Nicole Small

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Should Science be Considered a Religion?

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  • Aug 30 2012: Science should be practiced "reliiously" but not be a "religion" in and of itself. Science is reason, religion is yielding of reason to prescibed dogma.
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      Aug 31 2012: I don't believe our concept of Science or Religion should ever reach a dogma where one consumes the other. We don't exist where absolutes exist(if there is such a place) but have much utility of definitions where appropriate. Keep an open mind my friends. Change is the only constant and cultivating a mindset to nurture our lives in this state of flux I deem very appropriate
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    Aug 29 2012: Thank you to everyone for participating in this discussion. I knew it would "stir the pot," but I wasn't quite prepared for the volume of passionate arguements. This forced me to "defend" a proposal that I didn't fully agree with in the first place (a good learning experience for myself.) When someone asks what my "religion" is, I do say that I believe in Science, however, that is often the only way to word it when you want to express such a firm position to a "religious" person. From experience, I've received better reactions from CHRISTIANS when I refer to Science as my "religion." They typically recognize the word "religion" as a set of beliefs. It's an easy word for them to comprehend. I think that what I learned from this is that most of us HERE believe that Science is not a religion; not just because religion is theological, but also because science isn't a belief at all. Science is a tool. It only APPEARS to be "branching" away from "classical" thinking like theology and philosophy. In reality, though, it's still moving "forward" and "pointing" towards an "ultimate" goal, which would be to discover the meaning of life, the universe and everything. I hope this gave everyone a chance to explore more introspectively and discover something new about themselves.
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      Aug 29 2012: Interesting discussion. Im not surprised some religious people like to equate scince with religion. Do you wonder why?
  • Dan F

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    Aug 28 2012: Nicole, here are my thoughts,

    Science is not religion. The closest similarity is that both appeal to a wide variety of people, which in turn often bring about close friendships or connections that reinforce one another's involvement. Both have recognized scholars. One more similarity - they both address questions involving the HOWS AND WHYS of reality.

    I am a naturalist to the bone. You may detect some bias in my quick list below as to how they differ.

    Religion: Does not wander far from what is considered sacred, or central to the faith
    Science: Wide open to anything that can be physically examined and tested.

    Religion: Commitment, authority and dogma
    Science: Empirical knowledge, discovery, application

    World view:
    Religion: Varies around the world
    Science: Universal methodology and recognition

    Religion: Control
    Science: Application, understanding

    Religion: Theocracies to minor roles, but overall big cultural influence with nice stimulating tax benefits.
    Science: Modern era take off with profound expanding role generally.

    Religion: Promises
    Science: No promises

    Detractive elements:
    Religion: Exploiting individuals, etc.
    Science: Environmentally costly commercial application of science technology driven by financial gain, etc.

    Religion: Faith and acceptance
    Science: Curiosity and perspective

    What do you think?
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      Aug 28 2012: Interesting perspective. I agree there are more differences that relevant similarities.
  • Aug 26 2012: Wow, doesn't look like a whole lot of scientists are posting here. There are a LOT of misconceptions about science. First, science doesn't 'say' anything about anything. Science is a process, a methodology. We have many theories that say what we believe to be the way the universe works, but those are just theories. You have to keep in mind that they are wrong. All of them. Not some, all. That's a hard concept for a lot of people to wrap their mind around, but it is in fact true. Now, many of our theories are very good at predicting things. They are generally much better than theories we had decades ago, or centuries ago, or millennia ago. But they are still just theories. Literally every scientific theory will be improved upon at some point in the future, assuming we survive long enough. So, if you want to discuss the biggest difference between religion and science, it is right there.

    Religion purports to tell us facts about existence, about philosophy, and about how we should live our lives. When religion is at it's best, it is acting as a guide for us, helping us to reduce the amount of harm we do to each other and to the world. When it is at its worst, it is telling us how things came to be, and giving us 'laws', complete with punishments that we will suffer if we disobey. At its very worst, religion makes the claim that we already know the answers to the most important questions in the universe.

    Science simply acknowledges that we know very little, but that we have the capacity to learn, to understand. It provides a methodology for discovering more and more about the universe, and finding out where our previous 'best theories' are incorrect. Nothing is ever proven true in science. We only prove things false, and hopefully find new theories that are harder to prove false.
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      Aug 26 2012: Just to say, because a theory can be improved or that extra detail can be added to it doesn't make it wrong. Such as germ theory, we may discover that a certain protein causes illness A but it doesn't change the fact that pathogen B had the protein inside it hence causing infection.
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    Aug 20 2012: It's certainly not a debate worth getting upset about. One's position depends entirely on how you define religion and that's not a very clear subject. Most definitions say that it is often associated with supernatural origins of the world and moral codes, but neither is absolutely necessary.

    There is no doubt that science fulfills many of the roles that religions typically would have, most obviously, explaining natural phenomena who's cause mystified us. Another facet of science that it shares to some degree with religion is the awe it can inspire. I consider the clearest demonstration of this to be religious people watching nature documentaries and considering the immense beauty to be a confirmation of their belief, despite the documentaries being explicitly naturalistic. Finally though science does not generate divine moral codes, it does inform us about our behaviour and the origins for our morality, and through game theory we can see how best to structure codes.

    If science is to be considered a religion however, it must be recognized as a very special religion. One that describes the universe with objectivity, instead of a projecting our nature on to nature.

    It's not surprising that the question was met with hostility. On the one hand there are atheists who are sick of hearing that atheism is a religion, quite understandably, and consider this suggestion to be a hostile one. On the other hand there are those who would rather we keep discussions of religion and science separate, as non-overlapping magesteria, perhaps because of their own religious views or because they see the conflict as being unhelpful for the advancement of science. I have some sympathy for these concerns, but I think that a lot of religion does overlap with science, for unlike religion science is quite well defined, and a young-earth creationist has necessarily entered its domain.

    There's not much to gained from arguing terminology, I think we can all agree that science is awesome.
  • Aug 20 2012: Somehow I thought the key word in your question was 'considered.' Specifically, could someone who was looking at science from the outside, someone who lacks a good understanding of the true nature of science, could such a person consider science to be a religion.

    It is clear that some religious people attack science (or people who rely on science), by saying that science is a religion, or that scientists consider science a replacement for religion. I do not take these attacks very seriously because the attacker is either ignorant or is disingenuous and appealing to emotions rather than reason.

    I think it would be entirely possible for someone to get the impression that science is a system of beliefs, and is very similar to a religion. Some religious people bring up their children to believe that everything they need to know and understand is in the Bible or the Quran. These people often consider science to be evil. Their children might get the impression that science is an evil religion.

    Then there are people like Nicole. "My beliefs lie in Science, yet I'm not supposed to call it my religion. I'm trying hard to make sense of this." This use of the word 'religion' fits the fourth definition of the term in my dictionary. I am certain that Nicole is not the first or last person to call Science their religion. Personally, I do not find this offensive or unintelligent. I can understand why Nicole is having a hard time making sense of this conversation.

    It is clear that some people who believe in science find it very upsetting to have this belief called a religion. People who consider most or all religions to be fictitious myths that undermine the scientific approach to truth, would not want science to be lumped together with religions.

    I believe in the scientific approach to truth. I also believe science has its limits, and is incapable of discovering the whole truth.

    If Nicole wants to say that science is her religion, I have no problem with that.
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      Aug 21 2012: Some words have many meanings.
      God for example.
      We are pretty flexible with how we use words.

      Sometimes there might be more or less accurate ways of describing or conveying what you mean to others.

      Perhaps when Nicole says Science is her religion it infers exactly the type of vague meaning she wants to most people

      Maybe she means that her world view is based on science. Or maybe as you point out that Science is something she pursues with religious Zeal.

      I guess we can call science whatever we like. It mighty not mean the same thing to all of us. But maybe calling Science a religion could mean a lot of things or confuse people.

      The opening statement is gone now. Maybe that helped explained what she meant.

      Saying Science is my religion is open to a lot of speculation.
      • Aug 21 2012: I agree Obey.

        Different people will have slightly different meanings for words, as I did with the word 'considered.'

        I have heard other people use this expression before, and I found it confusing. I think this is the first time I took the time to give it some good thought. I still do not feel completely comfortable with the expression, but when I try to see it from Nicole's viewpoint, it makes sense.

        Perhaps we could find a different way to express this same idea, without using the word religion. I often find it difficult to speak of people who rely on science as their approach to understanding reality and to solving problems. Do you know of a term or phrase that might be a good substitute? Perhaps we could describe ourselves as science advocates.

        Nicole, would you be comfortable with an alternative expression?
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    Aug 30 2012: I think of Science and Religion as long lost brothers, who having never been so close before, are blind to their relation and more capable of said madness than reconciliation as the blindness persists. Science may be blind to things not privy to empirical analysis while Religion is blind to processes and claims it can "skip" empirical analysis all in the name of Truth. It's not an exercise of futility to attempt what appears at first glance, as evidenced by Brett, to be a definitive wording of intangible things when it's realistic purpose is to prompt questions demanding higher understanding of the individual experience. Greater practical use and utility for mutual concern are the fruits of intellectual labor. Religions propose a battle between good and evil, enlightenment and ignorance, etc. With stories some act of treason to begin that fight. For me, the importance lies in the allusion to a state of mind before "good and evil" of an intellectual soveriegnty. The word God and past conceptions of absolutes does no justice to the understanding posterity may enjoy if those in the present can fearlessly face our own hinderances to inquiring on "God", "Time", "Reality" etc. Can Reason and conjurings of words one day enlighten us to the most utility of a given environment? Can a mutual acknowledgement of and sense of identification with the whole consummate the realization and expression of the individual? I like to think so...
  • Aug 30 2012: I try to stay away from intellectual sovereignty as much as possible -- that way lies madness. To me it makes more sense to focus on utility. (I can get away with this, because science lays no claim to the "Truth", only to models of the world that make accurate predictions.)

    Nonetheless we legitimately get into questions like those you pose because uncovering internal contradictions and fundamental disagreements with observations are some of the primary ways we find out that we need better models. (Disagreement with scripture, however, does not count against an otherwise useful theory.)

    Its a bit easier on the imagination to run evolution backwards to the first biochemical reactions than it is to get one's mind around "what happened before time began?" That very questions occupies the best minds in Cosmology and remains a subject of intense debate. My limited understanding of the current trend is that our notion of time is mostly an illusion. There was no beginning, nor will there be an end, and so there is no way to ask the question "what was there before time began?"
    • Aug 30 2012: There was no beginning, nor will there be an end, and so there is no way to ask the question "what was there before time began?"
      I can't disagree with that concept, it is often difficult to allow for that which seems impossible to understand to just be. So all too often we invent answers to help us sleep at night secure in our knowledge. And that type of thinking is only a problem if one is inflexible in their willingness to revisit said knowledge.
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    Aug 28 2012: I haven't had time to read everyone's posts. I wish not to digress, however, perhaps we should approach this in terms of whether religion is a science. A science in terms of observation, the past as the experiment, gather data from history, and draw conclusions. We should keep in mind religious founders/prophets were not megalomaniacal control freaks but sought to answer questions of existential importance their countrymen looked to them for probably because they were the most intelligent and knowledgeable at that time. We can go through the vast list of atrocities that have arose with the advent of religion but I like to focus on the benefits a concept of the higher power has brought us.
    We are all familiar with the question, if a tree falls in the woods and noone is there to hear it, Does it make a sound? Most of us would answer of course because we understand what sound is and how it travels. The prophet of yore had no knowledge of acoustics much less the vocabulary in his native language to express such knowledge so it passes into the realm of "God makes it so, have faith" or Dhamma. Whether it's looked at as righteousness or a quest to end suffering, the concept of the higher power gave our ancestors the means to a code of behavior that allows for the cultivation of such knowledge. Sure, people have used great messages for evil means and control but to say that's all it's for is crazy. The death of culture and higher ideals are a real thing especially to cultures of antiquity. Presently, there is a disconnect between Scientific Reasoning and Reigious Values that are in need of reconciliation so we can all uplift eachother into the next great step of human acheivement.
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      Aug 28 2012: Unlike some other people, I can tell that you are looking at this thought logically and without the visor of emotion covering your eyes. When I postulated the idea, I wasn't prepared for the outcome. I'm accustomed to receiving that sort of passionate response from Christians, but not Science-minded people (many of whom claim to have no beliefs beyond what they can experience-Atheists.) Atheism, in a sense, could be refusal to believe in the mechanics of the quantum (unseen) world. The mechanics of the quantum world (now, more than ever with new discoveries) allow for possibilities like space and time travel, multiple dimensions, extraterrestrial contact, A.I., replicators (molecular assemblers,) man-made gravity fields and weather-control. I believe that some day we'll design a way to transfer conscious thoughts through biologically-based man-made brain tissue patched to the brain that acts as transmitters and receivers for brain waves between others who possess the same technology. If a killer could telepathically feel/experience the pain and fear their victims experience, this may deter violent crime. It would be like a technological improvement on the psychological theories explored in A Clockwork Orange- forced empathy. In addition, having telepathic abilities could lead to an asexual race. If we could read our partners' thoughts, we'd all have strong feelings about how others see us. You may discover that your partner isn't as interested as you are, you could see who they actually are attracted to, etc. To avoid the pain of rejection without being forced to give up the new technology, humans would decide to use the tools we already possess now and procreate in labs without the need for emotions. I know this all sounds like far-fetched Science Fiction, but there are A LOT of Science Fiction ideas of the past that are now mass-produced in factories. Why shouldn't we believe that even more of that is possible?
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        Aug 28 2012: Thanks. I try to imagine I was sitting at a table with the Super Best Friends(various religion figures) with a empathetic view. You can imagine some futuristic stuff. We have to be extremely careful with potentially destructive technologies and assess/contain to the best of our abilities the greater evils that mutually arise with greater innovation.
        • Aug 29 2012: @Justin -- I'm responding to your post below ( limits reply levels). I suspect my reply will not surprise you: Activating dogma eliminates the possibility of reasonable discourse. Now, it is certainly possible to have reasonable discourse with a Yankees fan, just not about the Yankees.

          If find it ironic/tragic when science-minded folks act like Yankees fans in a debate like this one. Furthermore, do so isn't going to help alleviate religious-minded anxieties about scientific progress, nor science-minded anxieties about religious influence on public policy.

          I liked your term "empathetic view" -- participating with empathy is the only way to learn something, especially about what that crazy person across the table might be trying to say. Dogma has to be at least temporarily set aside in order to achieve that kind of empathy.
      • Aug 29 2012: The science-minded all too often fall into the same sort of dogmatic, idealogical positions that they argue against. When that happens, Reason is kidnapped and replaced with its evil twin, Rationalization.

        Maybe human nature demands that we align with sides and present opposition. Maybe its simply because you posed this question in the "Debate" section of the site.

        In any case, It is certainly ironic, if not downright tragic, to see people who claim to uphold the highest qualities of science -- skepticism, objectivity, reason, willingness to go where the evidence leads -- crippled by dogma. We need to do better.
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          Aug 29 2012: I wish people could express opinions better, myself included. Ideas expressed with word through Religion and Science are ultimately void of the absolute answers we believe they may reveal to and apply to all. What is ironic? What is tragic? Both may be a rationalization through generalization present in my own and Charles posts of which I would like to neutralize. I agree we do need to do better and 3 days is enough time to shed more light upon the question posed. What elements of Dogma cripple obeiscance to the highest qualities of Science? I don't ask in the spirit of attacking Charles. Rather I ask in the spirit of Reason and a belief of the "better" I, for one, believe reasonable discourse possesses.
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          Aug 29 2012: Great! Hey let me run this by you. A question I recently asked an atheist friend. Maybe Science/Reason creates it's own problems like the ones you propose as well.
          If there was, in fact, empirical knowledge throughout history to the beginning of Time, how can logic of evolution and/or atheism claim any intellectual sovereignty, when faced with a point in time where there is nothing to change from, nothing to attribute any distinction to/from, without identifying/acknowledging an entity of emergent transcendence...God?
        • Aug 30 2012: Justin, just because you can't explain things, doesn't mean a deity is responsible. Explain the beginning of time? Believing in a god no more explains what happened before time, than science or atheism could/couldn't. Not understanding something is no reason to invent answers, even if one is unlikely to ever comprehend. Religion says, yep, got an answer for it. Science says, perhaps one day we will know. Atheism simply doesn't believe religion and may or may not believe science, Atheists are fickle like that. No dilemma for either science or Atheists. Plenty of dilemmas for Religion as the evident nature of our universe is being discovered.
  • Aug 26 2012: Science should not be considered a religion,

    Because, in the USA, if science is a religion, then the government cannot fund science in any way, and science cannot be taught in our schools.

    There are many ways of approaching this question, and one way is to consider its consequences.
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      Aug 26 2012: That's because the country is owned by Christians, essentially. They're the ones in control of virtually every aspect of our freedoms. Each government is controlled by a religion. Some are the same, some are vastly different and some are rather "neutral." I think you're right in saying that under religious (Christian) rule, this question appears silly. What I'm suggesting is that beliefs follow a clear path:
      self-awareness, theology, philosophy, theory and the hopeful outcome is the fact. I don't see Science as diverging from this path, since the goal is the same. Science is the process we use to find the truth (it's in the same "neighborhood" as theory, but just a bit closer by providing proof.) Truth is the "crowning achievement" of all of the steps that were necessary in it's discovery.
      • Sep 1 2012: Nicole, I think you bring up some very interesting points. I would really like to like to examine your path that beliefs follow. "Self-awareness, theology, philosophy, theory, and the hopeful outcome is fact" is one way of thinking of it. Do you believe that these are somehow progressive? As if one "evolves" into the next? If that is what you are implying, I must disagree with your path. I am not sure that science can full uncover all truth in the world. It can certainly discover all scientific truth, but there are many areas which science cannot really comment on. Issues such as the meaning of life or morality are examples. These sort of areas are very important to humanity, but science is cannot really give a definite "truth" on these matters. Theology and Philosophy do have their places in society. They are different than Science's truth, but they still are valuable. Not only that, the two are not antagonistic to each other. It is possible to be religious and also a respectable member of the scientific community. It is not a frequently expressed idea, but Francis S. Collins, a leader in the Human Genome project, is both a Christian and a scientist.(
  • Aug 25 2012: Charles Ames, I must disagree with you about the definition of religion. The definition may be stable over time, but it varies a great deal from source to source. A number of definitions have been presented in the course of this conversation, and it appears to me that "religion" is one of the most ambiguous words in the English language. This ambiguity is magnified by small groups who claim to be a religion with no regard for the definition. Your point about connotations is displayed again and again throughout this conversation. Another point of controversy is the value placed on religion. Some consider all religions as harmful institutions that spread lies. Others think that religion is the only path to truth and that science is not worthy to be called a religion.

    I am beginning to think that the term "religion" is so ambiguous that writing "science is a religion" is a meaningless statement. Its interpretation by the reader is unpredictable.
    • Aug 25 2012: I believe someone has gone a little over board on the deconstructionism route here, though I don't blame you. The term "religion" is ambiguous because there hasn't been a clearly established and agreed upon definition of religion. That being said religion does have a meaning. Which definition of religion is the real question here. Otherwise, your post here would also be "ambiguous" as you used religion 6 times without quotation marks. If the question above is ambiguous then so is your argument.
    • Aug 25 2012: 'writing "science is a religion" is a meaningless statement'

      But if that's true, then wouldn't "science is not a religion" be equally meaningless?

      I think this conversation is worth having precisely because of the ambiguity you point out.
  • Aug 24 2012: I'd like to think not, but science can form a very strong core belief in many people, to the point of refusal in accepting any other way of thinking.

