Can you be a scientist and have religious faith?

Jun 12, 2015

by Mark Lorch

I’ve been a scientist for as long as I can remember. Children are born scientists; they experiment with everything, are naturally inquisitive and through this exploration they learn about how the world works. And I’ve never grown out of it. Of course, for many people, their modes of thought change as they find or are brought up with faith. Some manage, somehow, to hold religious beliefs alongside a dedication to the rationality of science.

I had a brief flirtation with Christianity in my teens, probably as a form of rebellion against my nuclear physicist father. But ultimately I could never reconcile what I saw as a contradiction between the principles of the scientific method and faith in a supernatural god. And ever since then, it has puzzled me how anyone could be religious whilst also being a scientist. How can one hold what I saw as diametrically opposed belief systems? How, on the one hand, could someone devote themselves to the scientific methods where, through repeated experimentation, one builds up a self-consistent representation of the rules that govern the universe, whilst on the other hand believing in a force that existed outside the rules and that, indeed, could change those rules.

Working in a university, I’m surrounded by scientists, and many of the best of them have religious faith. I’ve discussed these apparent contradictions of faith and science with some of these colleagues. I fully expected to hear arguments such as deism, where a god started the universe off but hasn’t intervened since then. Or maybe theistic evolution, with their god directing the evolution of the Universe and life within it. And indeed some did have these stances. But many of those I spoke to also took a literal interpretation of miracles from their holy texts. Which took me back to square one. If a god can change the rules of life, then how can you believe the rules governing your experiments won’t change from one day to the next? And it always came down to the fact that they just had faith in the scriptures, which left me feeling rather dissatisfied.


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172 comments on “Can you be a scientist and have religious faith?

  • Let the philosophers here argue about inductive and deductive reasoning. As far as I’m concerned, religious scientists compartmentalise their minds. Whilst getting on with the nitty gritty of experiment, they still have this ‘feeling’ of a higher power. Like Lloyd Flankbein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, “doing God’s work“.

    Francis Collins was apparently a great leader of the human genome project, a devout Catholic, and an outspoken critic of the YECs, but how good he is as a scientist remains to be seen.



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  • Obviously as five minutes evidence based research would tell you. There are scientists who have religious beliefs QED. I suspect the question he should have asked was how do you reconcile scientific thinking with religious belief?

    [Edited by moderator to remove attempt to restart a discussion stopped on another thread.]



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  • A very good scientist.

    Likewise Ken Miller whose work on the bacterial flagellum ripped the ID claim of irreducible complexity to shreds. Who testified at the Dover / Kitzmiller trial that ID was a steaming pile of poo. And who is a devout Catholic.

    We all compartmentalise cos we all have to deal with some degree of cognitive dissonance.



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  • Not sure about virgin births, but I have heard of people being brought back after being declared clinically dead.

    [Another reference to Tim Hunt removed by moderator. He is not the subject of this thread.]



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  • Forget scientists. Personally I wonder how you can be a mentally competent adult of even moderate intelligence and believe in god. I am genuinely perplexed at the number of otherwise intelligent, rational people who believe in god…to the extent that I often struggle to believe they’re not just paying lip-service to it like adults playing along with a knowing wink to the idea of Santa.



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  • Personally I wonder how you can be a mentally competent adult of even moderate intelligence and believe in god.

    Since there are vast numbers of mentally competent adults of moderate and above intelligence who believe in God, perhaps it’s your wondering processes which need looking at.



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  • It is quite possible to have a close focus on some narrow specialist area of science, with compartmentalisation denying the big picture. The big-picture takes a lot of work to build up a credible model, so the god-did-it gap-filler – dragged along from childhood indoctrination, is handy for all those areas narrow specialists have not spent time on.



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  • I also struggle with understanding that paulmcuk. But very bizarrely when I look back to when I considered myself a Christian I found I also struggled with my fellow believers if they took it too seriously. Which is hypocritical but also enlightening into how we do compartmentalise.

    I found I could only manage to retain my belief by not thinking to hard about it and so got very upset when fellow Christians broke through that by articulating what we actually believed in. I found it a lot easier to argue with atheists cos I could just say ‘no we don’t believe that, no not my God’. I was the past master of the old deity on the periphery argument. Outside of time and space so therefore nobody could think about it and science couldn’t find it.

    I know that was daft and illogical but I think the delusions provided rewards that made it worth the effort. I worked hard at protecting it from the same critical analysis I’d apply to other areas of my life because it would be lovely to never truly lose those you love. It would be lovely know that the evil b@@@@@ds of the world would get their just rewards even if they got away with it here on earth. And because religion has matured to be whatever it is you want it to be in counties like the UK so I could do that. I think I’d have lost it far earlier in its more primitive science and human rights denying forms.

    I think it’s quite hard to let go of those comforts. I think they partly explain the evolution of religion in a harsh world. I don’t think many people see their faith intellectually even when they develop intellectual arguments to defend it. They may think they’re developing intellectual arguments to defend their faiths but I think they’re developing them to protect emotional needs. Like the cheated on spouse who develops reasons why their partner isn’t home.



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  • But how do you explain those, like Francis Collins & Ken Miller mentioned above, who specialise in areas of science which you would have thought would defeat the indoctrination. I think they know they have no real evidence for their belief, they just prefer to believe. Or as Dan Dennett put it, they believe in belief.



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  • I don’t think many scientist believers do do the god of the gaps filler from childhood indoctrination. Nor do good scientists deny any science!

    I ve heard brilliant evolutionary scientists and physicists that are totally happy with all the science and perfectly aware that god of the gaps is nonsense. In one of Dawkins books, I think it’s the ancestors tale, he actually quotes Christian scientists who’ve said the god of the gaps arguments are pants (not quite his words) and an insult to their belief. Ken Miller hates god of gaps.

    I don’t think it’s a narrowing of focus either. If you’re logical in one area, you are in all. I know scientific believers who are just as analytical and cynical about politics as they are about their science etc. Your area of scientific expertise may be small but that doesn’t mean you can’t think scientifically, analytically and logically outside of that! Or vice versa.

    I think you need to look at the needs it’s serves tbh. And you need to look at hard evidence. There are clever believers and thick atheists. Religion declines fastest where there’s social justice not where there is just education and technology,

    There has got to be a reason that logical, intelligent people protect that one area of their lives from the same reasoning that they apply to every other area. People who aren’t god of gaps loonies. People who accept all science. People who understand science. People who are cynical about modern miracles. They are all clearly protecting belief.

    And I think most of them admit they have no evidence. They admit it is faith. It is clearly an emotional need that is worth having!



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  • I’d agree. And I’d widen to include most believing scientists. The god of gaps arguments do not apply to many modern scientists at all. Alan4discussion’s explanation does not explain any scientist I know.

    Francis Collins thrashes god of gaps in his book. So to does Ken Miller. And so to do many believers.



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  • I agree. Science is a litmus test for delusion. Any one who hasn’t looked at their own world view and applied this litmus test is open to deluding themselves. A true scientist should be a proponent of the two camps. Scientific knowledge and the unknown should be all that make up their world view. Hypothesis of supernatural creators that can never be proven scientifically should never be part of that world view. This should also be true of the educated population…



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  • Alice
    Jun 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Likewise Ken Miller whose work on the bacterial flagellum ripped the ID claim of irreducible complexity to shreds.

    It does not follow that because people attack ID or creationism, that makes them “scientists” even if some of their arguments look credible at first sight.

    Creationists and IDers dispute each other’s claims as much as anyone else’s!
    (On previous threads I have linked Vatican criticism of YECs while they themselves are spouting Old Earth Theistic Evolution pseudo-science.)

    With the circular thinking of “faith”, it should be no surprise that they dream up and produce a great diversity of conflicting dogmatic fantasies.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/ken-hams-answers-mega-conference-to-present-latest-creationism-research-99593/

    The Creation Museum and the Young-Earth creation theory have been criticized by some, including pastors from the Christian community.

    In June, an assistant manager at the Cincinnati Museum Center said that the Creation Museum “misleads the public” and is a “pockmark on our religion.”

    “The fact that someone profits by misrepresenting their faith to children and families is shameful,” the manager wrote in a post online. The Cincinnati Museum later clarified, however, that his remarks do not represent the institution.

    And earlier this year, Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas came under fire from Ham for remarks he made on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox.

    Jeffress told host Bill O’Reilly that the Bible does not contradict science, and added: “It may contradict the passing fads of scientific theory that are always evolving. For example, it used to be thought that the cosmos always existed. But, then we had Sir Frederick Coyle, who named the Big Bang Theory, who said, ‘Guess what? The universe had a beginning 13.7 billion years ago,'”

    “One of the things fundamentalist Christians mess up on is they try to say the earth is 6,000 years old. The Bible never makes that claim,” Jeffress said.

    To those comments, Ham responded: “It is so distressing that so many of our Christian leaders don’t seem to understand that to accept man’s fallible beliefs of billions of years, Big Bang etc, they are really undermining the authority of God’s Word.”



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  • I agree but an emotional need says nothing about the nature of reality. The faithful somehow find it comforting to have their reality entity created and describe it as objective reality to the rest of us?



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  • Alice :

    We all compartmentalise cos we all have to deal with some degree of cognitive dissonance.

    For a moment, I thought you were disagreeing with me ! Does a person controlling the computer that fits body parts to a Volvo in construction, have to worry about a ‘higher power’ ? A job is a job, and Miller and Collins did theirs well. I have no problem that religious scientists can do good work. I think of Mendel and his pea plants and LeMaitre and the big bang idea. The fact that a part of their brain is infected with religious nonsense doesn’t, necessarily, stop them doing good science.



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  • Good answer there Alice! We humans are still “animals” and carry all sorts of ‘baggage’ mentally and emotionally making it difficult sometimes to think like “Spock”.
    If we have to deal with deep emotions perhaps sometimes we shortcut reason !



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  • Alice
    Jun 12, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    And I’d widen to include most believing scientists. The god of gaps arguments do not apply to many modern scientists at all. Alan4discussion’s explanation does not explain any scientist I know.

    Perhaps you are dealing with anecdotal perceptions, don’t know many scientists, or don’t know what they are actually thinking as many are not open about their beliefs and find examining them uncomfortable.

    Scientists with god-beliefs (apart from total deists) compartmentalise, with their gods-in-gaps regardless of if they deny the god-of-gaps!

    It is a feature of faith (strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence.) to deny evidence which refutes or contradicts core indoctrination.

    Compartmentalised god-thinking is usually blind faith, or god-of gaps, with cognitive dissonance to rationalise away the mental conflicts. http://web.mst.edu/~psyworld/cognitive_dissonance.htm

    Hence all the contorted thinking which tries to pretend theology is consistent with science.

    Of course if you have some other evidence from an objective survey, that can be studied. . . . . .



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  • Who is to define who is mentally competent? This is not judged by shear numbers of people. If not supported by scientific evidence you are open to being wrong or deluded in your thinking. Strength of evidence should be proportional to how strong a rational person believes in something.



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  • exfireman95
    Jun 12, 2015 at 4:54 pm
    .
    We humans are still “animals” and carry all sorts of ‘baggage’ mentally and emotionally making it difficult sometimes to think like “Spock”.

    You are right about instincts and emotional baggage.

    Spock however, is a caricature invented for the flattery of American irrational audiences.

    He has as much intellectual credibility as the Hollywood mad scientists of horror films, or of Indiana Jones as an archaeologist!



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  • Alice
    Jun 12, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I don’t think many scientist believers do do the god of the gaps filler from childhood indoctrination.

    Do you have some evidence for this “belief”?

    Nor do good scientists deny any science!

    That is a tautology. Science deniers are not “good” (or competent) scientists!

    Your area of scientific expertise may be small but that doesn’t mean you can’t think scientifically, analytically and logically outside of that!

    Without knowledge of the evidence in a subject area, or knowledge of reputable competent sources, views are simply gapology!



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  • Is religious faith a ‘feel good’ drug that we should break ourselves from? I have a real issue with the pushes of said drug. We should let the drug takers know that it feels good to also not take it … If drug taking is all about feelings.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 12, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Since there are vast numbers of mentally competent adults of moderate and above intelligence who believe in God, perhaps it’s your wondering processes which need looking at.

    Competent at what?
    Scientific methodology has been consistently demonstrated to work in the real world.

    Faith only works in the world of delusional imagination and retrospective rationalisation.

    In whose opinion are these god-believers competent – and at what skills?

    The evidence is that they are much more vulnerable to putting “faith” in quacks, fortune-tellers, astrologers, AGW-deniers, anti-vaxers, ideologies, and charlatans in general, due to their giving credibility to superstitions.



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  • That would presume scientists formulate hypotheses about supernatural creators. I doubt very much that they do.

    The fact that the educated and scientific population includes believers is a bit of a fly in your argument.



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  • Alan4discussion I assume from this you are refusing to accept any science from any scientist who professes a belief.

    Which means, just like Fred Hoyle, you do not accept Big Bang theory and hold to a nice steady state theory.

    You must not accept the evolutionary pathways of the bacterial flagellum and instead must cling to the notion that indeed it is irreducible complex.

    And you do not accept the human genome, it’s comparisons with other genomes and what that tells us about our evolution.

    If you cannot accept that believers can do science you must reject their science. In doing so you must accept a lot of ID and creationist nonsense. Especially their concept of irreducible complex flagella.

