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Live your life as if there are no miracles and everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
Crisis in Religion
A spate of bestsellers—The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; The End of Faith by Sam Harris; and God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the late Christopher Hitchens—argues that religion, as we’ve known it, no longer serves the needs of our scientific, cosmopolitan world.

Books like these appeal to a public put off by science deniers, repulsed by clerical abuses, and alarmed by fundamentalist zealotry. Contemporary religious leaders, painfully aware of the relationship between public participation and institutional viability, know that empty pews, like empty theaters, herald obsolescence.

If religion is serious about restoring its public reputation, it could do so by partnering with science. I know that sounds naive, but hear me out. Religion heralds “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.” Science gives us reason to think we can vanquish famine, disease, and poverty. What would it take for these venerable antagonists to emulate Rick and Louis in Casablanca and form a beautiful friendship?

By way of introducing my answer to this question, I’d like to acknowledge that, despite its current ill-repute in some quarters, religion has in fact gotten some very big things right.

A Few Things Religion Got Right
Any short list of religion’s greatest hits would include (1) the idea of god, (2) the golden rule, and (3) a vision of universal human dignity.

With the idea of god, early humans were imagining a being who understands things well enough to build them. If there’s a God who comprehends the world, and we’re made in His image, then we, too, might someday understand. As Stephen Hawking famously said, to comprehend the world is to “know the mind of God.”

Humans gain understanding, and hence a measure of control, by building models. A model is a representation of an object or phenomenon that simulates aspects of the real thing. Models take the form of theories that describe natural phenomena, stories or human beings themselves who show us how to behave, and spreadsheets that forecast how businesses will fare. By studying models we can anticipate the behaviors of the real world phenomena they mirror.

For most of human history, though religious models met a need for shared communal beliefs, they lacked explanatory power. Today, they’re often dismissed as mere myths, but it’s more fruitful to think of them as stepping stones to better models. We now understand some things far better than our ancestors, and other things not much better at all. Whether we’ll ever know God’s mind is an open question, but that our models of Nature are good enough to steal some of His thunder has been answered decisively with twentieth century technology. If E = mc2 is a jewel in crown of modern science, the golden rule, which embodies a symmetry reminiscent of those that shape physics models, is a gem in religious thought.

In addition to the world’s comprehensibility and the golden rule—which by themselves warrant a tip of the hat to religion—there is also the notion of universal dignity.

Theistic religions proclaim the existence of a personal, caring god—a “father” who loves all his “children” equally, according them equal dignity regardless of their status, rank, or role. The universality of dignity is not a description of life as we know it, but rather a prescription for life as it’s arguably becoming. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Though we should anticipate setbacks, the circle of dignity is slowly expanding. Explicit demands for dignity fuel recent protests in the Middle East, Russia, Burma, China and, in the form of the Occupy Movement, in North America.

Like good science models, the golden rule and the universality of dignity derive their power not from the zeal of true believers, but from the truths they encapsulate. The alternative to fundamentalism is not relativism, it’s ever more realistic models.

Ingredients of a Beautiful Friendship
Learning to see science models as provisional has resulted in unimaginable technological and economic gains. By taking a page from science, and embracing the improvability of personal beliefs and religious teachings, religion could foster parallel gains in personal growth, social harmony, and international cooperation.

The truth is we’ve been living without absolutes from the start. There really never were any, but until now we’ve needed to believe in them much as children fix on certain beliefs while they find their footing. With adolescence, we temper these beliefs, and with maturity we can let go of belief in belief itself.

That any of the currently accepted scientific theories could, in principle, be incorrect or incomplete is taken for granted by scientists. To insist, for example, that the theory of evolution is “just a theory” is only to state what every scientist knows and accepts. Of course, it’s a theory. What else could it be? But it’s a rigorously tested theory and it makes sense to use it until we have something that’s superior.