    Because it's important to protect such core beliefs in order to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, that belief system will ignore and even deny anything that does not fit in with it. Even though the human brain is capable of a greater breadth of thinking styles than singular beliefs.

    I have seen here in these conversations on TED, many people who express a particular way of thinking that has dared to go against the scientific method and have been clubbed over the head by an atheistic 'blunt instrument' for their troubles.

    That seems to me to be punishment meted out to the blasphemous. Is that not what they do in many religions?
  • Aug 22 2012: I heard this somewhere and it is interesting to consider:

    Religion: Acceptance without proof
    Science: Rejection without proof

    People can argue about what constitutes proof however and that definition is also something that is a fundamental difference between the two.
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      • Aug 22 2012: Didn't say it was worthy of mindless rejection. Simply that, to a scientist, knowledge isn't knowledge until it "can" be scientifically verified (proven) at that time. Religion, on the other hand, needs a different form of proof to accept something as fact. A form of proof that science does not support.
      • Aug 23 2012: Acceptance without proof

        Please sir do not go into the woods at night there is a magic dragon in there and it will surely kill you.

        So he lived the rest of his life in fear of the magical dragon in the woods.

        Science isn't the ignorance of the word of others. It's simply the need of an individual to see something for themselves rather than to simply take the word of others as truth. Doesn't mean they won't consider the existence of the dragon as a possibility and act cautiously around the subject but they will expect some kind of proof.

        E.g. How do you know there is a dragon if it will surely kill you if you see it? Who has been killed in the past? Does it have to be a dragon or could it be something else? etc. and that's before ever trying to directly see the dragon.
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    Aug 22 2012: I think anything we devote ourselves to can be called a religion. Just look at how we automatically say "It's The Law" yet really whose law? God's law? Some billionaires law? Yet we follow it often unquestionably.
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    Aug 21 2012: Nothing should be a religion. The truth is what everyone should actively seek and defend. Anything that can not be proven causes stress and division between humans, so believing in something like that is pointless and diminishing. The truth, which science strives to find, is the only real end to what humans seek but it is humans that hide the findings of science from each other for what they perceive as personal gains and the ability to try and shape the direction of the world.
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      Aug 22 2012: B Bevill :

      You talk as if religion is not about seeking and defending the truth . Many religious person can tell you this is not true , I'm one and that just don't happens .
      Not anything that cannot be proven cause stress and divisions between humans , I mean this should be obvious , but even if it cause it doesn't mean that believing in something like that is pointless and diminishing --- it could be the inner content of that which has value . You judge now the thing only after its effects , you should also consider the thing itself . That's why I don't agree with your judgement .
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    Aug 21 2012: If a religion refers to a system of beliefs held with faith, in some extent science could be considered as a religion. Generally speaking, all religions are different theories, and science is just another theory for us to look at the world, especially on the issue about where we are from and who created us.
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      Gail .

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      Aug 21 2012: Science is not a system of beliefs held with faith. Science is not a theory. Science offers theories, and those theories change as evidence is discovered. Religions do not search for truth. They proclaim it and rely on faith (absence of evidence) to support their proclamations.
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        Aug 21 2012: Science do not have any theory on the issue about where we are from and who created us ....... religion has , then how do you know religion is not searching for the truth ?
        • Aug 21 2012: If you already know the answer, do you continue to look for it?
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          Aug 21 2012: If there is but one truth (as in theology), then theo/god has done all, and then there is no science and no need to insult science by calling science a religion.

          Humans do not need gods, they do not need to seek gods, they do not need to justify anything with any kind of gods. Humans that fear the unknown seek a godma/dogma to answer questions that they do not have the will/strength to seek their own answers.

          Regurgitation of godma is never faith, it is fear.
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        Aug 22 2012: Brett :

        ''If you already know the answer, do you continue to look for it?''

        It's not about this , we as human beings can't have THE ANSWER ( with a total , absolute meaning ) , we have only answers . Even if we believe something is THE ANSWER , we can perceive it only as an answer .
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        Aug 22 2012: Adelo :

        If there is but one truth , it could mean god has done all but it doesn't mean that there is not science ; for us there is science , for god the truth .
        So more properly would be : there is not need to insult religion by calling it a science .

        According to your first phrase , if there is but one truth....... then human beings need god , right ?
        If this need takes the form of explanation/justification , it is a different thing .

        Yes , there are people who fear the unknown and believe in god because of it (and not only ) , I'm not one of them , so I ignore it .
    • Aug 22 2012: The issues about where we come from and such in science are not beliefs, but results. That is very different to religions, and thus even there science is not at all like religion which tries and sells you imaginary origins and gods responsible for such origins. Science starts by asking questions, and trying to answer them by evidence. Quite the difference. So no. Explaining origins does not make science a religion.
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        Aug 22 2012: Explaining origins does make religion a science ---- until then it is only an assumption to say that what religion 'sells' is fantasy .
        • Aug 23 2012: Nope, "explaining" origins does not make anything a science unless you arrive at such explanations by the scientific method(s). religions don't start with a question, gather evidence, then conclude about origins. Religions sell you myths about such origins as imagined by different peoples. This is no assumption but a logical conclusion.
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        Aug 23 2012: It still is an assumption as long as you can't verify if what the religious persons claim about origins is true or not , it could be true . As long as you can't verify anything , of course you can only imagine but even so it is too much to say that what those people claimed are myths .

        "explaining" origins does not make anything a science unless you arrive at such explanations by the scientific method(s)." this is what I actually said myself .
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      Gail .

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      Aug 22 2012: Here is a video that will explain it calmly, rationally, and clearly.
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        Aug 22 2012: Yes , yes, we understand that science is not a belief held with faith .... so what ? does it mean that religion do not search for truth ? Obviously not , I mean you can have faith in a true thing .
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          Gail .

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          Aug 22 2012: My mind is open. Please convince me. Show me what YOUR religion has done to contribute to science in the last 10 years. Perhaps all the fake-science sites have left me with a mistaken view.
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        Aug 22 2012: I'm not sure why you're asking me that question , because I said that religion is searching for truth ? But a thing to be for the truth do not have necessarily to contribute to the system of science .

        What my religion has done ? Encourage the people to be moral persons , to be wise people ........ I'm not sure how much it developed the people thinking but on the moral side , on the side of living right my religion is a pinnacle of good .
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    Aug 20 2012: Science is a religion like bald is a hairstyle. (The same is true of atheism. Neither satisfies what is the most implication of the word "religion": a system of organizing and directing the actions of people based on perceived truths about the supernatural.)

    There is a tiny connection between science and religion, in that there is some belief behind each (for science it is that our natural senses observe the universe, for religion it is very very many more assumptions), but they are hardly the same thing.

    Similarly, 'bald' glancingly involves hair, but it is certainly not an arrangement of hair.

    To say otherwise of 'bald' is to diminish the meaning of the word 'hairstyle'.
    To say otherwise of 'science' is to diminish the meaning of the word 'religion'.
    If you are twisting meanings, you may as well say that science is a cantaloupe.
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      Aug 21 2012: My favourite is atheism is as much a religion as not playing tennis is a sport.
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    Aug 20 2012: Nicole,

    Science does not say that God does not exist. Science doesn't have enough information to make such a broad sweeping statement. But belief in God and belief in a religion are two different animals. One is a personal conviction the other is a club of sorts.

    From personal experience, when you find yourself in a life threatening position where you've lost all control of the situation and you believe you are not going to make it, you will call on God as a last resort, if not the first; even if you spent a lifetime not believing in a God. It's just what humans do. I guess, because life is so hard at times and such situation are so common, it helps to propagate the idea of God.

    Once, I borrowed my son's back pack and my Rx fell out inside when I failed to tighten the lid carefully. He and I ended up in a school run program for parents and child.

    It was very interesting. One of the things we did was to first, blindfold the children who were then led around by their parent, We repeated the experience after changing roles.

    Another thing we did was the children were lined up, the parent blindfolded and they had to go find their child. I was dumbfounded by how many parents were able to find their own child, including me. My child also picked me out under the same blind folded conditions. Very humbling experience, hard to explain with science but may have something to do with a feeling called love.

    We don't know what love is but we know it when we feel it. It can't be weighed, touched and it doesn't seem to take up space. But it feels very real.

    In scientific terms we could say it really doesn't exist at all except in our minds. But it sure feels real to me.

    The important thing is, keep an open mind.
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    Aug 20 2012: Nicole,
    Religion sees the world in associations. It is all based on metaphors, parables, symbolism, myths, etc. It all stems from right brain functions.

    Science sees the world in logical analogy. It is built on mathematical models that seek to understand the structure of matter; quantum fields > electrons, proton, neutrons > atoms > molecules > cells > organic systems > organisms > ecology > solar systems > galactic systems > universe. From the microscopic to the macroscopic, there is a pattern of upward progression called evolution. It is all based on left brain functions.

    Over 100 years ago, the word "Theology" was based on two branches; natural (knowledge of God through nature and reason) and revealed (knowledge of God through intuitive revelation). The Catholic church divorced itself from science after its attack on Galileo. Since then, the definition of theology has been revised to exclude any reference to nature and reason. If this were not so, science would be very much a part of religion. The Catholic church saw to it that it wasn't. Since then, it has stagnated and taken on misconceptions that are based on literal interpretations of words that hold deep esoteric meaning. Something needs to change. What we call religion today would cause ancient mystics to turn over in their grave.

    According to what I read, science deals with the physical universe, what can be seen. This accounts for about 4% of the known universe. If you knew everything that science could teach, you'd have 96% unaccounted for.

    The atheist says life doesn't go on after death because you can't prove it. Neither can you disprove it. If I had to make a choice, why would I choose non-existence over existence? It all stems from what organized religions teach about origins and the afterlife. My choice is that we get to continue what we started, not just cease to exist, end of story. If my death is the end of all my awareness, then why bother making sacrifices. I know it isn't.
  • Aug 31 2012: This is quite an intricate topic. I haven't read all of the comments in this thread, but the ones that I have seen have been incredibly well articulated and respectful. It is a great topic.
    Overall, I do not think that science as a subject should be considered a religion. Empirical data and evidence for scientific theories are very different than a theological doctrine. In this sense science is not a religion.
    On the other hand, sometimes people develop a philosophical/theological framework based on science. This sort of idea stresses logical reasoning and experimentation. Sometimes however people falsely extend the reaches of science into philosophical/theological realms. For example, science has proven a possible way for humanity to develop through evolution. Some people extend this to mean that no sort of deity exists, but that is an over extension of what science really says. This takes a sort of theological approach that is often associated with, but not really science. When people extend science into a theological realm, science does gain some religious qualities. Ironically though, when people do extend science into theological realm, it is not science at all; it is faith.
  • Aug 27 2012: Stewart, there are a lot of really great science books out there aimed at non-scientists, by the likes of Brian Greene, David Deustch, etc. (I particularly recommend Deustch's "The Beginning of Infinity") and if you pick a few of them up you will see what I am saying. Our theories, and our knowledge, are always moving toward 'right', but they never quite get there. When someone says they are 'wrong' what we really mean is that they still have wrong elements to them. Theories are still useful when they are not 100% right, as long as they make good predictions and can not be easily replaced with different theories that produce the same results. They help us move toward a more complete understanding of the universe (never fully complete, but more complete), and they can be guides to our actions, helping us to be more successful in achieving our goals. Since we are discussing how religion and science are similar/different, I thought it was important to point out this one major difference.
  • Aug 26 2012: I have believed for well over a decade science is a religion. It is as any other religion a way of defining the undefined world around us. Science as any religion gives explanation for the way things are. The perspective of the beholders is contrived based on their beliefs. The largest differentiation of science from many other religions is that the creation of 'life' is not defined, for there has yet to be logical proof of the existence of a 'creator' or creators. Science allows believers to believe in other religions. Yet still has governing bodies to argue the existence of religious deities. One of the greatest attractions of science is that it allows people to play the role of gods, by many other religions standards. As far as I am concerned the closest thing to a 'god' science has is 'logic'. Logic helps us explain why things are the way they are. Like a god, logic is maybe only a story we have told ourselves so our world makes sense. In the name of god one may kill, in the name of science one may kill. In either god or science one finds answers to age old questions. If one believes in science as 'Truthful' they have faith. If you believe in the writings of past teachers, you can find answers and perform magical things. Science is a religion that evolves at a faster pace than others. For science does not have have a governing set of rules per say. Science for many, allows for the greatest pursuits of enlightenment. Science like any other religion states 'Truths'. However exactly how limited in depth are these truths, and what if we find out 2000 years from now most of the science did not take into account important other truths. In that event science 'may' come to the conclusion there is a creative force behind everything. Would that make other religions in today's age correct, and science the weaker belief system? For scientists disregarded what are in the future, 'laws' of existence. Such as one must respect the laws of 'Mother Nature'.
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      Aug 26 2012: You really get it. That thrills me. The way you write almost hints at the possibility that you might be interested in Quantum Physics or Theoretical Physics. If you're not, I think it would be well-worth your time to learn as much as you can. As humans, we're curious about what makes things work. The quantum world controls and dictates what we see with the "naked eye."
    • Aug 26 2012: Nicely done. Except that I might cast logic in a different role: logic is one of the tools we use in order to know god's thoughts.

      Theistic religions hold that god(s) with freedom of action and sometimes prickly personalities are the reason things happen (Apollo makes the Sun rise, etc.) Science dispels such mysteries, often revealing others. And the search goes on...

      What differentiates science from theistic religions is, in my opinion, progress.
  • Dan F

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    Aug 26 2012: Hi Nicole,

    This question implies that science is not as remote from faith as some of us consider it to be. That, in fact, there is a faith component to science which some of us may be blind to recognizing, because we assume too much about what we think we know.

    You have cleverly taken a swipe at science by suggesting it does not have a corner on what is actually "going on" any more than any other belief system does. You are actually expressing what many faithful people feel and choose to believe, despite evidence, despite anything, despite everything.

    Here's my two cents. Don't regret getting involved in the middle of something where the fur flies. My experience has been that the truth has a way of creeping up on those of us that are engaged in life and somewhat receptive to the elephants that may be in the room. It may not mean you will be any happier, but you will be richer by far.
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      Aug 26 2012: I believe you've got it. I was actually not as afraid of the "fur flying" as I was of being officially discharged from the site after less than a week as a new member. I LOVE TED Talks, but I still wasn't sure of what to expect as far as etiquette. Thanks so much for your kind words.I have a deep interest in the quantum world and I think it would benefit us all if more people learned about the quantum world as a society. When Atoms were first discovered, the scientific community became overwhelmingly interested in all the possibilities. Later, they discovered that the Atom was made of protons, neutrons and electrons, which made sense and followed the same laws of physics that we observed in "nature." After that they had to "dig out" and label the properties of those particles. It was then that this field began to hint at something far more complex than our minds were prepared to comprehend. We found that unlike the electron, the protons and neutrons were comprised of even tinier "matter." They later discovered particles like muons, quarks and bosons/gauge bosons. I can see why a lot of people threw their hands up- especially the popular philosophies. I think that once we've located all of the fundamental particles that don't break down any further, we'll look at it on a graph and see that there's is a heirarchy and the model would look like an inverted pyramid. The end result could be photon-related at the top and then come out the other end (based on information embedded in the photonic particles.) That graph will resemble the Big Bang ocurring on a quantum level. These pyramid (or hourglass) shapes in a lattice model might indicate that there are other dimensions who share the same light source as ours. If you took two hourglass shapes and made a "cross," the big picture would look like a square, but in the center, you get one shared Bang that spreads in four directions; creating multiple dimensions, maybe?
      -Thanks for your time.
      • Dan F

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        Aug 26 2012: Hi again,

        You appear to seek new knowledge and a better a understanding of the physical world and for that matter the limitations of what has been determined and discovered. You are an explorer. I think you are an asset to TED.

        Another comment, if I may. Just as someone is not entitled to their own facts, nor are they entitled to their own definition of a word. It is more honest to explain how you differ on how a term is defined and perceived by expressing yourself utilizing specific words that effectively make your argument or point. Actually, the tactic of using a word out of context or specified use to make a point is not uncommon, I just personally think it is pandering to emotions over substance.

        Anyway stay active and don't be reluctant to dissect things in your own mind. It's what personal growth is all about and will continue to make you more and more interesting.
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          Aug 26 2012: I agree with you that someone shouldn't "pander," but I'd like it to be known that it was never my intention (which is why I pulled my opening statement.) I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming and passionate responses. I don't participate in socializing with people much at all. About 90% of my social interactions have been little more that "small-talk" with "acquaintances." I'm admittedly "out-of-touch" and actually felt bad about how I caused so many reactions. Another part of me, however, decided to use the information I gained from this experience to get a better understanding of people without being forced to speak face-to-face.
  • Aug 25 2012: If science were to be considered a religion then would religions also be considered science? This isn't a rhetorical question. I am really asking that.

    Answer: No, science does not reflect the definition of religiosity. The two are clearly distinct because of their axioms and practical use. Science reflects the axioms of materialism and predictability whereas Religion rests axioms on dogma and belief, whichever it may be. In practice, religion is used as a cultural and community creation tool, whereas science has practically been used everywhere to be productive. Science cannot be considered a religion.
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      • Aug 26 2012: It could, it just doesn't. Unless there's a religion out there, that has proved the existence of their deity, that I am unaware of.
      • Aug 26 2012: Because then it wouldn't be religion. It would be what we call science by definition. Change the DNA of apples to that of oranges and now it should be called an orange.
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    Aug 25 2012: Science is the ONLY religion. Don't ask me to explain this. Just think about it.
  • Aug 24 2012: Science is not religion, so much as "rationality" is a not religion. Science is based on known proofs, and religions involve acceptance of the UN-known. Based on empirical observations and things we can know (prove), science is the observation and measurement of our physical world. Religion (theism) involves supernatural aspects that cannot be measured, observed, or identified... these aspects cannot be known. They are unknowable.
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      • Aug 25 2012: Great question. I would say that religion could be based on these things, but I am unaware of one that is (based on these things). However, I would say, religions as we know them always involve either supernatural (unknowable) forces and/or faith and acceptance of the unknown as fact, which cannot be called rational. If something involves beliefs/acceptances that lack rationality, it cannot be called science.
  • Aug 24 2012: @Brett Gracey -- Not relevant to the question "Should science be considered a religion?" I would like to know if your reasoning for that comes down to something other than "Cause you say yes, when the answer is plainly no."

    You and Gabo both accuse me of "equivocating". I'm not trying to mislead anyone -- the terms are, in fact, ambiguous, and deserving of attempts explore their meaning with greater precision. What exactly is faith? What makes something a religion?

    You're right that "faith in Gabo" is irrelevant, but faith that the scientific community "can and will vet" is necessary. There are many, many examples of errors slipping through and gaining acceptance before being later discredited. More are almost certainly lurking, yet we still (myself included) have confidence in the "system". How is that not faith?

    Note that I have not equated science with any particular religion. Nor have I accepted the narrow notion that religion equates to belief in an omnipotent being. A religion is simply a system of thought that requires, at some level, acceptance of ideas that cannot be proven. Science qualifies.

    "Make an argument to a scientist based on sound logic and reason and you can and will change their minds."

    Ideally, yes. But it doesn't work that way. Read "The Structure of Scientific Revolution" -- people cling to ideas well past the point that counter-proof is available.
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      • Aug 24 2012: Marc, I'm not sure I understood your point. On the question of whether science is a religion, my answer is yes, because science meets all of the qualifiers I can think of for calling something a "religion".
        • Aug 25 2012: That's because you have no idea how science works, nor any idea about what religions are. You just attempt at defining them by equivocal terms, then charge science to have such a thing and conclude. That's worse than shoddy thinking. It does not matter if you are trying to mislead or not, using a word such as "faith" in two meanings to conflate two quite different human endeavours is misleading and fallacious. Sophistry. No matter what your intentions could be.

