear, as you postulated in your post, then it would be proof.
However, you are correct to state that you can't DISprove the existence of a god. No matter what experiment you devise, there would always be the possibility that a higher power had manipulated the outcome to hide their existence. And that is the root of the misunderstanding of the science/religion argument - many religious people feel that science threatens their beliefs, when it is simply not the case. If you believe in a god, then science simply explains how that god wields his/her/its power.

Re:Two Baskets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921424)

Science and eugenics were used to fabricate excuses to commit genocide in the 1930's and 40's. Your peurile "science baskets" should be two containers - one for good science and one for rubbish. The rubbish science basket is often more full than the good science basket. Rubbish science has said global warming was man made. Now good science (often ignored these days by craven idiots) has been putting any warming back in the "natural" domain which means God and nature still haven't been trumped as much as the ego manics would like to think. Maybe some of them would be depressed by this but depressions as well is failing to be explained by "bad science" and its attempts to render people vats of mere chemicals.

God of the Gaps (2, Interesting)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921432)

The notion that 'God' is an explanation for all the things that science and reason has not yet adequately explained is a common one, but rather out-dated. It is a mistake that has been made by Christians and non-Christians alike.

It has been given the moniker 'God of the gaps' and there is a description on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

Suffice it to say that most Christians who have given any significant thought to the matter do not believe in 'God of the gaps', so the argument that the traffic is all one way from 'religious explanations' to scientific explanations is simply not relevant.

To put it another way, I don't believe in God in order to explain anything. I believe in God because I think all the evidence points that being true.

Re:God of the Gaps (2, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921498)

To put it another way, I don't believe in God in order to explain anything.

Well, that's a good idea since it doesn't explain anything. As the original poster pointed out, as more and more evidence is collected the need for gods, ghosts, and goblins declines and never increases. That is because it was an incorrect hypothesis to begin with.

The reality is that the "gods of the gaps" argument is the only argument for the existance of these fantasy beings and if you don't accept that then there is no other reason to believe they exist other than "it says so in a book I read once".

TWW

Re:God of the Gaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921668)

I believe in God because I think all the evidence points that being true.

And what evidence is that? (This is a serious question, not trying to troll.)

There are lots of baskets - life is not boolean (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921438)

I think the whole analogy is a bit misguided and has no historical basis and does not represent how science works.

People have beliefs, that is an attribute that all people have. Maybe we evolved to have beliefs, a coping mechanism, but whatever everyone has beliefs. Some people's beliefs are formalised into religions, other people randomly ingest beliefs through the TV, society and Slashdot. Someone believes in God and another person believes there is no God, both have beliefs.

In the bible it talks about that if there is a red sky at night then it will be a sunny day tomorrow, while a red sky in the morning means it will rain (Matthew 16:2 I think).

Now we know it is solar rays refracting through particles of moisture in the moving clouds that makes the sky red. However, the adage still works. Knowing how it works has not changed the phenomenon.

The traffic is not one way, it just looks it because you are hiding many intermediate baskets. So, some scientist in lab A will attribute the red sky to moisture particles. Some other scientist in lab B will attribute giving people electric shocks with curing depression. These will be tested, and the moisture particles makes it into your basket, while the giving people electric shocks one does not.

This is the same as old people saying that the new hymns are rubbish, only the old hymns are good. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, there were both good and bad hymns, but only the good ones survive. With modern music, there has not been enough time for the bad hymns to fall away and the good ones to take precidence.
     

How vs. Why (5, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921512)

> So what's left in the god basket?

Every question asking for meanings ("why") rather than mechanisms ("how").

I'm an atheist, I believe the only meaning that exists is what we create ourself. But that is a philosophical position, not a scientific position. There are excellent philosophical arguments for why I'm right and the theists are wrong. But they are philosophical, not scientific. Those who believe science can disprove God is as delusioned as the ID people who believe science can prove God.

