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Hamblin & Peterson: The supposed 'war' between religion and science and its casualties

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  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 17, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    Re: McGrath's statement about the current precarious position of science and how presenting it as irreligious works against it: I think this has some validity. However, a lot of the hostility to science comes from religious literalists and there is just no getting around the fact that scientific knowledge devastates their position. I think their hostility reflects this recognition.

    Re: "their reasons for unbelief...[include that] they disapprove of God or see God as too changeable": This phrasing gives the author away as a believer who is having trouble setting this bias aside as she interprets her data. Atheists may disapprove of RELIGION and see RELIGION as too changeable. Religion exists. But "God"? These respondents were either incorrectly categorized as atheistic or she didn't accurately reflect what they said.

    Re: "The irreligious seem more likely to become scientists": If her subject population had been the irreligious and she had tested this hypothesis, her supposition might have merit. It wasn't, she didn't, so it has none.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 17, 2014 11:04 a.m.

    RE: “I love the sciences,” remarked McGrath, who earned an Oxford doctorate in molecular biophysics before proceeding on to another Oxford doctorate in theology.
    Beginning with the current skepticism about God's very existence, Dr. McGrath starts off with some convincing apologetics. But he does not rely on apologetics alone. He knows that the only way to be sure about the living God is to encounter him--and this can happen to people who know almost nothing about him. Understanding the Trinity, Alister E. McGrath.

    C.S Lewis,” If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we would make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about." The three personal God “Mere Christianity. Lewis gives some other analogies of the Tri(3) Unity.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 17, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    Science is the pursuit of knowledge. Religion claims it already has it, but constantly proves otherwise.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 17, 2014 12:12 p.m.

    I completely agree with the idea that science and religion are not really at war. It does not shake my faith when I study science. My faith not based on science. It is based on the joy and direction my faith gives my life. I heard that one religious leader, who was also a scientist, said "science tells us how, religion tells us why".

    The only combativness I feel is when others use science as a weapon to tear at my faith.

  • JLindow St George, UT
    May 17, 2014 1:18 p.m.

    If science reveals a mountain of evidence that the world is billions of years old, but your faith tells you quite clearly that the earth is 6000 years old, they can't both be right.

    You can ignore the conflict, try to massage the difference away by fudging the numbers, or you can accept that one side is right and the other is wrong.

    Religion can be and often is a force for good, but where it causes people to turn away from the facts, reason, and truth in a way that is detrimental to society, it is a force for evil.

  • donn layton, UT
    May 17, 2014 2:09 p.m.

    RE:McGrath, who earned an Oxford doctorate in molecular biophysics before proceeding on to another Oxford doctorate in theology.

    Beginning with the current skepticism about God's very existence, Dr. McGrath starts off with some convincing apologetics. But he does not rely on apologetics alone. He knows that the only way to be sure about the living God is to encounter him--and this can happen to people who know almost nothing about him. Understanding the Trinity, Alister E. McGrath

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    May 17, 2014 3:26 p.m.

    Karen R:

    It sounds as if you've carefully examined Professor Ecklund's data and methodology in detail. Have you published your refutation, or is it in process of publication?

    I, for one, would be very interested in studying your analysis.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 17, 2014 3:39 p.m.

    “Rather, their reasons for unbelief mirror the circumstances in which other Americans find themselves: they were not raised in a religious home; they have had bad experiences with religion; they disapprove of God or see God as too changeable.”

    Wow, talk about throwing a bone to believers! The way this study is framed and the terms used is ridiculous. But let’s break this down a bit…

    “they were not raised in a religious home” – is this just another way of saying they weren’t brain washed prior to developing critical thinking skills?

    “they have had bad experiences with religion” – could this include a strong aversion when reading the many inconsistencies, errors, superstitions and horrors (often commanded by God) in the sacred books of religion?

    “they disapprove of God” – would this include simply not believing in a fairy tale (like Santa Claus)?

    “or see God as too changeable” – well sure, no fairy tale will last if it’s not flexible

    And what about this doosey?

    “Irreligious people seem more likely to become scientists.” – or, smart people are less likely to be religious.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    May 17, 2014 4:11 p.m.

    We can except this but we must admit in doing so that Joseph F. Led the LDS astray when he spoke of evolution as a joke.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 17, 2014 4:36 p.m.