          Attempting to define and reduce science without looking at how it works, but rather by whatever equivocation you want to use for whatever words involved in your reduced versions of religion does not help much either. Thus, if anything, your failure at distinguishing them shows an incredible level of ignorance about both, science and religion, as well as about logic and reason. All of it displayed with pride. Well, all your pride, rhetoric, and confidence cannot magically turn your sophistry into reality. Sorry.
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        Aug 25 2012: Some of those statements are not mutually exclusive.

        Re: Who is to say which is the right way. I'd leave that up to individuals to consider the arguments and make up their own mind.

        Personally I don't think it is a binary choice between religion and science.
        Science does not have much to say on the existence of some forms of gods or supernatural claims that can not be verified. A skeptical perspective may help assess conflicting religious claims.
        There are many things as a species we don't fully understand. Maybe I don't know is a valid position in many cases. There are many claims that can not be verified.

        But science does indicate the universe and earth looks old, that the earth rotates and orbits the sun etc.

        If you think invisible angels are responsible the force of gravity or some supernatural intelligence exists outside time and space, that's an open question but in many areas we find naturalistic explanations seem to be satisfactory.

        I personally find, we don't know, god must have done it, or a high degree of certainty in different supernatural claims without reasonable evidence problematic, but if people understand how speculative these beliefs are, and have reasonable reasons to believe, fine.
    • Aug 24 2012: Charles, I love your arguments, but there is an important point that Gabo and Brett have not yet brought out, and I am interested in your response.

      You wrote: 'we still (myself included) have confidence in the "system". How is that not faith?"

      One could argue that this is not faith because the scientific method, and the "system" that uses it, are subject to validation by the scientific method, and they have been validated over time. We can think of the scientific method as one of an infinite number of possible methods to generate and verify new knowledge. If it is our goal to pick and use the best method, it seems reasonable to limit our selection to those methods that can be used to validate themselves.

      As I have said in another post, science has many assumptions built into its conclusions, and each assumption is taken on faith. But a big difference between almost all (other) religions and science is that science is built around a method, a specified human activity, for building new knowledge. To the best of my knowledge, no (other) religions have a similar method. Some religions might argue that their method is prayer, but the utility of prayer in finding truth has not been validated by experience.
      • Aug 24 2012: Thank you for the compliment, Barry. Rites have largely disappeared from Christianity, and the role of rites has never really been central to Western religions in general. But in other religions, the "rite" is virtually the whole of it. Buddhism, for example, offers little other than to put one "on the path" through adherence to the "Eightfold Path" -- a series of rites. I think one could argue that such rites constitute a method that proceeds from a set of assumptions. Certain forms of yoga offer further examples.

        I think its a mistake, on any side of this debate, to base an argument on the notion that "My way leads to the Truth", because that leave only two possible outcomes, with no opportunity for learning and growth. Far better, in my opinion, to move the discussion to one of utility. Then, when someone says "I don't believe in evolutionary biology, because God is the creator," you can reply "Well, OK, but that doesn't help me figure out how to cure cancer, so... what else you got?"
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          Aug 26 2012: Charles, you might be understating the rites in Buddhist traditions.
          Praying at temples, funeral rites, wedding rites, incense, chanting, special dates and occasions blessing coronations etc.

          Buddhism is human activity and may have many ritual trappings that might not be outlined in scriptures or core teachings just like any other supernatural belief system.

          I'd also suggest there is a lot of diversity in regards to Christian rites.
          Catholicism, East Orthodox is full of rites
          Anglicans have plenty of rites.
          Not so much pomp and ceremony with the Envangelicals, but still baptism and holy communion.

          I'm not sure if snake handling might be considered a rite, or faith healing sessions, speaking in tongues sessions, prophecy sessions, sermons etc in most services count as rites or not. Maybe they are rites minus the dress up?
    • Aug 24 2012: Charles you are the one using the term faith as if it's interchangeable and equivalent when talking about science and religion. Faith in the unknowable and unprovable, I'm sorry IMHO, is not the same as a belief in the knowledge gained through established scientific methodology, which you want to say is the same as faith. You can attempt to muddy the waters as much as you like, but the only thing religious faith and faith in science share is the word faith. The word is used in a totally different contexts, with vastly different connotations. Personally I only want to compare apples with apples.
      Science doesn't require a religious like faith. It's not blind, it's testable, therefore not the same. Faith in scientific discovery is that it can and will be reviewed, revised and expanded upon. It's a foregone conclusion. If there is a problem with methodology, observations, results, bias or conclusions, others will find it and eventually expose it. Have there been mistakes made in the past, bad science? Absolutely, but how do we know this? We only know this because the scientific method is to expose it's own weaknesses and shortcomings. When was the last time a religion did that? First time?
      I don't have a standard definition of religion, so I don't question specific beliefs, just the overarching blind faith required to believe in a god.
      As for scientists holding on to outdated and disproved science, sure it happens. Just keep in mind that not all scientists are currently relevant in their field and since they are all people, they are subject to the same foibles as anyone else.
      • Aug 24 2012: Yes, I am. Because, to use a tautology of which another commenter is fond, faith is faith. The fact that you "don't have a standard definition of religion" and yet are trying to assert that "Science ain't it!" is disheartening, to say the least. We defenders of reason should do better.

        Can you formulate a definition of "religion" that includes all traditions that you might have no trouble classifying as "religions" and yet unambiguously excludes science? If you can do better than "Religion is any system of thought that disagrees with science" you will have done us a great service.

        And, before you invoke "acceptance of the unprovable", read Goedel.

        I'm not trying to muddy the waters. I'm trying to clarify them.
        • Aug 25 2012: You are no defender of reason. Equivocation fallacies do not help reason. They help sophistry.
        • Aug 25 2012: Charles, really you're trying to clarify the argument? In order to establish that science is not a religion I have to establish a definition of religion as set out your ridiculous standards? You set an impossible goal and then tell me if I can't reach it, I fail.
          I also never said that "religion is any system of thought that disagrees with science", them be your words. Religion and Science don't have to be mutually exclusive, but it doesn't mean they are the same either. As the old saying goes even a blind pig stumbles across an acorn once in a while. Or a stopped clock is still correct twice a day.
          You have now twice suggested I take up reading someone as it will somehow prove your point. I have a limited education in Mathematics and Philosophy, (only a few university courses in Mathematics, and a cursory look at philosophy) and from that, I know that casual dabbling in either is folly for the ill informed. I believe it is quite easy to misinterpret philosophers. I'm simply stating my complete lack of desire to do so, as I am acutely aware of my ignorance in this field. In other words I believe I know enough about philosophy to know it's not something that one can easily just dabble in and truly comprehend it. If you feel confident, okay. So no I don't see myself reading Goedel. Also attempting to expand, what is actually a rather straightforward discussion by implying that if I only knew..... Or if I had only read.... does a rather great disservice. You are not elevating the argument, you are simply trying to derail it with meaningless diversions.
          Science is knowledge gained through observation and experimentation all done within a fairly rigid methodology. It is self correcting, continuously updating and begins with the premise of ignorance. Religion, is dogmatic belief in the un-knowable, with predefined outcomes that are not supportable by observation and can't even be tested. Pretty simple.
      • Aug 25 2012: @Brett Gracey Thank you for your thoughtful response -- by attacking my argument, rather than me personally (as others have done) you are demonstrating a willingness to at least think about the question. Well done.

        Also, I apologize if you took my references to be condescending. That wasn't my intention.

        "Religion, is dogmatic belief in the un-knowable, with predefined outcomes that are not supportable by observation and can't even be tested."

        If this is our definition of religion, then no, science is not a religion. But this definition of "religion" leaves out a large number of traditions that have no "predefined outcomes". If you broaden your definition of religion to include traditions other than those with which we are most familiar, the question becomes much less clear.

        Even the definition of "science" becomes murky on closer examination. Is psychology a science? Are voter polls? Economics? And so we have the "soft sciences" and the "hard sciences" -- what is it exactly that distinguishes one from the other?

        Its not as simple as you think.
        • Aug 25 2012: Charles, to me there is little point in attacking the individual. Everyone has an opinion on just about anything and sometimes we are even correct. Or perhaps in terms you might find more amenable, more correct.
          I don't believe my definition of religion would be found massively different from what the mainstream believes it to be. I could be wrong, though, some people would probably be insulted to have someone say they believe in dogma. Is my definition all inclusive, one size fits all, certainly not. Does it capture the central beliefs (not attitudes) of most religious people, I believe yes. Who willingly prescribes to a religion, yet doesn't believe in the all powerful creator, the omnipotent invisible, unseen god(s) in the cosmos? Then they adhere to often rigid rules, engage in rituals and at least attempt to live by the tenants laid out for them? Answer to that is no one. Otherwise why go through with the pretence?
          Broadening out the scope of what is "religion" is not exactly useful. There may well be some religions that do allow for the uncertainties that you refer, but because one is not dogmatic, it doesn't mean the others are or aren't. Just because religion X doesn't practice dogma, it doesn't mean that the Catholics don't.
          While I didn't study Philosophy I did study Psychology. You ask if Psychology is a hard or soft science. Well the answer is it can be both. Depends on what your particular stream of study is and how research is approached. There are a multitude of other factors, and to expand the conversation to include them all is really not productive, or practical. Both the hard and soft sciences however when researching have to use a methodology that is designed to provide valid results. Otherwise it's called Iridology.
          Regardless though, just because one type of science may be more art than science, it doesn't mean they are all subject to the same foibles.
      • Aug 25 2012: "Who willingly prescribes to a religion, yet doesn't believe in the all powerful creator, the omnipotent invisible, unseen god(s) in the cosmos?"

        Buddhists, to name just one.

        "There may well be some religions that do allow for the uncertainties that you refer, but because one is not dogmatic, it doesn't mean the others are or aren't."

        Quite correct. However it does mean that dogma is not required in order for something to be called a religion.

        "Just because religion X doesn't practice dogma, it doesn't mean that the Catholics don't."

        Correct again. Let's break it down this way: We're trying to figure out if X belongs to a class of things called "religions". (aka "Should science be considered a religion?")

        Some religions practice dogma. Do all religions practice dogma? No. Then "X doesn't practice dogma" isn't enough to tell us whether we can call X a religion.

        Some religions assert an omnipotent creator. Do all religions? No. Then "X does not assert an omnipotent creator" isn't enough to tell us if we can call X a religion.

        And so on. So far we've failed exclude "science" this way. If we could find a quality that is necessary in order to call something a religion, and then show that science does not have that quality, then we can say that science is not a religion.

        If you go back to my original post, I said "Yes, science can be thought of as a religion". In other words, I can't say it isn't. At least not if I'm being scientific about it.

        If you go the other direction -- "Can religion Y be considered a science?" -- and apply the same method for, say, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, etc.. you come very quickly to an unambiguous "no".

        They are not equivalent. Religion is a superset.

        Why should anyone care? Because the "Science vs. Religion" debate has very real, practical implications on how policy issues will be decided in the coming years. There is far too much heat and not nearly enough light in this debate.
        • Aug 26 2012: Yes Charles, Buddists don't believe in the omnipotent deity, but they do often live by rigid rules, engage in rituals and at least attempt to live by the tenants laid out for them? Editing my point until it fits your argument is not helpful to the discussion. Syllogistic reasoning also has it's limits, it's far too easy to engage in fallacies, so I tend to avoid them.
          This is how I see the crux of your argument. (my words) Science can be a religion, because if you widen the definition of religion enough, you will find that science shares some common ground with some religions, therefore science can't categorically be excluded from being a religion.
          In more generic terms, the definition of anything can be expanded upon until it contains some common traits with just about anything else, thereby insinuating inclusion within the definition. You seem to want religion to be a superset, in which science is included. The problem I have is when you expand the definition beyond what is useful for the purposes of debate, it ends up including jogging clubs, student bodies, employers, government... virtually any group or individual that has a belief, practice or dogma. The definition then becomes meaningless, because it doesn't define anything, it's just everyone.
          My belief is that using that logic, would render us unable to ever define anything. It's kind of like trying to write down the largest number possible. A waste of time.

          I would agree on why we should care about the science versus religion debate, that's why I resist attempts to equivocate them. Trying to make them equal does not shed light on things, it only emboldens religion to continue obstructing the pursuit of knowledge. Religion wants lunacy like intelligent design to be treated as real science. Not helpful to the pursuit of knowledge.
      • Aug 26 2012: @Brett "Religion wants lunacy like intelligent design to be treated as real science. "

        That statement right there is the problem. Is not all religion, it is evangelical Christian conservatives who want this. By using the term "religion" the way you do, you paint far, far too many people with the transgressions of a select few.

        "but they do often live by rigid rules, engage in rituals and at least attempt to live by the tenants laid out for them?"

        Thats a method, a systematic approach to life, a practice, just as science has a method. No predefined outcomes, no dogma, no deities, no intelligent design, no idealogical position on education, gun control, the death penalty, abortion, marriage, ...

        And that's just one example. The scientific community needs to broaden its notion of what constitutes a religion, and sharpen its attacks (or defenses, if you prefer) more precisely on those things that are actually objectionable.

        By failing to do so, you look just as ill informed, dogmatic and ideologically motivated as the people your argue against.
  • Aug 23 2012: Yes, science can be thought of as a religion, in the sense that it presents a way of apprehending the world by which one can choose live. That choice is an act of faith. Science further requires faith in the senses, along with faith in reason and logic, which often run counter to intuition, faith that repeated results suggest reliable facts, and faith that starting from an attitude of skepticism is the only way to have confidence in any fact. The veracity of all scientific knowledge comes down to one's faith in these few fundamental ideas.

    All religions have limitations -- Christianity, for example, has little to offer on the best way to build a radio, or how to improve nutrition in schools, just as science is powerless against questions like "Am I doing right?" and "Why am I here?" None informs every aspect of human experience, and science is no different.

    Now, there are those who are so deeply immersed in one worldview or another that, to them, all the others look like crazy delusions, and so they may disagree that science can be elevated (or demoted!) to the status of a religion. But to me, this simply another way in which science fits the pattern.

    The trouble comes from the idea that these differences must be resolved, for that means that a) some people are right, and others are wrong, and b) those that are wrong must be persuaded or eliminated. This aspect of the debate perfectly illustrates human nature at its worst.
    • Aug 24 2012: Nope, all in your list comes from the simple acceptance of reality. If you want to call acceptance of reality "faith," and want to compare that to religious faith, which is a different beast, you are concluding on the basis of equivocation.

      Whatever you might think of those who embark into science, their fervour, or lack thereof, the commitment to fight against your try at demoting science into religion, and such, does not change the facts. Science is science. Religion is religion. there are fundamental differences, and equivocating on the word "faith" won't change those fundamentals one bit. After all, besides these "faiths" being of a different sort, science and religion differ in other quite fundamental points. I said it before, science starts by acknowledging ignorance and trying to figure out answers. Religions sell you prefabricated "answers."

      The trouble does not come from the idea that these differences must be resolved. I don't want to resolve the differences. I want for things to stay clear. Most importantly because many religious groups love making these stupid statements (science is religion), to demote scientific knowledge that threatens their cherished beliefs, or to feel better that they believe what appears to be nonsense. To teach religion in scientific curricula, et cetera. Motivations abound. Yet, to their dismay, science is no religion. Live with it.
      • Aug 24 2012: You missed my point, and proved it in doing do. What is a religion? You say "not science". That's not a very useful definition. Historically, what we now call cosmology, sociology, and psychology, in addition to mysticism, were all domains of the clergy. Only recently have they separated. Its from that point of view that I argue that science can be viewed as a religion.

        The sciences are each specialized systems of thought that proceed from certain axioms. Axioms are articles of faith. You might argue that intellectual leap required to accept the axioms of Euclidean geometry are a great deal easier than those required to accept that world is governed by an omnipotent being, and I would agree. But that is difference of degree, not a difference of a fundamental kind.

        So, I argue that science is a religion. Are all religions equivalent? Certainly not. Should "intelligent design" be taught in science classes? Of course not: it isn't science. But it is entirely sufficient -- and more effective -- to simply say "your religion is not consistent with mine, which is science". You could even go on and say "my religion (science) works better than yours for just about everything that I care about." At least then you would be onto something useful.

        But when you claim that your position is the Truth (aka "reality") that is where you lose people. Is there anything more ironic than for a priest of reason, disciplined thought, skepticism, and dispassionate observation (i.e. a scientist) to say something like "simple acceptance of reality" and then in nearly the same breath "science starts from acknowledging ignorance"? Your dogma is self conflicting.

        I'll put it another way: hardening your position and escalating the conflict never changes minds.
        • Aug 24 2012: Gabo didn't miss your point, he recognized that it's not relevant. You attempt to equivocate religious faith (belief in something that can't possibly be tested, measured, or for that matter even observed) with someone requiring "faith" that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are correct? If someone is unsure about a religious tennant, their only option is to have faith and blindly believe or to not have faith. If someone is unsure about anything in science, they can apply scientific method, experiment, make observations, derive their own conclusions and ultimately believe what they have experience in. Having "faith" that Gabo is adhering to sound methodology in his research is really irrelevant, his research can and will be vetted. If it can't be, it is unlikely to gain acceptance. It's also likely to be refined and updated as research continues.
          Hardening of position doesn't change minds? See that's faith in action. Can't refute your logic even though it contradicts my beliefs, but I can dismiss it because of the tone in which you conveyed it.
          Make an argument to a scientist based on sound logic and reason and you can and will change their minds.
        • Aug 24 2012: Charles,

          Seems like equivocating is the way of your mind. But it is not mine. Science is my profession, not my religion. While I have no religion, other scientists do, and they clearly see the difference. It might be that you have no idea how science works, it might be that you rather cheapen science.

          As to your attempt at finding the redefinition "useful," it is far from it. For one it is false. Why call science a religion when it is perfectly clear that science is science and religion is religion? Why insist on a lie? For another, you would be telling that the government is teaching, and favouring, a religion in public schools. You give religious people excuses to deny science in favour of myths because you have equated both. That would not work all too well for society in general. Let alone for those who practice science and those who practice a religion.

          As for your further equivocations. Simple acceptance of reality does not mean "I know everything." Thus, my simple acceptance of reality and the scientific start point of accepting ignorance (I do not know how this works,I do not know what such thing is made of, I do not know how far the Sun is), does not contradict my acceptance of reality. So I wonder why would you equivocate those two perfectly reasonable ideas as if they were a contradiction of terms.
      • Aug 24 2012: @Gabo "Seems like equivocating is the way of your mind."

        I'll borrow a quote from a great movie: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

        Yes, I do try my best to keep an open mind. For instance, what is religion?

        Can you offer a definition of "religion" that includes all other religions traditions but excludes science? Keep in mind, defining "science" without defining "religion" does us no good.

