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Are Religions and Science mutually exclusive?

Science contradicts religion in many ways; For example, if humans are an evolutionary progression, what would this mean for stories such as Adam and Eve.

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    Mar 10 2014: Science contradicts the literal interpretations of religious writings. It does not contradict the deeper levels born out of spiritual experience and contemplative thinking.

    I have a 1904 Noah Webster dictionary that defines "Theology" as having two branches, natural and revealed. Natural theology is that which we can know of God through his works by way of nature and reason. Revealed theology is that which we can know of God by personal revelation (i.e. spiritual experience). The modern dictionary has reduced the definition to the study of religious dogma.

    Since the time of Galileo, science and religion have been at odds because they are in competition. It is about power and not truth, and that is more so on the religious side. Science is willing to concede if proofs can be given. Religious fundamentalism is now based on blind faith which offers no proofs other than personal conviction and pseudo-science (which isn't science but just a twisting of facts).

    The modern scientist is awed by the complexity and consistency of nature to the point that some are having spiritual experiences in the process. That it has anything to do with religion is only true if you ignore traditional churches, and compare it to Rosicrucian, Gnosis, and Eastern philosophical teachings.

    If modern churches do not learn to embrace science and modify their dogmas, they will fail. And not because there is no Higher power, but because they have lost touch with it.
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      Mar 11 2014: Good points Roy.

      I guess the early English dictionaries were prepared by people with Christian beliefs at a time when most people assumed the rather small known universe was the creation of the one of the Christian god concepts.

      I wonder how science and theology were defined in other cultures.

      I guess the meaning and practice of science has evolved over time.
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        Mar 11 2014: Hello Obey,

        If the definition of theology hadn't changed, then the scientific method would have to be incorporated into religious studies.

        Science continues to evolve over time. In the past, religion was also evolving. The whole concept of God went through an evolutionary process by which old gods were replaced by new concepts that were taking it to a much deeper level. But lately, religion has stopped evolving. Its only involvement with science is in defense of its dogma, but it refuses to make any concessions.

        When I look at Eastern philosophy, Rosicrucian, and Gnostic teachings, I have no problem integrating them with the Big-Bang theory. But these teachings are absent from organized religions.

        The Catholic church defines God as a person having a personality. None of the mystics of the ancient world who were responsible for bringing such concepts into view would have conceded to that definition. I certainly don't, and many of the people who still believe in a higher power don't accept it. But many are now disassociating the word God from the concept of a higher power because of the way the word God is being defined. All the scriptural references pertaining to God are metaphors. Literal interpretations have created an image of a false deity. The false deity is being challenged. I say don't get rid of the word, get rid of the false notions associated with it.

        I don't agree that the universe is just a series of cosmic accidents. The laws, forces, processes, and structures of the universe all have order. That order is reducible to the quantum level. It controls how the universe will evolve. It has all the qualities that the mystics attributed to their view of God
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          Mar 12 2014: Hi Roy, it certainly looks like some aspects of some religions have stopped evolving. At best bible worshipping evangelicals continue to develop bogus responses to ongoing scientific discoveries to protect their core dogmas. Or resort to presuppositional arguments, and refine apologetics to work around the objections.

          perhaps outside orthodox or fundamentalist groups religion may continue to evolve with individuals absorbing new science and arguments and having access to other religious and spiritual traditions. Meanwhile society moves on challenging the position that religions sit outside the law and can molest children, or that gay marriage is okay etc

          you may have picked up I'm not partial to any particular religious dogma. I'm partially aligned with you that the more specific and anthropomorphic a god concept is, the more unlikely it is.

          I'm not sure where the non personal mystic god concept you support differs from the natural universe. c
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        Mar 12 2014: Obey,
        The non personal mystic God concept I support is not non personal. I have had personal contact with it. While meditating on God, I felt a presence that revealed things to me that would set me on a spiritual journey. It has guided my life in so many ways.

        When I first had this experience, I was somewhat confused because it didn't correspond with what the church was teaching me about God. It wasn't apart from reality, it didn't have any sexual gender, it had no form, it didn't exist in a place, its only similarity was that it was on a higher plane of consciousness.

        It wasn't until eleven years later in a nuclear physics class that I came to understand what I had experienced. It was reductionism to the quantum world, the foundation upon which all of nature's structures, laws, forces, and processes depend. It would take science to fill in all the details.

        How does it differ from the natural universe, it doesn't other than that it uses the artistic side of the brain rather than the analytical side to make sense out of it. That is why religion is represented by metaphors, symbolism, myths, allegories, and personifications. Literal interpretations render them useless. It is when you go beyond the literal interpretation and integrate them with scientific facts that they begin to make sense.

        I have no problem integrating the quantum world with my concept of God, for to me, they are two different expressions of the same thing.
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        Mar 12 2014: Good point, Obey - it would be useless and confusing to observe religion or sciences ignoring cultural shifts throughout history.

        I'd like to know how some tedpeople might change their minds when they "discover" that

        great Archimedes did not have any "tools" to find out that the age of the earth is mightier that just a few millennia. Probably no one was even interested in calculating the age of the earth at that time..

        We live in our postmodern age of many interesting discoveries based on complicated instruments and methods conducting our research,

        But Archimedes' Principle is still in the foundation of our postmodern sciences and technology:

        "Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object."

        — Archimedes of Syracuse

        Another Great Greek, Heraclitus, has articulated the most fundamental law of nature "Flux".

        We may see how the one of the most outstanding physicists and philosophers of our time has offered the way to deal with "Flux" 2 1/2 millennia after Heraclitus -
        Werner Heisenberg, the father of the Uncertainty Principal ++

        One of the biggest problems with quantum experiments is the seemingly unavoidable tendency of humans to influence the situati­on and velocity of small particles.

        Nothing can stay still for our observations and calculations, just as Heraclitus Flux describes it.

        If we do not learn from old history we learn very little or nothing even in spite using super microscopes or telescopes etc., We often witness idiotic and naive scientific fantasies "based" on some lab evidence, these fantasies are popularized creating following crowds, but what is more scary - the industries, who rush to mass produce endless harmful gadgets and products based on chemical concoctions without any sense of what they are really doing. Our mentality has been manipulated again. This picture is as scary as religious ignorance, I think.

        Good talking to you.
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      Mar 11 2014: You say: "Since the time of Galileo, science and religion have been at odds because they are in competition."

      I hope that you do not REALLY mean to use the term "religion" in this contest - GALILEO was a deeply religious genius, as all great scientists of all times.

      It was the old institution of CHIRCH not religion itself, that has been fighting new ideas of all sorts.
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        Mar 12 2014: Vera,
        By religion, I refer to the traditional churches. Spiritual people do not argue with science, they try to integrate them. Fundamentalists, however, who control the mainstream churches are in competition with the scientific community. When you speak religion, most people associate it with the mainstream churches.

        I am a Christian, but not a fundamentalist. I find myself in a minority group. I do not have the church's blessing on my views because I integrate them with science. By the same token, I constantly get rebuttals from the scientifically minded because I dare to bring religion into the subject. So I often have to distinguish between religious and spiritual.
    • Mar 12 2014: Roy, Well said
      In so far as they both seek the truth there can be no contradiction.
      Religeon comes into conflict when it tries to make humans devine, as in suggesting the authors of the bible were devinely inspired when writting. Originally the bible was the collected stories around the campfire, translated into written form for the first time. It was worshipped as the first history of humanity. We were innocent enough at the time, not to suspect that, that which was written, might not be completely true, Just as we tend to believe everything we read on the internet is true.
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        Mar 12 2014: Bradley,
        It depends on what you call divine. I have had spiritual experiences where I felt an alignment with the cosmic order. One in particular, I was aware of the principles of quantum mechanics eleven years before I would receive any formal instruction on the subject. I would come to write a book about it. I would call it divinely inspired, but it wasn't some deity revealing this to me, it was the cosmos speaking for itself. From my own experiences, my understanding of God and of evolutionary processes are in complete harmony.

        Spiritually experience takes you beyond common knowledge. That is what is meant by divine inspiration. Yet to say that there is no argument about it is false. Even scientific facts are argued in order to gain a deeper understanding of them. The same is true for sacred tales and scripture.

