Science vs. religion: Does God exist?

Discussion in 'Science and the Universe' started by Nick the Pilot, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Active Member

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    Does God exist? - Religion - Salon.com

    by Alan Lightman

    "Ten years ago, I began attending monthly meetings of a small group of scientists, actors and playwrights in a carpeted seminar room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our raison d’être, broadly speaking, has been an exploration of how science and art affect one another. As we drink merlot and munch on goat cheese and crackers, with the late afternoon sun draining from the room, we discuss topics ranging from the history of scientific discovery to the nature of the creative process to the way that an actor connects to an audience to the latest theater in New York and Boston. Our salon works because we never have an agenda. At the beginning of each session, one of us will begin talking about some random idea, another person will chime in or change the subject, and miraculously, after 20 minutes, we find that we have zeroed in on a question that everyone is passionate about.

    "What continues to astonish me is the frequency with which religion slips into the room, unbidden but persistent. One member of our group, playwright and director Alan Brody, offers this explanation: “Theater has always been about religion. I am talking about the beliefs that we live by. And science is the religion of the twenty-first century.”

    "But if science is the religion of the 21st century, why do we still seriously discuss heaven and hell, life after death, and the manifestations of God? Physicist Alan Guth, another member of our salon, pioneered the Inflation version of the Big Bang theory and has helped extend the scientific understanding of the infant universe back to a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after t = 0. Another member, biologist Nancy Hopkins, manipulates the DNA of organisms to study how genes control the development and growth of living creatures. Hasn’t modern science now pushed God into such a tiny corner that He or She or It no longer has any room to operate — or perhaps has been rendered irrelevant altogether? Not according to surveys showing that more than three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, eternal souls and God. Despite the recent spate of books and pronouncements by prominent atheists, religion remains, along with science, one of the dominant forces that shape our civilization. And our little group of scientists and artists finds itself fascinated with these contrasting beliefs, fascinated with different ways of understanding the world. And fascinated by how science and religion can coexist in our minds."
     
  2. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Well, I do not believe that science is "the religion of the 21st century". There are just too many gaps. There are a whole lot of metaphysical assumptions (baggage) that come with scientism. Here are (just) seven:

    1) Objectivity -- well Relativity Theory pretty much threw that out the window (if simultanaety does not exist, how can objectivity?).

    Determinism -- really hard to make that case and coherently addressreally hard to make that case in light of the possibility retro-causation (and the math of retro-causation works, however odd the idea).

    Continutity -- really hard to make that case when the "most verified" of theories (Quantum Mechanics) assumes just the opposite.

    Locality -- really hard to make that case after Bell and Aspect (not even Bohmians assert this any more and the only logically consistent, within the context of the physics, way to address it is many-worlds or someother unprovable assumption).

    Material monism -- really hard to make that case given really hard to make that case and address the "hard problem" (the existence of qualia, can one really explain the experience of Beethoven's Ninth or Shindler's List or Ulysses as electro-chemistry?).

    Reductionism -- really hard given even classic chaos and complexity and emergentism (let alone systems theory and quantum theory).

    Epiphenominalism -- really hard to make that case can one really explain thought as the after-effects of last night's goatcheese and merlot?

    The problem is metaphysical. We are tied to the metaphysics of scientism as somehow sancrosanct (sp?) while the metaphysics of Fundamentalism are held as "niave" (at best).

    Pax et amore omnia vincunt!
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I believe that religions explain the unexplainable, they provide notions, like a chariot dragging the sun across the sky....because it fit within our paradigms.

    Science hasn't done much different. James Garfield died because surgeons thought the blood on their hands and garments from previous operations were indications of their skill and prowess and didn't believe in invisible germs...

    Before science can get on any high horse they've got to realize that many of the advances they make negate or completely disprove the best science of yesteryear and sometimes yesterday.

    I don't believe in any G!d in any heaven, above any waters, that walks and talks....but I do believe that the G!d we seek, is the same as the theory of everything that scientists seek. And that things we called miracles yesterday...and the things we call miraculous today are simply easily explainable natural occcurences governed by natural laws put in place by this theory of everything we call G!d.
     
