36 9

Is science & religion compatible?

Shouldn't religion be classified as 'Paranormal : fraud' along with psychics, mediums, spiritists & mystics?

By atheist8
Actions Follow Post Like

Post a comment Add Source Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


Religion is not compatible with science. And yes it is a fraud like psychics and mediums.

Donto101 Level 7 Apr 25, 2018

If I owned a bookstore, I'd put the Bible in the Fiction section.

Nebroxah Level 6 Apr 26, 2018

Galileo certainly thought so.

No, that's not a snarky back handed slap up against the church. Back in his day, if you wanted to pursue science, you went the way of the church. In fact, his day, and his input, were part of the turning point of this. Renee D'escartes, Tycho Brahe, and a bunch of others were, if not devout, trained in the church schools. None were academic slouches. The church, in fact, embraced "natural science" (physics, which included astronomy) up until that time.

According to a book, Infinitessimals, the concept of being able to cut things into smaller and smaller pieces is what tipped the balance as it implied things divine, to some clergy. They asked Galileo to weigh in on it. Galileo saw nothing extraordinary about the concepts and much to explore. He thought it should be embraced. The Jesuits opposed it and they won the day. What happened to Galileo you know (this is not directly related to his excommunication but it is a nail in that coffin).

From that time forward, the Italian churches and schools (almost one and the same) were not allowed to study or access this information and... Italy has not been a mover or shaker in the science scene since. Up until then, they were the center of the science scene.

Said scene moved North and soon thereafter a young philosopher by the name of Newton took this idea to the limit (pun intended) and designed the Calculus... 20 years later, Leibnitz was to publish his works which were entirely the same (no one stole from anyone, it's just another interesting story of the times and kind of implies that new ideas happen holistically when the right information is available to ponder).

Long and short of my long winded post is that science and theology worked hand in hand for a long time prior to this. It was the clergy that made a fateful, and egocentric, decision about the center of our universe and the implication that certain things are not to be known... which stalled the Italians for 700+ years... on the science scene.

Edit: just cleaned up some of the text as, upon reread, it was a bit confusing and fixed a grammar error. Note that this is gelled from recollections of the book Infintessimals (Amir Alexander [], and my reading of history for many years. It's been a while since I read the book I am directly speaking too and the Jesuits were by no means the only actors in opposition to this idea, or to Galileo, but I recall they played a key role, according to Infinitessimals.

Gnarloc Level 7 Apr 25, 2018

@atheist Having not read that set of myths ( smile001.gif )... I disagree... but, my disagreement is in the interpretation of possible intent versus actual, literal, word. I take a look at the concept of Kosher (I know, judaism but go with it) and ask "why?" What benefit does a clergy get by writing that pork is not kosher in his nascent 'good book'?

His goal is to have a strong and fruitful flock, the more in his flock, the more support he has from said flock. It's a symbiotic relationship.

So, said learned scholar notices that people are dying and further makes the connection that all of the families that are dying in this particular fashion are families that have access to, and eat, pork... so, ban it. He further notices that some of the families don't suffer from said disease, either at all or very rarely, and watches their food preparation practices and decides that these methods ARE kosher. Why? So his flock is healthy.

Now, he hasn't a clue about disease or what the mechanic is behind why this is happening, other than that eating pork = higher risk of what we now know is trichinosis. However, he IS able to make the scientific observation of cause and effect, and some estimation of correlation and further to refine his theories. The evidence of said science is in the writing of the rules behind what is proper 'kosher' behavior and what is not.

Sure, it is couched in terms of mythology and commandments, but the fact is we have the "Laws of Physics", such as the laws of thermodynamics (or thermogoddamics) and etc that we use in science... the difference is not really there, in the reasoning, the difference is in the wrapping. Ie: which book the reasoning is published in.

Note too that the 'good book' is written for every man as not even all clergy are all universally the same level of 'intelligent' when it comes to critical thinking. What I mean is that they did NOT know what was going on but had pretty good theories that fit the evidence. We now have MUCH better theories and MUCH more evidence.... Hmm, where I am going is this: don't assume that they have our knowledge, they didn't. How would YOU explain to your 300 BCE (give or take) flock these concepts? Would you talk to them about bacteria and viruses? Nope, you don't know about them. But something you can NOT see or touch is doing it and how do you explain to them so that they... flourish?

