Science vs. Religion: A Poll

July 21, 2009
By

When there is a seeming conflict between science and religion, people tend to make a mental choice that either favors religion or science.  Which is it for you?

A recent article in Newsweek talks about this issue.  There are some biases inherent in some circles of scientists that are anti-religion.  Likewise, there are some biases among religionists that are anti-science.  The general arguments are:

  • Pro-Science.  Science is the process of proving a theory through repeatable processes that always yield the same result.  Science leads to an understanding of truth.
  • Anti-Religion.  Religion doesn’t hold up under the scrutiny of scientific theory.  Therefore, religion leads to a misunderstanding of truth.
  • Pro-Religion.  Religious life is essential to human beings and is what makes life worth living.  Religion leads to a knowledge of human truth and the truths about God; truths that save the soul.
  • Anti-Science.  Religion is a belief or hope in what is often considered “unknowable.”  Because God created all, he is not bound by the same sets of rules as humans.  Humans can never fully comprehend God.  Science is based on theories of men, not of God, and dismisses the more important spiritual truths that are essential to humanity.  Science may lead people to misunderstand or wrongly dismiss spiritual truth.

Generally speaking, the church’s stance is both pro-science and pro-religion and many church leaders have also been scientists.  So, consider the following example and the possible responses to the scientific proof.  The BOM speaks about horses, elephants, and the use of steel weapons and refers obliquely to the BOM people living somewhere in the Americas.  Based on current archaeological evidence, these animals and weapons have not been found.  Here are some possible responses one might have to this lack of evidence:

  • Pro-science/anti-religion.  The BOM is clearly in error.  Obviously, the BOM was not an accurate historical record and was written by someone who did not know that these things did not exist.
  • Pro-science/pro-religion.  The data may be in error or more data may be found.  Scientists may have been looking in the wrong place.
  • Pro-religion/pro-science.  The book may be ancient but have inaccuracies in it due to assumptions by either the readers or the translator.
  • Pro-religion/anti-science.  The BOM is true because I received a spiritual witness it is true, so scientific evidence is a non-issue.

Obviously, there could be other alternate views, but these are just some broad categories to force a choice.  So, where do you stand on an issue when science contradicts religion or vice-versa?  Take this poll to see.

[poll id="44"]

Discuss.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

85 Responses to Science vs. Religion: A Poll

  1. July 21, 2009 at 12:13 am

    While I agree with the “scientific theories change over time” one, I picked the one that pointed out religion is subjective. i’m not quite sure where that fits me on the pro/anti religion/science scale.

  2. Aaron Reeves
    July 21, 2009 at 2:38 am

    I have done the same as Andrew S. I would argue that both change over time but that does not mean I should disregard either. I am both pro-science and also pro-religion. I would even say that it is ok to allow science to inform your religious views. I have moved to accepting evolution because of the evidence and because I think that the religious view has been mis-understood. In addition, to broaden the scope of science to social science I it think it is ok to allow the ideas of social science to inform how we think, experience and understand religion because it is changing.

  3. July 21, 2009 at 3:18 am

    It’s really hard for me to choose between 2 and 3. I think that scientific theories certainly change over time, but not scientific laws. We certainly make assumptions with religion that science later proves to be false (i.e. Galileo vs. the Catholic Church, same sex attrations being a choice).

    I believe that science and religion are entirely compatible, but only in their purest forms.

  4. Ray
    July 21, 2009 at 6:51 am

    1) I think we make a lot of assumptions about a lot of things regardless of the “field” we discuss.

    2) I think there are far more language barriers in any translation process than most people realize – that, unless a language or translator wants to use foreign words, many things get approximated and appear to be incorrect when viewed through the lens of “pure” linguistics. The use of “horse”, “steel” and other highly subjective words in a translation process doesn’t bother me in the slightest, since I personally have had to make all kinds of translation choices on occasion that convey a general idea.

    3) We tend to accept lack of “hard” evidence over other evidence.

    There are numerous oral traditions among Native American populations telling of elephant/mammoth-like animals in the time of their ancestors. I don’t think that is proof of the BofM by any stretch, but it’s fascinating to hear the use of the word “elephant” used as a scientific argument against the book.

    4) I also think we categorize WAY too many things as “religious” instead of sociological, anthropological, geological or some other scientific term – meaning we create conflicts between religion and science that really aren’t conflicts between the two.

  5. Mike S
    July 21, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I think both science and religion change over time, but in different ways:

    1) Science changes as there becomes more revealed truth. Some scientific theories are proved to be wrong, but in general, each subsequent theory is generally closer to the truth rather than further away. Thus, pronouncements that all knowledge has been found, or computers will never go faster, or anything else changes as more knowledge is discovered.

    2) Religion changes in much less understandable ways. Some examples: polygamy – initially wrong in the BOM, then privately espoused by JS, then elevated to a necessary principle by BY, then ultimately something for which you would be excommunicated. Or blacks and the priesthood – OK to JS, wrong from BY through BRM, etc., then OK again after 1978. Similarly with women not being allowed to speak in sacrament meeting, then being allowed to speak.

    The ultimate “truth” of religion doesn’t change – God exists, Christ died for us, etc. The implementation of what it means seems to be continually reinterpreted, however. That’s why I put less stock in random opinions of church leaders such as whether 1 or 2 earrings is essential to anyone’s salvation, and focus instead on my relationship with God. I also don’t accept that science has determined ultimate truth, but do agree that we are probably closer to that concept now than 20 years ago, and that 20 years from now we will continue to be closer…

  6. Cowboy
    July 21, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I find myself agreeing with TheFaithfulDissident, because yes many scientific theories have evolved over time. However, in science we also have the closest thing to demonstratable absolutes as we are going to get. Theoretically you could challenge scientific laws, practically speaking every time I drop my pencil it falls. Religion lacks the equivalent, since largely any religious principle is left to be interpreted from person to person.

    As for Book of Mormon translation, the challenge with the words lies in what actually occured during translation. Joseph Smith himself spoke very little of the actual mechanics behind the process, a fact which has granted scholars wide lattitude in speculation. The witnesses however, David Whitmer in particular, seemed to be convinced that in the process Joseph was not at liberty to select the words that were to be used, but rather was shown the words one at a time on a visionary piece piece of parchment, which Joseph was able to view using his seer stone. That makes the word usage problematic.

    Mike S-

    I completely agree with you on focusing our efforts on building relationships with God rather than letting Church leaders opinions get in the way. The question I have is, ultimately that places the Church and it’s leaders in a position of impeding progress towards that end. If it is essential to disregard their various speculations in order to progress towards deity, then this would imply that on the continuum of faith there would come a point where progress would require that the Church be abandoned. I don’t get the impression that you would necessarily ascribe to that conclusion, how do you reconcile?

