In reply to ‘The case for Religion’

Categories Philosophy, Religion, Science, Uncategorized
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Firstly, I think my colleague’s article deserves a lot of respect and appreciation as it is well written and well argued. Though his article and some of the conclusions drawn are in-valid and some are based on misunderstanding.

1) The graph in his article is a sketch, that is, it is not based on collected data. The curve representing the gradual increase in scientific knowledge is too simplified, it does not represent the true nature of science. The progress of science is chaotic and does not follow a strict linear pattern. The growth of science between Newton and the 29th century was fast, showing a sharp growth in scientific knowledge. However the growth can halt for a few years. There are two patterns in the progress of science- paradigm shifts and actual knowledge.. paradigm shifts are where we have to change our complete view of nature e.g. Einsteins relativity and quantum mechanics (which were both unpredictable). Scientists gather knowledge on small scales nearly everyday, this is more gradual, but it also depends on the technology available at the time.

Scientific knowledge is unpredictable, maybe there will be less paradigm shifts occurring per unit time than before. This was the view 100 years ago and plenty revolutions have occured.

Also Matt had shown that Religion, as a body of knowledge, increased sharply at times. However what sort of knowledge occured? Surely Religion is absolute, it is in its nature to not change… surely the curve should be way less steep than shown.

One could question Matt’s assumption that religion and science started at the same time, for we know religion occurred before the scientific method. The knowledge that science has brought us in its life span is far far greater than what religion has brought us. Also what knowledge has Religion brought us? It has not bought us mathematical or empirical knowledge… so what has it brought?

Surely Religion is not supposed to be a body of knowledge. Religion is a body of faith and reassurance.

2) ‘In my opinion the best way in which the human race to advance is to have a mix of both science and faith. Use science for questions that are answers beyond doubt and use faith for all the gaps.’

Matt is basically saying that science should be used to explain events that faith cannot answer. Faith should be used for events that science has YET to explain. Surely this is a paradox.

What criterion does one use to establish what is beyond faith and what is beyond science? Matt still has to give this criterion for humans to use his principle efficiently. I also predict that on Matt’s principle, we would not progress at all.

Here are my reasons; At the frontiers of science, researchers encounter some new phenomena which they cannot adequately explain with old theories or models. This is a gap in scientific knowledge. If we follow Matt’s reasoning we should say God intervenes in this case or start providing mythical explanations. If this happens continuously then science will not progress because religious myth will fill in all the gaps that science could have explained if its scientists formed new theories.

On this basis we should not do what Matt is saying. We shouldn’t allow religious myth to fill in the gap (which is a psychological defense mechanism anyway). We should trust science (evidence from the past suggests that new incomprehensible  phenomena can be explained through new theories) to explain new phenomena, we do not need myth to fill in the gap.

This itself is a logical inconsistency anyway, if Religion has to fill in the small gaps in science surely this is a desperate attempt for its own survival. Why use the scientific method to explain the world and then use religion to fill in what seems incomprehensible. This is lazy.

3) ‘If there was no spiritual meaning of life then I do not believe that the human race or, ironically, science would be where it was today’

Science is independent of faith. In the equations of physicists or the biological models of our genome there is no quantity of faith… no variable of spirituality. There is no need for it.  Scientific theories only take into account what is observed, spirits, ghosts, gods, Zeus, invisible teapots are not observable and therefore are not taken into account.

Science would be far ahead if it wasn’t for Religion and fundamentalism. Most of america is still religious… a court case against teaching evolution took place which to our sanity Evolution won. This however puts restraints on children’s (future generations) belief in science… the belief that it works and it works very well.

We do not need spiritual guidance to explain the universe scientifically. As Richard Feynman said…  ‘we should take pleasure in finding things out’,  that pleasure and desire for precise knowledge is what guides the scientists today.

4) ‘The fact is that neither science or religion is right about most questions that have been or will be asked but in most cases they will try and provide answers that their supporters will believe’

This is a quite disappointing comment. If science has not been right about the questions we humans ask about the world, we would be stuck in the caveman era, science is right until falsified. What this means is… a scientific theory is correct until evidence is shown against it… it changes to fit the evidence and continues to do so ( a paradigm shift might occur also).

Science provides answers that fit with experiment, scientists do not care what they think, if it doesn’t agree with experiment then it is wrong. Matt, yet again, has a misunderstanding of what science is and what science does.

Religion has not been right about a lot of things, such as… the world was created in 6 days (evidence suggests that universe was created from a subatomic explosion and continues to expand). The bible says that the universe should be about 60, 000 years old, however dinosaurs (from fossils) existed before it. The bible says that women are inferior which is not true, women are capable of great things.

Matt also claims that science is fundamental. If this were true then it would not progress because scientists would not change theories even if evidence is against it. Science is the opposite, it is fallible and its students understand that. Fallible meaning ‘could be wrong’.

Religion is fundamentalist, only because its students believe they are not fallible.

Religion and Science are two different ‘schools of thought’ (Science is technically a school of thought and experiment). Religion is based on faith and God, Science on reason and experiment.

We are humans though, biological creatures. Religion is a social phenomenon and so is science. What is true is ultimately relative to our race and our brain infrastructure. However, science is providing us with longer and better quality lives. If we are a species to progress it is a no brainer to which one we should invest in. I say this out of what has happened in the past (empirically) not on faith.

 

Studying Physics at Swansea University and may interests lay in quantum mechanics, thermodynamics and neuroscience. I enjoy rowing, sport and politcal banter.

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