When it comes to the discovery process, the differences between the eurekas of science and the revelations of religion are window-dressing. Yes, scientists wear lab coats and jeans, and we imagine prophets in tunics and loincloths, but investigators of every kind base their insights on meticulous observation and savor their “ah-ha” moments. The dysfunctional relationship that now exists between science or religion could be retired in favor of a beautiful friendship if both parties would acknowledge that:

  • Both science and religion make use of educated guesses to identify new truth, devise rules, construct theories, and build models.
  • Scientific and religious models that are found wanting must be revised or discarded.
  • Human fallibility means revisions are the rule, not the exception. We’re well advised to “try, try again,” because one success, which may then spread via imitation, makes up for countless failures.
  • Both scientific and religious precepts must be grounded in painstaking observation and are defended by reference to such evidence.
  • The act of discovery—though it goes by the different names of eureka, epiphany, revelation, and enlightenment—is basically the same in all fields. An occasional ah-ha punctuates a lot of ho-hum.
  • Science and religion reduce suffering in complementary ways: science by alleviating material wants and curing disease; religion by cultivating kindness and compassion.
  • Both scientists and religious leaders have sometimes put their institutional interests above the public interest. Both science and religion have also produced leaders who have sacrificed themselves for truth, beauty, and justice.

The Peace Dividend
As dignity’s discoverer and its defender of last resort, a larger, revitalizing role for religion would emerge if it partnered with science. If they made peace, together they could usher in an epoch of universal dignity.

Religion could blunt accusations that it’s just another self-serving institution and regain its voice by:

  • Sponsoring dialogues to clarify exactly what’s meant by “equal dignity for all.”
  • Developing models that close the dignity gap that separates those who are regarded as somebodies from those who are taken for nobodies.
  • Assisting organizations in aligning their cultures and practices with dignity-affirming values.
  • Actively supporting the dignity movement.
  • Critiquing the findings of neuroscience on the nature of mind, and helping us cope with advances in machine intelligence that may someday threaten our sense of selfhood.
  • Designing dignity-preserving institutions of global governance.
  • Ennobling the quest to achieve “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward Men.”

If science and religion cooperate to extend dignity, we could realize the promise of a fair, just, and peaceful world, not merely in our dreams, but here on Earth, not in the indefinite future, but before this century is out.

Indeed, there is reason to hope.

This article is a synopsis of my recent blog series “Religion & Science: A Beautiful Friendship?”. The complete series can be downloaded as a free eBook here, and it is also available as a print-on-demand edition. My most recent book, The Rowan Tree: A Novel,  explores both the personal and political ramifications of my ideas as part of the coming of age of America in an era of global partnerships. The Rowan Tree is available as an ebook or in print format.


Originally posted to Robert Fuller on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just a statement of fact? (6+ / 0-)

    Things religion got right;

    (1) the idea of god
     

    Pretty sure the jury is still out on that one.  

    Not to dump on your whole diary or anything.  It's thoughtful and I like the spirit of it.  But beginning by stating that as a matter of fact, haven't you just told atheists they have no place at this open minded table of yours?

    When the truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

    by Sun dog on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:55:05 PM PDT

    •  I think the diary is merely claiming that (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robert Fuller, dirkster42, Sun dog, G2geek

      the idea of God, has had some productive advantages for human beings.  Since virtually every culture did it in some way, it seems like it must have contributed something.

      True that countless horrible deeds have been done in the name of God, but I suspect humans would have done most of those anyway and, without God, found something other tool for blame, justification, and manipulation.

      So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

      by illinifan17 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:29:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The idea of god anticipates model-building (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42, illinifan17, G2geek

        Yes, illinifan17, that's what I meant to say. Not that god exists, but that the IDEA that there's a being who understands things well enough to build them prefigures the efforts of Homo sapiens to do likewise.

        As you say, all varieties of Homo sapiens have come up with a variant of the idea of a Big Papa, and they fancy that they might be able to do as their Father does: understand things and then build what they've understood. Hard to think of a more consequential myth.

