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August 27, 2006

Religion and Science -- 4 (at least)

This a putative comment by a nineteenth-century British clergyman:

O ye men of science, ye men of science, leave us our ancestors in paradise, and you may have yours in Zoological gardens.

And here is our man from the Skeptics Society, Michael Shermer, basically accepting the deal:

If you believe God created the world, it's reasonable to ask, How did he do it? What were the forces and mechanisms he used? Why not look to science and see that he started with the big bang, the force of gravity, inflationary cosmology, quarks and natural selection. Those were his tools. To that extent, science is not a threat, it's your best friend. It's the best tool you have for illuminating the grandeur of creation. A Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the universe evokes far more awe for creation than light streaming through a stained glass window in a cathedral. I mean, come on, that photo is an actual representation of the reality that God created, if that's what you believe. So why not embrace science rather than fear it?
They've been sold a bill of goods by people who like the warfare model of science and religion, particularly fundamentalists and militant atheists. Both sides want to force a choice and debunk the other side. But it need not be so. It's an incorrect interpretation promoted by extremists.

I've been moaning and groaning about this way of thinking since I started this blog. Guess this is because I do think science and religion are at war. How about this thesis? The further the telescopes look, the fewer the places left for God to hide. To find Our Father currently, based on accounts on this blog, it is necessary to rewind the entire Big Bang and then somewhere, back before electrons and quarks, when all that is (in our universe, at least) was compacted to the size of an ear bud or whatever, there He was, to say, "Poof."

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at August 27, 2006 6:11 PM


"O ye men of science, ye men of science, leave us our ancestors in paradise, and you may have yours in Zoological gardens."

I like that concept, it makes more sense than prolonging a "war" between science and religion.

Posted by: whymrhymer at August 28, 2006 4:50 AM

why is the only space you allow for God the gaps in the process? This is a very very strange thing.

where do you look for Dyson in a Dyson vacuum cleaner? is he somehow running around inside creating the suction? Fulfilling some gap in the mechanism? He's not in there is he! Yet once you have a full scientific explanation of the process this by no means exclude the fact that Dyson designed it?

You are confusing purpose with process.

Looking for a God-in-the-gaps is as silly as looking for a Dyson-in-the-gaps as if he is some tiny little guy running round a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: Chris Oldfield at August 28, 2006 6:23 AM

Science is all about gathering observations until they reveal statistical realities. There are no cracks for God to fit into in science. Science says nothing about that which cannot be measured.

The practice of religion, on the other hand, is easily observable and has shown itself for what it is, a human tool to control groups and instill common beliefs that bind the group together and increase the chance of survival.

And you should be looking for Dyson in "Darwin Among the Machines" not in a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: Jay Saul at August 28, 2006 7:55 AM

I, for one, agree with Shermer. Obviously, there are many religious claims that directly conflict with science--the 6,000 year old earth and 6 day creation for example--but these aren't accepted by all religious people. While science is agnostic re the existence of deities and other supernatural entitities, making consideration of their existence nonscientific, their is room for one who believes that G-d exists to seek knowledge of the Creator through scientific knowledge of creation. "Study creation and you shall know me." has been taken seriously by many believers throughout the centuries, some of whom have been the greatest scientists in human history. A person who takes this commandment seriously would also presumably be careful to avoid the "G-d of the gaps" nonsense that impedes the pursuit of knowledge about creation. "G-d of the gaps" is, in my humble opinion, neither good science nor good theology.

Posted by: Melinda Barton at August 28, 2006 9:40 AM

Forgive me, but that should read "there is room". These comments things should offer grammar/spell check.

Posted by: Melinda Barton at August 28, 2006 9:42 AM

Just a thought:

I've been moaning and groaning about this way of thinking since I started this blog. Guess this is because I do think science and religion are at war.

Yes, I agree that science and RELIGION are at war but I don't think science and theism are necessarily at war (or incompatible).

And of course, the stronger your theism is (in the philosophical sense, i.e. the more it entails), the more likely it is to be incompatible with science. Religion is a form of theism that is incompatible with science.

Posted by: Cihan Baran at August 28, 2006 3:11 PM

Doing some stuff online tonight (I was going for stuff related to 'post-democratic'); this came up in my search: the Society for Secular Humanism. This piece by Paul Kurtz (used to teach at SUNY Buffalo) is a bit dated (2000 it seems) there is some interesting currency to this blog generally and perhaps this conversation (esp the last section) ... for those with time, and interest:


Posted by: JM at August 31, 2006 10:11 PM

The war between religion and science is really just the collective ego's war with itself- a paradox between reality and actuallity. In some ways religion and science are quite similar; they both are dogmatic in how they want to control the "how narrative" of human unfoldment(consciousness).
The three major religions cling to an anthropomorphic God that is detached from "creation", watching from a far to exact judgement at some "future time". Science, on the other hand, after freeing itself from the dogma of the church, dogmatically took on the protocals Newton, in terms of observing and explaining phenomena, but distanced itself from Newton's "belief" that consciousness was absolutely present in all things detectable and undetectable by sensory perception.
For the sake of brevity, let it be stated that both science and religion, in their present expressions, need "a beginning." For without a beginning, nothing can be explained! And,of course,in our present state, we need those who explain and those who follow explanations! No, this is not about the "Steady State Theory". This is about the "Cyclical Universe".
It simply comes down to the question of whether absolute zero and One can co-exist in the UNI-VERSE? Can something come from absolutely nothing? If so, that makes "nothing" something! The failings of religion has been historically obvious. But science has this unnecessary emnity with religion, when it knows that Man has a limited frequency response to all phenomena. And yet, science does not want "to know" or even acknowledge, that religion maybe a flawed extant quest to access a part Man's perceptual contruct that operates outside the sphere of mere empiricism.

Posted by: D-of-G at November 7, 2006 1:29 PM

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