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Defending the Faith: Science isn't the only road to knowledge

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  • Unwieldy Toaster Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 7:31 a.m.

    It seems to me like your missing the boat on this one Dr. Petersen. To paraphrase Michael Shermer "science gives us provisional truths about conditional realities." Comparatively science is much more humble and tentative with regards to truth claims as opposed to dogmatic religion.

    One fun exercise might be to draw a line down a chalk board and list science and religion at the top of each column. Then list the discoveries of each. Lets have at it!

  • Unwieldy Toaster Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 7:51 a.m.

    Another interesting point I've heard John Larsen make is that it would have been nice for an early prophet to make this kind of statement: "thou shalt boilest thine water before thou drinkest it."

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 29, 2013 8:10 a.m.

    One (of several) cogent point from Dr. Peterson's article:

    "Both [religion and science] are important. Neither can replace the other."

    Please let this not devolve into the "only science" or "only religion" camps. James Talmage was a great apostle and religious writer. He was also a well regarded scientist. Several on the Quorum of Twelve have been or are men of science.

    There need be no war here. The conflict is, in my view, a trumped up thing. On one side it creates the view that science cannot be trusted and makes us potential political pawns for movements that have no real religious value. On the other side, it creates the view that science can answer all relevant questions and that there is not only no value in a spiritual life but that those who practice a spiritual way are suspect and of lesser intelligence.

    Newton would be aghast.

  • Justin Orem, Ut
    Aug. 29, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    “'Holy books,' declared a recent critic of this column, 'cannot be witnesses to the truth. Truth can only be demonstrated with the scientific method.'"

    Was this declared in a private email, in a private conversation, on a blog, on Facebook, on a message board, in a letter to the editor, in the comments section on this site, or another venue? Can you link to the comment? Was that the entirety of the declaration or did the critic say anything further?

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    Interesting juxtaposition today between this column and the A1 above-the-fold story in the crosstown rival about the GOP slipping away from science.

    Stephen Jay Gould addressed similar questions in his discussion of nonoverlapping magisteria. Worth looking into.

    Gluckman, quoted by Peterson: “A science is any discipline in which the fool of this generation can go beyond the point reached by the genius of the last generation.”

    Let's apply this quotation to the question of human origins. On one hand you have the speculations of Bronze Age shepherds that were passed down orally, eventually written down, and were given the luster of literal truth without much testing or questioning. No modern fools surpassing the ancient geniuses. On the other hand, you have folks who collected observation-based data, made hypotheses, and tested them. Some hypotheses, like Lamarck's idea of acquired characteristics, didn't pass muster and were dropped, while others, like Darwinian natural selection, soldiered on. Mendel would be a fool in today's Genetics 101. Steno, Wallace, Darwin, Huxley, Mendel, Dobzhansky, Watson & Crick, Leakey, Gould, etc. Like Newton, standing on the shoulders of the chain of giants (or fools) that came before them.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 29, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    Mr Peterson seems confused by his comparing of apples and oranges. Maybe what is needed to sort it all out is a good seer stone.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 29, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    The good Dr. desperately needs to take a course on epistemology.

    Dr. Peterson is mixing terms and definitions in ways that make it nearly impossible to derive any rational conclusions – is “truth” the same as “facts?”

    I don’t know any scientist who would deny the “truth” of a Shakespeare sonnet, but this is almost never what they’re talking about when they speak about knowledge. For a scientist knowledge in their domain is objective facts about the natural world (not to be confused, again as Dr. Peterson does here, with subjective experiences).

    I think what any rational scientist would say regarding “holy books” is if they are making claims about the natural objective world, then those claims are open to the realm of scientific inquiry.

    And Dr. Peterson’s last paragraph is just a mess of blind assertions. Surely science has had a lot to say about where God is not (everything that we now have natural explanations for that used to be explained by the supernatural) and science is making great inroads in laying the foundations for objective morality as well.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    The medical profession knows religious people live longer lives.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 10:20 a.m.

    Religion and science seek the same end, Truth. Dogmatic science and dogmatic religion are both an attempt to silence the other.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 10:43 a.m.

    @ unwieldy toaster

    The Old Testament Pentateuch is full of sound advice on diet, quarantine, and sanitation, so your sarcasm, or whoever's it was, is expressed without sufficient research into scripture. The prophet who delivered these sound counsels was Moses.

    The Word of Wisdom, given in 1833, through Joseph Smith, would have saved millions of lives had there been sufficient faith to adopt it.
    It was far ahead of the "science' of the day, and still is ahead of the 'cultural lag' and actual practice.

  • keyboarder College Station, TX
    Aug. 29, 2013 10:59 a.m.