        Granted that the ancients would not have put it in these terms; but the point is they acted this way--they built models (myths) in an attempt to understand. That most of these early models aren't very good is beside the point. Evidently it takes animals with 3 lb. brains, configured like ours, many millennia to come up with good explanations. But once we do, watch out! In just centuries we harness enough of Nature's power to wreak havoc -- on each other and the Earth.

        Given that state of affairs, we need a principle to guide us in the use of the power we find ourselves with. From religion comes the principle of equal dignity for all. So, why not offer religion the revivifying task of implementing one of its greatest findings? It's got nowhere to go but up, and could be a useful ally.

        •  I keep finding your language problematic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Robert Fuller, pvasileff
          all varieties of Homo sapiens have come up with a variant of the idea of a Big Papa,
          Another thing for which the jury is still out.  Or, strictly speaking, you're just kind of wrong.  In my eyes you put a light on the problem in your gender specific description of The One God and this claim that all varieties of humans have come up with that idea.

          While there is evidence in artifacts from all over the place that humans have a sense of something Other, even something divine, specifically calling it the Big Papa is myopic and probably inaccurate.  I get that you're vaguely including the Big Momma that is so obvious in millenia of agricultural societies.  And also, I suppose the many forms of belief that include many gods.  But if you're really talking in such broad terms, your language doesn't really reflect it.  Or do you just see your religion as a more evolved form than the ancients praying to some fertility momma figure for a good harvest?

          That most of these early models aren't very good is beside the point.
           And in that are you also leaving, say, the Hindus and Buddhists as those hanging on less evolved 'not very good' forms?  Maybe I should just stay out of it here but there is just an undercurrent in what you're saying that I keep finding uncomfortable.

           There is something distinctly evangelical in your entire thing here.  

          From religion comes the principle of equal dignity for all.
           Yes, that's a good idea.  But one that most religions are all failing at in so many ways.  And it's also an idea that can be arrived at through practical humanistic thinking.  

          On one hand you're talking about Understanding and openness.  On the other, you seem to imply that people cannot arrive at the good without your god.  

          When the truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

          by Sun dog on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:44:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  in the Abrahamic traditions, which... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pvasileff, Paul Rogers, dirkster42

            .... are central to Western culture that in turn developed the scientific method as such, the deity is described as male.  God the Father, He this that and the other thing, etc.   Robert's language is reflecting that, not endorsing it.  In fact he's a pretty hardcore rationalist (see also his other diaries).  

            Yes, one can get to universal good will, etc., via humanism.  But that's not what actually happened in the actual history of Western cultures.

            Even where a philosophy does not presuppose a bunch of "stuff" about deities and hereafters, that "stuff" tends to accrete to it over time.  The Buddha said on more than one occasion, that he was not concerned with deities and hereafters, only with compassion and enlightenment in the "here & now," that is to say, "this world" as opposed to "the next world" or some other "other-world."  

            Yet, what actually happened in history?

            The Buddha's actual original philosophy got syncretized with various local and tribal religions throughout Asia, to the point where it sprouted numerous deities big and small, and branches that emphasized devotional and ritual practices similar to those in other religions, and so on.  

            So even though he sought to avoid all that stuff, it got attached to him over the course of time.

            Bottom line is, and it's well-supported by findings in neurophysiology, the majority of humans have a propensity to personalize their understanding of the universe in various ways, and the most popular of those across all times and places, is in the form of deities singular and plural.  

            Further, various forms of monarchic and oligarchic political systems have utilized their local theologies to cement their own power (e.g. the divine right of kings, the Inquisition, etc.), this to the extent of banning all other forms of belief.  This put non-theistic belief systems at a severe disadvantage throughout most of human history.

            It has only been since the Enlightenment period of the late 1700s, that the idea of atheism: the positive disbelief in the existence of deities; has been "tolerated" in societies, and eventually (only in the last 50 or so years) supported via legislation and court decisions affirming the rights of atheists.

            This in turn set the stage for the truly secular forms of humanism and suchlike to begin to grow, unimpeded, and advance various moral and ethical propositions on grounds other than with reference to a deity.  That history is truly recent, and we're just beginning to see its effects.  

