1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Does science make belief in God obsolete?

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by Celtkin, May 19, 2008.

  1. Celtkin

    Celtkin <B>Webmaster</b> Luxury Box

    18,892
    11,589
    113
    Nov 22, 2007
    46.73° N, 117.00° W
    This is the third in a series of conversations among leading scientists and scholars about the "Big Questions." at Templeton.com

    Here is a sampling from the site.

    Yes, if by... "science" we mean the entire enterprise of secular reason and knowledge (including history and philosophy), not just people with test tubes and white lab coats.

    Traditionally, a belief in God was attractive because it promised to explain the deepest puzzles about origins. Where did the world come from? What is the basis of life? How can the mind arise from the body? Why should anyone be moral?

    - Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the department of psychology at Harvard University. He is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.


    No, and yes.
    No, as a matter of reason and truth. The knowledge we have gained through modern science makes belief in an Intelligence behind the cosmos more reasonable than ever.

    - Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, O.P., is a Dominican friar, the Archbishop of Vienna, Austria, a Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Education of the Roman Catholic Church, and was lead editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Absolutely not!
    Now that we have scientific explanations for the natural phenomena that mystified our ancestors, many scientists and non-scientists believe that we no longer need to appeal to a supernatural God for explanations of anything, thereby making God obsolete. As for people of faith, many of them believe that science, by offering such explanations, opposes their understanding that the universe is the loving and purposeful creation of God. Because science denies this fundamental belief, they conclude that science is mistaken. These very different points of view share a common conviction: that science and religion are irreconcilable enemies. They are not.

    - William D. Phillips, a Nobel Laureate in physics, is a fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute of the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


    Many more here:
    http://www.templeton.org/belief/
     
    gafinfan likes this.
  2. Pagan

    Pagan Metal & a Mustang

    20,444
    40,003
    113
    Mar 22, 2008
    Newburgh, NY
    [​IMG]
     
  3. JCowScot

    JCowScot So funky the dead dance Club Member

    3,335
    697
    113
    Mar 22, 2008
    FLA USA
    I find some of the public responses to be just as poignant, intelligent and compelling as the articles themselves...and, like any good cross-section of humanity, some are pseudo-intellectual or arrogant religious tripe.:lol:
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2008
  4. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    The discussion itself has benefits. It hones the brain and focuses questions.

    The Templeton folks are the leaders in this area.
     
    gafinfan, DOLPHAN1 and Celtkin like this.
  5. DOLPHAN1

    DOLPHAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

    wow. that is quite a can of worms you've just opened Mal. i think you are right Ohio. this is subject that needs to be talked about. the notion of "God" is 2000 years old now, much older if taking other religions into account. instead of keeping "God" in that old reverence, maybe we should let "God" grow up too. give "God" a little more credit than we have.
     
    gafinfan and Celtkin like this.
  6. The Rev

    The Rev Totus Tuus Administrator Luxury Box Club Member

    Looks like there really is no definite 'yes' or 'no' answer. Everyone has an opinion. :yes:
     
    Pagan and dolphindebby like this.
  7. Pagan

    Pagan Metal & a Mustang

    20,444
    40,003
    113
    Mar 22, 2008
    Newburgh, NY
    And kudos to you for saying that...there are some who will insist that they "know". :rolleyes:
     
    DOLPHAN1 likes this.
  8. unluckyluciano

    unluckyluciano For My Hero JetsSuck

    53,651
    23,435
    0
    Dec 7, 2007
    oh believe me I know. But I'm not telling. :shifty:
     
  9. Dol-Fan Dupree

    Dol-Fan Dupree Tank? Who is Tank? I am Guy Incognito. Club Member

    33,714
    23,687
    113
    Dec 11, 2007
    I don't think that will ever be the case.

    I like to think of science as the study of finding out how god works or how Einstien said, "How good thinks."
     
  10. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    To mix philosophy with science and then mix in religion and you get the conundrum of trying to either "prove" a matter of faith or disprove the existence of something inherantly unknowable in totality. Neither side can "prove" their position in the classic sense of a proof.

    No, the discussion is where the "truth" of the question is/will be found. The earliest of the written Hebrew scriptures is likely Exodus 15:21, the Song of Miriam. It dates back over 3500 years. Their "experiance" with God is radically different than mine and yet to my understanding it is the same God. Geology, archeology, and other scientific disciplines have cast new insights on the story and they have the capacity to illumine the "event" from a variety of directions.