    I'm a scientist. I'm also a believing LDS church member. As much as I sympathize with Peterson's frustration at such unfounded belief in science to answer everything, I was disappointed by his silly allusions to scientific application. Picking some ludicrously-random technology as a failed answer to difficult life questions adds nothing to a meaningful response. It only proves in the mind of people already against religion that we really are a bunch of ignorant dimwits. That's as frustrating as someone laughing at my faith when they suppose that I get daily news from seer stones, or wondering if angles appear at breakfast telling me what cereal to eat.

    Latter-day Saints generally believe that someday all of our knowledge will be reconciled in a grand understanding of all things. Ultimately, what we gain from science and spirituality will complement each. For most of us on day-to-day, practical basis, science may be "outside the domain" of answering many questions, but it's also unnecessary in context of the restored gospel to take such a hard-nosed stance on the subject. Such an attitude is unhelpful in convincing others to explore spiritual avenues of understanding.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    I find it rather ironic that the theory of darwinian evolution can't be replicated, shown, produced, or proven, yet athiests want us to endure their 'facts' without showing any proof! Absolutely stunning arrogance! Ask them to prove the theory that man evolved from an ape, or a reptile evolved from fish, or a dinosaur evolved to a bird, and they can't, not once, even intimate of such foolishness. Yet, there they go wearily pouncing on faith as a relic of ancient and outdated thinking, while their 'faith' in darwinian evolution is taught in our universities as an unquestioned fact, without any scientific proof to show the untethered minds therein. Mirror, mirror on the wall whose the fairest of them all? In our universities, it is vanity, ignorance, unproven myths, and perpetual absurdity. No wonder the concept of 'higher learning' at our universities is being questioned, as it should.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 29, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    @bandersen – “I find it rather ironic that the theory of darwinian evolution can't be replicated, shown, produced, or proven, yet athiests want us to endure their 'facts' without showing any proof!”

    Actually that’s not true. We have been replicating evolution (by artificial selection) for thousands of years in everything from creating new dog breeds to a wide variety of apples.

    Evolution by natural selection is the same process only nature requires much longer periods of time. And if the age the Earth is represented by one year, modern humans have been on the planet since about 11:45pm on December 31st (i.e., so evolution by natural selection has had abundant time to do its work).

    And unless you are a plant (as in mole or saboteur) engaged in Poe’s Law (in which case, bravo!), you really do religious believers a tremendous disservice by expressing such ignorance about science. The evidence for evolution by natural selection is overwhelming and the “theory” (in quotes because theory means sometimes entirely different to a scientist) is on as solid ground as the germ theory of disease and the theory of gravity.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    banderson: "...darwinian evolution is taught in our universities as an unquestioned fact, without any scientific proof.."

    At the risk of hijacking this thread from Dr. Peterson's essay to a evolution/creation/ID debate, let me just offer that there is plenty of evidence out there if you take the effort to examine it. Evolutionary theory generates testable hypotheses and plausible naturalistic mechanisms. Now contrast that with the alternatives.

    When I closed my original post with the allusion to the Newton quotation (If I have accomplished anything, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants-- paraphrased), I had the mental image of those scientists literally standing on the shoulders of their predecessors like circus acrobats. That image in turn prompted another also related to a famous quotation in evolutionary circles ("It's turtles all the way down."). I guess the difference is that there are no Gluckman-esque geniuses in the turtle stack and therefore no progression of knowledge, whereas there is progress with the pillar of scientists. Nothing against turtles, but I prefer scientists holding up my world-- all the way down.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 29, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    Some of the Religious claim that the earth is only 6000 years old based on the biblical teachings that nothing died before Adam inhabited the earth.

    There are many things that science cannot prove or disprove. Unicorns?

    Religion has gotten just too many things completely wrong to be the "go-to" source for much that is claimed to be truth. (flat earth?)

    I am not saying that there is no truth in religion, but when I weigh the scientific evidence that the earth is round and much older than 6000 years compared to biblical account to the contrary, my money is on science.

  • Unwieldy Toaster Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    Science certainly doesn't have the answer for everything, but I would argue that it is by far the best we've got for converging in on truth.

    I'm sure we are all familiar with the age old maxim that "some truths are not very useful." I think that you can also make that statement work in reverse: "some things that are untrue can be useful." If religion is workin for you then go for it! But I really have trouble seeing how religion is just as good or superior to science when it comes to getting closer to truth.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    Athiests: Show me! Isn't that what objective scientific experiments do? Show me one example where a species evolved into a different species, not something with a longer beak or toe? dog to cat? Fish to lion? Man to ape? Just show me? Don't tell me about your 'millions' of years of 'faith'. I want your own objective 'scientific' experiment that I can see today, not an athiestic 'faith' of million years from now or a million years ago? If you can't show me today how to believe in your 'theories' why should I be persuaded to believe them! I want to believe, show me!