            "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

            by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 02:01:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes (0+ / 0-)
              the majority of humans have a propensity to personalize their understanding of the universe in various ways, and the most popular of those across all times and places, is in the form of deities singular and plural.  
              Maybe I'm wrong but you write this as though you're correcting me.  But that's pretty much what I was saying.  It's this assumed superiority of the current apparition that I find problematic.  It's comes off as preachy, not scientific.  

               

              in the Abrahamic traditions, which are central to Western culture that in turn developed the scientific method as such,

              It's indulgent to imply cause and effect there.  While much of modern science has been developed within the Judeo-Christian world, we've also seen that much of that development has at times come in spite of the keepers of religion.  That fact seems to be shrugged off in the perspective of this discussion even while religious thinking itself is given credit for leading to scientific thinking.  

              When the truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

              by Sun dog on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:44:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  no, i'm not "correcting you".... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sun dog, dirkster42

                When I post comments I'm keeping in mind that there may be other readers who don't have the background that the person I'm replying to does.   Though it's also possible that I could screw that up in various ways, so it comes across wrong.

                Yes, much of scientific development has come in spite of the influences of religion, and I find it majorly objectionable when religious institutions use political power and sometimes physical coercion to enforce their worldview upon entire societies.  The whole series of debacles from Galileo to Darwin and beyond, are examples of that type.  

                What happens when extremists seek to politicize religion and impose it on others as a form of domination, is that they backfire on themselves spectacularly.  I never had much of an objection to "In God We Trust" on our coinage, or "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, but if someone is going to attempt to clobber me over the head with that, to demonstrate their power and to promote an entire theocratic agenda, they have another thing coming.

                What Robert is attempting to do here, is to seek out the best people on all sides of these issues, and get them to sit down and make peace, and seek common ground, and work for that.  That does not include the religious right at the peace table (dominionists etc.), but it does include the progressive religious, of whom there are very many.  

                Robert was a working physicist (now retired), with impeccable scientific credentials.  After retiring from academia he devoted himself to working for human rights, having come to that issue via rationalist philosophy.  In that way he's a complimentary counterpart to Jimmy Carter, who came to human rights via religion.  

                We need people like that sitting down to work out the common ground of ethics that all can agree on, and work for together.  That's the whole point of the exercise.   And it begins by holding out the olive branch and saying, in effect, "I recognize that you have something of value to bring to this."

                "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:27:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Just the opposite has been true throughout history (0+ / 0-)

          I am glad for you that your version of religion works so well for you and can make all things wise and wonderful and that you see it as a guiding principle of equality for all.

          However, the exact opposite has been true.  The Mormon religion, for a recent example, has taught until 1978 that the dark skinned races were cursed by their god and that the dark skin is a symbol of that curse.  The Christian bible has innumerable examples of cruelty to those who do not follow a particular practice.  It is filled with acts of violence.

          Religion quickly devolves into hierarchy with the purpose of some gaining power over others.  Regrettably, I fear your version of religion is a fairy tale.

          It's squirrels in my attic that I live-trap and relocate. The bats in my belfry, I fear, are permanent residents.

          by pvasileff on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:28:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  ...... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert Fuller, adrianrf, pvasileff

    (1) the idea of god

    In other words, the model of an absolute ruler who permits those under him to suffer when by a trivial effort, he could end that suffering.

    (2) the golden rule

    In other words, forcing your tastes on others and assuming that you set the standard for all of humanity. The "negative" golden rule, as set forth by Confucius and a number of others, is far better: do not do to others what you would not have done to yourself. Sources of pain are far easier to generalize about than sources of pleasure.

     (3) a vision of universal human dignity.

    The equality of slaves under an absolute, all-powerful master is not something to celebrate.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:50:17 PM PDT

    •  take two negatives and call me in the morning... (0+ / 0-)

      You've missed what Robert has been saying throughout all of his diaries here.  

      1)  The idea of a lawful and consistent deity was historically essential for the development of a scientific worldview.  

