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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:19 PM

Religion and science: When did they become adversaries?

A lot of people, across the religious spectrum (or even if they're not religious at all), will say that religion and science have, at best, an uneasy relationship, and at worst, are fundamentally opposed.

My question, though, is: Since when? One of America's first European colonies was founded by zealously religious dissidents (the Puritans) who, as it turns out, were also highly educated and firm believers in the power of science to illuminate what they saw as God's Creation. The great Islamic civilizations of the past were leaders in scientific discovery and knowledge. Same with Judaism, whose followers have valued education and scientific understanding for a long time. So there is historical precedent for a kind of harmony between religion and science in terms of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.


If you look at non-Abrahamic faiths, there is even more evidence to support the claim that, more often than not, religion and science have been partners. The Baha'i faith, for one, stresses that science and religion are to be in harmony. Buddhism, too, has a lot of respect for science in terms of philosophical compatibility. Likewise with Hinduism.;

The more I learn about different religions' relationships with science, the more I suspect that science and religion are by no means necessarily adversaries. But in the modern Western world, there's a kind of battle line between the two philosophical fields.

What are other DU'ers thoughts on this?

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:28 PM

1. When science started contradicting their dogmas. -nt



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Response to gcomeau (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:48 PM

7. Bingo. n/t

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:29 PM

2. I think that some people who take the bible word for word are scared that if you disprove one...

... word of the bible with scientific evidence or logic that the whole bible is false. This is not how I believe. The ability to learn is a gift from God I think. Science is not the enemy, fundamentalism is.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:35 PM

4. I agree with this

And fundamentalism in Christianity, specifically Protestant fundamentalism, is a largely modern phenomenon (beginning in the late 1800s/early 1900s). That is to say, not that previous generations before that didn't have biblical literalists, but a movement that is explicitly anti-rational and anti-science in Christianity (in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence against biblical literalism) was something rather novel.

The Bible is not even one book, nor does it have one author, and because of translation issues and other aspects of the way in which it was written, it would seem pretty silly to take it literally (rather than as allegory, metaphor, looking at the historical context, etc.)

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Response to YoungDemCA (Reply #4)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:49 PM

8. Yes what most people do not realize is that Bible scholars never read the bible literally until...

... the evangelical movement started in Christianity.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:33 PM

3. The Garden of Eden myth leads me to think it's been around since man showed up

 

Hell, our ancestors may have fought over which was the real "monkey god"

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:46 PM

5. It began in western culture when science knocked us off our pedestal and implied we weren't special

 

When astronomers first recognized that the Earth was not the center of all creation it undermined the authority of the church, of men, or whites, of humans. When Galileo was forced to recant that fact that the Earth revolved around the sun. Each time science pushes us off our pedestal, religious authority throws a fit.

Really, the war was begun and is maintained by religious authority and they will ultimately lose because they lack the imagination to see how science makes the universe and their creator bigger, grander and more mysterious.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:47 PM

6. After Descartes and the abandonment of Scholasticism

Until the early 17th century, in the west at least, most science was controlled and performed by the Church, which had long grafted Aristotleian understanding onto Christianity to generate scholasticism, the be all and end all of pholosophy and the natural sciences (at the time regarded as the same thing) until Descartes.

Scholasticism was essentially inferential and dialectic. When it was addressed with philosophical skepticism by Descartes, the emphasis shifted to an examination of certainty in metaphysics, and the famous cogito ergo sum bit demonstrated that only a thinking mind was certain to have real existence, and to be the only subjective arbiter of experience.

Essentially what that means is that the human mind becomes an independent agent rather than a tool of God. The Galileos and Brunos and Newtons later in the same century relied on this "free agency" to follow where the evidence took them, regardless of Church doctrine in some cases.

Now Descartes himself was a religious man and closely followed his most famous statement with a similarly grounded "proof" of God, but his work certainly launched the modern approach to science and philosophy. Every advance in these, even by religious people, removed more and more mystery from creation and made the gaps in knowledge smaller wherein God could keep his ineffability. Obviously, the Church resented and quite often still resents this and way too often tries to reject or retard it.

So in effect a very devout believer who wanted to prove God existed led quite directly to a burgeoning host of reasons to doubt that "proof", and the backlash this caused.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 02:24 PM

9. You're making a false observation on any relationship between science and religion....

...prior to Galileo (17th-18th century). Why? Well because science as we know it didn't really exist till then. Science was viewed as "Natural Philosophy." Meaning that if it could be argued as being "right" it was right and the evidence didn't matter. THIS made it in tune with religion, not opposed to it. For example, the Greeks argued that Earth had to be the stable center of the universe with everything else moving around it--no evidence for this, it's just argued philosophically. And they added in that the other planets had to be circling Earth in perfect circles because the "gods" wouldn't have done it any other way.

Hm. That sounds like science and religion are almost one in the same, doesn't it? Scientific theories of how things work are based on what people think GOD would do (i.e. on religious belief). NOT on evidence. And even when the evidence goes against the Greeks (the planets seem to move backwards in those perfect circles), they don't give up on their philosophy. GOD wouldn't want planets circling in any other way--so add more circles instead to explain the evidence, rather than using the evidence to tell you what's really happening.

Do you get it? Science and Religion (belief that something is true without any supporting evidence that it is true) were not "friends" in the old days. They were one in the same. Science didn't question anything religion said--to the contrary, it tried to PROVE religion was right--that god existed (see the "Watchmaker fallacy"--created in 1802--which shows that even into the 19th century science was still being used to prove religion was right). Once Science DID start to question the truth of religious tenants, however...well, Galileo was found guilty of heresy and put under house arrest for the rest of his life. Why? Because he saw moons around Jupiter--and told people what he saw. He presented evidence that said that what religion was saying wasn't true.. Wasn't right.

And that, my friend, is when religion and science fell into opposing camp--with the gap widening every few decades. Science is the enemy of religion because it won't take what religion says on faith. If religion can't prove itself with facts, then science won't affirm that it is true. No matter how many people believe Earth is the center of the solar system with planets rotating about it in perfect circles, no matter how many people or religions want this to be true, science will continue to say that the evidence proves that Earth and the other planets are circling the sun in ellipses. This doesn't upset all religious people, but it often upsets organized religions as it makes them look like liars when they keep insisting that their holy book says earth is the center of the solar system and everyone should just agree with them and stop bringing in facts to the contrary.

Sound familiar?

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 07:48 PM

10. When modern man emerged from Africa about 75000 BCE, the social organization of the tribe

usually had two leaders, a chief and a shaman. The chief was a skilled hunter and warrior, the shaman a healer and spiritual advisor. The answer to your question would be "the first time they quarreled."

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 09:58 PM

11. Who says they are?

Not these.

Nicholas Copernicus
Francis Bacon
Rene Descartes
Blaise Pascal
Isaac Newton
Robert Boyle
Michael Faraday
Gregor Mendel
Max Planck
Francis Collins

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