No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Science vs. Religion

I had a discussion over the weekend with someone who told me they felt that religion and science were the same in that they both utilize a, "I believe it, so it is true" philosophy. I argued that in science, the scientific method is used to empirically test a hypothesis before it can be proclaimed to be fact, proven to be wrong, or determined to be a theory that still requires more testing. That in science, all possible alternative solutions must be exhausted before proclaiming an answer to be truth, whereas in religion, the only proof needed to prove any assertion is simply, "it's in the bible" or it's in whatever religious text that person holds as truth. I was shut down. "No" she insisted, "Science does the same thing." And this argument was presented not by a person who is defending their religious convictions, but by a person who claims to be an atheist, with no religious affiliation whatsoever. A person who I hold dear to my heart and who's intelligence is, in fact, rather high. So the usual explanations of religiosity or lack of ability to understand complexities don't suffice when attempting to understand how this person arrives at this idea of religion and science using the same methods to explain their truths.

In my mind, the truth is that science in fact does require rigorous testing and examination before a theory can be called a fact, and when it is determined that something that was once held to be known as fact is later determined to have a different explanation, science corrects itself and admits the error and states the new evidence that grants proof to a new answer. Religion refuses to acknowledge any possible answer or explanation that is not presented in religious text. In fact, many religions dictate that followers should not seek answers outside of the religious text, that to do so is an affront to the supreme deity of that text's choice, while science begs us to seek all possible answers and to test them over and over again to gain a better, more complete understanding.

Maybe I'm wrong. I'm not a religious scholar, nor am I a scientist. I'm willing to seek alternative theories.
What are your thoughts? Are religion and science intrinsically the same? Why or why not?

3 cookies cracked:

Reb said...

Wow, it makes you wonder how s/he came to this conclusion. Perhaps by reading too many weight loss or exercise or hell any guides to healthy eating. These days all you can find in those areas are contradictions. Sometimes from the same source.

Maybe s/he is confusing theory for fact in science and theory is not always correct.

As for being a smart person, that doesn't automatically translate to all areas of life. There are millions of people out there with no common sense, but yet they could belong to Mensa. Of course there are also the Darwin awards, one of which from Canada was a Lawyer, demonstrating to the new hires that the floor to ceiling windows were completely safe, by body checking the same window for several orientations over the years, when it finally gave out and dropped him several stories to the street below.

Organized religion is a narrow-minded, rabid beast that needs to be put down. And all of the congregations need to be put through anti-brainwashing cures before being let out into public again. I have no problem with faith, just with the churches and temples and other houses of worship that misinterpret the religious texts to their own point of view. Calling them the word of GOD (or whatever deity) which is pretty much impossible because The 'Texts' were not written by any deities, but by man.

This is much longer than I intended, sorry about that. Um, I agree with your drawings at the top of the post.

Anonymous said...

I don’t get it

4verageJo3 said...

I am a scientist, with degrees in both the physical and social sciences. Although I'm not a credentialed religious scholar, I am a religious thinker, well versed in comparative religion.

You are right that science and religion aren't the same; but your understanding of the differences is dead wrong.

The diagram at the top of your post juxtaposes a (mostly)correct description of the scientific method with a deliberately incorrect parody of religious epistemology.

Such material is emblematic of the closed-minded anti-religious bigotry that pervades the web these days; fortunately, most of the scientists I've had the privilege of working with realize this, and won't bother to give such obvious provocations the time of day.

Science does follow an inductive epistemology. Religion, on the other hand, is too complex and varied to characterize in such a simple manner. Some religions use induction as well, whereas others use primarily deductive reasoning; some use a combined approach, and others eschew true knowledge in principle.

Science and religion both make mistakes, but they also both evolve; no one today believes that the world is flat simply because the medieval church said so - not even Catholics.

Furthermore, it is not true that religion refuses to acknowledge the possibility of external knowledge; the Bible, for example, admits that not everything that Jesus did was written down.

I'm not familiar with any religion that dictates that one not seek answers outside of their particular religious text; although I don't doubt that they exist, I do highly doubt that there are "many" of them.

By the way, although there are some who use the "Science says so, it must be true" argument, I find that in the main they tend to be activists in support of some cause or other, not scientists.