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Science and Religion

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Title: Science and Religion


1
Science and Religion
  • Science and religion
  • Science and religion
  • Science and religion
  • Science and religion

2
ALS patients' religious beliefs clash with slim
hopes for cure
  • Wilbur Newton has Lou Gehrig's disease. He and
    his wife, Edith, prayed and then decided to try
    a stem-cell procedure in China.

3
Tumor diary
  • BBC News Online science and technology writer
    Ivan Noble was diagnosed with a malignant brain
    tumour in August 2002.
  • Since his diagnosis, he has been sharing his
    experiences in an online diary.
  • It's obviously healing! The staples came out on
    Day 8 and little by little the residual scabs are
    washing away.

4
Alternative Medicine
  • BBC News Online science and technology writer
    Ivan Noble was diagnosed with a malignant brain
    tumor last August.
  • So I have decided to spend two days at a centre
    which specializes in complementary treatment for
    cancer and a holistic approach to health.
  • I have always had the strong feeling that
    besides all the treatment I have had, there ought
    to be something I could do to help myself.
  • I am already doing some of the things which the
    center's literature describes.
  • I am trying to keep up with my tai chi exercises
    to keep me strong and relaxed, I take a cocktail
    of vitamins every day and most of the time,
    birthdays and holidays notwithstanding, I stick
    to a meat-, egg- and dairy-free diet.
  • But I am hoping that the stay at the holistic
    centre will help me pull it all together and
    above all get to grips with the fear.

5
Groups from different faiths prayed for
patients
  • Praying for patients undergoing heart operations
    does not improve their outcomes, a US study
    suggests.
  • A study found those who were prayed for were as
    likely to have a setback in hospital, be
    re-admitted, or die within six months as those
    not prayed for.
  • The Duke University Medical Center study of 700
    patients, in the Lancet, said music, image and
    touch therapy did appear to reduce patients'
    distress.
  • Heart experts said patients could benefit from
    feeling more optimistic.

6
Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of?
  • Antony Flew is considering the possibility that
    there might be a God. Sort of. Flew is one of the
    most renowned atheists of the 20th century. If he
    has changed his mind to any degree, whatever you
    may think of his reasons, the event itself is
    certainly of his "conversion" this time came from
    a number of avenues, The fact of the matter is
    Flew hasn't really decided what to believe. He
    affirms that he is not a Christian--he is still
    quite certain that the Gods of Christianity or
    Islam do not exist, that there is no revealed
    religion, and definitely no afterlife of any
    kind.

7
Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of?
  • Flewis increasingly persuaded that some sort of
    Deity brought about this universe, though it does
    not intervene in human affairs, nor does it
    provide any postmortem salvation. He says he has
    in mind something like the God of Aristotle, a
    distant, impersonal "prime mover." It might not
    even be conscious, but a mere force. In formal
    terms, he regards the existence of this minimal
    God as a hypothesis that, at present, is perhaps
    the best explanation for why a universe exists
    that can produce complex life

8
Science and Religion
  • What is Religion?
  • What is Science?

9
Science and Religion
  • The word religion derives from the Latin word to
    bind or to ligate (tie).
  • It means bind to the gods

10
Science and Religion
  • The word science comes from the Latin word for
    knowledge
  • It occurs in the word conscious

11
Science and Religion
  • Religion is a belief in something
  • The belief is unsubstantiated by physical or
    material evidence
  • Religious knowledge obtained through holy
    writings, authority, and revelations
  • Religionists have faith or trust in religious
    knowledge

12
  • The Evolution of Religion
  • God, memes and Genes
  • Religion, in various forms, is to be found all
    over the planet. Wherever there are people who
    think that there is some reason or purpose behind
    events, life, death and so on, there will be some
    sort of religion. Theists vastly outnumber
    atheists. Does this mean that atheism is somehow
    wrong? Considering the fact that all the
    religions tend to disagree with each other on
    basic issues such as the nature of God (god or
    goddess? monotheism, polytheism or pantheism?),
    God's plans for us, God's way of working, the way
    God should be worshipped, the contents of God's
    Holy Book(s), it becomes obvious that they cannot
    all be true. "Mutually exclusive" describes the
    religions reasonably well, and often even applies
    to various sects and denominations within any one
    religion.
  • Meme element of a culture or system of
    behavior that may be considered to be passed from
    one individual to another by nongenetic means,
    esp. imitation

13
  • Which, if any, of the religions is the correct
    one is something for the reader to decide
    personally. In this article I'm thinking about
    how and why religions manage to keep going. How
    do they survive for so long, and "infect" so many
    people. The language of genes, memes and natural
    selection applies quite well to this, and so I
    shall use it. It is unlikely that there is any
    sort of "Hinduism gene" or "Christianity gene",
    but it may be the case that certain sets of genes
    predispose people to becoming susceptible to
    certain types of memes. Religions are extremely
    potent memes, and can propagate themselves
    through the medium of intelligent minds very
    rapidly, until they come to dominate entire
    countries or continents.
  • Apart from other religions, one of the main
    "enemies" of a religion is skeptical, critical,
    rational, inquiring thought. If people accept
    what they are taught completely uncritically,
    their minds are open to be filled with pretty
    much anything (which, if you want to start a
    religion, is a good reason to get 'em while
    they're young).