    Give me the rough and tumble of honest, sincere, respectful dialog anytime!
     
    gafinfan and DOLPHAN1 like this.
  11. DonShula84

    DonShula84 Moderator Luxury Box

    9,391
    3,490
    0
    Jan 3, 2008
    For me it seems difficult to take a literal translation of the Bible if one believes in science and philosophy in the way discussed in the first example. I dont think that means that God is obsolete, but the Bible certainly becomes suspect.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  12. HardKoreXXX

    HardKoreXXX Insensitive to the Touch

    20,629
    14,412
    113
    Apr 2, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    You make a great point. I think many people believe that either the Bible is entirely true, or entirely false.

    There's probably not a majority of people who would believe that only bits and pieces are true and vice versa. (I could be dead wrong there)

    I'd be interested to know what the Christians on this board think of this notion. Has science disproved some of the things the Bible tells us? Or is at all fact regardless of what we've learned in the last 2000 years?
     
  13. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I always remember a quote from my systematic theology professor at seminary. He was asked if he believed literally in the creation story in Genesis. He said of course. We were aghast because his teaching didn't reflect that. He then turned to us, winked, and said he believed it was always, literally, to be read as a myth (classic definition which is to say a story a culture tells to describe why things are the way they are or where things come from). "Literal interpretation" is an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or military intelligence. How can anyone know what the author meant as it left their pen?

    For me the Bible isn't suspect but certainly "easy" readings of it which do not take into account context, history, and all the problems inherant in written/spoken language will always be suspect!

    It is said that when Queen Anne inspected the "new" St. Paul's Cathedral in London she told its archtect, Christopher Wren, it was artifical, awful, and amusing. Today we would be devastated because those would be insults today. Wren was delighted however because in his day artifical meant full of artistic wonder, awful meant awe inspiring, and amusing meant amazing. Such is the power that history, context, and a deep understanding of language have to illuminate a sacred text.

    For me that history, context, and linguistic information are often the results of scientific inquiry.
     
    GISH, JCowScot, gafinfan and 7 others like this.
  14. Celtkin

    Celtkin <B>Webmaster</b> Luxury Box

    18,892
    11,589
    113
    Nov 22, 2007
    46.73° N, 117.00° W
    Brilliantly said!
     
    Ohiophinphan likes this.
  15. Pagan

    Pagan Metal & a Mustang

    20,444
    40,003
    113
    Mar 22, 2008
    Newburgh, NY
    Yea...what he said.
     
    Ohiophinphan likes this.
  16. Rick 1966

    Rick 1966 Professional Hipshooter

    6,790
    2,359
    113
    Nov 23, 2007
    Lakeland, FL
    Whether science leaves room for God depends on how big your definition of God is.
    Science leaves little room for small, anthropomorphic gods who intervene via clumsy deus-ex-machina miracles, but still leaves plenty of room for gods big and smart enough to have created this universe with everything in place to unwind just the way They wanted it to.
     
    Ohiophinphan likes this.
  17. DOLPHAN1

    DOLPHAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

    this is truly amazing. thank you. who is to know exactly what was meant by what has been written, then translated and re-written. i think to exclude the Bible would be a mistake, but trying to understand it from when it was compiled would make more sense. weather or not the Bible is proved or disproved should not interfere with ones personal relationship with God. just the same, i believe that science and philosophy can serve much the same purpose as the Bible in helping us understand the essence we call God.
     
  18. Vendigo

    Vendigo German Gigolo Club Member

    7,824
    5,772
    113
    Nov 30, 2007

    Thanks for making a very good point. Mind if I ask you a question? Since you are talking about literal and metaphorical interpretations, I'd like to know what you make of the biblical fall of man and its symbolical meaning. I've always found that passage of the Bible most telling (I'm not a believer, by the way). You have God forbidding man to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (why? isn't knowledge a good thing?) and subsequently you have man realizing his own nakedness, constituting a fundamental instance of self-awareness. Why would that be "The Fall"? What's so bad about man knowing and being aware of himself? Essentially, that passage of the Bible condemns man for being man which I find a rather peculiar idea of man, considering that God's creation is supposed to be inherently good and right.
     
