A recent toast to James Watson highlights a tolerance for bigotry many want excised from the scientific community.
While some in the scientific and religious communities have declared an end to the tensions between faith and fact, the conflict continues to have impacts on health, politics, and the environment.
May 19, 2015|
VIKING, MAY 2015
The battle between science and religion is regularly declared over, with both sides having reached an amicable truce. “Accommodationists” on both the religious and scientific sides assure us that there is no conflict between these areas, that they deal with separate spheres of inquiry (science deals with the natural world, religion with meaning, morals and values), or even that they can somehow help each other via an unspecified “dialogue.” After all, we’re told, there are many religious scientists (two notables in my field are Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and evangelical Christian, and Kenneth Miller, an observant Catholic who is also biologist at Brown University), so how can there be possibly be a conflict?
But despite these claims, the dust hasn’t settled. Why the continuing publication of accommodationist books if the issue was resolved long ago? Why do 55 percent of Americans aver that “science and religion are often in conflict”? Why are less than 10 percent of all Americans agnostics or atheists, yet that proportion rises to 62 percent of all scientists at “elite” universities, and to 93 percent among members of the National Academy of Sciences? In a poll taken in 2006, 64 percent of Americans claimed that if science contradicted one of the tenets of their faith, they’d reject the science in favor of their faith. Clearly, there is still friction between science and religion, even if some scientists can leave their faith at the laboratory door.
In fact, the conflict between science and religion—at least the Abrahamic faiths dominant in the U.S.—is deep, endemic, and unlikely to be resolved. For this conflict is one between faith and fact—a battle in the long-fought war between rationality and superstition.
Why is there such concern about conflict between religion and science, as opposed to between, say, sports and science, or business and science? It’s because science and religion are both in the business of determining what is true in the universe—although religion has other concerns as well. Science’s ambit is well known, but it’s also important to realize that religion also depends heavily on claims about what is true: claims about the existence and nature of gods, how one’s god wants you to behave, the occurrence of miracles, and whether there are eternal souls, untrammeled free will, and afterlives.
This fact-dependence of faith is recognized by most theologians. As renowned religious scholar Ian Barbour noted, “A religious tradition is indeed a way of life and not a set of abstract ideas. But a way of life presupposes beliefs about the nature of reality and cannot be sustained if those beliefs are no longer credible.” Nearly every faith has some non-negotiable beliefs about reality. The foundational claim of Christianity, for instance, is that Jesus was a divine savior whose acceptance gains us eternal life. Factual belief is pervasive: According to a 2013 Harris poll, 64 percent of all Americans believe in the survival of the soul after death, 57 percent that Jesus was born of a virgin, and 58 percent in the existence of Satan and hell.
But while science and religion both claim to discern what’s true, only science has a system for weeding out what’s false. In the end, that is the irreconcilable conflict between them. Science is not just a profession or a body of facts, but, more important, a set of cognitive and practical tools designed to understand brute reality while overcoming the human desire to believe what we like or what we find emotionally satisfying. The tools are many, including observation of nature, peer review and replication of results, and above all, the hegemony of doubt and criticality. The best characterization of science I know came from physicist Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that.”
In contrast, religion has no way to adjudicate its truth claims, for those claims rest on ancient scripture, revelation, dogma, and above all, faith: belief without sufficient evidence. Is there one God, or many? Does he want us to work on the Sabbath? Is there an afterlife? Was Jesus the son of God? The problem, of course, is that faith is no way to decide what’s true. It is, à la Feynman, an institutionalized way of fooling yourself. Religion acts like science in making claims about reality, but then morphs into pseudoscience in the way it rejects disconfirming evidence and insulates its claims against testing. The toolkit of science is—and will remain—the only way to discover what’s real, whether in biology, physics, history, or archaeology. Religion can offer communality and can buttress morality, but has no purchase on truth.