        I'm not trying to arm or validate evangelicals who's aim is to equate Christianity (one among a multitude of religions) with science as equally valid alternative viewpoints on the way the world works. Quite the opposite. I'm trying to arm you to do a better job arguing against them. So far you're not doing a very good job.
        • Aug 25 2012: No Charles, you are not trying to help anyone but yourself. Equating science with religion is no help at all. It will certainly not help if you equate science and religion. After all, creationists have been trying to do exactly that for a long time so that they can teach their crap as if it were science. Look around and they will commit the very same equivocation you make "both require faith," never to look carefully at what kind of "faith" are we talking about. This is why I prefer to use the proper terms. I don't have "faith," I have confidence, and this confidence is not gratuitous, it comes from knowing quite well how science works. I know scientists can be defective in their views (I have been proven wrong by evidence many more times than I have been proven right, and I am proud to say so), can stay fixed into older findings and interpretations even after a lot of evidence should have changed their minds, yet they change, and so on. But the system is a system for figuring things out. Religion is not such a thing even if the problems both have "tackled" could have overlapped, these beasts differ in deep ways.

          As for your attempts at definitions, this is exactly your problem. You think that religion is simply defined as requiring "faith," jump to "science requires faith," and conclude that science is a religion. That's what happens when instead of trying to hold a much better concept for both in your mind, you try to reduce both into such a few "requirements," without looking any deeper into it. As a remedy to this, there is a thing called "concept formation." You get to understand what things are by looking at several examples of them until your mind is able to recognize them. Maybe you need better exposure to both, examples of religions, and examples of science. Maybe then you will notice the fundamental differences. Reducing them to equivocated versions of "faith" makes a disservice to both, religion and science.
      • Aug 25 2012: Gabo, its now perfectly clear that you entered this discussion with your mind made up, not only about what the answer should be, but apparently also on the validity of the question. I know of no other way to confront a question like "Should science be considered a religion?" than to begin by exploring what the words mean. That isn't sophistry. That's objectivity.

        "That's what happens when instead of trying to hold a much better concept for both in your mind, you try to reduce both into such a few "requirements,"

        That's called "classification", and it is the very nature of the question that began this thread.

        "Maybe then you will notice the fundamental differences."

        And the similarities, as well. In fact it is exactly the approach you recommend that has led me to suggest that yes, science can be considered a religion.

        Gabo, you are raging against creationists. Not all religions are monotheistic. Some have no concept of a "god" at all.

        If you don't like my argument, look at a dictionary:

        religion |riˈlijən|
        * the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion.
        • a particular system of faith and worship: the world's great religions.
        • a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance: consumerism is the new religion.

        Science clearly does not fit the first definition, but just as clearly does fit the third. The second is arguable, depending on what is meant by "worship" (== "pray", no. =="practice", maybe.)

        If you don't think this is a question worthy of debate, then why are you here?
        • Aug 25 2012: Of course I had my mind made. I am a scientist and I have also learned a lot about religion. You on the other hand pretend to know both by finding dictionary definitions of religion, and trying to fit science into any of it, while ignoring what makes science what it is (and religion too).

          "Science clearly fits the third"? Really, so a metaphorical use of the word "religion" is your basis to classify science as religion? By your standards everything would be a religion, since some people will "ascribe supreme importance" to anything. What nonsense.

          I repeat, if your basis is ignorance, then first go learn then come back. I suggested you get exposed to both, religions and sciences. Instead you take a dictionary, look for the word "religion," and you are done. How serious and scholarly. How strongly that defends reason. Man what makes you think that arguing from a position of ignorance turns sophistry into truths?

          I don't think this is worthy of debate. But lots of ignorants do. So I come to set things straight to stop them from demoting my profession. (Or at least let them know that we will not have it.)
      • Aug 25 2012: Regarding equivocation.

        This definition of "faith" is from the American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition:

        "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

        When I read the postings of Charles Ames, this is the way I understand his use of the word "faith" and I can detect no equivocation. Can you point out specifically where Charles uses the term "faith" in a context such that it cannot fit this definition?
        • Aug 26 2012: Barry, here is where Charles equivocates religious faith and faith in science.

          "The sciences are each specialized systems of thought that proceed from certain axioms. Axioms are articles of faith. You might argue that intellectual leap required to accept the axioms of Euclidean geometry are a great deal easier than those required to accept that world is governed by an omnipotent being, and I would agree. But that is difference of degree, not a difference of a fundamental kind."
          So belief in the axioms of Euclidean geometry is only a difference in degree to believing in an omnipotent god?
          Why they are fundamentally different is that one can study Euclidean geometry and gain knowledge and confidence in it such that it no longer requires faith. The same can't be said for the spaghetti monster in the sky.
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    Aug 23 2012: Absolutely not. Science never states that a higher being that has been around for an infinite amount of time has created the universe.
    • Aug 24 2012: Neither do many, many religions.
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      Aug 23 2012: There's a lot to be said about a person who can break or resist circular thinking.
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    • Aug 23 2012: I seriously doubt you have ever knowingly sat next to someone diagnosed and under treatment for schizophrenia, let alone held a discussion with them. It can take months or years for qualified medical professionals to diagnose schizophrenia. So if you were sitting next to someone with that particular disorder the odds of you ever being able to recognize schizophrenic symptoms from the myriad of other spectrum disorders of the mind is remote.
      As for shared traits between schizophrenics and serious religious people, they are of course within the realm of possibility. Delusions, facial hair, fondness for roller coasters, consumption of peanut butter, cell phone usage and holding a membership at Costco can be observable traits of both groups. Not exactly profound nor indicative of a mental disorder.
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        • Aug 23 2012: Umm, I never said you diagnosed him, I simply pointed out that the average lay person wouldn't likely have the first clue as to what set's someone suffering from schizophrenia apart from any other member of the general public. So attempting to draw inferences between schizophrenia and fundamentalist religiosity, is for the most part a little out of most people's league. Attempting to draw those illusory inferences simply makes your story look as contrived as your overreaching generalization. If the purpose of your story was to undermine any credibility you feel you may have, I cede your story makes the intended point.
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      Aug 24 2012: I suggest there is a continuum of craziness and delusion etc.
      We all have a bit.
      When we watch a movie we lose awareness of our surroundings, that is a form of trance.
      We see faces in the clouds or linoleum.
      Some people have some more serious misfirings or miswirings.
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    • Aug 23 2012: Not true at all, an Atheist simply rejects one more religion than a religious fanatic does.

      An atheist isn't presumptuous enough to draw conclusions where there is no evidence, a religious fanatic has no qualms about doing so.
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        • Aug 23 2012: : I'll stick with knowledge, you can keep your faith.
          I'll stick with no religion, you can keep which ever one you think is correct.

          Oh and science doesn't have faith, so your argument is rather specious.
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          Aug 25 2012: Marc, poor logic again.

          Rejecting a claim based on lack of evidence is not the same as asserting the claim is false.

          Some religious claims can be falsified. Others can not.

          You defined god as something that defines ultimate truth. You may or may not have evidence that supports this. Until you do I'm not going to believe in it. I don't reject it outright, firstly because I don't know exactly what you mean. You might just mean you believe an ultimate reality exists and something is reasonable for this. I'm not sure what the something is. Nature? Something with intelligence or consciousness, some agency that acts with purpose? Maybe we are god because we have defined the existence of absolutely reality even though our humble human senses are too limited to understand it?

          You seem to be confusing a lack of belief in X
          with believing absolutely that X is false
          Or even that based on the evidence X is extremely unlikely.

          You might have a view of atheism that comforts you intellectually, but it is pretty narrow and not particularly accurate.

          While I don't know if anything typically called god exists, it does not seem to in a way that we can confidently objectively recognise as impacting our lives, so in a practical sense I might live as if Yahweh, El and Mithra etc don't exist.
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      Aug 24 2012: I don't know any die hard atheists personally.

      I know some atheists.

      We all get in a groove but most the atheists I know are open to new evidence and information or argument, they just happen to be rather skeptical at the same time.

      To say anything as an absolute is problematic.

      Some god beliefs conflict with what we now know about reality with reasonable confidence.

      Other beliefs, say deist ones, are practically impossible to verify. This belief is equal to the proposition that the universe was created a second ago with us in it with implanted memories and so that the universe looks 13.6 billions of years old. It was made by the immaterial dog in my living room that spoke to me in a dream.

      Being non verifiable puts it outside the realm of science into the realm of speculation and is not a good sign for the strength of an argument.

      I have a lack of tolerance for violence even if perpetrated in the name of religion.

      I support freedom of religion within limits.

      I'm okay with people having the right to beliefs that are based on faith more than evidence. But no issue challenging beliefs of this nature in discussion etc. Not sure if that classifies as a fanatic.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 23 2012: Golly, I don't know where I took anything out of context. The statement reads that it opposes teaching of higher order skills, critical thinking skills, etc that a a relabeling of OBE which is nothing more than requiring mastery of a subject. Critical thinking skills are SUPPOSED to challenge a student's fixed beliefs. Not for the purpose of undermining parental authority, but for the purpose of preparing a student for life in a very challenging world. Critical thinking skills are not directly related to mastery of a subject. I don't need critical thinking skills to solve an algebra problem. I need them to solve a problem that life hands me. To be in favor of denying students of this life-saving skill is to do them great harm. This is just a way to get evolution out of the classroom, as everyone with critical thinking skills can quickly see. Evolution requires students to challenge their fixed beliefs.

    And I agree that we never left the dark ages, but to say that to most, it would not be understood.
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    • Aug 23 2012: Well, if you don't see that your definition of science is a straw man and contains a logical trap, I am not surprised that you will hold science to such a low standard. Science is a method or series of methods towards acquiring knowledge. We don't "reject without proof." We reject that for which there is no proof until proof is found. Otherwise, we would populate science with all kinds of crap. Man, how good a living could I make just making stuff up and other scientists would have to accept the stuff unless they could prove that what I say is wrong. Do you see the problem now?

      So, there is quite the difference. Check it out. Think about it at least a few times and you should notice that it is not the same to reject without proof than to reject unless there is proof. No flaw at all. "The burden of proof is on the claimant." Logic 101.
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        Aug 23 2012: "it is not the same to reject without proof than to reject unless there is proof"

        You can reject unless there is a proof , the problem with the atheists is that they already think that what they rejected is worth to be rejected , is that they think ' I don't have proofs , why should I care ?' What you rejected could worth more than you ever imagined , this is why there is nothing wrong in having faith .

        You can choose to not have faith , that's right .
        • Aug 23 2012: You may be correct EG, but what if it's the Hindu's that are correct? Does that keep you up at night? Or perhaps it's the Buddists, or the Mormons, or Catholics, or the crazy rattlesnake cult?
          Attempting to hedge one's bets on an unprovable afterlife, is not a valid reason to accept the unbelievable. Especially when statistically speaking you're probably betting on the wrong horse.
      • Aug 24 2012: You might want to retake Logic 101. Unproven is not the same as disproven. We often anticipate that a conjecture will eventually be proven, or even assume that its true, despite the fact that proof remains elusive. So you can't "reject that for which there is no proof". The best you can say is "well, I don't know." "Your conjecture is of no use to me" is also permissible.
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          Aug 24 2012: Absolutely true that unproven and disproven are different. And unable ever to be proved or disproved is a subset of unproven.
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        Aug 24 2012: Brett :

        You should start living and fuck the statistics and everything of this kind , then we can talk .
        • Aug 24 2012: Start living?
          You know there are currently an infinite number of questions that I just don't know the answer to. I can't even put a number on the number of questions I have. And prior to this second I haven't lost a moment of sleep to that reality. That may change tonight, see another question I don't know the answer to.
          It would be nice though if I had one universal answer to all of my questions. That would make life easier, make it worth truly living, right?
          I thought about it before and while beer is the cause of, and solution to, many of life's problems, it doesn't quite answer everything. Wonder if wine is the answer......
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        Aug 24 2012: Brett :
        No , the answer to the all questions wouldn't make life easier . You didn't get what I said (perhaps because of beer or wine .... ) , living the religion or at least understanding it as life will end the betting ; you look for reasons because you think it's right to not bet on the wrong horse , this leads you to statistics and this kind of things but they are useless , you waste your time . Live religion , identify yourself with it , have you ever heard of art ? To understand the art requires you to live it , the same thing about religion , then you'll be sure what's the right horse .
    • Aug 23 2012: Hi Marc,

      I understand the point you are making, and can agree with your logic.

      In everyday life I think all of us learn and make use of knowledge that has not passed the rigorous test of science.

      But, I think you will agree that, historically, "Rejection without proof" has been more useful than "Acceptance without proof." If you do agree with this, do you still think that they are equally flawed?
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        • Aug 23 2012: Thank you Marc, I'll take that to mean yes.
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      Aug 24 2012: Marc,

      I may not imagine a supernatural music, but I am in awe of the universe.

      I note religions can not agree on what music is playing

      If there are people you class as extreme atheists, you still might be imagining some music.
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    Aug 22 2012: I think that science and religion answer too completely different questions. Science answers the How and religion the Why. How do we exist? Well you have fertilization of an egg and than cells multiply and proteins are formed and so on and so forth. Why do we exist? that's a much more difficult question to answer, and nearly impossible to derive empirically. Use this for practically anything in the sciences. How does a car engine work? Any mechanical engineer could answer that. Why does a car engine work? An engineer/scientist's answer to that question would most likely be the same as "How..." In other words, it's nearly impossible to answer scientifically. How was the universe created? (Big Bang, etc) Why was the universe created (God wanted to) How do we adapt to the environment (evolution/survival of the fittest) Why do we adapt to the environment (God needed a tool in the same way that a sculpter uses a tool)
    • Aug 22 2012: Science and religion are two completely different questions. One seeks knowledge through a rigorous and structured exploration of what we know, what we can observe or what we can imagine. Religion gropes around in the dark "searching" for answers to a question with a predefined, inflexible conclusion.
      • Aug 24 2012: Your definition of religion is too narrow.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 22 2012: You BELIEVE that your religion is a pinnacle of good. I disagree because you have shown me through your words that it is not. You speak nonsense, and nonsense is never good. But, nice chatting with you. I'll leave you to your own thoughts. Enjoy them.
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        Aug 24 2012: Marc, you seem to be making some generalisations at the least.

        Your argument from authority that humans don't know that much. Agree. So what. We know more than nothing.

        Your argument that just because you can not prove the supernatural does not mean it is incorrect. Agree, Also, because it is non verifiable it is not a subject for science. No issue with people investigating the supernatural. I'd just point out, that one reason we have so many religious beliefs is that they are not based on evidence and reason compared to say science. The divergence of religious and supernatural beliefs, the history of religions, is not a great argument to take any of it seriously as being a reliable source of information, especially not one particular view being absolute truth.

        You assert there is a music of the spheres yourself without proof.

        I don't know, and suggest you don't know if there is a supernatural realm or whether this stuff is just a product of humans and our flawed minds.

        We get tend to get the best results using evidence elsewhere. The supposed spirit realm is kind of speculative and subjective. One interpretation could be right, and the others wrong. Maybe all a little bit right. But spirit and gods are currently unable to separated from being ideas. No issue if people want to explore this stuff. Don't see why we should respect this kind of intuitive journey for a subjective personal truth based on whatever fantasy or religious tradition someone explores when so much is layer upon layer of unverifiable speculative magic, often wrapped with a poor understanding of the diversity and reality of non theists.

        If believer A says they believe their gods say X, and there is nothing compelling to back it up but more made up stuff written down a long time ago, I don't have to pretend to admire the lack of intellectual critical thinking and its product.

        Not all atheists are fanatics unless you define all atheists as fanatics.
  • Aug 22 2012: The question is misguided, and should not be answered.

    The objective appears to be to subcategorize (pigeonhole/label) an already generic term.

    How can doing so provide any value to anyone anywhere? What is the point? Frankly, we all know why, and that it is to no good end.

    The only possible value I can hope might come in considering this question is that folks might come to the realization why this question, and more so any answer, is counter productive to any growth and learning.

    Instead, take time to investigate some specific collection(s) of history and knowledge which folks have already insisted on bundling as labeled religions, and likewise consider various individual categories labeled under sciences.

    Stop trying to "label" at such a high and useless level, and do something useful instead.
    • Aug 24 2012: On the right track... but not quite. This question is probing the meaning of terms that carry enormous and conflicting meanings for different people. These people must work together to agree on questions like "should 'intelligent design be taught in science class?", and "should we have the death penalty?". I think it is important to tease apart the bundles and be precise about what is meant when we say "science shows this" and "religion requires that". Perhaps a contest of numbers is the best we can do, but I believe that enlightened debate will lead to better answers.
  • Aug 21 2012: Do you suppose that a conversation entitled "Chocolate is my religion" would cause so much controversy?
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    Aug 21 2012: Pray what is the need for Science to be considered a Religion. What real benefits will accrue ? Personally I feel Science and Religion are complimentary to each other, and in recent years with rapid advancement in Science, the Religion concepts and Principles are better understood. Religion and Science are the two oars needed to propel our life boat towards understanding of the TRUTH
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    Gail .

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    Aug 21 2012: In the USA, the only reason one could possibly have for suggesting that is to have it removed from schools along with religion. Ingornace enforced on others is always horrible. Ignorance is the tool that all slave owners enforce upon their slaves . In the USA, women were tacit slaves until only 100 years ago, which is why most women weren't educated. They couldn't own property. If their husbands divorced or left them, the children were his "property" and he could deny visitation.

    The idea that religion could be considered a religion is evidence of why I am so afraid of modern-day christianity. It is inhabited by those who are willfully ignorant and proud of it.
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      Aug 21 2012: Unfortunately, Nicole's reason for posing the question is no longer posted, but your hypothesis that the suggestion is connected to an interest in removing science from schools does not apply in this case. Nicole described herself, rather, as a great believer in understanding the world through science and its methods.
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      Aug 21 2012: Hi TL, I don't think that was the posters view, but you might be on to something.

      I note some theist try to position Science and Religion as being equally faith based. Alternatively this would support their views that religion should be taught alongside science.

      Some believe we are in a spiritual war and that naturalistic science is being used by the devil to subvert us. That evolution is the foundation for much modern evil. That we are brainwashing our kids with some grand conspiracy.

      We had a friend visit from Texas. When discussing life the universe and everything she had the most flawed understanding of evolutionary theory that I would have debunked it. If you are going to reject it, at least understand it properly. Same for rejecting religious claims although there are so many different interpretations.
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        Gail .

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        Aug 22 2012: Texas is really out there. The Texas GOP has on its platform a call for an end teaching of cricitcal / cognitive thinking skills. There is fear that teaching critical thinking skills will undermine a parents ability to teach their children about God.

        And if you think that ignorance about science is pitiful, look at what they've done to the American History books! Disgusting. And as Texas is the birthplace of most textbooks in the USA, I shudder to think about what is to come.

        II feel like we're heading back into the dark ages - thanks to Christianity
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          Aug 22 2012: You called yourself a TED Lover but you don't seem to be one .
        • Aug 22 2012: Please be careful about spreading this half-truth.

          The plank from the platform of the Texas Republican Party:

          Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

          They are actually against Outcome-Based Education. This form of education is very controversial, in part because of its results compared to traditional teaching methods.

          I am not an apologist for the Texas Republican Party and have no connection with them, but I have an aversion to taking statements out of context.

          "back into the dark ages" -- IMO, we never left.
  • Aug 21 2012: For all of you who are making arguments based on the definition of religion, please note the fourth definition below:

    The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition

    religion n. Abbr. rel., relig. 1.a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship. 2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order. 3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. 4. A cause, a principle, or an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion. --idiom. get religion. Informal. To accept a higher power as a controlling influence for the good in one's life.
    • Aug 22 2012: Such fourth definition is metaphoric.

      I have said it before, some people might want to make of science their religion, and have done. But by definition science is not a religion, and should not be considered a religion. Period. Religions are acceptance of stuff by faith, science is whatever the evidence holds. Science moves, and by definition it has to move (even if some practitioners oppose resistance, science is by very method in constant movement). religion moves against its will, and when it does it does, in most cases, its practitioners claim that they have always been like that. Example, even something as ridiculous as young earth creationism is believed without accepting the very fact the planet is described as flat in their religious book.