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Active Member

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    I believe that true science and true religion are in total harmony. I also believe the day will come when all scientific and religious disagreements are finally resolved.

    But the problem is that the two discipines do not overlap at all. Science only deals with observing the physical world. Questions of God, astral projection, angels, etc., are not of the physical world. In addition, scientists ask how is the world set up? Religious people ask why was it set up this way and by whom? The two disciplines do not address questions in each other's field of study.

    But when religious people ignore scientific data and say the earth is only 6,000 years old, and when scientists say there is no God because He cannot be proven or observed, this is when we start to get in trouble.

    Wil, you bring up an interesting idea about the modern discovery of bacteria. Fewer religious people rely on witchcraft to cure diseases, and fewer doctors rely on blood-letting to cure the same diseases. Progress is being made!
     
  5. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    +1, though isn't that a pantheist/deist viewpoint Wil? Whereas a panentheist or theist view of God would be he is above & beyond His laws (He's possibly not even in this universe); therefore knowing His laws (the Theory of Everything) wouldn't necessarily mean knowing Him?


    Nick - the only way this could happen is if there remain no more unknowns in life/universe. To paraphrase Mortimer Adler, science explains the "known" through experiment/investigation; and religion explains the "unknown ultimate mysteries" through revelation/faith.

    Are you saying you think humans will eventually figure out everything there is to know about everything?


    Many scientists that I know are agnostic, and instead say "we don't know if there's a God because He cannot be proven or observed;" which I personally don't see leading to any trouble at all.
     
  6. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku IAMTHATIAMNOT

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    I would argue that religion doesn't really 'explain' anything but rather provides comfort and consolation through faith.
     
  7. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    You don't think the Bible, Talmud, Avesta, Vedas, Sutras, Popul Vuh, etc; pick your favorite religious text, you don't think that religious text and the Tradition surrounding it explain anything?

    Do you think the Ancient Greeks, or any other philosophers "explain" anything?

    I, being an agnostic skeptic, would say that religion attempts to explain the unknown. But folks that I know that have faith in their religion disagree with me and say their religion definitely explains parts (if not all) of the unknown mysteries of life...

    Etu, do you think truth is absolute & objective, or relative & subjective?
     
  8. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku IAMTHATIAMNOT

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    I would agree with the word 'attempts'.

    Without a doubt in my mind Relative and Subjective.
     
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Heck, I just provide what I think and believe about the topic at hand in the moment....others provide the labels and tell me what I think...
     
  10. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    IG and EM--

    You two have gotten to the crux of the issue. The metaphysics of religion (what does the universe consist of? is there a god? what exists?) is at the heart of it all. But you must realize that scence (or "scientism" as Goswami and others critical of it or "the standard model" as defenders refer to it) has its own metaphysical assumptions. When you get down into it the ideas of eternalism (as an assumption about time) and locality (as an assumption about causation) and material monism (as an assumption about essence) are merely metaphysical assumptions the science makes. They have no absolute validity.

    Like religion, science is a matter of assumptions and choices which (hopefully) blend into a single, coherent view of reality.
     
  11. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/the-two-truths-14530.html
    :p

    There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.

    The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.
    ~Niels Bohr​
     
  12. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    SG, you catch on quickly! Sammuti or relative is always about our "objective reality" (which always has doubt or error associated with it). Paramattha or ultimate is always about the eternal truths (which we can doubt and have error associated with). Call these the "ground truth" (what we believe is and what is). When one (if one, if any can) can make them coherent one gets a glimpse of non-duality.

    In my case, I try to use this template at all times (and fail most of them). Actually I would add a third, call it "common ense" (vyavahāra, perhaps) which is what we most have to overcome. It is common-sense that the universe expands into something, it is common-sense that consciousness has nothing to do with the wavefunction.

    Grok?
     
  13. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    I would also add ideal (existing only in the mind) to the mix. I'm thinking that some are trying to classify "perfection" into the non-dual category, when it belongs in the "ideal" category.
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    How often do test measurements conform exactly to the equations? Too many "exact matches," and one begins to suspect foul play, no?
     
