The myth of the incompatibility of science and religion

One of the questions in the survey about non-believers joining or not joining groups asked about whether science and religion were compatible.

The question "are science and religion compatible" is nonsense, because it suffers from the fallacy of overgeneralization. Obviously, most religious believers have no problem with 99.999% of what they learn from science, otherwise they would not use cars, or refrigerators, or cell phones or plows or wheels or weather charts.

Of course, the Amish reject much of 20th century technology, but that proves my point. The Amish have decided, from the perspective of their religious views, that they do not want to integrate certain technology into their lives. The Amish do not say that the science underlying internal combustion engines is untrue, they reject the use of certain technologies because they believe that their simpler life makes it easier for them to carry out God's will. They use paint and wheels and horseshoes and textiles, all of which are the products of scientific reasoning. So the religion of the Amish is not incompatible with science.

The same holds true for creationists. Their religion is not incompatible with science. If it were, they would reject all of physics, chemistry and biology, which they don't. In fact, the YEC's spend a lot of effort trying to show that their beliefs are scientifically-based. The reason they fail, of course, is because they are arguing from their conclusions, which is a logical fallacy - a pretty common one, really, and one that even supposedly rational atheists are not immune to. To say that the religion of creationists is incompatible with science is untrue. What's true is that their religious beliefs cause them to reject specific conclusions about certain scientific phenomenon.

The vast majority of scientists hold some sort of religious belief, yet they turn out excellent results that get published in peer-reviewed journals and are used by other religionists to develop new technologies and medical products and procedures that we non-believers use every day. If you, dear reader, believe that religion and science are incompatible, then I expect you to live by your beliefs and reject every piece of technology and every industrial product in your life (including the computer you are about to use to tell me I'm full of hooey) until you can prove that the science involved in its creation was not tainted by the incompatible beliefs of religionists.

Thanks for reading.

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No, some creationists do reject science, and think it's the work of the "devil." I guess that doesn't make their belief incompatible, they just don't count.  And your assertion that most scientists hold some sort of religious belief is totally wrong.  Quite the opposite.

Let's be realistic, most religionists would correctly claim that the science behind electo-mechanical devices and a belief in the divine can logically coexist in a person. In fact, consider this - throughout history, many very different religions have been created by man. If the actual, proven, testable science behind the creation of existence and everything in it were known and written down, I probably could be persuaded to agree to consider that document to be a religious doctrine. Until then, every unproven, untestable version of the creation of existence and everything in it, as espoused by a religion, are equally meaningless.

Science and religion are totally incompatable! Now, let me explain. I do not know of any scientists that hold creationist beliefs. It is in error to say the vast majority of scientists hold some sort of religious belief. They may have held such beliefs as a child, but those beliefs fell away as the person became a scientist. Simply put, we do not look for quantum theory during the week and pray to a sky daddy on Sunday.

For a religionist it is all very different! You can believe in creation and the computer at the same time. In fact, you need the computer to comunicate daily and get across your message that everything is compatable with Genesis and that god is real. Some are backwards deliberately. The Amish, certain fundy groups, etc. who would not have a TV inside their houses, let alone a computer. I see the religious as living in a world where (to degrees) they have to accept the computer, but I do not see any true scientist as having to accept the sky daddy!

This is the problem and the dilemma of christians and atheists. This is why christians see atheists as thick headed and not intelligent. The christian is living in our world but cannot see why we do not accept theirs. It's as if we are all children playing and out of the blue some kid comes by saying " I don't understand why you cannot believe that Bobby is your father." As an atheist we might know what they are talking about but the logic and rationale are not there. It just does not compute.

NO, science and religion are not compatable!

The claim that scientists are not believers is an unfounded assertion. A person can easily discover that the majority of scientists are believers by actually talking to scientists about what they believe, as I have done over my scientific career of the past 15 years. Since I have direct experience with scientists who are believers and still do good science, that is, published in peer-reviewed journals and/or used as the basis for development of effective medical treatments, I would need to see proof, rather than just assertions, of the claim that most scientists are not believers.

The problem with the claim that religion and science are incompatible, as I have noted above and as has yet to be effectively refuted, is that if the claim were true, then religious believers would not be able to do science. But a quick perusal of this Wikipedia link shows that there have been many Christians who were scientists, and some of those won Nobel Prizes for their work, and, more importantly, other scientists based their own work on the ideas and efforts of believers who were scientists.

