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Relationship Between Science and Religion

  1. The Conflicting-Worlds Model

    6 vote(s)
  2. The Same-World Model

    0 vote(s)
  3. The Separate-World Model

    4 vote(s)
  4. Other (please specify)

    1 vote(s)
  1. Nov 17, 2007 #1
    Which of the following models of the relationship between science and religion is closest to your personal view of the matter?

    The Conflicting-Wolds Model: The 'warfare' approach. Science and religion are mutually exclusive ways of knowing, one being right and the other wrong. In this view, (1) the findings of modern science are always a potential threat to faith and thus they must be carefully vetted against religious truths before acceptable or (2) the tenets of religion are always a potential threat to science and thus they must be viewed with skepticism and cynicism.

    The Same-World Model: Science and religion are two ways of examining the same reality, and that as science progresses to a deeper understanding of the natural world, it will reveal that many ancient religious tenets are true. Embraced by many mainstream theologians and some believing scientists who prefer a more flexible cognitive approach to science and religion, allowing them to read scriptural passages metaphorically.

    The Separate-Worlds Model: Science and religion are neither in conflict or agreement with each other; represents non-overlapping magisteria; science for natural world, religion for other the potentially existing supernatural worlds.


    (Definitions from Shermer, Michael Why Darwin Matters 2006)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2007 #2
    Other. Both the conflict and separation viewpoints infuriate me.

    The first (Dawkins & co.) seems incredibly naive - scientific reasoning doesn't provide anyone with an complete set of obvious alternative beliefs to replace theism. Sure, atheism does, but atheism is a matter of faith not reason. That Dawkins is atheist and not agnostic shows that even he (like almost all of us) feels compelled to cling to faith.

    The second seems like an all-too-convenient anti-Dawkins viewpoint. It's sweet to say that religion is about the "spiritual" world and not the material world and that science can never contradict religion. In fact, the theory of evolution contradicts the Bible so badly that a Christian must take one of 3 options:

    1. Reinterpret the meaning of the words in Genesis to make it fit (days = stages, etc.). This option is pathetic and dangerous. Religious texts are inevitably twistable, but theologians have a responsibility not to twist the text to serve their own ends. When people "reinterpret" religious texts, anything can be justified.

    2. Attack the science. This popular option could lead to some of our most interesting biological research disappearing from classrooms. It is nothing more than censorship.

    3. Concede defeat. Genesis is factually inaccurate. The Bible cannot be taken literally.

    I think it's great that this debate is happening, but I don't like the way it's going. I think 3 is by far the best option.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2007
  4. Nov 21, 2007 #3
    Science = to know. Religion = to believe. Both deal with questions of natural world, so I voted for other.
  5. Nov 22, 2007 #4
    Atheism does not require faith, since it is a lack of faith.

    It is certainly true that 'true' science and 'true' supernaturalism cannot contradict each other. But what about false supernaturalism and 'true' science? I guess you already covered this.
  6. Nov 22, 2007 #5


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    Atheism is a lack of belief, it requires no faith. Science is not here to provide alternate "beliefs" to faith based religion.
  7. Nov 22, 2007 #6
    I'd say you're right - Science doesn't have the "purpose" of being opposite to religion. But it does have the "purpose" of seeking actual answers to the questions people are asking, thus for Cosmologists to be able to study the universe effectively, they have to assume that the Bible is incorrect in its theories about the beginning of the universe. There are a lot of direct contradictions in a scientist's life with religion. Personally, I think you're a confused individual if you "accept God" as well as evolution, as well as the big bang, etc... The idea baffles me that people do this still.

    Also, there are several definitions I guess floating around for agnosticism, and atheism, etc:

    As far as I know it: Agnostics - Undecided - they see no reason to believe that there ISNT a God, as well as no reason to believe IN a god.

    An atheist is a person who "claims" that there is no god - but they could be considered irrational in a sense that they are claiming to have proof of "a negative."
  8. Nov 22, 2007 #7
    Agnosticisms is simply the lack of knowledge (a - without; gnosticism - knowledge). If you are a strong agnostic, you deny knowledge, if you are a weak agnostic you claim that you do not have knowledge currently.

    It is possible to prove a negative, just not a Universal negative (Popper).
  9. Nov 22, 2007 #8


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    Yet another one believing that religious faith is some special province whose assertions about the world need not have a shred of evidence behind them, yet still should be "taken seriously".
  10. Nov 22, 2007 #9


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    Another incorrect assumption. You are assuming wrongly that the bible is believed throughout the world (it isn't), and secondly that a cosmologist originally believed in the bible, then had to make the decision to follow science instead. :rolleyes:

    Another wrong assumption, a lot of scientists are atheist or agnostic and science had nothing to do with it. I am an atheist/agnostic, meaning I don't beleive in a supernatural god/gods/goddesses, but hey, there really could be aliens living under my bed, so maybe Hern is real, I kind of like the horned god of the forest, so I'd be ok with him letting his presence be known. Then there are scientists that see no problem with believing that a supernatural deity might exist and also know that it has nothing to do with understanding science.

