Intellectual Convergence vs Divergence in Science and Religion

So I was surfing youtube today, which included the usual cast of characters: Thunderf00t, Lawrence Krauss, Phil Hellenes, etc. And then, despite my better judgement, I decided to read the comments on a video. Of course, there wasn't anything of substance, but I did encounter a claim against science (not even "for god") that I hadn't come across before.  In a nutshell, the claim was this:  1) Scientists fall on both sides on whether global warming is natural or caused by people, 2) politicians and big businesses take advantage of this for their own gain, 3) therefore, Scientists are "whores" only looking to make a buck.

Again, against my better judgement, I decided to respond to this with a brief overview of peer review and its benefits.  I won't go through that here since I'm preaching to the choir, but as I was typing that up, an interesting thought occurred to me.  I'll rephrase it for an argument against god here.


As beings of limited capacity, to make progress, we need to stand on the shoulders of giants.  So as we become collectively more enlightened (in all areas: Science, Theology, Philosophy, etc), our view of the true nature of the universe (whether that includes a god or not) will be refined.  What we should expect to see, then, is a gradual convergence on truth as we learn more.  

Sure, on the fringes of what we know, people will disagree, but the fundamentals on which the fringe hypotheses are based are largely agreed upon.  This is what the scientific method (with peer review) leads to; that is to say many possible hypotheses converge into one theory through evidence, verification, and predictability.  This can be demonstrated many times over: gravity and planetary motion, evolution, expansion of the universe, etc.

Dinesh D'Souza says in his closing remarks in this debate:

Religion is, in a sense, judged by its, you might say, 'oldest' proponents... Interestingly, what the atheists are doing is applying a double standard.  Science is judged by its latest, smartest, most advanced representatives; Religion is judged by its oldest, least knowledgeable adherents.  In other words, we don't judge Science by the words of Democritus or Thales; we judge it by the arguments of, say, Stephen Hawking.  But if Science can progress, why can't religion?  Why can't religious knowledge or moral understanding also grow?  So I think this idea that religion is frozen is a fallacy.

Dinesh, I agree.  Clearly religion does grow, and that is the problem.  In stark contrast to the growth of science, religion is in a state of constant divergence.  Never has there been more forms of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam than there are now (which all happened to sprout from the same god, mind you).  So, if any particular religion were correct, wouldn't we expect to be gradually eliminating the incorrect ones through Theology and Philosophy?  But that isn't what is happening: quite the contrary, in fact.  You might say Religion is attacked by its oldest proponents because that's the last time you all agreed on anything!

On one hand, we have science: starts out with many crazy ideas, which are then tested and either thrown-out completely or refined into one.  On the other hand we have religion: a few crazy ideas that are not tested at all, but constantly fragmented and bastardized until they barely resemble each other anymore.

Views: 276

Comment by Ed on December 28, 2011 at 2:35pm

The problem with religion is that there is no standard to reference in weeding out the truly insane from the barely plausible. As long as guys like Joseph Smith can sit behind a sheet, in the middle of a farmhouse kitchen at the age of 23, and dictate revelation to a clerk on the other side of the sheet and not face credible scrutiny we will see the myth that is religion grow. 


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2021   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service