Thursday, November 04, 2010

Science vs. Religion, Reality vs. Myth - By Ray Edison Refundo



lightningBelow is another article from Ray, which I largely agree with. I particularly like the discussion of the beginnings of religion -- basically, primitive attribution of mythic reasoning (a bit of an oxymoron) conjured by imagination to unknown and incomprehensible phenomenon. Jostein Gaarder makes a similar argument using Old Norse culture and Nordic mythology in the early chapters of his novel Sophie's World (A novel about the history of philosophy).


Compared to most, I am perhaps even more skeptical of the existence of a higher power. But, of course, the nonexistence of a creator is unfounded. The polar opposite and more popular belief, however, remains just as baseless.

As Socrates supposedly said, "The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing." I believe this is the ideal start, instead of force-feeding the young and ignorant with religious doctrine that is to be taken as fact.

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Science vs. Religion, Reality vs. Myth
By Ray Edison Refundo

As the only species who know of the certainty of death, it is no surprise that we looked for answers beyond this world. Imagine yourself as a caveman walking in the savannahs of Africa and you see a giant ball of fire slowly streaming across the sky, giving light and heat, and you witness this phenomenon every day. Or you encounter a ferocious lightning slicing through the heavens followed by an Earth-shaking thunder. How would your primitive consciousness react to these spectacular shows of nature’s power? A consciousness that has no training in logic, mathematics, reason, and science? As sentient beings we wanted answers, and not just answers, but answers we wanted to hear, and that answer was Religion. According to Christopher Hitchens, a syndicated columnist at Vanity Fair magazine, “religion was our first attempt at philosophy, at science, at explaining our existence”. We did not understand the forces that governed nature, the rains, lightning, fires, and the moving celestial bodies in the sky, but more than that we also wanted to understand the meaning of everything we experience. For thousands of years religion has provided us with answers to our deepest questions, and because of this, religion was also instrumental in the development culture. More importantly religion played a critical role in the evolution of society, from the simple tribal chieftain/elder system to the more complex political organizations that has defined what we would consider an “advanced civilization”. It was the latter however that proved to be religion’s catalyst to greater power, tribal egalitarianism simply did not have the mechanism where the clergy could extend its influence, both spiritually and politically. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in Western Europe, the Church took its place and absolutely ruled the lives of people through fear and violence for the next thousand years. The enlightenment came amid the reformation movement within the church in the 16th and 17th centuries, where religious authority began to lose its grip on power. It was in this period that reason and science began to flourish and would eventually become the foundation of our modern technological world. While the Church’s absolute power disappeared its influence most certainly did not.