Those who claim incompatibility between science and religion can feel as badly as they'd like and make assertions until the cows come home but, as we remind theists all the time: Feelings and assertions are not proof. I've provided evidence that religionists can and do produce excellent scientific results, therefore, science and religion are not incompatible.

WELL, ME

I've read every word of what you have said here and you have provided no evidence of anything whatsoever! I'm supposed to believe something that ME claims when I have no proof of who you are, what scientists you have studied and worked with (or under) as well as what fields you claim to be science or otherwise.

The mere claim that religious believers would not be able to do science if science and religion were truely incompatible is almost absurd! I suppose you also believe that all black people have natural abilities to sing and dance.

Let me tell you why most scientists are not believers. True scientists that is. In case you missed my assertion that scientists do not work on quantum theory during the week and pray to a sky daddy on Sunday, try this one. There is no evidence for anything supernatural! None! Zilch! Zero! A true scientist will tell you this because they need evidence. That means there is no evidence for sky daddy. None! Zilch! Zero!

EXACTLY Mike!  I'm suspecting ME is a believer in Atheist clothing.

If it quacks like a believer.....

lol Spud~ :)

Now "the majority of scientists are believers."

I know some desendants of Jesse and Frank James. I'm going to ask them if they are bank and train robbers. I've suspected it for years.Circular logic is one thing. Flawed logic is certainly something else.

It is correct that there is no evidence for any god(s), but we all know that people who believe in god(s) do not rely on evidence for their belief, they rely on faith.

You have not shown how a person who has faith in Yahweh or any other god cannot do effective science. I showed that not only can believers do effective science, some of them are such "true" scientists (you didn't bother defining what you meant by "true scientists," so I'm defining it myself) that they have won Nobel Prizes in their field of science and other scientists, both those that believe in god(s) and those that don't, use their work to further their respective fields.

Unless you are using your own, special, secret meaning of "incompatible," then you need to make a logical case that people who believe in god(s) cannot do science that is just as good, just as "true," as those who are atheists. I'm using the definition of incompatible from wiktionary.org:

     Of two things: impossible to coexist; not congrous because of differences; irreconcilable; disagreeing.

I emphasize "impossible to coexist" in the definition to show why I claimed earlier that a religionist could not do science if the two were incompatible, because it would be impossible for science and religion to coexist in their mind.

We'll start with William Henry Bragg, from the list I linked to. We'll focus on one person, whom we can all research, so that any statements by me or by you-all about who we knew or worked with do not factor into the discussion.

Wikipedia says that,"Bragg was Anglican and had a license to preach at his local church." That makes him a believer by any rational definition of the term.

He worked in analyzing crystal structure using X-rays and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915.

Rosalind Franklin used X-rays herself to analyze the crystal structure of DNA and helped Watson and Crick figure out the double helix. Since W.H. Bragg (and son) won the NP for just such work, it would not be far-fetched to surmise that she used techniques they developed. That's why people are awarded the NP: Because their work advances the whole endeavor of science.

So I just made three logical points, using two pieces of evidence and one conjecture that is very likely to be true to show that 1) W.H. Bragg was a believer, 2) He won the NP in Physics for his scientific work, and 3) other scientists most likely relied on his work to advance their own.

This shows me that Bragg was an effective scientist and that his religious belief had no negative effect on his ability to do science. Therefore, science and religion are not incompatible in the person of W.H. Bragg. If science and religion are incompatible, they would be incompatible in every case. I have demonstrated an instance where the statement "science and religion are incompatible" is false. Basic logic says that if a general statement is to be considered true, it must be true in every case. If it is false for one case, then the general statement is false.

You have two questions to answer:

1) How is William Henry Bragg not a "true" scientist?

2) How the scientific work he did incompatible with his religious belief? 

Again: Your feelings are irrelevant. Your unsupported assertions are irrelevant. Hurling ad homimens at me is irrelevant. Use logic and evidence to prove your claim.

You just used one scientist from 100 years ago. Where is your data on modern scientists?

"you have not shown that a person who has faith in Yahweh or any other god cannot do effective science."

I didn't make that claim, ME. I never said that a believer could not do effective science. What I said was that a true scientist was not a believer. You can't do quantum physics today and still worship a sky daddy on Sunday. You picked a scientist from 100 years ago as an example. Maybe they were more compatible then. Faith is stagnant and cut and dried. Science moves on almost daily. Faith never changes. Science is always changing.

This is exactly why I say that no true scientist today is a believer. Science demands evidence.

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