    Religion was originally invented by humans to explain the unexplained. This worked well for religion as long as those things remained unexplained. But as investigation and research found explanations for more and more of our world religions supposed answers kept shrinking. This was exacerbated by the fact that religious answers were proven wrong time and again. Religion is one of the worst inventions of humankind while the scientific method is the greatest invention we have made. Using this method as a guide has led to more amazing and powerful discoveries than one can even imagine. In all seriousness religion should have been jettisoned from society by now but it has too strong a hold on too many people. From the beginning religion claimed to have all the answers, and for some reason people still believe even after so many of those answers where shown to be wrong. Science does not have all the answers, nor does science claim to have all the answers. But it sure knows how to look for them.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    May 17, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    It is just too easy for religionists to claim that science is the enemy of religion. It is a cop-out. The literalists in religion control the agenda of the not-so-literalists, and put these not-so-literalists into the us vs them camp. No moderate religionist will ever disavow a conservative one, because it is seen as a portrayal of the entirety of their cosmology.

    Therefore, we end up with the endless debate of attempting to reconcile science and religion. You can not.

    Science can answer how but not why. And religion may offer why but not how. Intelligent people learn not to mix the two together.

    It would be appropriate for religionists to leave the explanations of how something happens to the pursuit of knowledge and verifiable fact (aka science). Let every person pursue his/her own version of why, and leave it at that. Or is this just such a difficult concept? I would bet a large amount of money that vast majority of scientists and like minded folks would allow religionists to pursue the why we exist without any bother.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    May 17, 2014 5:37 p.m.

    Almost every believer I know tries to make this same assertion, that science and religion are not "at war", and are not incompatible.

    And almost every atheist and scientist I know does not waste any time with such silly assertions.

    I wonder why that is?

    By and large, Scientists are not feeling left out by religion; but religionists are sure feeling left out (and left behind) by science.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2014 7:16 p.m.

    The comments by "Hutterite" demonstrate a common misunderstanding about both science and knowledge.

    If there is any inconsistency it is not between Science and Religion. Rather, it is between Science and knowledge.

    Science, by its very nature, can **never** make an unequivocal claim to knowledge. There is no scientific "knowledge" that is unassailable or not subject to revision or overthrow by some experience whose data contradicts that "knowledge".

    Perhaps the most glaring example is the relatively recent revolution in the scientific "knowledge" of some of the most fundamental aspects of cosmology upon the discovery in the late 90's that the universe was not merely expanding but **accelerating** outward!!

    That overturned so many basic concepts of mass, energy & gravity, among other foundations of physics, that the best science can do so far is to attribute the inexplicable behavior (of the universe mind you) to matter/energy appropriately named with the mysterious adverb "dark". Sort of like using the term "Terra Incognita" on maps during the great age of exploration.

    Religion can claim absolute knowledge using nonscientific data (revelations, prophesies, etc.). Science **must** remain skeptical and, therefore, FAITHfully hope its scientific data-based conclusions are accurate.

    That is as it should be.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2014 7:55 p.m.

    Of course there is a war between religion and science. Religion and science teach us completely different things about race and evolution. Religion teaches that dark skins is a punishment for sin. Science teaches that white skin is the result of natural selection off of dark skin. Religion teaches that the earth is 6,000 years old, science billions of years. Science teaches that inheritance comes through DNA, religion teaches that in comes through "blood." Science teaches evolution, religion no evolution. The list goes on and on.

    None of this however inclines towards the denial of a higher power.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    May 17, 2014 9:05 p.m.

    If science and religion are seen to conflict, somebody is doing one or the other wrong, sending it encroaching on the other's territory.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    May 18, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    I don't think you are going to be successful at teaching people to "walk by faith" by trying to reconcile science and religion. You only set them up for failure. When they run into the inevitable contradictions that don't know how to deal with it, because they have no spiritual foundation to rely on.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    May 18, 2014 12:28 p.m.

    Those who see science and religion as being in conflict have normally simplified the teachings or one or both of them.

    There is no teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that limits the age of the earth to 6,000 years. Even the most literalist Mormon readers of scripture insist on the earth being at least twice that old, and many deeply believing people have found ways to accept the earth being much older than that.

    I am saddened by how many people want to use science as a method to attack others and their beliefs, especially when a true scientist avoids being stilted and doctrinare. Sadly many people today pay lipservice to science while advancing a program that isn't science.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 18, 2014 1:45 p.m.

    @ samhill

    "Science **must** remain skeptical and, therefore, FAITHfully hope its scientific data-based conclusions are accurate. That is as it should be."