14
  • Part of the meme-complex of a religion is a meme
    that helps to reduce dissent, criticism,
    questioning etc. Think of atheists and theists as
    containing slightly different sets of memes. The
    religious-meme produces a selective pressure
    against dissenters, atheists, and skeptics. Memes
    within the religion that help to reduce atheism
    (by banishment, death, bullying and so on) will
    spread, as they are backed up by the other memes
    within the religion and they reduce the number of
    atheists that would otherwise prevent their
    spreading.
  • With the reduction of atheists, the genes that
    make people susceptible to the religious memes
    will spread, allowing even more room for the
    memes. There may still be plenty of "skeptic"
    genes (resistant to religious memes) in the gene
    pool, but in many cases skeptics can be
    intimidated in a largely religious population,
    and just go along with the flow. In many places
    today, expressing atheist thoughts can get you in
    big trouble (if not actually killed - I received
    an email from a person in an Islamic country,
    which read "I am afraid of being called an
    atheist or agnostic. People could even kill me if
    they know it."). Many people may go through the
    pretense of believing to ensure a quiet life.
    This may help to spread their genes, but their
    skeptical memes will eventually die with them.

15
  • Meme of Doom!
  • Few, if any, creatures are generally suicidal.
    Those that are, or at least willingly perform
    actions that risk certain death, can be explained
    in terms of Selfish Gene theory (see Further
    Reading below). Creatures generally do their
    utmost to survive as long as possible, and those
    situations where they do apparently risk death
    often involve the propagation of their own genes.
    The genes survive, even if the individual does
    not.
  • The faith-meme can often completely overwhelm the
    self-interest of the genes, and cause people to
    do things with serve the needs of the meme rather
    than the genes. (Richard Dawkins gives the
    example of celibacy in priests, for example the
    genes of a celibate priest are going nowhere, but
    his memes are constantly spreading to fertile
    young minds. As far as the religion-meme is
    concerned, his time is better spent preaching
    than parenting.) Also, we see people who
    willingly allow themselves to be sacrificed to a
    deity, or give up money and possessions to help a
    church, as well as martyrs from all religions
    (and of course others who are willing to die for
    a cause). It seems that small-scale sacrifices
    (including individual deaths) help to strengthen
    and spread the meme. It demonstrates to others
    the apparent validity and power of the meme, and
    can also help the meme to spread at the expense
    (financial altruism or bodily sacrifice) of a
    number of its adherents.

16
  • Sometimes it can go badly wrong. In this case,
    large scale death often results in the death of
    the actual meme as well as those who carry it.
    Maybe this happens if the meme mutates too
    rapidly, or is altered in a deranged brain?
    Charismatic leaders (meme-sources) can
    effectively spread a dangerous meme to many
    people. Examples of this include the Heaven's
    Gate cult, the Branch Davidians, Jonestown and so
    on. The meme infects a group of people, and they
    all gather together, causing the meme to inbreed
    with itself until a mutation for group suicide
    arises. Some people may kill themselves due to
    their beliefs (memes), but when these memes are
    restricted to a small group (an inbreeding meme
    pool) with a charismatic leader it can result in
    the entire group committing suicide (and possibly
    even taking with them those who might still be
    reluctant).
  • In the run-up to the year 2000CE, as the
    perceived "Endtimes" are seen to approach, memes
    based on extreme chiliasm seem to often end up
    like this. They're like an epidemic of 'flu
    virus. The mutant, destructive meme has run its
    course and burns out, taking the infected genetic
    and memetic hosts with it.