  7. Dan
    July 21, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Religion and science are not mutually exclusive. I wish you had a bullet point choice to accept both. See, it’s like we assume that either our current understanding of religion gives us all the answers to the world’s questions or our understanding of science gives us all the answers to the world’s questions. What if BOTH science and religion, as we understand them so far, still fall well short of giving us the full truth of any given thing. I mean, look at a statement like “God resides in the heavens.” What a general statement! Most people who believe in God believe that statement to be true, but what exactly does that mean? Where exactly are the heavens? What exactly does it mean to reside? Beyond that statement, it is mere speculation. Our understanding of religion is simply incomplete, as is our understanding of science. The two are harmonious though. The question is not of whether the two would work well together, but whether we will accept that OUR understanding of one or the other is incomplete, and thus, when something new comes out, are we ready to accept what is revealed?

  8. Mike S
    July 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Cowboy:

    You are correct – I don’t know that the Church be abandoned.

    In areas where our leaders talk about God, Christ, and actual principles in the scriptures, I don’t know that there is any debate. The Church serves a great purpose in that (as do many other religions). I also appreciate the increased knowledge about families, eternal life, etc. that the LDS Church adds.

    Most of the issues I have seen that have given people “grief” in the church aren’t basic “Christian” principles, but are “added” interpretations. Polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, length of Church meetings (when they were 2 blocks), ankle/wrist length garments, penalties in the endowment, etc. While various church leaders have spoken out on these issues very strongly over time, even to the point of declaring de facto apostasy if one didn’t agree, they were all ultimately changed and now are in line with “societal views”. Similarly, I think a lot of the issues currently facing the church (earrings/tattoos, white shirts, same-sex issues, etc.) will also go away once the generational change occurs, much like described in McKay’s biography. People make a big deal out of them now, but none of them are essential to the essence of the gospel.

    It seems that God answers prayers to questions. There is always going to be a majority in the Church that accepts things at face value and doesn’t question anything. If this were everyone, however, this would be a static organization. Unless there are the BH Roberts and Bennions and others who question if perhaps we’re doing something wrong, the questions wouldn’t be asked and we wouldn’t have the changes the help the Church progress. So respectful dissension can be useful and shouldn’t be suppressed.

    So I suppose my “reconciliation” is merely patience.

  9. Ann
    July 21, 2009 at 9:53 am

    You’re conflating “religion” with “Mormon” in your examples. It is possible to conclude that the BofM as a 19th century document without being anti-religion.

  10. hawkgrrrl
    July 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Dan – IMO, options 2 and 3 are both pro science and religion, but with an understanding that neither science nor religion is perfectly understood or complete. Personally, I think I favor science slightly over religion because science attempts to question assumptions as part of the scientific discipline. But I also feel science is prone to the same host of problems as religion: confirmation bias (and other personal biases), misunderstandings, assumption, and subjectivity. With religious or spiritual “truth” I personally consider subjectivity to be valuable in a way it is not in science.

  11. hawkgrrrl
    July 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Ann – of course I am because 1) it’s an example I hope will resonate with readers of this site and 2) the site is Mormon Matters, not God Matters. I also conflate religion with spirituality in the post, but you didn’t object to that. Perhaps we all have our conflations.

  12. July 21, 2009 at 10:29 am

    re 11: GASP

    At 10:22 AM on July 21, 2009, hawkgrrrl admitted that she doesn’t believe God Matters. :D

  13. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

    People like to talk about how science and religion can fit together quite nicely. Frankly, I find that they oppose each other much more than people realize. Sure, it’s possible that a god created everything and that science is merely learning about how he did it. But that’s god and science. Religion and science contradict each other constantly.

  14. hawkgrrrl
    July 21, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Dex – exactly.

    Andrew S – :eye roll:

  15. Jo
    July 21, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Dexter,
    I agree with your statement re:, “god and science. Religion and science contradict each other constantly”
    Science explains God’s physical laws and logic. Religion is the interpretation of God’s intentions and an attempt to gain control of God’s powers. There is frequently a religious group or guy attempting to come between a person and his relationship with God or his idea of God. It tends to involve serving some group of people in order to gain God’s approval and as a condition of association with a group of religious people. The behavioral requirements can attain a Masonic level of complexity in religious groups.

  16. July 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

    They are both two forms of God’s truth: His internal Truth and external Truth. One explaining how and the other why.

  17. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I would disagree Hye since most, if not all, religions are false. If you are speaking of the true religion then your comment would make more sense. But “religion” in general is nowhere near truth.

  18. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Oh man, so much to say. Okay here goes:
    Re: 8 Mike
    Very well said, I like it.

    Re: 10 hawkgrrrl
    Yep, I’m in this camp as well!

    Re: 13 Dexter
    You bring up a good point. Yes, historically science and religion have not played well together. Religion resists but historically, at least regarding claims about objective reality, science virtually always wins. God and science, as you say, is a different issue and one may never touch the other, I dunno.

    My own thoughts:
    There’s a lot of talk about “truth” in the comments. I tend to dislike these interpretations. I’m not really sure there is absolute “Truth” out there, so I reject the notion that science is one method, and religion another. To me, science isn’t discovering laws, or truths, as it were. Rather it is trying to use the tools we’ve contrived to describe objective reality. In this sense, science is “true,” that is, it describes exactly what it tries to describe. Hopefully that corresponds with reality (which it usually does). It’s like asking is 1+0.1=1.1? Well, yes and no. It is in math, but not in a computer. In mathematics we have defined it as such. But in a computer we cannot represent 1.1 exactly, and therefore it is never “true” that 1+0.1=1.1. Likewise does relativity describe gravitation, time, space, orbits, etc.? Well, yes, it appears to, but that doesn’t mean it will for all constructs (although it may). The point is, we have designed these constructs to represent reality, and our constructs may or may not fit reality exactly.

    Likewise, religion is “true” in the sense that it describes exactly what it tries to describe as defined by the constructs created. For me, the thing it’s trying to describe is my spirituality, the transcendence of the physical within me, my relationship with God. Does this mean God exists? Certainly within the constructs of the religion, yes. But does it mean that God exists as an objective reality? No, it does not. It doesn’t mean He does not exist, but rather that religious constructs were not designed, IMHO, to describe objective reality. They were designed to describe SPIRITUAL reality. Hence in that sphere they are true.

    The real problem comes when we confuse the two and try to make religion a good mechanism for describing objective reality (which is too often done IMHO). I prefer to allow each tool to do the job is was meant to do.

    One of the great boons to science, and where, IMHO, it bests religion, is in it’s claim that any hypothesis must be falsifiable for it to be science. Religion lacks such a mechanism, which makes it unreliable in making claims about objective reality.

