Religion and Science: A direct conflict

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Religion and Science directly conflict with one another at a number of levels.

Despite 3,000 years of wishful thinking by the worlds religions there is no evidence for any of their claims: soul, afterlife, reincarnation, heaven, hell, God, gods, angels, djinns, etc., etc. Religion and science are not compatible. One must compartmentalize to hold both views simultaneously. The conflict is obvious in daily life all over the world: Creationism anyone?
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Homophobia, utterly unsupported by the science, is kept alive solely by religious thought as is Creationism and all denial of science which not only includes evolution but the Big Bang, embryology, even climate science nowadays.

Miracles are utterly refuted by science, by modern knowledge. The laws of physics don’t get suspended. Religion and science cant work hand in hand because as E.O. Wilson put it science has done nothing over the centuries to religion but produce “humiliating disproofs of their mythologies.” Science is in conflict with religion because it has disproved revelation as way to knowledge. To take it further, there is no revelation, all prophets, not just those in the other guy’s religion, but yours too, just heard voices in their heads. Scriptures are not revelations or inspired works and are not evidence of anything but human thoughts, wishful thinking, predominantly delusional.

Religion and science do not work together to discover knowledge. Science refutes religious claims and religion adds nothing to science. Religion is left out in the pursuit of new information. Religious scientists not only compartmentalize but they also put science first: they leave their religion at the lab door, no prayer allowed in there, no miracles happen or are hoped for. They know better. The world doesn’t work that way. Religion succumbs to science, which is just shared verifiable knowledge, not unfounded relevatory claims. I did a whole post on this some time ago: Why god isn’t allowed in the lab.

When a bullet lodged in a brain that usually causes death doesn’t, as any given individual’s neurons and neuronal assemblies do vary enuf that what kills most doesn’t always kill all. This is a finding of science which directly refutes the claim of a miracle by religion. It wasn’t a miracle, we know why the person lived or at least have a pretty good idea, and we may know precisely why in a number of years with better knowledge.

Religions claim there are souls; disembodied personalities that survive the death of the brain. Neuroscience says there is no evidence for that very old supposition. The number of experiments performed over the millennia (including every person’s death, ever) conclude it is so unlikely that the intellect and personality of a person somehow survives the death of their brain in some nebulous form and the fact that no mechanism has ever been proposed to explain how a disembodied personality would yet continue, that the whole idea is beyond ridiculous. Yet we teach it to children daily all over the world as an unquestioned fact. And that those souls go “somewhere” to experience some sort of afterlife, maybe even rebirth.

Religions have made and continue to make empirical claims about the world we live in which have been disproved by science: angels, afterlife, the power of prayer, Creationism, hurricanes are the result of oral and anal sex between consenting males.
This direct conflict is unavoidable due to the acceptance by religions of old speculations and claimed revelations (scripture) from “authorities” (prophets, church leaders) as sources of true information, i.e., evidence, when they are not.
As long as religions try to uphold unfounded, old, primitive ideas there will be direct refutation by improving accumulating knowledge.
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Religious and scientific thinking can both reside separately, even in some scientist’s heads, like the cell biologist and author Ken Miller (a guy I greatly admire!). He compartmentalizes and allows only real evidence when in science mode, then accepts scriptural bullshit when in Catholic/religious mode. Except when pressed and he is forced to let the two come in contact he does what believing scientists, most believers tend to do to avoid the obvious conflict, they waffle on the religious claims. He as a biologist knows parthenogenesis doesn’t happen in humans (no virgin birth) and that transubstantiation defies the laws of physics (it’s just a wafer, not the body and blood of Christ) which are truly non-negotiables to still call oneself a Catholic. As is all too common one describes their religion’s absurd claims as mere metaphors to deflate their cognitive dissonance and avoid the discord. The opposition is always there however and many manage it by compartmentalizing and pretending the conflict doesn’t exist. We can make religious thought and scientific thought coexist ONLY by keeping them separate and if religion takes a back seat to science and yields its purely speculative bullshit to real knowledge. That’s how we accommodate the two contradictory ways of thinking, while they remain diametrically opposed.

Many read the Bible or any religious scripture as metaphor, not as conveying historical or scientific truth, reducing the Bible’s and other stories to allegories. Although many Xians acknowledge that many of the people and events mentioned in the Bible never existed, never happened, they still maintain their stories contain important truths, significant ultimate truths about gods and existence. But that scam doesn’t work either. This move eliminates none of the conflict in transferring it to a “higher” level. From the Clergy Letter Project at the NCSE (National Center for Science Education): “Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation…”

But there is absolutely no evidence for the above claim either, however minimalist: “…convey timeless truths about God, human beings and the proper relationship between Creator and creation.”
What proof is there that there is such a God as described in the Bible, and that the proper relationship between this particular Creator God and his creation is that given by the Bible? There is none. No more than there is any proof of the historical truth of the 6 day Creation, Adam and Eve as real people or the entire Flood myth which more enlightened believers, even liberal clergy now reduce to mere metaphor in light of their utter refutation by modern knowledge. The reduced claim that Biblical scripture yet “conveys timeless truths” about a god and his charges and their intended relationship is itself just another wholly unsupported supposition, however watered down. This claim about the empirical world that it must have a Creator, and that it is the Judeo-Xian Creator of the Bible has no information pertaining to it’s truth or falsity either within or outside of the writings of the Bible.