Think about it. Give the original writers of these myths the benefit of the doubt, or, better still, imagine YOU are the one writing it and what your goals must be if you write this passage this particular way... AND if you restrict your knowledge to what they had then, is your writing a layman's explanation of the science you have discovered to help save them, or are you just fucking with them? I see it as writing things in language that their contemporaries understood and would follow.

@atheist But why foods then? Think it through, imagine you are the leaders of these peoples, what are your goals in that particular era? Why not some strange idol? Why focus on food? What benefit do you get from putting your efforts there?

While you are doing this, think like someone who doesn't believe, per se, but is in charge and in charge because your followers believe your clap trap. Don't get me wrong, it's possible, probable, that the authors believed their own folderol but they put a lot of effort into it, and scrutinized every word for maximal effect... remember, writing stuff down back then was the work of the wealthy, NOT everyone. So, why spend the expense to write these words?

@atheist I still think some of my reasoning was baked in there... I won't argue with your point.

Long and short is that there is some 'science' behind the moves, if none other than just logic.

Is there science of any kind behind religion? No. Well, other than the science of herding sheep to maximal profit (which could be inclusive, meaning the sheep and priests, or exclusive, meaning only the priests).


Easy to answer. NO. Science is based on evidence and proof, while religions are only "belief systems" based on accepting what the religion trains you to accept to satisfy emotional and psychological needs, by just taking comforting man-made stories on faith. They are fundamentally irreconcilable as Hitchens used to say. The God believers are free to accept many ideas of Science as well of course, but the religion itself must adhere to its doctrine that "the God named (insert your favorite one here) did it!"


Of course not! religion doesn't understand science! Religion is Mythology!


Not compatible. At all.

KKGator Level 9 Apr 26, 2018

It very much depends on the extent to which you take your religious beliefs. If you believe that God made the world 6,000 years ago in six days, that there was a global flood, that Earth is flat and/or that all animals were created as they are now, then that flies in the face of accepted scientific fact and all the available evidence, so you necessarily cannot accept science without suffering cognitive dissonance.

If you believe in any form of interactive god, you need to accept that its interactions have not been empirically demonstrated, only anecdotally. So, you're accepting something based on faith and not the scientific method. It stands apart from science, and doesn't stand up to science, but it doesn't interfere with science.

If you're a deist, who just thinks someone or something kick-started the universe then left us to it, same as the above.

So yes, science and religion are compatible, but only as long as your religious beliefs are vague enough not to contradict modern science.


As Christopher Hitchens once said: They are not only incompatible, but irreconcilable.

MJF6922 Level 5 Apr 26, 2018

@atheist " And the lion will lay down with the lamb but the lamb won't get much sleep " Woody Allen


I think that when a religion is taught through a mythos it can work for a society as long as it's plausible or believable within the science of its time. But when the science of the day proves the myth to be a myth, false, not something that really happened, that shakes the very foundation of the religion. That's when the religion needs to go the way of mythology and allow its lessons to be taught in a literary sense, rather than in a literal sense. We see that happening already, I feel.

Religions based on a supernatural creator, like our Abrahamic Monotheism, which are not supported by the science of the day, and are subject to the scrutiny and skepticism of a modern worldly internet society, should be classified as paranormal.

With the "Rise of the Nones" growing higher in the more educated countries, monothesism will be a thing of the past someday, and the religious texts will be in the Mythology section of the library.

Julie808 Level 7 Apr 26, 2018

Science is compatible with anything that’s demonstrably true and incompatible with anything that’s demonstrably false. Science does not speak directly to the existence of god(s) one way or the other; it makes no attacks on any of them, but if it attacks the foundations they were built on, then those foundations ARE demonstrably false and it stands to reason that at least THOSE gods who stand upon shoddy premises don’t exist.
THOSE religions are incompatible with science because they attempted explanations that turned out to be misguided. They claimed objective truth, but objective truth doesn’t falter under increased scrutiny and doesn’t wilt under brighter light.
Science is a remarkably simply test; if true, you pass and if not, then not. Anyone that claims that science attacks their religion is just complaining that the test is too hard and admitting that they (the authors of said religion) didn’t study for it.