    Scientists should hope and pray that their conclusions are correct? I'm glad my doctor doesn't agree with you.

    And, yes - believers can and certainly do claim absolute knowledge. Anyone can do that.

    The reality is, the more knowledge we gain, the more we understand just how little we really know. Anyone or anything offering certainty in such a context is selling a false promise.

    If you think you need spiritual certainty to provide hope or meaning, fine. But please, please drop the claim that you "know" and that what you know is the "one right way." It is human nature to get our backs up a bit when someone tells us, "Not only are you wrong, you're not going to get the prize at the end." These are fighting words, not words of peace.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 18, 2014 2:43 p.m.

    @ Karen R.

    "If you think you need spiritual certainty to provide hope or meaning, fine. But please, please drop the claim that you 'know' and that what you know is the 'one right way.'

    Karen R., it makes no sense to tell someone, "Go ahead and claim certainty if you must, but don't say you 'know.'" Sigh...However, one can claim to know without also claiming their way is the only way.

    @ Henry Drummond

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Would you mind clarifying? Are you saying that religion creates contradictions for science and a spiritual foundation is required to navigate them?

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 18, 2014 3:37 p.m.

    Why the conflict? I have defended Darwin’s evolution in many different settings because of some of the strange things religious people have said about it. But, I am not so blind that I can’t see inexplicable problems with evolution. For example:

    The Cambrian explosion is a geological fact yet it runs directly counter to Darwin's theory that evolution is orderly.

    Evolution cannot explain complex anatomical adaptation. The inner ear, for example, is complex and composed of different interdependent parts that had to evolve independently but simultaneously in order for the organ to function. It is beyond comprehension to think that these organs just spontaneously happened.

    These are just a couple of many problems with Darwin’s evolution. To me, "intelligent design" is a logical answer. If something is designed, there must have been designer. For example: Though not nearly as complex as the inner ear, it is obvious that Stonehenge was a human creation (i.e. intelligent design), and not some strange geological quirk. If Stonehenge was actually created by somebody, then why is it so hard to accept intelligent design when studying the Cambrian explosion, DNA, or the development of complex organs and systems?

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 18, 2014 5:52 p.m.

    There is no war between PURE religion and PURE science.

    After all truth is truth no matter the source.

    The problem is that both have been defiled by men with personal agendas chiefly based around power, control, and money (but are other motivators as well) and helped along by misguided people or just plain and even willing ignorance from others.

    There is no mountain of evidence that the earth is billions of years old.

    It is just BELIEF by science based how long they BELIEVE certain geologic processes took.

    If God is God then why couldn't he have made those processes happen much faster than they BELIEVE?

    Funny ain't it, how so much evolutionary related science is entirely built on belief and assumption and supposition?

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    May 18, 2014 7:38 p.m.

    @Hutterite

    "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

    John 17:3

    @Jlindow

    "Religion can be and often is a force for good, but where it causes people to turn away from the facts, reason, and truth in a way that is detrimental to society, it is a force for evil."

    Fact: There is no eye witness account of the forming of the earth. From my understanding it was formed from matter un-organized. That could mean a lot of different things.

    Either way it really doesn't bother me (parts of the earth might be millions of years old and some of it may be thousands) and either way it sounds like a weak excuse for people who don't want to believe.

    @ Tyler D

    I would like to hear your definition of brain washing. I have thought about this concept quite deeply because I heard the phrase attributed specifically from other Christians towards Mormons and now from you towards religious people in general.

    I have heard this term mentioned frequently but a lot less frequently explained in great detail by the person using it.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 18, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    @JSB - “To me, "intelligent design" is a logical answer.”

    Read David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and tell us afterward if you still believe so.

    Like any science, we are still adding to our knowledge all the time, but evolution can explain about 99.9% of the geologic time processes of the universe. Without evolution you cannot explain anything without evoking a “poof, it’s magic” theory.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    May 19, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    Those scientists and religious believers who buy into the "War" concept are generally pretty ignorant of each other's knowledge. The scientists who are also strongly religious have studied both science and religion deeply and found reconciliation. There needs to be more learning on both sides so others can find that ground of reconciliation. Refusing to learn science or a religion is an intentional ignorance that violates the basic principles of both science and religious faith.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 19, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    @greatbam22 – “I would like to hear your definition of brain washing.”