There is absolutely no evidence for those assertions. We just have statements in the Bible and nothing else. And the Bible like all scripture is a very primitive, flawed, contradictory and often completely wrong human document. How do you know there is a creator? Science says not only there is no evidence for one, but that the whole idea is unnecessary to explain the world as we find ourselves in it. Two billion Xians have been exposed to this claim, many believe it based solely on Biblical statements without any evidence of any kind. That is the definition of faith: belief without evidence. Science demands evidence from observation and experiment, not imaginary revelation nor religious authority.

And yes, myself I am an unabashed scientism-ist. Religion is bullshit speculations based on old myths.
Science is the only method to discover knowledge: creative, insightful, theory based hypotheses borne of systematic observation and rigorous, publicly replicated testing of same. That is how we learn things and acquire knowledge. Making shit up doesn’t cut it anymore. It is time we stopped lying to children about it. Not solely because it is untrue but because then we have to deal with their bad behavior as adults operating under that supposition.
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4 thoughts on “Religion and Science: A direct conflict

  1. The really annoying thing about “sophisticated theology” is that there is no “there” there. Trying to get a sophisticated believer to actually say something useful is an exercise in frustration. They will go on forever about all sorts of insights into human behavior and needs and so on, but then they’re just doing social sciences. Any time the discussion gets forced back to the actual subject of a god, anytime you try to elicit something specific that isn’t just social psychology with its collar on backwards standing in front of a stained glass window…nothing.

    The claim that science is compatible with religion always, and I mean *always*, evaporates into compartmentalization or equivocation. The “God” of the sophisticate bears no relation to the God of the believer.

    • great point about sophisticated theology ending up so unrealistic compared to what the average believer really believes. Jerry Coyne has revisited that subject a number of times. Do you follow his Why Evolution is True site?

      • Like Hili on a mouse.

        Jerry has been kind enough to post a lot of my photos in his “Readers’ Wildlife Photos” section over the past couple of years – despite most of them being more oriented toward scenery, Cuba, water, etc. than actual wildlife.

        My own break from my religious upbringing came at a Christian college. I had grown up with the assumption that when I got there I would learn the “good stuff”. The real science of creationism, the intellectual and philosophical foundation of religion, and so on. An addiction to Mark Twain as I grew up had left me a little skeptical about the actual veracity of the pronouncements from the local pulpit. The cast of characters there seemed a little too familiar to someone who had read Huck Finn and Capt. Stormfield over and over and over. As it turned out, on arrival at college I found myself learning about logical fallacies and the abuse of language in general in an introductory semantics class, and then hearing exactly that from the religious culture all around me.

        This was combined with an honest biology prof, who said early in the course that while we all believed that the Bible was the inerrant word…blah, blah, blah…the purpose of the biology curriculum was to make us conversant with the literature of that field, and that our faith was not to be found in there.

        After about three years of this I looked around and realized that the one and only reason I had been a believer was accident of birth. And, oddly, that I wasn’t one any more. Just the slow accumulation of reality, and increasingly frequent glimpses of what my beliefs looked like from the outside. No single epiphany. No wrestling with angels or demons. Just the slow erosion of the mortar supporting my fantasies.

        That’s why I read and try to support your blog. There may not be any message that is inherently different than a hundred others – no offense – but I really believe that the variety, the different personalities, and the sheer volume of the sources available to an honestly questioning young person are important. Keep it up.

        • no offense taken. I view the secular movement the same way, we need us all. Even if Bill Maher clings to a ridiculous antivaxx sentiment, his direct confrontation of all religion is his contribution, sorely needed. If Dawkins’ some feel is a sexist old white guy, so what. Who has done more for the secular movement? If i think Hemant Mehta is too friendly at times, I simultaneously recognize the tremendous impact he has had and the face for non-belief he puts forth. If i got tired of PZ’z rants and only read WEIT anymore, because Jerry is as reasoned as it gets and above all the infighting and gossip, we still need PZ’s style. Jerry doesnt think much of Bill Nye, yet Bill is such a fucking rockstar and regular nerd guy type, and is damn experienced in front of the camera…we need him too. Im small, unknown potatoes, dont know how you found me, but any and all support is appreciated. Whatever dent I can make in religion is where its at for me.

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