    And of course you’ll have to check out lots of other science lest it be the result of collaborations.

    So you can either accept evidence – believers can be scientists, and very good ones.

    Or you can ignore the evidence in favour of your stereotypes but have to join the creationists in rejecting a lot of science!



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  • The Writer of this piece seems to be confused.

    Ultimately faith is the knowledge that something [an hypothesis] is true even through there is not evidence to support it …

    Except, of course, with no evidence to support it the hypothesis is not justified, and therefore not knowledge.

    … whilst science is the belief that something is probably true because of a body of evidence that supports a theory.

    Scientific hypotheses are certainly held to be probable, but the Writer is glossing over the part where scientists say why they give their hypotheses a probability score. The first is because they know that what they previously thought of as settled science was upset by new observations. The second is that they know their hypotheses – even those that rise to the giddy height of acknowledged theory – are frequently approximations.

    The Writer correctly identifies Francis Bacon as the originator of the scientific method (using induction – developing generalisations from specifics as a first principle). The Writer then goes on to confuse this point by (a) failing to understand induction and (b) failing to recognise that science also uses deduction, and that this is a central part of most science. Scientists, of course, also use abduction (commonly called: educated guessing).

    The Writer fails to understand induction in science because he forgets that induction in science argues from specifics, that are verifiable (c.f. Cold Fusion). He also gets side-tracked by the Induction Problem (attributed to David Hume), but doesn’t acknowledge Karl Popper’s Empirical Falsification response which further refines science and, indeed, many would argue further removes science beliefs from faith-based beliefs.

    Whenever a Scientist draws a conclusion (usually by forming a hypothesis) from studying verifiable specifics, called facts for short, they know that one way in which others will test their hypothesis is by working in the opposite direction – by using that new hypothesis to predict what are, to-date, unobserved facts. This is called deduction; working from a general principle (the hypothesis) to specifics.

    In addition, and in a more practical vein, scientific hypotheses are used to make new observations (e.g. microscopes allow us to see viri). But this is clearly not true of faith-based reasoning. If I have faith that my god is pink, and invisible, in what way can I use this as the basis for finding new knowledge?

    So what have these explorations in the philosophy of science got to do with my attempts to understand how people can reconcile a faith in religion and evidence-based science? Basically, there’s no single logical explanation for why induction works: it just does.

    Because of the above mistakes, the Writer fails to understand. His conclusion is wrong because his premises are wrong.

    Which means I’m left with the belief that induction works without the sound evidence to support it, i.e. I have faith in the scientific method.

    I believe science for the exact opposite reason. Because it’s based on facts, because it’s additionally verifiable through prediction and deduction, because it’s not falsified and because it builds new knowledge.

    This realisation made me stop worrying about how people can hold religious faith and scientific beliefs simultaneously.

    Seriously: You should worry.

    It demonstrated to me that faith and evidence-based beliefs coexist in my mind, so in a way, I am no different from my fellow scientists who have faith in the miracles of theologies.

    Ah well, as your thinking is as faulty as your belief-through-faith colleagues, your faulty conclusions are hardly surprising.

    I too have a deeply-seated faith in my own (scientific) belief system.

    That may be true, and must make your current position more pitiable, but it can have no effect on me.

    When discussing philosophy it is as well to remember that it only has one contribution to make. Philosophy can help us to determine whether, or not, we are asking the right questions and whether, or not, we are using the best thinking to find the best answer.

    Do philosophers sometimes get themselves in a muddle when applying these techniques to their own discipline? Frequently.

    Science, in less than 400 years since Bacon, has delivered. Faith-based thinking has, after many millennia, what might be overly-charitably described as: A mixed record. Which group has a better grasp of philosophy … I wonder …

    Peace.



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  • Alice
    Jun 12, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Alan4discussion I assume from this you are refusing to accept any science from any scientist who professes a belief.

    Assumption is is mother of misconception!

    I have already explained, that they compartmentalise their supernatural beliefs and their science, with cognitive dissonance, so while their science MAY be evidence based and rational, they will carry the faith-thinking-disability which MIGHT transfer across from their theistic thinking, and kick in at some point to the detriment of their scientific work.

    As for the rest of you post, as I have mentioned before, you really should give up the use of strawman fallacies in debates.

    So you can either accept evidence – believers can be scientists, and very good ones.

    I have never disputed that the compartmentalised science part of their thinking CAN present very good work, but that does not mean, some of their other writings cannot be theistic brain-fumblings.



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  • 29
    aroundtown says:

    Einstein had made reference to god and that type of slip only gives aid to the religiously inclined and that type of situation will continue to happen until we have advanced to the point where those types of conclusions are no longer plausible when weighed against the overwhelming evidence we’ve yet to achieve. I appreciated Stephen Hawking’s effort, he tried to step beyond the fray and suggest a finality that god does not exist, but his type of opinion will not gain purchase until such time that the religious pay a price for remaining mired in their unsupportable dogma.

    Were not there yet but I certainly hope it’s just around the corner. The clock is ticking and we need to be on the same page if were going to face the challenges that cannot be avoided. The apocalyptic nonsense that religious people have convinced themselves is normal has to be swept away pretty damn soon if we desire a continued existence on this big blue marble.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon
    Jun 12, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    The Writer of this piece seems to be confused.

    @OP – It demonstrated to me that faith and evidence-based beliefs coexist in my mind, so in a way, I am no different from my fellow scientists who have faith in the miracles of theologies.

    Ah well, as your thinking is as faulty as your belief-through-faith colleagues, your faulty conclusions are hardly surprising.

    Indeed so! The author engages in wishful thinking from the very start.

    @OP – I’ve been a scientist for as long as I can remember. Children are born scientists;

    No they are not! They are inquisitive and copy from role models. They may even learn how to carry out “fair tests” of simple predictions in promary school, but humans do not develop formal operational rational thought until around the teens. Scientific methodology has to be learned.

    @OP – they experiment with everything, are naturally inquisitive and through this exploration they learn about how the world works. And I’ve never grown out of it.

    Or perhaps never properly understood it in the first place!



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  • “I used to wonder how my scientific colleagues could believe religious tenets, but then I realized science is based on induction, which is based on faith, And Now I Know.” What a cockamamie argument. Isn’t it obvious that the induction problem is an absolutist’s self-imposed problem, akin to worrying over how distinct species can be both individually identifiable and related through generations that were the same species as their immediate ancestors and descendants? It’s a non-problem, a philosophical bogeyman that acts like the findings and progress of science was just a happy fluke. Surely “it works” is the nail in this philosophical coffin?

    The fact that induction isn’t 100% foolproof doesn’t mean it’s on par with the 0% of faith-based thinking. In any case, induction is the only practical technique when faced with, and when investigating, the unknown. What the hell else are we supposed to do; make stuff up like the religious and superstitious do? Deduce the unknown in our armchairs (which is impossible)? When your computer breaks down, do you draw upon your knowledge that you hope is reasoned and take steps to get it fixed, or do you pray to the Computer God?

    And that definition is so off that it’s warped. Faith isn’t knowledge in the absence of evidence. You don’t need faith to do mathematics; you need logic, its polar opposite. Faith is bullshit, absent of evidence, that is treated like knowledge. It’s a feel-good commitment to premises for unsound and usually incredibly obviously biased reasons.

    It annoys me when people try to equate solid scientific work with the insubstantial crap religionists spew out. Whether it’s incompetent self-delusion or cynical lying, it needs to be consigned to history either way.



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  • Marktony
    Jun 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    But how do you explain those, like Francis Collins

    Jerry Coyne does a good analysis of Francis Collins claims here:-

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/francis-collins-pollutes-science-with-religion/

    But how do you explain those, like Francis Collins & Ken Miller mentioned above

    Miller fought creditably against ID, but is still into creationist gapology as quoted below!

    But the cell biologist [Miller] also makes explicitly scientific arguments: maintaining, for instance, that quantum indeterminacy — the ultimately unpredictable outcome of physical events — could allow God to intervene in subtle, undetectable ways.

    If that’s an “explicitly scientific argument,” then the King James Bible is a biology textbook! How many others have come away from Miller’s books or lectures buying his arguments that the “fine-tuning” of physical constants, or the inevitability of human evolution, are scientific indicators of the divine?



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  • “Children are born scientists; they experiment with everything, are naturally inquisitive, and through this exploration they learn about how the world works.”
    (The same sentence could equally apply to a baby chimp. Are chimps born scientists?)

    Consider the non-interventionist god who sets the universe going and then is then lets the chips fall where they may (pre-planned or otherwise) without intervening. If all said god does is set the constants of nature and initial conditions, and then not intervene, then apart from being superfluous to any explanation of the universe, what exactly does that god have to do with any subsequently invented religion?

    Artificial recently constructed “religions” notwithstanding, religions are almost always characterised by one or more (usually anthropomorphic) gods who have motives and who meddle in human affairs.

    At the end of the day, the only way to reconcile being a practicing scientist and a believer in an interventionist god, as someone has commented, is compartmentalisation of the mind; to consciously decree that logic and scientific methods simply do not apply to the religious side because it’s in a black box labelled faith.



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  • I have already explained, that they compartmentalise their supernatural beliefs and their science, with cognitive dissonance, so while their science MAY be evidence based and rational, they will carry the faith-thinking-disability which MIGHT transfer across from their theistic thinking, and kick in at some point to the detriment of their scientific work.

    What’s your evidence for this? Have studies been done on scientists who are believers to demonstrate it?



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  • Hi Ewan, yes believers can be great scientists, but there is an undeniable form of cognitive dissonance for religious scientists who say, for instance, that they believe in a god that has guided the development of the universe, and then on the other hand say they accept the scientific consensus that random mutations cause the changing forms of animals on Earth.



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  • there is an undeniable form of cognitive dissonance…

    Cognitive dissonance involves psychological conflict. I’ve known a number of scientists who are believers (I’m married to one, for a start!) and I haven’t observed any particular psychological conflicts which have occurred as a result. Though, of course, that’s just personal anecdote.

    Have studies been done which demonstrate such psychological conflicts amongst believing scientists?



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  • Hi again, Ewan. I’ll skip the debate about what merits cognitive dissonance and just ask you point blank. Does it make sense to say you believe in a god that’s controlled the development of the universe and also say your a mainstream scientist who accepts that random mutations drive the evolutionary process?



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  • I’ll skip the debate about what merits cognitive dissonance…

    The definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.

    I’m not aware of believing scientists who suffer psychological conflict as a result of their beliefs. They don’t find their religious beliefs and their scientific understanding incompatible.

    With regard to the question you posed, I’m not a scientist but I don’t personally find any conflict between the two ideas. God the creator is responsible for the processes by which the created Universe works.



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  • Since there are vast numbers of mentally competent adults of moderate
    and above intelligence who believe in God, perhaps it’s your wondering
    processes which need looking at.

    If there weren’t vast numbers as you say, there’d be nothing for me to wonder about.

    I haven’t believed in god since I was a child, when I believed in the same child-like way that I believed in Santa. For me god and santa are very much on a level so it genuinely is a matter of wonder to me that intelligent adults do maintain a belief.

    I sometimes wonder if I was born without whatever the evolutionary “god hole” is that religion fills.



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  • I’d say Ryan that clearly there isn’t. That’s why I think the question is a rubbish one and .should be how can good scientists be believers.

    I’ve seen very good evolutionary scientists who are believers sat alongside atheist scientists ripping creationists and IDers to shreds. I’ve seen Miller, Collins and Fr George Coyne speak on the subject and accept the random mutations stuff as what the evidence says. From the scientists I’ve come into contact with during and after my education and work. Physicists and biologists who happily teach random mutation etc.

    So I think the argument is either redundant because we’re clearly looking in the wrong place – or it’s currently unanswerable. Whatever, the notion that believers will contaminate their science with belief is clearly wring and going nowhere?



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  • Since there are vast numbers of mentally competent adults of moderate and above intelligence who believe in God,

    Collateral damage from our evolutionary brain. We see gods in every, tree, river and stream. This has been explained ad infinitum in this forum and in books galore. See link below. Of course there are vast numbers of people who believe in god. It’s the norm for Homo Sapiens. It’s hardwired into your brain, and it is almost impossible to escape, except through an exercise of strong and determined intellectual rigour, that you can overturn your belief. Like Steve Waugh, Australian Cricket captain, that thinks that if he has a have a red handkerchief in his right pocket, I will score a lot of runs. Text book Skinner’s pigeons.

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10361826-why-we-believe-in-god-s



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  • Hi Ewan and Alice, I appreciate that you took the time to reply to my post but neither of you actually attempted to answer my question. Remember, I never said religious people can’t be good scientist. What I asked is does it make sense to say that processes of the universe are guided but at the same time random?



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  • What I asked is does it make sense to say that processes of the universe are guided but at the same time random?

    It makes sense to me. The creator God set up the processes by which the Universe works. In this case, the processes involve random chance, just as many natural processes do.



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  • I think it might be compared to a parrot who learns to speak English. We make the assumption that while the parrot may be able to correctly pronounce the words, and produce them upon requirement, the parrot still doesn’t actually understand what they mean. For obviously, if the parrot actually understood what they meant, they would use the words for things other than begging for food, begging for attention, and enjoying the sound of their own voice.

    A religious scientist can correctly say and do all the important words and tasks of science, but if they fail to apply it to other things (such as any articles of faith they may have) we might question if they actually understand it, to the point of internalizing the concept – or are they effectively just parroting what they’ve been trained to do?



