Hi everyone.

I am a grade 12 student in Red Deer Canada and i am unfortunate enough to be in a catholic high school. That means that taking religion class is mandatory for me. I currently have an assignment in which i have to respond to several quotes about religion vs science. It is my hope to put together a really well organized and logical argument from an atheist point of view. I have my own ideas, but i think it would be really cool to get some other perspectives, ideas, and arguments on the topic. I don't want to bash or insult religion i simply want provide well organized arguments against it. I will post the two quotes that I am supposed to respond too, and I would really appreciate it if anyone and everyone would give me their perspectives.

"In many academic and theological groups, an awareness is maturing that science and faith are not opposed to each other, but, on the contrary, need and complete each other."
Pope John Paul II    

"Science without religion is lame,
religion without science is blind."
Albert Einstein

Those are the two quotes I must respond to. I'd really appreciate it if i could get some comments ofer other perspectives and insights. If anyone is for some reason opposed to using any of their opinions in my assignment simply let me know in a comment and ill respect that. Itd be really great if we could get a good discussion going here.

Thanks in advance.

Views: 491

Comment by Nessrriinn on April 18, 2012 at 9:49am

when i read that quote (a very long time ago :) ) my reaction to it is about the same as it is now..

*religion* being the acknowledgement of things unexplained.. (doesn't mean science won't explain them in time.. but to acknowledge the unexplained )..

so.. science *facts and reason* without *the aknowledgement that some things are explained* is lame...

and religion *the acknowledgement of this unexplained* without science *facts and reason* is blind..

ah grade 12 .. good times!!! .. and good luck..

Comment by Nessrriinn on April 18, 2012 at 9:50am

i think i just might of created a tounge twister with that post..  :D

Comment by Mabel on April 18, 2012 at 11:37am

Science utilizes widely accepted methodology to construct sound building blocks. Religion has leaps of faith to false conclusions.

Comment by Denise W on April 18, 2012 at 1:45pm

I've shared this in the NAP-GA's page (National Atheist Party - Georgia chapter)...hoping you get some thoughts here. :-)

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on April 18, 2012 at 6:13pm

"They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live." - Thomas Jefferson.

"In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue." - Ethan Allen, 1784.

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." – Einstein, 1954.

"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." - Carl Sagan 1987.

"Is it fair to be suspicious of an entire profession because of a few bad apples? There are at least two important differences, it seems to me. First, no one doubts that science actually works, whatever mistaken and fraudulent claim may from time to time be offered. But whether there are *any* miraculous cures from faith-healing, beyond the body's own ability to cure itself, is very much at issue. Secondly, the expose' of fraud and error in science is made almost exclusively by science. But the exposure of fraud and error in faith-healing is almost never done by other faith-healers." - Carl Sagan.

"Certainly I see the scientific view of the world as incompatible with religion, but that is not what is interesting about it. It is also incompatible with magic, but that also is not worth stressing. What is interesting about the scientific worldview is that it is true, inspiring, remarkable and that it unites a whole lot of phenomena under a single heading." – Richard Dawkins.

"Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain. It postulates the difficult to explain, and leaves it at that. We cannot prove that there is no God, but we can safely conclude the He is very, very improbable indeed." – Richard Dawkins.

"It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment." – Galileo.

There is in every village a torch - the teacher; and an extinguisher- the clergyman” – Victor Hugo. (one of my favs).

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on April 18, 2012 at 6:15pm

Sorry meant to post that to something else but might be useful. Is this the same pope on science?

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on April 18, 2012 at 7:03pm

One more from Dawkins here Snake oil and Holy water

Comment by Ron V on April 18, 2012 at 8:22pm


Science vs. Religion:

The debate between science and religion goes on without resolve and without satisfaction for any involved. We might get somewhere if we narrowed the terms of debate a bit: on what grounds are we attempting to compare the two? There are many possible points of comparison; here I shall briefly summarize how science is superior to religion in terms of improving the lives, health, and welfare of humanity on a very basic level and all around the world.

Sanitation & Cleanliness:

What has religion done in the past millennia to improve sanitation and cleanliness? Little to nothing. Science, however, has informed us of the ways in which disease can be spread through improperly handled water and poor hygiene. Science has also provided the tools to make water safer to drink and to clean up both ourselves and our surroundings to greatly reduce the risk of disease. Countless people have been saved from sickness and death through this information.

