Saturday, 10 September 2011

Science vs Religion

In the search for truth it seems many people believe science and religion are either opposites or at least alternative means to an end.

Let's take a look:

As scientific observation improves and greater understanding is achieved, so interpretation of evidence leads to a closer and closer approximation to the truth. This is a fundamental of science. The 'truth' is assumed to be out there waiting to be discovered.

Science has inbuilt mechanisms for removing bias, including submission to peer-review and, even though some scientists may get away with false results due to bias or dishonesty, other scientists will eventually discover these errors and correct them. There is no surer way to fame and respect in science than in overthrowing an established school of thought. This way leads to Nobel Prizes. There is no surer way to ignominy and disgrace than to be found to have deliberately falsified results or allowed bias due to religious, political or cultural prejudice or for financial gain.

Science is thus self-correcting over time, all the while driven towards discovering objective, culturally neutral truth.

Different researchers working independently can, and often do, come up with the same conclusions. Scientists working in different cultures will still arrive at very similar conclusions and resolution of differences is normally free from cultural bias. Whether working in Japan, Europe or USA scientists will produce results regarded as equally valid by each other. During the Cold War, Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc scientists produced results regarded as no less valid by their opposite numbers in the other bloc on the grounds that they were from the 'wrong' political system.

Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Taoist scientists will all, using the same methodology, produce equally valid results. Science is blind to culture, race, creed or politics. The only test is whether the observations are valid and the conclusions flow logically from them.

Because science is entirely based on observation of evidence and facts are neutral, freed from interference from religion or politics, science tends to converge on the same theories.

For this reason we can be sure that, if in some way we could scrap an entire body of science, say, the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Gravity, and start again, science would in time come up with identical theories.

Rational theories which flow naturally and inevitably from the neutral facts.

But with religion, things are quite different.

We have many examples of religions being started afresh, just as though the existing 'theory' has been scrapped and started again. They are ALL different.

There are no examples of different religions in different parts of the world converging on a common form or explanation for the universe or life on earth or indeed any of the other answers all religions purport to provide.

Science puts people on the moon.
Religion flies planes into buildings.
In stark contrast to science, religions diverge and fragment and claim all manner of irreconcilable versions of the 'truth'. The 'Christian' religion alone has diverged into some 38,000 different sects and cults, each claiming to be the only true version and to know the truth.

As a means for discovering truth, religions are about as useful as random guesses or examining the entrails of chickens.

This is because there are no neutral facts in religion, no rational interpretation of those facts, no attempts to measure the evidence more and more accurately or to resolve differences between different groups of researchers or between cultures. Indeed, if religions proceeded this way they would be science and no 'faith' would be required.

Religions are about enforcing unquestioned conformity to dogma and often the notional guesses of technologically backward remote ancestors.

In the search for truth, science wins because science can demonstrate the truth of its claims. (Tweet this)



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4 comments :

  1. You write: "And, perhaps more importantly, why do all the assumptions" religionists "make regarding the origins of the universe - that it MUST have had a beginning, therefore it MUST have had a cause – not apply to their preferred god?"

    That's why I grew up inferring an infinitely steady-state universe. I saw what Fred Hoyle lampooned as "the big bang" to be a modern version of the earth-centered system -- scientific obedience to religion. Scientists, I presumed, were obsessed with finite local variations, letting the trees hide the forest.

    That is, our finite local region, which we call "the universe" may be a random quantum fluctuation in the infinitely steady state. Or we have been spawned by another locality, perhaps decayed, perhaps too far away for us to see, and we may bear our own offspring locality before entropic dispersal.

    Infinity +/- 1 = infinity.

    Our local quantum fluctuation has been expanding ever since it was a "big bang", but the infinite universe remains in a steady state.

    For a recent revival of the Hoyle universe, see http://scientificphilosophy.com/Downloads/IUT.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >You write: "And, perhaps more importantly, why do all the assumptions" religionists "make regarding the origins of the universe - that it MUST have had a beginning, therefore it MUST have had a cause – not apply to their preferred god?"<

      I probably did, but not in this particular article.

      Delete
  2. btw there is lots of evidence for the big bang theory that paper i only had a quick look talks about the mathematics but doesnt show any evidence? this a good example of bad science no?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think it's very hypocritical and strange how theists trust science for EVERYTHING apart from their religious stance and spiritual views.

    ReplyDelete

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