Science and religion can totally exist in the same way bacon and sausage do. Science explains natural phenomenon, religion explains the motivating impulse behind it all and outlines a system of social behavior to foster the continued survival of a culture thousands of years ago. Some of it is outdated and needs revision, but as long as you let science have its sphere of influence and religion its, they can coexist quite fine. It's when religion tries to do something science has already proven reliably and repeatedly simply by merit of anecdotal evidence from eyewitnesses 1700 years ago regarding events 2000 years and 4 language translations ago that the two start to conflict.

geist171 Level 6 Apr 25, 2018

@kcuhcortsa my point is that if one chooses science, with its focus on replication of observation and the work that explains how things work is a better system of understanding the world and natural phenomena than religious narrative, which is largely or entirely reliant on anecdotal evidence in the form of oral narrative tradition, but faith/religion/spirituality does not intrinsically require that facet to serve an anthropological purpose. Removing the elements of religion which attempt scientific explanation and leaving behind the moral, ethical, and social ideologies as intended by religious systems, using religion as philosophy, I suppose. So I suppose I've kind of argued against myself, and will have to change my statement: yes, but only if you gut religious paradigm to suit a hybrid model.


They are as compatible as the differing questions they try to answer. How and why.



Skyfacer Level 7 Apr 27, 2018

I think the question you're really asking is "Are science and fundamentalism/literalism compatible?" and the answer to that is so obvious as to not need asking. But the way you have worded your question makes it sound like you are asking "Are science and art compatible?" which is an equally unnecessary question for the opposite reason.

skado Level 8 Apr 26, 2018

@slavenomore I'm guessing (since there is no scholarly consensus) that your definition of "religion" falls closer to fundamentalism/literalism than to art, in which case I would have no argument with what you're saying.


Many great scientists have been religious but it can interfere with their work. Darwin studied for the clergy. Einstein rejected quantum theory "I refuse to believe that god plays dice with the universe". My own namesake lord Kelvin was a bit of a religious nutter. Though this is priceless, how many colours are there in the spectrum of light? Seven you answer as you go though "Richard of York gained battles in vain" Wrong, take a look again (dig out your dark side of the moon album). There really are six but Newton thought 6 was the devil's number so he split purple into indigo and violet to make it 7.

273kelvin Level 8 Apr 26, 2018

Reading down here it gets confusing when people answer the title of the post without addressing the actual question extrapolated under it.

For clarity here, my answers are based on the question

Shouldn't religion be classified as 'Paranormal : fraud' along with psychics, mediums, spiritists & mystics?

Is science & religion compatible? which I have addressed elsewhere and to which the answer is obviously, not under any circumstances.


Put it this way
everything that is described as a godly miracle in the bible, is described as black magic in the same book when anyone other than a Israelite or Christian does it.

Oddly most Christian claim belief in magic is blasphemous, even though the bible acknowledges it enough to order the death of its practitioners


not christian,maybe Hindu,as they believe in other beings from space

Why not Christian?
The Bible has witches, prophets, soothsayers, spiritualists, unicorns, leviathan, magic, flying men, ghosts , demons (various), angels (various), magic fish, curses, charms, talking donkeys and snakes, Behemoth .....

I could go on but all that sounds a bit Harry Potter-ish to me.


Only to a cognitively dissonant mind.

David1955 Level 7 Apr 26, 2018

There are a lot of good debates on this one. Daniel Dennett does a good job with these.


No they are not. It takes a whole lot of cognitive dissonance and mental gymnastics to say they do.


Absolutely not.


Science is compatible with religion only to the degree that the religious person is willing to admit that much of the dogma and scripture are nothing more than cultural myth.

wordywalt Level 8 Apr 25, 2018

@atheist hmm


If you use the dictionary definition of compatible:

(of two things) able to exist or occur together without conflict.

then yes, they are able to exist or occur together without conflict as evidenced by the wealth of religious scientists and scientific religious.