        Scripture was meant for reflection and contemplation. It wasn't intended to be taken literally. Moses told Joshua to meditate day and night concerning the book of the law in order to make his way prosperous. So one has to think about it. One simply can't say this is what the book says and leave it at that. I believe the bible WAS divinely inspired. But you still have to be a freethinker if you are to gain any real value from it. Fundamentalists are a wrench in the gears.
        • Mar 13 2014: Roy
          Your thinking is wonderful. I might endeavor to disagree but it would only be for the pleasure of conversation.
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      Mar 12 2014: Very much appreaciate your comment, Roy. I think there is a crucial difference between RELIGION that has inspired great scientists and the stiff CHURCH establishment that is denying new ideas.

      The most INFLUENTIAL SCIENTISTS OF ALL TIME, to mention just a few, such as Galileo or Sir Isaac Newton, or even more contemporary to us Gregor Johann Mendel and Charles Darwin, and our most outstanding contemporary physicist Werner Heisenberg have had DEEPLY SPIRITUAL MINDS. They profoundly believed in God and were driven by their belief.

      RELIGION as BELIEF never was against these great men and their work.

      Well, YES, Scientific Ideas were commonly not accepted, but only because of the Authorities’ Ignorance, poor knowledge of all sorts and the RULING force of that ignorance - not the religion as belief.

      Religion has its own Unfortunate history of “development”. As we know, Early Christianity had many interpretations called Gnostic Gospels, which was the authentic form of Christianity, that could fit somewhat different experiences and mentalities.

      Since Emperor Constantine the Christianity has been squeezed into a limited dogmatic system, bloodily demolishing any interpretation of Christianity other than the one that Constantine himself had approved, within his Church.

      In any case, I think, in this conversation many members confuse and mix-up CHURCH establishment with RELIGION as inspirational BELIEF, that has served practically every great scentist in history.
    • Mar 29 2014: gI could not agree more with Roy Bourque. If one knows the history of Europe, one know that it was the Church that started the great Universities of Europe, however the So-called Enlightenment, which was at its origins was anti-Christian created this dichotomy between religion and science and exploited it. Few people know that it was a priest who first proposed the "Big Bang "theory. Their areas of expertise are complementary not inimical.
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    Mar 12 2014: “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. ..The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

    ― Carl Sagan
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    Mar 11 2014: They are not mutually exclusive. They are not mutually exclusive because science for someone may explain things that religion may not be able to for them. Religion may fill in the gap of curiosity for things unexplained by science.
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    Mar 8 2014: The story of Adam and Eve is misunderstood because it has been taken too literally. IMO, the whole stories of Genesis, creation, Adam & Eve are supposed to be simplified metaphors for certain sublime ideas about how it all began and how the animate was arisen from the inanimate. Please note that I don’t say explanations but metaphors.

    I think Albert Einstein has laid very nicely the science and religion on a common basis. He said that they both are the expressions of the human spirit’s aspiration for the sublime. The aspiration for understanding the physical sublimity has created the science, whereas the aspiration for understanding the spiritual sublimity has created the religions.
  • Mar 17 2014: All knowlege is based in some fundamental pre-assumptions, thats why Socrates said that all he knows is that he knows nothing.

    So science is not the absolute truth, the science only makes sence (in other words, it creates models to proves it not contradict itself) based on pre-assumption (in other words, belief)

    So if a person belief on god might be consider a religion, and it makes sence to him, and explain better the world then the previous model, so i can garante to you that this religion is very well align with the science this person is doing
    • Mar 18 2014: Nope. Science can be traced all the way "down" to reason. Reason being why science is not "belief" at its base. But reason and evidence. I don;t think of science as absolute truth. But it is not unfounded belief either. It's founded conclusions that stand for as long as the evidence sustains such view. But science integrates facts (which are true by definition), into the how it works. Science is about understanding the facts, and it is this understanding that might need revision. That's a far cry from religious belief any way we might try to twist it around.
      • Mar 18 2014: Then why would science and religion be at odds if they where no alike in some way
        • Mar 19 2014: They are at odds because religions claim to know stuff that science then discovers to be false. Then religion stubbornly denies the facts, while science goes on trying to explain and integrate those facts into further knowledge.
  • Mar 12 2014: I think a healthy thing to remember is that the greatest thinkers in the history of humanity have struggled throughout the ages to understand this question without ever coming to a consensus. I do not presume to be even in the same zip code, much less ballpark as these men and women. I don't have any definite answers to these questions, and I'm ok with that because I accept the possibility that there might not Be definite answers to them. It seems healthy and natural hold and discuss opinions, discourse can and should be a constructive activity, but without an open mind to at least try and understand a different viewpoint, there can be no discourse or even communication, only a closed eyes shouting match from opposing soapboxes.
  • Mar 12 2014: One question :

    Aren't you guys mixing Religion with Spirituality and Belief with Faith , and then again mixing with science and the final outcome is confusion ?
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    Mar 11 2014: All God(s) reside inside the mystery of lighting,thunder & fire earthquakes etc until science takes down the veil of our fears & ignorance. Once the veil is lifted by the forbidden fruit of knowledge then all innocence is lost thus no more Adam & Eve al natural. Take the Genesis tale at face value , or with poetic inertia either way knowledge must be halted-if the story is metabolized as true-.
    The other trick in place is language-human language- Language that is one of many adaptations favored by natural selection and leveraged upon to build cultures and all things in it. Extremely useful tool -paramount indeed- but as any other tool it has its limits . Language starts to break down when we attempt to use it to describe things beyond our everyday experience.Take for example the expression "an eternal supernatural being that resides beyond space & time" , the subject-predicate structure seems fine (also a whole "logical" apparatus could be built upon this expression as a premise), The problem is that when the statement is taken as unquestionably true then enters the fallacy of assigning concrete values a priori to concepts. We have no choice but to use language to talk about "things" that bear no a single anchor point. Language also breaks down when we talk QM, for as a custom language is just like a cargo truck delivering from point A to point Z, the problem is the content & meaning of the cargo. Words like spin,space momentum, time from classic physics loose meaning in Qm. N Bohr thought that our language is scalar to our frame of reference, thus not really useful for QM in or the only way to talk QM with any sense would require classic concepts,like measurements in a lab to scale beyond that QM will escape the communicating power of language.
    All the "contradiction" between science& religion is a product of language, reality is not made out of words;Words are used to describe reality and not always correctly.
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    Mar 8 2014: Some scientists and religious people have shown that science and religion can co-exist. However, it takes a high level of understanding, a lot of deep thinking, to reconcile scientific and religious concepts. One of the recommendations of Bible scholars is not taking Biblical passages literally.
  • Mar 7 2014: There are people that are scientists and also consider themselves to be religious.

    In general, I find these people to be less dogmatic in their religion than the typical literalist Bible thumper.

    Therefore, I think the better question is, "Is literalist religious dogma compatible with science?"

    Science keeps making the Kingdom of God smaller and smaller, because God resides in the fringes of unknown that surround our knowledge. Therefore, science and religion are only compatible when the religious are willing to forsake religious dogma and embrace religious allegory.
  • Apr 1 2014: Simple answer "NO"

    They are not mutually exclusive; they are made to be mutually exclusive by politics, closed minds, hypocrisies, self interest groups, con merchants, committees, propaganda, lies, inane theories, superstitions, and gullibility, relative to both of them as holism's; and subject to the same within their various divisions/areas of worship or studies.

    Science for me and IMO should be about discovering and understanding the "Laws of Nature = The Laws of Physics, which are the laws of the Intelligent Universe/Creator

    Religions for me and IMO should be about discovering and understanding the "Spiritual/Metaphysical Mysteries of Nature" which do not appear to be, or be the "Same Laws of Nature" but as they are also inherent within the holism of the laws of nature; they must obey laws of nature we are not aware of; and they are therefore as important to me as are the laws of physics

    I have had experiences, and still do have experiences, that cannot be explained from the pragmatic aspect of my mind; so do I shout hallelujah and yell out I have seen the light, or walk around in fear of the supernatural No!

    Because I trust in the Universal Intelligence/Creator, because I know everything good or evil that happens has a logic and reason behind it that I cant fathom and I accept this; because I cant read the mind of the Creator or the Creators blueprints.

    And when the religions and cults come at me with their silly religious cants and dogma, and when I read inane silly theories of physics, I get the same word coming into my head every time "Bullshit"

    In sum everything and I exist for a reason, and if I did not exist for a reason, then I would not be able to reason; therefore it follows the Creator Created me to reason, not swallow bullshit.