      So, definitely not. Science is not a religion, should not be considered a religion even if pursued with religious fervour, even if some have made it their religion. Science is a method (or series of methods). Not a set of beliefs.

      Why do people want to devalue science this way? Science is an achievement of humanity, and no amount of whining will make it as shitty as religions tend to be (a few exceptions exist). If the religious people want to feel good, do it by your religion's merits, not by trying to devaluate science. Science is a way of knowing. Religion is a way of ignoring ... mostly.
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        Aug 22 2012: Even if I get no answer ... .

        Religions aren't only acceptance of stuff by faith , they have significant parts of evidence . As science by very method moves , religion has movement by its own very method , more exactly by practicing it according to its requirements (thus gaining more evidence) . It (religion) is something consistent .
        A kind or another of understanding the metaphors of religious book depends on the time the people who understand the book live in .

        Yes , science is not a religion , science is too limited to be a religion .
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        Aug 22 2012: Too limited because it doesn't go by faith .
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        • Aug 23 2012: Meh,

          -Scientists can repeat the experiments

          -Scientists can verify the results

          -Scientists can verify the evidence

          -Come on! Now you want to put down science by holding to crappy philosophical solipsism? Even then it is not the same kind of "faith." Not trusting your senses, not trusting your colleagues, not trusting whatever, does not make your own observations akin to the blank and empty faith of religions, nor does it make science anything like religion. Again, in religion you are sold the myths as true. in science there is a method to it and if we find ourselves to be wrong, then we are wrong. Also, don't talk as if "faith" was the only difference.

          -Nope, scientists can make sure that evidence is evidence by performing lots and loads of tests. We don't just make a leap of empty religious faith to it.

          -Nope, scientists can compare what they note with what others note, and there's lots and lots of methods and tests to check if you have been well informed. This is a second attempt at solipsism. You are welcome to it if you like. But even then the faith has no similarity to that in religion which has to start at the very least at the same point as the "faith" you are trying to equalize to religious faith, and then jump into the empty one of religion.

          -Prove that I didn't without assuming any of it. Prove also that you can get to religious faith in fewer steps than I can get to "reality is what will inform me."

          Conclusion: even with your worst attempts at solipsism, religious faith is a very different beast to all the "faiths" that you listed.

          Note: What you did here is called a fallacy of equivocation. Since "faith" can have more than one meaning, you exploited such meanings to try and give the impression that science and religion are equal at some level. I hope that you can notice how mistaking trust with religious faith is a mistake of meanings. Think about it, maybe you will learn the difference between logic and mere rhetorics.
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    Aug 21 2012: i read this sticker that said "God is to big to be in one religion" and i thought THATS FOR SURE! just look outside our Galaxy, or just even or Solar system...:)
  • Aug 20 2012: Much of science is based on faith.

    There is nothing about science that is absolute.

    Science is a human activity. It is the seeking of truth by using the scientific method. The scientific method does not always result in truth. (Relativity is not compatible with Quantum Mechanics.) It does not even provide a consistent level of certainty when certainty is measured relative to truth. The scientific method is the method that has had the best results, so far. Tomorrow someone named Gesundhiet might invent a new method that gets even better results and a century from now scientists could be using the Gesundhiet method.

    Many people who advocate science and deplore religion fail to see how much faith is involved in science. I maintain that whenever I can point out that a scientifically arrived conclusion is based on an assumption, there is an element of faith in that conclusion. With an open mind, you can find many assumptions. One of my favorite examples is the assumption that the speed of light is the same all over the universe. No one has actually measured the speed of light outside of the solar system. Many advocates of science either assume or state that our senses are adequate to understand the universe we live in. There is absolutely no way to determine if this is true. For all we know, we are taking in dark matter with every breath and that dark matter is radiating a form of energy that we have no way of sensing or detecting.

    My idea worth spreading is beware hubris. We should have pride in science, and we should understand its limits.
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      Aug 21 2012: Barry are you suggesting all beliefs are equal.
      If I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, is that the same level of belief as supernatural beliefs.
      I suggest not.

      Also I don't know if the speed of light is the same or the gravitational constant, but what we test backs up the hypothses. It is reasonable to assume they are constant, until we have other information.

      Science is about what is testable, even if we don't know anything absolutely. Many of the core claims in religion are untestable. No one has been able to prove a god exists. And science has nothing to say on the existence of god because there are no tests. Speed of light, we test. God, we can not.

      That is another thing, science changes in the face of new information. If we found out the speed of light changes in some mediums, like glass and water and the atomosphere we update our hypothesis until they fit that data. Actually we know light does slow down in non vacuums so the theory reflects that.

      To suggest that because we don't know everything absolutely Science and Religion are equal in regards to truth claims and the amount of faith is a suspect argument I suggest.
      • Aug 21 2012: Hi Obey,

        Try reading my post again, carefully. Please note that "faith" is never capitalized. I do not remotely suggest that all beliefs are equal.

        I did not mention or suggest anything about supernatural beliefs or religion.

        "To suggest that because we don't know everything absolutely Science and Religion are equal in regards to truth claims and the amount of faith is a suspect argument I suggest."
        -- I did not suggest this or anything like this. Also, your statement is not strong enough. It is not a suspect argument, it is just plain illogical. Presumably, you were being polite.

        "It is reasonable to assume they are constant, until we have other information."
        -- IMO, this is not reasonable, it is just convenient and useful. (I am nit picking here.)

        Your reading a bunch of irrelevant stuff into my post is exactly the kind of sloppy thinking that I am trying to warn you about. IMO, science is THE best method for seeking truth that we currently have. And that is all it is.

        "My idea worth spreading is beware hubris. We should have pride in science, and we should understand its limits."

        On TV documentaries, I have heard physicists state, flat out, that they "know" what happened in the immediate aftermath of the big bang. No they don't. No one was there to measure the temperature or energy of all that stuff that was not yet matter. The big bang theory did not predict dark matter. Claiming that science "knows" what happened before the sun was even formed makes science appear arrogant and silly.

        When we make arguments from the scientific perspective, it is absolutely essential that we understand the limits of science. We must understand what we know and distinguish that from what we calculate, and distinguish that from what we can conclude. Most important, we must know what we do not know. We must understand the limits of science. Overstating what we know supports the arguments of those who would tear down science.
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          Aug 21 2012: Thanks Barry
          Agree we should understand the limits.
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      Aug 21 2012: IMO: Theoretical science and math folks can find the arts and of music, sculpture, faith ... personally useful; However, personal entertainment only adds personal value. Going beyond the theory to the application eliminates arts and humanist philosophy (including faith), because art/faith will never keep a building standing, a plane in the air, or a planet in orbit. Religion is not bad, but any attempts to apply religion to science, math, or governance will always kill and/or assure failure. So, in actual science there is no faith. Sweet or spicy regurgitated of reactionary dogma about science and math will always harm humanity and can destroy individuals. Be wary what you sow in science and politics, because the reaping may take your soul and the lives of others. IOW: There is no truth in any religion; However, there is faith as a soothing substitute for folks needing and unable to find truth.
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    Aug 20 2012: NO! IOW: Religions (Faith, Fear, Hate, and Delusion) and politics (Megalomania or Egomania) are never science. Faith in a god can be reasonable and good, but always remains illogical; Hence, faith ain't science.
  • Aug 20 2012: No
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    Aug 20 2012: Nicole. I hope that only a high school education has not stopped you from self-education, reading , etc.

    If you study the history of religion you will find religion is responsible for building many different kinds of WMD's that destroyed whole nations and peoples, some in very horrible ways. Read the writings of the priests who traveled with the Spanish Conquistadors to South America and Mexico.

    Science is a system of examining the reality we are immersed within. It is not a simple belief as it is with Religion. It is a method that we hope will help us understand the universe and discover the ultimate question of where we cam from and where are we going.

    Religion has laid claim to already knowing the answer to this question but their dogmas fall short of reasonable answers and they all have in common the idea that they are the only true religion with all the others being false. I have heard of many scientists saying, "yes, I was wrong" but I've never heard of a religious order say they were wrong about anything.

    I question anyone who claims to know the complete and infallible truth, especially if I can't verify it for myself. That's why I trust in Science. I can always verify or disprove the theories and they will all say, you are correct and we were wrong if my proofs are undeniable.

    Keep an open mind and trust no one but your own mind.

    Are you aware you can study the same material that the students at MIT study, understand the same concepts, and better yourself for free? It's online and I study there often.
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    Aug 19 2012: Hi Nicole.
    Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.[. (Wiki)

    Science can therefore be tested.

    The vast majority of scientific endeavour falls into this category, however origins 'science' is speculative in the same way that 'religion' is. Folks interpret the known facts in line with their personal opinions, or faith, if you like. So if we stick to the above definition we would have to conclude that some 'science' isn't science.

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      Aug 21 2012: Hi Peter, you may or may not be right depending on the type of religious belief and the type of scientific belief.

      If a religious belief or position on a scientific hypo about the origin of life say, is qualified by recognising we don't actually know, there isn't much supportive data, that it is speculative, then they are very similar.

      Thinking a supernatural God might have initiated life based on self replicating molecules and this this evolved, but recognising you have no proof whatsoever is probably more similar to a scientific "I don't know but here are some ideas", than to a religious faith based certainty or latching onto some speculative scientific hypothesis as the truth.

      I guess people also draw the lines or weightings on what is speculative and how speculative to different degrees. To me the early stages of development of life, getting from amino acids to self replicating RNA to DNA etc is very speculative. Whereas our genetic relationship with primates is not. I'm confident that people who understand how to use radiometric dating techniques and the ins and outs can come up with useful information, but someone who doesn't know how to do it properly or a creationist who knows the pitfalls can deliberately come up with bogus results.

      Also while we have presuppositions, some are more flexible than others. If someone came up with compelling evidence that aliens seeded life on Earth I would accept it. I'm also open to the supernatural. With proper evidence.

      I would suggest the absolute commitment to the bible being literally true is an order of magnitude more embedded and closed for debate than my presuppositions.
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        Aug 21 2012: Hi Obey.
        I agree that we all have different boundaries for speculation. The Alien thing just shifts the problem to another planet at another time. As Kent Hovind never tires of saying; "Long ago & far away."
        Scientifically this scenario is a runner however. The DNA may have been designed to self-program & allow species to species evolution. Much more unlikely is the DNA etc coming to be without intelligence. We are pretty much up to speed on the probabilities,& we haven't yet managed it with intelligent input, so a natural genesis seems unlikely. I am with you on all that.

        I didn't start with the bible; I got round to it when it seemed to tick most of the boxes. Even the fact that many people are so much against it, makes perfect sense. After 25years, I now trust it. So really science led me to the bible, now I believe it. If a better, more reliable, source was available, I would of course use it. We all are searching for the truth.

        Evolutionists & creationists use the same labs for their dating. They may supply the labs with different assumptions, & interpret the results differently, but the empirical bit is the same. That's the problem; the answer you get depends on the question you ask.

  • Aug 19 2012: Science is the opposite of religion.
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      Aug 19 2012: But you gotta be non-religious to know that.
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    Aug 18 2012: You left out the main part of religion i.e the supernatural in your definition.
    Also science doesn't tell you how to live your life nor do scientists.
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      Aug 18 2012: I hope you're not expecting me to apologize for contributing to the site. If only we could all be so perfect. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways instead of offering something meaningful to this "conversation."
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        Aug 18 2012: calm down, I wasn't trying to be rude I gave an indirect answer to your question.
        Science can't be called religion because it doesn't proclaim anything supernatural and it doesn't tell you to do a certain set of rules.
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        Aug 18 2012: And why would I expect you to apologize? You didn't say anything wrong, also I'm not saying what I say is perfect but I just added more to your definition of religion, which also science doesn't require praise or worship
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          Aug 18 2012: Fair, then. I mistook your comment to be a bit snide.
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        Aug 19 2012: Please don't take my comment as an attack either
        Just jotting down thoughts quickly without all the niceties.
        Other people write essays.
        I applaud you for making the effort to consider this question
        FYI, it has been discussed a few times before in different conversations, but if that bothers they don't have to comment. You bring your own personal flavour to the topic.

        I would add that some religious people see science as a threat and like to position it as a religion or similar.

        I agree with Stewart, that science helps us understand what is verifiable and testable. It is up humans what they do with this information. Also science is continuously improving and updating. Some religious beliefs don't.
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    Aug 28 2012: No as there was no crusade yet based on scientific fact.....
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    Aug 28 2012: I guess there are similarities between science and religion in that they are both human activities, by humans with self awareness, involve human group dynamics; humans have imperfect senses and finite brain power, involve the management of information and may form part of our world veiws etc.

    To some extent they may both try and explain the universe, but may come at this via different processes revelation versus the scientific process.

    By science, I mean the modern scientific process. Obviously this has developed over time.
    Also, there may be infinite variations of melding modern science with religious:
    From rejecting evolution, to seeing evolution and natural processes as part of god’s creation, to superimposing some mystical and magical thinking and purpose to the universe and the amazing and mind bending explanations and findings at the cosmic and quantum levels. Or simply not choosing to subjectively imply any magical purpose or agency.

    So I guess some views of science wander off into the magical realm I mostly associate with religion and superstition. You also seem to be supporting this by highlighting some of the similarities. Even the differences from your perspective might not be barriers to this view if you see some agency or purpose or whatever revealed by scientific findings.
    So I guess it is in the eye of the beholder.

    Personally, I withhold judgement about the agency and purpose questions, and while there are overlaps given they are human activities and are melded into world views etc, to me they are sufficiently different to reject the proposition that sicence is a religion and vice versa.

    But I acknowledge people can mix science into religion, or religion into science if they choose, or define and focus on the elements that support their view.
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      Aug 27 2012: I agree with a lot of what you're saying, though I'm too polite to use words like "stupid." I don't really see these views as stupid at all; just lesser-evolved. If you were to graph out the evolution of thought, it's essentially a straight line, starting with self-awareness and ending with fact as the ultimate goal. It looks like this:
      Self-awareness, theology, philosophy, theory (introduces experimentation to philosophy,) and ultimately, fact. Many see Science as diverging from the path, but I see that emotions and opinions still drive people to want to separate the two, when you pretty much can't have one without the other.
    • Aug 30 2012: You can't blame science for the pathetic representation some/many/few/whatever people might have about it. Holding to equivocation fallacies first, then to numerous straw-men, will not change this very fact. Science is a way, a method or series of methods, for acquiring knowledge, for getting answers, and often new questions, about reality. Ignoring how science works and how it is correctly identified, while holding to your own pathetic cartoons, misconceptions, and equivocations, won't turn science into a religion. The same goes about religions, they have their ways and purposes, quite distinct from those of science. So, no, science is no religion no matter how you slice it. Live with it.
  • Aug 26 2012: No. Religion requires faith. Science requires evidence.
  • Aug 26 2012: @ Charles, here's the thing, science doesn't need to sharpen it's attack on religion, or some religions, science needs to concentrate on science. What possible purpose would there be for science to even dabble in any religion? Do you purport that religion has something to teach science that science is unable to discover without the help of a Rabbi, or the bible?
    You are correct about my statement, the fact that religion wants lunacy like intelligent design to be treated as real science is a major problem.
    As for equivocating Christian evangelicals with all religions, sure it's overly broad, but it's not the Buddists that are trying to stop stem cell research. It's also not Buddists who run for political office, at least not on the continent on which I live.
    If what you would like to hear from me is that not all religions are against science. That's probably true, I don't say this because of specific knowledge, after all I don't claim to know all religions, nor all religious doctrine. What fool could say they do? I do however know much of the Judeo-Christian doctrine that dominates the West and I'm also aware of the damage that those doctrines have done to our society in their all too often overzealous persecution of scientists and scientific discovery in the past millennia.
    You may think it's important to attempt to placate some religions ( I believe that is what you are attempting to promote here), but I don't. Why should a researcher have to in anyway cowtow to a religious person? Because their research might anger someone's god, or stop someone from believing, or it's an affront to god? If a religious person wants to have influence over science, then I suggest they get an education, do some research and get in the field, otherwise stick to Hail Mary's.
    I don't worry about being perceived as ill informed, dogmatic or idealogically motivated, as I'm not ill informed, I don't subscribe to dogma and above all I value knowledge over hokum.
    • Aug 29 2012: @Brett You posed a number of questions, I'd like to offer my responses:

      >> What possible purpose would there be for science to even dabble in any religion?

      None, in the conduct of science. But I believe that anyone who enters this debate on the side of science ought to have an objective understanding of both sides, and be able to -- not just refute -- but illuminate, persuade, and inform decisions based on the ensuing discussion. No one can blame professionals who want to just keep their heads down and do their work in peace. But you spoke up, and so here we are.

      >> Do you purport that religion has something to teach science that science is unable to discover without the help of a Rabbi, or the bible?

      No. Where did you get that idea?

      >> It's also not Buddists who run for political office, at least not on the continent on which I live.

      Religious freedom will become ever more difficult to preserve if we allow ourselves to succumb to the idea that Religion == Christianity, even in the US. It doesn't. Not even here. Even if there's only 1 Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Hindu kid in the whole school, that's enough to say "there are two religions represented here."

      >> (I believe that is what you are attempting to promote here)

      Not even remotely.

      >> Why should a researcher have to in anyway cowtow to a religious person? Because their research might anger someone's god, or stop someone from believing, or it's an affront to god?

      Of course not.

      >> If a religious person wants to have influence over science, then I suggest they get an education, do some research and get in the field, otherwise stick to Hail Mary's.

      They show up at city hall and vote, and none of your recommendations is a requirement.

