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Science Text Attempts to Reconcile Religion and Science 1071

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the something-for-both-sides-to-hate dept.
terrymaster69 writes "The New York Times reports that the National Academy of Sciences has just published their third book outlining guidelines for the teaching of evolution. 'But this volume is unusual, people who worked on it say, because it is intended specifically for the lay public and because it devotes much of its space to explaining the differences between science and religion, and asserting that acceptance of evolution does not require abandoning belief in God.'"
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Science Text Attempts to Reconcile Religion and Science

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  • by Secrity (742221) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:35AM (#21921224)
    Public education, science education in particular, should not mention gods at all. This may be an attempt to bring a god into the classroom.
    • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:58AM (#21921362) Homepage
      Public education *should* include the limitation of science. Too many lay people see scientists as modern priests, and take our models as gospel. It is important to realize that unlike fundamentalist interpretation of religious texts, scientific laws and theories are mutable (they change whenever conflicting observations are made) and limited in scope (they are only really trustworthy within the scope of the measurements they are based on).

      Much of the creationist/ID nonsense is due to people not understanding how science should be hold to different standards than religious texts. "The theory of Evolution" is very much different today than what Darwin proposed. This would have been a weakness in a religion, but is a strength for a scientific theory.

      • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:33AM (#21921590) Homepage

        Public education *should* include the limitation of science

        True, but it has absolutely no relevance to cult beliefs. The solution to limited scientific knowledge is better science, not to give up and invent a god of the gaps.

        • by DeVilla (4563) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:14AM (#21923398)
          There are no gaps. It's dark matter all the way down.
      • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @08:13AM (#21921862)
        The problem with the "public should be taught the limitations of science" model is that the limitations of science should be seen as the limitations of human knowledge.

        There are a number of what I consider to be mistakes in the current debate. The first is to identify scientific truth with the kind of absolutist claims that are made by religion. Scientific truth is a much more humble concept. The second mistake is when people who understand the two are different, nevertheless believe that the religious conception of truth is viable. It isn't. We just need to face up to the fact that we appear to be epistemically limited creatures.

        Justification by evidence isn't going to work, because science will just eat it up. Justification by faith is an oxymoron. The only sorts of proofs left are metaphysical arguments, and even if they work, they never result in the kind of god that anyone other than a Deist would want to believe in.

        I don't have a moral problem with people believing in God. But that doesn't mean that their beliefs should not be challenged in public, and that they should not be called on to defend them (and likewise for the opposition). That's pretty much what we do on other topics. Someone makes a claim and people ask for reasons why we should believe it. It beats fighting about it. There are many reasons we should debate religion, but the best one is probably because we want to know whether its claims are true or not. That's really the value that underpins most of science.

        The recent prominence of people like Dawkins is evidence that the prejudice against the critical discussion of religion in public is on the wane. That's a good thing. We also have public places where this sort of thing is debated formally: they are called philosophy classes.
        • by bertramwooster (763417) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:32AM (#21923592) Homepage
          Mod parent up. Science has limitations, but the only way around it is more scientific research, not substitution with religion. In fact, if you view religious beliefs from a scientific view point, there is no evidence to back religious claims (including the God hypothesis) and there is no reason to believe in God more than in a celestial teapot revolving around the earth (Bertrand Russell) or in the Flying Spagetti Monster.

          As HL Mencken says "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." I think it is a good thing that religious belief should be questioned in the classroom and what better forum than a science class.

          Dawkins makes all these points and more in his book "The God Delusion".
        • by sasami (158671) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:16AM (#21929906)
          Thank you, sir, for putting this discussion on the right track. The central issue is epistemology [stanford.edu] -- or, rather, ignorance of epistemology, particularly when this topic arises on certain geek news sites [slashdot.org]. However, I think we'll have to respectfully disagree on a few points. Perhaps you'd prefer a more technical treatment, but let's start simple for the benefit of the readers.

          the limitations of science should be seen as the limitations of human knowledge.

          No offense intended, but the prevalence of this fallacy makes it one of my pet peeves.

          First, and most importantly, this position is inherently false because it is self-refuting. It is a serious and far-reaching claim, requiring justification. However, the claim itself falls outside the limitations of science. It cannot meet its own standard of justification. To state that "Only scientific claims are knowable" is equivalent to stating, "Only ten-word sentences are true."

