Comments about ‘Hamblin & Peterson: The supposed 'war' between religion and science and its casualties’

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Published: Saturday, May 17 2014 10:55 p.m. MDT

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Karen R.
Houston, TX

Re: McGrath's statement about the current precarious position of science and how presenting it as irreligious works against it: I think this has some validity. However, a lot of the hostility to science comes from religious literalists and there is just no getting around the fact that scientific knowledge devastates their position. I think their hostility reflects this recognition.

Re: "their reasons for unbelief...[include that] they disapprove of God or see God as too changeable": This phrasing gives the author away as a believer who is having trouble setting this bias aside as she interprets her data. Atheists may disapprove of RELIGION and see RELIGION as too changeable. Religion exists. But "God"? These respondents were either incorrectly categorized as atheistic or she didn't accurately reflect what they said.

Re: "The irreligious seem more likely to become scientists": If her subject population had been the irreligious and she had tested this hypothesis, her supposition might have merit. It wasn't, she didn't, so it has none.

sharrona
layton, UT

RE: “I love the sciences,” remarked McGrath, who earned an Oxford doctorate in molecular biophysics before proceeding on to another Oxford doctorate in theology.
Beginning with the current skepticism about God's very existence, Dr. McGrath starts off with some convincing apologetics. But he does not rely on apologetics alone. He knows that the only way to be sure about the living God is to encounter him--and this can happen to people who know almost nothing about him. Understanding the Trinity, Alister E. McGrath.

C.S Lewis,” If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we would make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about." The three personal God “Mere Christianity. Lewis gives some other analogies of the Tri(3) Unity.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Science is the pursuit of knowledge. Religion claims it already has it, but constantly proves otherwise.

jeanie
orem, UT

I completely agree with the idea that science and religion are not really at war. It does not shake my faith when I study science. My faith not based on science. It is based on the joy and direction my faith gives my life. I heard that one religious leader, who was also a scientist, said "science tells us how, religion tells us why".

The only combativness I feel is when others use science as a weapon to tear at my faith.

JLindow
St George, UT

If science reveals a mountain of evidence that the world is billions of years old, but your faith tells you quite clearly that the earth is 6000 years old, they can't both be right.

You can ignore the conflict, try to massage the difference away by fudging the numbers, or you can accept that one side is right and the other is wrong.

Religion can be and often is a force for good, but where it causes people to turn away from the facts, reason, and truth in a way that is detrimental to society, it is a force for evil.

donn
layton, UT

RE:McGrath, who earned an Oxford doctorate in molecular biophysics before proceeding on to another Oxford doctorate in theology.

Beginning with the current skepticism about God's very existence, Dr. McGrath starts off with some convincing apologetics. But he does not rely on apologetics alone. He knows that the only way to be sure about the living God is to encounter him--and this can happen to people who know almost nothing about him. Understanding the Trinity, Alister E. McGrath

Verdad
Orem, UT

Karen R:

It sounds as if you've carefully examined Professor Ecklund's data and methodology in detail. Have you published your refutation, or is it in process of publication?

I, for one, would be very interested in studying your analysis.

Thanks in advance.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

“Rather, their reasons for unbelief mirror the circumstances in which other Americans find themselves: they were not raised in a religious home; they have had bad experiences with religion; they disapprove of God or see God as too changeable.”

Wow, talk about throwing a bone to believers! The way this study is framed and the terms used is ridiculous. But let’s break this down a bit…

“they were not raised in a religious home” – is this just another way of saying they weren’t brain washed prior to developing critical thinking skills?

“they have had bad experiences with religion” – could this include a strong aversion when reading the many inconsistencies, errors, superstitions and horrors (often commanded by God) in the sacred books of religion?

“they disapprove of God” – would this include simply not believing in a fairy tale (like Santa Claus)?

“or see God as too changeable” – well sure, no fairy tale will last if it’s not flexible

And what about this doosey?

“Irreligious people seem more likely to become scientists.” – or, smart people are less likely to be religious.

J.D.
Aurora, CO

We can except this but we must admit in doing so that Joseph F. Led the LDS astray when he spoke of evolution as a joke.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

Religion was originally invented by humans to explain the unexplained. This worked well for religion as long as those things remained unexplained. But as investigation and research found explanations for more and more of our world religions supposed answers kept shrinking. This was exacerbated by the fact that religious answers were proven wrong time and again. Religion is one of the worst inventions of humankind while the scientific method is the greatest invention we have made. Using this method as a guide has led to more amazing and powerful discoveries than one can even imagine. In all seriousness religion should have been jettisoned from society by now but it has too strong a hold on too many people. From the beginning religion claimed to have all the answers, and for some reason people still believe even after so many of those answers where shown to be wrong. Science does not have all the answers, nor does science claim to have all the answers. But it sure knows how to look for them.

ordinaryfolks
seattle, WA

It is just too easy for religionists to claim that science is the enemy of religion. It is a cop-out. The literalists in religion control the agenda of the not-so-literalists, and put these not-so-literalists into the us vs them camp. No moderate religionist will ever disavow a conservative one, because it is seen as a portrayal of the entirety of their cosmology.

Therefore, we end up with the endless debate of attempting to reconcile science and religion. You can not.

Science can answer how but not why. And religion may offer why but not how. Intelligent people learn not to mix the two together.

