Ortus wrote:Whenever I get in to discussions on religion, they have mostly consisted of religion vs science, or more appropriately, faith vs. science. There are merits to both arguments, refutations, counter-arguments, et c. involved - I don't care about those. My question is... why are the two notions (faith and science) immediately associated as too different, incontrovertibly opposite as to seamlessly interact? That's a simplification if there ever was one, but I'm curious to know. Maybe I'm naive or silly, however I feel the question has merit: why is science not immediately associated as a faith?
I feel as if I'm not doing the question justice, but there it is. I don't see religion as a separate entity from science, to me they are one and the same, though perhaps apparently different in intent, approach, or goal, but not incommensurable in any of those things to the other. Am I far off base?
It seems you are touching on various related subjects. I highlighted what i feel are two separate avenues of discussion.
To answer the bolded question, in my opinion, the questions of religion vs science
is very, very different from faith vs. science
. Religion and science are the exact same. They both answer the various questions along the theme of "how does the world around me work?" Faith is the tool Religion uses to answer these questions. The scientific method is the tool Science uses.
To use an overly simplified analogy for illustrative purposes. You have to get from Boston to Los Angeles. You can take a car, or a plane. Both will work. Still, it is impossible to use them both at the same time.
It is in this sense that they can not seamlessly interact.
The italicized question, 'why is science not immediately associated as a faith' is generally worded as 'doesn't it take just as much faith to believe that science is right as to believe the bible is right?' or 'isn't the belief in science as much a religion as the belief in god'. Now I don't mean to put words in your mouth, so if it wasn't what you meant then my apologies. I feel that the reason science is not a religion is how the two entities treat evidence. For the religious, if you are shown evidence that contradicts your beliefs, hold your beliefs and have faith they are true. For the scientist, if you are shown evidence that contradicts your beliefs, change your beliefs because your beliefs are wrong.
guenther wrote:How do I know God is real, God is perfect, and is the God of the Christian Bible?
I can't know. Religious truths are poorly defined, which means that not only are they not testable, but it's not even clear how to theoretically test them. So much of the "truth" about religion is simply whatever people want to believe in. I've talked about these types of truths before
, which I feel sit somewhere between objective and subjective (i.e. they're subjectively shared across a large group of people but get treated as if they're objectively true). I think these types of beliefs can hold value because they encode wisdom on how to behave.
First, I find the idea that perpetuating a lie to the masses as long as it serves an ulterior motive arrogant and offensive. This same logic that you to defend religion, is the the same process Bush used to get the States into Iraq. He preached the gospel of WMDs until enough people believed his subjective truth as objective truth.
guenther wrote:How do I go from "These beliefs are useful" to "These beliefs are true"?
Basically because it feels right. This is certainly not a persuasive argument, but it's the truth. Christ's story resonates with me, and it seemed to speak to me at a time when I was seeking those sorts of answers. Christians would call that the work of the Holy Spirit. And it feels very real to me. And since then, I've tried to restructure my life around Biblical principals and I've been very pleased with the result. And I've know many people who've done the same with similar results.
Having said that, I do think it's important to distinguish between poorly defined truths and scientific truths. As real as any of this feels for me, it's irrelevant for building a physical model of the universe. I believe faith is a useful tool, but it does run counter to scientific principals and can very much impede scientific progress. However, I regard science as a tool as well (as opposed to a philosophy on life), so it really just boils down to using the right tool for the job.
The earth also feels pretty flat, doesn't it?
In my opinion, clean drinking water is more important the people being nice to each other. Being nice makes life slightly more enjoyable. Clean water makes life possible. If religion impedes science, religion is not worth it. That's my opinion, take it or leave it.
guenther wrote:How do I know Christianity is the best path
The best argument I know is because the Bible says so. However, it's a weak argument for anyone that's not accepting on faith what the Bible says. So in general I don't make this a part of my thesis when debating. Rather I say that Christianity is good, and that there are many other paths that can help us achieve good results too (where "good" is used in a more intuitive sense, not in the Biblical sense). And I try to recognize that a Christian who's strong in faith can still be very problematic in our modern world.