  • JerryLungaard SLC, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    It seems that the world no longer has real faith in the power of God, or religion. It's a crime in modern society to deny your child medical care that is based on real science. In the days of Christ we read that Christ cured all manner of afflictions. I've been told that this power exists today on the earth yet it cannot be a reliable cure for anything more than lost keys.

    Show me the lame that was made to walk through priesthood blessings.

    Show me the deaf that is healed through God's power.

    Show me the leper that is made clean through consecrated oil.

    Until then I think I'll put my faith in science. It would be criminal to do otherwise. Thanks to science we all have a healthy sceptcism of the promises of religion.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Aug. 29, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    I find myself in substantial agreement with Dr. Peterson on this one-- a rare occurrence, indeed (I'm still waiting for a public retraction of Dr. Peterson's misrepresentation of the Eastern teaching on theosis, but we'll table that for now).

    I think what Dr. Peterson is inveighing against in this article is the epistemology of scientific positivism. Despite having been thoroughly debunked and then largely abandoned earlier in this century, we are seeing a "renaissance" of this teaching among a younger generation that hasn't taken enough time to become acquainted with the past philosophical literature. This is unfortunate. As Dr. Peterson points out, positivism is logically self-refuting.

    Some advocate a sort of "soft" positivism, that doesn't make the explicit, blanket statement that knowledge only comes from science, but it nevertheless, for all practical intents and purposes, does in fact do so by relegating all other epistemologies to second-rate knowledge, at best.

    The comedy of this approach is that they've chosen an epistemology that ONLY studies material realities, and then they wonder mockingly why they can never find God-- an immaterial being. I think Reformed Epistemology is worth studying at this juncture.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 3:50 p.m.

    I mentioned this before in another post on DN, but if you took a look at my 1970s astronomy book you'd see a lot that was not known then but is now. Science evolves and changes. And it will continue to do so.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Aug. 29, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    It is worth noting that the Judeo-Christian has maintained for over three millennia, counter-culturally, that the universe came into being from nothing. This was only established empirically in the 1920s-- mockingly termed "the Big Bang." Atheists and other eternal materialists (i.e., Mormons) have been trying to find a way around this truth ever since the tables turned on them.

    The critic will at this juncture raise the strawman of young earth creationism, asserting that the Bible author only only coincidentally got creatio ex nihilo right, among a host of errors, and therefore getting the teaching of creatio ex nihilo right cannot count in favor of religious epistemology. This wave of the hand serves to bypass the more difficult arguments raised by many fine theistic scholars who accept an old earth (including many early fundamentalists). I myself find that a literary reading of Genesis 1 more faithfully coheres with the genre and intent of the text.

    As to this notion that science is on the verge of discovering a foundation for objective morality, I pray that the writer of this comment isn't referring to the work of Sam Harris.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 4:11 p.m.

    I wonder whether I'm the only person out there who often finds many of the comments here depressing. Over and over again, I find myself asking whether those commenting have read the same article that I did.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Aug. 29, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    I would counter that holy books are witnesses to history, not truth, since not all information within them has led to human flourishing, and it could be argued, at times within history, has led to very serious tensions and problems.

    Science, and the mechanisms within it, constantly challenges truth claims and clarifies knowledge, providing a firm foundation from which to continue to examine our amazing universe. Science frees us by teaching us that it is alright to challenge existing dogmas and for that, we should be grateful.

    Also, science his helped us all share knowledge at a volume unknown to those only a few decades ago. For that we should be grateful as well. Plus, scientific discoveries are just really interesting and enjoyable to think about.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    I think there needs to be a clear differentiation between Science and Darwinism.

    The problem is there is no "overwhelming evidence" for the various evolutionary theories, something that Darwin himself admitted.

    Darwin was never educated as a scientist. He didn't use scientific methodology nor was such a theory capable of scientific verification. Rarely did Darwin utilize scientific equipment, and then inexpertly, but proceeded as a philosopher using anecdotal evidence, propositions and superficial (anatomical rather than physiological) similarities to "prove" evolutionary relationships.

    He wrote "The Origin of Species" without a definition of "species", an admitted prevailing confusion bwtween what was a "species" and what a "variety". He admitted to huge flaws in his theory, for example in Chapter 7 (Miscellaneous Objections) and subsequent chapters admitting the "imperfection of the geologic record", the lack of intermediate varieties, hybridism etc.