Those religions that has a well-educated clergy, such as the Catholic Church, have long ago decided to leave the Emperor (science) what is his, namely the mechanisms, and leave God (religion) what is his, namely the meanings. Only, Those churches that mainly consist of in-breed hillbillies, mostly some US Protestant groupings and some Arab Sunni-Islamic groups, still want religion to describe mechanisms, despite the overwhelming evidence that religion sucks at mechanism.

In science class, don't ask why it rains, ask how it rains. Mechanism, not meanings.

Re:How vs. Why (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921598)

Every question asking for meanings ("why") rather than mechanisms ("how").

As a Christian I heartily agree with you.

I am English and a member of the Church of England (in America it is called episcopalian) and I heartily agree that on current evidence evolution is by far the best way of describing "how". Indeed, Darwin was a practicing Anglican most of his life, and the fact he could not reconcile his scientific observations with the theological thought of his day was a short-term bug.

So to any six-day creationists reading this, I would say chill out and give it a go. My approach is to follow the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Robinson in putting less emphasis on God as the old angry father in the sky issuing commands and more on a decentralised flowing holy spirit, e.g. the spirit in Genesis 1:2, the spirit 'hovering over the waters'. So you have the holy spirit inside and caring for the cells as they split and life moves on until we get to humans and cats and dogs and so on, it seems rather more beautiful to me.

Re:How vs. Why (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921634)

Yes. Problem is that there are people on both sides who clamour for the opportunity to smack the opposition with the "YOU ARE WRONG!" plank.

Sheesh if Christians where a little more tolerant and Atheists a little less snooty everything would be much more fun.

Re:How vs. Why (2, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921652)

Every question asking for meanings ("why") rather than mechanisms ("how").
But why does there need to be a reason? Can things simply not be ? I find it curious that we believe that there has to be an answer to 'why' questions.

Why do I exist ? Is that really a meaninful question ? It implies that I must be here for some purpose. One of the interesting things about language is that it is easy to ask questions without real meaning.

Re:Two Baskets (1)

Alfius (886617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921528)

I'd have said that during the dark ages a whole load of stuff got moved back from the science basket to the god basket what with the decline of Roman civilisation and the rise of a dogmatic overbearing (and at the time) global religion. You might also argue that during the more enlightened era of the Islamic caliphate there was a whole load of stuff in the science basket which subsequently went back to the God basket.

Re:Two Baskets (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921566)

Imagine two baskets.

One contains all the things explained by the phrase "god did it". The other contains all the things explained by "science".

A long time ago, everything was in the god basket, and nothing at all was in the science basket. The weather? God did it. Pregnancy? God did it. Disease? God did it. Where does stuff come from? God did it.

Actually, you've got the same thought process as many of your opponents, and your baskets are straw men. Really, they should be labelled "Can only be explained through supernatural phenomena" and "Can be explained solely using understood and observable physical phenomena". The difference is subtle, but important. Science doesn't explain why things happen (God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, sheer blind luck), only how. It's possible that gods exist, and act through the physical phenomena we understand today (i.e. evolution, physics and all the rest).

Re:Two Baskets (1, Insightful)

bechthros (714240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921604)

karma to burn, so here goes.

the God basket is not empty if the science basket is inside it...

Re:Two Baskets (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921646)

That is actually rather beautiful.

Far from burning karma, I was going to say 'Mod parent up' but it sounds rather mundane in this context.

Re:Two Baskets (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921710)

Your basket analogy is deeply flawed. It can be ruined entirely by the statement that science is simply an explanation of how God does what God does. Whether or not you believe in God, this is a simple and rational explanation for the combination of science and God. You're trying to create some kind of divide between science and God that simply doesn't exist. While I'm sure that you think that believers are the narrow minded ones, you're being quite narrow minded yourself if you don't think that it's entirely possible that God simply created evolution and the other mechanisms that science observes. You may not like the idea of God or the fact that other people believe in God, but the observations of science do absolutely nothing to dispel the idea that God is behind all of this.