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  • Excellent Alice. I could not and can never quite bring myself to challenge the religious beliefs of my parents and surviving family members, or those of my neighbours in the remote Irish village in which I now live. A surprising number of people here are actually non believers, or more commonly people who regard themselves as having a spiritual dimension, religious sentiment, which “has matured to be whatever it is you want it to be”.

    Who cares what they want to think, believe or more probably pretend to themselves that they believe? If it gives them comfort what does it matter to anyone else? It’s only when it impacts significantly on intellectual processing and more importantly public policy that it becomes a problem. After all Newton believed in astrology.

    When non-belief becomes Atheism then starts crusading and denigrating other people’s occultist, atavistic oddities, then it is itself becoming a problem.



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  • Thanks for that Mike.

    The Writer seems to me to continue to misunderstand both how science operates and the nature of induction.

    The three most egregious errors being made are the conflation of faith with reason, the pretence that induction alone gives us science and that the Writer continues, one might almost say dogmatically, to claim that inductive reasoning is flawed despite the obvious advantages that it has over deduction-first approaches.

    Peace.



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  • Alice
    Jun 12, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Your post is a good example of the RC style baggage of “faith thinking”.

    Alan4discussion I assume from this you are refusing to accept any science from any scientist who professes a belief.

    First it uses assumption, anecdotes, assertion, and apeals to authority, in place of evidence and inductive and deductive reasoning. Then it projects that thinking process on to me, as if I don’t use scientific methodology.

    Which means, just like Fred Hoyle, you do not accept Big Bang theory and hold to a nice steady state theory.

    You must not accept the evolutionary pathways of the bacterial flagellum and instead must cling to the notion that indeed it is irreducible complex.

    It ASSUMES the classic faith-thinking, of uncritically accepting statements from authority figures, and the false dichotomy of choosing to believe or not believe them without checking if they are based on reviewed science.

    And you do not accept the human genome, it’s comparisons with other genomes and what that tells us about our evolution.

    Of course I respect the human genome project. These sorts of uncritical false dichotomies, fail to recognise the cognitive dissonance and mental compartmentalisation, of those using faith AND science in their thought processes.

    If you cannot accept that believers can do science you must reject their science. In doing so you must accept a lot of ID and creationist nonsense. Especially their concept of irreducible complex flagella.

    This is again nonsense. Any scientific claims are reviewed and tested, with successful repeat testing confirming or refuting results. Scientists use evidence, and do not accept or reject claims on the basis of “faith”, or on the basis of “the religious views” of the experimenters.

    And of course you’ll have to check out lots of other science lest it be the result of collaborations.

    Naturally I cross check reviews and consistency with other independent scientific work – That’s standard methodology.

    So you can either accept evidence – believers can be scientists, and very good ones.

    While true, that is an assertion – not evidence.

    Or you can ignore the evidence in favour of your stereotypes but have to join the creationists in rejecting a lot of science!

    It them reverts back to projection, assertion. assumption, and the false dichotomy which ignores compartmentalised thinking and errors within individuals. Only “faith-believers” uncritically accept views from authority figures.

    I can accept reviewed competent science, while rejecting other fallacious nonsense from the same authors.

    It is perhaps not surprising, that with these well known fallacies in your arguments, you do not spot them in the writings of believer scientists, when they are going beyond their specialist areas of science and making wild assertions based on “faith”.

    I put links on to an analysis of the writings of two named ones earlier.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 13, 2015 at 3:28 am

    I’ll skip the debate about what merits cognitive dissonance…

    You really should have looked deeper into the subject.

    The definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.

    I’m not aware of believing scientists who suffer psychological conflict as a result of their beliefs. They don’t find their religious beliefs and their scientific understanding incompatible.

    They do initially, but after using cognitive dissonance and compartmentalisation, they manage to rationalise away the conflicts – at least in their own minds – usually by using fallacious arguments.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 13, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Cognitive dissonance involves psychological conflict.

    Have studies been done which demonstrate such psychological conflicts amongst believing scientists?

    Yes! The analysis shows this in writings which try to resolve science with the supernatural. Many have tried, and none have succeeded.



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  • The creator God set up the processes by which the Universe works. In this case, the processes involve random chance, just as many natural processes do.

    Ewan. What’s the point then. If god’s only role was to roll the dice of chance, then what’s the point of religion. Praying. Funny clothes. Churches. Holy books written by men. If this whole universe is just chance, then god really doesn’t give a damn about the RCC, or any other brand of religion. Why do you bother with someone who ignores you.

    Imagine how much of the world’s precious resources we could save if religion had never started. We might even have saved the world from global warming with all those huge RCC families all burning fossil fuel.



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  • Alice
    Jun 12, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    That would presume scientists formulate hypotheses about supernatural creators. I doubt very much that they do.

    Ah! You mean the hypotheses like this one from a scientist who you quoted?

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/ken-miller-gets-big-catholic-prize/

    @ link – Miller not only broached the notion that God may work subtly in the universe, though affecting quantum fluctuations, but also raised the “fine tuning issue”:

    The indeterminate nature of quantum events would allow a clever and subtle God to influence events in ways that are profound, but scientifically undetectable to us. Those events could include the appearance of mutations, the activation of individual neurons in the brain, and even the survival of individual cells and organisms affected by the chance processes of radioactive decay.

    @ link – Isn’t that theistic evolutionism? Miller goes on:

    The scientific insight that our very existence, through evolution, requires a universe of the very size, scale, and age that we see around us implies that the universe, in a certain sense, had us in mind from the very beginning…. If this universe was indeed primed for human life, then it is only fair to say, from a theist’s point of view, that each of us is the result of a thought of God, despite the existence of natural processes that gave rise to us.

    @ link – Fine-tuning, i.e., God’s creation of the laws of physics so that humans could exist and evolve, is a form of creationism: it’s the laws, not the organisms, that were created.

    There is then this assertion of the pseudo-science of “Theistic Evolution”.

    @ link – Further, both Giberson and Miller asserted the inevitability of humans evolving, something I don’t accept. Despite being a physical determinist, I think that mutations are probably largely unpredictable quantum phenomena, and if mutations aren’t determined, neither is evolution.

    Presumption is your basis for forming opinions.
    I use research and evidence.
    There are multitudes of other examples like this.

    The fact that the educated and scientific population includes believers is a bit of a fly in your argument.

    Believers are a disproportionately small minority among the leading scientists, so basically you have cherry-picked one or two prominent examples who have succeeded in spite of their “faith-disability”.

    This is just a poorly informed assertion on your part. It does nothing to refute mental compartmentalisation of the conflicting thought processes.

    He challenges ID as “the wrong sort of creationism”, but then asserts his own Catholic based creationist hypothesis.



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  • Cognitive dissonance involves psychological conflict. Have studies been done which demonstrate such psychological conflicts amongst believing scientists?

    Yes!

    Could you point to an example of such a study?



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  • We might even have saved the world from global warming…

    Surely it was scientific advances which led to the processes which are resulting in global warming?



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  • …dragged along from childhood indoctrination…

    A passing reference that, I think, goes a long way toward explaining these scientists’ willingness for their cognitive dissonance.



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  • Text book Ewan. You focus on a glib throw away line and fail to address the substance of my post, namely, that if god made the universe as a matter of chance. A roll of the dice. What’s the point of organized religion. If you stand by this statement, there is no point in going to church. Why are you a RCC.

    The creator God set up the processes by which the Universe works. In this case, the processes involve random chance, just as many natural processes do.



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  • The creator God set up the processes by which the Universe works. In this case, the processes involve random chance, just as many natural processes do.

    So this God lit the touch paper of the Big Bang, then stood back to admire his new universe? I wonder if he said to himself as it was inflating, “oh shit, this is getting a bit big”.

    People look at the wonders of the world and the life that has evolved and are in awe, even those who understand the natural processes involved. Most seem to assume (or are told) that there must be an ultimate guiding power (God) behind all this. In the past, it was perhaps understandable that people looked at their position as the dominant species in the world and assumed that we must be God’s most important creation.

    But this is just a speck of a planet among all those billions of stars in billions of galaxies. Don’t you think it reasonable, based on the current evidence of earth-like planets, to assume that there is much much more life out there. Isn’t it rather arrogant to attribute your day to day feelings and love for life as a personal communication with God? Do you think that he was still observing his universe 14 billion years later when he spotted the evolution of modern humans on that speck of a planet and thought, “now these look like a species I can have a personal relationship with”?



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  • …until such time that the religious pay a price for remaining mired
    in their unsupportable dogma.

    A good start here in the States would be to start taxing the buggers!



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  • Don’t you think it reasonable, based on the current evidence of earth-like planets, to assume that there is much much more life out there.

    Yup. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is.

    Isn’t it rather arrogant to attribute your day to day feelings and love for life as a personal communication with God?

    I’m not sure that I do. I’m just back from morning Mass followed by Holy Hour. I think my prayers at that time involved a personal communication with God.

    Do you think that he was still observing his universe 14 billion years later when he spotted the evolution of modern humans on that speck of a planet and thought, “now these look like a species I can have a personal relationship with”?

    I think God has a relationship with all aspects of his Creation.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 13, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Cognitive dissonance involves psychological conflict. Have studies been done which demonstrate such psychological conflicts amongst believing scientists?

    Could you point to an example of such a study?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance#References

    Cognitive dissonance has also been demonstrated to occur when people seek to:
    Reaffirm already held beliefs: Congeniality bias (also referred to as Confirmation Bias) refers to how people read or access information that affirms their already established opinions, rather than referencing material that contradicts them.

    Most of the research on cognitive dissonance takes the form of one of four major paradigms. Important research generated by the theory has been concerned with the consequences of exposure to information inconsistent with a prior belief, what happens after individuals act in ways that are inconsistent with their prior attitudes, what happens after individuals make decisions, and the effects of effort expenditure. A key tenet of cognitive dissonance theory is that those who have heavily invested in a position may, when confronted with disconfirming evidence, go to greater lengths to justify their position.



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  • Thank you for the link, Alan.

    I can’t spot any evidence in it for studies showing that believing scientists experience psychological conflicts as a result of their beliefs.



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  • I think my prayers at that time involved a personal communication with God.

    What makes you think that?

    Have you any reason to believe that God welcomes your prayers? Do you think you are communicating something that God didn’t know? Do you have any expectation that God will take any action as a result of your communication?



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  • What makes you think that?

    I sense his loving response.

    Have you any reason to believe that God welcomes your prayers?

    See above.

    Do you think you are communicating something that God didn’t know?

    No.

    Do you have any expectation that God will take any action as a result of your communication?

    I expect his guidance and love and for him to rejoice in my prayers.



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  • Hi Ewan

    I think God has a relationship with all aspects of his Creation.

    I can’t help wondering if you are projecting what you now know about our place in the universe with what you’d been taught by the bible. As far as I know, any mention of objects not earth-related were referred to as “the heavens.” Now, does that mean you amend and refine that reference as more information becomes available?



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  • Ewan
    Jun 13, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Thank you for the link, Alan.

    I can’t spot any evidence in it for studies showing that believing scientists experience psychological conflicts as a result of their beliefs.

    Then you have missed the they key elements of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

    These explain the compartmental mental rationalisation processes of resolving ALL conflicting mental beliefs, which involve believing contradictory information, – not just those contradictions between between science and religious dogmas in the long list of linked references.

    A lack of knowledge of the science, also helps to avoid spotting the contradictory differences.



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  • I sense his loving response.

    Now we are back to the arrogance of attributing your feelings as a personal communication with God.

    I expect his guidance and love and for him to rejoice in my prayers.

    Why do you expect God to rejoice in your prayers? Don’t you think he might be getting a bit fed up with them? After all, you said you don’t think you are telling him anything he didn’t already know.



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  • Then you have missed the they key elements of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

    Nope I’m just missing any evidence – other than your personal opinion – to back up your suggestion that believing scientists experience psychological conflicts because of their beliefs.



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  • Why do you expect God to rejoice in your prayers? Don’t you think he might be getting a bit fed up with them?

    Haven’t you ever experienced love, Marktony? Surely you didn’t get fed up being with your loved one?



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  • I have never disputed that the compartmentalised science part of their thinking CAN present very good work, but that does not mean, some of their other writings cannot be theistic brain-fumblings.

    I have already explained, that they compartmentalise their supernatural beliefs and their science, with cognitive dissonance, so while their science MAY be evidence based and rational, they will carry the faith-thinking-disability which MIGHT transfer across from their theistic thinking, and kick in at some point to the detriment of their scientific work.

    Alice – Jun 13, 2015 at 3:28 am

    Alan4discussion if that were the case they would NOT be good scientists!

    That is just a No true Scotsman fallacy, which begs the question.

    They can be “good” (ie. competent) scientists when their work is independently checked and confirmed by other scientists, but can also can produce delusional rubbish, based on indoctrinated confirmation biases, , when asked for unreviewed opinions.



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  • The processes of the universe aren’t actually random as I understand it Ryan. They’re governed by fairly strict forces. Strong and weak nuclear, electromagnetic, gravity, natural selection, redox and so on. Science is riddled with laws. If they were truly random then science wouldn’t actually be able to exist. It’d be guesswork.

