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www.issr.org.uk/ Science Vs ReligionThis kind of also answers the question about why I write this blog. I think that it is a sensible question to ask and the reason is that I first started this blog was when I came across the work of Richard Dawkins, I agreed with what he said. That is not why I still continue, the reason is that for a lot of the time I think that science is misunderstood and for that matter perhaps logic too! Here was me thinking that some sort of Religion could be in place without it bothering the rest of us, Dawkins introduced the idea that ‘truth’ with religion being very much outside in the dark. Science has had to deal with truth and being a postgraduate currently studying science, I have had to deal with truth as well. Science is not a stable thing, it’s messy and a lot of the time it is acknowledged that science can only explain certain things under certain conditions. Science and Religion both create their own concept of what is true in the world.

The temptation might be here for you to think that both science and religion offer different versions or accounts of the same things, you’d be right in part of course. Still there is a big difference, science has or never could directly challenge religion, at least not in its true form, as the whole point of science is not to create a version of reality rather to simply show it as it is. Religion does create a reality, whether it is a kind God who is listening to your wishes or informing you what would be the “Christian” thing. Science exists to help you decide what you could do; Religion exists to tell you what you should. The most fundamental difference I have found is that as an individual you can pile into Science, you can easily go out to test its reasoning as well as add to body of knowledge it creates, it builds up over time and with validation the truth moves. In Religion people tend to pile out of it, they go to a place to hear and see things and then they take that knowledge away which is said to be true. Science offers the tools of investigation whereas religion simply offers a version of the knowledge, you might argue here that science also offers a version of knowledge and you would be correct. The point is that it never stops there and the body of knowledge is moving and responsive, the real difference is the process of reason rather than the presentation of information. If you stand in science, you’d see a useful set of tools and knowledge to which is more often than not will benefits people’s lives. It has never ending questions to which you might never get the answers too or you might get one question answered to only have the process produce a whole new set of questions. If you stand in religion and ask the question ‘Why?’ it’s because of God and that ends the conversation.

Please see my earlier post titled “Why does science still grow when it can be so wrong? Why did science happen and take hold in Europe?” it explains in more detail some of the issues that I have discussed here. Both Comte and Durkheim authored in their own ways three types of understandings or worlds, the first was that of Custom & habit. The second being that of the God ultimate and the last being that of logic & reason. Rather than being able for an individual to exist in two or more of these worlds, they instead moved from one to the other and this was the result of human progress. In this poor example, people used to bury their loved ones in a certain manner and this built up in each generation to include certain rituals. Even me starting at burying is one jump too soon, it could be once when people died they were left on the ground but insects and animals used to eat the bodies so someone thought that putting them in the ground would stop those insects and animals. So this was adopted and happened in the next generation, this is a building up process and this is what happened in the first world. In the second world, the first was removed because now whole societies would bury their dead in the same way and this include, almost at a national level, a set of rituals prescribed for each event plus a new understanding of why we do it this way, God. You could not accept the irrational & illogical version of the second world, say believing in God, and then also buy into the rational and logical third world. They are incompatible to each other at a fundamental level; the third world demands the removal of the second.

I could say that types of religious scientists lived in an earlier time where science had not really developed but that is not really true. Science is there, according to Comte and others, to get at the natural laws which govern the world which we live in. Steven Nadler describes God as nature, everything that happens in nature also happens because of God if you believe in God that is. I hope that confused you a little because its then a true reflection of what actually happens. I would like to bring up David Sloan Wilson here now, as his idea of the practical and factual realism helped me understand why scientists can be religious. In factual realism we deal with truths as far as we can understand them, this is a true reflection of what actually is going on and with any hope these understandings are removed from agenda. Science attempts to deal with factual realism and how do we know this? Well, if you ask yourself and others what happens after someone dies you would get a range of different answers some from faith and others from personal feelings. From this we can see there is no fact or truth from these statements since some could be right others of them could be wrong, you have no way of knowing which one is actually the right answer. When was the last time an X-ray suffered from this problem? Well never unless the machine was broken to which it could be fixed in accordance with the knowledge of how it works. So factual realism is very important and so far most of what I have talked about is based on this notion of science.

Practical realism is a lot more interesting, it states that knowledge that we have, even if not based on fact, works because it allows us to get on with our everyday lives. If we think that doing something which in turns makes us lucky and benefits us by having a successful day then all I can say is that it exists & is worthy of our attention, it’s not based on fact still it allows us to take control of seemingly random events. It does provide benefits including filling in some of the gaps in how we understand the world. In this way scientist can defer to practical realism in order to make sense or fulfil a need. This has been seen to be true in terms of science, in all its forms, when science interlaces with those still using in part their practical realism. So even though religion is outside what is required for belief in science, it still can be present at times. It is particularly easy for scientists not involved in areas that would question Religion, such as a chemist it seems more likely they would have a religious perspective rather than a biologist with connections with evolution. Although this is not always true! One thing I have noticed is that scientists that argue from a religious stand point offer bad science in re-turn. If we go back to how societies bury their dead if all you believed in was science, science does not really offer any help or comfort and religion seems to score one in this department. The structure of religious ritual is universal in a lot of sets or groups of people and this structure appears to be useful. It is in these great unknowns where science is not the light; religion can be the candle even though we never really know if it was the right thing to do.

A little more on this matter…

TIME magazine

Intelligent design has been reject as a pseudoscience, still the debate between Collins and Dawkins is very interesting presented in this TIME article, both come as scientists but only Collins has belief in God. There are many from the scientific corner who are outraged to the insult upon rationality when arguments are presented by intelligent design (ID). Dawkins suggests that the most powerful building block of ID is in fact within the name, design, once we can understand the life on earth was not designed then we remove the whole concept of God from the table. Collins on the other hand offers the idea that Genesis cannot be subjected to the tools of science and furthermore, we simply cannot understand Genesis at all.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132,00.html

The answer to the question is rather a muddy perhaps not!

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