  19. July 21, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Dex #13 – Interesting–I didn’t know religion and science didn’t fit until someone told me I should think that way. Really though, what is “religion” to any one person? Is it what their organized church and its leaders say it is? Is it what it is to the individual? Personally, I believe (and JS said it first, although I need to find the exact quote) that there are as many religions as there are people. My religion has no conflicts with science, for if science clearly shows that something in my beliefs is false, I would have to drop the belief. Granted, objective science may or may not prove anything spiritual and subjective, but I personally don’t have any conflicts, despite what some people tell me to think.

  20. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Of course everyone can have their own religion. And that proves my point that they can’t all be true.

    My religion doesn’t conflict with science at all, either. So what? We were speaking of religion in general, and most of them, if not all, are false. So unless you believe science to be false, then they contradict one another.

  21. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 11:36 am

    And are you accusing me of telling people what to think?

  22. July 21, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Lol, no, but I have been getting that a lot lately, from all types of people.

    Rather than looking at it as “they can’t all be true”, I like to think that if everyone has their own religion, they ALL are at least partially false or incomplete.

  23. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Partially false means false.

    I feel like you are trying to put a positive spin on it, but at the cost of truly identifying what is going on here. In general, religion and science are at odds. But if you want to say your religion is true and it fits with science, that is fine. But by doing so, you have to agree that other religions contradict science.

  24. July 21, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I think I do agree that some religions contradict science.

    “Partially false means false” – I see your point, but in that case, in my mind at least, there is almost nothing in the world that is true.

  25. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 11:46 am

    “Of course everyone can have their own religion. And that proves my point that they can’t all be true.”
    This is where I disagree. They all can be true if they do what they were designed to do. I like to imagine that each religion is a single observation of a uniformly distributed random variable. Each religion has a probability of being true that is equal to every other religion being true. Hence each religion is both true, and not true. As a parallel, it might be said that each one has “truth” but is not completely “true.”

  26. Cowboy
    July 21, 2009 at 11:47 am

    JMB275:

    You have actually given me some good points to think about, which I think I want to digest more. But I would like to comment on Dexters point. Science, perhaps more so than religion, is really not about the conclusions drawn from the proofs setup by it, but rather is about creating methods for interpreting the world around us. Part of that method requires setting up equations and creating constants, which we call Laws. Science bears the quality that it’s methods can be repeated, and observed, while maintaing consistent outcomes. Religions epistemology, quite frankly comes often down to an internal and subjective basis of reasoning. While we have our relative proofs, ie, Moroni’s challenge, observing the data is still an internal experience – rather than one which can be objectively shared with near unaninimity. So to just to be a second voice, I think Dexters observation really deserves more attention than it usually recieves. More fundamental than how the earth came into being, is really the dichotomy between the modes of coming to know, ie, epistemology, is where science and religion really are on seperate planes, and can reach such divergent conclusions. In other words, the difference of opinion probably has less to do with some sort of inherent quality behind either science or religion, but rather lies in there opposing methods, which includes standards of acceptance.

  27. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 11:54 am

    JMB,

    I’m sorry but no. “They are all true and all not true.” That might be nice in a poem or a musical but it just does not mean anything. It’s not a knock on religion to say science and religion are at odds. Why does religion want to fit into science? It shouldn’t. It doesn’t.

  28. Cowboy
    July 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

    JMB275:

    Your clarification in #25 is lost on me. That sort of lends towards eastern notions of a relative universe. If we take the position that the world revolves around us, and that reality is only as good as perception, then mabey you have a point. But coming from a western (not to mention LDS) frame of thought, I’m inclined to believe in and seek for absolute truths – though I recognize that that such truths are near impossible to attain. Still, I am more interested in the truth that exists in the world around me. I expect that progressing this way will allow me to more precisely synhronise my perceptions to reality, and in this way I (we) become more perfect in our understanding. The “all truth is relative” exercises are interesting for intellectual purposes, but I am not convinced of the practical value, unless you change your goal into an effort to achieve something other than truth, ie, happiness mabey. I think there is something ineherent in humans that we desire truth, so that is my goal, and my guess as to why philosophies on relativity have failed to garner more traction.

  29. July 21, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    This question always throws me for a loop. It’s almost like asking if calculus trumps biology or something.

    It’s not that I think there isn’t friction at times, of course. I’m well aware of that. I’ve been very worried and frightened at times in my life when I thought that science had disproved the existence of God, or the afterlife. Thinking that way just hurt my head and terrified me, because often the “laws” of science just end up being tautologies. The Law of Conservation of Energy/Mass exists because… it exists. Stuff can’t be created out of nothing, because it can’t be created from nothing. Any other way doesn’t make “sense” to our logic and therefore can’t be? The speed of light is constant (we assume) because… well, it’s always constant. It was these tautologies that would really enrage me, because it just means there’s this brick wall where inquiry stops, and we’re not allowed to ask why, and that’s exactly how people criticize the idea of God.

    The Universe exists because it exists, and the laws exist because that’s just the way they are. My brain can’t handle that.

  30. July 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    It’s not that science disproves anything about the existence of God or of the afterlife or anything of that sort, so that shouldn’t be the place of disagreement. It’s just that scientific thinking does not and cannot justify belief in such things. So, at best, from a scientific process, we are left with the question, “So why should we believe or care about God or the afterlife?” There’s nothing we can do with it from a scientific standpoint (at this time…the hope, or at least what a hope should be, is that if God is an empirical reality, then it/he/she/whatever is something that can be measured, but we simply don’t have the tools *yet*). Similarly, it’s not that you’re “not allowed to ask why,” but that you simply do not have the tools to get anywhere from asking why.

    So many people will say that religion is the tool that gets us somewhere with asking why. But even if so, these tools are still primitive. Everyone’s got different answers and the answers only seem flawless on the subjective personal level (e.g., they are flawless because you have found an answer that works for you…) This is a shockingly different orientation.

  31. Holden Caulfield
    July 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    In relation to the science/religion debate, science makes my head hurt and religion makes my heart ache. I agree with the Talmadge idea (poorly paraphrased from memory) that the creation of the universe as we know it without divine guidance is as unlikely as an explosion in a library causing the falling pages of books coming together and forming a dictionary. However, the church causes me to bend my spirit and intellect (such as it is) so much to accept the things I am told I must believe that I am broken and can’t reasonably continue on that path.

  32. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Re26:
    Well said Cowboy.

  33. July 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    #30 “Similarly, it’s not that you’re “not allowed to ask why,” but that you simply do not have the tools to get anywhere from asking why.”

    Well, that’s just restating my objection differently I think. I just phrased it vaguely. Either way, you are “unable” (not allowed, not permitted, whatever) to inquire why things are the way they are, you just come up against “truths” that just exist by themselves with no explanation.