But even if science and religion are incompatible, what’s the harm? Most of the damage comes from something inherent in many faiths: proselytizing. If you have a faith-based code of conduct attached to beliefs in absolute truths and eternal rewards and punishments, you’re tempted to impose those truths on others. The most obvious subjects are children, who are usually indoctrinated with their parents’ brand of faith. That can produce not just psychological but physical harm: 43 of 50 U.S. states, for instance, have laws exempting parents from prosecution if they harm their sick children by rejecting science-based medicine in favor of faith healing. Forty-eight of our 50 states allow religious exemptions from vaccination. The results are predictable: children needlessly become sick, and some die. And we’re all complicit in those laws, which are based on unquestioning respect for faith.
There is also “horizontal” proselytizing: pressing faith-based beliefs on others via politics. This has led to religion-based opposition to things like global warming, condom use for preventing AIDS, and abortion. It’s unlikely that any of this would exist if people were to privilege reason over faith.
In the end, in both science and everyday life, it’s always good policy to hold your beliefs with a tenacity proportional to the evidence supporting them. That is the foundation of science and the opposite of religion. As the philosopher Walter Kauffman noted, “Belief without evidence is not a virtue, but opens the floodgates to every form of superstition, prejudice, and madness.”
Jerry A. Coyne is a professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. His 2009 bestseller, Why Evolution is True, was one of Newsweek’s “50 Books for Our Time.” Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible goes on sale today.
May 19, 2015
You mention science and business. It is worth notng that the ISO Management Standards are based on the scinetific method. The plan do check act (PDCA) cycle there was developed from the sceintific method by Walter Shewhart and then Edwards Deming.
Science and religion, in contrast, are based on different paradigms for the nature of klnowledge. There are couple of consequeces to this. First there is no common ground for the resolution of conflicts between them. Second, science will not displace religion. The latter has been a prediction since the enlightment but religion is still with us. Studies do indicate that prosperity (not science) tends to decrease the prevelance of religion.
Authior of "In Defense of Scientism"
May 20, 2015
Don't bother reading anything about the conflict between religion and science by anyone who equates religion with superstition. Doing so shows an amazing ignorance of religion on a par with the religious fundamentailist account of evolution.
May 20, 2015
The purpose of religion is to control people by establishing a set of morals.
The purpose of science, math, and engineering is to extend our knowledge of the world.
May 20, 2015
At issue with religion versus science is the interpretation of the knowledge of science today by those using the facts known when the Bible was written, i.e. Greek "knowledge", which is now known to be almost completely false...or completely missing. Nothing was known about anything then, in practically every field of science, with the sole exception of mathematics! Using that wholly inaccurate picture of science from the ancient World, no wonder interpretation by religious zealots today is the same way, totally off.
May 20, 2015
As absurd as religious practice appears to some of us, myself included, there are striking parallels with that of science. Irrevocably, sciences and religions (S&R) emerge from human contemplations of the properties of the world we've somehow popped into coupled with the inevitable and revealing psychosocial interactions that result. Both S&R respond to the bewildering panoply and nuance (noticed by those who are paying attention, a faculty surfeit in neither group in my view) and strive to make reassuring sense of it. That means, in turn, the predictable erection of some sort of structure, context, by which means it can be rendered homeostatically amenable. Naturally, putting together a large, audience-pleasing explanation energizes one's power to (perhaps) affect coming generations (life waxes by the grace of accessible resources, mostly energy).
One result is that Rs attribute its origin and detailed functioning to a deity of some stripe while Ss elevate some principle or substance as being the basis for its emergence and unfolding. Among the latter group, Coyne and his cohort attribute life's dynamics to the "gene." But consider deeply the hiatus between the prebiotic world and the emergence of recognizable life, the period before DNA's immaculate conception. Eventually we must posit that the system was free wheeling, that DNA happened as one evolved, likely near optimum, substrate, and that materiality itself holds the key to the unfolding.
Like the primitive ethologists of the last centuries who presumed that organisms had no emotional urges, today's gene centrists or scientism-ists, fairly worship their own little/big god. S&R are stabs in the dark on such matters; as history shows, S-mavens will not notice how they persecute the messenger.