    Random mutations are NOT the only part of the story otherwise the creationists would be in their seventh heaven. Because the random mutations argument is one of their faves. But random mutations pass through the incredibly strict filter of natural selection. That is the full scientific concensus. Any scientist that says otherwise doesn’t understand evolution.

    Likewise the other creationist fave, how could life have arisen from random chemistry. They live that one and add in all sorts of dodgy stats. But chemistry isn’t random. I know what to expect when I add chemical A to chemical B. I know how to change that result by varying conditions.

    I personally no longer have any beliefs. But if I had I’m not really sure how pure science would effect them.



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  • @ Ewan

    I’m just back from morning mass

    Me too, Ewan.

    Watching the beautiful ♪‘Chaplet of the Divine Mercy’♪, I understand the draw; however, would you feel just as close to God without church trappings?

    Josh Palmer vs Ellen Arroways.



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  • Hi Ryan1306 science is far from random. If it were it couldn’t exist as a discipline. It’s riddled with laws and parameters. Weak and string nuclear forces, electromagnetism, gravity, speed of light, redox and so on.

    Random mutations are not the full picture of evolution! If they were creationists would be in their element as that’s their fave arguments. Random mutations always pass through the incredibly strict filter of natural selection. So to say random mutations alone is responsible for the changing forms of life is incorrect.

    Likewise the origins of life. Creationists love the impossibility of life from random chemicals. But chemistry isn’t random. I know when I add A to B I will get C. I know that I can alter my starting conditions to get



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  • Ewan
    Jun 13, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Then you have missed the they key elements of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

    Nope I’m just missing any evidence – other than your personal opinion – to back up your suggestion that believing scientists experience psychological conflicts because of their beliefs.

    The evidence is in the scientific studies and explanation of the working of cognitive dissonance – regardless of if you chose to recognise it or not.

    Cognitive dissonance IS the mental conflict and the psychological explanation of it.

    As additional evidence there is the Templeton Prize Money for any scientist who will pretend to resolve the inconsistencies between Xtian teachings and scientific evidence.

    The Templeton Prize has to be the most efficient publicity campaign ever. The Templeton Foundation gives a million British pounds to a scientist who is willing to say that science and religion are compatible, and in return they get many times that value in publicity.

    But the really telling thing is this companion piece at the Guardian‘s website by Mark Vernon. (Another piece by Jerry Coyne provides some balance.) The real problem with the Templeton Foundation, in my view, is that it works very hard to give people a false impression that science and religion are actually reconciling, not just that they should be.

    In unrelated news, Mark Vernon spent time at Cambridge in a journalism fellowship paid for by the Templeton Foundation. http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/04/06/sir-martin-rees-wins-the-templeton-prize/

    So while there is no reconciliation of religion and science, scientists of standing are being bought to say there is, while Templeton sponsored stooge journalists “review” their claims through the rosy biased spectacles of delusion, to create the impression that this is the view of the scientific establishment, when it certainly is not!



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  • Cognitive dissonance IS the mental conflict and the psychological explanation of it.

    Except that you haven’t provided any evidence that believing scientists experience such mental conflict. You seem to assume that they do in order to support your argument – but that’s hardly evidence.



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  • …we might question if they actually understand it…

    Why does that matter? Surely the whole point of the scientific method is that it’s objective. The motivations, politics, dress sense and political correctness of individual scientists are neither here nor there.



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  • Haven’t you ever experienced love, Marktony?

    Yes, but I would not consider your prayers an experience of communication let alone an experience of love. You may get a kick out of your delusion of a personal relationship with a supernatural being, but that’s all it is. Every time you are asked to explain the workings of this relationship you come up with meaningless answers such as “I sense his loving response”

    Surely you didn’t get fed up being with your loved one?

    Doesn’t everyone at some time or other? That doesn’t necessarily mean the love is lost. Do you think that God’s idea of “being with loved ones” is the receipt of prayers from one of the billions of members of one of the many intelligent species currently existing in the universe he created by lighting that touchpaper.



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  • They’re neither here nor there so long as they don’t interfere with the science, which “motivation”, politics, and political correctness are often guilty of doing.

    No word yet on the dress sense part, though.

    That doesn’t just refer to fiddling with the results, suppressing inconvenient conclusions, and hiding the methodology of any particular research, either, though that’s a big part of it. It’s also the false balance and/or compartmentalization mindset that leads to treating scientific methods as “just one truth among many”, which in theory isn’t necessarily incorrect (since you could argue some mathematical and rational-philosophical concepts are broader than the science umbrella) but too often is a weaselly way of putting earned scientific findings on par with someone’s pet idea about, say, how the cosmos and human minds work.

    That’s not to say they can’t do science, but they’re not being consistent with it.

    Or to borrow Niels Bohr’s quotable form, “Anyone who still holds religious tenets after meeting and using the scientific method hasn’t understood it.”



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  • I sense his loving response.

    You ever heard the phrase “Digging yourself deeper”? If you’re going to claim Extra-Sensory Perception, you’d better have at least one sound argument or an iota of evidence for doing so. And that’s before we turn our attention to the existence or non-existence of the big mind you’re allegedly in contact with.



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  • Alan4discussion your interpretations of everything are coloured by your own prejudices. You will root through every book and every attendance at a church as evidence that atheists are somehow cleverer than believers.

    If Ken Miller conjectures anything at all about his faith it will be used by you to detract from his science, his refusal to use the term theistic evolution and to generally poo poo everything he does. That is not logical. Speculative musings about the nature of his God do not impact on his peer reviewed science.

    If however he were the atheist Fred Hoyle engaging a massive science denial because he was terrified the notion of Big Bang would send everyone scuttling back to church you’d find all sorts of excuses.

    I’m afraid writing off Miller means you also have to write off Newton and his contribution as not only was he a believer in a god but in astrology and magic. And his beliefs DID impact on his science because the division between indigo and violet is solely due to his belief that 7 was a mystical number. So are you suggesting we should say bye bye principia, bye bye gravity and off we all float?

    You’ll also have to write off most of the Victorian geology that set in motion the ideas that the earth was incredibly ancient as it done by Anglican gentlemen who attended churches. I suspect you’ll have to write off much early science.

    It really does not matter how many scientists are believers and how many aren’t. The very fact they exist at all is the great big bunny rabbit in your pre Cambrian logic. Joined by the other giant bunnies of peer review and the fact science is based upon finding the gaps that you claim religious scientists have shoved god into.

    A few years ago this site revelled in the idea of clever old us not believing in god and stupid old them believing. That was not borne out by evidence. Unless you limit yourself to studies in the conservative US with its strange mixing of religion with right wing politics and money grabbing. Or of small unrepresentative groups.

    There is no black and white in the argument. What little correlations can genuinely be found are between social justice and the decline of belief, or, where that is absent, privilege and atheism. So you can either accept you’re looking in the wrong places for the reasons to believe or cling to ideas that are clearly wrong. That is scientific thinking.



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  • “Anyone who still holds religious tenets after meeting and using the scientific method hasn’t understood it.”

    Did he use the scientific method to establish this view or was it simply his personal opinion?



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  • That is clearly nonsense. A good scientist has to do more than parrot certain phrases. And good scientists come from all persuasions.

    Can you actually even define articles of faith given how many sects of Christianity there are before you even get to the other religions. And then within each of those sub sects, his many different personal interpretations there are.

    The fact of the matter is good science is done by both believers and atheists. Therefore whatever processes drive belief they are different to those driving science, reasoning and deduction.

    There are clever believers and thick atheists and vice versa so something else is clearly in the mix. Though it does look like IQ might impact on the nature of their belief or atheism. Thick believers having creationism, thick atheists Jeremy Kyle and Murdoch’s Sun.

    I’m amazed at just how many atheist seem to think believers should not interpret their holy texts differently. It’s almost as if you believe it was written by a deity!

    Ignore facts like the above and you’ll never understand it deal with religion. Whatever it is is is not purely an intellectually driven process. Nor does it seen to interfere with intellectually driven processes.



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  • Did he use the scientific method to establish this view

    Firstly, you do know Niels Bohr didn’t actually say that? The original quotation was about quantum mechanics. I simply copied the form to make a similar point, hence “to borrow Niels Bohr’s quotable form“, not “to borrow Niels Bohr’s quote“.

    Secondly, you didn’t seriously think I was some scientistic strawman, did you? I didn’t say the scientific method was the be-all and end-all of all truth and fact-finding. I happen to be of the school of thought that science doesn’t include mathematics and rational philosophy, and so is simply a subset of a much broader umbrella. However, the scientific methodology, while not omnipotent, is certainly extremely broad and comprehensive.

    Thirdly, hardly simply a “personal opinion”. Religions squat on scientific turf – such as the human mind, cosmology, and social sciences – and yet don’t pay their taxes. Creation stories don’t belong in, say, a book on the history of physics and the big bang unless it’s an explicitly religious book, and that’s because the best case for them still falls afoul of the “Sir, I have no need of that hypothesis” principle.

    And that’s why a person is at best compartmentalizing when they’re a religious scientist: they make – knowingly or not – claims about the universe et al that are actually under the purview of science, and which couldn’t pass muster when put to the test. They don’t even realize they have done so. You yourself justify your theism above with science-amenable claims of ESP with some cosmic brain.



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  • nonsense

    Not necessarily. Compartmentalization doesn’t require a person to be a dunderhead in all fields. A religious scientist can still set up a good scientific experiment. They might be a polymath, extremely intelligent in many fields and possessing many skills, but then have this one issue with one subject where all that goes out the window. In this case, religion itself.

    Can you actually even define articles of faith given how many sects of Christianity there are before you even get to the other religions. And then within each of those sub sects, his many different personal interpretations there are.

    How is it a good thing that a religion fails to keep its invented mythology straight? For one thing, when the historical evidence that Jesus even existed, let alone did half the non-supernatural things assigned to him, is so relatively sparse and thin, it’s frankly amazing how many ways people have found to multiply the invention. And that’s just considering the diversity of texts written about him a century or so after his alleged death, never mind the majority of modern offshoots. And straying off from Christianity, there are hundreds of religions, superstitions, and other combinations of faiths and beliefs, all with their own interpretations?

    I’ve looked at some of them, sometimes when they’d been specifically brought to my attention and recommended to me. And the case is always the same.

    Name one whose tenets aren’t a) the province of secular philosophy, or b) unsound and unscientific.

    Whatever it is is is not purely an intellectually driven process.

    Which is a huge part of what’s wrong with it. Nothing shoots more holes in religion’s credibility than someone believing in something without recourse to minor things like evidence or logic.

    Nor does it seen to interfere with intellectually driven processes.

    Yes, in the same way that thinking “all people are equal but some are more equal than others” doesn’t interfere with democratic decision making. You have to at least speculate on how someone who’ll find twelve damning flaws in a respectable academic paper on black holes can also believe in the holy trinity without blushing.

    The fact of the matter is good science is done by both believers and
    atheists. Therefore whatever processes drive belief they are different
    to those driving science, reasoning and deduction.

    Yes. That’s the problem right there. Inconsistency caused by double standards. I think that was the point ANTIcarrot was getting at, not some competency issue within the sciences.

    The fact of the matter is good science is done by both believers and
    atheists.

    Yes, but historically most of that was because atheists were lucky not to get found out and ostracised. In modern times, most people going into the professional sciences tend towards the atheistic and agnostic end of things, with religious ones usually in the minority. This is a ratio that’s almost the reverse of the population at large.



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  • Alice
    Jun 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Alan4discussion your interpretations of everything are coloured by your own prejudices.

    That is just psychological projection on your part!

    You will root through every book and every attendance at a church as evidence that atheists are somehow cleverer than believers.

    Again this is simply nonsensical projection. I look through books and articles to look at evidence and to see if what is offered is valid.
    Scientists are usually better informed about working systems that faith-thinkers, because over time, they accumulate accurately checked linked knowledge to form a joined-up view.

    If Ken Miller conjectures anything at all about his faith it will be used by you to detract from his science, his refusal to use the term theistic evolution and to generally poo poo everything he does

    This is nonsense!
    I have gone into detail to explain that his valid acceptable evidence based science is compartmentalised in his mind, and operates on a different thought process to the preconceptions of his theistic thinking.

    I have said nothing detracting from his legitimate science. I have only challenged his pseudo-science assertions of the gapology which I linked.
    You have made no attempt to discuss and analyse what he actually said on the link, but only offer strawman bluster.

    That is not logical.

    As I have explained before; – logic is a process of induction and deduction. It is not a badge of pseudo-authority to stick on to wild assertions or denials, as a make-weight.

    If however he were the atheist Fred Hoyle engaging a massive science denial because he was terrified the notion of Big Bang would send everyone scuttling back to church you’d find all sorts of excuses.

    The steady-state V Big-Bang theories was science resolving different rival views as evidence became available. There was no “science denial”. The science was unknown at the time, so speculative hypotheses were being tested.
    Why should I see any religious connection in one of them being in error, or care if some proponent was an atheist.
    As I said in an earlier comment, scientists do not decide the validity of evidence or logic, on the basis of the religion of the proposer of a hypothesis!
    That is a theist form of thought habit using “arguments from authority”.

    Joined by the other giant bunnies of peer review

    Despite your various earlier pronouncements on scientists, you really have no idea about scientific methodology or peer-reviewed science, do you?

    and the fact science is based upon finding the gaps that you claim religious scientists have shoved god into.

    Science is not based on “finding gods of gaps”.