    And I don’t know why the “hope” should be that at some point God will become some sort of empirical reality. What does that mean anyway? That a particle will be found? That the Uncertainty Principle is some kind of entry point for God’s hand? That if you look deep into space, He’s out there somewhere? Or does it mean you will die and see Him in person at the Judgment Bar? Is that the empirical proof we should hope for? Even then, would I be able to prove that He isn’t a figment of my mind, or that I’m not just dreaming as my brain is dying on a surgeon’s table? I’m not sure what you’re proposing we hope for exactly.

  34. brjones
    July 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    #19 – Adam, how old do you believe the earth is?

  35. July 21, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    #34. I’d like to answer that question myself. I firmly believe that the Earth is 25 years old, and I’m almost positive that it will be completely and utterly destroyed when I die.

    I’m surprised that isn’t as obvious to anyone else as it is to me.

  36. July 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    brj: from wikipedia, where I get all my knowledge:

    “Modern geologists and geophysicists consider the age of the Earth to be around 4.54 billion years (4.54 × 109 years ± 1%). This age has been determined by radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples.”

    Sounds good to me.

    Then again, if the Earth turns out to be 6.5 billion years old, or 605 billion years old, great. We will have to update the wikipedia entry then. :)

  37. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I agree with JMB275 that they can both exist, and can both be look different tools in a toolbox to be used in different circumstances.

    Religion provides meaning.
    Science provides measurement.

    I can see both co-existing. Evolution is science’s explanation of the creation, Genesis provides religion’s explanation of the creation. David O. McKay believed God can use evolution as a way of creating life in 6 creative periods, and there doesn’t seem to be a conflict of science or religion. Not all Presidents of the Church saw it how David O. McKay did, but the point is they can coexist.

  38. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Re:27
    I think this would go back to a definition of true. Why does each religion need to be either true or false? Can’t it contain both truths and falsehoods? That’s what I was trying to say. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

    Re:28
    “Your clarification in #25 is lost on me. That sort of lends towards eastern notions of a relative universe.”
    Sorry. I tend to be a bit relativistic. I mean, I have strong values shaped by my membership in the church, but I don’t think they’re absolute truths. For every truth I think is absolute, I can concoct a situation in my head in which I would violate that truth. This is my attempt at being comfortable with the various paradoxes in life. I think the ideals libertarian thought is based on are as close to absolute truth that I know. But even so, I wouldn’t claim that with certainty.

    Re:30 Andrew S
    Very well said, I agree wholeheartedly.

  39. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    JMB, how did I know you would take interest in this discussion topic??? You like this, don’t you?

    Ok, here’s a truth for you: If you obey God’s will, you will be blessed.

    I see no way to concoct a situation that disproves that truth.

  40. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    @Cowboy
    “But coming from a western (not to mention LDS) frame of thought, I’m inclined to believe in and seek for absolute truths – though I recognize that that such truths are near impossible to attain. Still, I am more interested in the truth that exists in the world around me.”
    I think this is a pretty good statement. I could go for that. That is, I can believe that there are absolute truths, but realize we can’t attain them. I think this is the heart of my notion though. Truth is a very loaded word. Like I asked before, is 1+0.1=1.1 true? What do we mean by this? Is general relativity true? Is the measure of truth how well a hypothesis conforms to observed reality? What does this definition of truth then imply for religion? I’m suggesting a slight reinterpretation of the word “truth” to mean something that does what it was supposed to do. 1+0.1=1.1 is true in a mathematical context, given the constructs we have developed. Put that in another context and it may not be – like in a computer. For science, we might say that its constructs are designed to describe observable reality. We can then ask, are Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetics “true”? I would say that they coincide well enough that I consider them to be true. But now take Newton’s equations of physics. Are they “true”? Now we have a problem. If we take a black and white view of absolute truth, we would have to say no, they’re not true. Einstein’s relativity superseded them, indeed Newton’s equations produced error. But that’s only part of the story. In fact, Newton’s equations could be considered to be true here on earth. It’s only in very interesting situations where Newton’s and Einstein’s equations produce significantly different results.

    Another way to look at this is from the standpoint of what it means to be false. Does being in error mean something is false? If so, then all of science is false, since there is error in everything, every equation, every law, every hypothesis. What does this idea of falsehood mean for religion? Why should we expect something else from religion? In this way, I suggest that science, like each religion is both true and not true. That is, it contains accuracies and does what it was designed to do, all while having error and inaccuracies as well.

    The point is, we’ve thrown around the word “true” in this thread very loosely. Why can’t all religions be true in the same way that Newton’s and Einstein’s equations are both “true”? And by the same token, why can’t they all be false when compared to some absolute unknowable “truth”?

    In any case, I’m just throwing out ideas, not claiming that I’ve got it figured out and everyone should listen to me. It’s just an idea.

  41. July 21, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    re 40:
    Another way to look at this is from the standpoint of what it means to be false. Does being in error mean something is false? If so, then all of science is false, since there is error in everything, every equation, every law, every hypothesis. What does this idea of falsehood mean for religion? Why should we expect something else from religion? In this way, I suggest that science, like each religion is both true and not true. That is, it contains accuracies and does what it was designed to do, all while having error and inaccuracies as well.

    Remember…science is not an equation, a hypothesis, a theory, a law. These may be products and fruits of science, but it is *not* science. Science is a *method*. Science is a means to *progress*.

  42. Cowboy
    July 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    JMB275:

    I am not sure I am understanding your point. The idea that I have particular trouble with is that “all religions are true, and yet false at the same time”. I can accept that each religion contains some truth, some error, or creates some social benefits, while also representing some social obstacle. However, when we refer to whether or not a religion is “true” (particularly Mormonism), we are not generally suggesting that it is “good” per se, but rather that it is actually an institution put in motion by God, with the intention of being a vehicle for accomplishing divine purposes. Implicit in this is the position that, speaking from a Mormon context:

    1) God lives, and functions in a family unit, in addition to presiding over the Universe (our planet among other peopled worlds) in an executive council known as the Godhead.

    2) This world in some way or another was directly organized/created by him, among the hosts of heaven, of which we may have been apart.

    3) That each person who has ever lived, does now live, or ever will live, had a literal existence defined as Eternal, prior to our births on this planet. Inherent with that lineage is the promise and reality that when we die physically, our existence and intellegence/conscious awareness, continues uninterupted in a form called “spirit” and in a realm divided someway into two parts called “Spirit Prison” or “Paradise”.