      I'll make an analogy to illustrate why I think this is important: Cancer treatment is more or less effective depending on how precisely you're able to target the cancerous cells, without disturbing the surrounding tissue. I'm out of space...
      • Aug 29 2012: Charles I think our back and forth simply stems from a slight difference in concepts.
        I argue that for science to continue on it has no need for religion. You argue that there is a practical purpose in a more broader scope. I argue from a point of the perpetuation of science, I believe you are arguing about politics.
        So yes, if a scientist wishes to engage in politics, it doesn't hurt to know those who may be opposed to your cause.
        For example, Richard Dawkins (whom I assume you have at least some knowledge of), the purpose of his scientific research is to expanding scientific knowledge. He also engages in militant atheism (his term), for the purpose of exposing religion as a corrupting and detrimental influence on society. For him to engage in science, it requires no knowledge of religious doctrine, but to engage in militant atheism, it does.
        The original question was "should science be considered a religion?" As I believe I first stated, religion and science are very separate entities. Politics certainly treads on both jurisdictions, but then perhaps politics as a religion might be more appropriate, but that's another discussion.
        Cheers Charles, thanks for the debate.
      • Aug 29 2012: "Religious freedom will become ever more difficult to preserve if we allow ourselves to succumb to the idea that Religion == Christianity, even in the US. It doesn't. Not even here. Even if there's only 1 Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Hindu kid in the whole school, that's enough to say "there are two religions represented here."
        In the US, religion is very much = Christianity. For political purposes, they are the only ones that count. You could argue Judaism also, but their power is more derived from the born again Christian, versus the influence of the Jews. Are their other religions, sure, but how many lawsuits are there out there to hang their Buddist tenants in High School gymnasiums or in the lobby of state Capital buildings. Hinduism isn't expounded on US currency.
        I don't believe religious freedom has ever been under attack. People in North America (I'm not American FYI) have always been free to believe what they want. What has been under attack for quite some time is the practice of pushing one's religious beliefs onto others. Religion has responded by politicizing. This, I believe will be the undoing of many churches. With declining attendance and declining belief in Deities, the writing is on the wall. I could see soon or later, the tax exempt status of churches will come under attack and churches will be on the same footing as any other retailer. That's just my thought though.
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    Aug 26 2012: Here's the formula for that as I observe it:
    self-awareness to theology to philosophy to theory to hopefully fact. Self-awareness was realizing there's a ME AND there's a YOU, which led to theology- ME, YOU....and SOMETHING ELSE, PERHAPS? Then, there was philosophy, which posed the questions like "What if there is nothing else?" and "What if there isn't even a YOU and ME?" From the ideas suggested by theology and philosophy (combined,) we got theory which in essence is Science (the process of observing and testing theories,) to come to an ultimate answer. Science is the last step in achieving a unified goal-TRUTH.
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      Aug 26 2012: that MAY .. be the formula for something. but the problem is that there are so many definitions of the sciences and of studies of logic. :) don't you notice that we have a tendency to put everything into a "box"? one of the biggest setbacks in solving real world problems is defining the confounds of the system (what are its limits?). how can we measure this thing? the problem with how we do that is that compartmentalization leaves large spaces where we are not knowing what we don't know. knowledge, in specificity, is bound by the confines we place over the branch of reason. so how do we find out what it is that we don't know? perhaps we shouldn't try to bound the applicability of philosophy into branches because the fact seems to be that most of the instances of complexity we use logic to try to clarify exist in the form of disorganized complexity. i believe that the most relevant question on earth today is "what is the single template of functions that all complexity (organized and disorganized) is based on?" this would create an effective grouping of knowledge. truth, is the totality of the circumstances relevant to it. by answering this question we will have a template for answering (literally) any question. logic SHOULD NOT be grouped by how its applied or studied but by it's relevance. you can determine it's relevance by understanding how complexity evolves. That, is when an accurate label can be created for sciences. There should only be 1 method of thought (the overall method of complexity), and simply different degrees of relevance. (In my opinion)This the basis of the theory of everything as it >relates< to observable phenomena
      i don't mean to sound disrespectful i just feel that the evolution of scientific compartmentalization is irrelevant
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        Aug 28 2012: I actually had to rewrite what you wrote just so I could understand what you were saying. Here's what I translated this comment as:

        That may be the formula for something, but the problem is that there are so many definitions of science and logic. Don't you notice that we have a tendency to put everything into a "box?" One of the biggest setbacks in solving real world problems is defining the limits of the system. How can we measure it? Compartmentalization leaves large, undefined, unknown spaces. Knowledge is bound by the confines we place over reason. How do we discover what it is that we don't know? Perhaps we shouldn't try to bind philosophy into branches because in most instances we try to explain existence by seeing the order within the chaos. I believe the most relevent question to be, "What is the single template of functions that all of existence is based on?" This would create an effective grouping of knowledge. Truth is the sum of the circumstances relevent to it. By answering this question, we will have a template for answering all other questions. Logic should be grouped according to relevence; not by how it works. You can determine it's relevence by understanding how existence evolves; when a label can be given to science. There should be only one method of thought with different degrees of relevence. I believe this is the basis of the theory of everything as it relates to what we can observe. I don't mean to sound disrespectful. I just feel that the evolution of scientific compartmentalization is irrelevent.
        Based on what I gathered there, it sounds like you're throwing the hierarchy model out the window. Check out this link to wikipedia and scroll towards the bottom, where it says "Further Applications."
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      Aug 26 2012: Anyway, that's how i came to the conclusion that science should be distinct from religion: because they have different "denominators" so to speak. they cant effectively add-up. logic based religion may have helped mankind to "perform actions conducive to it's success", but over time we have over leveraged our society on a non-truth. so the truth society should be based on is, THE truth (any tangible, scalable, dynamic, testable, and applicable truth would work, it just has to be absolute). i just feel that the evolution of complexity is the most relevant i guess
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        Aug 27 2012: I know this is going to make me sound like a total jerk, but I have to note that you use too many unnecessarily large words. I am FULLY capable of understanding them, but when you use too many of them in one paragraph, the writing and hence, the thoughts you're trying to communicate are no as quickly comprehended. The fact that you do this instead of simplifying the statement you're trying make indicates to me that your language skills (being apparently high) need to be compartmentalized. That's the fundamental basis of scientific experimentation. In Theoretical Physics, certain symbols don't just represent a number; they represent the theory or fact that gave them that number. They represent this idea as a symbol. Theoretical physicists pretty much read formulas like a musician reads sheet music. They don't always need to know the math behind the symbol; just the theories and facts they represent. I'm sure most of them do understand the math, I'm just saying that it's possible to learn these things BECAUSE they're compartmentalized- like chapters in a book. Laws in government are compartmentalized, etc. Language works the same way. That's how we compute information; in a hierarchy of "code."
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          Aug 28 2012: bigger words are like glue, usually they are bigger because they were formed from several Latin words to define a concept. i use them when describing concepts in cases where the meaning of another word which would complete the sentence makes the statement less true. bigger words make it less daunting to explain concepts because the are inherently general in their meaning. they define a concept that can be analogous to many different things. sometimes the words don't yet exist or are difficult to find in a spelled out yet condensed explanation. in these cases, big words can be like glue, they represent several dozen possible contexts of the word. it allows the writer to be accurate, the reader will know to use the context of the word that carries-out the intended meaning of the explanation. there's nothing less credible than throwing a word in an explanation which clearly doesn't fit and may even contradict your point. bigger words can be more dynamic. "The fact that you do this instead of simplifying the statement you're trying make indicates to me that your language skills (being apparently high) need to be compartmentalized." i think this is a misguided statement. i guess that you meant "break down" but you used compartmentalized. i would argue that the problem with my language skills is that they ARE so compartmentalized. communication is a very dynamic learning pattern. you can compare oratory skills to computer programs, they each serve a purpose but in order for one computer to digest that information it has to be broken down into binary numbers, the "common denominator" of all computing. but whereas with numbers there are endless combinations that can be designed to mean a specific thing, the exact opposite is true of words. if you dont have that learning pattern for communication, you may be a user of words but you are not "coder", you use bigger or more basic chunks of language. your words are more compartmentalized(into concepts), as opposed to being free
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          Aug 28 2012: I know this is going to make me sound like a total jerk, but Julius's comments may be a little dense or terse, but there are not that many large or obscure words.

          What I find is sometimes people think and view the world so differently, or and/or communicate in such a different way to me that it is a challenge to read and understand.

          E.g. March Rose must have a completely different world view, wiring or communication style to me. The diversity of human thinking etc is astounding.

          Perhaps that is part of the value of TED discussions, not mixing with people who tend to be more similar in outlook, experience, world view and communication styles.
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    Aug 26 2012: Hi Nicole! i resent that you omitted your question. there's been obvious interest in it!

    i understand your reason for asking the question because philosophy and belief are the basis for religion. i should suggest a different view: perhaps science should be completely separate from religion and to successfully separate science from religion we would need a unifying theory derived strictly from pure reason. by taking the "logic" out of religion and making the true logic the basis of science, religion then becomes more of a culture. as opposed to a dwindling flame to be defended. in evolution the most consistent pattern that's been conducive to the success of all species has been a species ability to perform actions conducive to its success. whatever it is doesn't have to perform actions for the right reason, but if it performs the right actions it can survive. with religion the real relevance is it's original purpose, peace. the way to create lasting peace is not a religious dilemma it's a logical dilemma. find this pure reason, and teach people how to things work, why we are here, how to be successful, how to express themselves, how to solve problems, how to work with people. create this environment and you create something very scalable which serves the same function as religion but is able to evolve with the human intellect without leaving entire societies in dismay. religion is not the place for science it is the place for culture. science should be devoid of emotion, based on logic because despite how we see a problem it doesn't conform to fit our formula. if we change the formula to fit our views then it doesn't work.
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      Aug 26 2012: NOTE: I accidentally posted this note on the main feed, when I meant to send it as a reply to you, so there are two copies of this on the same feed...

      Here's the formula for that as I observe it:
      self-awareness to theology to philosophy to theory to hopefully fact. Self-awareness was realizing there's a ME AND there's a YOU, which led to theology- ME, YOU....and SOMETHING ELSE, PERHAPS? Then, there was philosophy, which posed the questions like "What if there is nothing else?" and "What if there isn't even a YOU and ME?" From the ideas suggested by theology and philosophy (combined,) we got theory which in essence is Science (the process of observing and testing theories,) to come to an ultimate answer. Science is the last step in achieving a unified goal-TRUTH.
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      Aug 26 2012: I think it's time for an overhaul on the definitions of some of these "powerful" words. The way we see religions like Christianity should be downgraded to mysticism or the like and Science should be the ONLY Religion, thus giving the whole world a single Religion- SCIENCE.
      • Aug 26 2012: Hi Nicole, glad you are still interested in this debate. It sure has me thinking a lot.

        You have made a very good point. From a scientific point of view, this idea makes a great deal of sense. But there are religious people who also believe that science is not a religion, and that science has no business elevating itself to be a religion. From their point of view science is not remotely capable of addressing the most fundamental questions of our existence, and this disqualifies science as a religion.

        One of the big problems of this debate is that some parties are arguing from a particular point of view and cannot see any validity in the opposite point of view.
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          Aug 26 2012: I think it has a lot to do with this:
          10 years ago, if someone had asked me the very question I have, I would have agreed with nearly everyone here that, based on definitions and popular beliefs, it's preposterous to even suggest such an idea. As a believer in science and fact, I would have been offended by a "lamebrain" suggestion like that.
          On another level, science is also related to politics and the processes that determine "what's wrong or right." Every time a new scientific discovery is made, it is used as the foundation that decides the outcome of future events. That's why gravity is a Law. The bible uses the same process by adding testaments and such. The laws in politics are often amended to allow for new possibilities, etc. It's as though we begin with self-awareness, move to theology, then philosophy, then theory, then fact (we hope.) All are steps in achieving an ultimate goal.
        • Aug 26 2012: A little socratic torment now and then is a good thing, don't you think?
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      Aug 26 2012: would you say that going from an egg and sperm combination to a baby (any species) at birth is an act of creation or the result of a natural process?

      create, to me, implies intention, which implies an intelligence...not a word I would use, especially when discussing religion, where create tends to have a narrow meaning associated with gods..
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          Aug 26 2012: there are different degrees of wrong

          an atheist like me simply has no beliefs in postulated supernatural claims. I am willing to say I dont know the answer to most big questions, and maybe we humans aren't equipped to know, but I am not willing to plug those gaps in understanding with fabricated simple-minded stories, or admit that just anything can be possible. I assign the likelyhood of existence of the christian or muslim or hindu gods, for example, the same as the norse or greek gods. zero.

          as for intolerance - I don't mind a few, and it's really only a few, so-called intolerant atheists being blunt about how ridiculous much of religion is - about time..maybe it will wake a few people from their culturally brainwashed slumber.
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        Aug 26 2012: The question here isn't where we came from as humans, but as life, itself. We need to understand how conscious life was created.....what combination of fundamental particles create DNA/genes. What exactly makes up the atomic structures of the chemicals in our brains? Does the energy from synapses firing interact with the fundamental building blocks of the universe, thus allowing the brain to control it's own path of evolution? Our sensory organs were designed to tell the brain what was going on in the outside world and allow it to make adjustments on an atomic level to the body as needed. This is what I believe they'll discover soon about the quantum mechanics of the evolution of life.
  • Aug 25 2012: Religion: 1--a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. 2--a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. (
    It's really weird to say that science is a religion, but we can't be sure that it isn't. Since according to the definition, we can notice that science is also "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe," and we believe what science proves through various experiments. "involving devotional and ritual observances," judging by this part, science does involve devotional--experiments including risky ones, and ritual observances--well, it's not quite ritual, but scientists do use basically similar ways of observing something when it comes to experimenting. However, as for the "containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs" part, science is not relevant. It's just used to support people's arguments by providing credible evidences. Besides, as for the "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects" part, people 'who believe in--so to speak--science" does not practice such thing. I think for now—and for a long time, science is not a religion. People aggressively disagrees with religious people's idea that god exists. They think it can be possible, but still bull s***. They think it's irrational to believe that there's some kind of deity in this world. We can't officially write down some words like this, "there is a God" in our children's textbooks since that's a religious idea, not a scientific idea. Some people say that religion is a culture, which is regional, but science is universal and official.
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    Aug 25 2012: It has been said many times that there is no evidence for god. That science is evidence based whereas religion is faith in the unknowable. This link shows a very small part of the complex structure that is a living creature. The fact that we can understand any of it is awesome, but to believe it came together without design or forethought is foolishness.
    Yes, you word mongers, it is an argument from ignorance; when it comes to this degree of complexity we are all ignorant.
    I give you evidence for God.....

    • Aug 25 2012: But that is not the issue. The issue if whether science is a religion. The answer is no. That's independent of how many gods exist or not.
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        Aug 25 2012: Science that proclaims there is no god is a religion. It is flying in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

        • Aug 25 2012: Evidence to be included at a later date?

          "science that proclaims there is no god is a religion". Kind of like not playing tennis is a sport.
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          Aug 25 2012: Science does not proclaim there isn't a god, science merely states that the universe works fine without one
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          Aug 26 2012: My understanding is science has very little to say on the aspects of god claims that can not be verified.

          There seems to be no scientific evidence for gods (many of definitions, not the ones that god is the universe, god is everything, god is truth etc). Perhaps I've missed some convincing evidence. What have you got?

          Just because life and the universe is complex does not mean it needs agency.

          If they are immaterial outside time and space etc, it is hard for science to play a role on the direct question as to their existence.
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          Aug 26 2012: Science do not proclaims there is no god , this is only atheistic propaganda . Also science do not claim the universe work fine without god .
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        Aug 26 2012: Hi Guys.
        You seem to dismiss the evidence such as that shown on the link as of no consequence. We would never accept a petrol engine evolving from the earth by natural causes. How do you rationalise biology, which is millions of times more complex ?

        • Aug 26 2012: Petrol engines don't live. Evolution isn't so hard to understand, once you get your mind around the staggering expanse of time over which it operates.
        • Aug 27 2012: Peter, it's an 8 minute movie. You could have just posted a picture of a tree and said the same thing. Just because you don't wish to accept that life can be mysterious and insist that a deity has to be involved, doesn't mean others are willing to jump to the same baseless conclusions.
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        Aug 27 2012: Hi Charles.
        Biology wasn't alive to begin with either. Vast amounts of time only reduce things to dust, that is scientific; testable, repeatable. As yet there has been no experiment that would suggest that biology can come from dust.

        • Aug 27 2012: Well Peter, okay I'll bite, it must have been a god that created life, something that previously didn't exist, right? Only logical conclusion. One question then, who created god then? Nobody, nothing, god just always existed? If one entity could always have just existed, then why couldn't life have always existed? Why is it when we have a fundamental paradox, must we resort to the unbelievable to explain things?
        • Aug 27 2012: False. We witness loads and loads of processes that do not reduce stuff to dust. When water freezes it becomes crystals, ice, and such. Not dust. When a volcano erupts, the lava solidifies and forms rocks, not dust, a meteorite hits the surface, previously dusty surface melts, solidifies, and we see rocks instead, with veins of valuable minerals forming which separated from other minerals because of their different rates of solidification and crystallization. Lots and lots more. So, false. Vast amounts of time do not reduce everything to dust. Otherwise the whole planet would be dust by now. Yet ...
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        Aug 27 2012: Hi Brett.
        The 8 minute movie scratches the surface, but gives an idea of the complexity of biology. Ten trillion cells, each as complex as a major city, all cooperating with each other to form a whole creature. All producing the raw materials required to form it's particular bit of body. In addition these cells are digesting nutrients, getting rid of waste, & replacing worn cells at a rate of tens of thousands per second. How complex does it have to get in order to merit admission of design ?

        Regarding who made God. We don't need to know who made the petrol engine in order to reach the conclusion that someone did. We are big headed creatures to assume we can know these things. However we do have a certain expertise; which is very strange for evolved apes; so let's give it a go.
        As I understand Einstein, time is affected by mass. It is generally believed by scientists that time came into existence in conjunction with the formation of the universe. The bible (before Einstein) tells us that God is an eternal spirit; ie a massless entity outside of time. This of course implies He is unaffected by time, & consequently must have always existed, & will always exist. If He has always existed, He requires no maker. Our science will no doubt change, but for today that is my best understanding.

        • Aug 28 2012: Peter: "How complex does it have to get in order to merit admission of design ?", it was designed, by nature. That's the basis of evolutionary biology. Why does something that is complex have to be created by a deity, versus the obvious force (nature) that surrounds us?

          So a book written by men, for the purpose of controlling other men, states that god is eternal. Out of that you derive that god therefore is a massless entity that exists outside of time? Okay, probably doesn't say that in the bible though now does it?

          So the crux of your argument, (based on specious logic) is that because god has no mass, unlike the universe, he can have always just existed, but the universe since it has mass has to have been created, by said god. Unless of course if you want to count photons as being part of the universe, which from my understanding exist and it's questionable if they have mass. Maybe they always just existed too, but didn't god create the heavens and the earth?
          Curious if we were made in the image of god, then why do we have mass?
          You see belief in god creates way more questions than it doesn't really answer.
        • Aug 29 2012: @Peter The mechanics of evolution are not hard to understand, but getting one's mind around the idea that the relatively simple rules of evolution could have produced the life we see around us is daunting. Nonetheless, if you're being honest, you can't say its impossible. You might say its overwhelmingly unlikely -- even miraculous -- that such a mindless process should work out just the right way for us to become what we are, and I would agree. The expanse of time, the numberless generations, the infinitely intertwined patterns stretch the imagination to the breaking point. But it could have happened.

          In fact, the only way you can say that its impossible is by saying "I don't believe that. I believe God did it."

          btw-- Einstein did not say time is affected by mass (it depends only relative motion) so he can't back up your idea that the massless would be timeless and therefore eternal. The Bible is many things, I think we now have to say that a reliable source on Cosmology isn't one of them.
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        Aug 28 2012: Hi Brett.
        The only scientific data we have points to design requiring intelligence. You may hypothesise that dead matter designs stuff, but empirical data is a bit hard to come by. Normally a designer is required to be greater than his design, so an intellect greater than us is required to design us. That is what current empirical science would suggest.

        The bible describes God as an eternal (or everlasting) spirit.

        John 4:24 (KJV)
        God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

        Genesis 21:33 (KJV)
        And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord , the everlasting God.

        Revelation 22:13 (KJV)
        I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

        He sees the future, the whole of time ..
        Isaiah 46:10 (KJV)
        Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

        Time is irrelevant....
        2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)
        But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

        The birth of photons ..
        Genesis 1:3 (KJV)
        And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

        We are made in God's image, we are spirits, our bodies are a temporary location, soon to pass.
        Genesis 1:26 (KJV)
        And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

        • Aug 29 2012: Peter, if you choose to accept the bible as if it is a constant truth, have at 'er.
          I don't.

          I also don't hypothesis that dead matter designs stuff. (that's your straw man argument) Gabo pointed out earlier that the earth is not made up of just dust. I know that doesn't jive with Genesis, but neither does reality. So once again, no deity required to create what already exists.
    • Aug 27 2012: No science proclaims that there is no god(s). Scientists might, but that does not mean that science does. It is the comparison of myths, such as those you believe to be true, against scientific findings that show that those myths contradict reality, and the absence of certain god(s) is concluded from that comparison. But science does not proclaim so. Reason does. Reason is no religion either.

