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Scott Armstrong

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Does it really matter?

There is a wonderful ongoing battle between religion and science.

Although the two are often pitted together as if they were alternate answers to the same question (which they are not), both schools of belief do put forward theories about the origins of existence. Both are equally far-fetched and interesting.

My question is: does it matter?

Would it help anyone to know, without a doubt, how the universe began? Isn't knowing that a bit like knowing the exact circumstances of one's own death?

Why do people feel the need to choose a camp?

Personally, I don't mind what people believe. Convince me. GO!

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    Oct 24 2013: Good question Scott.

    Religion and science are both here to stay, so both camps might as well try to understand each other. After all, they both represent, in some way, all that the brain is capable of conceiving. So why not collaborate?

    Personally, I'm very happy not knowing how the universe began and what human consciousness is all about. It frees me up to think my own thoughts without being told by someone else how 'certain' they are about what happened out there (eg because "spooky action at a distance" has now moved from religion to science) and who we are, (eg because an fMRI scan told them so).

    I have reservations about what religion has become - a politicised and commercialised shadow of what it should have been. I'm not religious, but have a consuming interest in all things philosophical, metaphysical and spiritual - because they are the 'outriders' or 'scouts' of human knowledge.

    There are too many examples where the philosophical, the metaphysical and the spiritual have got there first, in the initial stages of intuition, with science trailing behind, held back by its own addiction to 'certainty' and an almost self-destructive cynicism towards what the other half of the brain is doing.

    In thinking about these big questions spiritually, other times scientifically - and even attempting to justify one with the other, seems to me as though a natural hierarchy is forming between the two where collaboration is at all possible: It feels more natural and powerful to uphold spiritual thoughts with science, and much less so vice versa.

    Lamentably, the division between the two seems to be widening, if anything.
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      Oct 24 2013: While science certainly seems be here to stay, I suspect that religion - that is organized and institutionalized religion - will continue to be diminished in importance and value by those who are daily being empowered to determine their own spirituality and connections to a higher power.

      Science is an ever evolving form of knowledge while organized religion remains stuck in the antiquity and rhetoric of its superstitious past. .The current roman catholic Pope appears to be the latest convert to this premise but given how many still hold to the "old ideas" hi has a long uphill struggle ahead. .
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        Oct 24 2013: I'm not a neuroscientist but this adherence to belief systems might have something to do with how our brain is built.
        Our brain actually didn't evolve over time such as other organs did, but nature , for some reason simply built new elements on top of the older ones.
        This means that behaviors such as superstition or belief in the supernatural is just a relic still present due to our ancient parts of the brain.
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        Oct 26 2013: Hi William,

        I think you're right, that spirituality will become more an autonomous, personal thing at the cost of institutionalised and organised religions. If religion wantonly drives or alters the course of politics, then it ceases to be a religion in my view.

        However, I partly disagree with your statement: "Science is an ever evolving form of knowledge while organized religion remains stuck in the antiquity and rhetoric of its superstitious past" . I think science is also stuck because of its arrogant dismissal of many essential parts of our own consciousness - the evolved and ancient need for spiritual stimulation being one of them.

        I can't quite decide why this is, when science freely researches and reveals hypotheses and probabilities in quantum mechanics for example, yet dismisses equally bizarre aspects of the human condition out of hand, as 'pseudoscience'. Why is that?
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          Oct 26 2013: Absolutely, there is an ancient wisdom that suggests 'science advances only with the deal of the current adherents of popular thought'., again Copernicus comes to mind along with the current Pope :)

          As to your last concern of "why this is..." I think you have already answered your own quest with the observation of "arrogant dismissal". By that I mean that all predators are arrogant. They rule their habitat. And humans are just another predatory species, one that has an awful lot of members who arrogantly seek to rule a variety of things including the environment, people and events.
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