      Cultures whose deities were arbitrary, capricious, and self-contradictory, did not develop science.  But the belief in a lawful and consistent deity leads directly to the belief that the universe ("created by" that deity) is itself lawful and consistent, and thus can be understood by humans who use consistent reasoning.

      Here we are arguing based on what actually happened in history, not based on "what we wish had happened."  Really: arguing over wishes that deny actual history, is a pointless exercise (angels dancing on the head of a pin, anyone?).  

      (See also: the Romans developed steam powered twirlie-whirlies but never figured out that steam could be used for anything practical.  Centuries later, European inventors applied steam to mechanical tasks.  What changed was the nature of their understanding of the universe.)

      2)  The Golden Rule:  

      "The brown dog did not chase the red ball."   What did you picture in your mind when you read that?   For the vast majority of humans, there will be a red ball somewhere in the picture, inserted there by the use of the definite article "the," despite the logical negative "not."  This because the human brain does not do negatives particularly well.  

      (For example if I'm looking for my keys and I see what looks like a large spider run across the table, but the spider is an optical artifact, I'm more likely to recognize its true ontological status, than if I fail to see the keys that are sitting in plain view.  The former is an illusion or hallucination, but the latter is as well, and for this we use the term "negative hallucination," failing to perceive an object that is plainly present.  These are actually very common, but not generally recognized.)  

      "The brown dog barked at the squirrels in the tree."  There's no red ball in that picture, just as there was no squirrel in the first picture.   Did you even think of a squirrel in the first picture?  

      So it follows that humans tend state their more complex moral injunctions in positives, and reserve negatives for the simple ones:  "Thou shalt not murder" or "Flammable materials: No smoking!" are simple injunctions because the sentence structures are straightforward and they pertain to overt behaviors.  "Do unto others..." is cognitively complex because it reverses the subject/predicate order twice, as well as requiring that the individual attempt to understand what is going on in the mind of the other person.  

      The formulation "Do not unto others as you would have them do not unto you," fails on that basis, because it adds additional complexity:  it utilizes two logical negatives and requires the individual to grasp both a generalized logical negative applied to themselves, and another in the minds of others.  Smarty-pantses such as ourselves who hang out with other smarty-pantses, might have an easy time grasping that one, but I can assure you that the vast majority of humans over the course of history would not understand it, much less be able to act on it.  

      In any case, the "do unto others" formulation, by requiring an act of empathy in the form of seeking to understand the mind of the other person, reinforces the implied positive injunction in favor of empathy, rather than muddying those waters with logical negatives.

      3)  I see you have no objection to a vision of universal human dignity.  So in the end we all end up in roughly the same place, though via different routes:  respect for the core natural rights of all persons, beginning with recognition that they are indeed persons rather than objects.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 02:32:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They'll probably be in conflict forever. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, dirkster42

    Hopefully, religion can find some way to service society that is complementary to scientific organizations, instead of in conflict with them.  I do not share such an optimistic viewpoint, but I am nothing if not open to the idea that such a reform could occur.

    Generally, every institution's first duty is to preserve its own existence.  When science gives us answers to big questions where religions have classically given other answers, that sets the two fields in direct conflict with one another.

    That is why figures such as Galileo, Darwin, and the like, who answer big questions in a rational way with objective evidence (as opposed to personal revelations of divine knowledge) tend to be so controversial.  Their ideas brushed up into the domains where only religion claimed to have answers previously.

    That is not to say that religious organizations (even those who had conflicting answers before) are always in opposition to such figures and such ideas.  Many notable religious thinkers and leaders have expressed sentiments of the sort that if a truth is arrived at via thoughtful, careful study and analysis of available information, then that idea cannot possibly be heretical.

    Just generally, the way these things work is that when science dares to question religious answers, religious institutions respond by denouncing the science as heretical.  The two institutions have been at each others' throats in this way for a while.

