Friday, December 29, 2006

Why Religion And Science Should Not Conflict

People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
- Dave Barry, author and columnist (1947- )

As I see it, there are only two reasons why people want to share their religious views with others. One is because they are uncertain that their views are valid, but feel more confident if they are among others who believe the same (thus they want to convince others to join them).

The other reason is that they want to have some power over the others. It may not seem likely that convincing someone to share the same views as you would be a way of feeling power over them, but having the ability to persuade others to change their basic beliefs is indeed a sign of power. That is, if you can persuade one person to change their basic beliefs, you have the power to persuade others. This may be a matter of perception, if not of reality.

In neither case do the people who want to share their religious beliefs with others have any reason to want others to share theirs. In the case of those who are uncertain of the validity of their own beliefs, listening to those of others may well confuse them further. In the second case, listening to the religious views of others would be perceived as a sacrifice of power.

Religion itself is a way of explaining that which is inherently unexplainable. That is not just the nature of religion, but its definition and reason for existence.

Religion and science do not conflict, except where religion attempts to explain "how" rather than sticking to its main purpose, which is "why." Science is better positioned to explain how, even though it is often mistaken in its interpretation of facts. For example, the six-day-creation story approximately 4000 years ago, as proposed in the bible of the abrahamic religions, is easily shown to be false by provable evidence uncovered by science.

However, science has no way to explain the whys of natural mysteries because it has no purpose along those lines. When science attempts to explain the mysteries of "why" things happened, it fails because it does not have the tools to do so.

To put it simply, when science claims to show how something happens or happened in the past, religion may simply say that it is or was the way God wanted it to be.

Does that sound like an easy way out of the debate of science versus religion? It's not really. Science has no way to comprehend or to even make sense in a general way of the immense complexity of the world and the universe around us.

"Evolution" and "natural selection" are terms that some scientists and science-lovers use to explain how everything happened. But they don't. Religion can simply say that "evolution" and "natural selection" are God's way of improving on what he made. Both evolution and natural selection have major flaws which their supporters fail to address.

Science uses natural "laws" to explain much of what it does. It has never and can never explain the reasons why such laws do or should exist. Science can say that these laws provide natural order, but they cannot say why "order" should be a law or why the "natural order" that exists should be the way it is rather than using some other form or set of rules.

Those who believe in a Godless or scientific explanation of what exists ignore much in order to preserve their limited set of beliefs. Those who believe that religion can explain everything adhere to a similarly restrictive set of beliefs. Both depend heavily on ignorance and exclusion of vast amounts of information to hold their positions.

The world has enough conflict among religions without having intellectual fighting between two sets of beliefs that have no practical overlap and should have little to do with one another.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show the difference.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

2 comments:

Meghna said...

Hi Bill,

I just found your blog, and thought I would post a comment.

I think that this is not a complete enough understanding of Religion and Science.

If people want to share their religious views, it may not necessarily mean that they are uncertain or want to have power over another. I think maybe there should be room in your model for "dialogue".

In a dialogue, there is no room for ideologies or opinion based thinking. The dialogue would have to be based on reason.

Although this will just be a short comment, I would highly recommend purchasing Jordan Peterson's book "Maps of Meaning" to explain the structure of beliefs and how modern science does not allow for mythical narratives and I would also highly recommend a look at www.meru.org for information on how science is being used to decipher the Hebrew alphabet and also is able to link in Islam and Christianity by using the "neutral" language of Mathematics to show all are necessary for life on Earth.

Thanks for the subject posting!

Bill Allin said...

Thanks for your comment, Meghna.
Dialogue would be a reasonable compromise between science and religion. The point is that neither seems ready to do this.
The point of the article was that the two should not conflict because they do not overlap each other's territories. Or they should not, though they often do.