May 21, 2015
I am in favor of people killing their children in the name of faith. One thing this world needs is fewer stupid people. I would like to see laws that make such people fully responsible for all related medical bills and not able to discharge them through bankruptcy. And if their child infects someone else, then responsibility to that injured person also, and would extend to being brought up on charges of manslaughter.
With freedom comes responsibility. Just because we sciency types are more righter ;-) does not mean that we can force our rightness onto others. But they should be accountable for the results of their wrongness when those results extend beyond their family.
May 21, 2015
1. It is possible to think that there may be something that fulfills our idea of deity, without that thought being tied to a religion. Please not the absence of the word "believe" in the preceeding sentence.
2. I seem to recall reading of some degree of association between religiosity and temporal lobe dysfunction. Thus it is possible that religion and deity may be separable.
3. One might chose to belong to the Church of the Mildly Curious* and, in the absence of data, stay out of the fray.
*"founded" by my utterly brilliant late sister.
May 25, 2015
On Both sides areas, science and religion, the dialogue it is impossible because, despite the technical equipment capable to see the material unseen (“because the spirit of the living creatures was in them” - Ezekiel 10.17, called living soul by Paul), the science is “blind” (Revelation 3.17) to see the disembodied unseen (“life given spirit” – Paul, 1 Corinthians 15.45 and Hebrew 4.12 – because the resonance frequency of Adam mtDNA is 33 THz), and the religion is incapable to understand that God didn’t work directly in the material world. That means LET THE MATERIAL WORLD EVOLVE ACCORDING TO HIM DESIGNED PLAN WIRELESS SENT (Genesis 1.9-19 – “let dry ground appear… let the land produce vegetation - the third day”, and “let there be lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night - the fourth day”).
My dear scientist and religion friends, as Daniel advise us to read the divine book to increase the knowledge (Daniel 12.4), nine years ago I started to read carefully the Bible with my scientific mind formatted for interspatial communications, because “the blinds” repulsed “Mitochondrial Adam DNA data transmission theory” and “the fools hate knowledge” (Solomon, Book of proverbs 1.22).
This is the only scientific book that offers the “common ground for the resolution of conflicts between them” (Musquod) at the interface between seen and unseen worlds.
According to Revelation 4, the seventh divine candles (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamism, Orthodoxy and Science) will start the dialogue only when the Science will produce in vitro “the humans that can interface directly with computers by growing interfaces into the brain”
Then we will see the perfect evil working not in the ecological meaning evolution, because during in vitro fertilisation the genome builders eliminate Adam mtDNA (“the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” - 1 Peter 2.7)
I know that both parts are sceptics, but only when the geneticists will see the presence of divine mitochondrial couple in the xiphoid process of sternum they will can rationally explain how Adam mtDNA reapers at the puberty only in the sperm of naturally boys borne, not in vitro made, and “the friction between science and religion will stop”.
Then will be “belief with sufficient evidence” for all people and “The Lord God said: The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3.22)
“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom.” (Paul 1 Corinthians 1.20-22)
Do you need more evidence?
I give the opportunity to geneticists to rationally explain the enmity between the sperm and the ovum during fecundation (“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” - Genesis 3.15), because “We honor God for what He conceals; we honor kings (SCIENTISTS - “the spirit of truth” – John 14.17 and 16.13) for what they explain!” (Proverbs 25.2)
Note: heel is the correspondent of sexual organ in foot reflexology map.
As Winston Churchill once said about courage, "I stood up and expressed my point of view and now I sit down and listen to the opinions of others involved in this dialogue."