17
  • It could be argued that we don't see suicidal
    genes, so why should we see suicidal memes? One
    big difference is that memes spread and evolve
    far more rapidly, as they exist in the medium of
    our thought processes. Genes only spread through
    physical, sexual reproduction, but a meme can
    literally spread at the speed of sound. A meme
    can easily be passed on to a new host without
    their consent. (Try whistling the Monty Python
    theme tune in your office, and see how many
    people are doing it by the end of the day.)
  • Scientific breakthrough
  • For thousands of years, religion has been a
    dominant force in human society. The twentieth
    century has seen a massive increase in the
    development of technology (aircraft, cars,
    computers, space travel, communications,
    television, radio and internet).
  • Could it be that genes/memes for skepticism and
    science (finding out about the world by thought
    and experiment rather than revelation) increased
    very slowly but inexorably until they were able
    to reach some sort of critical mass, and then
    spread extremely rapidly (earlier examples of
    this sort of leap may include the Renaissance and
    the philosopher/scientists of Ancient Greece).
    Maybe we are now in the early stages of
    scientific "domination" and the mass decline of
    religious thinking? Maybe this happens and then
    religion incorporates the findings of science
    (for instance, the fact that the Earth orbits the
    Sun) which has the effect of repressing science
    once more ("nature does it" becomes "God did it"
    again)? As a modern example of this, creationists
    are beginning to not only accept the Big Bang,
    but are starting to use it as proof of Biblical
    Creation. How long before they include evolution
    as well, I wonder?

18
  • Could science finally be able to move too quickly
    for religion to keep up (and assimilate it), or
    will science get so complex that religion becomes
    easier to understand and people still turn to
    religion anyway? I read once that you need to
    study maths for about fifteen years before you
    can really get to grips with quantum mechanics.
    Who has the time for that, when crops have to be
    harvested? When physicists start talking about
    ten-dimensional vibrating strings and membranes,
    virtual particles and entangled photons, "God did
    it" is so much easier for the majority of people
    to deal with.
  • Science needs to be popularized, but when this
    treads on religious grounds it will be criticized
    for doing so. A balance needs to be struck so
    that people can see for themselves that the
    scientific explanation is reasonable, rational
    and comprehensible - and more satisfying. This
    might not easy as scientific frontiers advance.
    The God Of The Gaps may be getting smaller, but
    he might also be getting more appealing.
  • For centuries, the lack of scientific knowledge
    has ensured that the atheistic position was
    always hard to demonstrate (other than
    philosophically), and theists often won
    (sometimes by simple force of numbers, and
    general ignorance of the populace). The current
    dramatic increase in scientific understanding
    allows the skeptical position to be vastly
    stronger (now you can clearly show why you do not
    believe, and show the flaws in the theistic
    position more readily). Information technology
    allows for the spread of the skeptical message
    much more readily and clearly.

19
  • An atheist who can support his point of view
    (using evolution, geology, cosmology and so on)
    is now likely to gain more respect when he comes
    out of the closet. Atheists can now show to
    others that their lack of belief is based on
    demonstrable reality as well as the previous
    tools of philosophy, logic and reason.
  • Expect to see religions incorporating modern
    science, as their memes vie for survival with the
    inexorable spread of critical thought.

20
Science and Religion
  • Religious knowledge is qualitative not
    quantitative.
  • Religious knowledge is not gotten through
    measurement
  • In religion knowledge is taken as either true or
    false.
  • Religious knowledge is neither progressive, nor
    tentative.

21
Science and Religion
  • Scientific knowledge is a relationship between
    observations
  • The observations are subject to refinement
  • Scientific knowledge is progressive and tentative
  • Scientific knowledge is neither true nor false,
    but rather consistent with the observations and
    consistent with prior knowledge

22
Science and Religion
  • Science formulates quantifiable questions
  • Science uses units, numbers, direction along with
    mathematics to express knowledge
  • Numbers are quantitative.
  • Units are not a quality. Units are dimensions
    representing time, energy, weight, volume,
    length, brightness. Dimensions are independent
    variables

23
Science and Religion
  • Religion and science ask different kinds of
    questions and define words differently
  • Religion and science appear as if they were two
    incommensurate paradigms addressing the identical
    information arena

24
The Religiousness of Science
  • You will hardly find one among the profounder
    sort of scientific minds without a peculiar
    religious feeling of his own. But it is different
    from the religion of the naive man. For the
    latter God is a being from whose care one hopes
    to benefit and whose punishment one fears a
    sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a
    child for its father, a being to whom one stands
    to some extent in a personal relation, however
    deeply it may be tinged with awe. But the
    scientist is possessed by the sense of universal
    causation.

25
The Religiousness of Science
  • The future, to him, is every whit as necessary
    and determined as the past. There is nothing
    divine about morality, it is a purely human
    affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a
    rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural
    law, which reveals an intelligence of such
    superiority that, compared with it, all the
    systematic thinking and acting of human beings is
    an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling
    is the guiding principle of his life and work, in
    so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the
    shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question
    closely akin to that which has possessed the
    religious geniuses of all ages.

