01
Feb
10

A few comments

First of all, I don’t think I’m all that obscure, but I’ll let that pass…

Recently, I noticed this particular comment regarding my statements here. I don’t mind this, in fact, I would openly encourage such criticism and comments. Indeed, I enjoy reading opposing views and feedback regarding the ideas I am not particularly well experienced with. Suffice it to say, however, than one particular phrase struck me as most intriguing:

The truly scientific mind is open-minded to the extreme, while still being rigorous and relying on a field of knowledge obtained through careful observation. While you can argue that it is nothing more than glossing over cognitive dissonance, such open-mindedness does provide space for a personal belief in Gods, monsters and faeries, as the need arises.

That said, religion, spirituality and faith are also completely different ways of experiencing the world.

I fear I may have mislead some in my statements concerning the idea of religion and science being compatible. and in light of some of my more recent explanations of naturalism, with the proper background now, I intend to explain my statements a bit more in detail. Methodological naturalism, or the framework under which science operates, is the framework of gaining knowledge used by the ontological naturalist. If you are a fan of NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) put forth by Gould, you may think religion and science never overlap. If, however, you listen to most of the claims of every religion, you quickly realize that this is blatantly incorrect. Almost every religion that I know of implicitly claims that a soul or spirit exists. Given the mounds upon mounds of experiments done with animal and human neurology (to the point that we know what regions of the brain and patterns signify what emotions, thoughts, and ideas), dualism seems fairly dubious, at best, and flagrantly demonstrated as “not necessary” (at least) or “not possible” (on the extreme end) to explain human behaviors and cognition. Below is another example of contradictions by science:

Most people in the Americas (87%) believe in some form of Christianity, generally leaning towards metaphorical interpretations of some passages, while literal interpretation of others. The vast majority of these believe, for example, that the passages related to the birth of Jesus are literal fact. Please provide a brief explanation, then, of the discrepancy between Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:1. Archaeology (yes, it is a science) plainly indicates that Herod died in 4 CE while the first the census under Cyrenius (Quirinius) wasn’t until 6 CE… How could Mary be “great with child” in 6 CE after having already been born in 4 CE “in the days of Herod the king?” Am I just that unschooled in theology as to not realize he was, not only a deity, but also Merlin? So I suppose he was crucified in 34 BCE? Or am I just confused here?

Ignoring contradictions in the texts, points disproved regarding specifics, let us turn our attention back to the nature of this discussion. Another problem with religions not being “contradicted by science” comes from the ever-moving goalposts of religious claims. If we eventual understand human cognition to the point that we can build a real-time human brain simulating computer program, complete with ability to form new connections, modify existing connections, and algorithmically include such influences as fatigue, hunger, stress, etc., the religious claim will be changed to “but we never claimed we have a spirit while we’re alive” or something along those lines.

In essence, these claims are Russell’s teapot, in the most extreme case. Here is a parable: after we observe every single fleck of dust in orbit around the Sun from the corona to the Kuiper belt, the teapot is then said to be in another dimension, of course we wouldn’t find it where WE were looking! When you hide something in that which has yet to be explored, of course it isn’t disproved. And then, when that region is explored, it is moved to another unexplored area. Would you be willing to go on a scavenger hunt when all the items keep being moved to areas you were originally told weren’t part of the game? It would get rather old rather quickly.

Instead, what we find when looking for the compatible coexistence of science and religion, what we find is that religion must continue to hide tenets in the unknown and unexplored regions of our knowledge in order to remain compatible. The ever moving goalposts of religious claims should probably just be mounted upon tracks to ease transport. I got tired of trying to carry them by the time I was 12…

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