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Science and Religion Can and Do Mix, Mostly 1345

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
coondoggie writes "A recent Rice University study found that in one of the more vitriolic social (and increasingly political) battlegrounds, science v. religion, there is more common ground that most folks believe. In fact, according to the study, only 15% of scientists at major U.S. research universities see religion and science as always in conflict."
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Science and Religion Can and Do Mix, Mostly

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  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:38AM (#37549700)
    Discarding scientific knowledge because of a book written originally for a nomadic group of shepherds is ridiculous.

    Discarding the moral teachings that have been handed down over thousands of years is equally ridiculous.
    • by flaming error (1041742) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:47AM (#37549752) Journal

      It's not the "moral teachiings" that cause conflict, it's the historic mythology that science disagrees with.

      • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:09AM (#37549906)

        Sure the moral teachings cause conflict.

        If a voice in your head told you to kill your own child, would you do it? Let's say at the last minute, the voice says "just joking!", but you were *really* gonna do it. Am I supposed to think you did a morally righteous thing by fully intending to kill your own child to prove your loyalty to someone?

        Or what if there was an angry mob outside your house, about to rape some guy? If you instead convinced the mob to rape your own daughters, and let the guy go, am I supposed to look at you like a role model?

        Morality has been awfully fluid over the period of human existence...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          s/some guy/an angel
          s/a voice in your head/the god you've seen do many wonders and miracles during all your life, he's even anticipated the destruction of cities to you (and then it happened, told you you were going to have a son with your ancient wife and then it happened) /

          if you are going to criticize a text, take it within it's surrounding context. Picking Abraham's decision to take Isaac to the altar on itself is not rigurous, at all.

          • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:38AM (#37550084)

            Look, if an alien came down from the sky in a spaceship, performed all sorts of wonders and miracles, and predicted the future with uncanny accuracy, and even helped me and my wife conceive when we thought it was impossible, sorry, but if they ask me to kill my kid, they're evil. Not just "not good", but pure evil.

            Similarly, if an alien was about to be raped at my doorstep by an angry mob, I might be willing to try to fight the mob off and risk my life, but sacrificing my daughter to be raped instead is simply not moral. Heck, I might even be able to understand it if to fend the mob off I had to offer *myself* up for a good raping, but to sacrifice my *daughters*? Not okay.

            Abraham's decision to take Issac to the altar should be universally condemned - killing your own child to appease a powerful figure in your life is never justifiable.

          • by trewornan (608722)
            If you think those substitutions make any difference to the morality of the situations then you are a perfect example of how corrupting religious belief can be. People who haven't been twisted by religion don't consider child sacrifice morally acceptable under any circumstances. I pity you.
        • by Pseudonym (62607)

          You did know that the story of Abraham and Isaac was intended to explain why the Hebrew deity doesn't require child sacrifice, right?

          I have to ask, because even though the majority of rabbis and historians of the Ancient Near East (both religious and otherwise) since mediaeval times have known this, both those who believed it's historical and those who didn't, some people still don't seem to get it.

    • by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:47AM (#37549756)
      religion != morals.
      • by rwa2 (4391) * on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:30AM (#37550040) Homepage Journal

        I'd say religion and science are pretty orthogonal.

        Science kinda just tells you what is likely to happen when you do X. That's it.

        Religion is simply your own personal reason that you do X. Maybe it's because everyone else is doing it. Or maybe you have some system of beliefs, founded in scientific observation or some other social aspect of your upbringing. But it doesn't really matter.

        Religion is kinda like an operating system... it doesn't really matter which one you run. Some are more susceptible to viruses and botnets than others, some interoperate better other operating systems. But generally it's great that there's some diversity.

        • by Creedo (548980) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:08AM (#37550268) Journal

          Religion is kinda like an operating system... it doesn't really matter which one you run. Some are more susceptible to viruses and botnets than others, some interoperate better other operating systems. But generally it's great that there's some diversity.

          The next time a woman is stoned to death for adultery, a child is driven to suicide for being gay, a man is murdered for "sorcery" or a family is destroyed for being apostates, I'll be sure to cheerfully remind every involved that it doesn't matter what you believe, and that we should value this diversity.

        • I'd say religion and science are pretty orthogonal.

          Modern religion is mostly orthogonal to science, only because in the last few centuries it has retreated away from a number of fields it used to occupy where science won the cultural battle (e.g.: no, the earth was not created 5000 years ago, thank you).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432)

      Agreed.