    4) under some divine law, man in mortal existence can demonstrate weaknesses and commit infractions known as sins, which bear “Eternal” consequences relating to our existence after mortal life. Our outcomes after mortal life will provide for the expanding or limiting of our authority, as well as placing our existence into spheres of existence called Kingdoms which exist in degrees of “glory”.

    5) Central to our ability to perform well in mortality is the provision of a literal condescension of deity, who’s personal mortal bodily sacrifice creates the means to reconcile the unknown effects of sin, that would otherwise impede our ability to progress

    6) In addition to reconciling the heavens against mortal imperfection, Jesus, by virtue of his literal physical rising from the dead, has enabled that all mankind will eventually be reconstituted in mortal form following death, to be judged and sentenced (for good or for ill) to said Kingdoms, where each will exist physically and literally for eternity – never to die again – in association will beneficiaries of the same sphere.

    The reality behind these claims cannot be subject to relative – “it’s true, and it’s not true” – logic. It either is, or is not. This is why I am struggling with your comments.

  43. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Re: Heber13
    You know me too well!! ;)

    “If you obey God’s will, you will be blessed.”
    A few thoughts. First, this isn’t fair. Maybe I never shared with you, but this is in fact the only absolute “truth” I could ever come to as a TBM. It was the only way I could reconcile Nephi killing Laban, Battle of Jericho, etc. etc. You’re using my own ideas against me!!

    Having said this, I would approach this differently now. What you say may be true, but I am not convinced there is any way for me to reliably know what God’s will is. Also, even if we could know with certainty what God’s will is, there is no way for me, or you, or anyone, to demonstrate that a specific outcome was caused by obeying God’s it. To do this you would have to choose an outcome that you felt was a direct result of obedience to God’s will and demonstrate the causal relationship. But by doing so how would we allow for the idea that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we think or want. That’s a basic idea in Mormonism, that God answers prayers in His own way, and in His own time.

    However, I would say that we have been counseled that some things are God’s will, and that we will blessed as a result of natural consequences. For example, if I don’t fornicate, I won’t have to deal with teenage pregnancy. That’s a blessing from obeying God’s will right? But it’s also a natural consequence, and I could have known this without any knowledge of it being God’s will.

    Now, let me ask you one. Do you know of, or have ever heard of God healing an amputee?

  44. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Re: 41
    “Remember…science is not an equation, a hypothesis, a theory, a law. These may be products and fruits of science, but it is *not* science. Science is a *method*. Science is a means to *progress*.”
    Exactly. I should have been more clear. I guess by saying that “all science is false” I’m getting at the hypotheses, equations, etc. Sorry, thanks for clarifying Andrew S.

  45. Cowboy
    July 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    JMB275:

    I think we were both typing our recent commets at the same time. Your recent explanation seems to clear things up for me little, and I think I see where you are coming from in terms of relativity. As I said before I will take some time to try and sort this out, but I think we are approaching the limit here from opposing sides.

  46. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    #44, JMB wrote “However, I would say that we have been counseled that some things are God’s will, and that we will blessed as a result of natural consequences. For example, if I don’t fornicate, I won’t have to deal with teenage pregnancy. That’s a blessing from obeying God’s will right? But it’s also a natural consequence, and I could have known this without any knowledge of it being God’s will.”

    This is consistent to me. That is what universal truth is…it is the right thing to do to achieve positive natural consequences. Whether I know it is God’s will or just laws of the universe (which would also be God’s will although I may not know it), it is truth to me.

    JMB: “Now, let me ask you one. Do you know of, or have ever heard of God healing an amputee?”

    Luke 22:
    50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
    51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.

  47. July 21, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Oh! Burn!

  48. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    39.

    What is your point?

    Bachelors are not married.

    There is a truth that cannot be disproved.

    So what?

  49. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    #48: Just asking JMB275 if he agrees with you that there is a truth that cannot be disproved…or if he feels any truth you give him, he can “concoct a situation in my head in which I would violate that truth”

    I believe there are universal truths that are not subjective. Understanding the universal truths to our subjective perceptions is the conundrum.

  50. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    @Cowboy
    Let me try one more time. I apologize for not being more clear. Writing is not really my forte.

    “I can accept that each religion contains some truth, some error, or creates some social benefits, while also representing some social obstacle.”

    In some sense, I’m really not saying anything more complicated than this. But I think you’re still judging them from the position of observable reality. How exactly would you know whether or not a religion contains some truth, or some error unless you had some absolute measuring stick? You have said you believe in absolute truth, but don’t know what it is. So what measuring stick are we using? Observable reality most likely. That’s a fair measuring stick for science because that’s what it was designed to describe. But religion isn’t IMHO.

    “However, when we refer to whether or not a religion is “true” (particularly Mormonism), we are not generally suggesting that it is “good” per se, but rather that it is actually an institution put in motion by God, with the intention of being a vehicle for accomplishing divine purposes.”

    Exactly right. But this, once again, goes back to the definition of “true.” I’m proposing a reinterpretation of that term based on how well something fulfills the measure of its design. All those points you brought up are exactly valid, and Mormonism accepts those as true. You are right, the reality of these claims cannot be relative. But let me ask you, can you show they are true? Each one of those points is an untestable hypothesis. So why judge them against observable reality which is testable?

    “The reality behind these claims cannot be subject to relative – “it’s true, and it’s not true” – logic. It either is, or is not. This is why I am struggling with your comments.”

    It’s not so much a matter of relativity as it is about the definition of “true.” Truth could mean how well one fulfills the measure of its creation. As a spiritual comparison we might use the judgment. Do we really want (or even believe) that Christ will judge us according to some absolute standard of which we were unaware? Does this not assume that each of us were equally capable of living up to the standards and utilizing the atonement and discovering God’s will? Wouldn’t it be more fair, and more merciful to judge each of us in our sphere of abilities, circumstance, and knowledge?

    It’s the same idea. We judge science’s “truthfulness” against observable reality BECAUSE that’s what it was designed to describe. Why judge religion against the same? Why not judge religion based on how well it does what it was designed to do. I think it was designed to help me transcend the physical. That’s all I expect from it, no more, no less. I don’t expect it prove to me that there is a God, or that I have a spirit, or that there is life after death, or how old the earth is, or whether or not we descended from apes. Those are all nice ideas, and have spiritual value to me, but I don’t accept them as reality.

  51. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I see. I agree Heber. That is the ultimate conundrum. What is real? What is true? And if you find something real and true, how do you know it’s not just real and true to you?

    And there you have it folks, metaphysics.

    You could spend a lifetime studying what the worlds great thinkers have said about this subject and still scratch your head about it.

    Or just watch the matrix and accept that you are plugged into it.

  52. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Dexter, but that doesn’t mean I give up trying. Just that I have faith that as I seek to find the truth, I will be led closer and closer to it.