Not reluctant at all. As I believe I've pointed out to you several times to you, religion has been instrumental in advancing science. One need only look at the history of Math and Islam and the history of Astronomy and Christianity as two examples.

If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to read all about it in the link I've provided; what you will find is "the conflict model", as in the conflict between science and western religion, is the minority position and has very little historical backing.



The arguement from majority in this case refers to the majority of the evidence is that science and religion have coexisted. If you'd read the article, you would see this clearly spelled out:

"The conflict model, which holds that science and religion are in perpetual and principal conflict, relies heavily on two historical narratives the trial of Galileo (see Dawes 2016 for a contemporary re-examination) and the reception of Darwinism (see Bowler 2001). "

Galielo and Darwin are given major weight in proposing science and religon are in conflict while the countless other example where there has been no conflict is given less weight. Further, closer examination of at least the Galileo Affair shows it has less to do with a conflict with science and more to do with challenging papal authority.

To put it more bluntly, those that argue there is a conflict between science and religion cherry pick The Galielo Affair and Darwin and ignore the rest.

@TheMiddleWay Thanks for this link. I'm sure people who, like @atheist, are seeking an honest and informed answer to the question posed in this thread will enthusiastically read every word on that site.
Sample: "Because “science” and “religion” defy definition, discussing the relationship between science (in general) and religion (in general) may be meaningless. For example, Kelly Clark (2014) argues that we can only sensibly inquire into the relationship between a widely accepted claim of science (such as quantum mechanics or findings in neuroscience) and a specific claim of a particular religion (such as Islamic understandings of divine providence or Buddhist views of the no-self)."


"The vast majority of authors in the science and religion field is critical of the conflict model and believes it is based on a shallow and partisan reading of the historical record."



The SEP is my go-to for all matters philosophical, including theology. Building off your quote, it is not only the case that the definitions are fuzzy but "science", the actual word and field, is traditionally traced to Galileo and Newton and thus is formally only ~400 years old. Everything before that was not technically science and generally falls under the terms of "natural philosophy". Thus the science of the past can include alchemy and astrology, two things that we don't call science today but that form the foundation of science today and were most emphatically studied by and promoted by religions.

Here is another more relevant quote to the discussion at hand "The vast majority of authors in the science and religion field is critical of the conflict model and believes it is based on a shallow and partisan reading of the historical record." And think about it, how many people that argue about this conflict EVER go beyond galileo and darwin? How many people have read about the political, and personal, climate of the time that affected the persecution of these men? Not many. Yet they claim "Ha! Galieo proves the science and religion are in conflict" as if one atheist promoting reiki proves that atheists and science are also in conflict. Laughable cherry picking of the evidence but it goes to show that people will by and large only use the evidence they need to prove their point and ignore the rest....

@atheist If we're not careful we might just slip up and agree on something here. smile001.gif Truth is definitely not determined by democratic processes. If I understand correctly (correct me) you're saying that just because an overwhelming majority of scholars (who are a minority in the general population) think the conflict model is wrong, doesn't guarantee that it is really wrong. And I'm saying that just because an overwhelming majority of the general population thinks the conflict model is right, doesn't guarantee that it's really right (majority means nothing, right?)
So it looks like it comes down to whether a person wants to bet on the opinions of a highly educated minority, or on the opinions of a not as highly educated majority. I agree with you. Majority status means little with regard to the truth. Education, on the other hand...

@atheist You still seem to be stuck on the assumption that religion is inseparable from superstition, and within that subset, which is most likely the majority today, I have no argument with you. My only argument is that a superstitious reading of a religion is not the only reading, and never has been. It will take me a while to read through the link that TMW supplied, but I am working on it. I won't know until then, if then, whether the scholars the article mentions don't see conflict because of the reasons you suggest or whether because of what I'm saying - that they are aware that a superstitious reading is not really the essential reading of religion. If you read it too then we might have something to talk about. Bated breath! ?