      - Women are their husband's property.
      - Homosexuals should be stoned.
      - Unruly children should be stoned.
      - When ordered by God we should kill not just men but also women and children when invading a country.
      - Eat a lobster and die.
      - Divorce and be stoned.
      - Etc...

      I mean, discarding all of the scientific nonsense is a no-brainer. But we really need to get back to the good book as a source of moral authority.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:16AM (#37549950) Homepage Journal

        >>I mean, discarding all of the scientific nonsense is a no-brainer. But we really need to get back to the good book as a source of moral authority.

        You're a bit out of date.

        The Old Testament which has been superseded by the New. There's basically two laws you have to follow these days:
        1) Love God
        2) Love Other People As Much As Yourself.

        Everything else is details.

        • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:25AM (#37550012) Homepage Journal

          I've heard this interpretation before, but an awful lot of Christians still cite Leviticus whenever it suits, often while eating a bacon cheeseburger.

          I realize that hypocrisy is far from limited to Christians, but this one is a regular on the evening news:

          "Hey, how about some gay marriage?"

          "Nuh uh, Leviticus."

          A just universe would follow that up with a serious punching.

          • by korean.ian (1264578) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:36AM (#37550076)

            dammit, now I want a bacon cheesburger.

          • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:49AM (#37550152) Homepage Journal

            >>I've heard this interpretation before, but an awful lot of Christians still cite Leviticus whenever it suits, often while eating a bacon cheeseburger.

            It's called cafeteria Christianity for a reason. =)

            But if you want to get technical, the RCC divides Old Testament law into culturally-bound laws and moral laws, with the former not applying (like what clothes to wear) and some (like the Ten Commandments) still applying. But Jesus made it very clear that there's only two commandments for a Christian that really matter:
            http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A37-40 [biblegateway.com]

            • by IICV (652597)

              Oh come on, Jesus said everything both ways. I'll see your Matthew 22:37-40 and raise you a Matthew 5:17 [biblegateway.com]. Your passage says that the previous laws hang on those two principles, not that they're abolished by them - and my passage confirms that the previous laws are still in effect.

              There's a reason why cafeteria Christianity is so popular - the Bible can be interpreted as contradicting itself on almost every subject, which means that you have to pick and choose what you want to believe - it's just not consist

        • The majority of SCIENTISTS do not have a problem with science and religion.

          It is the RELIGIOUS people who have a problem with science. Because it contradicts their religion.

          The Old Testament which has been superseded by the New. There's basically two laws you have to follow these days:
          1) Love God
          2) Love Other People As Much As Yourself.

          Nice statement of fact there. Too bad there are millions (billions?) of people who do NOT agree with you. Their statements of fact contradict yours.

          Don't confuse our personal

          • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:42AM (#37550108) Homepage Journal

            >>It is the RELIGIOUS people who have a problem with science. Because it contradicts their religion.

            As I said in another post, the two groups that feel science and religion are in conflict are fundies (which you'll see all over the place on sites like The Blaze) and logical positivists (found on sites like Slashdot). Most educated people do not.

            >>Their statements of fact contradict yours.

            It's not my problem if they're wrong. =)

            Well, I've made it something of a personal mission to correct the fundies' misapprehensions about science, and positivists misapprehensions about religion, but that's just a hobby.

            • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:53AM (#37550182)

              It's not my problem if they're wrong. =)

              Exactly. They're "wrong" because YOU already "know" what is "right".

              And if they don't agree with you ...

              As I said in another post, the two groups that feel science and religion are in conflict are fundies (which you'll see all over the place on sites like The Blaze) and logical positivists (found on sites like Slashdot). Most educated people do not.

              And yet around 50% of the US population thinks that "intelligent design" should be taught in schools along with evolution.

              It's not the "fundies" who are the problem.
              It's anyone who believes that his personal religion is "right" and that others are "wrong".

              • by Dahamma (304068) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @03:01AM (#37550594)

                Give up, you have no hope. You must already know this, but in an argument between science and religion, science can never win because it's constrained by provable facts, whereas religion has the entire depth of the human imagination to come up with a response.

                But you have pointed out the key bit - why should the Bible be any more a source of authority than, say, Dianetics? I think one of the secret reasons people are against Scientology (besides the brainwashing and slavery bits) is that it so obviously shows - in a nice, condensed 60 year history - how a major religion can basically be manufactured whole cloth and accepted by millions...