    It is the pursuit of happiness/truth that provides the value to me, not having it spoon fed to me.

  53. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    @Heber13
    “This is consistent to me. That is what universal truth is…it is the right thing to do to achieve positive natural consequences.”

    But I didn’t say in my example that it was always true, or always the right thing to do. What if there were only one male and one female left on earth and they weren’t married. Would it then be the “right” thing to do to fornicate? We could come up with the “what if” cases on this all day. I still maintain that if people discovered whether or not they were sexually compatible before marriage there would likely be less divorce. Given the abundance of methods for preventing pregnancy, I don’t see the downside. I sense that you assume that what is the general rule of thumb, is absolute truth. I don’t ascribe it that status. A good idea, yes, always right, probably not.

    You know, in this context it’s strange to me about Mormons (and maybe other religions). We ascribe the “good rule of thumb” to absolute truth status when it suits us, but ignore the “good rule of thumb” that those who claim visions, and other paranormal activities are often cult leaders, or that organizations who don’t have good checks and balances become authoritarian and destroy personal freedom. It’s like Joseph, and our church are the proverbial “Black Swan” but everything else we claim exactly coincides with generalities and are therefore absolute truths. If we accept general rules of thumbs as universal truth – “the right thing to do to achieve positive natural consequences” then I think there will be some conflict. To me there is too much variation, too much subjectivity to claim any such thing as absolute truth. But I digress because I am diverging from the topic at hand.

    JMB: “Now, let me ask you one. Do you know of, or have ever heard of God healing an amputee?”

    Luke 22:
    50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
    51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.

    Okay, come on now, how about in real life? A documented case. The scriptures also claim Methuselah lived to be almost 1000 years old.

  54. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    @Heber
    “Understanding the universal truths to our subjective perceptions is the conundrum.”
    Yes it is, and in my estimation I would say it is a conundrum not solvable by us.

    @Dexter
    “What is real? What is true? And if you find something real and true, how do you know it’s not just real and true to you?”
    Exactly!

    @Heber
    “Dexter, but that doesn’t mean I give up trying. Just that I have faith that as I seek to find the truth, I will be led closer and closer to it. It is the pursuit of happiness/truth that provides the value to me, not having it spoon fed to me.”
    That is a great statement. I agree wholeheartedly. But then on our journey why not admit that we might not know? Why not admit that we might not know if being a homosexual is okay with God? Why not admit there might be a time when fornication would be okay? Why do we claim some things are Absolute Truth” but then others we say “Just that I have faith that as I seek to find the truth, I will be led CLOSER and CLOSER to it.”

  55. MH
    July 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I want a 5th choice in your poll, (and I love to quote Rabbi Nachminides), “His writings directed the person of faith to realize that there is much more hidden than revealed, both in the traditional Biblical writings and also in the natural world. Our challenge is to continually study and investigate both realms, with the realization that apparent conflicts are merely artifacts of temporary incomplete understanding in one or both realms.”

  56. Dexter
    July 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I agree Heber. This is my view on life. It’s not about KNOWING. It’s about the journey of trying to discover the truth. Even if you don’t find it, a life spent in search of truth is better than a life where the truth was given to you, in my opinion. Because it is not about having truth, it is about seeking it.

  57. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    #56: Because it is not about having truth, it is about seeking it.

    I would add…it is even more about experiencing it. I could have stayed up in heaven and studied about truth until the eternal cows come home.

    But the real value is EXPERIENCING life. What choice will I make when faced with real consequences?

    @JMB275: Why not admit I don’t know? Ok. I admit I don’t know everything and I don’t think things I think I know are all universal truths (I’ve been wrong before and will be wrong again). But I do know that my talk last night with my teenage daughter about abstinance before marriage is the truth I believe in based on personal experience on how to avoid certain dangers in life. I do not believe truth is based on the “rule of thumb” because abstinance is certainly not the rule of thumb in our society – I believe there is a Father in Heaven who sees things perfectly and communicates to prophets and to individuals how to find happiness. That is my hope and my faith. So I seek His truth.

    Do I think the Church teaches all the truth perfectly? No, but it teaches a lot of it and it points me in the direction to get closer and closer to that truth.

  58. jmb275
    July 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    @Heber13
    “But I do know that my talk last night with my teenage daughter about abstinance before marriage is the truth I believe in based on personal experience on how to avoid certain dangers in life.”

    Now that’s a fair statement!! Works for me.

  59. July 21, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I COMPLETELY agree about “experiencing” truth. Couples always want to know more about “how to communicate” or “what to do differently” but unless they emotionally experience these things in therapy there probably won’t me much change. Maybe some insight, but nothing lasting.

  60. Heber13
    July 21, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    #58 JMB. Holy cow! We agree??? ;-)

    I’ll add this about the truth…if my daughter slips up, gets preggo (I hope she doesn’t know how to find mormonmatters.org), and has an out of wedlock baby, then I’ll love her and teach her the truth about how that baby will be the most important thing in her life.

    And so the truth I think can all come together in one great truth, which at the top of that apex has soemthing to do with Love. I think all truth flows from that love, which is God.

  61. hawkgrrrl
    July 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Dex said: “It’s not about KNOWING. It’s about the journey of trying to discover the truth.” I agree, and I think this is why science and religion are both so alike. Both are ways of trying to discover truth, but both are prone to forget that they are not about KNOWING, but about discovery.

  62. Imperfection
    July 21, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    61: The advantage science has is that it recognizes that it is being practiced by failable men/women and it has built into its method self-correcting mechanisms. Religions, though they may begin as sincere attempts to gain deeper understanding, quickly become power centers were men seek dominion and control of other men in the name of god. Authority and hierarchy dominate and stifle the kind of free and open thinking required for making honest inquiry of our world.

    Where they really differ is in their ability to understand nature (god’s creation) and improve the lives we live. Here, science wins hands down. Kind of ironic huh?

  63. pjbrownie
    July 21, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    My issue with this question comes from the assumption that we know what science is. If we could all test hypotheses from an empirical standpoint, then science is unerring. Curious that personal religion has the same sort of approach. It is duplicable as well as empirical. It is however, not a double blind study and the measurements and the observation are completely internal and not recordable for outside observance. This is the problem with religion AS science.

    Back to knowing what science is. By the time science is communicated to us, the unwashed, it goes through several layers or filters. Often these filters have agendas or biases that are unreliable. I stared to move over to the Darwainist camp a few years ago, but with a greater understanding of the politics and business of science, I have now become more skeptical. This isn’t to say that I am now a young earther, but that I now do not trust the textbook and media feeding I have been getting. There is too much political and ideological gum in the system for me to trust it. Case in point . . . global warming. How is the science settled when over 700 scientists disagree. Sometimes abstracts that are fed to media outlets spin a different digestion that one finds in the body of the work. Peer review isn’t free from personal biases. The granting mechanisms in the ivy leagues are wholeheartedly owned by some very shady foundations that are tied to early 20th Century progressivism and its offspring. Science is politics. Science is religion. And science is business.