Not requires, allowes (5, Insightful)

yariv (1107831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921314)

The problem some religious people have with Evolution is that it allows disbelief in god. Without Evolution, you need the watchmaker, and this is one of the best arguments for the existence of a creator. Logically, there is not much different between the spontaneous creation of simple and complex mechanisms (if its creation, there is a great difference when we're talking about evolving mechanisms), but in the human mind there is a great difference. Many might accept the Big Bang with no creator, only few would accept spontaneous creation of earth as it is now. So, although Evolution "does not require abandoning belief in God" it allows it, and this is bad enough for those who choose religious dogma over scientific discoveries.

Science and God (2, Insightful)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921318)

I'm pretty tolerant against people with any kind of religion, mostly because it is the only way to get along. But trying to reconcile science and religion? They are both trying to describe how the world works, from two opposite sides. All the important things that religious persons believe in are completely outside the laws of nature. Saying that they can go together because one is about belief and the other about reason? These concepts are not exclusive if you try and describe the same thing.

Now I might be flagged as some kind of extremist. If that's true, it's because I don't want to "belief" as some people want me to. I try and describe things in a logical matter. Fortunately you can be a extremist atheist without having to harm people. Especially if you see from history that polarization is sure not to work.

Re:Science and God (1)

torkelo (1002733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921484)

I have a hard time understanding how people can say that religion and science do not conflict. I mean a lot of the statements made by religious people are in flat contradiction to what science has discovered. One of the mayor things that is still under heavy research is the development of consciousness, which is the one of the very few gaps that religious people point to when motivating their belief in an after life. But if history has told us anything about gaps in our knowledge is that it inevitable going to be filled. And I have a hard time understanding how some people reconcile evolution and Christianity, where some say something like "well I believe that about 6000 years ago God inserted an immortal soul in two homo sapiens and that was Adam and Eve".

Re:Science and God (1)

bechthros (714240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921714)

"I mean a lot of the statements made by religious people"

faith has nothing to do with people. i'm sure i could go back through history and find plenty of stupid statements made by great scientists (like "i think maybe the whole world will need maybe five computers.")

but to me, that doesn't invalidate science. likewise, i don't find that stupid statements made by people of faith invalidate faith itself.

if you listen too much to what other people say you'll never figure anything out for yourself, in science or in spirituality.

Re:Science and God (1)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921516)

Ah, but the science/creationist conflict is all the minds of the creationists. It's based on misinformation that they have originated. They believe that science is about truth, when in fact it is about truth given the assumption of materialism. Science can't reason about supernatural things: how do you measure them, theorise about their operation, or perform experiments on them? Here is a quote from an Scott Todd:

'Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.'
This quote [answersingenesis.org] is triumphantly displayed by creationists as evidence of the anti-creationist bias of the scientific establishment. However, it only reveals a misunderstanding of the scientific method. They imagine that science will accommodate everything that they believe is true, but even if creationism is true, science cannot include it because it assumes a supernatural cause:

Astrology would be considered a scientific theory if judged by the same criteria used by a well-known advocate of Intelligent Design to justify his claim that ID is science, a landmark US trial heard on Tuesday.
(Source [newscientist.com].) So that is a good answer to the creationists - even if your claims about the creator God are true, they still aren't science! And conversely even if the theory of evolution is wrong, it still is science because it's the best materialistic explanation for the world we see.

Education is the Solution, Religion is the Problem (5, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921390)

evolution does not require abandoning belief in God.
But if you teach kids from an early enough age to view the world critically and scientifically and to think for themselves, one should lead to the other.

Re:Education is the Solution, Religion is the Prob (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921570)

It should. But the reverse is often true.

Look at CS Lewis and Josh Mcdowell. Both atheists that converted. Mcdowell's stated goal was to prove the Christian belief a myth, and what happened? He became a believer.