    Time has not eliminated these objections nor supplied the deficit of physical proofs. "Piltdown Man" embarrassed many 'scientists' too hasty to believe and trumpet a crude fraud, incomplete shattered skulls that could be, and were, re-constructed more than once to obtain the required "missing link". The subject lacks a scientific discipline and has been largely the pursuit of hobbyists.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 29, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    @brokenclay – “I think what Dr. Peterson is inveighing against in this article is the epistemology of scientific positivism.”

    For what it’s worth I think you’re right… the problem is his article is just a muddled mess of poor reasoning leaving his lack of even the most basic understanding of philosophy is on full display (e.g., his conflation of “proof” and “evidence” or deductive vs. induction).

    In arguing against scientific positivism, even the best philosophers who did so (James, Wittgenstein, Popper) are extremely careful not to overstate their case.

    And there is no justification for putting science and religion on equal footing when it comes to explaining the natural (objective) world. Even under an epistemologically broad definition of truth (e.g., “truth is what works for you and does not contravene any known facts” – William James), religion has failed this test countless times throughout history.

    This article struck me as an attempt to caricature, distort and undermine scientific knowledge; first by knocking down the (largely) straw man of positivism and then asserting all forms of knowledge are on equal footing.

    And a Sam Harris debate… this should be fun!

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Aug. 29, 2013 9:02 p.m.

    @Tyler D
    @Lagomorph

    Evolution is NOT based on any fact or scientific evidence.

    Even in the so-called evidence you gave, when all is said and done, a dog is still a dog, an apple still an apple, and a virus is still a virus, they are never anything but what are or have ever been.

    Even in your own words it is just a story based on possibilities, IE may haves, might haves, could possibly haves, assumption, supposition. Any one can invent plausible stories, make up relationships, create charts and trees, but that is not scientific, that is just bad science.

    Variation is not evolution, and FORCED variation is definitely not natural evolution.

    And the evidence you gave only SUGGESTS possibility, assuming you have faith in their fantastic and unproven (unprovable?) fiction.

    Science has its place along with religious faith.

    But when it replaces hard evidence with supposition and story telling, monkey tales, and dogmatically demands that everyone must believe it or you are a heretic then it has become something very bad.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    Aug. 30, 2013 12:50 a.m.

    "Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge."

    Carl Sagan

    "Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith.'"

    Max Planck

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 1:59 a.m.

    @JerryLungaard

    You comment assumes that people of religion do not consider advances in medicine as a gift from God, or that for a person of faith to rely upon medicine is somehow against God's will. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I went through a time in my life when I had three different types of operations over a three year period. Before each operation I was given a priesthood blessing that I would recover. Some might say, "Why didn't you just rely upon the priesthood blessing?" The fact of the matter is, the blessing's purpose is in part to show my gratitude for God's hand in my medical care as well as to offer a blessing to those who will be operating on me.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 2:01 a.m.

    @brokenclay

    I'm sorry to say this, but to suggest the elements are not eternal, that God created the universe from nothing, is a contradiction in terms. Unless of course you agree that God has no element, but to believe that would contradict Genesis 1 which states God created man, "In his own image." How could something with no element create something from his own image?

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Aug. 30, 2013 7:02 a.m.

    Fantastic article Dr. Peterson, as usual. I love Science but as been pointed out here by many, it is so fleeting! Everything we think we know from science will eventually be proven to be completely wrong or at least very incomplete and any "scientist" that claims to have the final word on anything is no scientist! As our grandparent's science is to us, so will our science be to our grandchildren. So it should be with religion. One of the doctrines I love about the LDS religion is that we know our religion is incomplete as well! For reference to that, read the 9th article of faith! I personally could not embrace any religion that claims to be complete.

  • Kyna WEST JORDAN, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    Sadly, my love of science, which I view as learning the laws that God himself has to follow, has alienated me among many. I am ostracized and told that obviously I have no concept of faith.

    I have actually seen more hatred and vitriol spewed towards the scientific community from those who claim the religion camp than the other way around.

    Science is ever evolving, and it is arrogant to think we know all. But I think it is more arrogant to think we don't need to learn.

  • Mugabe ACWORTH, GA
    Aug. 30, 2013 7:41 a.m.

    Carl Popper, Herman Bondi, Peter Medawar, etc, etc, agree that nothing is proven scientifically. Scientist have a method that they use to test a hypothesis to determine if it meets the criteria to be called a scientific theory. As an investigator of the gospel, we use that same scientific method. We just don' know realize it.

