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Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Science & Technology | 74 comments

God and Science

Science Lab - Wikimedia Commons

The relationship between theism and science has been debated for generations. All too often, people are given the impression that one cannot believe in the existence of God and at the same time believe what science says about nature. In reality, science does not require atheism, as indicated by the following statements by scientists.


Stephen Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist: “Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings and values –subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate but can never resolve.”

“Darwin did not use evolution to promote atheism or to maintain that no concept of God could ever be squared with the structure of nature. Rather, he argued that nature’s factuality, as read within the magisterium of science, could not resolve, or even specify, the existence or character of God, the ultimate meaning of life, the proper foundations of morality, or any other question within the different magisterium of religion.”

“The universe, for all we know, may have an ultimate purpose and meaning . . . and these ultimates may be set by a rational transcendent power legitimately called God, but the resolvable subject matter of science falls into another realm below the purview of such philosophical (and probably unknowable) generalities.”


Ian G. Barbour, nuclear physicist: “Another way of separating theological from scientific assertions is the distinction between primary and secondary causality, which is common in Catholic and neo-orthodox thought. God as primary cause is said to work through the secondary causes of the natural world that science studies. God is omnipotent and uses natural laws to achieve particular goals. Primary causality is on a totally different level from the interactions among entities in the world.”


Kenneth R. Miller, biologist: “Does evolution really nullify all world views that depend on the spiritual? Does it demand logical agnosticism as the price of scientific consistency? And does it rigorously exclude belief in God? These are the questions that I will explore in the pages that follow. My answer, in each and every case, is a resounding ‘no’.”

“My friends and colleagues in nonscientific disciplines will often claim science as their authority. Clearly they believe that scientific inquiry has ruled out the divine. Unfortunately for them, as I will argue, nothing of the sort is true. Their attitude towards religion and religious people are rooted not so much in science itself as in the humanist fabric of modern intellectual life.”


Mark Buchheim, biologist: “Science is indeed a powerful tool, but science is, by default, mute with regard to anything outside the natural world. The late Stephen J. Gould introduced the concept of NOMA, or non-overlapping magisteria, to describe how science and faith co-exist in “mutual humility.” The point I’m making here is that science, stripped of any philosophical assumptions about the exclusivity of the natural world, can tell us nothing about our faith. Therefore, anyone who tries to link an acceptance of evolutionary theory with atheism or agnosticism is promoting a false dichotomy.”


Mark A. Foster, sociologist: “Because a scientist recognizes the operational limitations of science does not make her or him an atheist.”

“Like virtually all scientists (physical, biological, or social), I am a methodological naturalist. However, I am not an atheist (an ontological naturalist). As a methodological naturalist, I reject that science can be used to demonstrate the existence of God. I do not reject that the existence of God can be demonstrated through other means.”

“There is as much evidence for evolution (most of it genetic) as there is for the heliocentric model of the solar system (that the sun, not the earth, is its center). There is no other side of the coin. Accepting evolution, however, does not mean that one rejects of God or the soul.”


John Polkinghorne, mathematical physicist: “There is much cloudy unpredictable process throughout the whole of the physical world. It is a coherent possibility that God interacts with the history of his creation by means of ‘information input’ into its open physical process. The causal net of the universe is not drawn so tight as to exclude this possibility.”


Scientists are not the only people who acknowledge the fact that atheism is not a requirement of science. Non-theist philosophers also acknowledge it.


John Wilkins, agnostic philosophy professor: “A final form of naturalism is ontological naturalism. This is the opinion that all that exists is natural. Many scientists are also physicalists. They argue that if we do not need to postulate the reality of non-physical processes for science, then we can conclude that there are no such things. This argument is too quick. The claim that ‘if A then B’ explains B may be true, but there may also be a C that explains B. Moreover, many things in the physical world are cause by many things together rather than just a few. So, we might say that a physical event is caused by both God and by physical causes, without being logically inconsistent.”


Keith Augustine, atheist philosopher: “In utilizing methodological naturalism, science and history do not assume a priori that, as a matter of fact, supernatural causes don’t really exist. There is no conceptual conflict between practicing science or history and believing in the supernatural.”


In short, a person can believe in God and still be a good scientist.