June 28, 2015
Picture if you will a perfectly white sphere, the observer is non-important at this time. Through sheer will of creation (super-consciousness?)if the perfect abstract of infinity is held as the sphere's limit both at a space-less point in the center and also the entirety of it's surface area, then holding that no fundamental unit of space or time truly exists, the entire expanse of our known universe could be imagined as a cross-section within this 5th-dimensional bubble. I find higher dimensional beings more plausible to be actually existing than lower-dimensional ones and theorize that an entire universe could be considered what? Personality? Now, we arbitrarily assign an absolute zero value as a variation. The central point has become infinity/zero = Null/Void. A reply to an article I recently read was explaining through some sorcery of mathematics that universal origins could be seen as loose 2-d relationships emerging from a sort of 'graininess' and was requesting for more inquiry from like-minded people. I don't have the skill unfortunately at this juncture, however it makes good sense to me. I am looking for the post again at the moment. So as these 4 (S,S,S,T) harmonious 2-d relationships gradually form more definite differentiations through a process of self-organization other considerations become apparent and as the possible core beginning of Evolution, more and more mathematical abstracts begin to be amalgamated forming complex structures. Many find ubiquitous reoccurring patterns arriving 'close' to the golden mean and others. All could be said to be merely 'perceived' as they could not arrive at the perfect limit except maybe at a black hole where perception is actually impossible. In this way we can again see the bubble as still and the expanding motion of the universe all held within relativistic reality where all time could be viewed as an object and it's not 'really' getting bigger because it only just keeps differentiating more and more seemingly unending. - Crumbly
For now you have been purified through your selfless sacrifice for another. You have become full again yet different, stronger, ignoring the meaningless, knowing thyself fully. But now I am gone, and you are me. And your children need you at this very moment. But you have found your peace, and can accept and put in its right place your fear of this journey which has no end. And when you need to you may revisit the fountain which made you full again. And we will continue to create this illusion of time so that we may meet again eons from now and in all truthfulness we will be two entirely separate yet one, grown whole in our multitudes, and our conversations will forever be endless, and our love will grow to such certain Ecstasy that we will cross the threshold of the abstract, and that physical being will never be necessary again in our expression of this ultimate Love. You and me collecting our multicolored adornments not for ourselves, but for our courtship from now until the end of all time. ~Crumbly (me and others, music@ http://www.soundcloud.com /crumbly-original/sets/crumbly2-0
June 28, 2015
You see I feel that after some years I have arrived at an acceptable synthesis which doesn't negate the findings in either. I treat religious inquiry seriously and try to apply as much logic as possible, and am excited by the new possibilities to share ideas with like-minded people throughout the world as I attempt more writings with some graspable mental imagery, I often find lacking personally when reading theories proposed by mathmeticians. This is not to diss them, they have my utmost respect, as artists of a different cloak I suppose. I find that clear effective communication of complex abstract constructs in terms which do not require years of mathematical study highly valuable. So I am excited to read any comments good or bad, however if you feel a need to resort to name-calling for some reason or another, trust me I won't be upset or even care as it is more telling of the offender than the offended. The thing that excites me is attempting this synthesis through a more metaphyiscal means even though it tires my brain to no end. =)
June 28, 2015
Ryan Griffith You can imagine outerspace as the black null and the white infinity as the center, this is the conventional view where nothing before the big bang existed at a point, but yet relativity tells us that no space or time exists outside of relationships of a minimum 2-d space. These relationships emerge from the infinity/meetsnull point which is in truth the center and the surface co-incidin
Scott Kelly I like what you wrote, and while I don't feel I completely grasp it, I do think I get the gist.. Maybe. But isn't the chief difference between a mathematician's theory and your metaphor that the mathematician will find a mathematical proof for his hypothesis? And I say this as a guy who peddles metaphors for cash.
Ryan Griffith As far as I know, math only deals with abstracts explicitly, I was unclear. Physicists have yet to find a fundamental unit of time or space. Math guys can play around in that territory all day, where abstracts such as infinity and a perfect Pi ratio are said to exist at an infinite limit.