    Ohiophinphan likes this.
  19. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    We know from other Hebrew passages that the expression "knowledge of good and evil" was that which distinguished God from creation. Thus to eat of the fruit of the tree was in essence an attempt to displace God, an attempted coup if you will. That is the essence of sin, the desire to be God or at least the unwillingness to submit to the will of God. The knowledge of nakedness was the discovery that we had disobeyed and couldn't measure up to God anyway!

    We believe that God created us in order to freely praise and worship Him, as is His right as creator. For that to be free the ability to resist had to be part of the equation. That is the fall, the refusal to be what we were created to be.

    As an aside, it is interesting that in that passage there is also referenced another tree, the tree of life, which they do not attempt to eat from. I have always wondered if that wasn't to tell us that we are not only sinners but that we aren't even good at that! We could have had immortality and instead sewed fig leaves.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
    Vendigo likes this.
  20. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Keep in mind that we do have very early manuscripts in the original languages. When the Dead Sea scrolls were first discovered they pushed the extant Hebrew texts back 1300 years in some cases and the transcription error rate was infintessimal. Holy texts are copied very carefully.

    Now that said, the way we who study scripture "decide" what it says is in community. That is not to say that someone can't stand alone, but then the weight of argument falls to the person holding the new or different position. In many ways it is similar to publishing scientific papers in peer review journals. Biblical scholars, theologians, and Church Histiorians all use a peer review publishing system as well.

    I get together with 6-20 colleagues each Thursday to examine the texts for ten days hence to try and answer some of those questions.
     
  21. Celtkin

    Celtkin <B>Webmaster</b> Luxury Box

    18,892
    11,589
    113
    Nov 22, 2007
    46.73° N, 117.00° W
    Wasn't the translation commissioned by King James likely one of the first "peer reviewed" publications?
     
    Ohiophinphan likes this.
  22. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I hadn't thought of it in those terms but that is an excellent point. Unlike the Tyndall translation in earlier English or Luther's translation in German, the King James Version was a committee work where scholars worked very, very hard on both meaning and quality of prose/poetry. Yes, there was a community approach to the work and for its time it was magnificent!
     
    Celtkin likes this.
  23. DOLPHAN1

    DOLPHAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

    if that's the case, then couldn't you go back to Constantine in the 300's ad when the original was reduced from some 66 books to what is known today at roughly 33, depending on sect? i understand that even in the Catholic organization their are several versions that include or exclude certain books based on particular beliefs.
     
  24. DOLPHAN1

    DOLPHAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

    aren't we finding that translating these languages though is more difficult due to the fact that the languages themselves have changed enough that words and phrases used then do not neccessarily have similar meaning today? if that is the case then aren't we just filling in the blanks so-to-speak?

    that also marked the beginning of the Protestant movement in the 1500's didn't it? and in what regard is it less magnificent today? just curious, the way you worded this.
     
  25. Desides

    Desides Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    39,201
    20,092
    113
    Nov 28, 2007
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    Science by itself is not incompatible with religion. The trouble comes in when the enemies of religion attempt to use science as a means to bludgeon religion.

    Religion tells us that God created all. Science describes those creations. There is nothing incompatible there.
     
  26. Vendigo

    Vendigo German Gigolo Club Member

    7,824
    5,772
    113
    Nov 30, 2007

    I'm not sure I see the causal connection. In my understanding, there's quite a bit of a semantic difference between being able to differentiate between good and evil and attempting a coup or trying to become like God. Especially if we take into account what man actually realized when he ate from the tree; I'm don't see becoming aware of our nakedness constituting a fundamental realization of the nature of good and evil.

    As an aside, Luther translates the tree as "Baum der Erkenntnis" which in German has a somewhat different connotation than the English term "knowledge". "Erkenntnis" isn't actually the state of knowing or being aware of something but the fundamental process of ontology. To me, that appears to be more in line - metaphorically speaking - with what the Bible tells us: We aren't sinners because we disobeyed or tried to become God; we are sinners because we conceived reality. That's why I brought up the subject in this debate of science versus religion, because the Bible metaphorically tells us that man isn't supposed to comprehend. The very act of trying to understand ourselves or our reality constitutes a turning away from God (the mother of all sins, so to speak) and I find that a rather bleak and misanthropic idea of man, one that's not really in line with the idea of God.