Quote Sources

[In order of appearance]

Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of ages: Science and religion in the fullness of life (Ballantine: 1999), p. 4.

Ibid., p. 192.

Ibid., p. 199.

Ian G. Barbour, When science meets religion (HarperSanFrancisco: 2000), p. 19.

Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin’s god (Cliff Street Books: 1999), p. 17.

Ibid., p. 19.

Mark Buchheim, “Letter to the editor: an educated response”, The Collegian Online (University of Tulsa: 2005), http://www.utulsa.edu/collegian/article.asp?article=2569 .

Mark A. Foster, “The Captain’s Personal bLog”, My Looking-Glass Selves (Sociosphere: 2001), http://editorials.sociosphere.com/arc20020301.html .

Ibid.

Ibid.

John Polkinghorne, Quarks, Chaos & Christianity (Crossroad: 1999), p. 71.

John Wilkins, Naturalism: Is it necessary? (TalkOrigins: 1997), http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil/naturalism.html .

Keith Augustine, Naturalism (Infidels: 2009), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/naturalism/ .

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  • adelinesdad

    For the most part I see science as answering the questions of What, How, and When. While religion answers Why and Who (who God is and who we are). As long I keep those straight, there is no contradiction.

    I think the atheist position is as much based on faith as the theist position. It is a faith that once all is known we will discover that there is no intelligent being behind it all.

    My belief is that God is the ultimate scientist. Someone said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It may also be true that any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from miracle. When we know everything there is to know in the scientific realm, and everything in the religious realm, we may discover that they are perfectly complimentary, and any apparent contradictions will be found to be based on misunderstandings of one or both.

    • JSpencer

      Arthur Clarke was the guy (technology/magic). As for the atheist position being based on faith, I think that’s quite a stretch.

    • giraffejunk

      “It is a faith that once all is known we will discover that there is no intelligent being behind it all.” Actually you couldn’t be more wrong. I know for a FACT that the Christian God doesn’t exist. How could I possibly know that? Well, read His Holy Book, an omnipotent Being didn’t know that the Moon was a reflector, He thought it a little light. Donkeys and Serpents don’t talk. There isn’t enough water on Earth to flood it to the tallest mountains. All people didn’t come from two people (DNA proves this). We currently build skyscrapers taller than the tower of Babel could have been (it would have been crushed under it’s own weight). A wooden Ark, when measured using the ancient Egyptian cubit, couldn’t float. You might think these parables, that I just don’t seem to get, so let’s look at His moral values (surely an Omnipotent Being’s moral values must surpass His creations). Commanding the killing of those who work on the Sabbath, a cheating spouse, or a witch lacks omnipotent moral values. Killing the first born as well as all inhabitants of the Earth (save eight) in the largest Genocide ever known, must be the most egregious violation of moral values.
      It isn’t faith to understand that this God isn’t possible. Thus, even if there is a God, but It doesn’t interfere with human existence and has shown no proof if It’s existence, dismissing it becomes a moot issue.

      • adelinesdad

        Neither the original post nor my comment has anything to do with the bible or its theology, methods of interpretation, historical accuracy, infallibility, etc. All interesting things to talk about but that discussion isn’t necessary to discuss whether atheism is required by science.

        • giraffejunk

          “I think the atheist position is as much based on faith as the theist position” I wasn’t arguing anything about theologies, methods of interpretation, historical accuracy, infallibilities, etc. I was arguing that those glaring errors from an Omnipotent Being are what make the atheist position based on FACT and NOT based upon faith.

          • adelinesdad

            You don’t have to hold the bible as historically or scientifically accurate in order to accept that it contains some spiritual truths. And, more to the point, you don’t have to believe in the bible at all in order to believe that God exists.

          • giraffejunk

            If it isn’t historically or scientifically accurate what spiritual truths could it contain? Couldn’t you find more meaning in a book that doesn’t have everyone killed (save eight)? If you don’t believe in the Bible and there is no further evidence of God, then why believe in the made-up?

          • Couldn’t you find more meaning in a book that doesn’t have everyone killed (save eight)?

            Or seven, in the case of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves.

          • SteveK

            Or seven, in the case of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves.

            I really (really, really) liked Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age but then (and my bookshelves show I tried) something went missing in his work.

            It seems he chose to substitute massive quantities of words for the smooth flowing minimalist story telling genius that launched his career.

          • Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age but then … something went missing in his work.

            Humm. My favorite of his novels is Cryptonomicon, and I really liked Anathem, Reamde, and Seveneves. However, I’m a stone techie, and those all may have been addressed to me. I didn’t like, and didn’t finish, any of The Baroque Cycle.

            substitute massive quantities of words for the smooth flowing minimalist story telling genius

            Interesting. I love the digressions where he explains something really convoluted and technical for a dozen pages.

            A friend of mine once said casually to me “Oh, yeah. I met Neal at a party at Bill’s house and we went out bar-hopping.” I still turn green with envy at regular intervals. (My friend is on the Microsoft board, so you know who Bill is.)

          • adelinesdad

            This idea that if something cannot be scientifically proven, it must not be true, is what I was referring to when I said that atheism is based on faith–the faith that all knowledge can be obtained through science. (ETA: I believe this is called Positivism)

            As for the bible, even though I maintain it’s not necessary to discuss it in this context, it appears there’s no avoiding it. Would you argue that there is no value–no truth that can be taught–in fiction? Many great teachers use fiction to teach truth. It’s true that in those cases the modern teacher would be careful to clarify what is fiction and what is not, but I’m not sure that has always been seen as important.

            Also, the bible is a collection of books, written by many authors, later to be compiled and translated by people with no connection to the original authors and to which I am under no obligation, as a theist or a Christian, to believe were inspired.

            Those are some reasons, among others, that it’s not logical to suppose that I must accept it all or nothing and that I must accept it as historically and scientifically accurate in order to believe it has spiritual value.

          • giraffejunk

            “This idea that if something cannot be scientifically proven, it must not be true” Oh no you are mistaken, no where did I say that if something can’t be scientifically proven it must not be true. Science hasn’t proven how abiogenesis started from non-living material or the Universe started without a God, but as I write this, these things MUST of happened.
            In regards to the idea that fiction can teach things, this I concede. However, when fiction causes people to do immoral acts under the guise of righteousness, I can find no lesson to be learned.
            If, as a Christian, you don’t believe the Books of the Bible were inspired, then why call yourself a Christian? If a God didn’t inspire them, then why linger onto the ideologies of a God at all? What a silly notion that a false, inaccurate, fictitious Book can have more spiritual meaning than Dr. Seuss’ book the “Cat in the Hat”. Surely Goat Herders 2,000 years ago can’t have some mystical powers and knowledge over your spiritual being?

          • adelinesdad

            I said those who compiled and translated the writings may not have been inspired (though I think they generally were not intentionally inaccurate), and maybe some of the authors (there are still debates about which books should be included or excluded). That still leaves a lot of room for inspired writings to come through.

            I think we’ve explored our disagreement thoroughly enough.

          • giraffejunk

            You don’t think they were malicious….LOL….A bunch of people who, through their writings, could direct the will of the people “below” them….and they weren’t malicious, yeah, right…What fantasy world do you live in.

          • JSpencer

            “you don’t have to believe in the bible at all in order to believe that God exists”

            Agreed.The word “god” means different things to different people. I wouldn’t attempt to quantify my own sense of god, and many of the experiences that inform it are subjective and wouldn’t lend themselves to any scientific experiment – or fit into any orthodoxy. This doesn’t mean they are invalid or not useful but it does mean they are extremely hard to prove or disprove.

            Our abilities to be conscious, aware, loving, moral, and questioning creatures are amazing and are the grist for all that make us human, but I no longer feel compelled to explain what it all means, nor do I think anyone else knows what it all means. It just is. Again, I have no difficulty with the phrase, “I don’t know”, which I don’t view as an end, but as a beginning.

            So much of religious dogma seems to be seeking an end, or at least a box to put everything in. I have a problem with that because I view it as presumptive and inherently dishonest.

          • giraffejunk

            Changing the definition of God to fit your made-up imaginary world, doesn’t make it a new definition and doesn’t make it true.

      • All people didn’t come from two people (DNA proves this).

        Yeah, actually we do. We are all descended from Mitochondrial Eve and Y‑chromosomal Adam (mitochondria and y‑chromosomes are part of DNA). They were single individual humans from whom all current humans are descended.