    And this applies equally to both Religions and Science

    • Apr 2 2014: Ask a scientist "why is it that what goes up must come down?" you get BS. And it was yourself that provided the only reasonable answer to "why do they say that Christ's murder was a sacrifice?"
  • Mar 30 2014: IMO based on intuition and fact, the story of Moses discovering the Hebrews had cast a gold calf in his absence to worship, rather than an unknowable God of creation.

    Smacks of the nature of Christianity generally and in the USA today.

    Whereby and despite the fact that Jesus who had visited the Temple in Jerusalem two days previously; then knowingly put his life on the line, in order to expose the Jewish Priesthood as betrayers of the Temples Sacredness, and the Greek merchants (Whose trading opposition the Carthaginians, the Romans had entirely slaughtered to the last pregnant female and baby as a finale to the Punic Wars) and the Greek merchants, money exchangers, and usurers deceits and cheating before crowded market of their customers.

    Result the crowds were so enraged, that they fled before the crowds with Jesus following on behind (hence the view, of him having single handedly driven them from the Temple) and then he openly declared to the still enraged crowd out side of the Temple, that the Jewish Priesthood had betrayed their faith by allowing his fathers house to be bought and used as a den of thieves.

    Predictable Result; the Jewish priesthood, money exchangers, usurers and merchants had to shut this man up permanently! And thus following some very rapid pay offs and politicking, and despite his having been found innocent of any crime; he was tortured, and forced to drag his cross through the streets in warning to others should they open their mouths, and crucified in less than 24 hours.

    And therefore and despite the fact that the message he had decided to deliver, was of such importance he was willing to lay down his life; his message was subverted by the Romans, who claimed/claim he died as a sacrifice for mankind sins, rather than theirs and their Greek mates.

    Result the evolution of Capitalism; and as in line with the Golden Calf; the American Dollar, bears the words "In God We Trust";

    As money talks their Capitalistic language, God does not.
    • Mar 30 2014: "..his message was subverted by the Romans, who claimed/claim he died as a sacrifice for mankind sins, rather than theirs and their Greek mates." I always wondered about the "sacrifice for mankind sins" and you, Carl Dalton!, have just explained it.
  • Dan F 50+

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    Mar 29 2014: Science and religion both concentrate on the hows and whys surrounding and affecting human reality.

    Exceptionally intelligent scholars in both disciplines of learning and knowledge exist. The distinction between these experts is the source and the nature of the knowledge used to explain strongly held and promoted positions to answers that center on supernatural creation vs the natural history of humanity.

    Relatively speaking, in human history, the new player is the modern scientist whom became a consequence of observable physical reality that offered repeatable (empirical) feedback data of the real world. The Christian faith is the widespread traditional religion consisting of numerous denominations I am most familiar, representing what faith means to many of us.

    I don't think the crux of the question is whether science and religion are mutually exclusive, but where there is differences in cited factual accounts of the real world, should the evidence provided via scientific standing knowledge demand consideration from those of blind faith holding a conflicting explanation?

    I do not discount the idealism in faith, nor science. On the other hand there have been cases of self serving abuses in both, but the science community is more subject to accountability by its imposed conservative nature and the peer review process. Religion is based on sacred communications and standings not subject to review by the partishioner.

    IMO religious beliefs are subject to reality, but that doesn't mean the mysteries of life don't have a way of humbling the most scientifically knowledgeable among us.
  • Mar 18 2014: Atheism

    Place one "Humanitarian Atheist" on one side of the Universal Scales of Justice


    Place one “Pew Renting” Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Politician, or Media Magnate on the other side of the “Universal Scales of Justice”;

    Which side of the “Universal Scales of Justice” do you think will be judged as being the unworthy?

    The volume of intelligent thought that has gone into creating the chasm's between Creationism Science and Atheism; equates to the same volume of space, that exists between choosing heads or tails.


    If it is indeed true that blessed are the Meek for they will inherit the Earth

    So it follows;

    All directly or indirectly involved; in the vile and cowardly acts of burning alive innocent women, their unborn and their children with napalm; and inflicting upon those surviving;

    The horror of witnessing their children torn apart or crippled by land mines; or born with horrendous birth defects; due to the vile and cowardly use of neuro - toxic agents, defoliants, and spent nuclear fuel rods.

    May indeed say "In God - Allah - Deity we Trust"; for any Just Deity will certainly send them all to Hell; regardless of race, culture or religion.

  • Mar 18 2014: Belief and the Meaning of Life

    Life began; when I, You, We were naked, and "unwittingly' forced through a door, and into the unknown.

    Life will end; when I, You, We, are naked, and then forced through another door, and into the unknown.

    And all we can be certain of as we face this door, is that it is the same force; that pushed us through the first door that is surely pushing us through this door.

    And whatever it was; that pushed us through the first door, and is now pushing us through this door; is surely waiting for us on the other side.

    And regardless as to what we were led, and tempted to believe; by Machiavellian - Predators; or what we chose to encompass of all this, and hence to espouse in our lives;

    No power exists; that can convert, pervert, buy or destroy, "The All" that is waiting for us, on the other side.

    And as the sleeping consciences' of our conscience denying, or our conscience - stricken minds'; rouse and awaken, to flash the past events of our life before us; all we will know;

    Are the emotions that we feel, as we consider the past events of our lives, and the decisions that we made in the full light of our conscience;

    And the ever increasing and all-encompassing light, of "The All" of that slowly, but now clearly, opening door.

    And although at the end of our lives, we will find ourselves to be alone and unsupported; by those who deceived, betrayed and used us;

    There will be solace in the fact; that they also, will soon be standing in front of this same door;

    And we can only hope that unlike they; as we face the "All Knowing"; that we will be found worthy, of being pushed through that first door again;

    To continue to travel the never ending "Why's - Quest's of the Way", of the curiosities, and endeavours of life, which always lead us on;

    To arrive once more at the door; of the Mother and Father (Universal Authors), of the "Never Ending Stories" of learning, and life.

  • Mar 17 2014: I don't know if everyone here gets notified of newly released talks, but here's one that seems related to this conversation.

    • Mar 17 2014: Thank you for this link, I had not seen it before. It was very informative and did relate well to empathy.
  • Mar 17 2014: Hello TED friends! I hope you all had a nice weekend. I appreciate the continued conversation and have caught up on the posts. It's my understanding that some (not all but some) of you feel that the two are able to be balanced. If so, a follow-up question: Are religions and science only able to co-exist when they have no impact on each other?

    Explanation: science relies on evidence for scientific Theories, religion does not use this process and instead relies on faith or personal experience. The two may only avoid conflict when they are held apart? A religion ought not make worldly claims. Likewise, nothing ought to be claimed as science without evidence. Is this a reasonable conclusion to make?
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      Mar 17 2014: GOOD question Tai..."Are religions and science only able to co-exist when they have no impact on each other?"

      I don't see it as the practices that conflict, but rather the people who choose to separate them? The conflict seems to arise when one or the other challenges an existing belief? If nothing is challenged, and people accept each other's beliefs as each other's beliefs, there is really no conflict.....is there? It is when one tries to push his/her personal beliefs onto others that there is a conflict?
      • Mar 17 2014: Yes, in the case that religion accepts changes from the scientific community, I agree here.
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          Mar 17 2014: Well Tai, even if religion does not accept changes from the scientific community, it isn't a challenge until religious groups try to impose their beliefs and practices on everyone?