    Science does not care about gods or supernatural claims.
    It works independently and objectively on the evidence of its observers, and the data its technology provides, – closing gaps in its knowledge with up-dates, as research progresses.

    It is only religious apologists seeking to cast doubt on scientific refutations of their antiquated claims, who have been seeking out gaps in which they have been hiding their gods for centuries.

    There is no black and white in the argument.

    Unfortunately you keep inventing false dichotomies where none exist!

    What little correlations can genuinely be found are between social justice and the decline of belief, or, where that is absent, privilege and atheism. So you can either accept you’re looking in the wrong places for the reasons to believe or cling to ideas that are clearly wrong. That is scientific thinking.

    I’m not sure what this word-salad is supposed to mean?

    It looks like a mixture of science and history denial, with asserted nonsense, presented from a viewpoint of ignorance and incredulity!

    it also seems strange in the light of your earlier comment: https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/06/can-you-be-a-scientist-and-have-religious-faith/#li-comment-180704



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  • Hi Alice, I don’t remember saying that science was random but your right, there are laws of the universe. I was talking specifically about evolution and your right again, natural selection is not random, but the mutations are. I guess you could say that a god could set the laws of physics so that planets with environments conducive to the evolution of complex life would form, but if it’s not controlling the mutations that natural selection acts on, the climate, whether or not asteroids hit the planet, it’s not really controlling the process. If you run the clock back and start the whole thing over, maybe you get sentient beings, maybe you don’t.

    Now I’m not arguing against a deistic interpretation of the universe, but instead against a interventionist view. But I’m in agreement with you that believers can be great scientist. Newton was probably the smartest person who ever lived and he was certainly religious.



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  • I guess you could say that a god could set the laws of physics…

    Now I’m not arguing against a deistic interpretation of the universe…

    The one incontrovertible thing you could say about deism is that it isn’t obviously as contradictory or pointless as the traditional interventionist god, and that’s it. You could say the same thing about the idea that our universe is a simulation run by Larry the Artificial Universe Postgraduate, or the idea that everything here is just one big dream I’m having as a brain in a jar.

    The strongest you could claim about any of these ideas is that we have no need of these hypotheses. To do otherwise is to offer an argument from ignorance, though, so deists aren’t really much better off than theists, intellectually speaking.



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  • King
    Jun 12, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    A true scientist should be a proponent of the two camps. Scientific knowledge and the unknown should be all that make up their world view.

    With, of course, some perception of the frontiers of knowledge, the partially known, and a range of speculative hypotheses, running down the boundaries!



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  • Alice
    Jun 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    You will root through every book and every attendance at a church as evidence that atheists are somehow cleverer than believers.

    I don’t need to.
    You have it backwards and are looking at the wrong people in the wrong places.
    The best scientists are atheists because they understand science, the relevance of evidence, and the reliability of scientific methodology.

    93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most elite scientific organizations in the United States, do not believe in God.

    73 percent of professional philosophers are atheists.

    http://freethinker.co.uk/2012/05/26/atheists-are-more-intelligent-than-religious-people/
    A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God – at a time when 68.5 percent of the general UK population described themselves as believers. A separate poll in the 90s found only seven percent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God.



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  • I think Darwin was a pretty good Christian, until reality interfered with his thinking. Poor bugger had to wait 20 years to publish the Origin in 1959. He didn’t want to upset the wife n’ all that ! But he was brave enough to do it, with coaxing from Wallace.

    As for the likes of the abhorrent Lee Strobel, Christian physicist and apologist, I detest his ideas, but it would be interesting to hear what other posters think.



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  • Mr DArcy
    Jun 13, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    As for the likes of the abhorrent Lee Strobel, Christian physicist and apologist, I detest his ideas, but it would be interesting to hear what other posters think.

    I think there is enough said here about Stobel’s anti-science and dishonest methods!

    http://infidels.org/library/modern/paul_doland/creator.html
    Strobel is overtly inflammatory when he writes that he chose experts who “refuse to limit themselves only to the politically correct world of naturalism and materialism.” This already insinuates that regardless of one’s expertise in a particular subject matter, an individual is automatically disqualified from serving as one of Strobel’s experts if he happens to be a naturalist or materialist. Perhaps Strobel might have considered asking some scientists why supernatural explanations–even if true–do not generally make testable predictions, the first rule of science. The relevant issues here do not concern “political correctness,” but a conflict between the inherent nature of science and supernatural explanations

    So if we take out the silly phrase”politically correct world of naturalism and materialism” claim and put in the realistic phrase “scientific world of naturalism and materialism”, it becomes obvious that Natural Scientists and physicists, using scientific methodology, are eliminated from his pseudo-science list of “pseudo-experts”.

    Strobel is frankly misleading about his experts’ qualifications. While spending paragraphs touting each of his interviewees’ “doctorate-level” educations, he fails to point out that most of them do not have doctorates in the fields dealing with the issues on which they were interviewed. Rather, most of them have doctorates in philosophy or theology,



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  • 99
    aroundtown says:

    It is not surprising that some scientists can retain fanciful notion and still retain an analytical disposition in relation to their work. It is well known that humans love a good yarn and that can be traced all the way back to the traveling story teller if you like. Hollywood and book publishers rely on the intrenched condition of the human need to take flights of fancy so why would it be any different for a scientist. Matrix, Avatar, lord of the Rings, Arabian nights, Journey to the Center of the Earth, all good examples where men and women take journeys in their mind through visual or printed media to thrill and entertain themselves.

    In a way this condition continues to morph into new proposals and the present trend is the pathetic offering of reality TV, a mixture of fantasy and fact in a nice little entertaining package that they know your likely to buy. If your interest starts to wane they simply sit down and tweak the format. No difference really that the catholic church and others rework their tales to make portions more palatable in the modern world so they can continue to sell the product.

    This dance of mental manipulation has played out forever really but the one thing that is missing or purposely swept out of view is the huge glaring problem that continues to affect/haunt us, the confidence man taking advantage of our mental need for fanciful journey and selling us a proposition as being true in the real world. That is where the freaking problem comes in and there has never been a greater con than the selling of religious texts as being real, when in fact it is nothing more than fantasy prose from the days of old.

    There is one distinction that you can count on though as regards science and it’s this – no matter how a scientist might trick their mind to compartmentalize certain concepts that would clash with their work, the actual scientific work that landed us on the moon, or put the hubble telescope in space, was done by the hand of mankind. Yes we can do both things simultaneously but the real efforts always comes from man’s mind, and the god delusion is just along for the ride “for some” when we accomplish these real tasks.



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  • The answer to the title of this article is NO, you cannot be a scientist and have religious faith at the same time. You can try to, but then that makes you intellectually dishonest. And that’s nothing to be proud of.



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  • 101
    Michael says:

    Einstein:

    “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a
    childlike one,” he wrote to a man who corresponded with him on the subject
    twice in the 1940s. “You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the
    crusading spirit of the professional atheist. … I prefer an attitude of
    humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of
    nature and of our own being.”



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  • 102
    Michael says:

    Inquisitiveness, awe and the desire to understand are all that is required as nicely stated about Mendel and LeMaintre above. I have to problem if they philosophically see the work as “Glory to the Creator”. I do have a problem, naturally, if they want me to believe the same thing.



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  • Not feeling the Christian love Ewan.

    You’ve responded (I won’t use the term answered because you never actually answer. You deflect or respond with another question going off at a tangent. Black Belt discussion forum technique.) to everyone who posted except me. Inserts sad smiley face icon. But if you could, for the third time, can you answer my question. Repeated here. You said.

    The creator God set up the processes by which the Universe works. In this case, the processes involve random chance, just as many natural processes do.

    I asked.

    Ewan. What’s the point then. If god’s only role was to roll the dice of chance, then what’s the point of religion. Praying. Funny clothes. Churches. Holy books written by men. If this whole universe is just chance, then god really doesn’t give a damn about the RCC, or any other brand of religion. Why do you bother with someone who ignores you.



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  • There’s no enigma here, the answer is simple. Religion is like a security blanket to people, it guarantees comfort, sanctuary and ever lasting life. It alleviates a very basic insecurity in some personalities and they’ll suspend all common sense and reason to hang on to it no matter how much intelligence they display in other fields.



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  • “Clinical death” means absence of heartbeat and respiration. If these are restored before brain death occurs, recovery is possible. Brain death begins after about 5 minutes, so it’s pretty safe to say people who are reported to have come back from the dead either were resuscitated successfully within this time-frame, or they weren’t actually dead. Three days in a cave in a warm part of the world is not compatible with a return to life after real death… no matter what an old book says.

    Steve



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  • The answer to the title of this article is NO, you cannot be a scientist and have religious faith at the same time.

    So would you make a lack of religious belief a requirement for jobs in science?



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  • Religion is like a security blanket to people, it guarantees comfort, sanctuary and ever lasting life.

    Why do you think this? Is it the result of discussions with believers?



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  • Did you mean to write people’s minds? Or the minds of human beings? Only there were a have been a lot of female scientists involved in recent space programmes.



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  • Why dies it make you intellectually dishonest?

    Doesn’t denying the fact that there are very good scientists who are believers make you intellectually dishonest as well.



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  • How is it an inconsistency if they seen to be driven by different processes?

    The brain is an evolved mush mash with newer parts overlain on older parts. The cognitive reasoning part may govern science but it clearly doesn’t govern emotion otherwise we’d have got rid if all that love and crap in favour of some kind of brave new world. We’d all have evolved into Spock.

    Religion clearly serves some kind of purpose. It’s comfy to say that religious believers are just stupid and superstitious and atheists wise and logical. But reality screams otherwise.

    I don’t understand belief and can’t reconcile with my reason BUT I know a lot of people far cleverer and better at science than me who can! People who question everything and analyse it yet still believe.

    Therefore the only thing I can suggest is that it has to be something other than intellectualism.

    What I will say is I’m a born cynic and pessimist. Maybe the question should be can you be cynical / pessimistic and a believer.



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  • Darwin finally lost his faith following the death of his beloved daughter. And because other older members of his family had already lost their faith leaving him with the difficulty of reconciling the notion of good non believers going to hell whilst bad believers got into heaven with goodness and fairness.

    Evolution was NOT the cause of him losing his faith. And many believers at the time supported his theory (Charles Kingsley for one) whilst fellow scientists didn’t. It wasn’t clear cut religion against / science for.

    So the link between science and loss of faith is not that clear cut it was loss of a beloved child that finished his belief. And I’d be willing to bet that similar losses of loved ones remove the faith of far more people than science.



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  • 112
    aroundtown says:

    I see what your talking about Alice, thanks for that. I would likely go with the “minds of human beings” as a general disposition relative to either sex as regards my opinion above. I am all for diversity and equality between the sexes and wish the advancement of women were more equal, I have been onboard with that opinion for decades and remember the women’s NOW movement of the 60’s very well. Back to what we are discussing here though my opinion above was indicative to both sexes possessing the ability to wade into superstition as you would likely agree. We can be an odd lot but when it comes to similarities between males or females, it seems we both have the ability to trudge the road of delusion in lockstep unfortunately.

    Thanks for your help though, I appreciate a nudge to get it right since my abilities are lacking as I have pointed out many times before. Sometimes I am amazed I can contribute at all.



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Religion clearly serves some kind of purpose. It’s comfy to say that religious believers are just stupid and superstitious

    Religion serves the purpose of binding the flock together with common purposes and disputing with those rivals and community who differ. What it is very poor at is analysing the real world and identifying purposes which are worthwhile for people in general.

    and atheists wise and logical. But reality screams otherwise.

    Atheists are free from belief in gods.
    This confers no particular skills, but does reduce the thinking disabilities created by the god-virus.

    I don’t understand belief and can’t reconcile with my reason

    That is because “faith-thinking” (belief without evidence or proof) is incompatible with evidenced reasoning.

    I don’t understand belief and can’t reconcile with my reason BUT I know a lot of people far cleverer and better at science than me who can!

    That appears to be one of your residual mistaken “faith-beliefs”.

    You may know people who SAY THEY CAN, but they are self deluding or faith inspired liars. They are clearly NOT cleverer than you in this aspect of thinking, and they are certainly not cleverer than atheist scientists in that area of study and reasoning.

    Examples of their attempts to explain conclusions faith thinking are characterised by multiple fallacies, mixed with asserted claims of using”logic”.

    People who question everything and analyse it yet still believe.

    They don’t critically analyse it. They back-reference it to their core indoctrination and if it is inconsistent with their biases they reject it, regardless of the evidence or in the face of the evidence, and then concoct rationalisations to hide the information conflicts from themselves and others. The ones more familiar with SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS, seek opportunities for gapology.

    Therefore the only thing I can suggest is that it has to be something other than intellectualism.

    That does not inhibit learning to use science OUTSIDE the areas of entrenched faith-thinking, but it is a disabling handicap whenever the evidence conflicts with “faith”.

    How is it an inconsistency if they seen to be driven by different processes?

    It is inconsistent with accurate evidence based scientific maps of reality, and the two conflicting thought processes and conclusions have to be separated by compartmentalisation in the brain. Touching on areas of faith issues can trigger the irrational side at any time.

    There are numerous examples of people who have made a name for themselves in science, reverting to rationalised faith claims when triggered by related topic.
    There are also dishonest scientists who have been bought by faith sponsorship to concoct misleading drivel.