    There you go again, thinking that there is only one God and it's the god of the Christians.

    Since we do not allow discussion of specific religions here, I will have to ask you not to mention the Christian god, but to use generic terms such as deities or gods/goddesses.
  11. Nov 22, 2007 #10
    With all respect for those who do believe in something metaphysical, seeing that virtually all ethnic groups have developed their own religions with many equal symptoms, one cannot ignore the idea that religion is a sociologic process related to groupthink (Irvin Janis 1972) which may have been created to fill in the blanks, explain the unknown and bring the so desired certainties and surety to the straying individuals of the tribe.

    When studying the symptoms of groupthink and when projecting it on the hyper religious environment of my youth. It all matches rather nicely, including strong directive leadership, if the deity is not around then the medicine man, the vicar, the priest, the iman, etc, have quite a bit of power, the created sense of invulnerability, stereotyping or creating the opposition (heatens, devils & dragons), self sensorship - not expressing doubts, strong sense of inherent morality, pressure on dissenters, mindguards to hold off heaten thoughts etc. It was all there. Symptoms of groupthink. Such an exposure makes it a bit hard to cherish the cognitive dissonant of believing in a deity as a passport to Heaven, Elysium, Nirvana, Paradise, Valhalla, etc steering clear of Hades, Hell.

    The good thing of somes religions in the past may have been creating stronger bonds in the community, determined to survive hardship. Trust the deity and fear not.

    But that's just my opinion.

    Ah, that figures, they must have been the ones, fooling around with the PF server, slowing it down. Another mystery solved. :tongue:
  12. Nov 23, 2007 #11
    I'm not sure how you were able to pull out the idea that I made an assumption about the world, none the less,

    I say that they would be irrational to believe in the bible and still be in the field of cosmology.

    I never said they were atheists or agnostic BECAUSE of science - I don't care how they come about being so, what is important is that they are atheists or agnostics. Why? Because that's what we expect of a rational human being. Which, by the way, is pretty darned important from a scientist - especially if I am to accept information from them.

    First off, I doubt anybody is willing to believe in anything with the label "supernatural" They would argue is that X isn't supernatural - but most of us feel (with reason of course) that these figures don't exist. What I would like to see you produce is explanations from these scientists as to why they feel it is okay? Personally, I could see where some scientists, in some fields have no direct interaction with anything we might consider "fantastic." Imagine a physicist who works at a hospital - whether they believe in god or not is irrelevant, as long as they understand the nuclear physics they need to operate the machinery. Consider a cosmologist however - they would have to be very picky/choosy with their 'knowledge' from the bible when attempting to prove the big-bang theory. I guess my problem really comes down to the fact that I don't see how a scientist can be expected to reason rationally when they make such a big "mistake" to believe in the existence of some mythical figure.

    The rest of what you said is basically nailing down the fact that I naturally assume that when we speak of religion we speak of the judeo-christian gods - woops, my bad - that's what I get for living in Orange County. Naturally, RELIGION, in a "sense of religiosity" has many shapes and sizes, and I admit that it's possible to be a "religious scientist." Heck, even Einstein would say he was a "religious" man, without believing in any specific gods (he felt it was a childish thing).
  13. Nov 25, 2007 #12
    To be agnostic is to be noncommittal either way, whereas to be atheist is to believe that there is no God. "God does not exist" is an existential claim, and is very different in character to "I don't not know whether or not God exists." The former is metaphysically sceptical, the latter is epistemologically sceptical. Science is not normally in the business of doing metaphysics, so it's quite odd to hear people claim that science supports atheism.
  14. Nov 25, 2007 #13
    Science contradicts most religions. Psychology/Neuroscience gives us a good foundation for understanding why people believe in the supernatural. Archeology and Genetics supports the theory of evolution. The bible says the world was created in 6 days and man was created separately from dust.

    Science supports a rational naturalistic worldview.

    As far as being agnostic and atheist. I am both.
    I can't prove there is no gods, but based on the evidence, I don't believe.
    No faith wanted or needed.
  15. Nov 25, 2007 #14
    No, atheism is neither a metaphysical nor epistemological claim. Agnosticism is an epistemological claim. An atheist simply has no belief or faith in a deity. Theism means belief in god, "a-" means no, without. Agnosticism (depending on the variation) claim that knowledge is impossible.

    The people who claim that 'science supports atheism' is actually saying that 'science does not necessarily support classical theism'.
  16. Nov 25, 2007 #15
    Dictionary.Com Definition of Atheism:

    1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
  17. Nov 25, 2007 #16

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