Today there are billions who still live their lives governed by religious dogmatism. Religion has succeeded more than science in marketing its teachings to ordinary people. There are two main reasons for religion’s success. First is their adoption of modern secular morality. Stoning a sinner to death for sins like adultery is no longer viewed as moral, though the Bible and Quran condone such act. This has made religious teachings more palatable to our modern sense of right and wrong. Second is the hope of an afterlife offered by religion, a very appealing prospect that science cannot match. Until these conditions change, very few people will accept the fact of the possibility that this could be the only life we have. And yet in spite of religion’s success in these areas there are some who would still try to put religious dogmatism at par with scientific truth. There are still many who would say that science in no way contradicts religion, ninety-nine percent of which are people of religion. The question is that which religion does science not contradict? Since all religions effectively contradict each other, then science will contradict all religions but one, the religion of the person saying that science does not contradict religion. Reading between the lines what that person really is saying is that science does not contradict his religion, but contradicts everyone else’s. And how many scientists would actually say that science does not contradict religion? And why is it that it’s mostly the religious who would want science to agree with them and not the other way around? Because everyone now implicitly agrees that science enjoys credibility that religion do not have, because science has proven itself as the only method that can actually determine the truth, again and again and again. The real question now is that why does science get it right most of the time? Because science arrives at conclusions very differently from the way religion does. Religion starts with doctrine, then tries to defend that doctrine after it was created. Science starts with observation, then hypothesis. That hypothesis is put to the most rigorous intellectual critique and experimentation. Once a theory is formed it could still be subjected to further analysis when new evidence is found either for or against it. This difference explains the non-existent or very little disagreement among scientist when it comes to the major theories that science have postulated for the past 200 years. It is simply easier to achieve consensus if the basis for any belief is reason and evidence. It also explains why religion is divided into so many smaller groups, groups claiming that they are the ones who got it right. Yes one can argue that there have been divisions within science on certain theories, but this mostly only happens when a theory is still in its early stages of development. A good example is Fred Hoyle’s infinite steady state theory about the Universe. Fred Hoyle argued for years against the Big Bang theory. Then the cosmic background radiation that the Big Bang theory predicted was discovered, scientist began to gravitate towards the Big Bang theory. Religion would have just divided the camps into two groups that will keep disagreeing no matter what the evidence shows, and that is not how science operates. The very rigorous discussion of open minded/non-dogmatic scientists using evidence and logic to present their cases would simply yield more general agreements on any issue. There are thousands of times more division within religion than science, and the “divisions” within science are resolved more quickly when more evidence is found. Yes there is a fundamental difference between science and religion, and anyone who would say that religion is just another path to the truth and science deals with something else, or that these two approaches are equal but just different is deluding himself. Science deals with reality, the observable and detectable Universe. It uses logic, reason, and evidence to explain its findings. Religion does nothing of the sort. Religion in fact has impeded the progress of science for many generations, and it continues to undermine scientific truths to protect its myths. Knowing religion’s inability to prove any of its claims one will find it amusing to witness mainstream religions ridiculing the teachings of a smaller group. They would call them “cults”, a derogatory term for a belief system that is obviously “flawed” and cannot be accepted by the normal reasonable individual. Since neither of them has evidence for any of their claims should not they both belong in the same category? It seems that sheer numbers, the power of large institutions, and the mere passage of time could make any ridiculous claim seem mainstream and acceptable. They say that a lie repeated by many for so long becomes truth; there is no better example of this than in religion. However one cannot help it but be impressed by religion’s ability to give comfort and peace of mind, especially to those going through adversity. Life’s challenges no longer seem insurmountable to someone who have strong faith. I must admit that there is value in that. Maybe faith has attributes beyond what reason can explain. There are also countless surveys showing that religious people tend to live a happier life. Who knows? Maybe some of the claims of faith are true, as a person of reason I must accept that as a possibility. One could also make a reasonable argument defending the most important tenet of religious faith, the existence of a power higher than what we know, one that would give meaning to everything we see and experience. Albert Einstein most brilliantly said that “science without faith is lame, but faith without science is blind”. Then how do we achieve balance between rationality and faith? Knowing that science at any moment can contradict many of the doctrines of religion, any movement towards fundamentalism would be unwise, for it will blind the believer into absurdity. Continuous belief in any dogma that science has already proven false is ludicrous. My approach is to simply attribute the meaning of existence and life to a higher power, any more detail added to that in the form of doctrine or revelation would be irrational. The Catholic Church over years has conceded many of its claims in light of new scientific discoveries, and other churches have followed. One day humanity may no longer need faith to find meaning in life, but that day is yet to come.

25 comments:

zelda said...

Tama. Wholeheartedly agree with this article. Grabeh talaga ang mga Bible-thumpers. Get your heads out of the sand! Sawa na rin ako sa mga nag babahay-bahay para mag convert... Kung gusto namin ang religion niyo, kami na ang lalapit. Please, wag na kayo mag-abala para mag bible study.

putanginanyo said...

you all are going to HELL!!!!!

gaga said...

somehow, i prolly still hate u for ur anomalous article. but to make carlos celdran go neutral between u and chuvaness considering their tie together, that meant something. plus u piqued my interest, and for all i know what u say may actually be true, so i am still reading. gradually u r converting me and weaning me away from my chuvaness addiction. i hate (and love) u coconuter!

God said...

this is a damn good article, but imma have ta' lightning strike yo asses!!

Anonymous said...

good piece. i think as time goes on and more and more people become educated and get exposure to ideas of evolution, big bang, science, philosophy, etc. they will stray farther and farther away from religion. in my opinion, it is the weaker minds who rely on religious faith for comfort.

Anonymous said...

mga hipokrito yang mga palasimba... akala mo ang linis-linis... pare-parehas lang tayo... kahit holy water hindi mahuhugasan ang dumi nyo!