  15. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Depends. Most calculations nowdays are so mundane in both quantum and relativity, they are usually very exact. In aeronautics (computational flow dynamics) and others where "emergence" and "chaos" have caught on, that is less the case.

    The big ones this year: faster-than-light neutrinos and accelerating universal expansion. Well, the first one I am still watching the physics forums, either a mistake or we need another experiment to confirm (jury still out). Second one, the actual "measurement" as such was the balancing of an equation (great idea, deserves Nobel, but mundane measurement).
     
  16. whitewater

    whitewater New Member

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    God governs the world by keeping things in being, so that they have their natural effects; and also by doing supernatural things, which bring about results that are different from the natural effects. God doesn’t have to work within the nature. What makes a supernatural event different from a natural one is that the supernatural event is ruled by something other than nature. When a dead man becomes alive again it isn’t that science hasn’t found a theory that can explain it. What has happened is in the realm of the supernatural. “This point of scientific method merely shows (what no one to my knowledge ever denied) that if miracles did occur, science, as science, could not prove, or disprove, their occurrence. What cannot be trusted to recur is not material for science: that is why history is not one of the sciences. You cannot find out what Napoleon did at the battle of Austerlitz by asking him to come and fight it again in a laboratory with the same combatants, the same terrain, the same weather, and in the same age. You have to go to the records. We have not, in fact, proved that science excludes miracles: we have only proved that the question of miracles, like innumerable other questions, excludes laboratory treatment.” (C.S. Lewis The Grand Miracle)
     
  17. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    While I love Lewis for his insight into the XXth Century dilemma of the believer, he is a little dated in this quote. His scientific background was from the teens and his study was English, History, and Philosophy. Like many at the time and of his background science equated to experiment.

    Not so true after Einstein and Bohr. The scientific method depends on observation and abstraction, prediction and falsification. None of these really were explored in the Philosophy of Science until after Popper (WW II interrupted, so call it the 50s).

    Science, as physics cannot prove or disprove what is beyond it's purview (things that are mental events and things that are spiritual events). And physics can never proove the claim of a miracle (by definition) but is can disprove a particular claim of a miracle (say a mistaken "miracle cure"). So it can at least allow us to look at the veracity of such claims. Since it can eliminate up to half of the things one would have to look at, it is valuable as a de-bunking tool.

    Where it fails utterly and miserably is as a way to prove or disprove G!d's existence (at least if you limit it to material monism). Scientists when Lewis went to University College believed they had or could disprove G!d.

    Science as a methodology can, if caveated that it is the science of mental or spiritual events. Call it process or Buddhist or Taoist psychology in the former case (they believe in the existence of the non-material). Call it Wilberian Spiritual Science (after Ken Wilber... there are other we could use) in the latter case. All depends on what you mean by "science".
     
  18. goliah

    goliah New Member

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    As a humanity, we have all been conditioned or indoctrinated, for all of history by 'theological' exegesis, particularly by those with their own 'religious' claims and agendas, to accept that a literal proof of God is not possible for faith. And thus all discussion and apologists 'theodicy' is contained within this self limiting intellectual paradigm and bubble of presumption, especially evident in the frictions between science and religion. It would now appear that all sides squabbling over the God question, religious, atheist and history itself have it wrong! That bubble could now burst at any time!

    The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ is published on the web. Radically different from anything else we know of from history, this new teaching is predicated upon a precise and predefined experience, a direct individual intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power to confirm divine will, command and covenant, "correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries." So like it or no, a new religious claim testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation now exists. Nothing short of a religious revolution is getting under way.
     
  19. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    If God does not exist, as it seems to be the Greek horse of atheists, how can the origin of the universe be explained from before the theory of the big bang? If theists are required to believe in the probability that science is on the right track, why should atheists be dispensed to give to the existence of God the fair treatment derived from the concept of probability?
    Ben
     
  20. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    The science (quantum physics) is such that it is possible for the Big Bang to be a rare but probable uncaused event (look up "virtual particles").
     

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