        However, it’s unlikely that those two ever met. Eve lived 150,000 ± 50,000 years ago and Adam somewhere between 180,000 and 581,000 years ago.

        Anyway, the reasons you give are not really reasons not to believe in god; it could be that the descriptions contain a lot of errors, not the being.

        • giraffejunk

          I guess either you didn’t study or understand the Mitochondrial Eve, “One misconception surrounding mitochondrial Eve is that since all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line from her, she must have been the only woman alive at the time. However, nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands. Other women living during Eve’s time have descendants alive today but at some point in the past, each of their lines of descent did not produce a female who reproduced, thereby breaking the mitochondrial DNA lines of descent.”

          “it could be that the descriptions contain a lot of errors”, I would expect better from an Omnipotent Being, don’t you?

          • you didn’t study or understand the Mitochondrial Eve … “she must have been the only woman alive at the time. “

            Where did I say anything like that? Read the definition again, from where-ever you’re getting it, and then read what I wrote. I had this discussion years ago with Ken Miller, a student of mine and a classmate of my wife’s, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got it right. Ken is mentioned in the article above.

            EDIT: Is the problem that I said “They were single individual humans …?” “Single” and “individual” are redundant in that phrase; I should have omitted one of them (probably “single.”).

            I would expect better from an Omnipotent Being, don’t you?

            Sure, but that’s not who wrote the descriptions. Also too, omnipotence may be just another human-induced description error. You have to allow for a noisy channel.

          • giraffejunk

            “Where did I say anything like that?” You said it when you wrote, “They were single individual humans from whom all current humans are descended.”

            “Also too, omnipotence may be just another human-induced description error” If He can’t fix human-induced description errors, then why call Him God?

          • You said it when you wrote, “They were single individual humans …”

            My phrasing was confusing, but certainly doesn’t say or imply “only.”

            If He can’t fix human-induced description errors

            “Can’t,” or “doesn’t bother to?”

            then why call Him God?

            She created the universe, but doesn’t care what we think of her?

            And why oh why is there only one? Beings come in entire species.

          • giraffejunk

            “doesn’t bother to?” Just one word: Malevolence. Where is your proof of “Her” or “Her entire species” existence?

          • Where is your proof of “Her” or “Her entire species” existence?

            I don’t think you’re getting my point. I’m not arguing that a god or gods exist or do not exist; I think the whole idea that there are gods is just silly. I’m explaining my opinion of your arguments that he does not exist — your reasoning stinks.

          • giraffejunk

            Which part of my reason stinks? The part where there is no proof?

          • Which part of my reason stinks?

            The part where you say “All people didn’t come from two people (DNA proves this),” for example. We did. More importantly, all of the things you listed from the bible that don’t make sense. As I said, they all could be the result of the people who wrote the bible getting things wrong. Republicans are wrong about a lot of things that they say Reagan did, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t exist.

          • giraffejunk

            “However, nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands.” Nope, didn’t come from two people, you’re wrong there.

          • Nope, didn’t come from two people, you’re wrong there.

            You said yourself “all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line from [Mitochondrial Eve].” Ditto for men and Y?chromosomal Adam. Two people.

          • giraffejunk

            Actually, I wrote, “One misconception surrounding mitochondrial Eve is that since all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line from her, she must have been the only woman alive at the time. However, nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands.”
            Keep re-reading that until you understand it. One MISCONCEPTION…..

          • Keep re-reading that until you understand it.

            Are you denying that “all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line from [Mitochondrial Eve]?” The science says exactly that.

            The same is true for males and Y?chromosomal Adam. If you are male, you are descended from him. Your mother is descended from Mitochondrial Eve, so you are too. This is true for every male on the planet.

            Ditto for females and Mitochondrial Eve. If you are female, you are descended from her. Your father is descended from Y?chromosomal Adam, so you are too. This is true for every female on the planet.

            Therefore every human being is descended from Y?chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. I’m not sure what part of that you’re disagreeing with.

          • giraffejunk

            What I’m saying, in context, is that Adam a man made of dirt that God breathed life into and Eve the female that was made from a rib of this dirt man, of the Bible didn’t exist, thus all people didn’t come from two people. And especially for our denser, unable to read in context people in the crowd, Nuclear DNA proves this.