    You need to be much more cautious and critical, rather than repeating stuff you have been told over the years by believers.



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Did you mean to write people’s minds? Or the minds of human beings?

    Mankind is a term for the human race. Not a gender differentiation.

    Only there were a have been a lot of female scientists involved in recent space programmes.

    You can check the US numbers here:-

    http://history.nasa.gov/pocketstats/sect%20D/Women%20Em.pdf

    There have been relatively few women astronauts, and even fewer women scientist astronauts, so I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to discuss her work with at least one of them.
    All credit to the contributions they have made to human knowledge.



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  • How is it an inconsistency if they seen to be driven by different processes?

    If you go to church because you like listening to the hymns, that’s one thing. If you go to church because you think God can hear your prayers there, that’s quite another. Religions make claims about the universe, and believers act on those claims. If those claims can’t stand up to scrutiny, it doesn’t matter how you feel about it, how much you invest in it, or even whether you find it fulfilling or not. At the end of the day, the claims are incorrect.

    Religion clearly serves some kind of purpose. It’s comfy to say that religious believers are just stupid and superstitious and atheists wise and logical. But reality screams otherwise.

    I didn’t say “religious believers are just stupid”. Did you even read my first paragraph? There’s no immutable law that says if you’re religious, you’re a stupid person. The point is that, if you believe in religious tenets, you are specifically incorrect about those religious tenets. It doesn’t make a difference to the argument if you’re otherwise the world’s most amazing genius polymath.

    Now, what we find is that high-ranking scientists tend to be atheistic or agnostic, and we may try and explain why that is – causation, luck, or some unknown other factor biasing things – but that’s strictly by the by. Even if all known professional scientists were full-blooded Catholics, well, all known professional scientists might also be male. We’d still want to know what the case for Catholicism was.

    Therefore the only thing I can suggest is that it has to be something other than intellectualism.

    Again, if someone goes to church because they like it for some reason, that’s not the issue. If they do it because they believe God hears their prayers, then they’re acting on ideas. Ideas that don’t, in this case, stand up to scrutiny.

    And before you chime in on how we just don’t get it and how the world would be Spockian our way, please consider that some of us do get it, and some of us probably get it more strongly than you do. We already know about – and have probably experienced – all the comfort, inspiration, consolation, ethics, participation in rituals and ceremonies and activities, and so on, and all that good stuff. Some of us have been there. Others have different avenues of getting there. Others still nod and acknowledge it.

    But at the end of the day, religions make claims or are based on premises – about cosmology, human nature, minds, society, and so on – that are unsound or questionable at best, that when examined are amenable to science (or at least reason in general), and that can’t be defended by no amount of invoking all the good stuff in association. And this is just the intellectual issue, without going into questions such as the harm, stress, or even suffering religion may or may not be responsible for.

    What I will say is I’m a born cynic and pessimist. Maybe the question should be can you be cynical / pessimistic and a believer.

    What are you talking about? What’s cynicism and pessimism got to do with it? The existence or non-existence of a god doesn’t hinge one iota on if you’re Polyanna or Eeyore. If you believe something because you’re an optimist, or a pessimist, or because you’re that sort of person, you’re believing for the wrong reasons. It’s a blatantly bad reason to believe anything, and it doesn’t get extra points for being a religious belief.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Religion is like a security blanket to people, it guarantees comfort, sanctuary and ever lasting life.

    Why do you think this? Is it the result of discussions with believers?

    There are well known scientific studies explaining this psychology.

    Religion as security blanket
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201207/the-security-blanket-concept-religion

    According to the security blanket concept of religion, supernatural belief systems provide peace of mind and help believers to cope with the more stressful events in their lives. This is a valuable service because chronic stress increases blood pressure leading to heart disease, clinical depression, and contributing to a number of other health problems ranging from obesity to cancers.

    Although religious people tend to reject the security-blanket approach to religion as simplistic, it is versatile and helps us understand a great deal about religious practices that are otherwise difficult to explain. It has yet to be embraced by religion scholars who prefer loftier terms such as “existential security” that mean much the same.

    The security blanket idea succeeds in explaining why some situations evoke a religious response. It encompasses the known physiological effects of religious rituals and beliefs. It also helps us to understand why religion is in decline in the most developed countries where citizens enjoy an exceptionally good standard of living.

    “Religious” situations

    We are all familiar with the nervous airline passengers who break into prayer as soon as the plane encounters a spot of turbulence. The same people are less likely to pray for deliverance when they drive themselves to work, a trip that is statistically far more dangerous. The important point is that modern people pray when they feel threatened whether by a plane crash, a natural disaster, or a military attack. Anthropologists report exactly the same pattern for subsistence societies. A Trobriand Islander prayed before venturing into rough waters but never before fishing in a calm lagoon, for instance.

    Like a child’s security blanket, religious ritual is a source of comfort when people are distressed. World religions generally offer peace of mind. Recent research shows that they can deliver, although the same benefits are available through secular techniques of relaxation and meditation.



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Centauri – Jun 13, 2015 at 6:56 pm
    The answer to the title of this article is NO, you cannot be a scientist and have religious faith at the same time. You can try to, but then that makes you intellectually dishonest. And that’s nothing to be proud of.

    Why does it make you intellectually dishonest?

    Rationalisation is the reverse process of reasoning.

    Reasoning starts with the evidence and deduces a conclusion from the evidence (In science this is also independently cross checked.)

    (Religious) Rationalisation starts with a (faith derived) conclusion, and concocts a contrived argument which resembles reasoning, purporting to support it.

    It is dishonest to pretend that the rationalised retrospectively contrived pseudo-reasoning, is scientific reasoning built on starting with objective evidence, when in reality, it simply starts with an unevidenced faith-belief, which is dressed up to look like science.

    Pseudoscience begins with a hypothesis—usually one which is appealing emotionally, and spectacularly implausible —and then looks only for items which appear to support it.
    Conflicting evidence is ignored. Generally speaking, the aim of pseudoscience is to rationalize strongly held beliefs, rather than to investigate or to test alternative possibilities. Pseudoscience specializes in jumping to “congenial conclusions,” grinding ideological axes, appealing to preconceived ideas and to widespread misunderstandings.
    http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/pseudo.html



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  • And I’d be willing to bet that similar losses of loved ones remove the
    faith of far more people than science.

    I like to think the rise of the internet has more to do with opening minds to the nonsense of religion than a personal experience, but I don’t doubt the personal experiences play a part for some. It makes me wonder if they are rejecting religion out of spite.

    I will be forever grateful to my father, who raised my siblings and me in an atheist home. Reading about the crap some had to go through to break free of religious bondage borders on child abuse, IMO.



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  • I think the percentages are likely to be changing towards fewer and fewer scientists and specialized/educated technical people being religious as the evidence that religion is nothing but institutionalized superstition gains traction and becomes mainstream. Scientists could have got away with it in the past because it was not a credibility issue then. Nowadays any reputable scientist who claims to be religious will be putting his/her credibility at serious risk as it implies that his/her research may have religious bias. A practical example would be whether one would be prepared to risk being treated by a medical specialist who denies evolution…one cannot understand modern medicine without understanding evolution and accepting it. I would be interested to know the religious beliefs of my doctor as it could affect my survival! In a less scientific job, I would like to know the beliefs of an airline pilot before I fly as I would not want a suicide bomber or pilot who would face Mecca and pray if there is a technical problem on the flight.



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  • Nowadays any reputable scientist who claims to be religious will be putting his/her credibility at serious risk as it implies that his/her research may have religious bias.

    So do you think that there should be discrimination, for instance in employment, between those who have and haven’t religious belief?



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  • Evolution was NOT the cause of him losing his faith.

    “The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being. like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.” Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin views on God religion and religious belief from his autobiography and letters

    It seems Evolution had a strong influence.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 9:57 am

    So do you think that there should be discrimination, for instance in employment, between those who have and haven’t religious belief?

    If fundamentalist beliefs affect their competence and capability to do a science based job; – certainly, and rightly so, where capability is involved.

    No sensible person would employ YECs as palaeontologists, or evolution deniers as geneticists or as medical researchers working on anti-biotic resistant pathogens; – just as airlines don’t employ blind pilots, and navies don’t make flat-Earthists sea-captains!



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 5:39 am

    >Evolution was NOT the cause of him losing his faith. And many believers at the time supported his theory (Charles Kingsley for one) whilst fellow scientists didn’t. It wasn’t clear cut religion against / science for.

    There was a very clear cut distinction, in that those who attacked Darwin’s theory were motivated by biblical beliefs, even if some religious people were open to evidence reason.

    Pope Pius the IV was quite explicit in his instruction to “Xtians” to deny Darwin’s theory.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_Pius_IX

    So the link between science and loss of faith is not that clear cut it was loss of a beloved child that finished his belief. And I’d be willing to bet that similar losses of loved ones remove the faith of far more people than science.

    In discussions on a science site, you really should be starting to look stuff up, rather than making stuff up!



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  • How, on the one hand, could someone devote themselves to the scientific methods…whilst on the other hand believing in a force that existed outside the rules and that, indeed, could change those rules.

    Psychosis.

    Approximately 3% of people (including elite scientists and Nobel Laureattes) will experience a psychotic episode at some stage in their life.
    http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/misc/Psychosis_Identification.pdf

    Similarly, approximately 3% of Eminent scientists are religious.
    A 2013 study by Michael Stirrat1 and R Elisabeth Cornwell titled ‘Eminent scientists reject the supernatural: a survey of the Fellows of the Royal Society’ illuminates the point nicely.

    Evolution-outreach expands –
    “scientists, especially preeminent scientists, tend toward disbelief” (Larson and Witham 1997 1998)
    biologists and psychologists are the most atheistic of scientists (for example, Gross and Simmons 2009)

    Religiosity is inversely proportional to scientific expertise. Subclinical psychiatric disorders most likely account for the miniscule proportion of competent scientists being religious.



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  • If fundamentalist beliefs affect their competence and capability to do a science based job; – certainly, and rightly so, where capability is involved.

    I think that’s the issue here. I would be quite happy if believing scientists were judged as scientists according to their competence at their jobs. But in many places on this thread, they are being judged according to their religious beliefs.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I think that’s the issue here. I would be quite happy if believing scientists were judged as scientists according to their competence at their jobs. But in many places on this thread, they are being judged according to their religious beliefs.

    That surely is in relation to how particular religious beliefs affect their capability to do particular jobs.

    If a Catholic is employed to sell contraceptives in a pharmacy, they can only do the job if they sell contraceptives, just like the other employees.
    If they can’t or won’t do the job, they should not apply for it and then resort to special pleadings with some religious, “get out of work card”, later.

    In similar vein, the question of stupidity has been raised.

    Is dying of AIDS because of refusing to use a condom, stupid??

    To those lacking indoctrinated religious confusion, the answer is obvious.



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  • That surely is in relation to how particular religious beliefs affect their capability to do particular jobs.

    Employees are protected from religious discrimination in the workplace in the UK. Do you think that protection should end?



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    That surely is in relation to how particular religious beliefs affect their capability to do particular jobs.

    Employees are protected from religious discrimination in the workplace in the UK. Do you think that protection should end?

    Employees should not be discriminated against purely on the basis of religious (or other) beliefs, – but if those beliefs intrude to affect their capability to do the job, that is a different matter.

    I would have little sympathy with a vegan who applied for a job in a butchers shop, and then objected to handling meat!



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  • but if those beliefs intrude to affect their capability to do the job, that is a different matter.

    And have you evidence that this is happening in the case of believing scientists? It seems to me that, on this thread, believing scientists are being judged on the basis of their religious beliefs rather than on how they go about their work.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    but if those beliefs intrude to affect their capability to do the job, that is a different matter.

    And have you evidence that this is happening in the case of believing scientists?
    It seems to me that, on this thread, believing scientists are being judged on the basis of their religious beliefs

    In science, I have not encountered people being asked about religious beliefs. However if those beliefs caused them to give wrong answers to scientific questions at interviews, that would count against them.

    rather than on how they go about their work.

    Scientists are judged by their work. If religious beliefs downgrade the quality or output of the work, this would affect judgements made on the basis of the science.

    People with disabling religious beliefs would probably not get qualifications or scientific employment anyway.

    Only those who can compartmentalise their disabling religious beliefs/ faith-thinking processes, to prevent it corrupting their scientific work, are likely to be usefully employable in work requiring scientific methodology.

    Those making up faked justifications for erroneous preconceptions, are exposed as frauds by the peer-review process, or by the failure of their claims in practical applications.
    Science is about what works in the real world.

    Wish-thinking chemistry or engineering goes with a fizzle or a bang – with those responsible identified in the accident investigation report!



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  • Scientists are judged by their work.

    Not according to the many posters who answered “No” to the question posed in the thread title. Those posters are judging some scientists solely according to their religious beliefs.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Scientists are judged by their work.

    Not according to the many posters who answered “No” to the question posed in the thread title. Those posters are judging some scientists solely according to their religious beliefs.

    You are looking through “faith-blinkers” again and have it backwards.

    If people have anti-science mentally disabling faith beliefs or thinking processes, it downgrades the scientific capabilities.

    Most YECs for example would not even qualify for a science course, or on a science course. Some will tick boxes they have been taught are right answers, to try to gain qualifications, while clinging to contrary views, but this will not give them a usable working knowledge of science.
    Science is a practical subject in a material world. Nature does not accept verbal excuses, or wish-thinking explanations for grave errors of judgement about laws of science.