          As a personal practice, they do not need to accept scientific beliefs for THEMSELVES. The challenge is their need to impose their beliefs on everyone else....in my humble perception.
    • Mar 17 2014: That IS a good question sir. It seems though that these two issues can't help but come in contact with each other and have an impact. This conversation as a whole could probably be studied to find the source of conflict. At a broad view I would say conflict comes from a lack of effort in seeing another point of viee and acknowledging/respecting theidea that people have the "right" to hold a different viewpoint. Most of us agree that western religion taken literally doesn't fit with the modern scientific findings and theories and likely shouldn't be taken as literal historical fact, but that doesn't devalue some of the lessons that can be learned from western religions, namely loving and respecting others. On the other hand there is sometimes a lack of acknowledgment of the evolution of scientific thought as our tools become more accurate and our understanding of the "meaning" of the data changes. To be a fundamentalist on either side of the debate seems to be too narrow a view in my opinion. As our understanding of the physical world changes (and it has been changing constantly since the dawn of h umanity) so should our interpretations of religous thought change. Is there any scientific fact or our understanding of said fact that has remained unchanged in the last 2000 years? Is there any religousbelief whose interpretation in the context of our worldview can remain unchanged. I don't think so in either case. I think ultimately the conflict stems from clinging to tightly to "knowing" the truth. As much as a lot of peoplr find comfort in religous faith, so too do some people find comfort in the belief of the infallibilty of whatever current scientific paradigm they happen to be living through. As always, keep calm, take a deep breath, try to keep an open mind, and talk to people in a manner that you would want to be talked to in, and communication can take place.
      • Mar 17 2014: I am in general agreement here as well, I do not think that it is possible to avoid contact either.. I would only add that it is better if love and respect have a non-religious basis but I understand that this is the main positive that religion can provide.
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          Mar 18 2014: Tai,
          Love and respect do not have a religious basis. While these elements are often taught by religions as part of the foundation of the religion, how many times has there been abuse and violation of human rights in the name of a religion, or a god? How many times do religions discriminate under the umbrella of their dogma (rejection of same sex partners for example)? How many times are people abused and religious leaders protected because they are "religious" (sexual abuse of children for many years for example)? Some of these practices are criminal behaviors.....not love and respect! Some folks believe, however, if one does it in the name of a religion or a god, it is ok!
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        Mar 18 2014: Good points Jacob!
        One can simply observe this conversation to understand the source of conflict!

        I agree that conflict often comes from a lack of effort to see or understand another point of view and acknowledging/respecting the idea that people have different viewpoints.

        There can indeed be lessons learned from religions, and one important one, as you insightfully recognize, is loving and respecting others. Unfortunately, although many religious folks preach love and respect, they are often not practicing it.

        Another good point.....the holy books were written by humans a couple thousand years ago and reflect many ideas of that time. Things change, and while those books may have some valuable lessons, things have definitely changed in our world. The new pope said something about it may be time to rethink some of the churches dogma! Well yeah.....after 2000 years, it might be time to re-evaluate???

        I totally agree with you....the conflict lies in thinking one "knows" the truth, and arguing that "truth" no matter what evidence shows us something different. I think that is why religious fundamentalist often contradict themselves.....they are repeating some of the old "stuff", while realizing at some level that it simply does not make any sense.
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      Mar 17 2014: Hi Tai.
      You are right in a way. When science and religion have no impact on one another they co-exist. This is probably because they have no axe to grind with one another.
      Where they normally collide is on the subject of 'Origins'. Here the 'evidence' is pretty well understood by both sides. However, one side believes the evidence is in agreement with the bible, the other side believes it is not. Both sides would claim the mantle of scientific reasoning, so the differences are driven by well credentialed scientists within the field. Some are so persuaded by the science that they adopt the 'religion' as well, others remain sceptical and just stick to the science.
      Personally I see no point in following a religion which has no basis in fact. So, in my case, as in many others, the science preceded the faith, and not the other way round. So in my particular case science and religion are easy bedfellows.

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        Mar 18 2014: Hi peter, I suggest we don't agree on all the evidence.

        E.g. evidence the earth and universe is billions of years old. Suggest some of these positions are more than differences in interpretation.

        suggest there are more than two sides. it's not just bible believing literalists and non bible believing folks.

        even amongst Christians there are different views of origins. Some accept an old earth and evolution but believe yhwh was involved.

        also amongst the others there are those that believe in the Koran or other theistic or deistic origin stories.
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          Mar 18 2014: You're right, there is a whole panorama of beliefs, as many as there are humans. So to say that it boils down to 'Science' on one side, and 'religion' on the other, is way too simplistic.

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    Mar 16 2014: Religion and sciences have something very similar in nature. These are beliefs empowered by highly emotional drive and imagination. Without these conditions no scientist would be able to find the location of his own lab.

    Without these two natural conditions, emotional drive and imagination, neither scientists nor religious servants, scholars of all sorts, or commoners may stay alive.

    When one is inspired to create or discover “things” and visions, but these ideas become some sort of a cult, for a person, or for masses, this is always the beginning of disasters: psychological, cultural, ethical, political and even industrial (when the lab discoveries have been massproduced)

    It’s happening in our normal everyday life. Nowadays, Religious dogmas are getting replaced by Scientific dogmas. What kind of true evidence and proven experience our postmodern sciences offer?

    Believing in scientific proofs - is a very questionable type of faith. The more intuitive our thinking is the more questions we face. Every idea when it is sound --- is a PROCESS, never a dogmatic idea.

    Any sort of cult we witness or get involved into, is mass-hysteria.
    • Mar 16 2014: Tremendous+++!

      Would add in curiosity

      Sudden strange thought, curious indeed; Imagination - Curiosity - Emotion (ICE) :: Womb - Light at the end of the tunnel - Entry into a cascade of the emotional aspects of/to reality.

      Ah well, life goes on!

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        Mar 17 2014: It's so encouraging when we can think along and make sense beyond the words - rare treat!
    • Mar 17 2014: Hi again Vera,

      I have to agree and disagree. If we went equating things and endeavours by the passion that we might expect them to convey, then we would be unable to distinguish between things and endeavours. I agree that religion and science can be empowered by emotional drive and imagination, but I would not call both "beliefs." Reason being that ""belief is a word with several meanings, one of them implying that such "belief" is unfounded. I rather avoid that possible equivocation.

      Then I disagree that such drive and imagination makes them similar at the core, and the core is what matters in this debate. There, we find deep differences, and those are the source of their conflicts.
  • Mar 16 2014: I did not dismiss science as faith, ::(Edit 17/3/14 Others please note; I used the word "Belief" in the original text, of IMO re religions and science, not the word "Faith": Belief is an acceptance of something, and that the something is true; Faith is the complete acceptance, and complete trust in something, and that the something is true, to the point of being a conviction. Which is why I said IMO/in my opinion = personal opinion/conviction, and given the controversial nature of the subject, added "which I am entitled to hold". And no one is required to agree with or accept a single word I say; however some may have similar opinions, and for others it may be a new trend of thought. If however some choose rather than allow me to freely share my opinions with others, and choose to attack my personal convictions, it is my legitimate right to defend them; especially when those attacks contain, insults and abuse, and attempts to change the original context and words of what was said; e.g. from belief to faith: End of edit):: the BB non-sense that defies the fundamental laws of physics, but you are totally incapable of accepting this; which is why you failed to address this fundamental contradiction between theory and reality.

    You read things in that have not been said, you ignore points in order to avoid addressing them, you should look towards becoming a politician, and later perhaps a State Governor, or even a World Leader you certainly are ideal material for a future World Leader.

    So let me make this clear to you, you have now exceeded my levels of patience and I am done with you; you have clearly demonstrated that your mind is so closed to truth, that it is a total waste of time communicating with you or reading anything that you have to say, in regard to any subject whatsoever.

    Therefore you are deleted from my inbox, and anything further from you will also be immediately deleted without being addressed.

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    Mar 16 2014: I don't think that the Higher Power would be so unlettered as to not include randomness in making order out of chaos. The God I believe exists is totally other. God is not a thing. I can't describe other because it is not within the reach of my ken. God is the ground of being and the horizon of all that is. I can experience God if I love, appreciate beauty. In my vocabulary Absolute is another name for God. Science cannot prove God does not exist or does exist. For instance ask a scientist if he/she is sure about what is real? There are so many things that have yet to be explained and yet the atheists seem so sure of themselves. If they are railing against a primitive version of God as described in various religions and still believe in duality (reward and punishment)) then I would agree that such a God does not exist. Peace to all.
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    Mar 16 2014: “I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.”

    ― Mahatma Gandhi
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      Mar 16 2014: Agreed. . Understanding engenders compassion which is a component of the verb love.
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        Mar 16 2014: Thank you for you comment, Helen. It is hard for many of us to understand others perfectly - the law of nature reagarding our uniqueness within everyone of us, but we may learn about ethics a little more while helping others: we may easily harm others applying our own methods that are good for us.

        I do not much like that old Golden Rule...
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          Mar 16 2014: Well you have to listen and observe not form opinions about others' problems.. One answer does not fit all Why do you not like the Golden Rule? I don't like the eye for eye rule. Peace.
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        Mar 16 2014: I recently read some work by Mahatma Gandhi, you might like what he says:

        “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

        Will get back on the Golden Rule a little later.

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          Mar 17 2014: Agreed. I will be looking forward to your post. :-)
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        Mar 17 2014: Hello, Helen.