          • Adam a man made of dirt that God breathed live into and Eve the female that was made from a rid, of the Bible didn’t exist, thus all people didn’t come from two people

            But we did, just not those two. We are all descended from Y?chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve.

            our denser, unable to read in context people in the crown

            Huh?

          • giraffejunk

            Sure, and Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve never met. Thus, the story of the Bible is false. In the “crown”….LOL…should have been “crowd”….no not the denser people in the UK

          • Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve never met.

            They could have, and had children — at least one boy and one girl. Nothing precludes that possibility, but it’s unlikely in the extreme because the ranges of time that they each existed overlap only in small part. I think it’s more the “breathing live (or life) into dirt” and “made from a rid (or rib)” (I see you corrected that last) that calls the story into question.

          • giraffejunk

            Sure they could have, “However, it’s unlikely that those two ever met. Eve lived 150,000 ± 50,000 years ago and Adam somewhere between 180,000 and 581,000 years ago.” Why not, I mean in your world, anything is possible. I made typos, you knew what I meant, got the point across. If that’s your argument, then you lose.

          • If that’s your argument, then you lose.

            Apparently the only way to win is not to play.

          • giraffejunk

            For you maybe. I don’t think of any “argument” in winning or losing, only those that have nothing other than pointing out typographical mistakes as a point of conversation are saying that their argument is weak and have realized their error, they just aren’t (wo)man enough to admit it. If you had stated, “did you mean life instead of live”, that would have been a point of ensuring we both understand each other, due to my typographical error.

            But, don’t worry, I now understand that my argument of all people didn’t come from just two people, is in-fact accurate, in context of the original statement. You’re inability to maintain your own argument of “Y-Adam” and “Mitro-Eve” being separate in time, just tells me you are trolling. But, I come from the “old-school” train of thought and that’s, troll the trollers.

          • my argument of all people didn’t come from just two people, is in-fact accurate

            I’m puzzled by your resistance to logic, but willing to give up on you.

          • giraffejunk

            I don’t understand it either, maybe it stems from when YOU wrote, “However, it’s unlikely that those two ever met”. Or the part that said, “nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands.”
            Could be, tough call though.

      • Slamfu

        Actually that doesn’t prove the Christian God doesn’t exist so much as that the bible is just a collection of old stories that somebody at one point just pulled out of their ass and committed to paper. There could have been an actual power that inspired it and the authors of the bible just screwed up the recording and interpretation. That’s a stretch I know, but the possibility alone is enough to rule out absolute certainty regarding the existence of God.

        • giraffejunk

          Without any direct evidence that the Bible is inspired by God (and the Bible is not evidence of a God, just as Harry Potter isn’t evidence of magic, it is evidence that people wrote of a God), it is easy to dismiss the Christian God, just as one would dismiss the Norse Gods or the Roman Gods.

          Further, if this God is not omnipotent and can’t make sure that His inspired authors won’t “just screwed up the recording and interpretation”, He is not worthy of worship.

    • MountainDewFan4

      I am confused as to why religious people are so hung up with the “Why”. Why are we here? What is the meaning of Life? Who are we?

      Perhaps … just perhaps … these questions do not have an answer !

      Is there a meaning to your dog’s life? Did your god created your dog, just to drool on your lap?
      Is there a meaning to that flea on your dogs butt? Did god create that specific flea knowing that one day he would end up on the butt of your dog?
      Of course not.

      • adelinesdad

        My questions of Why and Who are both short-hand. I don’t mean to exclude the related questions of “is there a Why/Who?” My point is that even those questions can’t be answered by science. They are in the spiritual realm even for the atheist. Or the philosophical realm, at least.

        I don’t assume to know anything about the meaning of a dog’s or flea’s life, or what that meaning or lack thereof implies about my own life’s meaning or lack thereof, or that God must share our disinterest in them. Matthew 10:29-31 comes to mind, but beyond that I don’t know.

        • giraffejunk

          “‘is there a Why/Who?’ My point is that even those questions can’t be answered by science”
          Actually they can be answered by science. If, from the beginning of time (and yes, there is a beginning of time as no time occurs when all molecules and atoms cease movement) to now you could measure each and every atom and we knew their exact movement based upon the physics of the Universe at the time (including quantum states), we could parlay that into the Who/Why. Of course the ideologies are there, but the physical possibilities of actually being able to track such an immense amount of data may be impossible.