                • Let's start with the Jews. They have a religion.
                  Which forks into Christianity.
                  Which forks into Catholicism (East and West).
                  Another fork for Islam.
                  Back to Catholicism - fork for the Protestant Reformation.
                  Lots of forks for lots of different Protestant sects.
                  Fork one of those into Mormonism.

                  Yep! Arguing about whether statement X is in book Y is meaningless. Because it is only the BELIEVERS who look to that book as an authority in the first place. Some of those religions have additional holy books. Some don't.

          • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @08:12AM (#37552192)
            No, the conflict between science and religion is a false conflict created by atheists as a way to denigrate religion and make it seem as if atheism is supported by science. For example, the idea that the Christian Church taught that the earth was flat and that Christopher Columbus had to fight against that religious bias in order to get funding for his trip was a creation of Irving Washington (an atheist) in the 1800s. The fact of the matter was that those who opposed Christopher Columbus did so because, according to thier calculations of the size of the globe, he would run out of food before he reached the Far East. Columbus had done his own calculations and concluded that the Earth was 1/3 smaller than it actually is. If the Americas did not exist, Columbus' opponents would have been correct. The premise upon which Columbus based his proposed his voyage was wrong. During the same time period (as Irving Washington), many atheistic archeologists believed that the Bible was wrong when it discussed the Assyrians (as a matter of fact, it was believed that the Bible had entirely fabricated the existence of the Assyrians) because they had not found any archelogical evidence of the Assyrians. It turns out that the Biblical record of the Assyrians is fairly accurate.
            • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @10:45AM (#37553898) Homepage

              > No, the conflict between science and religion is a false conflict created by atheists as a way to denigrate religion

              Clearly you've never read any of the newsletters from the American Family Association.

              If not bothered by theocrats, I don't think you would ever hear form atheists.

              You are mainly whining about SKEPTICS that rightfully won't accept things without evidence. This is the same reason that Troy was originally thought a myth and why it took about 80 years for plate tectonics to be widely accepted. You have to make a compelling case when it comes to a scientific argument. You can't just depend on blind faith and appeals to authority.

              A very small vocal minority of fundie protestants object to the the philosophy of science in general.

              They seek to alter the majority rather than tolerate what they view as heresy and don't have sufficient moral courage to separate themselves from the rest of the society that they find so disturbing.

              The AFA and similar groups love to play victim and false martyr. The "moral majority" is actually a very noisy minority.

            • ... make it seem as if atheism is supported by science.

              Atheism does not require support. It is *absence* of religion, not a different kind of religion. That's the definition of the word. Religion has no scientific basis, so someone who fully embraces science is not religious, which is what is called atheism.

            • by euroq (1818100)

              No, the conflict between science and religion is a false conflict created by atheists as a way to denigrate religion and make it seem as if atheism is supported by science.

              You are making a very, very broad judgement. The affirmation that the conflict is created by atheists is a statement almost impossible to disprove, and you want it to be correct. However, it's almost impossible to prove as well - one or even fifty examples don't prove it, it just gives evidence. There's also a virtually countless amount of evidence that says the opposite - that theists create the conflict. What matters is which evidence you look for (and want to believe), and how much time you spend look

        • by matunos (1587263) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:14AM (#37550322)

          "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." -- Matthew 5:17

          Sorry, buddy, you're going to hell.

        • You should read the NT. You'll find it doesn't say what you think it says.

          --For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

          --"It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the s

        • by radtea (464814)

          Everything else is details.

          "Not one jot" of which will pass away until Jesus' father's kingdom is established.

          You've arbitrarily picked one side of one of the more glaring contradictions in the New Testament. You have zero justification for doing this. Many of your co-religionists pick--or rather cherry-pick--the other side of the contradiction.

          Furthermore, the NT is full of additional prohibitions and pronouncements, some from Jesus himself, which is a little weird if those two laws are the only things that matter. I know if I we

    • by tyrione (134248)
      Moral teachings of Sumeria, Ancient Egypt, Greece all predate those of The Bible. Most of them were plagiarized by the Bible authors. How about we flush the Abrahamic Religions or move them over to the Mythical Category and then let people do they want but keep the Myths out of the Public Sphere of Influence. Makes too much sense to ever happen.
    • by FauxPasIII (75900) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:55AM (#37549814)

      > Discarding the moral teachings that have been handed down over thousands of years is equally ridiculous.