Tell me if I'm wrong but my guess is that Professor Coyne is only addressing the superstitious variety of religions? And if that is the case, I would have no argument with him either, and I can't even imagine why yet another book needed to be written about such a well documented position.


a) You minority/majority retort was a slam dunk. I wanted to say something similar but couldn't quite put it together. Very nice! The death of expertise in the world is never so evident as with people that say "it's just a theory" or "a majority of scientists doesn't mean it's right". But like you said, I'd rather stake on educated minority or majority over uneducated minority or majority....

b) Maybe this is correlated with the superstitious reading but for me, the notion that science and religion are compatible is evidenced by the overwhelming number of people that practice science and are religious. If it were the case that science and religion were incompatible, this would not be possible or it would be present in much smaller number. Does Prof. Coyle say anything on that subject, on how so many scientists (and the majority of Nobel Prize winners) be religious if science and religion are incompatible?


"Another book was written b/c accommodstionists are still trying to pedal their notion that scientific fact is compatible with religious faith! "

They are given that as per Gould's Non-Overlapping Magesteria (NOM), a viewpoint to which I subscribe, one has nothing to do with the other.

And again, to hammer this point home, this compatibility is evidenced by the fact that many people that work with scientific fact (for example the majority of medical doctors and nobel prize winners) have no problem also working with religious faith.

@atheist There are different ways of speaking about "religions". One is from a top down perspective - what a religious establishment at a given moment/place feels is necessary to carve into doctrinal stone. The one I'm speaking of is the bottom up perspective - the understanding and attitude of the individual practitioner or scholar. In this sense all major world religions can be understood and practiced from a non-superstitious perspective. This is not news. Regarding superstition, it's pretty clear Karen Armstrong is an atheist, as was Joseph Campbell. Chris Hedges, scholar extraordinaire, with a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, practices his deeply held beliefs, I'm quite sure, without a trace of superstition. Same, for the most part probably, with Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, Jordan Peterson, etc. and various religious scholars throughout history.

"the homeopathic dilution of religion into a humanistic philosophy "
What does he mean by a "homeopathic dilution of religion"?

"the claim that science deals only with questions involving natural phenomena, "
This is a true claim. Science deals with data and data only come form natural phenomena.

The vast majority of religions (Christianity and Judaism for sure; Islam not so sure) are not in the business of advancing evolution and accepts it's efficacy: hence NOM holds.
"In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces"

The science researchers are not in the business of advancing prayer and there is no consensus of it's efficacy: hence NOM holds.
" For a multitude of reasons, research on the healing effects of prayer is riddled with assumptions, challenges and contradictions that make the subject a scientific and religious minefield. "

It is true that overlap can't be avoided but that doesn't mean the NOM doesn't hold, only that like any good theory it's boundaries are being tested.


Never heard of these two so I did some basic research.

Dr. Parsons is not current in the field as he called it quits 8 years ago.

As for John Luftus, he seems to be a believer turned non-believer.
So while his story may be interesting, is there something special about him that would make his works worth pursuing?


"The second area not for debate concerns evolution. Evolution is a fact. Every scientist in every part of the globe knows it is a fact. It is not up for debate."

A fact accepted by the major religions (at least the major judeochristian religions) as well.
So what of it? I'm not sure what your point in bringing evolution up is since there is no debate among the major religions about it.

"When we die, we cease to exist, just like every other species does. "
Not being dead, I don't see how he can claim this. That's my problem with people that claim certainty in light of lack of evidence.. it comes off as their guess, their belief, but carries no more weight than other peoples guess or beliefs that say we don't cease to exist...

@atheist I don't disagree with a single word you have said or quoted from Parsons/Loftus, as it applies to religious literalism, which is what you and they are addressing. What you and they leave unaddressed (as far as I am aware) is the interpretation of religious literature as metaphor, which is in no way incompatible with science in general, and in no way incompatible with evolution particularly. I enthusiastically agree with Parsons in his claim that it is entirely useless to continue beating the very dead horse of literalist apologetics. And I enthusiastically agree with Loftus when he says the Adam and Eve story is a myth. What they and you seem to be unaware of is that mythology, metaphor, allegory, etc. were, and are, literary devices used to convey truth by analogy rather than by literal denotation.


"What they and you seem to be unaware of is that mythology, metaphor, allegory, etc. were, and are, literary devices used to convey truth by analogy rather than by literal denotation."