    If you step off a cliff, gravity takes effect, regardless of how much “faith” you have in Indiana Jones!



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  • If people have anti-science mentally disabling faith beliefs or thinking processes, it downgrades the scientific capabilities.

    In a job involving science, an employee’s capabilities should be judged according to their qualifications, experience and ability. Their religious beliefs – along with their gender, marital status, sexual orientation etc – should play no part in that judgement.

    That’s the law.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    If people have anti-science mentally disabling faith beliefs or thinking processes, it downgrades the scientific capabilities.

    In a job involving science, an employee’s capabilities should be judged according to their qualifications, experience and ability.

    That is what I said!- and with disabling religious beliefs, they are less likely to get scientific qualifications, have only references reflecting poor performance, and will work to a lower level of ability.

    Their religious beliefs – along with their gender, marital status, sexual orientation etc – should play no part in that judgement. – That’s the law.

    It doesn’t, but in the real world, a poor performance, muddled thinking and lack of capability is recognisable, in features such as dogmatically clinging to failed methods, refusing to learn from mistakes, fallacious circular reasoning, and ignoring evidence in favour of wishful thinking.



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  • On this site many people base all their judgements on the oversimplified label believer / atheist. If you’ve read Orwell’s animal farm it’s like four legs good two legs bad.

    I’m afraid it’s faulty thinking. I was raised as a catholic and did science. I lost my faith and no change at all in my science.

    I’m afraid creationists aren’t representative of believers no matter how much Alan4discussion wishes they were.

    Yes THEY cannot do jobs like palaeontology but NOT because of their faith but because of their SCIENCE DENIAL. But that doesn’t preclude any other believers who do NOT deny science! If your particular brand of faith demands science denial you won’t be able to do science – simples.

    But most of the real world ain’t like that as Ken Miller illustrates. The real world doesn’t fit polarising specs and it is bizarre to see the knots some atheists tie themselves up in to avoid reality.



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  • On this site many people base all their judgements on the oversimplified label believer / atheist.

    Wow, and you just accused Len Walsh of making a sweeping comment.



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  • Alan4discussion I know the difference between science and faith. The point is so do scientists who have faith.

    Here’s the thing you’re missing – science does not test matters of faith (unless you’re a literalist in which case you won’t have made it into science). Real scientists DO NOT start with un evidenced belief.

    Do you not understand that for the vast majority of believers science does not impact on their faith or vice versa. Do you not understand that people like Ken Miller do science and look for evidence for everything whilst accepting their faith as something completely different for which they neither need nor seek evidence.

    We all seek certainties in our lives. For believers it is the certainty of a deity without the need to find evidence. One piece of faulty reasoning for emotional reasons that does not alter their abilities in other areas.

    For you it seems to be clinging to a old idea and stereotype that only exists in some people’s imaginations. There are, I’m afraid, illogical, scientifically illiterate atheists who are suspicious of science. There are scientifically literate, logical believers. You’re just going to have to accept those facts.



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  • My comment is based on what I’ve read here. Some people accept the reality of scientists who are believers. Many argue they cannot exist and their peer reviewed science is somehow wrong. Go read for yourself.



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  • Good grief Alan4discussion what century are you living in? Why on earth wouldn’t catholics be able to sell contraceptives?

    I learnt how to put a condom on a plastic penis in year nine in a catholic school. Along with various other forms of contraception.

    I learnt how to avoid STDs in year 10 at my catholic school – mainly by using said condoms.

    You are really confusing me now.



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I’m afraid it’s faulty thinking. I was raised as a catholic and did science. I lost my faith and no change at all in my science.

    So do you know the difference between the Theistic evolution of the RCC and the Neodarwinian scientific theory of evolution by way of natural selection?
    Theistic evolution is not a scientific theory, but a range of views about how the science of general evolution relates to religious beliefs – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_evolution

    You seemed to be struggling in an earlier comment.

    I’m afraid creationists aren’t representative of believers no matter how much Alan4discussion wishes they were.

    Sorry to have to point out once again, but while not Young Earth creationists, the Catholic Church AND the Church of England ARE old Earth creationists.
    Many of the Evangelical churches are YECs.

    But most of the real world ain’t like that, as Ken Miller illustrates.

    Did you not read my earlier link on Ken Miller, or did you not understand his pseudo-science claims of religious compatibility with science?

    The real world doesn’t fit polarising specs and it is bizarre to see the knots some atheists tie themselves up in to avoid reality.

    Perhaps you should also read the link on psychological projection, and my earlier comment on looking stuff up rather than making stuff up!



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  • Vicki I’d say the evidence is confusing. The only clear correlation seems to be between religious decline and a well developed benefits system. Not education or technology but national health systems and care of the vulnerable by the state.

    In the US the links between lack of religion and education can also be explained as removal of poverty and need.

    In the UK there is no link between education and lack of belief. Five minutes in any CofE or RC church would suggest almost the opposite. The less educated are less likely to be religious.

    So I think ignoring the emotional needs religion fills is short sighted.



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  • Many argue they cannot exist and their peer reviewed science is somehow wrong.

    I didn’t get that impression. But even if you were right about that, how do you justify claiming that “on this SITE many base ALL their judgements on the oversimplified label believer/atheist”?



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  • You should be starting to answer points raised rather than repeating the same old stereotypes. No matter what is said to you. Accept that the real world isn’t composed of lunatic creationists and genius atheists. The real world is messy and people do not conveniently do what you think they should.

    Take off the polarising specs and enter the real world where Catholics haven’t a clue what some dead pope said in a document they’ve never heard off. And Christians learn and do science quite adequately.

    And you’ve yet to answer my points about Fred Hoyle’s atheism driven science denial!



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  • 147
    Lorenzo says:

    I’m joining the party with some delay…
    There’s a good reason because of that: after a good part of my adolescence wrestling with that question, I came to the conclusion that since seemingly every well reasoned, insightful argument ultimately fails, then the correct one must be a rather obvious and “dumb” one:
    Coherence isn’t a requirement to live a happy, productive and successful life.
    And that’s it: I’d rather leave it at that. So the answer to the question “how do people reconcile faith with science?” is quite simply that they don’t. They don’t think about it because there’s very little to be squeezed out of the argument and there are frankly more interesting things to do in the world.
    Indeed, the only reason why I’m writing in this thread is because I’m on a break and reluctant to be productive at the moment…

    Which means I’m left with the belief that induction works without the sound evidence to support it, i.e. I have faith in the scientific method.

    That stinks. Badly. Classically, a compelling argument has been around since Descartes. But why would we want to reason classically when we have so many “new”, proven instruments at our disposal?

    If you dip yourself into just Special Relativity, and you begin to treat time on an equal footing with the spatial dimensions, the whole concept of “what happens next” goes into deep troubles: in fact, a measurement can be thought of a definite sequence of events in a reference frame. Which event are “first” and which “next” depends, ultimately, on the frame of reference. By that I mean that what is observed in one frame of reference may have already been observed in some other one and may still have to be see in a third one -of course, you can’t tell your fellow observers because you cannot send a signal faster than light, but that’s another story.
    By virtue of this indeterminacy, if the “principle of induction” would fail at some point, you’d have a terminal inconsistency of the happenings in different frame of reference -and an event is invariant: two balls cannot scatter in one frame and miss each other in another one.
    So, in a way, the principle of induction holds because the speed of light is a constant. Because we want to avoid contradictions, you need the speed of light to be a certain constant when you start a Universe. In principle, you may pick the value of the constant, but constant must it be and you cannot change your mind in the process.
    So, as long as the speed of light will be a constant, you’re fine. If that ceases to be so, you’ll have a whole lot of open contradictions scattered around the observable universe (very unlike in Quantum Mechanics!) and you’ll probably be dead.

    The good thing about this is that the evidence that the speed of light is actually a constant is so humongous, so no faith required here. Game.



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  • Alan4discussion the point is not the difference between theistic evolution whatever that may be and evolution via natural selection! The point actually is that most people neither know nor care about their churches view.

    You know far more about the faith I was born into than I do. I’ve never heard of theistic evolution. There is just evolution.

    In science in a catholic school I was taught evolution and Big Bang. The school had excellent science results.

    In RE I was taught some Christians accept science and some deny it. The deniers are called biblical literalists.

    That’s it.

    Now I think I’m fairly typical. Watery religion that mainly involved charity. Never particularly serious. No huge philosophical debates about science denial.

    You may know loads about the Catholic Church and it’s views from way back when. But I’m afraid you know very little about Catholics. Or other believers.

    I watched a tv debate where a Christian palaeontologist and an atheist geneticist took on creationists and IDers. When the presenter actually asked the palaeontologist how his faith fitted the science he said that wasn’t what his faith was about. It was about the fellowship, the feelings for his fellow human beings, love and charity.

    The point is most people who believe don’t spend ages thinking about origins. They find other things far more important. This notion they’re obsessed with it is a fallacy,

    Less time reading obscure texts and more time engaging with real people!



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Alan4discussion I know the difference between science and faith.

    Your assertions would indicate otherwise.

    The point is so do scientists who have faith.

    Your evidence for this is????? – Given that ones you quoted are pretending science and faith are compatible!

    Here’s the thing you’re missing – science does not test matters of faith (unless you’re a literalist in which case you won’t have made it into science).

    Intentionally or otherwise, science tests numerous theist faith claims all the time, and they fail the tests abysmally!

    Real scientists DO NOT start with un evidenced belief.

    That is simply wrong. Many scientists who cling to compartmentalised faith-thinking, started with indoctrinated core faith beliefs as children, long before they trained as scientists.
    That is why the problem is so deep rooted.
    Others matured out of religion as teenagers or college students as they developed reasoning skills.

    Do you not understand that for the vast majority of believers science does not impact on their faith or vice versa.

    I understand very well, that most of them are too ignorant of their own proclaimed faith beliefs, and too uneducated in reasoning or science to notice.
    Faith very frequently impacts on science, in the politics of the real world.

    There are, I’m afraid, illogical, scientifically illiterate atheists who are suspicious of science. There are scientifically literate, logical believers.

    I have previously debated with both types on this site on subjects like climate change denial and anti-vaxers. Is there some point to that observation?

    You’re just going to have to accept those facts.

    I have never disputed the existence of such people in the first place, but am nevertheless aware that there is a much greater proportion of atheist scientists than atheists in the general public, and that a very high percentage of top world-class scientists are atheists.

    http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    My comment is based on what I’ve read here. Some people accept the reality of scientists who are believers. Many argue they cannot exist and their peer reviewed science is somehow wrong. Go read for yourself.

    Did you read this in some tabloid comic? I have never heard of such nonsense in any scientific publication!

    I have already explained compartmentalisation in some detail!



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Alan4discussion the point is not the difference between theistic evolution whatever that may be and evolution via natural selection!

    That is the point I am making!
    If you don’t know the difference between theistic Evolution and the scientific theory, you are in no position to form an opinion as to whether the theism and the science are compatible or not.
    You may have been told they are – and have just uncritically accepted that on faith, but that is no basis for making an informed opinion on science.

    The point actually is that most people neither know nor care about their churches view.

    But nevertheless seem to have strong opinions on those subjects. (That’s faith at work)

    You know far more about the faith I was born into than I do. I’ve never heard of theistic evolution. There is just evolution.

    NO! In Catholicism, there is just theistic evolution, which they CALL “evolution”! (Evolution by god-did-it to create human worshippers, with a few miracles and a bit of fiddling with it along the way.)

    “Theistic evolution” is of course compatible with religion, but only SOME bits of it are compatible with real science. Being faith based, it also varies according to who is is selling it to the audience.

    In science in a catholic school I was taught evolution and Big Bang. The school had excellent science results.

    There are parts of real science in theistic evolution it is a fudged mixture. Biology teachers are likely to emphasise the science features they expect to appear in exam papers.

    You may know loads about the Catholic Church and it’s views from way back when. But I’m afraid you know very little about Catholics. Or other believers.

    Really??? Still making stuff up? – It may interest you to know that I was educated in a CofE grammar school, where the local vicar was deputy head and took RE classes.
    I have also worked in several Catholic faith schools.



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  • This article and the comments highlight the stress that religious belief is increasingly placing on modern society. As reliable, verifiable and credible knowledge builds up, the concerns of those who are not religious are amplified as it becomes obvious what effect religious belief can have on rational decision making. I used the example above of reliance on medical “professionals” who refuse to accept evolution and who therefore cannot make the best medical decisions however much they try and rationalise them. Likewise I would not choose to fly with a young Moslem pilot on BA who might have been exposed to ISIS grooming. .

    Perhaps there is a contradiction in modern “human rights” thinking as far as discrimination is concerned. Discrimination on the basis of physical characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc is intolerable because it is out of the control of the individuals concerned. Religious belief, on the other hand, is something over which an individual has personal choice, especially in the “western world” or more advanced parts of the world. (obviously in some countries eg Saudi Arabia the choice is not realistic and the pressure needs to be on the regimes themselves).

    Perhaps we are moving towards definite and legitimate discrimination against certain religious beliefs.