      It's not ridiculous; moral philosophy has been advancing since the bronze age, just like science. There's a reason that religions founded in that era endorse slavery, regard women as property, and practice scapegoating, to name just a few items; they are only as moral, could only possibly be as moral, as the men who founded them were. We can do better today.

      • by Pseudonym (62607)

        Of course, today's mainline major world religions don't endorse slavery, regard women as property and so on. Religion has also advanced since ancient times. Indeed, many of the moral advances that you cite were developed by religious people.

        As a general rule, only fundamentalists believe that religion was set in stone back in the day.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:02AM (#37549864) Homepage Journal

      Discarding scientific knowledge because of a book written originally for a nomadic group of shepherds is ridiculous.

      Discarding the moral teachings that have been handed down over thousands of years is equally ridiculous.

      Moral teachings that have largely been proven to work in building relatively peaceful and successful societies and individuals. So I'd include some religions and not others, perhaps, if you want to draw a fine line.

      The only people that believe science and religion are fundamentally in conflict are religious fundamentalists and the militant positivists you find here on Slashdot. For *everyone else* (as the study shows) they coexist in harmony.

      Science is the empirical study of how things are.
      Religion is the normative study of how things should be.

      There's no inherent conflict between these two things, because they discuss two very different things.

      While the logical positivists on here will say the study how things should be is uninteresting, for most people, well, it's interesting. (Which is why logical positivism is a failure of a philosophy.)

    • by morcego (260031) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:32AM (#37550056)

      Actually, I went to catholic school. Jesuits, to be more precise. Out science lab teacher was a priest (quite an old one, 70+ years old). He used to say:

      "It is not the duty of religion to say HOW things happen, but WHO is behind it. Science, on the other hand, will tell you HOW, but now WHO is behind it. I see no conflict whatsoever between the Big Bang and my faith. Between evolution and my faith. When I see Darwin's evolution, I see God's hand behind it."
       

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @03:18AM (#37550722)

        Actually, I went to catholic school. Jesuits, to be more precise. Out science lab teacher was a priest (quite an old one, 70+ years old). He used to say:

        "It is not the duty of religion to say HOW things happen, but WHO is behind it. Science, on the other hand, will tell you HOW, but now WHO is behind it. I see no conflict whatsoever between the Big Bang and my faith. Between evolution and my faith. When I see Darwin's evolution, I see God's hand behind it."

        Its not surprising one catholic priest would accept the Big Bang theory given that the theory was proposed by another catholic priest.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lemaitre [wikipedia.org]

        Interestingly some leading scientists of the day dismissed the theory because it came from a priest, it "smelled of creationism".

    • by Tom (822) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:42AM (#37550488) Homepage Journal

      Discarding scientific knowledge because of a book written originally for a nomadic group of shepherds is ridiculous.

      Discarding the moral teachings that have been handed down over thousands of years is equally ridiculous.

      There is one very, very, VERY important difference here. One of these is subject to review, testing and change when new facts emerge. The other is still stuck in 1000 BC.

      Moral teachings that may have been appropriate for nomads in the middle east three millenia ago may or may not apply to modern day society. Some certainly still do (not killing sounds like a good general rule), some are utter bullshit in todays society - we've since abolished slavery, consider women equals, the role of parents isn't as important anymore, we're not all homophobes, magicians are entertainers not people we fear and want to put to death, and let's not even talk about the dietary guidelines.

      People often point out the bible as a "source of moral teachings", but when you look at it, basically any of the actual rules that matter are independent of the bible and can be found in many other teachings as well, or are so obvious (again, killing) that it really doesn't put a good light on Moses people that it needed explicit mentioning.

      No, friend, the bible is a horrible source of moral teachings. The good parts are massively drowned by crap, nonsense and dangerous psycho stuff. Only by ignoring the vast majority of it can you come to a worthy subset. And frankly, when you go to that effort, you can just as well write the same subset from scratch, and find much better reasons for it, in the same time.

  • really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by another_twilight (585366) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:39AM (#37549706)
    The more interesting statistic is the percentage of "religious" people who think that there is conflict.