        Here is some relatively close translation of the Golden Rule expressed throughout millennia.

        What you don’t want done to yourself, don’t do to others.
        -Sixth Century B.C.

        Hurt not others with that which pains thyself.
        -Fifth Century B.C.

        Classical Paganism
        May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.
        -Plato - Fourth Century B.C.

        Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.
        -Jesus of Nazareth- First Century

        Treat others as thou wouldst be treated thyself.
        -Sixteenth Century A.D.

        I think that THE NEW GOLDEN RULE SHALL TEACH about more ethical approach:

        NEVER treat others as you would like to be treated yourself -- unless they agree to it first --because what is good for you may be damaging for others.

        Love and Peace
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        Mar 17 2014: Helen and Vera,
        I wholeheartedly agree....to have understanding and compassion, it is important to really listen with respect to others.

        I like the golden rule because it gives us a base idea from which we can move toward more understanding and compassion.

        Within the basic idea, we have the ability to open the heart and mind to determine if what we are trying to give to someone is actually what they want or need.

        The challenge with this kind of conversation (science and religion), is that some folks are so attached to their own particular belief, it seems difficult to listen to a different belief.
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          Mar 17 2014: Hi Colleen and Vera........You are right. Giving a loaf of bread to someone with celiac disease would not be a good idea even at this basic level.. Even helping someone by giving what they ask for may not be a good idea. Love can be thoughtless.
          caring does not mean imposing one's own idea of good on another. I understand that and I see many good examples throughout history. Be blessed
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        Mar 20 2014: Good example Helen, of trying to give something to someone that they do not want or need!

        I wholeheartedly agree....caring does not mean imposing what we think is "right" onto others. I know you understand this and practice it as well:>)

        Remember when you introduced pantheism a long time ago in one of these religion/science conversations? As I recall, you gently suggested it as your belief, and I had never heard of it before, so I explored pantheism a little bit, and discovered that for me, many of the concepts embraced by pantheism make sense. Although I was not familiar with the term pantheism, some of the concepts are also included in some buddhism and sufism, which I was drawn to explore years ago. Many of the concepts felt/feel natural to me, and I was grateful for your suggestion and the opportunity to explore new information.

        You are not at all forceful about your personal beliefs, and seem to accept other's beliefs, which to me, is appealing, and encourages more learning about you and your beliefs. Those who try to force and impose their personal beliefs on others, are preventing genuine connections with others....don't you think?
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          Mar 20 2014: Thank you for such a nice post.....I try to be humble (don't always succeed) because I am aware that I cannot judge because I cannot know other's motives and some people accept authority figure beliefs as truth and are not free to think for themselves.. Actually I am a panentheist. I am fortunate because I see beauty and purpose everywhere except in violence. I was a cradle Catholic and it was a struggle to "get out of the box" My Higher Power is love and it stabilizes me in stressful times. You are such a kind, thoughtful and courteous person and I like to read your posts because they are informative and conciliatory. Be blessed....PS. One of my favorite poets is Rumi and also Kahlil Gibran.
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        Apr 6 2014: Thank you for your nice post and kind feedback as well Helen:>)

        I think/feel that we all try things to the best of our ability at any given time, and I agree that it makes no sense to try to judge others because we never really know the circumstances of another person's life journey.

        I too was born into a catholic family (cradle catholic?....I never heard that term), and even as a wee little lass, started questioning the teachings, which seemed contradictory and hypocritical to me. Love thy neighbor if s/he is catholic and never mind everyone else because they are going to hell anyway??? We are all one....except those we do not choose to accept???

        Kindness, in my perception, is a gift to myself as well as to anyone else who happens to benefit from it....seems like you have a similar mindset:>)

        I wholeheartedly believe that religion and science co-exist. The question seems to be.....on what level do some folks accept either one, and that is sometimes determined by the individual's personal beliefs.

        Thanks again for your kind words, and I believe we are all mirrors to each other....reflecting back and forth all the time.....I love your beautiful mirror:>)
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    Mar 15 2014: Hello Tai. I do mean that scientific research is still quite "unruly" in sense of ethics, this is happening in all fields. For instance, there are endless "experiments" with children, claimed to be harmless, when children are involved in some artificially furnished conditions, small room, and asked to play some "cognitive" games with researchers. It is not at all beneficial to anything and anyone to judge a child ability to think by limiting him/her in totally artificial conditions. Also to "study" animal behavior and cognitive abilities when animals are locked up in cages is a dreadful way to "learn".

    I've mentioned only so-called "harmless" cases....my heart cannot take the rest... sciences are more sophisticated these days than the bloodily notorious Spanish Inquisition, and also authorized by the law.

    Thank you for your reply :)
  • Mar 14 2014: All that we are; inclusive of all our senses, our emotions, our intelligence, our imaginations, our opinions, our beliefs, our dreams, our sciences, our learning, "All stem from one source, and "that is" The Universe".
    • Mar 14 2014: Agreed here.
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      Mar 14 2014: I am curious Carl........

      In another comment, you wrote..." ....I can only place my faith and my trust in the Universe/Creator, myself and my dog."

      Are you suggesting that the "Universe/Creator" are one and the same?

      I notice that you refer to "Universe/Creator" in several of your comments. This seems a bit confusing, because the definition of creator is..."one that creates usu. by bringing something new or original into being".

      One generally refers to a god as creator. Are you referring to universe/creator/god as one and the same?
      • Mar 15 2014: Universe is the creator and may be also perceived as God. But, not all perceived or man made creators and perceived or man made Gods and connotations of Gods are Universe.
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          Mar 15 2014: Hello double smiley face.... :-) :-) !

          I agree that there are various perceptions regarding universe, god, creator(s) etc. That is why I asked Carl the question. I was trying to understand what his perception is, and how he is using the terms....as I said.....I am curious:>)

          It is difficult to have a conversation, if I am not sure what a person is talking about.....that is why I ask questions....to clarify:>)
    • Mar 15 2014: No Question of Disagreement.What ever happens in this world or whatever happens to anyone does not depends on only one factor or only one thing but several factors and several thing come together, Interact with each other,interplay with each other and coordinate with each other.
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        Mar 15 2014: I agree :-) :-), that various factors contribute to everything in our world.:>)
  • Comment deleted

  • Mar 12 2014: What I refer to is religious scripture and the stories and claims in them that the religious believe. Miracles, prophets, floods, demons, and other examples listed by other commenters are at odds with science.

    I am not referring to spirituality or the use of "god" to provide a term for the laws of math and science. This is not what I mean by religion. What I am saying is theists are at odds with science, not deists.
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      Mar 13 2014: ""Miracles, prophets, floods, demons, and other examples listed by other commenters are at odds with science.""
      I guess science knows about floods. As for the others; why should we discount anything just because science has not explained it yet ? If we take that attitude then scientific endeavour will grind to a halt. Some scientists have limited themselves to materialism. This attitude is fairly recent & greatly limits further discoveries. Thankfully many are still willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

      • Mar 13 2014: Evidence? Please provide examples.
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          Mar 13 2014: The superhuman programming of DNA points to a superhuman programmer. We struggle to decipher it; to believe it came about by mutation & selection is just silly. A mathematical impossibility .

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          Mar 14 2014: Peter,
          You say "selection is just silly". And you also tell us many times that your god is going to select those who go to heaven and those who go to hell. This sounds like a contradiction.

          The topic question is...."Are Religions and Science mutually exclusive?"

          I don't believe religion and science are mutually exclusive, when one looks at all information realistically understanding the meaning and context.....without contradiction.
      • Mar 13 2014: I know how useless it is to explain this to you Peter, but it is mathematically demonstrable, and it has been demonstrated, that random mutations and selection can produce programs that no humans would have dreamed of producing. That is programs that solve apparently intractable problems Peter.

        So you're wrong. Our DNA is far from being an indication of some superhuman programmer.

        Now let's see you miss the point, as usual.


        P.S. Peter ironically said "Thankfully many are still willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads," forgetting that he's referring to people who sign an article of faith. Peter? Do you notice the contradiction between what you say and what signing an article of faith means?
      • Mar 14 2014: I am sorry Peter but I don't have the interest to explain my 1301 biol class individually to all of the religious people that I encounter. I do thank those who have the patience to provide this education.
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          Mar 14 2014: It is surprising that it takes 1301 lectures to explain such a simple everyday phenomenon as happens spontaneously, without any help, in nature.