Really, I welcome the in-depth study of science, and religion. Only through doing that can we come to the correct conclusion no?

Re:Education is the Solution, Religion is the Prob (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921644)

Two examples doesn't equate to "often".

Re:Education is the Solution, Religion is the Prob (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921688)

Too true. Those are the ones I could come up with without waking up my son sleeping in my lap, going to the room, getting the books and coming back to said son screaming murder 'cause his nap was interrupted, and then copying down every-single-author I can come up with who have become a Christian after trying to disprove the religion...

Try googling it, if you don't mind...

Re:Education is the Solution, Religion is the Prob (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921700)

Catch much flack for the sig? I think the self-centeredness exceeds the selfishness, with a side helping of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Ah ... how wonderfully spineless ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921416)

According to the survey: "E.J. Larson and L. Witham, 'Leading scientists still reject God', Nature 394(6691):313, 23 July 1998." only something like 7% of the leading members of National Academy of Sciences express any belief in a god themselves, I find it very sad that the high IQ boys seem to have decided to adopt the Neville Chamberlain philosophy when it comes to the promotion of science education -- it is a worrying sign that scientists in America are running scared.

Science, Religion and Politics (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921614)

Most likely, there are far more members who vote Democratic than Republican. This doesn't mean that the National Academy of Science should start promoting democratic candidates in political elections.

These people who are smart enough to be atheists, and smart enough to not vote for republicans, are also smart enough to realize that these questions are not scientific in nature. The existence of God is not a scientific hypothesis, not is political allegiance.

The can talk science and politics as private citizens, as scientists their obligations ends with explaining people how these questions are not scientific in nature. Which, apparently, they do with the new book.

Finally someone making sense (1, Insightful)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921436)

Finally someone out there is making some sense: Science is not fit (nor was it ever meant to be fit) to answer the question of God. Science requires that its hypothesis made are provable (or disprovable) and neither can be applied towards the question of God.

As the article states: "Asserting that acceptance of evolution does not require abandoning belief in God."

P.S. IAC

Re:Finally someone making sense (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921600)

Exactly.

Besides, the world would be pretty boring without them Atheist hunts. Just last week we cornered one back by the creek on old Joe's property...

IAC2 ;) and really enjoying indepth discussions with my Atheist buddies on godgab.org...

Re:Finally someone making sense (1)

Chemicalscum (525689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921628)

If God created the world. Then the scientific method is the way to find out how God's creation works. Therefore to reject the considered and soundly evaluated results of scientific research is to reject the work of God in creating the world.

Consequently creationists reject God and are apostates.

Actually I am an atheist (not a theist - someone who does not believe in a personal God) but it is fun to make the argument. It is also an approach mainstream Christians could take when dealing with the loony creationists.

Secularist Country? (4, Funny)

JochenBedersdorfer (945289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921448)

If the National Academy of Sciences feels the urge to make such a statement, then this is another shocking sign of how far religious thinking has permeated the US of A.

I keep looking forward to the time when people proclaiming to get their commands from god have to pay the same price as people proclaiming that elvis is still alive looking like a happy man/ in the snow with Rosebud/ and King of the mountain.

The real world doesn't need religion... (1, Flamebait)

nih (411096) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921458)

The real world doesn't need religion in order to function, never has, never will.

This is absolutely ridiculous (2, Insightful)

mad_robot (960268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921464)

It's about time teachers in the US stopped pandering to these idiotic demands for the discussion of religious dogma in science classes. It doesn't matter if the theory of evolution is consistent with any belief systems. If it's not science, then it doesn't belong in a science lesson. Period.

Religion vs. Science and Logic (2)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921504)

Evolution itself may not be totally incompatible some religious ideas (except creationism), but any rational, logically thinking person should realise that all religions are complete nonsense.

hmmm (1)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921514)

The book also denounces the arguments for a form of creationism called intelligent design, calling them devoid of evidence, "disproven" or "simply false."