    After having read the article, I am not convinced that the questions asked showed that there was common ground at all. It may well be that scientists recognise that religion and science are orthogonal and therefore do not conflict.
    • by shawn443 (882648)
      And there are some Christians that recognise this as well. I am an atheist attending a Catholic University run by Benedictine monks [wikipedia.org] . In my surprising experience, they place a very high value on science and reason. Of course they also value their faith, but I have never felt anything but welcome when speaking with them.
  • by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:40AM (#37549708) Homepage Journal
    "Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed...
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved." -Tim Minchin
  • There is always a conflict between religion and science. It's just that it's mostly irrelevant for scientists in the USA. And even more irrelevant in Eastern Europe.

    Now try to teach evolution in Muslim countries like Pakistan. Go on, try it. We'll pay for your funeral.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, there's much less of a perception that evolution and religion are in conflict in most of the Muslim world than in the US. There are even a number of Muslims who interpret certain verses of the Qur'an as describing evolution. Turkey's really the only country with a history of evolution denial, and they picked it up from the US. Similarly, there are starting to be anti-evolution movements in other Muslim countries, but it's an idea that's been spreading with the influence of American culture.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Similarly, there are starting to be anti-evolution movements in other Muslim countries, but it's an idea that's been spreading with the influence of American culture.

        How does that work? I think it more likely that scientific thought and ideas are starting to threaten the more dogmatic in the midst of their culture and they're just repeating the same defensive behaviors that characterize the Western creationist movement for the past couple of centuries. It's one thing when a remote culture has beliefs that compete with your own, it's another thing when those beliefs are growing in strength in your own culture.

        The only aspect that I think could be due to US cultural in

    • by matunos (1587263)

      Are you only including Muslim countries that are "like Pakistan" in your challenge? That is, only very conservative Muslim countries, with a literacy rate hovering around 57%?

      In fact, if you ask moderate, well-educated Muslim scholars, many (most?) will respond in the same way as the Catholic church's position: evolution and speciation is a fact, but that God is somewhere in the process. This line of reasoning has existed in Islam since as early as the 19th century.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      There is always a conflict between religion and science. It's just that it's mostly irrelevant for scientists in the USA. And even more irrelevant in Eastern Europe.

      Now try to teach evolution in Muslim countries like Pakistan. Go on, try it. We'll pay for your funeral.

      I don't suppose you'd care to provide any support that gives your personal opinion more weight than the vast majority of the scientists in the survey? Perhaps you know of a survey in Pakistan? Surely you wouldn't be stating your personal belief as fact without any ermpirical evidence, would you?

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:45AM (#37549744)

    ALWAYS in conflict? ALWAYS? To anyone who has ever been part of the educational system, and has gotten used to taking multiple choice tests, the word "ALWAYS" when applied to something like science/religion is a big red flag.

    Finding that 15% agree with an "always" statement in that context is rather an amazing find.

    Ask the question in terms of "overwhelming frequency" or some other next-to-absolutist statement, and you'll get more honest answers. But this report on the study, at least, only presented the "ALWAYS(15)/SOMETIMES(70)/NEVER(15)" range, which doesn't seem useful at all.

    With the statement presented, and the specific granularity of statements allowed, this seems more like quote-mining to minimize the perception of conflict than an honest study.

    Ryan Fenton

  • "God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion."

  • by SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:49AM (#37549766) Journal

    Thomas Aquinas, SUMMA THEOLOGICA, 1265 AD: “Among the philosophical sciences one is speculative the other practical [natural philosophy], nevertheless sacred doctrine [Roman Catholicism] includes both; as God, by one and the same science, knows both Himself and His works.”

    This basically states that if you are understanding science properly, you are understanding God's works properly. And conversely, if you understand God's works, you will let science progress to understand God's works, as God and science are one in the same.

    That compromise in thinking eventually led to the Renaissance.

    • by Coriolis (110923)
      This is the Christian equivalent of Embrace, Extend and Extinguish. "Aha! But who do you think created the laws of physics?" Aquinas also had the privilege of writing before the most troublesome and contradictory scientific discoveries had been made. He didn't have to reconcile Christian morality and the idea of man being God's greatest creation with neurology and evolution.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Yes, but he was one of those dreaded educated Christians and not a lay preacher with the local franchise to fleece the marks as they go in weekely to see the God in a box show.
      The "Jesus hates the homeless" merchants in the temple really don't get much beyond preaching hate of some target mostly outside their market (Black, Women, Gays, whaever the fashion of the time is) and would not have heard anything like the above. People have fogotten that the "Bible Colleges" were a purely policitical way to contin
    • by o'reor (581921)

      Interesting, but Thomas Aquinas' writings did not prevent religious authorities from attempting to set Galileo's pants on fire during the Renaissance.

