May 16, 2011

Religion And Science Compete To Influence Humankind - Issues, Proofs, Venues, and Implications

The Myth of Separate Magisteria, Susan Jacoby, Big Questions Online, October 7, 2010
How Did God Get Started?
Haiti and the Hypocrisy of Christian Theology
A Synthesis of Science and Religion - Is One Needed?  Is One Possible?
Is scientific knowledge as good or better than religion as a basis for values and morals?
Author Offers Evolutionary Explanation of Religion
Where The Substance Really Isn't by Tim Callahan, a review of Where The Conflict Really Lies: Science Religion and Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga, eSkeptic, November 2, 2011

Where and how science and religion compete and are therefore in conflict:
  • In terms of issues:  Truth, Morality
  • In terms of proof and evidence:  Methods, Standards
  • In terms of locale/context:  The Individual, Education, Societal Governance, Global Cooperation
  • In terms of implications for the biosphere:  Plant and Animal (including Humankind) Survival and Prosperity
It is inaccurate to say that science has been or is actively, directly competing with religion in terms of gaining a greater influence over Humankind.  Science did not arise as a means of, or for the sake of, challenging religion.  It arose as a human generated form of knowledge motivated by curiosity and based on findings derived from observation and experiment.  That it came into conflict with religion resulted from a growing amount of demonstrable information that conflicted with religious accounts of the same phenomena, and the reaction of religion's leaders to the information and explanations that science arrived at concerning the matter and processes found on Earth, in Life, and in the Universe.  Religious leaders did not want to change their views based on these new ideas.  Today, many still don't want to.  But many others have changed their amended their truth by accepting the findings of science, but retained a belief in God as the creative, motive force behind it all.  Others, Biblical literalists and fundamentalist Christians, have rejected those truths of science that conflict with their revealed truth, particularly about the origins and evolution of Earth and its life, including humans.

Especially irksome to clerics and theologians was Charles Darwin's 1859 assertion in the On the Origin of Species that the existence of Humankind could be explained by the same natural processes that gave rise to all life and that are observable and demonstrable in Nature.  Darwin did not claim that God did not exist that the Bible was wrong.  He merely presented a new explanation for the life processes found on Earth.  That this view did not require a creator, personal God became an issue as a result of organized religion's reactions to Darwin's ideas.

Scientific inquiry is directed at the unknown, not the refutation of the revealed truth, oral history and canonical texts of religion.  It's efforts are directed at obtaining accurate, objective, demonstrable, verifiable information and explanations about the entities and processes of Earth, Life and our Universe.

A good case could be made for modern science defending itself against the protestations of organized religion, and therefore is, especially since the 1990s and the rise of "new atheism" (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris, Stenger), in open conflict with religion.  But one should make a distinction between the efforts of science to understand reality via observation and experiment on the one hand and the struggle between believers and non-believers over the minds of humans and the future of Humankind.

To be continued....

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