          At worst, the claim proves its own falsehood. At best, it suggests its own unknowability. So, in the best case, you should neither expect anyone to believe you, nor complain when they don't. :-)

          This idea is a form of positivism. Positivism enjoyed remarkable popularity for an remarkably short span in the early 20th century. Many hailed positivism as the end of religion, just before it died a rapid death at its own hands... though not before the scientific community had adopted it as -- oops! -- unquestioned dogma. It is a myth, perpetuated from generation to generation by those who don't know better. (Hey, that sounds a lot like Dawkins! Fancy that.)

          Second, this position is also incidentally false. One could hold that a rational person shouldn't accept any non-scientific claim, even if that claim somehow happens to be correct. But no one actually does this. There are plenty of propositions that most of us accept, though they lie outside the limitations of science. The clearest example is the claim that the universe exists. Is that silly? Let me rephrase: the claim that the universe, rather than the Matrix, exists. By definition, this question can never be addressed scientifically. But that doesn't prevent it from being true, and one is hardly considered irrational or unscientific for believing in a real universe.

          Other examples abound, including logic, ethics, human rights, and (of course) the principles of science itself. You are free to claim that we can't know if science works, but then you can hardly make the recommendation that you are making.

          We just need to face up to the fact that we appear to be epistemically limited creatures.

          It is quite clear that we have epistemic limitations. But it is also quite clear that those limits aren't quite as narrow as you propose. Any epistemology that's too limited will probably be self-refuting.

          Even if it's possible to doubt some of the things I've mentioned, like an objective physical world, (1) there is no obligation to do so, and (2) no one actually does so, including full-fledged skeptics (as Hume himself admits). In a many cases, perhaps most cases, doubting has no epistemic superiority over not doubting. This leads philosopher Dallas Willard to quip, "You can't just doubt your beliefs and believe your doubts. Sometimes you have to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs."

          But it is the prevailing intellectual fashion to doubt. This is really too bad, because unjustified doubt is no more intelligent than unjustified belief, a.k.a. gullibility. And it is no more accurate.

          It seems to me that I could just as well suggest, "We just need to face up to the fact that it is sometimes rational to accept unprovable truths." Even if, say, the principles of science don't possess epistemic certainty, they are suffici

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Admiral Ag (829695)
            Thanks for your reply.

            "First, and most importantly, this position is inherently false because it is self-refuting. It is a serious and far-reaching claim, requiring justification. However, the claim itself falls outside the limitations of science. It cannot meet its own standard of justification. To state that "Only scientific claims are knowable" is equivalent to stating, "Only ten-word sentences are true."

            No it isn't. For a start, one is demonstrably false, the other is at least plausible.

            Similarly, we co
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pauljlucas (529435)

        "The theory of Evolution" is very much different today than what Darwin proposed.
        That's where so many people get this wrong. Evolution is a fact; natural selection is but one theory to explain the fact of evolution. This is analogous to gravity. Gravity is a fact. Mechanics was Newton's theory of gravity; it has since been replaced by Einstein's General Relativity, but at no time did gravity stop being a fact.
    • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:56AM (#21921732) Journal
      If public education makes no mention of God, the students take it upon themselves to do so, typically in the context of "no, God did it." By proactively addressing the relationship between religion (God) and science without making an opinionated statement on the matter, science teachers can disarm a lot of anti-science arguments, thus preventing disruptions in the classroom.

      My wife teaches science in public schools, by the way. She takes 15-20 minutes early in the school year to address why religion and science don't have to be at odds, and why students don't need to jump in with comments about God every chance they get. It makes a huge difference in how these kids behave, and even in how they accept the material presented.

      She's also a devout Southern Baptist. So much for stereotypes, huh?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Enigma2175 (179646)

        She's also a devout Southern Baptist. So much for stereotypes, huh?
        A devout Southern Baptist taking about religion in a science classroom? Sounds dead-on to the stereotype.
    • by ezzthetic (976321) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:57AM (#21921742)
      I have no problem bringing god into the classroom.

      Just as long as it's one of the Elder Gods of H. P. Lovecraft.

      • by northstarlarry (587987) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:15PM (#21924094)
        Teacher: "Class, you may have noticed on the course syllabus that we are due to begin learning about evolution today. However, I think it's important to get a sense of humanity's place in the universe, and so we're going to take a short digression today into the significance of all our lives. Namely, [turns off lights and displays first slide] as morsels of food for Great Cthulhu." [Slide depicts the dread god devouring the earth.]