      When obnoxious bigots come to power, they usually don't care about the enlightened writings of their elders.

    • I am an engineer and a Catholic. I've come to the following conclusion. God created the universe. The way to look at this statement is as an answer to how the universe was created not as to there is a God what did he do. So the only way to know God is to study science. Learn the rules that govern how his creation works. There can be no conflict because if there is a disagreement between any stance between religions and facts than facts win since they are the direct observations of the universe. Religion is

  • The idea that science and religion don't mix is largely an invention of fundamentalist Christianity, starting around 1900 or so. Individuals on both sides of the fence have talked about the compatibility and value of both disciplines - Augustine said hundreds of years ago that we shouldn't discard a truth about the world because of a metaphorical bible story, and Einstein defended the value of religion in a very well articulated paper, although he was quick to point out potential dangers there.

    Most scien
    • by cje (33931) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:30AM (#37550032) Homepage

      The example that I always like to use is the Big Bang, which was first formulated by Monsignor Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest. At the time that it was proposed, it received significant disdain from the astronomical community, since most astronomers at that time believed that the Universe was eternal and static (the so-called "steady state") -- they felt that a beginning of space and time at some point in the finite past crossed over into the realm of religion and philosophy. On the other hand, the religious community (by and large) welcomed the Big Bang with open arms, since it was in accordance with the creation accounts of their particular belief systems.

      But in the 80 years or so since the advent of the Big Bang theory, a funny (and depending on your point of view, sad) thing has happened: The two camps have almost completely switched sides. As the evidence came in, most astronomers and cosmologists came to accept the Big Bang. They saw the confirmation of Hubble's observations regarding the redshift of distant galaxies, the discovery of the CMBR, the evidence that the distribution of baryonic matter in the Universe is consistent with what is predicted by Big Bang nucleosynthesis, etc.

      Unfortunately, for those segments of the religious community that have been hijacked by the rise of fundamentalism / fanaticism in the last 50 years or so, the Big Bang was no longer "good enough". The idea that the Universe came about in a dramatic cataclysm ("in the beginning...") became unacceptable since the timescale called for billions of years, rather than the six thousand or so that are dictated by a rigid literalist interpretation of the appropriate holy writ. It's not good enough that the prevailing scientific theory on the origin of the Universe calls for a beginning -- it's not fundamentalist enough.

      The idea that science and religion are incompatible is poisonous and civilization-threatening. Getting back to the example, the idea that religious folks, of all people, should be opposed to the Big Bang theory is completely baffling. If I live to be a thousand years old, I'll never understand it. There's no shortage of beauty in modern science or ancient teachings; the conflicts (such as they are) are largely manufactured. And as you mention, the rising fundamentalist movement is a major player in this enterprise.

  • "Always" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @12:51AM (#37549784)
    The keyword is "always". When you use an absolute, it will change peoples' answers. If you were to ask the same question in the form of "are science and religion sometimes/usually at conflict?", you will see a much different result. That being said, there is really nothing to be seen here.
  • by Tord (5801) <tord.jansson@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:24AM (#37549992) Homepage

    Of course science and religion can mix and they should!

    Let me quote Abdulbaha, son of the founder of the Bahai religion, a growing religious and social movement with more than six million followers:

    If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science, they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible, and there is no outcome but wavering and vacillation.

    Quite a strong statement for being from a major religious leader a hundred years ago. Also:

    This gift [intelligence and reasoning] giveth man the power to discern the truth in all things, leadeth him to that which is right, and helpeth him to discover the secrets of creation

    Finally:

    Religion and science are the two wings upon which man's intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism.

    The only reason that science and religion doesn't seem to mix is that too many religious leaders stick to their dogmas and traditions even in face of human and scientific progress. Religions role in this world is to develop and foster spirituality, morality and selflessness so we can create a fair and just society and it can only do so if it keeps evolving and improving with new knowledge and understandings. Christianity developed and changed a lot in the first few hundred years after Jesus with doctrines and writings being added and removed at a high pace. Why are so many churches of today so hellbent on sticking exactly to the way things earlier were? It's simply not healthy.

    Ps. I'm not officially a Bahai, but I consider myself a "friend of the faith".

    • Morality exists without religion. Look to any other species. They have morals. But they're not religious, certainly not socially and organized like humans.