    Both science and religion are human-created institutions.  I do agree that if religion is going to survive as a positive influence in society, then it must stop making statements or claims that disagree with scientific findings.  Such institutions must stop insisting that they have any sort of claim on literal truth.

    The days of a logical young Earth viewpoint are long gone and they will never return unless we abandon science.  It amazes me every time I meet someone who wants to abolish scientific thought for this reason.  This seems to be the dominant viewpoint of religious institutions.

    That is the reason I do not think that religious institutions can stop fighting with science and instead get along with it.  Particular individuals might be able to reconcile both, but I think the general consensus of the leadership of both groups will always be in conflict.

    Of course, it's always been a part of human nature that we pick a tribe and fight bitterly with those not in our own tribe.  My tribe (the science one) will just simply give us all better toys to play with and better weapons to fight with.

    •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers

      You said it much better than I.

      It's squirrels in my attic that I live-trap and relocate. The bats in my belfry, I fear, are permanent residents.

      by pvasileff on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:53:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is oversimplified (0+ / 0-)

      to the point of counterfactual

      This seems to be the dominant viewpoint of religious institutions.

      That is the reason I do not think that religious institutions can stop fighting with science and instead get along with it.  Particular individuals might be able to reconcile both, but I think the general consensus of the leadership of both groups will always be in conflict.

      Historically, it always goes back and forth.  There's a presumed historical linearity that just doesn't match up to facts in your comment.

      The institutional consensus of all the mainstream churches in the mid-twentieth-century were affirmative of science, it was only with the evangelical backlash of the 1970s-1980s, which changed the religious landscape of the country, that we returned to a fundamental religion/science divide in the U.S.

      In the early 19th-century, the dominance of natural theology meant that a lot of scientific enquiry was actively encouraged by theologians and churches, Darwinism represented a crisis within an established congruence of religion and science, and again, by the end of the century, most churches had come to some level of acceptance of evolution, the reassertion of creationism in a narrow sense was a backlash, not a continuation of where the churches were.

      Cultural and religious history doesn't have a linear progression, the way that the steady falsification of theories in science does (and the extent to which scientific progress is linear is debatable as well).

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:59:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I applaud this concept, but... (0+ / 0-)

    ...I don't see the word "scripture" in the diary.

    I believe that our troubles are caused by religions which adhere to the concept that truth can be found only in written scripture. They believe that human beings are fundamentally flawed and that the fruits of human discovery are inherently untrustworthy.

    Have you noticed that the American fundamentalists who insist on strict and literal interpretation of the Bible, also tend to be "strict constructionists" regarding the U.S. Constitution? Their faith in the immutable written word is that complete.

    Whether they believe in literal interpretation the Bible, Koran, Torah, Vedas, or Sutras, fundamentalists will always be antagonistic toward the "acquired" truths of the scientific method.

    We can try to find common ground with them by saying that Moses the Lawgiver planted the seed for concept of natural law (although Plato has a better claim to that honor). But the fundamentalist will ultimately insist that Moses received his law direct from the hand of God, not from hypothesis and experiment.

    I'm not convinced that this gap can ever be bridged.

    However, fundamentalists thrive in times of rapid change, when a portion of the population cannot keep up and falls prey to the simple certainties of scriptural truth. And all too often, religious strife is just a symptom of ethnic or economic competition.

    In the end, winning hearts and minds simply comes down to a matter of people choosing penicillin over prayer. Make sure enough people have access to the benefits of science, and fundamentalism will wither.

    I like to say that if you seek truth in the Bible, you'll miss the wisdom. In every culture, there are religious liberals who trust science to deliver truth, yet still turn to their religious traditions for wisdom embodied in myth, parable, and allegory.

    Antibiotics can cure an infection, but prayer can mend a broken heart. Religious liberals have a place for both in their lives, and we need to hear more of their voices in public discourse.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:51:51 PM PDT

  •  Christ, that's funny. (0+ / 0-)

    God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the late Christopher Hitchens—

    Fuck Big Brother...from now on, WE'RE watching.

    by franklyn on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 08:27:05 AM PST

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