    Good question…

    If I started teaching my child from an early age that Zeus was the all-powerful creator of the universe and day after day we said prayers to Zeus, told stories about Zeus, equated all sorts of happy coincidences to Zeus, explained to him that it was Zeus (rather than his conscience) who told him what was right, and that basically all the good things in this life and an eternal paradise in the next were the work of Zeus.

    And then just in case the “carrot” approach didn’t work I also told him that to not believe in Zeus was the gravest sin and that none of these things would be given to him if he didn’t believe (and his Mom, a more Zeus literalist, told him he would actually be tortured for eternity after he died if he didn’t believe).

    And I did all this through the age when he’s sure to listen to what I say and before he can reason in a critical manner himself.

    That a pretty good definition, I think…

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 19, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    @Tyler D

    Making up explanations is not the same as truth.

    If you actually study evolution and the words and phrases they use, and it is as much or more magic as anything else.

    And quite frankly, it does not explain anywhere the near the 99.9% you claim. In fact it probably less than 10% that it can actually prove.

    Without a whole a truck load of assumptions and suppositions and invented stories and invented relationships, and the discarding of evidence that does not fit, or shucking it off to a supposed or assumed dead branch. IT can explain very little.

    An explanation is just a story unless it is the truth.

    Intelligent design (which even Richard dawkins believes is required by evolution to explain the beginnings of life, he mentioned aliens, how is that different from God?) explains 100% of everything.

    @Tyler D

    by the way, that is NOT the definition of brainwashing, brainwashing is the employing of techniques to get someone believe in that which the brainwasher is knows to be false for his or her own agenda.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 19, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    "Roughly 64 percent of the scientists surveyed described themselves as either atheists or agnostics..."

    ======

    Good one, nice "Spin"...

    You know, agnostics believe in a GOD, they just don't think one particular religion does all the speaking for Him/Her/It.

    Thomas Jefferson is a perfect eaxmple of someone who was agnostic.
    BTW - He was also a Scientist.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 19, 2014 3:21 p.m.

    "There is no teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that limits the age of the earth to 6,000 years."

    Perhaps not "technically" regarding the actual "age" of the earth, but LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie taught the following:

    "If...[one] accepts the untrue theory that death has been present on the earth for scores of thousands or millions of years, he must reject the revealed truth that there was no death either for man or animals or plants or any form of life until some 6000 years ago when Adam fell.

    "Thus, the period during which birth, and life, and death have been occurring on this earth is less than 6,000 years."

    We know the fossil record shows convincing evidence for cells and bacteria living in an oxygen-free world as far back as 3.4 billion years ago. Of course, the modus operandi for an apologist is to sidestep these facts while at the same time claiming the conflicting teachings of LDS Apostles are not "official" church doctrine.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    May 19, 2014 5:05 p.m.

    @ samhill,

    You said that "Science **must** remain skeptical and, therefore, FAITHfully hope its scientific data-based conclusions are accurate."

    Is it true that science must exercise faith in its conclusions? If the conclusions change, do satellites fall out of the sky, do cell phones stop working, do intercontinental missiles stop going airborne, does DNA stop telling us about the migratory patterns of humans? Do I need to hope that scientists keep the faith else it all crumbles before our eyes?

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 19, 2014 5:16 p.m.

    @Weber State Graduate

    One problem death was not present in the Garden of Eden, not earth.

    "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."

    and later

    "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."

    The garden of eden, or IN eden, was a specific region of earth. Which garden was apparently was removed from earth since we can longer find it.

    McConkie is only saying the current state of earth is 6000 years old. It Must be reminded much of what he wrote was his educated opinion or understanding of the gospel doctrines.

    There is no "technically" about it, the age of the earth is not given in scripture or doctrine.

    The concluding fact is no scientist or man knows, it is just their belief based on reasoning of men or what they believe is revealed truth.

    I firmly believe if there is God he can make things happen faster than what scientists believe is possible, like geological processes, or the creation of life.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    May 20, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    Those scientists and religious believers who buy into the "War" concept are generally pretty ignorant of each other's knowledge. The scientists who are also strongly religious have studied both science and religion deeply and found reconciliation. There needs to be more learning on both sides so others can find that ground of reconciliation. Refusing to learn science or a religion is an intentional ignorance that violates the basic principles of both science and religious faith.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 20, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    the truth

    since McConkie was an apostle, and supposedly talks to god I would think that what he says is more then opinion. Oh wait, it is only doctrine when it helps your argument, and when it contradicts your argument it is only opinion. I forgot you can pick and choose.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    May 20, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    The greatest miracle of all is if evolution actually happened.