26
Science and Religion
  • Some questions of religion
  • Is there a God?
  • Are we free to choose?
  • Does God act?
  • Is God theistic or deistic?
  • Does God set aside the laws of the universe in
    answer to prayers?

27
Science and Religion
  • Some questions of science
  • What is observed?
  • What is the material explanation for the
    observation?
  • Scientists explain observables by
    non-observables the properties of which are
    consistent with the observation.
  • What is the relationship among the observations?

28
Science and Religion
  • There is no conflict between science and religion
    per se. The world wide conflict arises from
    replacing agricultural societies by
  • technology-based societies.
  • The transition began during the Enlightenment
    (18th and 19th centuries)has accelerated since.
  • The conflict started in Europe, then disseminated
    world wide.

29
Science and Religion
  • Modern science started in Europe
  • Religion is not intrinsically anti-science
  • Religion was the first information gathering
    paradigm
  • The conflict between fundamentalist Christians
    and Darwins description of species formation by
    natural selection is due to fear that a way of
    life will be lost. The way of life codified in
    the Bible.

30
Science and Religion
  • Religion offers certainty
  • Science is tentative
  • Should I take vitamins? Whats the best birthing
    method? How do I brush my teeth?
  • Is the Pritikan diet the best or is a vegan diet
    better?
  • Though science is tentative it is also
    efficacious and progressive

31
Science and Religion
  • Fundamentalism is not confined to Christianity
  • Examples of anti-scientism new agers,
    deconstructionist, alternative medicine, animal
    rightists, creationists, communists,
  • Organic food fadists, veganists, the green
    partisans etc.
  • The problem with Fundamentalism is that its not
    possible or desirable to achieve it in a
    scientific world.
  • Muslin terrorist would not think of charging a
    tank battalion on horse back or refuse
    antibiotics to cure a wound or choose a sword
    over an AK-47

32
Science and Religion
  • Religions and their client cultures are at a
    disadvantage technically and ethically
  • The Biblical, Torahanic or Koranic exegete faces
    ethical issues not anticipated in holy books
    brain death, cloning babies, chimera, organ
    transplants, plastic surgery, pre-natal sex
    selection, artificial insemination, euthanasia,
    rapid transportation, cell phones, computers,
    internet etc.
  • Some religious groups live in isolated
    communities to avoid this conflict Amish,
    Hassidic Jews, Shakers

33
Science and Religion
  • Is a compromise possible between science and
    religion? Or more precisely can pre-scientific
    and scientific societies co-exist?
  • The answer is no. The advantages of the
    scientific society out weighs the benefits of the
    pre-scientific, certain society.

34
Science and Religion
  • More fundamental than the conflict between
    religion and science or between pre- and
    scientific societies is the conflict between our
    egoistic (individual) and altruistic (social)
    brains.
  • The social brain is religious. The egoistic
    brain is logico-empirical or scientific

35
Science and Religion
  • The social brain considers others, the individual
    brain is self- oriented.
  • Social brain is faith based and emotional.
  • The individual brain is not self-rewarded by
    altruistic acts.

36
Science and Religion
  • The social brain is atrophying. Once there was a
    pride of belonging to families, cities, tribes,
    nations, religions. Now the loss of isolation
    and exposure to a larger community exposes us to
    cultural relativism
  • Science provides means of travel and
    communication not anticipated by pre-scientific
    societies.

37
Science and Religion
  • Where do we go from here?
  • The conflict between pre-scientific societies
    will continue, but pre-scientific societies will
    die off.
  • The world will oscillate emotionally between the
    the two culture.
  • New scientific religions will arise.

38
Einstein's Faith
  • 'Science without religion is lame, religion
    without science is blind.' So Einstein once wrote
    to explain his personal creed 'A religious
    person is devout in the sense that he has no
    doubt of the significance of those super-personal
    objects and goals which neither require nor are
    capable of rational foundation.'
  • His was not a life of prayer and worship. Yet he
    lived by a deep faith--a faith not capabIe of
    rational foundation--that there are laws of
    Nature to be discovered. His lifelong pursuit was
    to discover them. His realism and his optimism
    are illuminated by his remark 'Subtle is the
    Lord, but malicious He is not' ('Raffiniert ist
    der Herrgott aber boshaft ist er nicht.'.'). When
    asked by a colleague what he meant by that, he
    replied 'Nature hides her secret because of her
    essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse'
    ('Die Natur verbirgt ihr Geheimnis durch die
    Erhabenheit ihres Wesens, aber nicht durch
    List.').

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