    Like all things a skeptic should be, the system of science information has its own subjectivity that it must deal with.

  64. Clark
    July 22, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Heber C. Kimball said it best, “TRUTH WILL PREVAIL” Mormonism is brave enough to claim that all truth will be accepted in this religion. (This is taughtin the temple, among other places). As noted above, science is moving towards the truth, and in the past has forced religion to change (Galileo anyone?) Religion is also moving closer to the truth (A softer stance on evolution?) My firm belief is that when the puzzle of life is complete, true religion and true science will harmonize perfectly.

  65. July 22, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I got to this thread very late, but really have enjoyed where it’s gone. I’d like to add a couple of points.

    The division of science and religion into separate categories is itself something of an accident of history. The Greeks, at least, developed the steam engine, and didn’t USE it for anything except demonstration of “divine” or philosophical principles.

    Even the great dispute between Mr. G and the church wasn’t over the CONTENT of the science. It wasn’t a comflict between science and religion so much as a conflict between two political religious factions, and Mr. G mocked the wrong church politician. The church was fine with the notion of a sun-centered system; what it could not tolerate in a time when Protestantism was becoming a full-blown limb of Christianity was the notion that the church had no final authority to decide what was true.

    I sincerely believe that God is as responsible for the rise of Western science as He is for the rise of the Restoration. In fact, I became a physicist because of a personal revelation in which I was commanded to study science. I think they are BOTH tools given us for our benefit and as means for God to accomplish eternally significant purposes in our world.

    But I think that they are tools that are also supposed to sharpen each other. I believe in God as strongly now as I did as a child, but, as a result of my study of science, I believe (I hope more accurately) very different things about God than I used to.

    Because I believe, I also find I tackle different science issues because of the teachings of my religion than I would otherwise, and I’ve always tried to take jobs that might allow me to best influence the use of science discoveries for moral good (as I understand that good).

  66. jmb275
    July 22, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Re: 62, 63, 65
    Very well said each of you. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  67. July 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I always show up late and miss the party (and ironically I was buried writing a paper on theology and evolution). I agree that science and religion are two ways of knowing. In harmonizing the two both are strengthened. For me it’s learning to ask the right questions of each. I don’t think we can neglect either way of knowing. However, my biggest fear, and I see this, is the growing anti-intellectualism that hides behind religion when it is faced with hard questions. Those things that become well established by scientific investigation must be taken very seriously, like evolution. There are a range of responses to the science religion question, but one of the most harmful is the growing fundamentalism (little f) sweeping the world. This seems a move back to the dark ages. A bad thing.

  68. Shadow
    July 23, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” – Einstein

  69. Kari
    July 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” – Einstein

    I am always intrigued when I hear Mormons quote Einstein thus (and I’m assuming Shadow is LDS, which may be incorrect), as this quote comes from an article in which Einstein was arguing against the idea of a personal God. I think if most LDS really understood Einstein’s religious beliefs, or more accurately his lack of religious belief, they would be less likely to quote him.

  70. Ray
    July 24, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Kari, fwiw, I couldn’t care less what someone’s overall beliefs are when I find a great quote. John Stuart Mill said some amazing things, but I certainly don’t like a lot of other things he said. So what? If Hitler or Stalin said something spot-on and wonderful (which each did on occassion, btw), I’ll quote him; I just won’t quote the majority of what the SOB said.

  71. July 24, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I agree with Ray on this one, although it reminds me of a West Wing episode, where POTUS is given a map of the Holy Land circa 1700, and of course there is no Israel on it. He wants it framed outside the Oval Office, but everyone tells him not to do it because “people will be offended.” He gets all irate about this (and I agree with him) because, after all, THERE WAS NO ISRAEL in that time. It doesn’t matter though, because people will still be offended anyway. Same thing with Hitler or Stalin or anyone else in that category, they may have said some good things, but it’s just too risky imho to quote anything positive they said.

    Re: Einstein, I think it is unfortunate that both sides (atheists and believers alike) seem to use him to back up their arguments, at the very least, I agree we should not be misrepresenting what he may have really believed.

  72. Jen
    July 24, 2009 at 10:42 am

    AdamF-

    I think Ray is saying that he WOULD quote something Hitler or Stalin said if it is spot-on and wonderful, and you are saying that you think it is too risky because of the chance of offending someone. Is that correct? I got thrown off because you say at the beginning of your comment that you agree with Ray on this one.

    I know personally that I would never give Hitler any attention by quoting something he said. The harm he did to society far outweighs anything he could have ever said that merits any attention.

  73. Dexter
    July 24, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    67.

    I do not think that science needs religion or that science is strengthened by harmonizing itself with religion.

  74. Dexter
    July 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Ray, this isn’t about a great quote from a bad man. Kari makes a great point that helps clarify what Einsein’s quote means.

  75. July 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Jen, you forgot that I’m so prone to speak out of both sides of my mouth. ;) Really, I think sometimes I agree upfront to get people to relax, then strike when they’re unawares!

    Or maybe I just compusively agree with Ray, lol. I totally feel like a yes-man to him sometimes. :D

  76. Dexter
    July 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I agree with Adam that this is a good strategy. But it’s really a terrible strategy because it’s unclear.

  77. July 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Actually, I think I just wanted a reason to mention The West Wing. I definitely have a thing for Sam Seaborn.

  78. July 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Ok, for reals now Jen, I agree with Ray in the sense that an otherwise horrible person can be right or “spot on” on something, and I have no problem with including that in my studies. My only addition (and perhaps the area of disagreement) would be I wouldn’t offer said quote in a sacrament meeting talk, a la “Ol’ Hitler said something that was spot on…”

  79. Ray
    July 24, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Regarding Einstein, I don’t believe I need to give a dissertation on someone’s overall beliefs in order to quote something s/he said. If the person said it, it can be quoted – as long as the words aren’t twisted to change the meaning. The Einstein quote, I believe, can stand on its own without clarifying commentary.

    If I were going to quote Hitler or Stalin or any other SOB (and I DON’T include Einstein in that characterization at all), I would do so with a HUGE introductory disclaimer – or even a humorous one like,

    “You know, even a lousy, evil SOB like Hitler recognized that . . .”

    My main point is very simple:

    I try very hard not to call good evil – and I try very hard to see good even amid the bad. I have no problem whatsoever validating what someone says that I feel is good, correct, uplifting, edifying, etc. – even if I disagree with the other 99% of what they say. Once I close my mind to good from any source, I believe I begin to close my mind to MANY others sources – and that’s not a path I even want to start to pursue. I understand the risks of that decision, but I also understand the risks of a closed mind – even if it is only partially closed.