          • you could measure each and every atom and we knew their exact movement based upon the physics of the Universe at the time

            That is precisely what Heisenberg says we cannot do.

          • giraffejunk

            “but the physical possibilities of actually being able to track such an immense amount of data may be impossible.” I know, I know, that’s why I said it “may be impossible”. But, maybe we don’t need to track everything. Maybe (the operative word) Heisenberg was wrong, maybe we only need to track certain things, to give us a certain amount of information, that will give us a why/who. In other words, starting at the point of your father’s birth might give us enough information to determine your birth, thus no need to track everything from the beginning of time, to determine when/who/why you are born. (Again, MAYBE).

          • track such an immense amount of data may be impossible.” I know, I know, that’s why I said it “may be impossible”.

            No, no, we can’t do it for one particle, not because of the amount of data involved, but because we can’t measure one part of that for one particle without changing the other part for that particle. It’s not a lot of data; just six numbers. And the number of digits in each of those six is limited by Planck’s Constant.

            Maybe (the operative word) Heisenberg was wrong

            We’re pretty sure that quantum mechanics is correct.

          • giraffejunk

            I know we can’t (currently) measure one particle, but I did assume (I know what they say) that one day we MAY be able to ([uncertainty principle and all] who know how far science will get in a few thousand years – if we don’t all get killed in some religious Armageddon – over a non-existent God, before then).

            “We’re pretty sure that quantum mechanics is correct”
            Well, that’s why “Maybe” was the operative word.

          • one day we MAY be able to

            It’s not a problem of technology; it’s the nature of the universe. (You do know I used to be a physicist, right?)

          • giraffejunk

            LOL a physicist….Oh, man, what people will make up on the internet…..

          • Oh, man, what people will make up on the internet…..

            It’s my real name. My advisor was Leon Cooper at Brown. Call him up and ask him.

          • giraffejunk

            Yeah, yeah, I figured that out “Bob”. P.S. I went to MIT, own a Maserati and have been on TV. Wow, this is easier than I thought. Just keeping it real.

          • gitinjiggywitit

            Quantum computers?

          • Quantum computers?

            I’m against them. Why do you ask?

            My one patent in cryptology relies on RSA encryption, which quantum computers will knock down like grass under a lawnmower. I’m told that there are other encryption methods we can use when we have quantum computers to do it, but I don’t understand any of it.

          • gitinjiggywitit

            I thought I read once that quantum computers might be able to solve the discovering the velocity, and location simultaneously problem.
            Something about the components of the computer being in quantum states itself is supposed to “Know” everything. A bit scary actually.
            I always like to ask, do you find the breakdown of quantum state into a reality wave by observation mean we are special to our universe?

  • JSpencer

    Neither atheism nor faith is a requirement of science, but honesty is.

    • honesty

      I have to disagree. Science allows for and corrects for dishonesty. One scientist or one experiment is accorded very little trust, but several thousand of them in agreement with each other merit a great deal of trust. I suppose you could say that science requires a preponderance of honesty: the assumption is that most of those several thousand are honest.

      • JSpencer

        I think we’re saying the same thing, I just tend to abbreviate a lot.

  • In reality, science does not require atheism

    The problem that religions have with science is that science shows that the existence of the universe and all of its content, including us, does not require gods. Occam’s Razor cuts them to the quick.

    • Slamfu

      I think the problem religion has with science is that religion often says it is the absolute authority and also has tried to get specific in some cases as to how the world works. But the problem is religion just made it up, said God did it, and I interpret the word of God, from whence all my moral authority is derived. Then when science comes along to show pretty conclusively that some of the things I said God said were wrong, I start to look like a con artist who’s just making it up as I go along. I get embarrassed, and so I don’t like science.

      What science does to religion is to tell it to stick to the fuzzy spiritual stuff, and leave reality to us. As religion has often been used as the basis for temporal power and authority, those who relied on it in this manner lost a lot of power. At the end of the day, it’s about power and money in this world.

  • shannonlee

    the only problems I see with religion and science is when religion is used to deny scientific theory/law. I accept that a greater power could rule the universe and by no way think my little mind or existence could comprehend such power. at the same time…. fact is fact on this earth. a religions inability to reconcile fact with their religious beliefs is not science’s problem.