It would be appropriate for religionists to leave the explanations of how something happens to the pursuit of knowledge and verifiable fact (aka science). Let every person pursue his/her own version of why, and leave it at that. Or is this just such a difficult concept? I would bet a large amount of money that vast majority of scientists and like minded folks would allow religionists to pursue the why we exist without any bother.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

Almost every believer I know tries to make this same assertion, that science and religion are not "at war", and are not incompatible.

And almost every atheist and scientist I know does not waste any time with such silly assertions.

I wonder why that is?

By and large, Scientists are not feeling left out by religion; but religionists are sure feeling left out (and left behind) by science.

samhill
Salt Lake City, UT

The comments by "Hutterite" demonstrate a common misunderstanding about both science and knowledge.

If there is any inconsistency it is not between Science and Religion. Rather, it is between Science and knowledge.

Science, by its very nature, can **never** make an unequivocal claim to knowledge. There is no scientific "knowledge" that is unassailable or not subject to revision or overthrow by some experience whose data contradicts that "knowledge".

Perhaps the most glaring example is the relatively recent revolution in the scientific "knowledge" of some of the most fundamental aspects of cosmology upon the discovery in the late 90's that the universe was not merely expanding but **accelerating** outward!!

That overturned so many basic concepts of mass, energy & gravity, among other foundations of physics, that the best science can do so far is to attribute the inexplicable behavior (of the universe mind you) to matter/energy appropriately named with the mysterious adverb "dark". Sort of like using the term "Terra Incognita" on maps during the great age of exploration.

Religion can claim absolute knowledge using nonscientific data (revelations, prophesies, etc.). Science **must** remain skeptical and, therefore, FAITHfully hope its scientific data-based conclusions are accurate.

That is as it should be.

marxist
Salt Lake City, UT

Of course there is a war between religion and science. Religion and science teach us completely different things about race and evolution. Religion teaches that dark skins is a punishment for sin. Science teaches that white skin is the result of natural selection off of dark skin. Religion teaches that the earth is 6,000 years old, science billions of years. Science teaches that inheritance comes through DNA, religion teaches that in comes through "blood." Science teaches evolution, religion no evolution. The list goes on and on.

None of this however inclines towards the denial of a higher power.

TheProudDuck
Newport Beach, CA

If science and religion are seen to conflict, somebody is doing one or the other wrong, sending it encroaching on the other's territory.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I don't think you are going to be successful at teaching people to "walk by faith" by trying to reconcile science and religion. You only set them up for failure. When they run into the inevitable contradictions that don't know how to deal with it, because they have no spiritual foundation to rely on.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

Those who see science and religion as being in conflict have normally simplified the teachings or one or both of them.

There is no teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that limits the age of the earth to 6,000 years. Even the most literalist Mormon readers of scripture insist on the earth being at least twice that old, and many deeply believing people have found ways to accept the earth being much older than that.

I am saddened by how many people want to use science as a method to attack others and their beliefs, especially when a true scientist avoids being stilted and doctrinare. Sadly many people today pay lipservice to science while advancing a program that isn't science.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

@ samhill

"Science **must** remain skeptical and, therefore, FAITHfully hope its scientific data-based conclusions are accurate. That is as it should be."

Scientists should hope and pray that their conclusions are correct? I'm glad my doctor doesn't agree with you.

And, yes - believers can and certainly do claim absolute knowledge. Anyone can do that.

The reality is, the more knowledge we gain, the more we understand just how little we really know. Anyone or anything offering certainty in such a context is selling a false promise.

If you think you need spiritual certainty to provide hope or meaning, fine. But please, please drop the claim that you "know" and that what you know is the "one right way." It is human nature to get our backs up a bit when someone tells us, "Not only are you wrong, you're not going to get the prize at the end." These are fighting words, not words of peace.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

@ Karen R.

"If you think you need spiritual certainty to provide hope or meaning, fine. But please, please drop the claim that you 'know' and that what you know is the 'one right way.'

Karen R., it makes no sense to tell someone, "Go ahead and claim certainty if you must, but don't say you 'know.'" Sigh...However, one can claim to know without also claiming their way is the only way.

@ Henry Drummond

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Would you mind clarifying? Are you saying that religion creates contradictions for science and a spiritual foundation is required to navigate them?

JSB
Sugar City, ID

Why the conflict? I have defended Darwin’s evolution in many different settings because of some of the strange things religious people have said about it. But, I am not so blind that I can’t see inexplicable problems with evolution. For example:

The Cambrian explosion is a geological fact yet it runs directly counter to Darwin's theory that evolution is orderly.

Evolution cannot explain complex anatomical adaptation. The inner ear, for example, is complex and composed of different interdependent parts that had to evolve independently but simultaneously in order for the organ to function. It is beyond comprehension to think that these organs just spontaneously happened.

These are just a couple of many problems with Darwin’s evolution. To me, "intelligent design" is a logical answer. If something is designed, there must have been designer. For example: Though not nearly as complex as the inner ear, it is obvious that Stonehenge was a human creation (i.e. intelligent design), and not some strange geological quirk. If Stonehenge was actually created by somebody, then why is it so hard to accept intelligent design when studying the Cambrian explosion, DNA, or the development of complex organs and systems?

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