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        Aug 28 2012: Correct reason do not proclaim there is no god , only faulty reason maybe .
        It's simple : if by the concept of god I understand something that goes beyond my imagination and everything I know , then obviously reason can't proclaim there is no god .
        In fact , we both know that your own type of atheism testifies against you this time .
        • Aug 28 2012: "if by the concept of god I understand something that goes beyond my imagination and everything I know , then obviously reason can't proclaim there is no god ."
          If you understand a concept through your belief in god, then how does it go beyond your imagination and everything you know? You would, because of your belief in god, know it. Then your reason, wouldn't allow you to proclaim there is no god, otherwise you wouldn't have understood the original concept.
          Now if someone doesn't plug in hokum to understand what is beyond their imagination and everything they know, they would neither have to claim supernatural deities nor the lack of them. They could instead just seek to understand and comprehend.
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        Aug 28 2012: "If you understand a concept through your belief in god, then how does it go beyond your imagination and everything you know?"

        Then I talked about a potential situation , it was something like : 'if I.... " , it doesn't necessarily mean I really do understand the concept of god in that way ; that's why I don't see any reason why you think I would understand the concept of god through 'my' belief , that belief.
        Even if I understand the concept of god through my belief It's false to say that because of my belief in god I know something about god. The entire logic of your comment rest on this --- so faulty logic is what guide your comment .

        Now again something potential : what about if my belief in god is : god is beyond everything I know and imagine and nothing more ? If I understand the concept of god through this belief then my argument is valid , right ?
        • Aug 29 2012: You modify your argument and then attempt expose fault in my original conclusion.

          "if by the concept of god, I understand something that goes beyond my imagination and everything I know...."
          If the concept of god allows you to understand something, then how can it possibly be beyond your ability to know and imagine? If you can conceptualize it, you can certainly imagine it and if you believe in it, you kind of have to at least have a cursory understanding of it's existence (implies you can both imagine it and comprehend it.) Otherwise you probably don't understand it.
          "Even if I understand the concept of god through my belief It's false to say that because of my belief in god I know something about god" You are unaware of the concept of god? You believe it? Yet you don't know anything at all about it? So you can believe in god, yet not know even the simplest detail, say such as his existence? Perplexing.
          If you believe you understand the concept of god, then you must admit, god can't be beyond your imagination and everything you know. Kind of hard to believe in a concept one has no knowledge of, nor imagined anything about it.
          I was pointing out the silliness of statements like god's power goes beyond anything you can even imagine or hope to ever know. I wonder if god knows what the largest number is?
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        Aug 30 2012: Brett :

        "If the concept of god allows you to understand something, then how can it possibly be beyond your ability to know and imagine?"
        This is a fallacious rhetorical question because you misunderstood what I said playing with words and because your faulty logic :
        - you misunderstood what I said because what I said was : 'by the concept of god I could understand something that goes beyond my imagination and everything I know ' , if that something I understand goes beyond me then obviously I don't know that something , when I said what I said it was about a conception (as I specified) , I described this conception -- but it is fallacious to confuse the description of something with that something .
        Here is your fallacious thinking : - you reason very abstractly guiding yourself only after words and not after ideas , this makes you confuse the description of something with that something .

        "You are unaware of the concept of god?You believe it? Yet you don't know anything at all about it"
        This wrong continues to make itself felt , again you confuse the concept itself with the description of it --- when you asked me if I'm unaware of the concept of god you did it to defend your falsity I described , but in my description of your falsity I was talking about the description of the concept of god not about the concept itself , however you try to defend your falsity by talking about the concept itself . See your wrong thinking ?
        Now to clarify the thing : I understand the concept of god , the concept itself as much as I can as a human being , but about god himself I could say I'm unaware ( I'm talking about being unaware mentally , in terms of understanding ) .
        Of course the thing gets perplexing when you make confusions .

        And something else : you can't understand anything about god if you aren't ready mentally to handle paradoxes .
        • Aug 30 2012: So if I may, you think logically I went wrong because I accepted your words, when what I should have been doing is realizing that you were simply giving a description of a concept, which you whole heartedly understand no doubt, about something which you can't possibly understand. And the knowledge of this concept allows you to understand something else? Question if you believe it, isn't it not true, shouldn't it then no longer be a concept but reality?
          It's the equivalent of saying I have no clue how it works, fact is I'll never understand, but when I look through this lens, everything makes absolute sense. If that's your logic, I understand what you are saying. I have no clue how reasonably you could expect others to derive the same conclusions, but hey it's probably because I don't have a description of a concept that would allow me to dodge all the paradoxes that belief in God creates. If one doesn't believe, one doesn't have to handle all of those pesky paradoxes, instead we can just seek to understand.
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        Aug 30 2012: What you should be realizing is that the people don't just make this simply contradictions between words on which you rest your objections . A rational person can very well understand from the first time what I meant to say .
        I don't talk about something and I call it god , I never did --- try to understand the ideas of what the people say .
        'by the concept of god I understand something beyond me '' --- it is obvious that what a rational person should understand from this is that by 'god' , that I , understands something that's beyond him . It doesn't mean he knows what's beyond him is like . Look again your fallacy -- for you it meant that what I said means I know what's beyond me .
        I tell what you did : - you wanted to find contradictions in what I said , you didn't get what I actually said ... this things made you to just reason with words .

        Also in your last comment you take again anything literally , try to get to the next level : get the ideas not only the words . Then if you have an objection we'll can talk .

        "you were simply giving a description of a concept, which you whole heartedly understand no doubt, about something which you can't possibly understand"
        I told what you should have understood , read again what I wrote and think better .
        • Aug 30 2012: You know I realize that English isn't your first language, and I've tried to be polite about that and understand what you are actually trying to get at. Telling me I'm not rational simply because I didn't understand what you meant to say versus what you actually said, well that's not very polite.

          Perhaps you fail to understand, but I was simply having a little fun with your original statement. Did I take it literally, ummm, yep! You may not have meant for your words to be taken literally, but since I'm not a mind reader, how would I know that. The crux of your argument is that I take words too literally and I miss the ideas behind them. Once again, all I have is your words, which take a little work to comprehend. The problem isn't that I need to read again and think better. I read it, I know what you said, I also know what I said.
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    • Aug 25 2012: Oh. My mistake, you still hold to your equivocation fallacy.

      If "faith" is "confidence that the knowledge is true, irrelevant of your reason for having that confidence." Then the word is inadequate to compare science and religion, because one (among others) of the fundamental differences between science and religion is the reasons for having such confidence. Got it now mr fallacies?

      "presumptuousness" is the fact that you pretend to make science into a religion by using a single word (faith) as if that word defined both completely, religion and science. So, now concede or be wrong. That's your option.
    • Aug 25 2012: Marc, dude you're all over the map.....
      How about you just finish our discussion without me, as it seems my input really isn't required.
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    • Aug 25 2012: So, now you finally renounce to your equivocation and change it instead to drawing a cartoon of science (and of "truth"). From equivocation fallacy to a series of straw-man fallacies. What next?

      Should I make a cartoon of religion, and another of philosophy for you? I would, but I have some respect for philosophy (but not for any philosopher), and have a cultural interest in religions. That leaving alone that making cartoons does not help solve anything. It's mere rhetoric.
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      Aug 26 2012: You have a very strange perception of science from my perspective.

      And your simplistic and inaccurate characterisations are pathetic.

      Are your comments serious or trolling?
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    Aug 25 2012: this is like claiming that X = Not X

    sophistry at best
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    Aug 24 2012: Hi Nicole!

    i resent that you removed your topic from the conversation! it is a good one. despite the replies you've gotten lol

    my response therefore is: No.

    science should not be a religion. in my opinion emotion and logic are two separate spectrums . despite belief, emotion should become even more so distant from logic. religion is a tool of people to act in a way conducive to the success of our species. though it is a hopeful gesture; no its not necessary. it snot enough to say that true logic is not in science, though it's in the very logic that science is derived from. yes, that LOGIC is. philosophy. philosophy should equal logic and logic should equal science, through things you do, or do not learn through logic (consciously or subconsciously) you form beliefs.

    so science is instrumental in the development of beliefs, while the development of beliefs without logic: is (instrumental in failure) the problem with our society.
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    Aug 24 2012: You talk as if religion is about seeking and defending truth, all it does is offer unproven stories and claim other texts are false since they claim different things. Truth is undisputable. Religions are different because they dispute each others version of the truth, so I digress to my original point. Everything that can't be proven causes stress and separates people in some way or another because it causes them to disagree since they both think they DEFINITELY HAVE THE TRUTH, ESPECIALLY OBVIOUSLY religion, doesn't get any more obvious than that. The effects are what I am judging from, have you not seen the effect religion has had on people and the death, confusion and suffering and ignorance that never stops because of unproven writings that are disputed by every other religion? People should not believe in something that causes division and since the truth and the story that accompanies it is different all over the world, that should make it obvious that religion isn't worth it. Ultimately if someone believes something different than you, you feel negative towards them because you think they are ignorant or you gain a false sense of empathy. THAT'S WHAT RELIGION DOES. If you can't prove it, the correct action is to say that you don't know and to keep searching until there are no discrepancies, while living and loving. Religion doesn't make us love, or make us live, or be moral, we do because it's natural to feel good and be happy and when others feel good, we feel good too.
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      Aug 25 2012: B Bevill :

      If for you religion does only to offer unproven stories and claim other texts are false , then you have no idea whatsoever what religion is about , just document yourself a bit more on wiki .

      I'm afraid it cannot be understood something logical from your comment , your comment is full of contradictions:

      - you claimed truth is undisputable even though you acknowledge we have discussions about different versions of truth ---- either truth is undisputable or exist different versions of truth , you can claim them both .
      - religion dispute different versions of truth you say , but you also say ' religion offers only unproven stories ' ---- it is illogical to claim them both .

      Now , another type of contradictions :
      - you said : " Everything that can't be proven causes stress and separates people in some way or another because it causes them to disagree since they both think they DEFINITELY HAVE THE TRUTH "
      I mean , look at us now , I disagree with you but I'm not stressed at all , I have very good friends I disagree with and we're not separate at all , we're friends . Obviously your message is not entirely true , then why do you assume it is true in the case of religion ?

      - in your somehow rhetorical question you make again a confusion , you confuse religion with some unproven writings , religion is not only a set of writings , go to wiki . Maybe that writings cause death , confusion , suffering but not religion .
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    Aug 24 2012: Has anyone noticed how the definitions of words change? It's not just changes in opinion and belief I'm talking about. Words change over time according to popular belief in the true or new definition. Here are some examples I gave to someone while on another forum. I was trying to DEFEND a homosexual's right to marry. I do use some slang, here, but please know that (like Sam Clemens) I'm NOT using these words out of any hatred.

    "There are more definitions for the word "marriage" that refer to it without religious undertones. Also, our language changes constantly. Think of all the words we use that at one time in history meant something completely different. Once, it was a bundle of sticks, then a cigarette and now "fag" is a prejudiced slang word. Gay used to mean happy. Cool has been adapted to not only mean "cold," but to acknowledge the validity of a trend. A geek was a circus freak who bit the heads off of animals (primarily chickens) as a form of they're in your homes and offices, fixing your electronics."
    • Aug 25 2012: Even words with relatively stable definitions, like "science" and "religion", get used carelessly with tragic little awareness of, or effort to dispel, the connotations they bring along. For instance it seems likely that many of the participants in this conversation are using "religion" to mean "Christianity" or some similar specific religious tradition.

      Good topic for discussion, though!
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    Aug 24 2012: No, they belong to different layers of truth

    natural science starts with the sensing and is constructed with proper methods - logic and the field of feeling is excluded...

    I will come back to this conversation later, just need to be back to work... Jung
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    Aug 23 2012: I'm not talking about a god, here, but consider for a moment that someone proves through Scientific means that there is, indeed, what one might call a soul/life force. Atheists would have to adjust their beliefs to accept that new discovery. I'm sure they still won't be swayed to believe in a god, but the religious who worship a god would believe even more deeply than before and this would spawn an even bloodier battle between the organized religions. I personally feel that there is no "supreme being," however, if I were to adopt the idea that there is nothing beyond death, then I'd have to wonder; what is the driving force behind the HUMAN instinct or "desire" to learn and more importantly, PASS knowledge on? Essentially, in the grand scheme of things, when the universe comes to the end, will none of it matter, anyway, as though the moment you die is the moment you never existed at all? If Science proved, once and for all, that consciously we cease to exist entirely when we die, then the average person would likely adopt a new belief that centers entirely around the self- with no consideration for others, since none of us really exist.
    When we're not conscious, time has no relevance, since there is nothing beyond your perception to gauge speed/distance/time. That's why dreams can seem to last much longer than they actually occurred for. We "experience" time differently when we're not using our physical senses. Just an added thought, anyway.
    • Aug 23 2012: Although I have been a Christian all my life I find that I agree to your perspective on almost all accounts. There is simply too little evidence to prove the existence of a "supreme being". But I find it hard to live with myself when I'm subjected to a life without a grand creator. Perhaps it is because of my Christian Cultural Paradigm, but I find an Atheistic viewpoint to be too similar to pessimism. So I chose at a young age to be optimistic and believe in God regardless of the lack of reason.

      Since then I have had some rather amazing spiritual experiences that make it easier to return to an optimistic stand point. I still have never found a way to prove my experiences are completely real. They may very well be self-induced revelation, but I can't let myself chose to accept that. My gut tells me to well that I didn't have a minor laps of "crazy". This is why I choose to believe in God.

      To bring things back to conversation topic. I believe that religion is simply something that helps you choose to be better. Though science in general doesn't provide my "drive" for me to be good. I gain a lot of my ambition due to the things I've learned in psychology and sociology. I don't see a point in making a church out of it. But you can be religious in improving yourself and those around you from the things you learn through science. So long as a group of people are trying to improve the world rather than destroy it - I will respect them in whatever form or organization they decide to call themselves.
      • Aug 26 2012: What if we chose not to form an organization? What is the difference between an atheist and a religious person? The atheist, simply subscribes to one less religion. Would you think a Christian pessimistic because they don't believe in Hinduism?
        There is nothing a Christian can do in this world that I can't. Morality is not a product of religion. In fact I would argue for all too many religion is not something that helps one to choose to be better, it all too often allows people to perpetrate some truly vile and hateful acts.
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    • Aug 24 2012: Will you keep repeating your fallacy of equivocation just "adorned" differently?
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      Aug 24 2012: Hi Marc, I don't know if there are gods or goddesses.
      I don't absolutely reject the possibility of gods or goddesses of some form
      I don't claim to know if there are deities
      I just haven't seen any convincing evidence for one or another.

      Its a bit disengenuous to compare belief in something with evidence, for example that the computer you are typing exists, and belief in something without evidence.

      Not all beliefs are equal. Some things we believe we commonly say we know, like the earth rotates every day. (Alternatively the earth is stationary and the whole universe is spinning around earth every day). Or that I'm wearing socks. You can check the evidence.

      With the socks, you might not require too much evidence.

      But if you make a more extraordinary claim that an invisible dude walks around with you and made the universe or that you were abducted by aliens or that there is life after death then more compelling evidence is required.
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          Aug 25 2012: Marc that is just one definition.

          There are so many definitions the word god is meaningless until someone define what their interpretation is.

          I guess every person who has a belief in a god, goddess or plural has a unique interpretation of what it means.

          I've heard god is everything. God is unknowable. God is truth. God is Yahweh or Allah or Jesus or Zeus etc.

          Most beliefs in some sort of entity or being, I have come across or specific perspective of some unknowable power or creator have no compelling evidence to support their belief versus any other.

          I would argue that the diversity of god definitions does not support the existence of a god unless you define it as something that is difficult to refute.

          I don't actually know what your definition of god means. Something that dictates reality. God is reality? I don't know.

          You could define god as my toaster and I would say the toaster seems to exist.

          Can you name some people who claim to claim to know absolutely no god in the mundane supernatural creator of the universe sense exists. Not Dawkins, Hitchens or Harris. Not me.

          That is not to say we can be pretty certain some interpretations are pretty suspect if taken literally. Is Apollo pulling the sun across the sky in a golden chariot?

          RE: “You are NOTHING but a piece of meat on a bone stick with a skull full of electric jelly aimlessly wondering upon a random dead rock in meaningless zombie universe, of this they are utterly certain."

          We seem to have evolved. I'm probably a consciousness based on brain processes. If my brain is damaged so is the function of my mind. There seems to be no evidence for a creator ir absolute meaning. My body is made probably from atoms generated in stars that exploded. Do I have all the answers, no. Do I need to believe in a god to have meaning in my life, no.

          How do you know if these people are absolutely certain? And if they are, they might be wrong, they might be right if talking about absolute meaning.
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          Aug 25 2012: How is being created on the whim of some entity know one seems to be able to nail down any more meaningful than evolving.

          By the way, accepting it is most likely that there is no divine plan to our existence does not prevent one from having a rich and fulfilling life that has meaning to yourself and the people you touch even if of no consequence in the great scheme of things.

          I can see you have a disdain and seemingly an absolutist, bias or poorly informed view of the atheist position of lacking a belief in most definitions of gods.

          Suggesting some evidence might be in order before accepting you were created by Yahweh and must follow 613 commandments, or any other similar supernatural claim.

          You can define a concept into existence but not an actual god intelligence etc.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 23 2012: There is MATHEMATICAL EVIDENC that supports the theory of a Higgs Bosun. It is not theorized by FAITH. There is no evidence that supports the idea of God. In fact, if you WERE familiar with quantum physics (as I am), you would know that there is a MOUND of evidence that shows that what you call "God" does not exist. But rather, what you call "God" is an energy field. It is "being", but not "a" being. In fact, we are ALL of the field, that physicists are calling the quantum field or the unified field or even the morphic field. That's why less than 1% of physicists believe in "God", and those few who do are primarily deists - meaning that god may have created everything, but he doesn't involve himself in the doings of his creations, but they are awaiting more evidence that they HOPE will disprove the evidence that they can SEE.

    When people confuse FAITH with REASON, they become dangerous when they are able to amass as much political power as christians have today. You may not see the danger, but those who know that words have meanings DO.
    • Aug 24 2012: Hi Ted Lover,

      Just a small point about your first statement. Math is never evidence. Math is a self contained form of logic. Math can be used to build a mathematical model of parts of the real world, and it can be used to predict real phenomena. When these predictions prove true, that is evidence that the model of reality is an accurate model (its is still just a model). It is a fallacy to claim that math itself is evidence.
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        Gail .

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        Aug 25 2012: Math is a language. It shows, without error, whether something is possible or not.

        Show me the math that explains how God is possible. I've never heard about it. If it exists, I'm sure that MANY scientists would be EXCITED about it and finding experimental ways to verify whether it is true in our physical reality.

        That's because scientists are looking explanations. That's why it's called science. Religions are not looking for the math that explains in unambiguous terms that god exists. Religions are not a science.