Are you a bible literalist? How do you know what parts of the bible are the unerring word of god, and what parts are balderdash? More of the 'it just feels right"?
fr00t wrote:It sounds like your advocating religion not from a transcendental perspective, but from a utilitarian one. As if the promise of an afterlife is unlikely to be legitimate but instead is just a carrot-on-the-stick for the "large scale masses". Incidentally, I would argue that science, not faith, gives us tools for solving problems, and secularization and liberalization have created much more harmony and good will towards fellow man than religion ever did. And lest ye not forget, the only time humanity united under one cause, god punished them for their audacity, and scattered them accross the earth.
A few things. First, science gives us some very powerful tools for solving problems, but the scientific process is very expensive, labor-intensive, time-consuming, and limited in scope. We are wise to look to what science says, but it can't answer everything. Second, secularization is good when we're coming from an era where powerful religious entities controlled too much of our lives, but that doesn't mean that ever dwindling amounts of religion will produce ever better results. Third, had the people united to express love rather than pride, maybe they would have had better results.
There was a period in history where christianity dominated all. We call this period 'the dark ages' for a reason. The only thing that ended the dark ages was the re-secularization of society. Seriously, what good has religion done for the world? I'm drawing a blank, I can think of crusades, inquisitions, burning scientists at the stake, more crusades (there was, like, a metric fucktonne of crusades), witch hunts, the feudal system, etc. No large scale good done solely in the name of religion comes to mind. There must be some
Since you allow that science is good, that religion is good, and the religion impedes scientific progress, where do you think the equilibrium point is?
guenther wrote:Yes! Of course "love your neighbor" is the overarching rule, but it's simply easier to do with people that are good to you. So I generally emphasize the importance of loving people who are difficult to love (although I generally refer to it as extending empathy and respect). I suspect the hardest person to love is the one on the other side of a sharp divide where showing compassion can actually be harmful to the team agenda. I've burned through a lot of words trying to convince people to do this, and I've had little success but have made many people very angry (though I can accept that that's partly due to my technique). "Love your enemy" is a hard sell, and the only times I've ever had success was when speaking to Christians using Biblical arguments. Though sadly it's mostly a hard sell there too.
There is a reason it is a hard sell. It is because it produces worse outcomes than the alternative. This is another case where religious dogma has worse results than the science it competes against. On the religious side we have the golden rule. On science's side we have game theory and the prisoner's dilemma. Science shows us another way to describe "love your enemy" is "be a doormat".
lati0s wrote:What you have given here is a reason to applaud the philosophy of Christianity, a reason to follow that philosophy and perhaps a reason to try to encourage others to follow that philosophy. None of it, however, amounts to anything close to rational reason to accept the supernatural claims put forth by Christianity.
I wrestled with this very issue for a bit. Did I want to promote Christianity or just its philosophy? Actually at first I tended towards the latter. I would strip away all the "magic" stuff and just leave the things that practically seemed to matter. One example was with prayer, and I would sit in church during prayer time and just let my mind wander. But somewhere along the way I decided to take a leap of faith and try with my whole heart to do prayer properly. And it made a difference. Not some magic difference in some other person being healed, but a real difference in me. Praying for someone else forces me to spend some of my precious time on other people's concerns and it really turned around how I responded to other people's needs. And praying to God for my own needs has helped me build a real emotional relationship with God, which in turn helped me weather hard times and keep to the path that I intellectually agreed was important (one area was Love your Neighbor, but another was self-control). Trying to rewrite the Bible led me to make worse choices, and I improved my life by having faith.
Another point to observe is that there are very few people that follow the Christian path without a belief in God. Being Christian is very challenging at times, and a faith in God helps people remain faithful to the path. Faith is about being faithful.
Once you strip away the magic of christ, there is no christianity left. All you would be left with is 'don't be a dick', and that philosophy predates christianity by a long shot.