        [Some whimpering and gasping is heard among the students.]

        Teacher: "Cthulhu fhtagn!"

  • by geekpowa (916089) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:42AM (#21921258)
    I once used to think that making concessions to people who oppose this branch of science because of their religious sensitivities was a decent and reasonable thing to do.

    Public figures like Sam Harris help me realise that they simply don't deserve it. Their position and the means they used to arrive at that position have no merit what-so-ever.

  • by dalesc (66212) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:45AM (#21921286)
    Over time, as man has evolved, he has reduced his need of gods from many (Sun God, God of Love, etc.) down to one - though, not necessarily the same one. The more fully evolved on the planet have made the final step and eliminated that one, too.

    God is a product of man, not the other way around.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by throup (325558)

      fully evolved
      ? Evolution does not have a target or a final destination. It keeps on going. Richard Dawkins is no more evolved than George Bush, who in turn is no more involved than an earthworm.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by throup (325558)
        I previewed that and still missed the typo! Should say:

        Evolution does not have a target or a final destination. It keeps on going. Richard Dawkins is no more evolved than George Bush, who in turn is no more evolved than an earthworm.
  • Oh goodie. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alsee (515537) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:47AM (#21921296) Homepage
    Okay. I have just one question though. Are they also going to come out with a guide "explaining the differences between science and religion, and asserting that acceptance of chemistry does not require abandoning belief in God".

    I guess I have to reluctantly agree, ok it's "good" that they came out with a guide explaining there is no conflict between evolution and God, but it's really-really-sad and really-really-wrong that they had to do so. Evolution, chemistry, either one it's just plain silly.

    -
  • Two Baskets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Howzer (580315) * <grabshot@@@hotmail...com> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:47AM (#21921300) Homepage Journal

    Imagine two baskets.

    One contains all the things explained by the phrase "god did it". The other contains all the things explained by "science".

    A long time ago, everything was in the god basket, and nothing at all was in the science basket. The weather? God did it. Pregnancy? God did it. Disease? God did it. Where does stuff come from? God did it.

    Then, as humanity learned more stuff, things got taken out of the god basket and put into the science basket. The weather. Pregnancy. Disease. Where stuff comes from, right back until a few billionths of a second before the big bang, getting closer all the time.

    So what's left in the god basket? Good question -- but that's not where I'm going with this, because actually that's irrelevant.

    The point is this: there has never -- never ever ever -- been a single thing that has been taken out of the science basket and put back in the god basket. Not one. Ever.

    The traffic is all one way.

    So I choose the basket that contains all human knowledge. I choose the basket that keeps getting new and fantastic stuff put in it. I choose the search for truth over the abrogation of understanding.

    The god basket? You believers are welcome to that. It's basically empty, getting emptier all the time. But you're welcome to keep hanging on to it. The moment something is taken out of the science basket and put back into the god basket, you let me know, ok?

    • Re:Two Baskets (Score:5, Informative)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:01AM (#21921384) Journal

      The moment something is taken out of the science basket and put back into the god basket, you let me know, ok?
      That is precisely what the creationists are trying to accomplish: putting the question of the origin of species back into the god basket. Don't let these people out of your sight...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by someone1234 (830754)
      Well, i think a God setting a few universal constants and booting up His Great World Simulation is definitely an plausible God to me.

      A God (or gods) sweating on putting all the dinosaur bones into the soil just to 'trick us' is plain pathetic.

      I'm not a believer in any of these 'gods', but i can live with the former :)

      People who deny evolution based on their god fantasy need to wake up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wwmedia (950346)
      So what's left in the god basket?

      take a look at the sectarian violence in the middle east now between shias and sunnis over minor interpretation of gods will (tho i suspect religion is just an excuse for racial hate that we are seeing, nowhere in the koran does it say killing innocents is ok)

      nowadays religion brings nothing good it seems, what happened to compassion and love thy neighbour? instead we get peadophile priests and sexual abuse cases,

      what happened to helping the poor? last i checked the Vatican
      • Re:Two Baskets (Score:5, Informative)

        by Marcion (876801) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:18AM (#21921506) Homepage Journal
        nowadays religion brings nothing good it seems, what happened to compassion and love thy neighbour? instead we get peadophile priests and sexual abuse cases,

        If the only interaction with organised religion is through what the media reports, then yes it seems that it brings nothing good. However, for every pedophile priest, there will be 10,000 quietly busting their guts out for their parishioners.

        what happened to helping the poor?

