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Nicole Small

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Should Science be Considered a Religion?

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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 (Ted.com 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.

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