Anonymous said...

hey Zelda, I used to go out to "bahay-bahay" to preach the gospel. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness, so be nice to them!! LOL--Ray Refundo

Anonymous said...

I have many problems with this article:

Science as the only instrument to Truth. NOT TRUE. Science is an altogether invention of man, and is therefore restrictive of man's limitations. Science is NOT a body of truth, it is only a body of generalizations of accepted observations.

But you are right about a few things: science and religion use different methods of testing reality - so I think the point here is that these two are incomparable.

And, for the record, there is a big difference between believing in God and following a religion. Religion is like a school of thought for the belief in God. As you said, dogmatic. Like any school of thought, like any institution invented by men, religions could change and transform over time, but the core belief here is God. Strip away all the structures and the dogmas of all of world's 1,000+ religions, and the basic premise is the belief in God.

And yes, Science and religion do meet at some point. I know that religion deals with mysticism, the unexplained...and I do find that compatible with science. How much of this world do we really know? Our vision of the world is limited within the spectrum of the white light. Who knows what we'll see beyond the ultraviolet, or the infrared, or the extra dimension that science is hypothesizing?

Anonymous said...

I just believe that there is a higher Power above us and no choice I was brouht the teachings of the Roman Catholics.....Well respect for every religion out there, Nice article!

Anonymous said...

Yes Science is an invention of man, just like religion. But Science over the years has proven itself, unlike religion, which is yet to prove any of its claims. And yes Science is the only logical and rational path to the truth, not religion. My simple reasoning for this is one word, evidence. Science also never claim to know the "absolute truth", that is why they call any thier postulates "theory", not doctrine, mystery, or revelation.

And for the record there are religions who do not believe in a monotheistic "God", some even omit the very idea of a personal God altogether. (ex. Buddhism)

Our view of the world is not limited to visible light anymore. We can detect all electromagnetic waves emanating from the Sun using the equipments invented by science.

You said religion deals with the unexplained. I see that as a self defeating statement. Religion has no evidence for any of its explanations. It claims to know the answers but in reality knowing really nothing. Science is the only sensible path to knowledge, it is irrational to base your belief on anything other than evidence.--Ray Refundo

Anonymous said...

@ray, rest assured you can not be successful in any aspect of your life. You are and will be wanderer into this world full of misery and bitterness. May I ask you something, do you have peace in your life now?

Anonymous said...

Well I have been "successful" in some aspects of my life,in academics, work and some other endeavors. I do not know if I will be bitter and miserable for the rest of my life, I cannot see the future. My question to you is how do you know that I will be bitter and miserable for the rest of my life?

Regarding your question if I found peace, the answer is No. I'm happy for you if you have, and I hope I will someday. I remember well how it is to have faith, I was raised a Christian. I have to admit that those were the happiest times in my life. I hope that your faith continue to be a guiding light. I also did not mean to destroy people's faith in writing the article, my intention is to simply state the facts, because sometimes people need to wake up to reality and accept the fact that this may be the only life that we have. We have to cherish it, every moment. The simple truth is that nobody really knows what will happen when we die.--Ray

Anonymous said...

tsk tsk tsk... I totally dis agree with this article... All I can say is, obove everything, there must be a Creator. Anything cannot exist without a creator...
The basic groud here is our faith or believe in God...
Religion is not the way going to Him, no matter what religion you are into... The only way is Jesus Christ... if we belief in Him whole heartedly, we can be sure of our salvation... But religion helps us in our spiritual growth...

In my opinion, the author of this article do knew more things about science, but only knew very few about God and the religion God wants to go into... Study more about God and I believe if you do this with all your heart you can find the answer that beyond this life there is still life waiting for us... The bible clearly states that after this life there is heaven and hell... God bless you more...

bob said...

To Anonymous:

That's only an opinion. Walang kwenta yung sinabi mo. Where is your proof? Just because the Bible says so does not mean it is true. Kung wala kang pruweba, tumahimik ka na lang. Nagiging katulad mo na ang mga scam artists tulad ng Fusion Excel, kasi wala din silang proof to back up their claims.

At kung meron ka mang proof, no need to say it in this forum, dumiretso ka na sa media, kasi sisikat ka na. But, we all know, NO ONE has any proof regarding God, Jesus (as they describe him in the Bible), or an afterlife. And don't tell me the Bible said so, because the Bible is not fact. Come on man, use your brain!