Ryan Griffith 'said to exist' which leads to the question, does an abstract really exist? which leads me to the conclusion, that yes, it in fact does but by nature strictly non-physical, and quite logically the reason that a consciousness spanning the two is the continuing source of confusion to mankind, assuming you are an open-minded individual
Scott Kelly Everything you just said is accurate, as far as I understand it. Human understanding of the universe has to start with a human assertion of how that understanding will be measured, and that means asserting concepts on the universe that only benefit our understanding of it, and not the actual nature of what we are trying to understand. But it seems to me that to make a claim about the structure of our universe must at some point require a way to verify that claim, or it's just another of the many, many such claims that have been made about the nature of our universe.
Ryan Griffith True, I agree, and this is why I became excited reading a reply where a Masters was talking about mathematical models supporting a 'graininess' from which the universe emerged, which I would guess would take a concerted effort to discern from nothingness in abstract models. I really don't know
June 28, 2015
I disagree, as an inquiring soul, all points of view should be taken in and judged upon your own counsel. You obviously read it and disagree, furthering your own independent revelations and development. I don't believe it is ever correct to completely discount someone's point of view as 'beyond all consideration' if a slip of the 'don't offend anyone' tongue comes out during a passionate discourse.
June 28, 2015
Well put as well, though a little too far towards the cruel for me. Sometimes I wonder if homosexuality isn't just a natural evolutionary response to overcrowding which, in the past was simply handled by creating new predators, but now we the ultimate predator on this planet exist, I believe that we easily forget that our gifts are in fact gifts, not created by us at all, and that this current state of prosperity was hard won by evolution as life continues to exist in the only way it knows how at the moment which is ego-less producers coupled with abstract-thinking ability consumers. We are the experiment in artificial intelligence. This thought pervades as a base for me to build SR synthesis models.
June 28, 2015
I try to refrain from getting into dualism to much with ppl still struggling with SR disagreements which under some consideration, is easy to see as a simple battle of egos. Yet this is dangerous. R fundamentalists are the scariest, yet I feel even more apart from the athiests who refuse to consider 'beyond this universe' or any intelligence beyond this brute ugly experiment as preposterous.
June 28, 2015
Have you ever felt compassion or empathy? Would you please enlighten me to the mathematical formula for empathy? I'm not denigrating you Sir. Honest inquiry is always welcome. From personal experience, I hold honesty, respect and love, as the highest of human achievement. Math or science has never told me how to behave unless I was building something. You see? They are different in nature, and it is only the confusion of our time obscuring the view. I was raised in no church and I find wisdom from almost anything if I truly look with an inquiring mind. Religions are simply systems which have a value to humanity. Christian - 'Compassion above all' Buddha - 'Compassion above all' This is valuable information, because if you see why it has retained it's life it is because there is an inherent truth, and mystery, whether or not you dismiss it as superstition, or really try to see what is the core idea which keeps these systems prevalent, then you can see, that not only, is it good for society, which in turn is good for you the individual who can operate within society, but also that it seems regardless of who you are, this line of inquiry happens within all of us ubiquitously, which by the very defintion of individuality (which I'm assuming we are all individuals here) invokes conflicts which can be handled in ceratin ways. Amorally. Egotistically. Unethically. Inability to abandon belief structures even abstractly. Ego-less. Searchingly. Or gathering only the pertinent details (and ignoring the loud-mouths) for further self-evaluation.
June 28, 2015
The answer is my religion LOL, my answer is often inexplicability, and infinite expanding questions.
June 28, 2015
What I gain from you here, is lots and lots of searching. The thing I would communicate to you is that we must all find peace in constant change. There is no other state. I have a feeling you have been misled by some false science and/or false logic. I believe whole-heartedly in a divinity that permeates and alleviates. Our pain is our confusion, our non-ability to embrace dualism and beyond. But I see cleverness abundant. Me, perceiving it, also has the property of creating it in an abstract reality known as 'consciousness'. If you can duallistically hold this abstract reality and the unavoidable phyiscal reality you were thrust into equally true, then time as a phyiscal property becomes irrelavant as you are harnessing polar opposites abiding to conjoin the realities. It is in this way I believe it can be said that 'man was created in God's image' and correct for Jesus to call the bread 'His Body.' I believe if in this life you can truly utilize this way of thinking at all times then you are likened to a Buddha. Not Jesus. Similarly a being straddling both worlds destined for a greater existence beyond the ugly brute force creationary tactics of Evolution.
