A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Religion and Knowledge

"There are plenty of examples of science proving a religious claim wrong. There are no examples of religion proving a scientific claim wrong. Are there any examples of religion proving science wrong?"

This was raised by Friendly Atheist. But it buys into the science vs. religion frame. That's not a good opposition. As a religious person I believe we ought to work with the best of what we know. Anything that increases understanding of our world ought to have significance.

But if I was to give my answer to the question I'd say that most of the major world religions have a more potent answer to the question of human nature. For instance, Augustine gives us more to work with than most psychological theories in the last century.

Because he gave us the language to speak about evil apart from ignorance. In the West, I believe there was an advance in knowledge when that move was made. Are there other examples of a faith tradition adding to our knowledge in a way missed by the sciences?


At 11:06 PM , Blogger Turk said...

Science was disastrously wrong about race and slavery in the 19th century; while churches and religious communities ran underground railroads and abolition movements, science spoke learnedly of the inferiority of the "lesser races."

This is an over-generalization, of course, but so is the question.

At 10:21 AM , Anonymous Drew said...

As I just commented there and expanded in a post that responds to the question, I think the question is absurd. The standard for proof is scientifically based and so it would be impossible for religion to prove anything in science wrong since scientific methodology would have to be used! Science is a method and religion is a belief system. How are folks so hard-up on science so blatantly unscientific?

What whining.

At 10:56 PM , Anonymous paul maurice martin said...

I agree about the false dichotomy. I tend to think that while there may be a gray area, the spiritual and psychological can be distinguished and that religion's contribution hasn't been improved psychological understanding, but, at its best, focus brought to bear on understanding ourselves spiritually.

At 11:55 AM , Blogger Scott said...

I am going to go out on a limb here and test faith to its fullest. With everything that has been discovered over the past 40 or so years, how is it possible that people still believe that a ultimate power or being created what we call life?
It is astounding to me that with everything that is known about how the human body works that people still believe that there may be something more after we die. Our brains work off of electrical impulses that transmit these impulses to nerves which in turn causes our muscles to perform certain functions sort of like a lamp or a toaster for that matter. And when you unplug the lamp or taster, the electrical impulse stops and the item ceases to function. I believe the human body does the same thing. Once the electrical impulse to the brain ceases, the body is turned off and that is it.
The biggest problem with this idea is the explanation of what people "think" they see after someone dies. We want to believe that we have souls and that those souls continue to live .. the body ceases. Yet if you look at the huge amount of research done in the paranormal area, it has never been proven that "ghosts" exist. In fact the opposite is true. Most of the time these events can be explained by outside influences i.e weather, alcohol, drugs...etc...
As human beings, we are nothing more than a continuing type of fertilizer for evolution of change on our planet. We die and decompose and some other form of life uses the nutrients and proteins from that decomposition to continue on in its own existence. Pretty radical, but it explains so much.

At 4:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, Scott, Scott!!

While it obvious that you have some knowledge about the workings of the human body, your diatribe still has not proven in any way, shape, or form that there was no "creator" or higher power that started all life.

Answer me this: How is it, if Darwins theories are correct, that and organism can begin its existence as a simple, one celled blob of protoplasm and evolve into the immensely complex creature known as the human, AND at the same time, while all of the HUGE changes in humans was happening, no other creature on the entire face of the planet evolved beyond a four, six, or eight legged crotch licking, dinner hunting, propagation machine; that is: the entire rest of the "living world".

It seems so odd that the human can have so many more "higher functions" than all of these other living creatures, past or present, and still be thought of as just another result of "a cell that has divided sufficiently enough" to cause these functions. I mean, for crying out loud, why is the monkey the ONLY creature in the whole of the entire world of creatures that continued its evolution?!? Why are there no "lizard humans"? Reptiles were around much longer than mammals. Why are there no "insect humans"? Insects were around much longer than mammals. Both of these groups of creatures have had much more oppurtunity to evolve than humans have, and yet, they stay the same. HMMMMM!!!!

I know that I haven't proven to you that there is, for sure, a creator that started all of this, but to put your belief in a theory such as Darwins requires more faith than believing in God ever would!!!

At 7:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a problem whenever religion and science line up against each other. One is a about logic, and the appropriate and prudent application of scientific methodology. The other (theism) is not rationally justifiable, and therefore requires real faith. Science cannot, nor should it, be used to justify faith. The folks that claim to leverage science to justify the unjustifiable are doing a disservice to science and religion.
Anyonymous's response to Scott demonstrates how many people misinterpret evolution.
First off - I can think of several creatures don't fit Anon's description of "most of the living world," and would in fact argue that human's are the best example of dinner hunting propogation machines (dolphins, whales, ants, etc .. . ). The other (and most common) misinterpretation of evolution is the concept of "survival of the fittest"
(which Darwin never used, but should be stated as survival of the fit, or tautalogically survival of those fit to survive.) His assumption is incorrect that insects haven't evolved (most strains have experienced very significant changes in the million years we've been around.
I'm rambling now - but I struggle with faith - and I need to exercise (or exorcise) my dual nature now.

At 12:55 PM , Blogger bubba said...

Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There Is life after death. DO NOT miss God's gift of salvation.
It's free Please pray this simple prayer:
"Dear Heavenly Father,
I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner. I believe that Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross, died for my sins, and rose again on the third day. I am truly sorry for the deeds which I have committed against
You, and therefore, I am willing to repent (turn away from my sins). Have mercy on me, a sinner. Cleanse me, and forgive me of my sins .


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