Fighting Disease:

Disease in general is not something which religion has helped fight; on the contrary, myths about the origins of disease have only made things worse. Science, however, has identified the bacteria and viruses which cause disease, how they work, how to fight them, and more. Through evolutionary theory we know that the fight against pathogens is endless because they will constantly evolve, but science gives us the tools to continue the fight with. Religion does not and often inhibits the effort.

Human Longevity:

Humans today live much longer on average than they used to, with the longest lives occurring in the industrialized West. This is not a coincidence: it is due to the use of science to fight disease, improve hygiene, and most importantly to improve the chances of survival in childhood. People are living longer because they use science to better understand and manipulate the world around them. Religion has not contributed to this.

Communication & Community:

People today can communicate with each other across vast distances in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. This facilitates not only the transmission of useful information, but also the development of new and dynamic human communities. All of this is possible through the use of science to create new technology. Religion has made great use of these abilities, but has contributed nothing to their basic development.

Food Production & Distribution:

People need to eat to survive, and while religion might encourage giving food to those who need it most, it does nothing to help grow more of it and more efficiently. Humans have used basic scientific tools to improve food production for millennia, but in recent times that has increased geometrically through the use of chemical analysis, satellite records, and even genetic manipulation. Science makes it possible to feed more people more efficiently with less land.

New Materials:

Everything we make must be made from some raw material. In the past the options were limited; today, however, there is a wealth of materials that are lighter, stronger, and often better than what was available before. Religion did not create plastics, carbon fiber, or even steel. Science and the scientific method allow people to develop new materials for new tasks, making it possible to do so much that we take for granted today.

Understanding Sexuality & Reproduction:

Science has provided invaluable insights into how human sexuality and reproduction work. We understand not only how and why things function, but also how and why they fail to function. This makes it possible to correct for errors and for people who previously were unable to have children to now successfully do so. Religion not only has not contributed to this, but in the past it has inhibited our understanding through myths and fables.

Understanding Our Real Place in the Universe:

It should go without saying that we cannot improve our position if we don't know what that position really is. Science has provided tremendous information about our place in nature, about our planet's place in the solar system, and about our galaxy's place in the universe. There is much to learn, but what we know already has been put to great use. Religion has only ever offered myths, all of which have proven to be wrong and misleading.

Humanity Needs More Science, Not More Religion:

It can be argued that there is much more to life than improved sanitation, improved hygiene, fighting disease, increased food production, new materials for building things, improved communication, and so forth. On the other hand, there isn't nearly as much life without those things — and those who are alive will have to endure more hardship and suffering as well. The ability of science to improve the very basic necessities of life is without question. The fact that religion doesn't even come close is also without question.

Why does such an extreme difference exist? Science's success depends upon the scientific methodand upon methodological naturalism. The scientific method ensures that new ideas are thoroughly tested and vetted before being accepted. Methodological naturalism ensures that science conforms to the boundaries of the natural world rather than the boundaries of wishful thinking.

Religions neither incorporate nor value either of these methods. The diversity of religion prevents us making many generalizations about all religions, but I am unaware of any that develop and test their claims on the scientific method or rely upon methodological naturalism when examining the world.

This doesn't require the conclusion that religion is valueless because not everything in life can, does, or needs to incorporate the principles of science to be worth anything. What we can conclude, however, is that in the past couple of centuries science has done far more to improve the basic living and survival standards of humanity than religion has in the past several millennia. Religious leaders like to claim that we need more religion in order to solve our problems, but with most problems we could probably benefit from more science instead.

Comment by Ron V on April 18, 2012 at 8:38pm



Science and religion are incompatible in two major ways

June 15, 2009

For years scientific organizations have told people they can have their science and piety too. Political appeasement should shock no one—this is politics—and compromises and coalitions should be watched carefully in their natural habitat. Nor should it be surprising that religious people who like science, or scientific people who like their religious friends, are happy to see prominent science organizations indirectly encouraging religion. "That’s accommodation we can believe in!"

Questioning whether such political coalitions are wise shouldn’t be confused with other questions, such as whether science and religion are factually compatible. There has long been political value for science promoters to appease religious believers, going back to science’s infancy when religion nearly killed it in its cradle. Fearful of its older sibling (for both are born of wonder, like philosophy), science has long experience with bowing and cringing and accepting compromise anytime religion erupts into a fit over some new discovery about the world or humanity. For its part, liberal religion has gradually accommodated science. But science has never accommodated religion, except in a limited political sense, and every "compromise" has been forced on science. Let’s review the history.

A 17th century "compromise" granted permission to science to discern God’s design of direct creation. Science directly supports natural evidentialist theology.