June 28, 2015
I think I added quite a bit of content here. I replied to every commenter so far, can I get a job from home with you'se guys's?
June 28, 2015
In response to my poem, I would like to point out that it represents multiple 2-d relationships implying the trinity. Husband-SuperFutureWife-Holy Ghost or vice versa, is closer to my feelings about the trinity
June 28, 2015
June 28, 2015
It is true that with our limited access to the super-consciousness, we are in time accessing it at exponentially faster rates, which is why I believe we may have this conversation now from the largest distances possible to our current understanding. And we sometimes see proponents of Autism who have some sense of this conception of reality. Certainly anyone with naturally occurring inability to connect with society is a person of high-interest not only as they help us undertands ourselves but also may indicate the correct ethical and moral decisions of society as a whole and provide a 'scientifically proven' moral compass to re-engage the battle with religion anew. But also as we honor them for their undeniable uniqueness, even if the made us witness to horrible atrocities.
June 28, 2015
This is how we logically reconcile what we perceive as 'Evil' People who are emotionless in the face of human suffering are 'Evil' Can this not be attributed to fact if presented in the right jargon by one of you school-heads?
July 3, 2015
"It is true that with our limited access to the super-consciousness, we are in time accessing it at exponentially faster rates, which is why I believe we may have this conversation now from the largest distances possible to our current understanding". (SLoWPoKeSE)
My dear SLoWPoKeSE, excuse my English; I come from Romania, I am 65 years old and I learned English alone.
It doesn't matter if you do not know high frequency technology used in invisible data communication, like LMSC technology (Learning Management System Control) used in spatial communication, that give us the adequate knowledge to understand "Mitochondrial Adam DNA data transmission theory - ISBN 978-606-92107-1-0"
Please, give on The Scientist the logically answer for the presence of Adam mtDNA in the sperm of naturally borne boys and his privation in the sperm of in vitro made boys.
It doesn't matter if you answer or not to my question, because the divine duty of the SCIENCE ("the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth" - John, 16.12) is to produce the PERFECT DEVIL (man in vitro made with brain chip) to see the PERFECT GOOD (man naturally borne with the divine couple of Adam mtDNA and Eve mtDNA in the xiphoid process of sternum = "one of the man's ribs" - Genesis 2.21).
LET IT BE!
WHEN I FIND MYSELF IN TIMES OF TROUBLE
MOTHER MARY COMES TO ME
SPEAKING WORDS OF WISDOM
LET IT BE
AND IN MY HOUR OF DARKNESS
SHE IS STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME
SPEAKING WORDS OF WISDOM
LET IT BE
LET IT BE, LET IT BE
LET IT BE, LET IT BE
By the way, I learned alone, without teachers, genetics and Genesis and I have logically explanation for Genesis, included Creation, and genetics, included Evolution, very short described by Daniel in chapter 7.
October 6, 2015
The article asks - "Why is there such concern about conflict between religion and science,.."
Because science is false and religions are correct. Here are two examples, one from physics and another from religion. (1) We all know Newton's first law from our high school classes, which says - an object will continue moving in a straight line with a constant velocity. Have you ever seen such an object on earth or in deep space? No, you have not. Therefore Newton was wrong, but we are still teaching such subjects in our classrooms.
(2) Consider reincarnation, it was there in Bible, but was removed, probably all Christians know that. There are still many verses in Bible which reflect reincarnation. Here is one - Ecclesiastes 1:9 says - "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." This means if you are here now, then you will be here again, and you were here before also. This reincarnation law also means a law of eternal recurrence, as popularized by German philosopher Nietzsche. Reincarnation law is correct, because you can observe it in nature. Take a look at the book at https://theoryofsouls.wordpress.com/ for many examples from science and religion.