The Science-Religion Dichotomy – NOT

ETHICAL ISSUES:  SCIENCE vs RELIGION

I write this as a career scientist who has had an undeniably spiritual personal experience—a peak experience as defined by Abraham Maslow—and as a philosopher.  I do not ask that you believe me (although it is certainly the truth).  I ask only that you read on because the subject is interesting.

The rapid advance of science in recent years has brought with it an increase in secularism and, not surprisingly, atheism.  However, it should be noted that while denouncing spirituality, atheism itself bears all the scripts of a religion (faith, belief, conviction, confidence, trust, reliance, devotion, dogma, doctrine).  Indeed, it makes for an extremely demanding one in that it’s entirely negative and has no particular guiding light other than the passion of those who would sponsor it.

The atheist presupposes (simplistically) that science deals in truth, while religions deal only in belief, a supposition untrue at its core.  Science is not about truth, only the pursuit of it.  Every ostensibly positive scientific ‘conclusion’ carries with it the challenge to be proven false—that is what science is all about.  How different is that, really, from religion?  Religion (more correctly, spirituality in general) also seeks truth, and among other things endeavors to handle the moral questions that science cannot.

Nor is religion/spirituality a simple concept.  There’s a difference between formal (church) and personal religion.  Formal religions have an agenda—that’s what differentiates them—while personal faith is motivated by a spiritual (natural, in fact) ‘will to believe.’ What follows owes much to an article in the Wall Street Journal (Sept 29-30, 2012) by Gertrude Himmelfarb:

The philosopher Henry James, in a series of lectures delivered at Harvard at the turn of the (19th/20th) Century,  posited that it is in defense of truth itself that faith is vindicated.  James recognized that man is not the end-all (and certainly not the beginning);  that there must be  a “higher part of the universe.”  He concludes that “God (must be) real because he produces real effects.”  Atheists summarily dismiss this.

James (speaking primarily of Catholics, a favorite target of atheists) writes that older religions “offer a so much richer pasturage and shades to the fancy” than those born of the Enlightenment.  To these ‘intellectual’ religious, “many of the antiquated beliefs and practices to which (they) give countenance are, if taken literally, as childish as they are to (atheists).”  But they are childish in the nous of being innocent and amiable rather than in the atheistic sense of being “idiotic falsehoods.”

There is a habit among those with weak arguments to attack the opposition rather than present their own reasonable alternatives.  Atheists just say “no”.

My own very real experience confirms that there is a spiritual dimension to mankind, and therefore a real incentive for religion.  If you’ve read this far you may wish to investigate Peak Experiences and/or check out an earlier blog, but know this:

There is no science-religion dichotomy.  They simply represent different roads toward the same goal: Truth.  The same goal pursued by EXTREME Ethics.

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26 Responses to “The Science-Religion Dichotomy – NOT”

  1. November 6th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    “atheism itself bears all the scripts of a religion (faith, belief, conviction, confidence, trust, reliance, devotion, dogma, doctrine)”

    Actually, it bears none of those things. It’s the single belief that there are no gods.

  2. November 6th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    fred says:

    How silly! Of course it does! Single BELIEF? (not to mention conviction, confidence [in], trust, reliance, devotion [to] a dogma and doctrine), and atheism has a certain faith in its belief, doesn’t it?

  3. November 6th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    fred says:

    BTW, you illustrate the point: “There is a habit among those with weak arguments to attack the opposition rather than present their own reasonable alternatives. Atheists just say “no”.”

  4. November 6th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    1) What are you suggesting atheists have faith in?

    2) I’m suggesting a perfectly reasonable alternative to religion: no religion.

  5. November 6th, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    fred says:

    1) What (am I) suggesting atheists have faith in? Well, now about…your BELIEF? The rest apply as well…(your ‘conviction’ for one.
    2) Of course. As I say, you just say “no.” Apparently there is no subject to discuss…I say something, you just say “no.” End of subject. Why bother reply to my article? Do you have any thoughts re: the Big Bang? like…what caused it? Just asking…

  6. November 6th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    1) My belief doesn’t require faith; it’s based on evidence. Ironic that you claim I’m not saying anything, when that’s all you’ve got.

    2) I’m not an astrophysicist, but Hawking’s “Brief History of Time” addresses your Big Bang question.

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  9. November 7th, 2012 at 11:57 am

    fred says:

    1) Excuse me, but I don’t see any evidence. Saying that you have it doesn’t hold much water. Where is it? And for the record, I’m not talking about religious faith…

    I don’t just have faith, I have as well ‘belief, conviction, confidence, trust, reliance, devotion,’ and the rest. I also have direct knowledge, having had a peak experience. I’m not even talking about GOD (or gods…). Look up Plotinus, a 3rd Century PAGAN (hence atheist) philosopher, and you will see exactly where I’m coming from. Socrates had it kind of right about 2500-years ago, well before any recorded organized religion.

    2) I know all about Hawking. I asked YOU what caused the Big Bang. Just a few words will do…

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  11. November 7th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    1) My evidence for the fact that gods don’t exist is the complete lack of any shred of evidence that they do.