    Another very interesting point. But let me play the devil's advocate for a minute: If we're Frankenstein's monster ... doesn't that make God Frankenstein? Or to put it differently: I don't see how the idea of God as a vain creator who brings man into being to praise and worship Him fits with the idea of God as an inherently good and sinless entity.



    You probably know the Bible a lot better than I do but didn't we already have immortality by that point? Didn't God only make us mortal after he cast us out? That would render eating from that tree rather pointless. But maybe I got some things confused here.
     
    Fin D likes this.
  27. Vendigo

    Vendigo German Gigolo Club Member

    7,824
    5,772
    113
    Nov 30, 2007

    Actually, Luther's translation probably was. He didn't quite meet the same "scientific" standards of the King James Bible but it's a popular historic misconception that Luther translated the Bible alone. In reality, he worked together with quite a lot of esteemed theologians of that time. It's a bit of a pity that almost none of them is widely known nowadays, not even in Germany.
     
  28. DOLPHAN1

    DOLPHAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

    then why wouldn't Emperor Constantine's gathering of the major factions of the Catholic Church be considered here? obviously this was a translation and streamlining of the Bible as well as establishing the fundamental background of what we know the Catholic Church to be. his effort united the Church in a manner as well as deciding what was divinely inspired and what was basically unnecessary fluff. by doing that, the "story" of the Bible was changed.
     
  29. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Translation is inherantly difficult, but not impossible. Findings of multiple early manuscripts gives us a much larger body of work to examine in order to understand meaning within context. Some idiom's are harder but actually finding the right phrase or word in English is often harder than discovering the original nuance.

    The KJV is a vital step in the Protestant Reformation in England. It cemented many of the moves begun earlier. The KJV's language today, Elixabethian English, is difficult to read. A number of verb forms found in it are no longer used. In addition some words have changed their meaning in English usage over the years. I don't recommend reading a KJV to folks unless they are well versed in language. There are better examples of contemporary English available.
     
    RevRick likes this.
  30. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I knew I should have taken better notes in basic philosophy.

    The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" is an idiom. It renders a phrase from Hebrew whcih as you describe has a richer, more shaded meaning. The scholars translating the KJV chose what they did and it has become such a part of the language no major translation since has changed it. The temptation by the serpant is that "you will be [as or like] God" which is where the root of meaning comes from in the passage not the description of the tree.

    Our immortality was lost in the fall and could have been retained by eating of the other tree before we were cast out.
     
  31. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I need to learn how to use the multi-quote function.

    To Vendigo, you likely have a greater grasp of German history than do I so I will defer to you. The story we get in English is of Luther's initial translation as a virtually solo effort while he was in the Wartburg Castle. Then after he returned to Wittenberg, that first work and the completion of the Bible was largely his prose though aided and reviewed by many, especially Phillip Melancthon. This would make it more similar to Tyndale's work in English than the committee structure of the KJV. No? Are you taught differently?

    To Dolphan1. Constantine's calling of the great councils was the signature event in earlier Christian history. The creeds developed there and the agreement on canon, begun earlier and codified there, are seminal in early Christian thought. Western Christianity as well as the earlier Eastern Orthodox branch still consider the work of those councils as normative. The communities of faith were beginning the weeding out process and I have always contended that creeds predate canon, that is the creeds, once agreed upon, caused people to go and look at the books claimed as divine and considered them in that new light. Many thus didn't make the cut.

    As an aside, I always get a chuckle out of folks talking about "lost" books of the Bible. They weren't lost, they were discarded!

    Actually the work of Jerome in creating the Vulgate and it being approved as the normative Latin text in the west would be an even better example regarding translations.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2008
    DOLPHAN1 likes this.
  32. Vendigo

    Vendigo German Gigolo Club Member

    7,824
    5,772
    113
    Nov 30, 2007

    Yes and no. Initially, Luther did indeed work alone on the New Testament. After that, his translation of the Old Testament (and the subsequent editing of his first translation) was pretty much a joint effort with, amongst others, Melanchton. The thing is that the Luther Bible, as we know it today, probably bears a lot more resemblance to the work he did with his fellow theologians than it does to the work he did himself in those famous 11 months - for example, he had access to a lot more source material in later years when his "revised"
    translation of the New and Old Testament together was published in the 1530s. As to the prose ... as far as I know (it's been a while since I last tackled that subject so there may be new scientific knowledge I'm not aware about) it's considered to be Luthers prose but when it comes to the actual translations it's hard to pinpoint exactly whose they are.