I don't disagree that this may be the case with religious stories.
Yet another reason why NOM holds because those stories cannot tell us if science is true or false nor can science tell us if those stories are true or false.

"Religion only accepts evolution as part of God's divine plan - absolutely no evidence!"
So? It accepts it on it's scientific merits and that is all that matters.

"Regarding death - there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary!"
There is also no evidence in support.

"Belief in a divine plan & life after death is a matter of faith & therefore is incompatible with fact!"
Belief one way or another to realms from which we can gather no data is incompatible with fact. In other words, claiming that is life after death is as un-factual as claiming there isn't. The only logical course is to not make the claim or accept both claims as possibilities.

"Unless you can produce scientifically credible evidence for either then your case is bogus!"
I agree. Now produce scientific evidence against an afterlife. Can't be done and thus both cases are bogus and people claiming either one is correct are doubly bogus!

@atheist Where you been, bro? You never heard of the science of Psychology? Jung, Freud, those dudes?

"Recent approaches often view myths as manifestations of psychological, cultural, or societal truths, rather than as inaccurate historical accounts."


"As early as the 4th century BC, Greek physician Hippocrates theorized that mental disorders had physical rather than supernatural causes."

"Gustav Fechner began conducting psychophysics research in Leipzig in the 1830s, articulating the principle that human perception of a stimulus varies logarithmically according to its intensity.[21] Fechner's 1860 Elements of Psychophysics challenged Kant's stricture against quantitative study of the mind."

"A different strain of experimentalism, with more connection to physiology, emerged in South America, under the leadership of Horacio G. Piñero at the University of Buenos Aires.[30] Russia, too, placed greater emphasis on the biological basis for psychology, beginning with Ivan Sechenov's 1873 essay, "Who Is to Develop Psychology and How?" Sechenov advanced the idea of brain reflexes and aggressively promoted a deterministic viewpoint on human behavior."


"The psychoanalytical perspective on myth was unavoidable. When the study of myths and religions intensified through the 19th century, patterns of them were extracted and compared, and theories on what they revealed about common human conditions emerged. Myths were increasingly seen as expressions of needs in the human psyche."


"The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus, Plato and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later revived by Renaissance mythographers. The nineteenth-century comparative mythology reinterpreted myth as a primitive and failed counterpart of science (Tylor), a "disease of language" (Müller), or a misinterpretation of magical ritual (Frazer).
Recent approaches often view myths as manifestations of psychological, cultural, or societal truths, rather than as inaccurate historical accounts."


We've been at this a while now, y'all. Science is all over, in and about myth. Science denial is unbecoming of atheists. smile001.gif

@atheist "Science tells us that there was no global flood! Science tells us that the exodus didn't occur! Science tells us that there was no destruction of Sodom & Gommora! Science tells us that the sun did not stand still at Jericho! Science tells us that there weren't zombies walking around at the time of the resurrection!"

Yep. And science tells us that mythology is is a window into human psychology when understood metaphorically. See above.


"There is no scientific knowledge in the bible! And science proves it! "
I agree. Thus proving Gould's NOM is firmly in place

"Absence of evidence where there should be evidence IS evidence of absence! Ergo - no god, no devine plan, no afterlife! "
How can there be evidence of an gods, divine plans, or an afterlife if none of us can access the place where these things reside?
You are no different than those that claim that there IS a god and an afterlife: both of you have no access to evidence, have no evidence in support of your claim, and yet both are convinced that your non-evidenced conclusion is the true one.

Me? I just don't make conclusions. That is way more logical to me than making guesses about things I can't access and have no evidence for.


Yes. Any shit can be believed of in faith as long as it keeps it's claims based on faith and stays on it's side of Goulds NOM.
And any shit can be believed in science as long as it's proven using the methods of science and thus stays on it's side of Goulds NOM.

However, when religion crosses the fence and tries to play in science playground, it will be judged according to sciences rules.
Likewise, when science crosses the fence and tries to play in the faith playground, it will be judged according to faith rules.

It's such a simple concept of coexistence that is in practice by many many scientists. It's mostly non-scientists that want to try and cross the fence and claim that science can talk about faith or faith can talk about science... it's mostly non-scientists that want to "start shit" with the religious and claim that their way is the only way.