    I’m not talking about religious faith either. Faith is the belief in something whether or not evidence supports it. I do not have that.

    Pagans are not atheists.

    2) Okay, I’ll do my best… Time began with the Big Bang. Since cause and effect require the existence of time (effect must come after cause), the concept of causality has no meaning prior to the Big Bang. In fact, “prior to the Big Bang” has no meaning in and of itself, since there was no time.

    Did I get that about right, based on your understanding of Hawking?

  12. November 7th, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    fred says:

    2) You got that right, and I don’t have to agree with Hawking’s thesis to make that evaluation (I don’t). Even simpler, time can’t exist without matter (in motion, but…no matter, no motion…). Sorry, but since there was no time, there was timelessness (you’re with me up to here), but there WAS eternity, which can be supported. So why not INSTANTANEOUSNESS? Don’t laugh–were dealing irrationality here, remember–what’s the difference between eternal and instant? Don’t laugh (again), because it’s not rational and you can’t explain it (nor can I…).
    BTW, “prior to the Big Bang” has no meaning” is necessarily a false statement, because there WAS a PRIOR (cause is not an accurate term but it will have to do), or there could have not been a “beginning” (effect is not a good term either, but it gets the general meaning across, I think).

    1)”My evidence for the fact that gods don’t exist is the complete lack of any shred of evidence that they do” is not accurate. You just refuse to acknowlege the “evidence” because you do not see it as evidence. Lots of people (including many scientists) do.

    And BTW- Who said I believe in gods? Plotinus did not believe in god(s), yet he had a handle on the situation. If I don’t believe in gods, does that make me an atheist? Depends upon the reality of the definition(s). There WAS a beginning, and there was a cause for the beginning. God is merely a ‘mechanism’ (bad word…) to put into humanity’s terms to illustrate/explain the unexplainable. If there was a beginning, there must have been something(? again a bad word because there’s no other way to express it with our language limitations) to begin it. Call it cause, or call it god (to put it in terms that people can handle). Whatever, it was the dynamis that began time as we know it.

    The fact is that I understand at some level what I’m saying, but we don’t have the system (words, irrationality) to express it. Laugh if you will, but I have literally seen the light (something else that can’t exist without the means to cause it). I can go on should you have the stomach for it…

    Thank you, by the way, for your argument. It is not at all offensive to me. In the vernacular, I love this s–t.

    Pagans, by the way, are heathen (irreligious, possibly but not necessarily hedonistic), and do not acknowledge the god(s) of the Bible, Torah or Qu’ran. Something like atheists, who are irreligious/do not acknowledge god…?

    Things get fuzzy when they get irrational, including what we refer to as definition(s)…………../f

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  14. November 8th, 2012 at 9:22 am

    DVD Bach says:

    2) Whatever you say. Again, I’m not an astrophysicist, so I’m not going to debate the point.

    1) What evidence are you offering?

    Pagans are nothing like atheists, because pagans are typically polytheistic, while atheists believe in no gods at all.

  15. November 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am

    fred says:

    1) Simply: there had to be a beginning… So there must be a when, and, humans being what we are, we seek a why. There’s just too much evidence to spell out. Read my stuff more carefully–it’s not hokum.
    Some pagans MAY be polytheistic, but not ‘typically.’ Thay don’t acknowledge gods as we know them. I realize that atheists would rather not be labeled as pagan, but then we of personal ‘religion’ would rather not be classified with the masses either. My sentiments are somewhat consistent with Plotinus’s thesis. One can have a ‘god’ for lack of a better term–some/thing/entity/being/intellect/intelligence/whatever that ‘existed’(?) before time as we know it. It’s not necessary to get down on one’s knees and worship whatever it is. But there is some/thing/entity/being/intellect/intelligence/whatever that ’caused’ (there’s the language problem again) the beginning as we know it. After all, some/thing(etc) had to ’cause’/(turn on, if you will) the light, but now we’re back to what we can’t intellectualize, much less verbalize. I don’t expect you to believe that I’ve seen it, but the fact is that I have. You can write me off as a nut if you wish, but it’s not the case. I’m trying to sell (give away is much more accurate) the ethics concept because it’s blindingly obvious (to me) that ethics has long since gone by the boards, so I’ve got to keep reiterating TRUTH. Maybe you can help me out here, but not by just saying ‘no.’ Ethics has a long and proud history (and not a necessarily religious one as some think) that’s been taking hits (and surviving) since the beginnning. I’m just trying to keep the ball rolling, accelerating it if possible. I truly welcome your arguments becase they make me think. I’d be happy to debate you (or Sam) anytime, but we have to both accept that it will come out no better than a draw, because we are starting from different assumptions/realities. Anyway, thanks again!!

  16. November 8th, 2012 at 11:58 am

    DVD Bach says:

    So much evidence that you can’t provide a single bit of it, huh?

    All I’m really seeing in what you’re saying are age-old philosophical arguments for God’s existence; none of them constitute evidence, and all of them can be refuted or at least disputed (i.e. why would the universe require a cause, and even if it did, why would we call that cause “God?”). I would never claim to judge you a “nut,” but I certainly don’t see any reason to believe in any gods, based on what you’ve said.