    Aristotle said: "A man has scientific knowledge when his beliefs are conditioned in a certain way and first principles are known to him." The 13 Articles of Faith, shapes our belief, and we know the first principles of the gospel. So, we have scientific knowledge of the gospel.

    All is left is to examine the first principles to see if they meet the criteria to be called a scientific theory: they are, 1. can they be observed? 2. can they be repeated? 3. can they be falsified. If the answer to these questions are yes, then we have a scientific theory.

    The next step is to experiment. (Alma 32:26 34:4) Only, the individual has to do the experimenting.

    Science was called knowledge before it was science. God gave unto us our knowledge in the garden. That maked us scientists.(Moses 7:32)

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    RE: ClarkHippo to suggest the elements are not eternal, that God created the universe from nothing, is a contradiction in terms.

    Origen believed in the Platonic pre-existence and transmigration of souls. The Council of Constantinople .. in 453 CE posthumously excommunicated him.

    Christians, and Jews believe that God created all that exists ex nihilo (out of nothing). Mormonism is quite different in its cosmology, claiming that God fashioned the universe out of preexisting material. God is eternal in some forms of LDS theology, but so is preexisting matter, including the material used by God to create human beings.

    (Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    In (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time.

    … God who gives life to the dead and Calls into Being things that were not.(Romans 4:17 NIV).

    For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28)Creation is dependent on God for it’s very existence.

    God is the uncreated creator of all else.

  • C Shields c, CA
    Aug. 30, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    Thank you for expounding on what I've always felt; especially since I have non-member/inactive family members who use the Science vs. Religion argument to justify their stance. I will be sure to pass this on, so they can hear 'my side', eloquently put, from someone else!

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    Aug. 30, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    For me, personally, I have no problem with religion or science.

    Again, for me, personally, both require faith or believing what someone else tells me.

    Some at the head of religions make claims to have "actually seen" what they are telling us to believe. Most people, including myself, will likely not have the "actually seen" experience, and therefore we must decide to believe (have faith), or not, in what these religious leaders are telling us.

    The same holds true for science. Those at the head of various science disciplines make claims that they have "actually seen" their experiments work. Most people, including myself, will not likely have the "actually seen" experience with science either, therefore we must decide to believe (have faith) or not, in what those scientists are telling us.

    For the majority of people, the most common denominator between science and religion is FAITH.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 30, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    ClarkHippo

    Do you really think a priesthood blessing helped those operating on you?? Or do you think that their study and knowledge in medicine helped them. Surely you know that there have been millions of complicated operations performed all over the world where they don't get a priesthood blessing and many of them turn out fine. Similarly, I personally know of 2 instances where the patient did receive a blessing to make a full recovery but didn't make it through the operatain. So if a blessing is supposed to help why doesn't it work all of the time?? Answer: it doesn't work. If I have a blessing that I will wake up in the morning and I do wake up, should I attribute that to the blessing? I would have to ignore the millions of other people who also woke up this morning without a blessing.

  • hc1951 Bend, OR
    Aug. 30, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    I like this, too :-) : “A science,” said the late South African social anthropologist Herman Max Gluckman, “is any discipline in which the fool of this generation can go beyond the point reached by the genius of the last generation.”

  • Jim G Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 30, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    Perhaps the dilemma here is in the definition of the word "truth". Truth about the human condition, and the wisdom needed to navigate it, is an entirely different thing than the truths about the workings of the physical universe uncovered by scientific investigation. As others have said, real universal truth must embrace both spiritual and scientific truth, and there need not be a conflict.

    Conflict between science and religion is generally a result of the misunderstanding of one or the other. It is important to recognize the "facts" exposed by science, are always provisional - subject to revision as new data emerges. In fact, despite what many would tell you, scientific ideas are NEVER proven, and scientists continue to investigate and test even those things taken as fact.

    Similarly, many of the "facts" in religion are a consequence of one's philosophy and a certain reading of the meaning of scripture. We tend to seek in religion to find an interpretation of a religion that is compatible with our own beliefs.

    Perhaps the best example of a harmony of both can be seen in the late, great scientist Henry Eyring Sr., a brilliant scientist and a devoutly religious man.

  • moniker lewinsky Taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    This is all very sad and desperate sounding. Truth should ring true. It shouldn't require mental gymnastics.
    A wise man once said that faith is like a bridge and it can be used to take us from one place to another, but it shouldn't be used as an eraser. If we are constantly having to try to unlearn or ignore or "de-emphasize" certain truths in order to maintain our faith, what does that say about our faith?
    If science contradicts religion, I'll go with science. I do have faith, though. I have faith that if there is a god, he or she will give us the tools to come to a conclusion that we can trust and feel good about instead of expecting us to force ourselves to believe something that defies logic because we're afraid that if our intuition is wrong and our sense of logic betrays us, we will be condemned to hell.
    I ask the same question as Sigmund Freud: Am I to believe every absurdity? If not, why this one in particular?