      • Mar 15 2014: Isn't an atom a miracle of nature ? Isn't we human beings a miracle of nature ?

        If you want to be prophet then I can make you a prophet.And when I will do it , it will be a miracle.

        Aren't all the living beings a natural scientific instruments as well as natural scientific devices ?

        The problem with the science is that it thinks that things can only be known and measure with man made instruments and man made devices which have their own limitations.

        If I slap you then scientifically a sound will be produced which every one will hear. But, only you will be able to experience and feel the pain.And no man made scientific instrument can experience and feel the pain , the pain which you have experienced .

        If we look that way then according to science pain does not exists. It is myth according to science.
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        Mar 16 2014: It's mind boggling -- almost all postmodern scientific truth is still based on empirical observations and only believed to be our REAL world --- it is the very notorious method of thinking called Materialism.

        Materialism is the oldest philosophical tradition in Western civilization. Originated by pre-Socratic Greek philosophers in the 6th and 5th centuries before the Christian era, it reached its full classical form in the atomism of Democritus and Epicurus in the 4th century BCE...... and it prevails and RULES our scientific mentality of the 21st Century...
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    Mar 11 2014: Religion and science are contentious issues. If there are still humans 100 years from now: Will science and religion be as contentious today as they will be in 100 years? Will science be relevant at that time? Will religion be relevant at that time?

    How will humans place science and religion in their lives 100 years, 200 years, 500 years hence?
    • Mar 12 2014: I think that religion has a good chance to win (easier to believe in superstitions than learn science), and then humanity will sink into another era of ignorance and superstition. Maybe after a while reason will resurge, and maybe the process will run in cycles.
      • Mar 16 2014: Well said Entropy!
        All that cannot be explained at the present time will become mystical-that is until an explanation can be found. I have great hope that science will win this tug of war eventually. The evidences so far put science 1 to a 1000 in the betting stakes to win. Your title sums up adequately the state of religion. It's comparable to trying someone for a crime and just relying on what you believe and ignoring the vital evidence-can you imagine the state of society if that was the case?
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        Mar 16 2014: Do you honestly believe this Entropy? Or is your comment tongue in cheek? I suspect the latter?
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          Mar 17 2014: Hello Colleen,

          I agree with you. Let us hope that better edcuation, global trade and travel, and cultural exchanges will lead to better understanding, tolerance, and cooperation - instead of focusing on our differences, we will focus more on our common humanity, and that better understanding of science leads us to better understanding of our fellow human beings.

          "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding." Ralph Waldo Emerson
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      Mar 16 2014: Interesting questions Rodrigo!

      I tend to agree with Derek that if there is going to be a "winner", it will probably be science. Based on statistics, half of the people in the US are changing, or totally abandoning religion completely, and that is happening in various parts of our world.

      However, this does not have to be a winner/loser situation. Science and religion CAN co-exist when/if some folks could discontinue the practice of trying to convince us that they are "right".....they have the one and only truth, and it seems like religious fundamentalists do this more than other groups?

      Abuse and violation of human rights (which has been practiced under the guise of religion), thrives in isolation. As long as individuals or groups of people can be isolated, they can be controlled. Our communication systems, and discussions like this on TED are causing questioning of beliefs and practices that were simply accepted for a very long time. Once people learn that there are beliefs other than their own, they might question their personal beliefs, and/or get really upset that anyone would DARE question their personal beliefs, which they believe to be the one and only.

      Questioning is common, normal behavior with science. Questioning is not traditionally encouraged or tolerated with some religions, so I can understand why some folks get really annoyed and contradictory when questioned about their religious beliefs. I think sometimes, it might be the first time they have questioned their beliefs?
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      Mar 17 2014: Anyone one of us, every living soul is already making some change, For Better or For Worse.
      “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
      ― Mahatma Gandhi

      Like your super-curiosity, Rodrigo.
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      Mar 17 2014: Hi Rodrigo,
      As you write in your first comment...."Religion and science are contentious issues"......and I will add.....for some people.

      Yes indeed....." Let us hope that better education, global trade and travel, and cultural exchanges will lead to better understanding, tolerance, and cooperation - instead of focusing on our differences, we will focus more on our common humanity, and that better understanding of science leads us to better understanding of our fellow human beings."
      "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding." Ralph Waldo Emerson"

      Well said Rodrigo!
  • Mar 11 2014: I would saythat since some of our greatest scientists have held religious beliefs then no they are not mutually exclusive. Understanding and relying on science doesn't necessarily mean religious thought should be abandoned though the Dalai lama says the following "if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims." I would rather say that whatever religious beliefs are contradicted must be reevaluated in a less literal sense. Even Darwin, whose theory you guys have been so vigorously discussing struggled with his thoughts on religion and did not consider himself an athiest, more an agnostic.

    'Though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a god, and that generally "an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind."[7]
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      Mar 12 2014: Yes they are not 100% mutually exclusive.

      I agree when science disproves a religious doctrine there is a clash.
  • Comment deleted

    • Timo X

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      Mar 8 2014: Soooooo, to summarize:

      1. Live arose on earth through a combination of random chance and the process of evolution.
      2. Live arose on some other planet through an unknown process, developed space-faring capabilities and 'seeded' all life on earth through some unknown process. Over millions of years, 99% of all these lifeforms died out because of some unknown reason, but humanity was one species lucky enough to survive, again, due to some unknown reason.

      And you say theory one is full of holes?
      • Comment deleted

        • Timo X

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          Mar 9 2014: "This is not a summary it is your own conclusions or theories based on a preconceived bias."
          I suppose I could have misunderstood you, so please do point out exactly where and how I misrepresented your position.

          "The theory of evolution is only ONE theory and has not been reproduced in any lab making it a very thin unsubstantiated theory."
          It is quite possible to see bacteria, fruit flies and mice evolve in a laboratory setting. In fact, it is possible to see it happening outside the lab if you know where to look, e.g. in plant and animal breeding. It may also be good to point out that panspermia is not an alternative theory to evolution, since it concerns the distribution and not the origin or development of life (well, according to your Wiki link anyway). To illustrate, one could ask: if life on Earth originates from alien lifeforms, then where did these alien lifeforms come from?

          "The fossil records are full of missing links that would be necessary to make that theory work and those links do not exists or have not been found to exist."
          While I do not necessarily agree with your assessment that fossil records are full of missing links, nor that panspermia can explain the origin of life, I notice that you have so far neglected to give any proof for your position. Indeed, your main argument seems to rely on disproving evolution. Can I suggest that you provide some kind of evidence for your theory, rather than pointing out a supposed lack of evidence for alternative theories?
        • Mar 9 2014: "The fossil records are full of missing links"

          Leaving aside the ignorance of thinking that fossils is the only way of testing evolution, it seems like some of those "missing links" have been found:

      • Comment deleted

        • Timo X

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          Mar 9 2014: You sound very defensive. I apologise if I hurt your feelings somehow.

          As for your links, links do not constitute arguments. I can post a whole series of links, Google's got 128 million lying in waiting for me. But links do not an argument make. You make the argument, or, rather, didn't make one.

          For the sake of discussion, however, I did take a quick look at your links. Neither of them proofs what you say. The first is a Wiki article, which I cited in my response as proving the opposite of your theory. The second is a rather gross misrepresentation of Richard Dawkins ideas. The article is full of factual mistakes concerning important stuff, but even gaffes on minor details. For example, Roger Penrose never won a Nobel prize, but Wolf prize in physics. Not that the laureate status of Penrose matters to the argumentation, but how accurate can an article be that doesn't even get something like that right?
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        • Timo X

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          Mar 9 2014: First off, stop insulting me, or I will cease this discussion with you.

          As for what you're saying about evolution. Let's agree to disagree on this shall we? I do think that mutations constitute evolution of a species, and I do think that breeding, for example, a new type of dog confirms evolutionary theory. Perhaps you have more stringent criteria of proof. If so, good, give me some proof of panspermia then. For example, how does DNA manipulation provide proof that life on earth was seeded?
        • Mar 9 2014: If it were true that most mutations killed the organism then we would all be dead. We are born with an average of around 150 mutations.

          That most mutations would be deleterious (a word with a wide meaning that goes from slightly to very bad), was an assumption proven wrong by experiment and by measurements of the number of mutations per generation across many organisms.