        Again, what have you done for the poor in the last year? Most church members I know give a massive amount of cash and time for the poor. Who is giving the homeless meals and a place to stay? In my town it is the church. The government won't feed or home anyone who cannot pass random drug tests, which is basically all the homeless in the west. (At least here in Europe, if you are not on drugs and have half a brain then you can easily earn enough to eat at least).
    • God of the Gaps (Score:2, Interesting)

      by iangoldby (552781)
      The notion that 'God' is an explanation for all the things that science and reason has not yet adequately explained is a common one, but rather out-dated. It is a mistake that has been made by Christians and non-Christians alike.

      It has been given the moniker 'God of the gaps' and there is a description on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

      Suffice it to say that most Christians who have given any significant thought to the matter do not believe in 'God of the gaps', so the argument that the traffic is all one way from 'religious ex
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nagora (177841)
        To put it another way, I don't believe in God in order to explain anything.

        Well, that's a good idea since it doesn't explain anything. As the original poster pointed out, as more and more evidence is collected the need for gods, ghosts, and goblins declines and never increases. That is because it was an incorrect hypothesis to begin with.

        The reality is that the "gods of the gaps" argument is the only argument for the existance of these fantasy beings and if you don't accept that then there is no other rea

    • I think the whole analogy is a bit misguided and has no historical basis and does not represent how science works.

      People have beliefs, that is an attribute that all people have. Maybe we evolved to have beliefs, a coping mechanism, but whatever everyone has beliefs. Some people's beliefs are formalised into religions, other people randomly ingest beliefs through the TV, society and Slashdot. Someone believes in God and another person believes there is no God, both have beliefs.

      In the bible it talks about th
    • How vs. Why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:19AM (#21921512) Homepage
      > So what's left in the god basket?

      Every question asking for meanings ("why") rather than mechanisms ("how").

      I'm an atheist, I believe the only meaning that exists is what we create ourself. But that is a philosophical position, not a scientific position. There are excellent philosophical arguments for why I'm right and the theists are wrong. But they are philosophical, not scientific. Those who believe science can disprove God is as delusioned as the ID people who believe science can prove God.

      Those religions that has a well-educated clergy, such as the Catholic Church, have long ago decided to leave the Emperor (science) what is his, namely the mechanisms, and leave God (religion) what is his, namely the meanings. Only, Those churches that mainly consist of in-breed hillbillies, mostly some US Protestant groupings and some Arab Sunni-Islamic groups, still want religion to describe mechanisms, despite the overwhelming evidence that religion sucks at mechanism.

      In science class, don't ask why it rains, ask how it rains. Mechanism, not meanings.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Alain Williams (2972)

        Every question asking for meanings ("why") rather than mechanisms ("how").
        But why does there need to be a reason? Can things simply not be ? I find it curious that we believe that there has to be an answer to 'why' questions.

        Why do I exist ? Is that really a meaninful question ? It implies that I must be here for some purpose. One of the interesting things about language is that it is easy to ask questions without real meaning.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GoofyBoy (44399)
          >But why does there need to be a reason? Can things simply not be ?

          The same reason why scientists need to run around and find out 'how'.
  • by yariv (1107831) <yariv.yaariNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:49AM (#21921314)
    The problem some religious people have with Evolution is that it allows disbelief in god. Without Evolution, you need the watchmaker, and this is one of the best arguments for the existence of a creator. Logically, there is not much different between the spontaneous creation of simple and complex mechanisms (if its creation, there is a great difference when we're talking about evolving mechanisms), but in the human mind there is a great difference. Many might accept the Big Bang with no creator, only few would accept spontaneous creation of earth as it is now. So, although Evolution "does not require abandoning belief in God" it allows it, and this is bad enough for those who choose religious dogma over scientific discoveries.
  • Science and God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by owlstead (636356) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:49AM (#21921318)

    I'm pretty tolerant against people with any kind of religion, mostly because it is the only way to get along. But trying to reconcile science and religion? They are both trying to describe how the world works, from two opposite sides. All the important things that religious persons believe in are completely outside the laws of nature. Saying that they can go together because one is about belief and the other about reason? These concepts are not exclusive if you try and describe the same thing.