    There is a regular commenter in the Bloggernacle whose focus and overall effort I despise – and I choose that word intentionally. However, I still learn from his comments once in a while. As one of my favorite Bishop’s used to say (quoting exactly, so don’t read if you are offended by what some consider to be coarse language),

    “The gold is worth the shit you have to shovel to get to it.”

  80. Dexter
    July 24, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Ray, I agree with you that a good quote from a terrible person can still have value. I don’t think anyone disagrees about that. If someone wanted to quote Hitler about the power of propaganda, it would make sense, because Hitler was, unfortunately, a master at using propaganda to rally the masses behind him. But it would not make sense to quote Hitler if he said something about the value of the Jewish people, because his actions so obviously contradicted such a belief.

    Similarly, Einstein’s quote loses meaning, in my opinion, if members of the LDS church use it to promote the idea that the LDS doctrines and form of worship coincides with science because Einstein’s quote did not support the interaction of religion and science in that sense. In fact, Einstein believed that organized religions, such as those that believed in the bible, were antagonists to science and were nothing more than childish superstitions. So the quote used in this thread, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind,” when being used to support the idea that Einstein believed that the LDS religion (or any other judeo-christian religion) progressed hand in hand with science is not just misleading, but it is absolutely false.

    Einstein said: “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These … interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

  81. Kari
    July 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I too believe that a good quote has value, no matter who it comes from, but context is important. I wouldn’t quote Hannibal Lecter saying “Liver is good for you” (if he actually said it) to support the nutritional value of eating liver. His background as a psychopathic cannibal is important in understanding any quote used from him.

    The Einstein quote, I believe, can stand on its own without clarifying commentary. Ray #79

    I would have to disagree. This quote out of context by religious folks to lend credence to the idea that religion, usually meant to mean organized religion, is of equal value to science (and was how I interpreted Shadow posting it as a comment, but I may be wrong). But that is certainly not what Einstein meant in the article from which this quote comes. The paragraph immediately after this quote reads:

    Though I have asserted above that in truth a legitimate conflict between religion and science cannot exist, I must nevertheless qualify this assertion once again on an essential point, with reference to the actual content of historical religions. This qualification has to do with the concept of God. During the youthful period of mankind’s spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man’s own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favor by means of magic and prayer. The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes.

    And two paragraphs latter he leads, “The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God.”

    And he closes the article thus:

    But whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain [science] is moved by profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of the understanding he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious, in the highest sense of the word. And so it seems to me that science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life.

    The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. In this sense I believe that the priest must become a teacher if he wishes to do justice to his lofty educational mission.

    Hardly a ringing endorsement of Judea-Christian thought and organized religion. So, to follow your example, when using this particular quote from Einstein, maybe it should be led with , “You know, even Einstein, an avowed agnostic, recognized the importance of religious feeling when he said…”

  82. Kari
    July 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Well, if I could type better, my comment after quoting Ray would have read, “I would have to disagree. This quote is taken out of context…”

  83. July 24, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Hmm…that’s really interesting (along as the rest of the article from which Einstein’s quote came). So it appears he was arguing for a sort of “nonoverlapping magisteria” thing too.

  84. Ray
    July 24, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I am well aware of the context of the quote. I think the quote, by itself, without twisting commentary, can stand on its own.

    The objection, as stated clearly by Kari, is with the **assumed** meaning behind Shadow’s posting of it – NOT with anything Shadow actually said about it. That was my point – that the quote by itself doesn’t incorrectly express what the rest of the statement following it expresses. It’s only when additional meaning / interpretation is imbued into it that a problem arises. It’s one thing to not like it when people quote something out of context to prove a point with which the origin would not agree; it’s another thing entirely to assume that was the intent when it is not clear at all that such an intent existed. Iow, it’s not fair to argue with one person based on how other people have acted and continue to act when that first person isn’t engaging obviously in the tactic being decried.

    In one way, at least, this is personal for me. There have been multiple times when someone has read a comment or post of mine and reacted to what they perceived to be my underlying, unexpressed meaning – when, in reality, there was no such hidden meaning, and when I ended up agreeing completely with the “rebuttal” to my comment or post. That’s frustrating, so I try very hard to respond only to what someone actually says or quotes. In that context, I think Einstein’s quote, as posted by Shadow, can stand on its own. I think it sums up his argument quite well when no additional commentary is added.

  85. Heber13
    July 25, 2009 at 1:16 am

    I’d like to go back to jmb275′s comment on July 21st, post#54

    “Why not admit that we might not know if being a homosexual is okay with God? Why not admit there might be a time when fornication would be okay? Why do we claim some things are Absolute Truth” but then others we say “Just that I have faith that as I seek to find the truth, I will be led CLOSER and CLOSER to it.””

    This to me is critically important in discussing Religion vs Science. I believe Religion takes faith, which is to accept some things are truth to me without physical proof, but relying on spiritual proof. Science cannot get into spiritual proofs, and therefore fails in that area. It doesn’t mean science is less important that religion, just out of its field of study.

    I have faith the creation was done in 6 creative periods because God said that. There is a point where we let go of proving scientifically if fornication is ok, and simply knowing that if God said it, then I accept that as my faith. IOW, it is not so much about proving “right” or “wrong”, but viewing some things as “God’s will” and therefore what I will accept, even without proof. How can you possibly have faith if you don’t know? Because you know God’s characteristics, and have faith in Him. Maybe I don’t know about fornication or about homosexuality, but I have my confidence in the nature of God. God cannot lie, God cannot change universal laws, God cannot be ignorant of anything… and by that, I can set my starting point of what I view as truth without having to know it all.

    Can I prove God has a body? No. So must I admit I don’t know? No. Because, unlike Thomas, I can have faith in what God said instead of what my intellect tells me. God told Joseph Smith who wrote it down as a prophet, I prayed and received a witness, and so now I know God has a body. My faith isn’t in Joseph Smith, but in God because God has the infallible characteristics that I can place my faith in, without using science.

    I hope that makes sense. I really think that is critical in discussing this topic. It is not science vs. “touchy feely spiritual emotional hopes and beliefs where my brain must be turned off”. Religion is grounded on faith in the Omnipotent Supreme Being, and therefore can be taken as truth without a perfect knowledge of things. A religion founded on anything other than this will not stand on its own, and one with misplaced faith will eventually fall like the house built on sand.

    So, figure it out on your own through science, or gain a testimony of God’s characteristics so that you can place a solid faith in His teachings such that you can truthfully say, “I know that is true because of my religion.”