  • dtlenox Olympia, WA
    Aug. 30, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    I think the basic message of this article is simply to point out the fact that both empirical knowledge and subjective knowledge are essential. Subjective knowledge can be a very broad category which can include things that everyone inherently knows and agree with (such as the golden rule, for example), and it also includes religion. Too many scientists reject religion outright just because they can't prove it empirically, and they reject all of it over what they see as inherent mistakes or errors in the holy books of many religions. What Peterson and other apologists try to point out is that it is possible to believe in both, by having a more open frame of mind. One example would be the biblical account of creation. Viewing this with an open mind, one can be flexible by recognizing that this is a very superficial account, and that once we understand the full details of this process, and how it might fit into evolutionary theory, then it will all make sense. It all boils down to the fact that we believe what we want to believe, and that is how it should be.

  • Hoosier Hot Shot Indianapolis, IN
    Aug. 30, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    The next inquiry is to show where science has erred. Wasn't it once accepted that butter on burns was good? It is true that science evolves, but a reality is that scientists of all stripes too often discount what fundamental religionists believe, that there is a divine plan of life and all other things are dependent on it--science only helps us understand some of the hows but not much of the whys.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 30, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    "....Does God exist? Does life have a purpose? Is there an objective moral law? These things, it’s true, can’t be proven. But neither can they be disproven. In that regard, those who demand that we disbelieve anything not demonstrable by science go, themselves, beyond what science can demonstrate."
    ______________________________

    Agreed. In like regard, those who insist that the Bible is the inerrant word of God make a claim I’ve never found in the Bible itself which is not a single book but rather an anthology written over several centuries by authors whose identities cannot always be ascertained.

    We’ve a long way from Medieval times when secular knowledge felt constrained to bow to the Church in matters of learning.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 30, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    @Fred Vader – “I have no problem with religion or science... both require faith or believing what someone else tells me.”

    The same could be said for most knowledge, but the difference with science (like math) is you can gain the expertise to acquire the knowledge first hand.

    However the key difference for science is the fact that a scientific theory can be falsified. And good science is to constantly trying to falsify theories. This has been going on with respect to evolution since Darwin and it has yet to be falsified; in fact the evidence has only grown stronger, and in the areas of genetics and molecular biology by orders of magnitude (i.e., scientists all over the world are far more certain evolution is a fact than Darwin ever was).

    Yet evolution can still be falsified… easily. Mammal fossils in the Precambrian would do it, or at least force serious revision.

    Anyone wanting to equate this level of knowledge with a religious proposition needs to explain (as one example) how we can falsify the creation story (either one) in Genesis.

    Reached comment limit…

  • MarkMAN West Columbia, TX
    Aug. 30, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    Twin,

    Well said. Well put together.

    Mark

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    Holy books can be witnesses to the truth. But witnesses are frequently unreliable, and eye-witnesses are notoriously so.

    Unfortunately, we often don't know which parts of which holy books contain "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," and which parts consist of mistakes, garbled texts, half-truths or fabrications, and though we might like to think so, no amount of praying, soul-searching, or burning in the breast will tell us, because these testimonies can be just as unreliable as any witness. Consider how many adherents of a religion "know" that their religion is true, to the exclusion of all others, while adherents of those other religions also "know" that theirs is the only true religion.

    Do volcanoes erupt because a god is angry, or is this angry god simply an explanation for a natural phenomenon that people didn't understand? Did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, or was this simply the reason that people devised to explain a natural catastrophe?

    Thomas Jefferson considered the New Testament an unreliable witness because it had been corrupted, and when making his own version of the gospels, he omitted references to miracles and the resurrection.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Aug. 30, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    Evolutionists would have us believe that the theory of Intelligent Design is not science because it cannot be tested in a laboratory. In reality the converse is true:

    Evolution postulates that life sprang into being without guidance from anything; only nature was involved. With such a premise, would not the presence of a scientist in a laboratory violate the very foundation of this premise?

    If scientists set out to prove evolution was a fact in the laboratory and they successfully created human life in 10 years, how would this not in fact be a test of Intelligent Design? The scientists designed the experiment and they are arguably intelligent. You would need unintelligent scientists for such an undertaking and volunteers are in short supply.