@atheist "And what truth does knowing that tell us?"

It helps us build a gestalt perspective of our own nature. We're a lot more than just a bag of bones. We experience life as mental and emotional creatures. The more we understand about how that complex machinery works the less we have to suffer.

Now this is where TMW's path and mine may diverge a bit. I don't spend any energy holding the door open for the possibility of any literal interpretations of god. Although I have no argument with his rationale technically, I just don't feel a need to go there. Sure, there could be flying spaghetti monsters; there could be ANYthing. But while science doesn't prove the non-existence of such things, it more than adequately illuminates the many motivations we have to cling to those ideas in the absence of evidence. I promise I won't miss a beat when evidence proves my assumptions wrong. Meanwhile, I'll conserve my energy for dealing with the realities we do have evidence for.

While NOMA is probably OK as far as it goes, my claim of compatibility relies on an entirely different shtick. Gould's solution cuts a deal that I don't think science can afford to make in the long term. We have already breached that artificial border to some extent, and if we can we should. The fact that 80% of the population won't like it is a problem we'll have to solve on more honest terms than by declaring an apartheid.

Sure, people are, and should always be, free to believe whatever mental gymnastics they need to make it through the night, but if science can assist them in building a more reality-based worldview, it has an ethical responsibility to make that material available. And my claim is that such a path is fully compatible with science when mythology is viewed as a metaphor for human psychology rather than taken to be competing versions of literal truth. The emotional support functions remain intact, and the woo is shed; win - win.

@atheist "However mythological truth & religious truth are nuanced, they are not the same as what could be termed scientific truth!"

In the biggest picture, I assume there is only one reality. When multiverse theories are proven empirically instead of just mathematically I'll deal with that then, but for now I'm going with one reality. If this is the case, and probably in any case, anything is fair game for scrutiny by science. A barrier that has been difficult for science to cross is the one between the objective, material, external world and the internal, or subjective experience of that world. But science doesn't deny that we have experience. So right there, is the seed of compatibility.

The sciences of Psychology and Neurobiology, to name two, further the germination of that seed by studying observable manifestations and biological substrates, respectively, of experience. But inside our own skulls we know in no uncertain terms that we have experience. We know when we are suffering. When talk therapy helps us unravel trauma or when pharmaceuticals help relieve anxiety, we know what relief feels like by way of direct experience. We don't have to ask science if we feel better.

It appears to me that before corrupting forces descended upon religious institutions (which started the minute they were formed) the original purpose was to help people escape the internal or psychological sufferings that we all inevitably experience. Two thousand years ago we didn't have the language we do today to speak about such invisible forces, so naturally they were spoken about in terms of spirits, etc. But that doesn't mean they weren't real. The suffering was real, and the causes of it were real.

The wiser heads paid attention and collected observable truth. They realized that if the average person cheated or stole they would be "haunted" by feelings of guilt or shame. They compiled these wisdoms and practiced them and taught them, because they actually worked to relieve human suffering. Anything that relieved suffering and enhanced social cohesion was exalted to "sacred" status because nothing is worse than psychological suffering that cannot be escaped.

Human institutions are corruptible. Institutions that are considered sacred are defended from examination and periodic cleaning, so their corruption accumulates. The church suffers not only from the corrosive effects of power, but also from the psychological corruption caused by the human tendency toward emotional dependency, so it is long overdue for massive reform. But it is not a bad idea, or even an unscientific idea to have an institution whose responsibility it is to lead people, train people in ways, attitudes, behaviors that are conducive to psychological health and social harmony.

We need the church. And the church needs science. These magisteria can be, should be, and by nature are overlapping. There is only one reality. And science is the best way to study it. All of it. But science does not need to be in the business of training the whole population how to practice good mental hygiene on a daily or weekly basis. A reformed church would be perfect for that.

"Science is the only standard! [...] b/c they are only compatible if they are science & nothing else! "

This reeks of scientism.

"“Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture.” "



Again, I owe you a much more detaled response... don't let me forget! smile001.gif

@atheist No, that is not at all what I'm trying to do. If it hasn't been apparent from my previous writing, let me go on record here as stating I have no use for, and I do not support the use of, superstitious thinking for any purpose, or in any context ever. Period. K?

