Science and Religion

Do words like “Intelligent Design” or “Faith in God” make you condescendingly smile or get your eyes rolling? Read-on.

Checking what happened in the scientific community after Darwin, it would be fair to say that scientists as a whole went from being most probably theists to most probably atheists.  Basically, science replaced God or made it obsolete.  Why? and why would that make sense? There are only 2 ways I explain that:
1) they had used the bible as a mere natural history book and then no longer (in which case they should have been a bit more careful and the point is moot).
2) they had used the claimed “facts” of the bible as prop for their faith… when that prop was gone, well that faith was also gone and was put in something more reliable: Science.

In the latter case, which is suspect was more probable, faith then, was just a means to quell the disquieting nature of deep unanswered or unanswerable questions and it still is. Science won,  not because it was objectively true, but because objectivity provides a sense of satisfaction, and interestingly enough that is exactly what traditional religion provides to whose who believe: Satisfactory answers.

Science also aims at satisfying its believers.  Being by definition, a work in progress, what is is true today does not need to be true tomorrow, but scientists have faith that it will eventually provide the right (and satisfactory) answers through application  and refinement of the scientific method.

It is not my contention that all scientist worship science.  There is a (quantum) difference between trusting a particular process and having faith, meaning religious faith, in it.  The way I tell is considering the effect, purpose and result of that trust.

Whenever scientific conclusions are the basis for  determining the meaning and/or purpose of life (or lack thereof) it is most definitely an act of “religious” faith.  It constitutes ultimate belief in a notion/system in/to which one entrusts one’s own intrinsic value (or lack thereof) with no other guarantee than that faith itself. In that, the scientific method is the opiate of the elites… and science is their God.

Such people are no better or worse than the most naive of the fervent faithful in traditional religions.  To that effect I suspect that most skeptics fall in that category of pseudo-religious, having exchanged superstitions, ready-to-consume beliefs and imaginary friends for the more rigorous analysis of hard data paradise or scientific nirvana. To those, one might, while reading their stinging rebuttal and vehement rebuke of biblical or other religious belief, condescendingly smile or roll one’s eyes…

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8 thoughts on “Science and Religion

  1. Almost anyone can be fanatical about anything to the level typically found within religion. Trekkies who hold the superiority of one series over another might do so in a manner comparable with religion. Yet we don’t place them up on a pedestal with religious people because what they obsess over is different.

    Similarly, whilst the most irritating, ivory tower intellectual might have a fanaticism on par with religion, to call them “no better or worse” is to miss a fundamental difference – what they’re obsessing over.

    • I agree with you completely. However the point I am making is not the behavior or even the attitude towards a specific obsession. I am saying that if 2 obsessions fill the same function in someone’s life, they are equivalent.
      For example although sex addiction might not have the same implications as addiction to gambling, both perform the same functions for the individual.

      • But still, to call something equivalent based upon the role that has in their life is to miss crucial differences. Being in the army and having an office job might fulfil the same role, yet one clearly results in more death than the other so to call them equivalent seems to be missing the point.

      • Sorry it took me so long to respond, but in case you are still interested…
        The similarities that I establish are based on “meaning”.. and your example works fine for me.
        The issue here is that your evaluation of the jobs is not based on the fact that they are jobs, but on the effect of that job on society. In which case you are right, the point is being missed, but only because we did not agree on what was the point in the first place.

        If we can agree on what’s meaningful about the job, then we can find what might be equivalent or not.
        For example if all you care about is to earn money then any job with the right pay will do (*IF* that’s all you care about).
        If you are happy to keep your job no matter what are the societal implications as long as they pay you, then I would think I can say that your job is just a job and any other job would would do.
        Others might not have the same take on your job. But clearly, to *you* that job and other jobs are equivalent.

        Likewise if what science does for you is the same as what religion does for others, then they become equivalent.

        Caveat:
        My initial piece *Only* pointed to those who were using science for spiritual purposes especially those doing it unwittingly.
        To me that is as foolish as using religion as a means to obtain scientific knowledge (which many actually do).
        Fanaticism & obsession are NOT the objects of my considerations.

  2. Although scientist may not agree, I think there is some truth in the statement “science is their God”, assuming that God is something people follow, idolize, and obsess with in an attempt to give meaning to life. Of course, it is mostly a God we fabricate to meet our own selfish agendas. Money can be my God if I rely on it to give me purpose in life (I idolize and obsess with it), the same way with fame, food, and sex. Science can also be something we idolize and follow obsessively. I think that keeping an open mind can help us to live a fuller life, instead of relying (obsessing) with only one aspect of life, i.e. science, money, drugs, etc.

    • Well yes… and no. It depends what we mean by “curiosity”. If we define it as the process of settling what unsettles us the most, then I would be inclined to say that the ultimate purpose of belief/faith is to satisfy curiosity.

      Most belief systems tend to cater to answer things such as: why are we here? where are we going? etc

      Let’s assume for a moment, that a thoughtful person is not interested in those questions, then traditional religion and even science as religion has no object. However, that person might still be curious about the nature of things how they work. Not for the purpose of giving a meaning to his/her life but because of curiosity (in a way that one might want find out what happened in an Agatha Christie novel).

      What question that is unescapable to the thoughtful person is “what framework should I live by”. That framework is the worldview that all adopt consciously or otherwise. One might consider it religion, at which point I would whole heartedly agree… intoxication of one kind or another is unavoidable.

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