    If you want to test evolution in a laboratory, you have to remove meddling scientists and only observe from afar. As soon as scientists inject themselves into the equation it becomes a test of Intelligent Design.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 30, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    Lightbearer,

    Jefferson did a literal cut and paste job of Jesus’ words to make a volume for his personal use in private reading meditations. It’s remarkable because it was ahead of the modern Bible scholarship that began to emerge in the 19th century.

  • moniker lewinsky Taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    "christoph
    Brigham City, UT
    The medical profession knows religious people live longer lives."

    It's true that prayer has been shown to have a placebo effect and that often times, being religious can lead to feeling more happy, cared for, and protected. All these factors may lead to a longer life expectancy for people of faith.

    This in no way proves that there is a God, that he cares for us, that he is controlling everything, etc. It only means that believing feels good and might have a positive effect on mental health. Moreover, many people who have more analytical minds are going to have a heck of a time willing themselves to believe, no matter how comforting faith might be. Based on everything I've learned over the past ten years, I could no more believe in the Mormon god than I could in a flying spaghetti monster. Even if I had proof that believing in FSM would prolong my life, I STILL could not will myself to believe.
    To those whose faith enriches their lives: I'm glad you're happy. Please stop short of trying to incorporate your beliefs into secular law. That's all I ask.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    @Lightbearer

    Jefferson NEVER created his own bible.

    There two works credited to Jefferson that are called the "Jefferson bible":

    One was an abridged version, published by congress, that was an easier read for the Indians and for others to use in learning about Christ and Christianity.

    The other was not really a bible but a collection of the morals and teachings of Jesus Christ. After studying over 30 philosophers, Jefferson thought Christ teachings were the best.

    Regardless of whatever else he thought, Jefferson clearly believed in the bible and Jesus Christ.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 4:08 p.m.

    Re: "Jefferson did a literal cut and paste job of Jesus' words to make a volume for his personal use in private reading meditations."

    Just as clarification, the "Jefferson Bible" does not consist exclusively of Jesus's words. It begins:

    "1: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed."

    It continues with Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem, and the story of Jesus's birth, but there is nothing about shepherds, or angels, or Christmas stars, or wise men. And while it does say that Mary "his espoused wife" was "great with child," there is no mention of Mary being a virgin, or of her being pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

    It ends with the stone being rolled in front of the door of Jesus's sepulchre.

    The Jefferson Bible, or "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth: Extracted Textually from the Gospels Greek, Latin, French, and English," from the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library, is available online.

  • CVT6702 Toledo, OH
    Aug. 31, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    I loved this article, this man is thinking much like I wish others would, so we could get more people thinking along these lines.
    The Bible teaches us about life after death, and angels and demons, yet many people will not accept the fact that people today can communicate with the world beyond just as jesus and the others did back in biblical times.
    Just as Jesus taught us there are good angels in the heavens and there are demons, but what I have learned but yet can't prove, is the demons that Jesus spoke of are simply the spirits of our dead relatives and others who are unhappy and discontent in the after life and sometimes they come back to rage and torment those they left behind that they may have a problem dealing with.
    The human intelligence survives with the spirit in the afterlife and the body left behind is but an empty vessel.

  • Gregg Weber SEATTLE, WA
    Aug. 31, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    To get to the other side. We have heard that since childhood.
    How did the chicken cross the road?
    On roller skates. We have heard variations of that also since childhood.

    They are different questions requiring different answers.
    Just as there is a difference between why something happened (researched by religion, philosophers, and others) and how something happened (researched by scientist).
    The only conflict is when one crosses the fuzzy line into the other's domain.

  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    Aug. 31, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    Reverting back to the original article: Dr. Peterson was responding to an assertion that holy books cannot be witnesses to the truth. But holy books, are religion's equivalent of peer-reviewed literature which has survived the ages. I doubt the person making the assertion wished to discredit all peer-reviewed literature, since without it science cannot be established beyond the original experimenter.

    The so-called holy books treat subjects that are both subjective, dealing with the inner workings of the soul; and objective, dealing with with existence of a Supreme Being and His interactions with humans. For reasons beyond the scope of this short comment, God chooses not to make widely available many of the objective aspects of His existence. He does, however, make available to all the subjective components described by the holy books. We can all become peer reviewers, in a sense, of the holy books. It is simple enough (yet difficult at the same time) to replicate the experiments suggested by the holy books, and to come to know whether they represent truth. But to reject them because the path appears difficult or uncomfortable is to avoid the question. "If any man will do his will..."

  • gcrobmd GADSDEN, AL
    Aug. 31, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    Great article, well said.

    Even science tells us that science cannot know everything.