A 18th century "compromise" was primarily a deistic notion that science learns how God’s creation has been lawfully working (perfectly) since The Beginning. Science indirectly supports the Creator hypothesis.

A 19th century "compromise" was the Two Magisteria notion, perpetuating the dualistic separation of spirit and matter. Science knows nothing of God, the soul, or morality, and stays out of the way of religion.

Darwinian evolution by natural selection soon threatened the reigning compromise, by explaining how humans are entirely natural, and no souls or direct creation needed. Astronomy then indicated the universe’s vast age and size. All design arguments weaken dramatically. 

A 20th century "compromise" by liberal religion declared that science is fine while faith is not irrational (note the shrinking of "faith is rational" to just "hey, we’re not crazy!"). Pantheism perks up (but by ‘religion’ we here intend supernaturalism). Fundamentalists promptly reject all compromise, clinging to their Bibles.

A 21st century "compromise" by very liberal religion so far sounds like, "We’re just as mystified by God as any nonbeliever, but that’s the fun of faith, and wow Jesus was a great guy." Fundamentalists build Creationist museums and fantasies of hell instead.

Keeping this historical timeline in mind, how could anyone argue that science and religion are incompatible, when history displays such fine compromises? 

Science and religion are belief systems, relying on two distinct methods of knowing: empirical experiment and submissive conviction. If science were to try to accommodate religion, it would surrender its method of knowledge by permitting untested dogma or arbitrary authority to control its conclusions. Religion, by contrast, can accommodate science without surrendering its own method through some combination of (a) faithfully holding beliefs about matters immune from empirical inquiry; (b) adopting science’s conclusions by simply appending the conviction “and God made it so”; or (c) adapting science’s conclusions to fit spiritual intuitions and inspirations.

It is unnecessary to judge, at this point, which side has the better claim to “knowledge”—my point is only that their methods are asymmetrically incompatible. Science must be incompatible with religion’s distinctive method of knowing. 

By the way, this methodological incompatibility is not due to any dogmatic faith in a  naturalistic/atheistic worldview. Naturalism is an additional conclusion from science, not a premise of science. Science rejects things like “the soul” because that hypothesis enjoys no verifiable evidence and contradicts well-established knowledge about things like brains. While naturalism does assert that science’s method and knowledge is superior, this claim is a philosophical claim requiring separate defenses, not a scientific principle or hypothesis. A brief account of philosophical naturalism is offered here a href="http://www.naturalisms.org/">  www.naturalisms.org >. Science simply is scientific method and its conclusions. Complaining that science dogmatically excludes religious methods is like complaining that sculpting excludes photography techniques. Put another way, science needs religion like art needs astrology. On the other hand, many religions have continually incorporated the best of science, after long delay. What would medieval theology have been without Aristotle and Ptolemy? We presently hear a few theologians spotting signs of divinity in quantum mechanics and multiverses.

Science is incompatible with religion’s distinctive method of knowing. Science is also incompatible with many of religion’s distinctive conclusions. Leaving goings-on in some supernatural realm aside, many religions claim to have knowledge of entities and events showing up in our world which ought to occasionally be experimentally confirmable by scientific method. Consider religious claims about divine creation of humans, miracles, faith healing, angelic visitations, demonic forces, etc. When scientifically investigated, science concludes that these claims lack merit, about as impressive as horoscopes, Big Foot, and ESP. Sophisticated theology quickly covers for religion by ad-hoc hypothesizing how science must be blind to these matters (hence we get transubstantiation, ectoplasm, God’s gene-tweaking, etc.) Very liberal religion wisely refrains from claims about matters that ought to be scientifically detectable and confirmable (that’s the privilege of broad accommodation). But when a religion continues to make anti-scientific claims, do not be surprised when science declares its incompatibility. 

Can Big Brother religion creatively accommodate science, and offer “generous” compromises with science? Obviously. But science cannot return the favor, sorry, if science must compromise its method or betray its conclusions. Any genuinely pro-science organization, government or not, can clearly drawn the line here. If it can’t, then it has no business claiming to defend science. Has the younger brother grown up? Is it time for the appeasement to stop?

Comment by Unseen on April 18, 2012 at 11:50pm

Einstein wasn't omniscient. He never accepted quantum mechanics.

Science can be wrong. No doubt about it. It's been wrong about myriad things ever since science as we understand it today began back with the Greeks.

The difference between science and religion is corrigibility, which in science is built-in. Religion, if it corrects itself at all, does so grudgingly. To be fair, Roman Catholicism tries to adjust to science without tossing dogma out entirely. It is the fundamentalist Protestant religions which are totally anti-scientific.


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