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Quotes on science and religion

  1. Jan 14, 2005 #1

    I have a upcoming debate about science and religion, and we were given a task to show our views on this subject given some quotes.

    Me, daringly ( :tongue2: ) chose einsteins quote, which is:

    'Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind'

    However, when i tried to write whatever page essays on this and tried to cram it up the required time of 5 minutes(!)
    I relised that there is absolute no reason for us to take his statement as valid. Of course, we all know that einstein was had a great mind, which is emphasized by his theory of general and special relativety.

    But really, is there a reason for us to believe what he said, or for that matter, what any 'famous' scientist said through the ages?

    I dont mean this my disrespect to einstein, and i apologize if it did have that effect

    I personally find people who state their views by quoting someone else absurd. (obviously not in the case of english essays that is..:))
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  3. Jan 14, 2005 #2
    I think that Einstein meant that he knows (and don't we all) that there are things in this universe which cannot be explained using physics (not yet anyway). To say that science with religion is lame, is lame! Everyone needs to have some kind of faith in some kind of religion. Without religion, and all science, we assume that their is no purpose, and there's no life after this one. You can know only so much with science, the rest is up to what you decide you have faith in when science isn't applicable.

    To say that religion without science is blind is pretty simple. Look at all the Christians or whoever who are clinging to their belief that god created their world x years ago, and made man on the seventh day, blah blah. Now there's actual proof that the Earth is much older than that, and thta man is a result of an evolutionary process. To ignore these provable facts and evidence is purely just being blind. It's uncontestable, these are the facts of life. It's like me saying that peanut butter isn't made of peanut butter, but it's made of solid gold. Now, I can go to a peanut butter factory and see them making peanut butter with peanuts, not with gold. But I decide, NO, that can't be right because that's not what I believe. It's a little more than that though, because these people put so much faith and absolute truth in god, that they ignore any proof against his claims.
  4. Jan 14, 2005 #3


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    Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind

    I have not come across this quote before, but I believe it is another of those hundreds of Einstein's quotes that are taken way out of context to portay Einstein as a "religious person".

    Here's quote from Einstein that helps us understand his concept of religion :
    (This is from a letter written in English, on 22 March, 1954. It is not a translation.) In another letter, Einstein explains that he believes in a God that reveals himself in the harmony of nature, rather than a God that concerns himself in the fates and actions of human beings.

    Clearly, Einstein's Religion and God are very different from the mainstram connotations of these concepts. Thus to make an argument that Einstein was "religious" (not that this proves anything greater) or believed in a "God" on the basis of quotes like : "God does not play dice" or "God is cunning, but he is not malicious", are simply taking his words out of context.

    The following was handwritten by Einstein (in German) on a letter he received on 5 August, 1927. It appears to be his formulation of a response to the letter - asking about his views on God - but is not known whether or not he did send a reply.

    So what I'm trying to say with all of this is that it's easy to misinterpret the more popular of Einstein's quotes regarding God or Religion. The above explanations should give you a better picture.

    Now, as for your question regarding why we should believe what Einstein (or any other famous scientist) said (on this matter), I think that is a fair question to ask. What Einstein believes about the role of religion (this, of course, is his own religion; different from Christianity, Judaism, or any other form of organized religion) on science, and vice versa would hold more weight in my eyes than a similar statement made by someone who does not understand science. (And by this, I mean over 99% of the population.) Nevertheless, all such statements can only be personal opinions based on a personal "religion", and so, must not be applied in a general context.

    There are places where it lends weight to your argument by quoting someone else that agrees with it. For instance, if you are arguing in favor of say, the expansion of the universe, then quoting Hubble's measurements adds conviction to your argument, because Edwin Hubble is an expert in Cosmology. However, I do agree that in a vast majority of cases, famous people are quoted either out of context, or discussing personal/subjective matters.
  5. Jan 14, 2005 #4


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    The meaning and validity of "religion without science is blind" is pretty straightforward. As thunderfvck notes, religion is apt to cling to false beliefs if it is not tempered with a scientific attitude. God is beyond scientific inquiry, but more mundane religious beliefs, such as creation myths, can be proven false beyond any reasonable doubt.

    edit: Now that I read this over, I see that the way I'm using 'religion' here is inconsistent with the way I presume it to be taken below. If by religion we just mean a general spiritual sensibility, a wonderment about nature, then we could interpret "religion without science is blind" to mean that such a sensibility can never progress without a means of developing it. It would be as if you were fascinated by a book written in an alien language; despite your fascination, you would never be able to read the book, to penetrate into its structure and meaning.

    The meaning of "science with religion is lame" isn't quite so straightforward, nor its truth quite so obvious. I believe what Einstein means to say here is that religion serves as a kind of existential inspiration-- it gives us a sense of awe and wonderment about the world we live in. This mindset then spurs us on to strive to investigate and understand this world we live in. Without the inspiration, no one would bother concerning themselves with scientific questions, and thus science would be lame (i.e., it would never make any significant advances).

    As long as we're placing this in a human context, it seems like this is a valid claim. As humans, we require some sort of emotional motivation for any of the tasks we do. It's apparent that we don't need an organized religious structure to inspire us to do science, as many important scientists reject religious institutions. However, I think Einstein means "religion" here not in the sense of a social institution, but in the sense of a general spiritual feeling of awe, curiousity, and so on. It is arguable that without such emotions, humans would never bother to conduct any scientific investigation beyond those that would provide immediate practical benefits in the service of more basic emotional needs, for instance discovering empirically the best farming methods. Certainly, it's doubtful that a contribution like Newton's would ever arise without a basic desire to understand reality as an end in itself.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2005
  6. Jan 14, 2005 #5


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    I wholeheartedly agree :approve:
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