True...intelligent design exists or not can be told only by....wait..

Weasel Words (2, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921592)

Science is based on the idea that all phenomena are explainable and endeavours to find explanations through observation, experimentation and the progressive incremental refinement of theories. Religion is based on the idea that some things are beyond explanation, and must be accepted as Mysteries by believers. These two premises are about as irreconcilable as you can get. Either Science will progress to a point where all religious Mysteries can be explained in scientific terms, or a proof will be established that shows why certain things are beyond explanation. (Cf. how you cannot determine five variables given a system of four simultaneous equations.)

Evolution provides such a good explanation for biodiversity that it becomes unnecessary to invoke God, except for the awkward questions of the origin of the universe and the origin of life. You can bodge in a kind of "wind it up and let it go", deist God, but this still ends up leaving unanswered questions: If a God could come spontaneously into existence from nowhere, why couldn't a ready-made, non-God-requiring universe come spontaneously into existence from nowhere? And if a highly complex living entity such as God could could come spontaneously into existence from nowhere, why couldn't a few single-cell organisms come spontaneously into existence from a suitable already-existing environment rich in carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and trace elements, with pure energy available in the form of radioactivity or electrical storms? (Evolutionary theory suggests that you only need single-cell organisms to begin with. All the rest will then take care of itself.)

And trying to teach biology without mentioning evolution is a bit like trying to teach electronics without mentioning Ohm's Law. (And Ohm's Law cannot be proven or disproven experimentally, because every voltmeter and ammeter fundamentally depends on Ohm's Law being true for its operation.)

You're wrong (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21921708)

That is not quite true. You can derive Ohm's law from the Maxwell equations, that is to say, it folows from the theory of electromagnetism. It is possible to check whether this theory, or model, or set of equations, or whatever you want to call it, is accurate by performing experiments and calculating to see if the results check out. Numerous experiments have been done and we are quite confident that within the domain of the theory it is as accurate as we can test. Of course, you posted your comment using a computer, a device which strongly relies upon the laws of electromagnetism to be correct in order to function...

A key difference (1)

Toam (1134401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921596)

I am a student of science (currently doing Honours in Space Science) and, to be perfectly honest, no part of my motivation for studying science is to disprove religion.

I like things to make sense, and understand why they make sense. I like mathematical rigor (granted, physics doesn't necessarily have that same rigor - Newtons laws are stated without proof, for example). I could read a religious text (eg: the bible) in order to "make sense of things" but things are NOT clearly explained. Things (generally things which are pretty obviously not correct in the literal sense) are claimed to be "non-literal" and hence left open to interpretation. A science books doesn't do that. It will clearly explain all its key points so that there is only the intended interpretation available. If a scientific theory no longer seems to make sense, it is reviewed rather than reinterpreted.

Evolution happens and God is real, Jesus is Lord (2, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921608)

I was reamed out last evolution post here on Slashdot because I thought speciation needed to happen for evolution to work. Now that I know that natural selection is even considered as one form of evolution, I'm down with the idea of evolution. I'm not even arguing against speciation. Evolution has a large number of concepts though and it infers a Big Bang and a Spark of Life for it to work. While you won't get me biting on those two tickets, I know evolution is solid science. I think a lot of Creationists would bite on evolution if the spark of life wasn't part of the equation. I mean Creationism says how it all started, and evolution says how everything is changing since it began. Just looking at it that way it makes sense. While I can't tell you how old the world is, I can rest assuredly say that evolution works in this post fall of man world.

We don't know, and is all right. (1)

cabazorro (601004) | more than 6 years ago | (#21921686)

Religion, like Evolution, is trying to chew more than they can swallow.
Overzealous scientists and religious people must hold hands and tell each other.
"We don't know all the facts on the origin of life and mankind"
And chat their faiths and scientific theories,
together,
over a cup of tea.
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