What if a group of natives in an isolated community never got converted into any religion. Let's say they have their own philosophy or maybe no religion at all. And as time passed, of course, members of their group will eventually die from natural causes. So, where do these deceased go? They're not Catholics, and they're not Christians. Not Muslims either. They never heard of a Bible or the Koran. Heck, they don't even know about books. So, naturally, they didn't live by the 'book.' So, where do they go? Heaven or Hell? Ano, napag-isip ka noh? Wag ka kasi gaanong bulag pare!

And let's say... let's just suppose that I'm going to Hell because, for one, I don't believe in God. And let's say because of other reasons too, sins and whatnot -- sins that I haven't gone to church for to ask for forgiveness, because, like I said, I don't believe in religion. So, I die, and God sticks me in Hell -- for punishment. So, let's say, that they have me doing slave work for punishment. What if, I don't want to work? They whip me. But, you know, I really don't want to f*cking work. I tell them to go f*ck themselves, that it's too hot to be doing all this toil and sh*t. So, what are they going to do to me? Kill me? But I am already dead aren't I? What are they going to do? Kill me again? Ano 'to, double dead? Meron bang Heaven and Hell Level 2??? Does the Bible have an answer? It's just too funny. Come on man, it's a fairy tale that the scriptures weave. Open your eyes!

At oo nga pala, don't tell us 'God bless' us, because not everyone believes in God. Keep your blessings to yourself. Sobra ka namang assuming at insensitive.

Hindi mo ba alam na iisa lang ang Christianity sa mga religions sa mundo? Anong akala mo, lahat naniniwala sa religion mo at sa diyos mo? Nakaka-insulto ka naman. Do you know how many religions there are and the diversity in these dogmas? A LOT. And lahat sila, they think their religion is RIGHT. So, huwag kang feeling special special jan. Kasi hindi ka special.

In your religion, another man with a different religion might go to Hell because he committed a sin listed in the Bible. But in that man's religion, you could be going to their version of purgatory because you violated one of their commandments in their scriptures. And in another man's religion, there is no Heaven or Hell because we're all going to get reincarnated as f*cking birds or some other animal. Who's right? Probably none of them, but the point is that NO ONE KNOWS. Do you get it man?

And read a Biology book please, kasi nakaka-bwisit ka sa mga sinsabi mo (not to mention wasting our time, but you need to be answered and corrected kasi nakakalito ka sa mga readers).

Don't be so gullible and naive kaibigan. Kailangan mo lang gumising. Open up a Biology 101 book. Read about evolution. Read about the history of man and the world. Read about the microcosm and the universe. Read about the scientific method. And realize that all these are backed by evidence -- observations, scientific proofs, fossils, artifacts, etc.

But most of all, get your head out of the sand. There's a whole world out there for you to discover. Good luck.

Best,
Bob (someone you know)

Anonymous said...

You people need to learn how to spell... and also work on your grammar. Religion is just a bunch of competing narratives, with one group saying that they're right and everyone else is wrong. No wonder there's so many flavors of religion, with some being only slightly different in their rituals/holy books. Does religion have advantages? Yeah, you might be kinder and be a better person or you could also use religion for evil. As far as I'm concerned, anything "collectivist," is bad. Also, I don't need religion to keep me moral.

Anonymous said...

to bob:

well all I can say is you have your freedom, we are not created as robots, God gave us free will, freedom to chose and decide... And I respect your side, I can't do nothing about it... I'm just sharing my side regarding this article, if you don't want to believe its up to you, but all I want is respect with each other... Don't call me gullible or naive for you don't know who I am, its better to keep that on your own...

You want me to read biology books, here's what I say... Try to pray and read also the bible seriously and I believe it can answer all your questions... And Oh! I'm not forcing you to join or believe in my religion, for as I have said, it can't save you. Your relationship with God is much more important... Again, you have your freedom to believe or not, and i respect it... Thanks anyway...

bob said...

Again, that's only your opinion. You don't have any proof that God gave us free will. Others can just as well say that free will is innate -- natural, simply just something that is there and that everyone has -- not necessarily something that is 'given.'

Don't call you gullible or naive? Your statements certainly make you look gullible and naive. And in counter, don't tell me 'God bless' because I may not necessarily believe in God.