          It is quite ironic that someone as ignorant to think that the fossil record is all there is to evolution would call someone else "dishonest" and "ignorant." It's also quite nonsensical to think that "gaps" in the fossil record prove evolution false. It's like saying that if we see a broken staircase, with some, or even several, missing steps, we should conclude that such thing proves that there was never a staircase.
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 9 2014: After reading your comments I am quite convinced that you wildly overestimate your understanding of scientific theory, and I am already helping you a lot by writing "scientific theory" there. What you have in mind consists of such deformed cartoons that I doubt there would be a point in having a conversation with you. If you answer my comment above about mutations, you might prove my point. So I'll wait and see.
      • Comment deleted

        • Timo X

          • +1
          Mar 9 2014: "It is highly probable ... [that intelligent life] much more advanced than humans ... could have visited at some point and seeded genetically modified [sic] organisms here that did not require the steps of evolution and metamophasised [sic] instead."
          How did these intelligent life forms arise? Where did they come from? Were they also seeded by other intelligent life? If so, then where did that life come from?

          I do not like repeating myself, so if you are unable to address this simple question, then I will not continue discussion with you. Seems reasonable no? One last chance to make a sensible point?
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          Mar 10 2014: Where did this other intelligent life come from. Did it evolve?

          I think you may also be confusing lifecycles for evolution.

          I think you underestimate the challenges of traveling intersteller distances. Even the nearest stars are light years away. 99.9999999% of all the other stars are in other galaxies millions and billions of light years away..
      • Comment deleted

        • Timo X

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          Mar 10 2014: Let's break down the process of science to a 5-step programme:
          1. Be curious about something you don't understand
          2. Develop theories to explain it
          3. Gather data
          4. Test the theories and discard ones that fail
          5. Repeat

          Clearly, you are curious about the origin of life, and I appreciate and applaud this fact. However, we seem to be unable to progress past step two. To proceed, you would need to produce an internally coherent alternative theory of the origin of life. As stated in the Wiki article on this subject, any orthodox theory of panspermia cannot fulfil this role, because it is about the distribution rather than the origin of life. Perhaps you support a version of this theory that does explain the origin of life, if so, you must explain it before the discussion can proceed.

          I have tried to explain the fact that you need to expound on your theory for the third time now, and I grow weary of it. But I do sincerely hope that your inability to move the discussion forward is down to ignorance rather than malice. Ignorance, after all, is a curable disease.
      • Comment deleted

        • Timo X

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          Mar 11 2014: Actually research costs money. And time. I will not waste any more on you.
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      Mar 10 2014: From a natural perspective, basic life may have developed elsewhere and been seeded here by an asteroid hit, but still life needed to evolve somewhere. And humans obviously evolved after on earthin this scenario.

      secondly some natural agency may have put animals on this planet in the far distant past, but the alien agency and animals needed to develop somewhere first.

      then there are supernatural explanations backed by no evidence.

      actually the fossil record does show a progression. No modern mammals with dinosaurs or earlier life forms.

      What a weird coincidence that DNA indicates common ancestry.

      there are examples of speciation observed in human time scale., particularly with lifeforms with short lifespans.

      the theory of evolution is one of the most compelling scientific theories we have. It covers the origins of species not the origins of life.
      • Comment deleted

        • Timo X

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          Mar 10 2014: I indicated earlier the importance of theories, let me stress it here by pointing out two purely theoretical (we'll leave the factual inaccuracies for what they are) flaws:
          1. A clone, by definition, has exactly the same DNA as the original, so it is quite impossible for the clone to be different enough from the original to constitute a different species.
          2. Metamorphosis separates different stages of life of the same organism, and it is, again by definition, impossible that one organism constitutes multiple species.

          And it would really grace you if you stopped labelling knowledgeable individuals as ignorant. You're not looking very good here already, and this just makes it worse.
      • Comment deleted

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          Mar 11 2014: If you have tried to understand the theory of evolution, all the evidence in support, and you still don't think it is the best explanation we have for the diversity of life, you must be pretty hard to convince.

          It's one of the best established theories we have backed by mountains of evidence.

          It makes perfect sense of the facts we observe.

          Still I would flush it away if we found modern human fossils that are millions of years old.

          DNA perfectly maps out our common ancestry.

          No need to resort to alien or supernatural agency which is not supported by any evidence.

          150 years refining and verifying evolution, even the Anglican and catholic churches are convinced when they have vested interest in creationism, yet they find evolution a compelling theory.

          Are you saying we could not possibly evolved, or that we are just misinterpreting the evidence.
    • Mar 11 2014: I only have one account Jonathan.,

      I do understand that. That you would bring that as an excuse is very telling about your misunderstanding of science. Let me put it this way. We know that some american population came from England in some ships. If we found tombs of people of around those times, we could use the info from those buried people to infer what the ancestors of today's americans were like. But the probability that we found the actual bodies of the actual ancestors to the people of today is slim because it could be that we found persons who left no descendants. We can still see that they dressed like so and so, and etc, and infer that the characteristics still tell us something about the direct ancestors.

      Same goes for the "transitional" fossils. The probability that we've got the actual ancestors is slim. For example, there's a fossil of a boy who has transitional characteristics between a modern human and a more chimp-like form. It would be nonsense to say that this boy was our ancestor because he died too young to leave descendants. the boy still had characteristics that help us learn what our ancestors might have been like. The boy still has characteristics intermediate between modern human and other more chimp-like form. So he is still transitional.

      So, it does not matter that those are not the real ancestors. What matters is that they have those characteristics that show that indeed, animals with intermediary characteristics, with the first proto-feathers, first limbs, first ears, etc looked like at their first and other stages of evolution.


      Any fossils we find cannot but be side branches for obvious reasons. Reasons that seem to escape your limited knowledge. They still represent evidence of "cross-scpecies" evolution fair and square Your ignorance notwithstanding. (that you would say "cross-species" evolution shows even deeper ignorance on your part.)
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        • Mar 11 2014: OMG Jonathan pay attention! You can't seriously be saying that because some fossils are not direct ancestors they can't show evolutionary stages!

          This is about as ridiculous as claiming that Noah put all the animals on an Ark, or that you know anything about science!

          Now you have been issued a challenge. Either provide verifiable lab evidence that you can understand what I am explaining or admit that you suffer from Dunning–Kruger effect. Don't BS me with more ignorant claims. Show me that you understand what I explained.

          A dog turned into a cat? And you think that you understand evolution enough to reject it? Guys, Jonathan is just a troll. "He" does not give a damn, "he" is just playing.
    • Mar 11 2014: There was no reply button, Jonathan, because my comment was too deep. Check it out. Nothing to do with accounts. This reveals a bit of a lack of attention on your part. Maybe if you paid better attention you would understand what I and Timo X are trying to explain to you. Or maybe you don't have the basic knowledge to understand what we explain.

      Here the other comments that you decided to ignore:
      If it were true that most mutations killed the organism then we would all be dead. We are born with an average of around 150 mutations.

      That most mutations would be deleterious (a word with a wide meaning that goes from slightly to very bad), was an assumption proven wrong by experiment and by measurements of the number of mutations per generation across many organisms.

      It is quite ironic that someone as ignorant to think that the fossil record is all there is to evolution would call someone else "dishonest" and "ignorant." It's also quite nonsensical to think that "gaps" in the fossil record prove evolution false. It's like saying that if we see a broken staircase, with some, or even several, missing steps, we should conclude that such thing proves that there was never a staircase.
      After reading your comments I am quite convinced that you wildly overestimate your understanding of scientific theory, and I am already helping you a lot by writing "scientific theory" there. What you have in mind consists of such deformed cartoons that I doubt there would be a point in having a conversation with you. If you answer my comment above about mutations, you might prove my point. So I'll wait and see.
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    • Mar 11 2014: Read what I wrote Jonathan. I explained all of this quite carefully to you. Be a man and read it for understanding. Then try and answer accordingly. If you can't understand it, then say so instead of trying to distract us from your failures.

      I won't be waiting. I am now convinced that you lack the capacity to understand any of it. I am also convinced that you won't read it, and you'll only prove me right. Go ahead. Prove me right and "answer" without even pretending to understand any of my answers.
    • Mar 11 2014: "Jonathan",

      At this point I know that you could not care less. You did not demonstrate that you understood what I said. Where is your acknowledgement and your understanding of what I said? Where is your acknowledgment that now you understand how fossils would almost by necessity be side branches and that they still show intermediary stages in evolutionary histories? Where is your understanding of what side branches mean? Nowhere. I predicted that you would not pretend that you read what I wrote. You delivered. Thanks.