    I’m not an expert in ethics, but I’d be happy to help any way I can, I suppose.

    This is from the Penguin English Dictionary:
    pagan
    /ʹpaygən/ noun
    1
    a follower of a polytheistic religion.
    2
    an irreligious person

    Note that polytheism is in the primary definition, supporting my claim that pagans are typically polytheists. While I fit the secondary definition, I don’t describe myself that way because I don’t want to be confused with people who practice pagan religions. If you want to call me that, I suppose I see no reason to be offended by it.

  17. November 8th, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    fred says:

    Of course the age-old philosophical arguments can be disputed. So can those of the atheist. So where does that leave us? I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO BELIEVE IN ANY GODS. But ‘even if it did, why would we call that cause God’ means little–did I call the cause God? Some people choose to, you don’t, so where does that leave us? Like I said–we are starting from different assumptions/realities. I stand by mine in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Atheism has no convincing arguments. Just say NO.
    I’m not touting organized religions. I am supporting spirituality. I know it to be a fact. I bear witness to it because I have experienced it–have you checked out ‘peak experience’? I KNOW that I had that experience. It was true. You don’t have to buy into it. Just say NO–it works for you.

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  19. November 9th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    The single belief that defines atheism really can’t be disputed, because to do so requires producing evidence for the existence of god(s), which no one has ever been able to do.

    Actually, your “peak experience” cannot be called a fact, because facts can be shared with others.

  20. November 10th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    fred says:

    Of COURSE it can be disputed. Don’t be like AlGore who says that his conclusions are fact (when they are not–just misguided opinion).
    re: Peak Experience: Sorry–fact = truth = knowledge. It’s true, I know it, and I can share it. Whether or not you receive/believe it is your call. It strikes me that you are too tied up with/limited by WORDS. You keep coming up with definitions (by others), which may be inaccurate because of being limited by words which have been formulated in a (sometimes incomplete) attempt to explain something that came up. There are some things/concepts which cannot be accurately translated, because our vocabulary is far from complete, being merely a reaction to what has come up in the past to be discussed. What I’m talking about is rather esoteric, I’m afraid. It involves thinking for oneself, and trying to communicate with others who either do not, cannot, or choose to stay with what they already (think they) know. I admire you for coming back at me, and appreciate it, because I learn from it, but you don’e seem to be open-minded. Maybe I’m wrong….

  21. November 10th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    So dispute my claim that god does not exist. Provide evidence.

    Your claim that you had some sort of experience is also not evidence that you did. It is merely a claim that no one can verify.

  22. November 10th, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    fred says:

    You cannot prove that God does not exist any more that I can prove otherwise–no better than a draw, as I have said previously. My ‘some sort of experience’ was real. It is not ‘merely a claim.’ I had no witnesses, but I was there and experienced it. I do not have to prove it to anybody in order to make it real. It was real. Period. You nor anyone else has to believe it–I could care less–it doesn’t matter. It happened to ME and is part of my life.

    Your problem is maintaining the science-religion dichotomy by refusing to go beyond the scientific method. That method is sorely lacking–it only takes into account science. It cannot handle spirituality, which is real (although you dismiss it). OK, dismiss it. That does not make spirituality go away. You suggested that there didn’t have to be a cause for the universe (in other words, the effect didn’t have to have a cause). Prove THAT one to me and we’ll talk more. Otherwise, I thank you for your input that only strengthens my conviction that some people cannot see beyond their nose. You would do well to read my book, which will explain a lot of what we’re dealing with here. I make a pretty good case of it, but it’s about 100+ pages. So that’s where we’re at, DVD. My arguments are there, developed. Check ‘em out. Until then…………………………………….

    Or, you can continue to follow this website. It would be well if you did, but then I can’t control that…………………../f

  23. November 10th, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    DVD Bach says:

    I also cannot prove that there is not an undetectable teapot floating in space between the Earth and Mars. Do you believe such a thing exists?

    You’re right; I’m a little hung up on the scientific method. It’s responsible for medical advances, new technology and generally moving humanity forward. What was the last major leap forward that be directly attributed to spirituality?

  24. November 13th, 2012 at 11:36 am

    fred says:

    A Teapot in space? That’s some example!!
    I repeat: ‘The atheist presupposes (simplistically) that science deals in truth, while religions deal only in belief, a supposition untrue at its core. Science is not about truth, only the pursuit of it. Every ostensibly positive scientific ‘conclusion’ carries with it the challenge to be proven false—that is what science is all about. How different is that, really, from religion? Religion (more correctly, spirituality in general) also seeks truth, and among other things endeavors to handle the moral questions that science cannot.’
    Yes, you’re hung up on the scientific method, ignoring at your peril INTUITION, which is anything but scientific–clearly spiritual–and responsible for many SCIENTIFIC advances which follow the ‘aHA!’. Please read the whole blog again–it says everything that I wish to say. We are clearly on different planes–yours being stuck to the ground. I can only hope that you will clear your mind enough to expand it beyond what you can see. I wish you well, DVD, and thank you for your efforts!

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