    Hugh Nibley said that science is “tentative at best.” So true! For example, our understanding about substance: four elements, followed by irreducible atoms, followed by little billiard-ball subatomic particles, followed by wave/particle duality, followed by field interactions determined by state, now maybe vibrating “strings” in 11 dimensions. In short, we have no idea what matter is.

    Einstein gave the same tests year after year without fear of cheating, because he said the answers change.

    One thing we know. Our earliest ancestors buried their dead with artifacts demonstrating love and belief in life after death. This knowledge is older and more constant than any science.

    You can’t demonstrate scientifically that God exists because He wants your heart to choose Him, and He will not be toyed with. You can’t demonstrate that He doesn’t exist either. However, you can demonstrate that religious people live longer and are happier. So if you really believe in science, then worship God where knowledge and charity are extolled, and spirit and body are cultivated. Eventually, you will know.

  • factfinder pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 1, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    Well played, Dr. Peterson, pointing out that the statement defeats itself. I’m guessing, though, that the stated critic meant “fact” rather than “truth,” as the argument didn’t seem philosophical in nature. Truth, even as a concept, is so multifaceted and abstract that it defies any kind of objective definition. And thanks for clarifying that “The Bible...is a principal source for the ancient history of the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.” But what of the Behistun inscription, Dr. Peterson? Why do we not hear of Gilgamesh from any ward, stake, or higher pulpit while the Papyrus images and the Dead Sea Scrolls both get due attention? Are the Bible and other standard works the only sources of ancient history worth mentioning in church? Are we afraid that other sources for ancient history will shed the kind of light we don’t want on our past? Then yes, what of the truth?

  • CVT6702 Toledo, OH
    Sept. 1, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    I find myself in a very frustrating situation, I have been communicating with spirits in the spirit world for almost thirty years, and to date no one including my relatives will believe me although i have received Prophecies that have come to pass, and I have solved murders and missing people, and I have gotten looks into the future and the past, but i can prove this more to the average person than I could fly.
    There are others who can do this and they call themselves psychics, but no one much believes them either.
    Other people hear voices and have visions and they don't understand what is happening to them and Psychiatrists convince them they are mentally ill and try to get rid of the voices with medication, when most of them are just hearing the spirits of the dead relatives and friends who come to visit them and when they don't respond some of these spirits get angry then the situation worsens.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 1, 2013 9:47 p.m.

    "In that regard, those who demand that we disbelieve anything not demonstrable by science go, themselves, beyond what science can demonstrate." Well, of course, I agree, but who doesn't already know this? The difficulties come when religion, say, directly contradicts science.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Sept. 2, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    CVT6702

    Ok I will believe you when you prove it. So tell me where Susan Powell is, and I will go out and verify it. If you are right I will know with confidence that you talk to spirits. If it doesn't check out, then I will know you are just like other psychics. That is simple.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 2, 2013 7:20 p.m.

    Brahmabull,

    Not sure if CVT is displaying sarcasm or something else. Either way, not useful to engage.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Sept. 2, 2013 7:37 p.m.

    Twin -

    It sounded to me like he was serious. Surely being a member of the church you believe in visitations from the other side, right? Don't be so fast to discount other peoples spiritual manifestations as doing so is hypocritical as mormonism is based solely on a claim of spiritual visitation. I'm trying to see if this person is for real or not...

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 3, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    Thanks Brother Peterson for reminding us that as members of the Church we never have to fear truth wherever or however it is derived: "we believe all things, we hope all things ... if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." It is always interesting to see our good neighbors who use "science" to hide from ideas (like the existence of a creator) that are too bold for them to grasp or perhaps to pacify their consciences while pursuing a lifestyle free from any form of ultimate accountability. The irony is that these friends use the quest for truth that man calls "science" to actually close their minds and hearts to new or different ideas that conflict with their homemade philosophy or agenda.

  • cdowis Woodstock, GA
    Oct. 17, 2015 4:51 p.m.

    I think Freeman Dyson best explained religion in his description of quantum mechanics-->>

    "The important thing about quantum mechanics is the equations, the mathematics. If you want to understand quantum mechanics, just do the math. All the words that are spun around it don’t mean very much. It’s like playing the violin. If violinists were judged on how they spoke, it wouldn’t make much sense." --wiki

    For those who are deaf to spiritual things, it just doesn't make much sense.

  • cdowis Woodstock, GA
    Oct. 17, 2015 4:59 p.m.

    "One fun exercise might be to draw a line down a chalk board and list science and religion at the top of each column. Then list the discoveries of each. "

    Lets try this. List some discoveries and see which one gave them to us -->
    The purpose of life
    How to find joy in this life and in the next
    How to have an eternal family

    Which came from science, and which from religion.