    BTW, natural selection is not the same as evolution.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    May 20, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    LDS should remember we are a revelatory religion which means everything is subject to change. Many in and out of the Church cannot deal with that fact. Usually, what changes is our understanding. Line upon line, precept upon precept. Bruce R McConkie had his understanding re-aligned, probably more than once. Many think Apostles and Prophets talk to God. However, they don't know what the conversation is about. I suspect God doesn't always talk about nuclear physics. In the D&C the Lord says that knowledge about the creation will be revealed later.

    What war? I am blessed by living in both spheres. AoF 13 ".. We believe all things, we hope all things... If there is anything ... of good report ... we seek after these things."

    What difference does it make what scientists or religionists believe, anyhow? It is only their opinion and I am not afraid to say I pick and choose what I want to believe because that is what learning is all about. Ask any scientist.

  • Cameron Ford Kaysville, UT
    May 20, 2014 11:58 a.m.

    As a youth I thought that religion asked me to choose between science and faith. I later came to understand how true religion does not, and should not, contradict true science. If there appears to be contradictions, it is either because science has not discovered the real underlying truth yet, or because we have misunderstood, misinterpreted, or somehow corrupted the revelations of God.

    I look at true religion and true science as a puzzle; a puzzle of an incredibly beautiful and complex picture. If we are looking for them on our journey through life, we will find pieces to this puzzle. Some pieces fit perfectly and make so much sense, while others do not seem to fit according to our current understanding of the puzzle. However, God has given me enough of the large and important puzzle pieces for me to be sure that the picture is real and incredibly beautiful.

    As for me, I cannot imagine throwing the puzzle away just because I cannot make sense of some of the pieces. This is because I have come to trust in the Maker of the puzzle, and I know that eventually He will show me how they all fit together.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    May 20, 2014 12:40 p.m.

    @ Tyler D

    Some of the stuff that you mentioned about brainwashing is just plain stereotyping of religious parents.

    I can see that it is probably more than acceptable for your crowd to stereotype religious people . It would make complete sense to me because it supports your arguments against religious people in general.

    I am not saying that specific form of religious teaching does not occur in some households but you are holding it up as an absolute. Which it is not.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    May 20, 2014 7:53 p.m.

    Scientists would say that men do not live on the moon in contradiction of the Prophet. Maybe they're tiny men.

  • brotherJonathan SLC, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:29 p.m.

    Deseret News: This is more on topic than you have ever seen in your life.
    Science and God finally are seen as compatible: The proof mankind needs to understand how our reality is constructed is here. Blinded scientist and people cannot see the facts in front of their eyes. Instinct program is religion's Satan. IBM WATSON Team members have the proof that "Instinct Mechanism" was created not a self-constructed artificial intelligence program. That would be impossible. Sub-conscious mind is far more advanced that current technology can comprehend. And it protects this ignorance for a very good reason. It can. The question IBM Watson team refuses to disclose: "Is instinct mechanism and artificial intelligence program?" This info will breach our evolutionary hurtle, with the help from Satan's creator, God.
    This petition is for sharing information only!!! Do we want information on how our mind works?
    IBM Watson petition found on face book JonathanPeterson1466, at Credo petitions.
    I am sure Watson's answer is Yes. Otherwise IBM would have released the information months ago.
    (go to this credo petition for IBM Watson Team to release info!!) Petition on facebook JonathanPeterson1466.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    May 22, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    For those that choose to trust our scientists. Next year scientists will tell us something else like maybe Pluto isn't a planet, or we are held together by strings (string theory), or made of particles (particle theory). One day they'll figure it out and tell us the real facts:

    However, it should be remembered that this concept was considered 'scientific fact' by many at the time. William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus, died in 1822. Herschel argued "[w]ho can say that it is not extremely probable, nay beyond doubt, that there must be inhabitants on the Moon of some kind or another?" Furthermore, "he thought it possible that there was a region below the Sun's fiery surface where men might live, and he regarded the existence of life on the Moon as 'an absolute certainty.'"[6]
    Other scientists announced that they had discovered "a lunar city with a collection of gigantic ramparts extending 23 miles in either direction."[7]

    6 Patrick Moore, New Guide to the Moon (W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 1976), cited by Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," Sunstone 7 no. (Issue #5) (September/October 1982), 15. off-site

    7 Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 15.