    Now I might be flagged as some kind of extremist. If that's true, it's because I don't want to "belief" as some people want me to. I try and describe things in a logical matter. Fortunately you can be a extremist atheist without having to harm people. Especially if you see from history that polarization is sure not to work.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:02AM (#21921390) Journal

    evolution does not require abandoning belief in God.
    But if you teach kids from an early enough age to view the world critically and scientifically and to think for themselves, one should lead to the other.
    • But if you teach kids from an early enough age to view the world critically and scientifically and to think for themselves, one should lead to the other.

      Don't be such a fool. You're as bad as the creationists when you posit that science and God are at opposition with each other. They're simply unrelated. The idea that science can be used to explain what God has done is not new. It's been around for years. It simply gets ignored by all the people that want a battle and a fight. There have been many gre

  • But the ability to think does.
  • by JochenBedersdorfer (945289) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:09AM (#21921448)
    If the National Academy of Sciences feels the urge to make such a statement, then this is another shocking sign of how far religious thinking has permeated the US of A.

    I keep looking forward to the time when people proclaiming to get their commands from god have to pay the same price as people proclaiming that elvis is still alive looking like a happy man/ in the snow with Rosebud/ and King of the mountain.
  • It's about time teachers in the US stopped pandering to these idiotic demands for the discussion of religious dogma in science classes. It doesn't matter if the theory of evolution is consistent with any belief systems. If it's not science, then it doesn't belong in a science lesson. Period.
  • Weasel Words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@@@earthshod...co...uk> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:33AM (#21921592)
    Science is based on the idea that all phenomena are explainable and endeavours to find explanations through observation, experimentation and the progressive incremental refinement of theories. Religion is based on the idea that some things are beyond explanation, and must be accepted as Mysteries by believers. These two premises are about as irreconcilable as you can get. Either Science will progress to a point where all religious Mysteries can be explained in scientific terms, or a proof will be established that shows why certain things are beyond explanation. (Cf. how you cannot determine five variables given a system of four simultaneous equations.)

    Evolution provides such a good explanation for biodiversity that it becomes unnecessary to invoke God, except for the awkward questions of the origin of the universe and the origin of life. You can bodge in a kind of "wind it up and let it go", deist God, but this still ends up leaving unanswered questions: If a God could come spontaneously into existence from nowhere, why couldn't a ready-made, non-God-requiring universe come spontaneously into existence from nowhere? And if a highly complex living entity such as God could could come spontaneously into existence from nowhere, why couldn't a few single-cell organisms come spontaneously into existence from a suitable already-existing environment rich in carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and trace elements, with pure energy available in the form of radioactivity or electrical storms? (Evolutionary theory suggests that you only need single-cell organisms to begin with. All the rest will then take care of itself.)

    And trying to teach biology without mentioning evolution is a bit like trying to teach electronics without mentioning Ohm's Law. (And Ohm's Law cannot be proven or disproven experimentally, because every voltmeter and ammeter fundamentally depends on Ohm's Law being true for its operation.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pseudonym (62607)

      Science is based on the idea that all phenomena are explainable and endeavours to find explanations through observation, experimentation and the progressive incremental refinement of theories. Religion is based on the idea that some things are beyond explanation, and must be accepted as Mysteries by believers.

      Even if you accept, for the sake of argument, that incorrect definition of religion, there's still no problem. You just have to remember that not all "things" are "phenomena". If it's a phenomenon,

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:36AM (#21921608) Journal
    I was reamed out last evolution post here on Slashdot because I thought speciation needed to happen for evolution to work. Now that I know that natural selection is even considered as one form of evolution, I'm down with the idea of evolution. I'm not even arguing against speciation. Evolution has a large number of concepts though and it infers a Big Bang and a Spark of Life for it to work. While you won't get me biting on those two tickets, I know evolution is solid science. I think a lot of Creationists would bite on evolution if the spark of life wasn't part of the equation. I mean Creationism says how it all started, and evolution says how everything is changing since it began. Just looking at it that way it makes sense. While I can't tell you how old the world is, I can rest assuredly say that evolution works in this post fall of man world.
  • by jopet (538074) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @08:34AM (#21922038) Journal
    On first sight, it won't harm to, while accepting Evolution, believe in God, the easter bunny or anything else nobody has ever seen and nobody has ever come up with any indication for existince.