I think we're just stumbling over different associations with certain words. For you, religion seems to be inseparable from superstition. I see superstition as a disease that has infected religion, and admittedly, possibly fatally. But religion has been, and could possibly again in the future be, a vital social institution. What I am in fact calling for is the purging of all superstition from religion (a tall order, I realize, but we're just talking philosophy here; implementation is another discussion).

Like you, I see science, and science alone, as our best tool for discerning fact from fiction, whether the subject is physiology or psychology. We are in total agreement about that. But a reformed church would not be science masquerading as religion, because it is not science's job to conduct mental hygiene classes in the community. Scientists do research.

Bridge builders use physics to do their work but they are not physicists, they are bridge builders. Law enforcement uses psychology to do their work but they are not psychologists, they are policemen. Farmers pay attention to the weather but they're not meteorologists masquerading as farmers. They are just farmers using science instead of rain dances. Social institutions whose responsibility has historically been assisting communities with their daily mental hygiene should be using science. Not superstition. That doesn't make them scientists; it just makes them relevant in the 21st century. And in the age of daily school shootings, they are needed more than ever. Let the scientists do research, and let the ministers minister, and please... let them use science.


What other way of gaining scientific knowledge? Clearly only science.

However, scientific knowledge is not the only knowledge.
For example, science does nothing for moral knowledge or artistic knowledge or musical knowledge or cultural knowledge.

To claim that science is the only game in town is to engage is scientism, the worship of science, the dogma of science, taking science as religion, science as god, science as that which can answer everything and whose providence over human affairs is not to be challenged

"“The health of science is in fact jeopardized by scientism, not promoted by it. At the very least, scientism provokes a defensive, immunological, aggressive response from other intellectual communities, in return for its own arrogance and intellectual bullyism. It taints science itself by association.”"


@atheist Religions serve multiple purposes. Have you read Alain de Botton's "Religion for Atheists"? An ideal church would be more like the gym that keeps you out of the clinic.

@atheist It doesn't matter to me what we call it. We could make up a whole new name for it or use the old ones, no matter. But here's my question: Do you think it might be good for society to have a social institution where people gathered once a week or so to acknowledge their respect for, and commitment to, a disciplined life as opposed to a life of dissipation, a life in harmony with their neighbors instead of endless cutthroat competition? A place that promoted quiet contemplation and mindfulness. A place to be reminded of the values of humility and selflessness. A place that taught people how to assess information they encounter by critical standards rather than by emotional reactions. And offered options for learning deeper mental disciplines such as meditation, etc. Or do you feel that society would be better off if no such institutions existed?

@atheist Works for me!


It depends on how you define religion. Wikipedia says "There is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion."
Karen Armstrong says the common thread of all major world religions is compassion, and she literally wrote the book on the history of god. There is nothing about compassion that is incompatible with science.

skado Level 8 Apr 25, 2018

@atheist Are you saying compassion was not a common thread in all religions?


Nobody every said compassion was unique to religion. All that was said is the religions have been instrumental in the promotion of compassion as a positive virtue and that that promotion is not incompatible with science.... religion can promote compassion which science promotes knowledge and the two can coexist even if religion doesn't strictly promote knowledge or science doesn't strictly promote morality.

@atheist What TheMiddleWay said, plus:
Instead of saying religion equals fraud, it would be more accurate to say fraudulent religion equals fraud. Instead of government = fraud; fraudulent government = fraud. Instead of business = fraud; fraudulent business = fraud, etc. Lumping everything that religion has historically, and does currently represent under the heading of fraud is... fraud.

"Coexisting doesn't mean compatible!"

Ummmmm... coexisting is EXACTLY what compatible means so.... huh?

(of two things) able to exist or occur together without conflict.

@atheist Good, but you’re still doing it.
That doesn’t rise to the level of the fraud that all fraudulent religion has perpetrated historically. FYP


These three link prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that historically, science and religion have been predominately without conflict in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism




Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text 'q:66448'.
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content read full disclaimer.
  • is a non-profit community for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics and others!