        Math is a LANGUAGE.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 23 2012: FACT: Christianity is responsible for more murder, mayhem, torture, and war than any other religion in all of recorded history. It did more in the last century than the Muslims have done it it's entire history. This doesn't sound like a pinacle of good. And such absence of critical thinking as you show, which causes you to spout nonsense and not even see it, is standard for christians,
  • Aug 23 2012: The sad thing is that I see them as converging. Science seems to be taking more of a traditionalist role in certain fields (as it seems to me) than a progressive one.
  • Aug 22 2012: Mitch - I do not agree that religion answers the Why. If so, then why are there so many rules associated with religion (from the chothes women can where to what you can't eat and even the 10 commandments). Religion tried to maintain a social norm thus the reluctance to change. I think you may have to two reversed, science asks why and religion tells us how.
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      Aug 23 2012: I'm sorry perhaps I wasn't clear. Telling woman how to dress is not religion. At least, it's not what religion is supposed to be. And either way, it still answers the why question. Women dress a certain way...why? To honor God. How? by putting the clothes on (which is observable and therefore can be scientifically explained)...You might be onto something that science asks why...but it answers how. Religion asks how (how should I live) and answers with a why. The ten commandements, in the context of when they were given, were not a set of "rules" that answer how to get into heaven...they are a set of standards that present a way to live which yields a better life. Religion might answer the question of why you live by them, why strive for a better life, why does it matter. But the rules themselves aren't the religion-they are guidelines to finding the answer to the questions answered with "why"
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        Aug 24 2012: I suggest religion tells you how, whether right or wrong.
        People ask or are told. Religion tells based on old books and supposed revelations or religious authorities.
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    • Aug 23 2012: You seem to have studied too much creationist propaganda. We scientists recognize, everyday, the extent of our ignorance. Otherwise we would be out of a job. Why be a scientist if everything is already known?

      Do you see the flaws of your arguments yet?
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    Gail .

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    Aug 22 2012: The Salvation Army exists because of its belief in god, but not the Red Cross. It's not a Christian cross where one of the four arms is longer than the other. The red cross is politically and religiously neutral. Glad you got the point though.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 22 2012: Yes, sometimes applying FAITH appears to work, but if I and many others can experience the exact same thing and not have faith, but achieve the same result, then your faith is demonstrably not the cause for the common conclusion.

    Example: Not long ago, on one of my chat sites, a woman was saying that she knows God is real because she was in a flood and lost everything. She prayed to God for help and within a month, life was back to normal.

    In 1972, I lost everything I owned in a flood. The next day, the Red Cross was there with essentials - including food. The National Guard was there clearing the debris and sludge. The Salvation Army was around offering free sandwiches, coffee, and drinkable water as we cleaned up our homes. Employers and co-workers helped out. In less than a month, life was back to normal. No god. Better consequences.
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      Aug 22 2012: Hi Ted.
      Without belief in God, the Red Cross & the Salvation Army would not exist. I get you're point though.

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        Aug 24 2012: Are you arguing belief in god is tied up with some organisation that try to do good things?
        This does not go to the truth of the beliefs.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 22 2012: Here is a video that will explain it calmly, rationally, and clearly.
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        Gail .

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        Aug 22 2012: Faith plays no part. I know that something is true or I have faith that it is true. One or the other. Not both. I know certain things because I have evidence to support it. That which I know may not be complete knowledge, but it is knowledge, not faith. No faith involved.
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          Aug 24 2012: Now you through in some false dichotomies etc.
      • Aug 22 2012: Marc, I completely agree with what you are saying.

        Some people in this conversation do not seem to understand that the word 'faith' can be used in multiple ways. By my reading, you are using 'faith' in the sense of having confidence in specific knowledge. This is a very good point.

        In our daily lives we often must obtain knowledge from secondary sources and our confidence that the knowledge will work depends on our confidence in the source.
        • Aug 23 2012: I completely disagree with what he is saying because it is a fallacy of equivocation. These fallacies rely on words having multiple meaning in order to mistake one thing for another. Science is definitely not a religion. Equivocations notwithstanding.
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        Gail .

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        Aug 22 2012: Yes, sometimes applying FAITH appears to work, but if I and many others can experience the exact same thing and not have faith, but achieve the same result, then your faith is demonstrably not the cause for the common conclusion.

        Example: Not long ago, on one of my chat sites, a woman was saying that she knows God is real because she was in a flood and lost everything. She prayed to God for help and within a month, life was back to normal.

        In 1972, I lost everything I owned in a flood. The next day, the Red Cross was there with essentials - including food. The National Guard was there clearing the debris and sludge. The Salvation Army was around offering free sandwiches, coffee, and drinkable water as we cleaned up our homes. Employers and co-workers helped out. In less than a month, life was back to normal. No god. Better consequences.
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          Aug 24 2012: Your faith and faith related decisions and behaviours may impact some outcomes in life and not others.

          You may attribute all the good stuff to god, and ignore or excuse the failed prayers as gods will (Nothing fails like prayer in my view).

          If we don't have faith in a god we might base our lives on something more concrete or equally unproven like astrology or crystal healing. We might even come to some of the same conclusion like killing is bad, slavery is evil, even though some holy books endorse slavery and killing people for working on the Sabbath, or being on some land god has planned for his chosen people.
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      Aug 22 2012: I'm not a qualified scientist who works at CERN, but I take it on "faith" that they are doing what they claim and have possibly found the Higgs boson that gives mass to hadrons like protons and neutrons. I have "faith" that soon they will discover more hypothesized elementary particles. According to the first definition of the word "faith," on, it is "confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability." Scientific-minded people should not fear this word just because religious people use it, too.
  • Aug 22 2012: It really just comes down to wanting to know WHAT THE .$@! IT All MEANS!.......right? For the the record I'm a
    spiritual believer in the possibilities of scientific discovery. Humbled by the intense hyper-realisim of the manifest universe of our time, I see the fringes of the fringes of something "out there" to believe in. It all seems pretty "possible" out there where then Billy ate your underwear. Huh? If you love that this really happens to you say multiverse!
  • Aug 21 2012: Religion is basicly a faith, a belief in philosophy, the underlining truth to life. In science, we believe in the search for truth or a alternate way to search for the underlining truth to life. We search in space to find our origins, we search in living cells for our creation, we search our concience for our being. One could say that structure religion has those answers, but those answers are open to wide interpretation. Science lends itself to reducing those interpretations to a common and understood unity.

    There are those that believe that religious text has been proven wrong. That may be true if the text is taken as fact instead of a guiding principle which many believe is how the text should be interpreted. Science as well has provided us with guiding principles. So, I can see how science could be a religion, and maybe it should be.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 21 2012: Because there is already evidence out there that STRONGLY suggests that what the Abrahamic religions call god is an energy field. To put it simply, it is "being", but it is not "a" being. It has no ego and if per chance it did, it does not involve itself in the doings of its creations. Abrahamic religions have been fighting scientific discoveries at every turn over the last century. But not once does it suggest a way to test for its theory. It refuses to even address the most rational conclusions that science has proposed.

    Science has theories about where we came from and HOW we came to be. Religion does not have a theory. It doesn't even have a hypothesis. It has an idea. For a theory to exist, there must be viable evidence that can be recreated. For a hypothesis to exist, there must be a way suggested to test the hypothesis to see if it can become a theory or not. For an idea to exist in someone's mind, it requires an absence of intellectual curiosity.

    Biblical creationism is not a theory because there is an ABUNDANCE of evidence proving it wrong. There is also evidence that the "God" experience is a chemical reaction in our brains, and there is a + STRONGLY supported theory that WE are what you call god.

    If religion were searching for truth, then it wouldn't have taken 500 years for the Pope to forgive Galileo. If religion were searching for truth, it would have searched for proof of the efficacy of prayer. But it was scientists rather than religionists who discovered that prayer does the opposite of what is intended if the patient knows he's being prayed about. Religion should be trying to solve this riddle, but it is not. It was physicists using math who proved that Noah's flood couldn't have happened. It was archeologists and egyptologists who proved that the Biblical exodus couldn't have happened. It was geologists who disproved the 6,000 year old earth suggestion. But religionsts reject the evidence out-of-hand. They aren't searching.
  • Aug 21 2012: Apology accepted.
  • Aug 21 2012: Science and religion are certainly not the same thing, but look at the same reality of life from two different perspectives.

    Science has everything to do with the physical world, religion has everything to do with the spiritual world.

    Science can build us the greatest mansion possible, but only the spirit can make it a home.

    Science is about this life, religion is about the next.

    Religion can give us the love for loving others, science can expand the means to do that.

    This is about the spiritual world we live in;
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      Aug 21 2012: I would suggest we have more confidence that the physical world exists than the spiritual world.
      That this life is real and the afterlife, well nobody knows.

      I would suggest it is possible translate a lot of spirit talk to ordinary non magical feelings. You don't need spirit to explain a feeling of home versus house.

      You also don't need religion to love others and lead a good life.

      I agree Science is about testable truth and can feed some facts into ethical or "meaning" discussions only.

      To me there seems good reasons to doubt the existence of some spiritual world, or at least leave it an open question.
      • Aug 21 2012: --"You don't need spirit to explain a feeling of home versus house."--
        I was not talking about explaining anything. I was saying that kids living in that great mansion, if there is no loving contact with the parents, would certainly not regard it as a home.

        --"You also don't need religion to love others and lead a good life."--
        There is only one Source of Love and Wisdom and thus good and truth. If we decide to do good to a stranger because God asks us to, it is His goodness that flows through us, not our goodness.
        If you, acknowledging no higher power, were to do good to a stranger, please tell me, what is your motive??
        • Aug 21 2012: "There is only one Source of Love and Wisdom and thus good and truth. If we decide to do good to a stranger because God asks us to, it is His goodness that flows through us, not our goodness."
          So I guess by the same skewed logic if one does something evil, then it's not really our evil, it's his evil?
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          Aug 21 2012: I do good. I am a pragmatist and a humanist. I am not religious. Why do I do good? There is no god requiring I do good. Those folks that do good are not god-possessed. Those folks that need gods to do good, need to grow up. I know some grownups that do good, that believe in god, they have faith in the existence of a god. They do not need god to justify their good actions.

          Needing a god to justify good actions will always lead to a need to justify evil actions with the same god. IMO: History supports needing god for everything never leads to any good.
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          Aug 21 2012: Hi AB

          The claim all good comes from God is just an opinion unless you have evidence other than faith in some religious teachings. You can not even prove the god exists let alone all good comes from god.

          So your argument is basically if god didn't make us, you can't think of reasons we would cooperate or do what you consider good things as a species. That is an argument from ignorance.

          How about instinct and reason. Our ancestors have been living in groups long before religions were invented. You see some similar group dynamics with less intelligence mammals. We also have a brain that enables us to consider consequences. We have the mammalian part of the brain that gives us feeling of love for our children. Wanting your kids to survive is at its core something we share with other mammals.

          On the other hand you say God just did it. Which is a bit light on details and evidence.
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          Aug 22 2012: "I was saying that kids living in that great mansion, if there is no loving contact with the parents, would certainly not regard it as a home."

          I disagree. Gangs in the US consider their clubhouse to be their real home. The other members are their brothers and sisters and they have no parents, only leaders.

          A home is where your heart is located, or so they say, and I agree. My parents are long gone and my children have their own homes. I am happy in my home without a God or a parent. I have my friends and some family.

          I know many atheists who do good things, yet do not believe in God, From where does this moral behavior come from?

          If I take a walk in the desert and survive, even though I took no water with me, I assure you the next time I walk in the desert, I will have plenty of water along with me.

          I need no God to tell me that if you want to walk in the desert, you better take some water along. So it is with people. We learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. We learn, that is our greatest asset, not that a God will lead us or advise us, or pave the way before us. From what I gather of religion about God, is that God causes the rain to fall upon evil and good alike and he who gathers seed and sows will have fruit, be they evil or good.

          Religion says that when the Israelis first came to the land of Canaan, it was a land flowing with milk and honey and many olive trees and grapes. The people who lived there, according to the Hebrews, as they got it from their God, were evil and deserved to be destroyed. So, here were evil people who were very prosperous, without the help of the God of the Hebrews people.

          So the Hebrews destroyed them and took their land. They killed even women, children and old people. Who was the real evil people? Was it the Hebrews who stole the land and murdered the people who lived there or the people who tried to defend their own property?

          Does God cause a people to commit murder?
      • Aug 22 2012: Hi Brett,
        --"So I guess by the same skewed logic if one does something evil, then it's not really our evil, it's his evil?"--
        Something is skewed alright, we are the only source of evil when we love ourselves first and foremost.

        Hi Adelo
        --"Needing a god to justify good actions will always lead to a need to justify evil actions with the same god."--
        Why would anyone ever need to justify good actions?? The possible bad part of doing good actions is giving ourself the merit. Tapping ourselves on the shoulder, saying we are such a good person!!
        The only way good should be done is for the sake of good itself, never to get a higher esteem, better income, because those are selfish motives.

        Hi Obey
        --"The claim all good comes from God is just an opinion unless you have evidence other than faith in some religious teachings. You can not even prove the god exists let alone all good comes from god."--
        Neither can you prove the opposite
        --"you can't think of reasons we would cooperate or do what you consider good things as a species."--
        Exactly. Even if someone gives enough money to a hospital to add a whole new wing. If the only motive is to get on the news, or have the name on that wing, the motive for this good deed is selfish. So it does not do the giver any good.

        --"How about instinct and reason."--
        So you still see us as animals? Humans do not have an instinct, but, yes, we do have the ability to reason and rationality and freewill, which we can use for good or for bad.

        --"On the other hand you say God just did it."--
        Did what? God is Love itself. He created humans so He could love others, outside of Himself and hope they return that love in freedom (love can only exist in freedom, that's why there is never any evidence of anything spiritual).
        Hi John,--"I disagree. Gangs in the US consider their clubhouse to be their real home."--
        But we seem to be saying the same thing. I was not only talking about parents but the lack of love/connection.
        No, evil is ours
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    Aug 20 2012: As a final note, I just wanted to thank everyone for participating here. I suppose some of you are right; that I have no religion and that since Science is fact, I shouldn't call it my belief, either. I guess I wanted to be a part of something that isn't really there-only in my mind. Thanks for bringing me back to reality.
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    Aug 19 2012: I'm actually surprised by the reaction I got to this. It's as though I walked into a Pentecostal church and started calling everyone cultists. I guess what it really boils down to is emotion. I can tell that the word "religion" leaves a bad taste in an Atheists' mouth. They seem insulted when approaching them with the idea that the word religion doesn't always have to represent the invisible man or goat slaughtering. I'm pretty flabbergasted at how offended people are getting over this. I suppose I should just take this piece off of here so I don't make the intellects any more uncomfortable. I'll give everyone until midnight, tonight to spew their bit up here and then I'll pull this apparently insulting dribble from the site.
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      Aug 19 2012: Nicole, I don't think you have offended or insulted anyone. While some atheists may dislike the word "religion," I don't think you will find that to be universal at all.

      What I see in this discussion is people trying to respond to your question of whether science is a religion by comparing definitions of religion with their understandings of what science is and does.

      While most people in the thread are not from their reasoning concluding that science qualifies as a religion by standard definitions, I don't think this suggests the question makes anyone uncomfortable.

      No one has suggested that your question doesn't make perfect sense as a question. And no one here cares how much formal education anyone else has. We become educated in different ways, and some of us may have a lot of formal education and yet be quite ignorant in some areas.
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    Aug 19 2012: Religion is purely based on belief .Where there is belief there lies the hope and this hope is the driving force . But on the other side science is what is proven . It is a collection of facts and figures.At one stage It may or maynot prove that the beliefs which are constructd by religion will fall before the winds and storms of reality. But again someones wish that his beliefs will someime be into reality is the driving force for the establishment of the truth and development of science . In this way both are connected and in some way science can be sticked along with religion
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      Aug 19 2012: Joseph,

      Well said, and I really like your avatar.
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      Aug 21 2012: Hi Joseph, I'm not sure you are actually implying religion is the only source of hope.

      Plenty of non religious believing folk still have hope and goals and dreams for a good life. Just we might not have hope based on a speculative afterlife.
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    Aug 19 2012: Science is a human activity.
    Religion is a human activity.
    Politics is a human activity.
    Sport is a human activity.
    Education is a human activity.
    Therefore are science, politics, education, sport a religion????

    I suggest science is not a religion by better definitions than the ones you use.

    Modern, Western Science is a process to find natural explanations for the universe based on testing and evidence, peer review etc. Most religion involves supernatural claims.

    What are these scientific sects?

    It's actually the practical application of science in technology that includes weapons. Knowledge is a 2 edged sword. We can make vaccines and rid the world of smallpox and polio and also biological weapons.

    Are weapons evil or the people who use them for the bad reasons. Weapons are also used for defense.

    Science has nothing to say on the afterlife or god other than there is no scientific evidence for these things. It becomes a philosophical question unless claims are made that don't fit the facts, like the universe is 6,000 years old. But you could say the universe looks billions of years old but was created 6000 years ago to look like it was older. It does not challenge what we know, and we can not disprove it or prove it.

    I agree science may change the way people think about the big questions, meaning, existence, even matter. We actually are not solid, being made of atoms that seem to be little bits of energy concentrated into matter and mostly empty space. But then empty space may not be empty.

    The conservation of matter and energy seems to apply most the time. The origin of this universe is a bit tricky. WE don't have all the answers. Some religious folk like to think they do, but they can not seem to agree.

    If religious belief is flexible enough to fit what we know scientifically that is no issue. Some beliefs do clash with what we know scientifically with high confidence.

    I'm not sure it is useful to consider science religion or religion as science.
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    Aug 19 2012: I guess the word religion is just too personal. When someone asks me what my religion is, I do say it's Science. I've had experience as a Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, occultist, Atheist, Agnostic and even considered myself Gnostic at one point, but the term is still too closely related to worship-based beliefs. In my opinion, a religion is a belief or set of beliefs. My beliefs lie in Science, yet I'm not supposed to call it my religion. I'm trying hard to make sense of this.
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      Aug 19 2012: sounds like you don't have a religion.
      You might call it a naturalistic or materialist view perhaps
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    Aug 19 2012: Here are two dictionary definitions of religion which could easily describe Science:
    A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion. (Oxford Concise English Dictionary).
    A cause, principle or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. (Merriam Webster Dictionary).
    As always, the definition of terms is essential, but evasive. One can find a definition to fit one's beliefs.
    I do not see how any definition which neglects the supernatural could be correct.
    I think, Ms. Small you must pick a definition and edit your post to include it.
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      Aug 19 2012: Thank you for your addition here. I was wondering what you meant by picking a definition to add to my post. I began my statement with a partial definition obtained from Are you just suggesting that I complete the definition or that I should choose another source like the two you suggested?
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        Aug 19 2012: It is essential, in each case, to know exactly which definition is intended. Some definitions demand inclusion of the supernatural realm while others exclude the supernatural (spiritual) realm by limiting science to the study of natural things. To be part of your interesting conversation one must know what definition is intended. Otherwise the topic should be, "How do you define Science?"
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    Aug 19 2012: Here was the definition I found in the American Heritage Dictionary:

    re·li·gion (r-ljn) KEY


    Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

    Science does not fit into this definition.

    And I don't know in what sense one could claim that science has sects, if you exclude pseudoscience.
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      Aug 19 2012: I suppose I should have gotten a second source for the definition. My mistake was using for my reference. It actually gives several different definitions, and not all of those definitions strictly include deities or rituals. I only decided to bring up the possibility that it could be accepted as a religion due to an experience I had recently. I was asked by a group of Christians what my religion was. I told them I believe in Science. One of them began laughing and asked if that means I worship cell phones and computers. Naturally, I didn't dignify that with a response. Some people think I'm an Atheist, and though I share the idea that there is no omnipotent being out there, I do believe that it's possible for our consciousness to exist without the body. I have a surprisingly positive personality for someone so introverted and it makes it hard for me to give up hope that advancements in our knowledge of the quantum world will someday prove or disprove this "crackpot" theory I tend to cling to.
      As far as "sects" go, I was just likening it to all of the diverse branches of Science like Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Archaeology, etc. I wasn't referring to pseudoscience, though I can understand how an Atheist would draw that conclusion about me.