Regarding the Bible, I know its contents. And it certainly can answer my questions -- albeit very vaguely and ambiguously -- but they are very likely WRONG answers since the Bible offers no PROOF. I really hope this point is getting across to you because I've repeated it several times in the span of my two comments.

And thanks for giving me respect, or at least saying that you have that intention. You might as well give your own self some respect too, because as far as I am concerned your self-respect is nil. Why? Because you cannot even think for yourself. You take the Bible for granted.

-Bob (who is just trying to open your mind)

Anonymous said...

Actually its not my first time to encounter an atheist... Ok, i'll just hope someday God would touch your heart... God bless...

Anonymous said...

Bobo nag god bless ka na naman.. bakit di "Assalaamu alaykum" sabihin mo? nakaka insulto ka sa mga muslim. Akala mo lahat ng tao sa mundo tulad mo.

Aside from researching about the science of life. I-try mo rin iresearch ang origins of religions and faith, origins of the bible. Makikita mo kung gano ka dumi at walang kwenta ang pinanggalingan ng relihiyon mo.

Mag science ka nalang pare kasi logical. Ginagamit ang utak. Ang relihiyon hindi. "Basta maniwala ka nalang, wag ka nang magtanong kung bakit!" ganun sa bible at ibang religious books.

Religion is a primitive belief system. Although science is not an 'absolute truth' it is constantly tested and gone through the scientific process. Science is called the 'provisional truth'. Kasi nagbabago ang findings habang tumatagal ang panahon. Akalain mo may mga underwater creature pala na hindi kailangan ng sunlight at sila na mismo ang umiilaw. Manood ka kaya ng National Geographic.

Anonymous said...

San Manuel Bueno, Mártir

Anonymous said...

i do have the same thing going through my mind bob

i am born and raised in a family that is described as "katoliko sarado (with padlocks)", though i never really question the bible just because i don't have any basis as to agree or oppose for faith is baseless, that's why it is called faith, but i have managed to contemplate the same idea as you.

I tour and work in a lot of different countries of different cultures.

In africa, most people have primitive concepts of religion and to say that they will go to hell just because they know nothing about jesus, for me, is plain unfair.
For generations, they are allowed to marry more than one woman, which the new testament forbids. You are innocent of the christian world and not knowing is a sin?

If your parents are christians, you really don't have a choice but to be the same because you live in the same environment with the social pressure and expectation that you should also be one. unless you are exposed to another religion, then you might change your mind. but what if you don't have the chance to be a christian like the people in some remote places in africa. their generations until now are bound to go to hell because of this circumstances?

Let's try this in a muslim point of view. How about places like afghanistan? they have a muslim religion and the concept of christ as your saviour is not in their holy scriptures and they're not even permitted to open the bible. as a christian, will you go to hell because you believe in christ rather than the prophet mohamad?

so who is right? both lived in a different environment and that is enough reason to say that the other would go to hell?
Those who oppose the article, would you mind answering my questions?

I have no right to say who is right. i respect any religion as i would respect my parents.

Anonymous said...

ow yeah... am eugene and am the one who wrote the article above... just in case anyone would want to give their opinion...

Joe said...

I'm very impressed with the content of this article. I was raised a catholic and was enslaved as a nieve believer in the supernatural until I earned an education that is(also some help from Maryjane). The bible is truly the "greatest story ever told", in which it captivated so many of us into believing everlasting life whether it be heaven or hell (irrational). I agree with every word of this article. Science demolishes religion as we evolve through time; the catholic church knew that and did what they could to prevent that. Religion was just used to control people by fear and the promise of eternity in a utopia called heaven. Practically a double edged sword for power and creating some sort of stability in society. However, I agree that religion can benefit by serving as a comforting agent(peace of mind) through this process we call life.

The universe is a very mystical place; maybe throughout time we'll develop the technology to find the answers. "We're breaking and rebuilding and we're growing, always guessing. Never knowing; shocking, but we're nothing. We're just moments; we're clever but we're clueless. We're just human, amusing and confusing. But the truth is, all we've got is questions. We'll never know." (Never Know by Jack Johnson) -joedicks-

keai-Uguei said...

Interesting...

~Daniel

Anonymous said...

Religion is for those who cannot think for themselves and struggle to stay moral without it.
Religion is for lemmings..

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