    You are, of course, right that this isn't anywhere near the commitee approach of the KJB but I was referring to the "peer review" statement first and foremost. Luther's translation underwent rather extensive peer review.
     
    Ohiophinphan likes this.
  33. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Understood, not that much different than what I had learned. Thanks

    btw, do you live near the Luther sites in Saxony? Was just there in October, beautiful country!
     
    Vendigo likes this.
  34. Vendigo

    Vendigo German Gigolo Club Member

    7,824
    5,772
    113
    Nov 30, 2007

    Nope, I live in the Frankfurt area. But I've been to the sites a couple of times now (a good friend of mine lives in Saxony) and it's gorgous. A bit too rural for my taste but well worth a visit. If you happen to be in the area again, let me know and we can have a coffee or beer together.
     
  35. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

    71,954
    42,736
    113
    Nov 27, 2007
    I see the problem as the other way around. It seems many religious people are the enemies of science. Religion, after all, does not scare science. However, many findings by science, scare religion. After all, the very nature of science is objectivity.
     
  36. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

    71,954
    42,736
    113
    Nov 27, 2007
    The problem I have with this, is that man decided, which books were to be kept and which were to be discarded. Which parts were kept, which were discarded. If the books of the bible are the word of god, then that ceases to be the case, once they've been edited by men. They were edited for a number of reasons, but man being fallible, some or a lot of those edits had to be for agendas beyond righteousness, like politics, control, personal gain, or just flat out wrong interpretations. Ultimately that is the problem, an entire set of religions, based around a book, whose authors we don't know for sure and edited, and re-edited by a group of people, who at best, their intentions were based around their own interpretations or at worst omitted or added sections to meet their own needs and agendas.
     
    HardKoreXXX likes this.
  37. Vendigo

    Vendigo German Gigolo Club Member

    7,824
    5,772
    113
    Nov 30, 2007

    I think it's more a problem of rationalizing faith. Science is about rationality while religion is inherently about irrationality. A scientific finding cannot contradict a religious belief any more than a religious idea can contradict science. The problems arise when you try to mingle both and come up with a scientific religion which constitutes an oxymoron in itself. I'm really at a loss as to why people would attempt to prove or disprove faith ... it's per definition impossible and pointless. I'm not a believer but if I were, I certainly wouldn't be scared by a seemingly contradictory scientific finding. Why would I? How can a rational thing contradict an irrational idea? I tend to believe that humanity is largly and inherently decent. I'm not going to stop believing that because Hitler or my ancestors did what they did. There's so much hard evidence that humanity is anything but decent. I'm chosing to believe otherwise nevertheless. It's irrational and that's fine with me.
     
    gafinfan, Ohiophinphan and DOLPHAN1 like this.
  38. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

    100,026
    37,527
    0
    Nov 22, 2007
    inching to 100k posts
    I will say "no" the two are not incompatable, Science is chasing God, God is not chasing science, the work is already completed, now science is trying to piece together what happened, Science as the study of and interaction with is not the instigator of creativity, that would be a natural part of mankind being made in God's image.

    Ohiophinfan:

    Sort of, "discarded" for what reasons makes a real difference, some of the unaccepted books were not Heretical, simply non cannonical, books like Clement and the Apocalypse of Peter only lacked a earlier provenance.
     
  39. DOLPHAN1

    DOLPHAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

    yes, but we still get to who decides what is divine and what is not. the will of God is shaky at best and anyone of authority could claim divine intervention. seems to me that when these "books" are discarded, the path of the story is altered. did God decide to alter this? or did a man with an agenda decide this? if God, then what was the purpose?

    i don't see it. through translations, editing, further translations and diversions we have several different documents, all with slightly different paths to take. all stemming from one source. all believed by their followers to be the truth. i'm not so sure the message is clear any more.
     
  40. Desides

    Desides Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    39,201
    20,092
    113
    Nov 28, 2007
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    Religion used to be the enemy of science, but hasn't been for a few hundred years. It's really not even worth discussing religion as antipathetic to science. It just doesn't happen that often, at least not in western civilization. I would describe Islam as highly antagonistic to science, though.

    The point of science is indeed objectivity, but with the "global warming, oh wait that's not getting traction, okay climate change" issue, science is increasingly losing objectivity in favor of politicization.
     

Share This Page