      Religion is more like the morality of a specific time period frozen, along with their limited level of knowledge, but forcefully carried on into the present. We can easily dismiss the majority of the content of the Bible, scientifically, historically and morally. Yet some people still marvel at the few sensible things in there, as if we couldn't have figu

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:28AM (#37550024) Journal

    ...it's the 15% that gets all the attention. Because it sells advertising time.

  • by dbet (1607261) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:54AM (#37550194)
    It's religion vs morality. Yes, to some extent religion can interfere with scientific progress, but not so much these days, in developed nations. Morality however... well, there's no "proof" that one set of values is better than another, so people more easily deny say, women's rights, than they deny something like heliocentrism.
    • People are still denying evolution because of their magical sky fairy friend. There are still plenty of people who believe that the Sun is only thousands of years old. And far too many people who see homosexuality as anything but natural. If you first go with the belief that a sentient humanlike being created everything, and that that same being is your personal friend today, you'll be open to quite a lot of nonsense that goes against science.

  • by matunos (1587263) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:01AM (#37550234)

    If you want to answer the question "does science conflict with religion?" (leaving out the "always", as it's not clear from the book abstract if that word was really in the survey, or if Michael Cooney's summary added it), you cannot answer it by simply surveying an arbitrary set of scientists. That only gives you the answer to the question "do scientists believe that science conflicts with religion?", or maybe "does the practice of science conflict with having religious beliefs?".

    I would say the original question falls under the category of philosophy of science and/or epistemology. Not all scientific practitioners are experts in philosophy of science or epistemology, in fact I'd guess that most are not. Thus, their opinions on the question, while perhaps interesting in their own right, do not offer convincing arguments any more than surveying a random sample of scientists from all domains can offer convincing conclusions about climate change. If you want to that, you ask scientists that specialize in climatology and related disicplines.

    The abstract also mentions this:

    Nearly 50 percent of them are religious. Many others are what she calls "spiritual entrepreneurs," seeking creative ways to work with the tensions between science and faith outside the constraints of traditional religion.

    That sounds very suspect to me. I'd like to know what the definition of "religious" is.. is it a self-reported label, or are specific beliefs queried? And the label "spiritual entrepreneurs" sounds like complete gobbledygook. "Seeking creative ways to work with the tensions between science and faith" does not sound equivalent to a position that science doesn't conflict with religion. In fact, if you have to get creative outside of "traditional religion" to "work with the tensions", that implies that those individuals do recognize a conflict between science and religion. If there's no conflict, you don't need to find creative workarounds.

  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:03AM (#37550242)
    "How better to better understand the Creator than through the creation?" - Albert Einstein
  • by Shag (3737) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:16AM (#37550338) Homepage

    Aren't scientists all supposed to be godless atheists? ...According to all the non-scientist atheists out there who want the scientists on their side. ;)

    "[Astronomy] is the most noble and sublime of all the sciences, and presents to our view the most astonishing and magnificent objects - whether we consider their immense magnitude, the splendor of their appearance, the vast spaces which surround them, the magnificent apparatus with which some of them are encompassed, the rapidity of their motions, or the display they afford of the omnipotent energy and the intelligence of the Creator." - Rev. Thomas Dick, "The Philosophy of a Future State," 1831.

    • by Needlzor (1197267)
      Have you even RTFA ? Nowhere does it say anything about atheism, it talks about whether scientists think there are conflicts or not.
  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:45AM (#37550508)

    it's idiots vs science.

    The scientific world rejects idiots. Religion and politics (is there a difference ?) actually need to embrace/recruit them.

    Guess who's more numerous.

  • by mr_gorkajuice (1347383) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @04:39AM (#37551192)
    It's really no surprise that *actual* scientists have a more open mind than the self-proclaimed intellectual elite of slashdot.
  • This is an odd interpretation of the figure.

    Religion - even if we limit it to Christianity/Islam/Judaism, which covers most of the US - consists of varied concepts, only some of which directly conflict with scientific knowledge. (The rest isn't necessarily good - some concepts are just morally wrong instead of scientifically.) Science also consists of different disciplines, which do not contradict religious views on the universe equally (natural sciences are most affected, while the greatest biblical affront to mathematics is rounding Pi down to three, and I don't know of any for, eg, sociology).

    Taking all that into account, we still have just under one in six of ALL scientists queried considers science to be in conflict with ALL religion ALWAYS.

    Interpreting this to mean that science - and particularly natural science, like biology and physics - can coexist with religion, is a bit of a long shot.

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