  • Slamfu

    Religion is a lot different today than it used to be in most of human history. Largely, we let science handle and explain the real world, and religion is left to cover the fuzzy stuff, the moral and spiritual side. However this was not always the case. Used to be that the priests and whatnot were also the final arbiters of truth regarding the actual real world stuff too, and they held tremendous power over people’s daily lives as a result. But along comes science to pretty conclusively show on a lot of fronts that the stories and explanations that we’d taken as fact for centuries, and upon which so much temporal power and authority were based, were in fact obviously made up. Parables if you want to be charitable about it, complete lies if you don’t.

    At this point the religions of the world had to cede a great deal of that power and authority to secular folks. While still seen as the arbiter of the spiritual, nobody consults the priests anymore before going to war. We didn’t get to the moon via prayer and analysis of the holy texts. This is why religion has been against science in so many cases. Because it robs some men of power on this earth.

  • MountainDewFan4

    Although I’m sure that in some of the scientific areas you can still be a theist, I believe that there are many areas of science which you must be an atheist.

    How can one truly discover scientific answers to problems which they already have an answer for which, to them, is set in stone.
    I don’t think that a theist would be the best person to study evolution for example because they already have a preconceived notion that evolution is not real.

    A true theist would not make a good archaeologist because they would insist that the Great Flood wiped out all living creatures at a certain date and/or that dinosaurs never really existed etc. etc.

    Only when your mind is free from these religious beliefs can you truly be a scientist.

    • Slamfu

      Well that would depend on how literal you take the bible. You can still apply the scientific method to your work and hold religious beliefs at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.

      Beside, math is the only real science 🙂

      • MountainDewFan4

        That is something that has always confused me. If you believe in the God which is in the Bible, then why wouldn’t you believe that everything in the Bible is true?

        That would be like me reading a history book and saying, “Oh, I believe in Abraham Lincoln, buuut I don’t think that the Civil War actually happened.”

        • Sal Monela

          Not all Christians (or practitioners of other faiths) are literalists. There are those who chose to look at the Bible or other sacred texts and see 10,000 trees (bible quotes) as well as those who see the entire document as a forest. A person can be a Christian and believe in evolution. The Bible isn’t a science or a history book despite what some people believe.

          • Slamfu

            I would say it is definitely a history book. It was written as the record of the story of the tribes of Israel. It was how they were taught and provided a common thread throughout their history to keep the traditions remembered and the wisdom preserved. If that’s not a history book I don’t know what is.

          • I would say it is definitely a history book.

            Texas-style.

        • Slamfu

          That’s precisely why I can’t believe. Not only would I believe everything in it, I’d be a rabid fanatic. How could you not be? This is the one real truth, and my eternal life is assured by these rules. The whole deal seems like an all or nothing proposition to me.

        • Slamfu

          Lol, I was going to say physics is a close second 🙂

          • physics is a close second

            I’m fascinated by the fact that we have absolutely no idea why mathematics can be applied to the real world. Math is a completely artificial construct, invented by the human mind, yet we can use it to do physics and discover things about the universe. Spooky.

          • gitinjiggywitit

            Unless math is a discovery, not an invention.
            Space and time exist inside a mathematical model, not visa versa.

          • Unless math is a discovery

            Interesting thought, but where would we have found it? It appears that Newton’s inventions in calculus preceded his application of it to gravitation and optics, although we can’t be sure (the whole Leibnitz bru-ha-ha).

            Space and time exist inside a mathematical model

            I don’t understand that. It doesn’t involve humans being used as batteries, does it?

          • gitinjiggywitit

            I don’t fully understand it either. On the gut level, everything seems to break down to a mathematical formula, discovering it should be part of intelligent evolution.
            I would guess that means if we come across aliens they would have the same math.
            I originally got the statement from the show, “Closer to truth”
            It has something over a hundred episodes. The best show on T.V. couldn’t get any ratings because one has to actually think, and pay attention to it. It is available here. I havnt seen it since it first came out so I’ll watch it again myself.
            The episode “Is mathematics invented, or discovered”
            http://www.closertotruth.com/series/mathematics-invented-or-discovered
            And the main website
            http://www.closertotruth.com/

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