    However, this would really be totally schizophrenic: it would require somebody to base his acceptance about what is on something that is completely without any logical cause (God) and something that has been derived from many pieces of unrelated evidence (Science). I don't see how this can go together in any reasonable way. How should one decide when to believe and when to require evidence? Somebody who believes in God could just as well believe in Creationism or some other silly fairy tale.

    The argument of some religious people, some of them calling themselves scientists is that science cannot answer all questions and religion comes in then: why was there the big bang etc.
    Of course science cannot and will never be able to answer all question. But what good is it to believe in some fairy tale answer for those unanswerable questions instead of just accepting that we simply dont know? Isn't it evident that "answering" the question about why there was a big bang with "God did it" makes everything just more complicated instead of easier? Why is there "God" then? We do not gain anything by this "answer" but we lose a lot.

    I think it is evident that there simply is no place for religion to answer the wonders of what is anymore. None of the explanations for how stuff works thousands of religions came up with ever turned out to be true or remotely sensible.

    That leaves religion as some kind of ethical instance: maybe it cannot explain nature and reality, but it tells us how to behave ethically, no?
    I think, this is actually not true either, on the contrary: ethical behavior comes from the human ability of compassion. It is biologically built into us. No need for God here either. It is no coincidence that practically all mahir rules of ethics, save some details about sexual behavior, are identical between religions: you dont kill, you dont cause pain, you dont steal etc.
    The role of religions here is to make it unnecessary to *think* about ethics. After all God told us the does and donts. And that is the problem: when it is not necessary to think about ethics any more, compassion can be switched off. Yes, it is not right to kill, but its ok to kill that criminal. Yes it is not ok to cause pain, but it is ok with that slave or that member of another religion.

    Religion is opium, because its sole purpose is to make thinking unnecessary and make people feel comfy in their self-rightous ignorance.
  • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @08:50AM (#21922126)
    Which God are they promoting as being compatible with their science curriculum? Because I'm pretty sure that they can't be claiming all religions are compatible with it - there are sure to be some which just aren't.

    Odds are that they're only promoting one (or a handful of) major religions. Aren't there laws against that sort of thing?
  • by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:58AM (#21923920)
    Why do I have to believe or disbelieve in God? Some religious views I find repugnant, in the sense that I would not consider such a God as deserving of worship, but that is not disbelief. I don't have any personal emotional need for "meaning," nor do I have any emotional need for everything in the universe to be explained to me right now. I am comfortable with mystery, and am more interested in the process of discovery and puzzling out the answers than in what the final answers might be. If everything were explained to me tomorrow, it would spoil all the fun, like somebody telling me the end of a movie when I walk in the door. What would be left for me do?

    God as a general concept is just not interesting. It is too vague too be testable, so it falls into the category of ideas like solipsism or the notion that the entire universe and all of our memories were created 10 seconds ago. It certainly could be right, but so what? It is an intellectual blind alley that does not lead anywhere interesting. It is boring. You take it as far as it goes (not very far) and then you look for something more interesting to think about.

    If somebody wants to propose a testable God hypothesis, fine. I'll give it the thought that it merits. God created all of the species at one time a few thousand years ago? OK, that one's been tested and it's wrong. Next?
  • by ChaoticLimbs (597275) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:36PM (#21924894) Journal
    I don't think one can be both religious and scientific. The reason is that science tells you to believe that which the evidence shows to be true, and religions give the answers up front and then tell you not to even do the experiments.

    'Do not test the Lord your God' is what we're told when we seek to investigate the existence of gods.
    'Faith is the belief in things not seen' is what the religious man tells us as he waves his hand in the manner of a jedi after experiments and analysis fail to show the Almighty.

    Religions seek an exception to the scientific method, specifically the parts where you do any science. Experimentation is forbidden, doubt is sin, and failure to believe can result in eternal damnation.

    Religion and science are not simply two ways of looking to the universe for answers to our questions. They are absolute opposites of each other. If I were a boy asking his parents a question about something I observed, such as the growth of a plant from a seed, a scientific parent would have to encourage me to experiment on seeds, dissect them, and find out when a seed becomes a tree. A religious parent would simply hand me a book and tell me that if my answer wasn't in there, it probably wasn't important, and may be heretical.

    Heresy. A concept foreign to science, but present in all the world's major religions. Freedom to think as you choose, to ask questions without being burned alive at the stake, hung, tortured, stretched or beheaded is a part of science and not a part of religion.

    The choice between science and religion is the same one as the choice between trial by peers or simple lynching.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.

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