TED Conversations

Tai Kapaji

This conversation is closed.

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.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 11 2014: THIS TOPIC IS ULTIMATELY CONTROVERSIAL.

    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.


    Tal, maybe you mean " ARE CHIRCH and SCIENCE mutually exclusive?"

    Or you have asked your questions on purpose --- to provoke some arguments among people who are not aware of history of sciences and religion?


    Many answers you get here are lost in terminology - looks that there is no difference for the ted-people between Religion and the old institution called Chirch....

    Hope you will make some clarity.

    Thank you.
    • Mar 12 2014: No Vera,

      I think that the question is quite pertinent. You mention great scientists who were religious, and some others here have mentioned that and the fact, that I don't deny, that some great contemporary scientists are also religious. Those arguments reveal a variety of things, none of which contradicts the fact that religion and science do indeed conflict.

      Examples:
      1. Those scientists held beliefs in gods not compatible with their religions (in different ways and different levels), only they did not know because few "members" of a religion actually know well what their religions are supposed to be about.
      2. Those scientists had/have never truly confronted (or not confronted completely) those two sides of their lives, and therefore haven't noticed those conflicts.
      3. Those scientists can live with this cognitive dissonance, as many of us often do.
      4. Those scientists lived at times when the conflicts were more superficial, at least in appearance. For example, it wasn't too hard to put the Sun at the centre of the solar system (but it was still hard), but should those scientists have known about, say, evolution then they would have thought better about how much their religions could resist.
      5. Those scientists changed their religion's gods for a god more compatible with science. One whose working were either non-personal (Spinoza's for example), or personal, but not belonging to known religions. In other words, these scientists have invented new god versions that they can live with.
      6. Etc.

      I have been in some of these categories myself. Example. I read on the origin of species expecting to laugh at gorillas becoming humans in a zoo, only to find a coherent body of data and inescapable conclusions. So, I thought that maybe we misunderstood "God." I visited other religions, then new-age, etc. But in the end I understood the futility of inventing gods. Anyway. Science is incompatible with religion, more so when it succeeds in making you think courageously
      • thumb
        Mar 12 2014: Thank you for replying!
        To say what you’re saying means to entirely deny the very mentality of the most inspirational classical scientists - they DID FOLLOW TRADITIONALLY ESTABLISHED BELIEF and its rules. Please, do not judge by what you, yourself, believe in, or do not believe in :) In the dawn of Materialism (!) Rene Descartes, a very traditionally religious man, was absolutely convinced that by discovering God’s laws (as well as how Newton believed in his work) he expressed his endless admiration of God.

        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 all shall know, Early Christianity had many interpretations called Gnostic Gospels, which was the original 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 what Constantine himself had approved, within his Church.

        (At first In 313 Constantine and Licinius announced "that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best",[13] thereby granting tolerance to all religions, including Christianity. Never happened!!)

        The emperor became a great patron, actually a political ruler of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor within the Church.

        My point is that postmodern learned people/scholars do not refer themselves to any RELIGION for this very REASON we are facing in this conversation

        - they do NOT wish to be MIXED-UP with what the CHURCH authorities’ recycling mentality and dogma say.
        • thumb
          Mar 13 2014: I suggest to attribute nature to this or that God cultural concept without any evidence is poor reasoning even if you are a genius.

          understandable given the cultural context. But still unsubstantiated.
    • thumb
      Mar 12 2014: I note the religious beliefs of the great Hindu minds, conflict with the great Christian, Muslim and Buddhist, Egyptian, Babylonian and Chinese, scientists, mathematicians, inventors etc.

      so you can do great work even though logic indicates that all but one at best is has incorrect religious beliefs and possibly all of them are wrong.

      I suggest the point is the religious beliefs themselves are often anti or non scientific. And some forms of religious belief such as literal koranic or biblical beliefs, miracles, interventonist gods are mutually exclusive with sciences
      • thumb
        Mar 12 2014: Please be your own judge. No primitive categorization can be seriously accepted in complicated history of human mind.

        Science is fundamentally based on Fantasic Imagination and many dreams, driven by the force of high inspiration. This inspiration can have many sources, including RELIGIOUS belief.

        People with no imagination cannot be scientists or researchers, especially when it comes to great scientists.

        Scientific thinking is naturally based on our creative abilities to imagine, observe, and then BELIEVE in what we observe.

        The greater scientist is the more he senses that the endless world is still uncomprehended.

        CHURCH not BELIEFS that fights over scientific thinking.

        Please read my comment to "Entropy Driven", above :)

        Thank you,

        Cheers.
        • thumb
          Mar 13 2014: I agree except that you fail to mention the creative hypothesises need to be tested and verified at some stage.

          no issue where the inspiration comes from as long as it is demonstrated to be correct, with evidence.

          I also note the scientific method works by not assuming supernatural magical explanations or miracles breaking the laws of nature.
    • Mar 12 2014: Hi Vera,

      Not a problem.

      You said: "they DID FOLLOW TRADITIONALLY ESTABLISHED BELIEF and its rules"

      Actually, no. They varied a lot in what and the way they believed. You took a bit of what they might have found inspiring, into their whole religious beliefs, and that's not what I see when I read about those scientists, or when I talk to those living today and who self-describe as believers. They all have all kinds of contradictory notions and different levels of cognitive dissonance. My description above was based on experience and study, not just what went through my own change from Christian to atheist. I added my experience to show that my own experience confirms parts of what I have found among other scientists who still hold to some god-beliefs. That I'm not merely an outsider looking into this.

      You talk about Christians, well, isn't it a fundamental belief there that there was a Jesus Christ and that this guy was God and it's son at the same time? Isn't it fundamental to these believers that Christ died for their sins? Isn't it fundamental that this was needed because we are unforgivably sinful? Broken to the core in need for this salvation and this salvation only? Doesn't it follow that therefore there's enormous contradictions to the explanation as to why we are so darn broken that conflict with our findings about how humanity came to be, the age of the universe, etc?

      Religions have their basis in our imaginative minds, not in some real gods out there. We know this from almost every side of scientific inquiry involving humanity, our cultures and evolution. All of this conflicts directly with religions at the very core of what causes these religious beliefs, and then about the conflicts between scientific findings and religious claims. There's a conflict, and scientists, being humans, might be able to live with those conflicts and contradictions without even noticing. yet, the conflicts do exist.

      Thanks for your amazingly nice and calmed answer.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.