      I don't have anything to prove to my buddies. My buddies have enough intelligence to figure out the unsurmountable nature of your pretended ignorance.

      "If you persist do so at your own peril." Meh. You're a good joke once we figure out what you really are about.
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    Mar 8 2014: Many Christians, such as myself, understand Genesis Chapter 1 to be non-literal. I don't know of any conflict between science and religion. Science is God's rulebook for running the universe.
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      Mar 10 2014: How do we tell if it was intended to be taken literally by the authors.

      I note there are about as many interpretations of the bible as there are outdoor who believe it was inspired by some supernatural agency.

      plenty of Christians take it literally.
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        Mar 10 2014: "How do we tell if it was intended to be taken literally by the authors."

        That is a very good question, and the source of much disagreement between theologians.

        Here's my own opinion - take it for what you will:

        The universe obviously operates according to the rules of Science. If God exists, he uses science to run the universe, so there's no reason that God didn't create the universe scientifically.

        We have billions of years of cosmological, geological, and archeological evidence that contradicts a literal interpretation of Genesis, which suggests that Genesis is not written literally.

        Within the text of Genesis itself, there is evidence that it is not literal. One male and one female do not have the genetic diversity to propagate a species. God creates light on the first day but doesn't create the sun until the fourth, etc.
        • Mar 10 2014: Therefore the criterion is: if science shows it wrong, it is metaphorical. OK.
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          Mar 11 2014: Thanks lawren.

          I agree the literal explanation is wrong.

          Suggest it was either intended to be symbolic or literal. If it was meant literally, just the authors got it wrong.

          pity they didn't provide a commentary explaining what they meant. Might have helped avoid a lot of confusion.
  • Mar 7 2014: Kurt Gödel Werner Heisenberg Georges Lemaître Max Planck George Washington Carver Guglielmo Marconi Louis Pasteur Gregor Mendel James Clerk Maxwell Michael Faraday Alessandro Volta Daniel Bernoulli Carolus Linnaeus Isaac Newton Blaise Pascal René Descartes Galileo Galilei Johannes Kepler are afew that might have disagreed. These are only some of the Christian scientists. There are countless scientists that practice other religions as well. This is a recurring question here at TED, and though I don't consider myself religious I feel the need to remind folks not to close their minds, it limits us.

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      Mar 11 2014: Yes there have been and are scientific geniuses that believe in supernatural gods and goddesses, or reincarnation, Zeus, flying horses, talking donkeys, Valhalla, Hades, nirvana, etc

      I suggest the further back in time you go there were more gaps for God's to fit in.

      These days it seems more and more scientists are less and less religious, or at least squash their god beliefs into the remaining gaps, after death, or into some invisible spirit realm, and don't assume gods control the weather, or disease, or laboratory experiment outcomes.

      science can be compatible with religious belief of these beliefs do not conflict with the pursuit of what can be reasonably demonstrated via the scientific method
      • Mar 11 2014: Do you suppose Planck, Pasteur,Lemaitre, and Heisenberg etc believed in flying horses and talking donkeys that controled the weather, disease, and laboratory expiriment outcomes? Do you feel the need to be insulting to make your points? If some of the greatest scientists in the history of science had religous beliefs then I would say that they are not mutually exclusive, but then they didn't have access to your sound and well thought out argument.
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          Mar 12 2014: No intent to be insulting.

          I guess people smarter than me in the past have believed the earth is the centre of the universe and various speculative, supernatural beliefs.

          today a high school student is presented with a more complete understanding of the universe than the geniuses of a few hundred years ago, and profoundly different a few thousand years ago.

          Saying some great scientists had religious beliefs doesn't mean all forms of religious belief and resulting behaviours are compatible with science. You have people home schooled or indoctrinated with literal religious beliefs at odds with science, for example.

          we are all products of our time and location. we have the benefits of all the great discoveries of the people you mention.

          I suggest some forms of religious belief and resulting behaviours don't impact the scientific method and knowledge, but some do. if you believe in a young earth you won't be much of a geologist or cosmologist.

          If you believe a virgin had a baby, or that this or that god or goddess exists, there is no scientific proof but it may not necessarily prevent you reaching your full potential as a scientist. But these beliefs are non scientific. Allah, Baal, madam, Vishnu, Zeus, Yahweh, etc could exist, but it is unlikely all of them do and given no compelling evidence for any of them they are highly speculative and possibly don't exist.
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          Mar 12 2014: Trying to be more succinct.

          you can do good science and have religious beliefs.

          sometimes religious beliefs do conflict with science and may impede science.

          and even those beliefs that don't impact science may not be supported by science and may be arrived at via cultural indoctrination, flawed reasoning, and no evidence. The existence of invisible gods, goddeses, nature spirits, demons, angels, Kami, boddhisvas are at best unverifable scientifically.

          science and religion are neither entirely compatible or mutually exclusive. And much of the faith based beliefs are mutually exclusive, speculative, and can not all be correct, and at best are often unverifiable
      • Mar 11 2014: I absolutely agree with your last sentence, that is a fair assessment. If you'll scroll down just a bit you'll see my reply from two days ago in which I agreed with so many here in that you can maintain religous beliefs without being a religious literalist. I understand your aversion to beliefs that fly in the face of repeatable, varifiable, experimental data, I would only ask that you not close your mind completely by assuming that we have all the answers to life's questions and when trying to express your thoughts onthis subject, maybe not be insulting, disrespectful, or condescending as it is counterproductive.
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          Mar 12 2014: Thanks for the advice jacob.

          I agree it's good to keep an open mind to new information and be aware that science has it's limits.

          I certainly don't have all the answers and didn't mean to be insulting. Just trying to squeeze to many ideas into one comment I guess not explaining enough.

          I am thankful to ask the great scientists and inventors that came before. Our lives do truly do rest on the shoulders of giants.

          my poorly explained point was off you go back in time humans societies didn't have the scientific understanding we have today. Life was full of cultural mysticism, magic, superstition, religions.

          Geniuses may have held commonly held supernatural views for there time and place.

          or completely whacky views like newtons penchantfor alchemy etc. Or common religious dogma. such as virgin births or a six day creation etc.

          if I born is classical Greece I would mostly believe in the Olympian gods, Bacchus etc. I would be wary of omens etc.

          I also don't need to know everything to know past scientific geniuses from all civilisations and religious backgrounds believed in conflicting supernatural concepts and these are mutually exclusive. They can't all be right. Beliefs based on revelation aren't particularly scientific. I have no issue with prior holding these beliefs as long as they don't harm people. I respect people have earnestly explored life, the universe, and meaning and come up with different views. However, I'm also happy to point out the issues with these sorts of beliefs.

          I find literalist religious beliefs such as talking donkeys, virgin births, water waking, flying horses, beams of light impregnating Buddha's mother etc highly dubious yet people believe in these today, some much smarter and wiser than I. I just note they disagree amongst themselves on these issues. Still I support freedom of religion. I understand the psychological pull of religious type experiences, the social

          the creationist agenda against science is scary and it's workin
      • Mar 13 2014: I've got to admit I don't understand how someone can believe in these things in a literal sense either. I really think that most people, if questioned (in a calm and peaceful manner) will admit that most parables of any religion are just metaphors and/or allegories, but the second someone feels like they're being attacked or belitted their defenses will go up and the opportunity to communicate is missed. Questioning and/or losing one's faith can be a terrifying experience, i was raised in the church and it was a difficult time for me when i lost faith in the church, religous dogma, and the sanctity of the bible. The process of discarding the only worldview i ever understood to me took a dark place. This is why i advise courtesy and compassion when discussing these topics , because while your intention might be to educate people to current scientific thought/theories/facts, your also shaking the foundations of people's understanding od the world and sometimes their very identity.
        • Mar 16 2014: Hi Jacob
          I am 80yrs old and when I was a boy religion had us all in its grasp. Now times are changing as we realise the flaws in religion. I understand the feeling you must have endured giving up your religion but mine was the opposite I had a sense of what life was all about. I became part of that life that began three and a half billion yrs ago. I am part of a greater thing and without me and the rest of our species that whatever is evolving would not evolve. We are only partly rational, it is this that gives us a reason to live. Heaven as described by Christian belief would not appeal it would be a world of boredom beyond belief; a world where intelligence is not needed.