    It is not OK for a political party to have a manifesto that requires the death or beating etc of anyone who wishes to leave it or that requires the killing of anyone who does not belong to the party. Likewise for any other form of association EXCEPT religion where it is acceptable to have a text that contains grossly anti social and murderous imperatives. Perhaps such religions should be discriminated against at least until they reform and modernise their texts to reform inhuman imperatives. If that were to happen, the tension that is building against religion and certain ones in particular might be eased. That would however still not stop ones concern about religious belief interfering with technical knowledge. Given a choice of a Christian, Moslem or athiest when hiring a medical practitioner for a hospital, I would be inclined to hire the atheist to try and ensure medical capability.
    The idea of “freedom of religion” being a human right is a problem because it is a personal choice to choose a religion, I see no real reason why one should not discriminate against those who choose a religion that has antisocial aspects to it.



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I’m afraid it’s faulty thinking. I was raised as a catholic and did science. I lost my faith and no change at all in my science.

    I know – Hence I pointed out in an earlier comment, that you brought Catholic baggage with you.

    That is why you are contradicting real scientists who explain science to you, and why are quoting theistic fairy-stories about science, which you have copied from the contorted thinking of theist apologists.

    Alice – Jun 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Alan4discussion the point is not the difference between theistic evolution whatever that may be and evolution via natural selection!

    So having established that you don’t know to what extent you were taught theistic evolution in place of real science at school, I now ask;-

    Have you heard of BioLogos ?- The religious propaganda organisation promoting the false idea of compatibility of theistic evolution with real science!

    Their argument is essentially: –
    “Our religious beliefs learned in childhood are TRrrrooo, and evidence-based science seeks to establish true data, so we can confidently mix these “truths”, together to form a world-view.*

    Of course the faith-mythology, exorcisms, miracles, and god-did-it-by-magic stuff, is not compatible with science, so some mental gymnastics involving verbal ramblings and fallacious word-shufflings are needed to hide the joins.
    Only people competent in science and logical reasoning, are likely to spot the flaws and fallacies, so trusting believers will look at the authority figures, swallow it whole on “faith”, and repeat it in their communities.



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  • Richard01
    Jun 15, 2015 at 4:42 am

    The idea of “freedom of religion” being a human right is a problem because it is a personal choice to choose a religion,

    It is not a “right” or freedom, the indoctrinators usually extend to children.

    I see no real reason why one should not discriminate against those who choose a religion that has antisocial aspects to it.

    It is certainly reasonable to discriminate against those who promote anti-social behaviour.



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  • Alice
    Jun 14, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Is dying of AIDS because of refusing to use a condom, stupid??

    Good grief Alan4discussion what century are you living in? Why on earth wouldn’t catholics be able to sell contraceptives?

    I learnt how to put a condom on a plastic penis in year nine in a catholic school. Along with various other forms of contraception.

    Your problem seems to be denial of the big picture, based on anecdotal perceptions within a small circle of acquaintances.

    In the UK, proper health education is enforced by statutory requirements, – elsewhere the RCC causes havoc as usual!

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/mar/17/pope-africa-condoms-aids

    Pope claims condoms could make African Aids crisis worse
    Pontiff’s remarks on first visit to continent outrage health agencies trying to halt spread of HIV and Aids

    The Pope today reignited the controversy over the Catholic church’s stance on condom use as he made his first trip to Africa.

    The pontiff said condoms were not the answer to the continent’s fight against HIV and Aids and could make the problem worse.

    Benedict XVI made his comments as he flew to Cameroon for the first leg of a six-day trip that will also see him travelling to Angola.

    The timing of his remarks outraged health agencies trying to halt the spread of HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 22 million people are infected.

    Hodes, the director of policy, communication and research for the campaign group, added: “Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”

    It is not the first time the Pope has made public remarks on the HIV/Aids outbreak ravaging the continent.

    Shortly after becoming pontiff in 2005, he told senior Catholic clergy from Africa that, while the disease was a “cruel epidemic”, it could not be cured through using condoms.

    Addressing bishops from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho who had travelled to the Vatican for papal audience, he said: “The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.”

    He also warned them that African life was under threat from a number of factors, including condoms.

    You are really confusing me now.

    I think it is your rosy-faith-spectacles, which are confusing you, whenever evidenced examples of “faith” dogmas claiming to trump science are produced.



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  • Alan4, as you say “It is certainly reasonable to discriminate against those who promote anti-social behaviour” . Charlie Hebdo was an example of that discrimination in action in the form of satire. The backlash, apparently supported openly or otherwise by a majority of moslems was a case in point.
    “Freedom of religion” is generally found in the constitutions and bills of rights in many countries. Perhaps the time has come to insist that this freedom be removed or replaced by “freedom of religion where such religion is completely free of any antisocial or inhuman imperatives for any reason whatsoever”



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  • I’d also be inclined to reverse the argument slightly and say that nowadays any scientist who is not sufficiently sceptical to question his religious beliefs, if he has any, must either be blind or stupid, given the amount of information questioning religion that is circulating. Many scientists, have been brought up in a particular faith and have probably not really thought about it until fairly recently and have not considered the impact that being known as a theist could have on their credibility. Someone who is thoroughly versed in the scientific method and who thinks about religion sceptically must inevitably come to the conclusion that creationist thinking cannot be valid. For a modern scientist to try and justify religious belief is such a strong contradiction of the principals of the scientific method that I would immediately regard any “scientific” statements made by that person with great suspicion. It is almost a prejudice of incompetence by association!



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  • http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/religious-people-are-less-intelligent-than-atheists-according-to-analysis-of-scores-of-scientific-studies-stretching-back-over-decades-8758046.html

    Marktony I’m already aware of those articles on those studies. And also of one rather major flaw! They’re US based. And I hate to break it to you but the US is not the world, nor representative of it. Nor is US Christianity remotely like Christianity found anywhere else in the developed world!

    A huge section of your religious population think the world is about 6000 years old and evolution didn’t happen. No wonder there is a correlation between high IQ and religion over there.

    Plus your religion is bizarrely linked to right wing politics in a way that seems unbelievable to any other developed country. Your religion is right wing science denial with added deity. Without the science denial their conclusions no longer make sense.

    The people with high IQs studies lacks details. Without knowing whether that correlation carries on down with decreasing IQ matching increasing religiosity all you’ve got is a study of a not very representative sample matched to an average with no clear detail about how that average pans out.

    Do the same study in the UK and I’d be willing to bet you’d A) find far less religion overall and B) no real correlations between IQ and belief.

    Move the studies to a more global stage and what exactly would you find. The only one I’ve seen correlates decline in beliefs with benefits systems. The more the state looks after its old, sick, disabled etc the less religious it becomes.

    So unless having an NHS specifically makes UK citizens cleverer, or Europeans are just cleverer overall, your study doesn’t seen to translate very well.

    It is culture specific.



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  • Alice
    Jun 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Marktony I’m already aware of those articles on those studies. And also of one rather major flaw! They’re US based. And I hate to break it to you but the US is not the world, nor representative of it.

    Do the same study in the UK and I’d be willing to bet you’d A) find far less religion overall and B) no real correlations between IQ and belief.

    Strange you should mention that!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2395972/Atheists-higher-IQs-Their-intelligence-makes-likely-dismiss-religion-irrational-unscientific.html

    Research from the UK last week showed another drawback to being religious, or at least Christian – you lose out in the race for top jobs.

    Official figures show nearly one in four people who have no religious belief now live in homes headed by someone with a senior executive job or a place in one of the professions.

    But well under a fifth of Christians are employed in the best-paid and most influential jobs or are married to someone who is, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    Ewan
    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    If people have anti-science mentally disabling faith beliefs or thinking processes, it downgrades the scientific capabilities.

    In a job involving science, an employee’s capabilities should be judged according to their qualifications, experience and ability.

    They are: – with the link above showing the consequences.



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  • I see no real reason why one should not discriminate against those who choose a religion that has antisocial aspects to it.

    Throughout human history, people have been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. It has resulted and does result in enormous suffering. That’s one of the reasons that freedom of religion is seen as a basic human right.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I see no real reason why one should not discriminate against those who choose a religion that has antisocial aspects to it.

    Throughout human history, people have been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. It has resulted and does result in enormous suffering. That’s one of the reasons that freedom of religion is seen as a basic human right.

    Throughout human history, people have been discriminated against by those with religious beliefs. It has resulted and does result in enormous suffering.
    That’s one of the reasons that freedom from religion is seen as a basic human right.

    Those indulging in religion inspired anti-social behaviour, love to play the “persecuted religious card”, when they are taken to task for inflicting their prejudices on others!



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  • That’s one of the reasons that freedom from religion is seen as a basic human right.

    In the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, this is stated in Article 18; Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It’s a right which is made full use of on forums such as this and I would hope that we would all fully support it, along with the other rights in the Declaration.



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  • Ewan
    Jun 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    That’s one of the reasons that freedom from religion is seen as a basic human right.

    In the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, this is stated in Article 18; Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

    “Freedom of expression of opinions”, is not a freedom to inflict bigotry on others, or immunity from action against those indulging in antisocial behaviour.

    Religions may dwell in a fantasy world, but when these fantasies intrude into the material world to affect other people, they are likely to provoke a legitimate response.



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  • Doug, the two links I supplied have all of that information –

    “Psychosis is a condition characterized by loss of contact with reality and may involve severe disturbances in perception, cognition, behaviour, and feeling”

    Some of the religious scientists mentioned above qualify diagnostically.
    eg
    Francis Collins is a plodding, superstitious bureaucrat who would still be fumbling to describe the human genome if Craig Ventner hadn’t schooled him by furnishing his clever solution 15 years ago. He is a delusional insult to science. He doesn’t understand evolution and he rejects climate science because AGW fails to conform with his particular “God’s Plan”.

    Collins ignorantly wrote that “science offers no answers to the most pressing questions of human existence” while PZ Myers described him as a “chief paper-pusher and technician-wrangler” and “a lovable dufus with great organizational skills whose grasp of the principles of science is superficial”.

    Collins infamous, clinically classic psychotic epiphany involved a frozen waterfall instructing to him to “surrender to Jesus Christ”. Steven Pinker wrote “Collins is an advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs” and I think this is because of his psychotic mind, damaged by childhood indoctrination.



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  • Alice
    Jun 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    If Ken Miller conjectures anything at all about his faith it will be used by you to detract from his science,

    I have already said his peer-reviewed science is valid, but you also seem to blindly admire his pseudo-science, which he presents as being real science.

    Perhaps you should have linked the sources of your Miller-worship!

    his refusal to use the term theistic evolution and to generally poo poo everything he does.

    He does spout a lot of poo poo pseudo-science while pretending it is real science while promoting “theistic evolution”.

    That is not logical.

    Irrational use of the term “logical” is farcical!

    Ken Miller manages to analyze America’s rejection of evolution without mentioning religion

    There are none so blind as those who will not see—or who are so blinkered by faith that they refuse to see that faith itself is the root cause of American creationism. It’s called “creationism” for a reason, remember, and there’s plenty of evidence that America’s strong rejection of evolution, unique among First World countries, is due to America’s strong religiosity.

    But Kenneth Miller, pious Catholic that he is, refuses to recognize that. In his new Darwin-Day piece for HuffPo, “America’s Darwin Problem,” he blames the rejection of evolution on the perception by many Americans that science is a special-interest group whose values diverge from theirs. The word religion isn’t mentioned, or religion alluded to, in the entire piece. It’s a masterpiece of avoiding the real issue.

    Refusing to recognize the religious basis of evolution-denial is not new to Miller.

    The reason, of course, is that Miller (and his confrère Giberson) are religious, and can’t bring themselves to admit that the root cause of creationism is faith.
    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/ken-miller-manages-to-discuss-americas-rejection-of-evolution-without-mentioning-religion/

    Speculative musings about the nature of his God do not impact on his peer reviewed science.

    Which of course is getting it backwards!
    He tries to dishonestly use his peer-reviewed reputation, to add false authority to his pseudo-science musings, and invalid hypotheses.

    He opposes YECs and ID, but then tries to blame scientists for their fundamentalism.



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  • When religious doctrine and religious based historical claims get a challenge, believers say, “Yeah it seems to prove us wrong but we will wait and see. Science and the science of the historian could be mistaken.” A wait and see attitude to science is anti-scientific. The scientists are qualified to investigate and we are not. It is up to them to tell us if a wait and see attitude is needed or desirable.



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  • 171
    Suresh says:

    I fully concur with the ‘compartmentalisation of the mind’ point of view voiced by some of the earlier comments here.

    I am of the view that this compartmentalisation is common to anyone who uses reason, not just scientists, and as long as people cannot live without reason, this must include everyone who believes in religion.

    Most people do not subject their own minds to that level of intellectual rigour that would compel them to choose one or the other.

    But, what is detestable is “wilful obscurantism” as Richard Dawkins once put it. If a believer says, “I know there is no evidence for it, but I believe it”, I suppose people would just leave him alone with his faith. But often, religious believers show tendencies to go to absurd lengths to find evidence when there is none, justify and even sell their dearly held dogmas and doctrines. To my way of thinking, reason should discourage them from such conduct. I suppose this entirely depends on one’s intellectual honesty.



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  • Late to the party, but just wanted to throw in my 2 cents…

    Religious faith is a belief in things, not only without supporting evidence, but usually in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    Scientific “faith” (if such a thing can even be said to exist), is a belief in things only so far as they are supported by evidence. Once the evidence contradicts something, it is abandoned.

    You can call both “faith,” but to do so does a disservice to science and elevates religion above its worth.



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