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Author Topic: Metaphysics and the Bible...  (Read 1487 times)
Astral Energy 2
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« on: December 19, 2002, 12:38:56 »

Religion and science as we know it does'nt realy go hand in hand, and the reason for that is that religion is based on belief, and science is based on the "know". I think I preffer the "know". I hope that in the future metaphysics will be comited to science and not somekind of religion or sects, coz then we will "know" what it is, not "believe".

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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2002, 23:33:58 »

I am glad you brought this topic and religion go hand in hand, but as fURIX said, religion and science as "we know it", or as most people know it, seems to conflict.

This is because many intellectuals are aethiests, etc.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints, and as such I am a firm believer that pure religion and pure science are one in the same.  That may sound strange, but the following article sums up my take on this subject more or less:
Who Cares More about Science??
I did not write the following article. I found it on the now defunct United Order Digest archive in 1997. I can no longer find it on-line, so I cannot contact the author. I took the liberty of copying it in the meantime. The main source for the article appears to be Saints and Scientists, published in 1992 by EduTech, Mesa, AZ (3066 So. Mollera St. 85210). For more up to date statistics, see The Year 2000 Update of the Sixty Year Utah Scientist Study. For more discussion relating to science and the restored gospel, visit the 'Eyring-L' mailing list archives.

----------------------------- start of article ------------------------------

I'm sure that many of us, in our youth, especially during our educational phase of life, experienced a troubling conflict of religion and science. Often, attempts to reconcile religious teaching with scientific reasoning can be troubling to young people, and still can be a sensitive subject to adults. Part of the answer, I believe is in looking at those who are comfortable with both, having no conflict. Especially those who themselves are scientists, and have a background in religion. When I dug into this topic, I found some very striking, and yes, satisfying information.

First, we know that Christian churches have been in conflict with science in the past. The prior conflict of the Roman Catholic Church with science ended up placing Roman Catholicism in a losing position with regard to potential progress. Now, some fundamental and evangelical churches in America, taking a literalistic and narrow view of the Bible are rejecting science more and more. Instead, they encourage and incorporate new Special Creation "science" and modern interpretations which are plugged into the Bible to make it appear to fit certain scientific facts. They are also discouraging interpretive aspects of scientific problems within the Bible.

The revealing part of my inquest was the shocking number of scientific production in the U.S. per state. At the bottom end of the collection are mostly the states considered the "Bible Belt." The ones with the "fundamentalist," and literalistic accentuation. Their production is only about one-fourth that of the high end (per million white population according to the Thomson report; the other numbers of minorities were too low at the time apparently), which is the Northern states.

But far and above all the rest is a surprising find. In fact the top state is so far above all the others, it's currently a full 21 percent higher, even though all the others are merely a few percentage points in between. What's even more revealing and unusual is the fact that one state could maintain such a lead for over fifty years. What's more surprising is the fact that this state, Utah, is one which the cultural force reveres God, Christ, Scriptures, missionary work, and a strong sense of religious tradition.

In 1990, the top scientific production states were:
Utah (1886 per million),
Idaho (1421 per million) and
Colorado (1246 per million).

And church affiliation of the Utah scientists were even more lopsided for the Latter day Saint population, Catholics, Unitarians, Orthodox, and Lutherans combined were smaller than the percentage of non-Mormon population. At the bottom was Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas. (164, 162, and 160 per million.)

In 1995, the numbers for Utah were still impressive. Utah was still a significant leader in the production of scientists with 1685 (per million) while the second place state was Delaware with 1380. The median was Rhode Island with approximately 600 (on a graph) and Virginia was last with 295.

Moreover, the percentage of Utah LDS scientific production was still higher than the LDS population percentage; 75.9%. (Only 54.6% of Utah is LDS; essentially 36.6 percent MORE than it's share.)

Thus, it became obvious to me that Mormons hold not just a lead in scientific production, but hold a *very high* lead. So the significant question might be why this is so. I think looking at the responses of LDS scientists is a good way to find such an answer. In fact, such a study was conducted by a professor of Arizona State University, who was intrigued by the lopsided LDS scientific population. The results are rather conclusive. In brief, there are many reasons; Mormon leaders have always been pro-science, Mormon philosophy encompasses knowledge as a godly attribute, and the Mormon culture's acceptance of continuing revelation from God and openness to new insight.

The Mormon Factor, thus, is the only conclusion for the high scientific numbers. There are no other factors which would lend such a high number. In fact, such a factor has been proven. Even the percentage of the LDS Utah share confirms this.

But do the Mormon scientists have a strong faith? That question was also answered in this interesting study. Of the LDS scientists polled a significant 83% considered themselves strong believers, while those of other Christian faiths were significantly less, the next highest being 44%.

Further, the conviction within these believers that Jesus is a divine person of the Godhead was put to the same scientists (LDS and non-LDS Christians) and results were extremely lopsided. Of the LDS believing population, 91% had a "Very Strong" conviction of this, while all the others maintained a spread between "Weak" and "Very Strong," most of which was under a "Fair" conviction. (Catholics were the next highest.) Also, among these LDS scientists, over eighty-five percent felt that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

Of the "Strong Believers" category of the scientists, almost ninety percent of the LDS felt that their religious doctrine and science could be harmonized. And even of the "Non-Believers" category, only 34% said no. Only 64% of "believing Christians" felt that religion and science could harmonize.

Also, of those questioned if their religion had an influence on their perusal to become a scientist, 88.4% of the LDS said "yes," while only 42% of the other Christians felt that their religion had any influence. And twice the percentage of the LDS attended worship services, and twice the percentage of LDS scientists had a favorable attitude toward their church compared to all others.

Interestingly, the places where one might think that there would be the biggest conflict of religion and science, we actually find stronger believing LDS. (This, opposed to those who are not within the physical sciences are less believing among the LDS.) The largest percentage of Utah scientists are those in the physical sciences (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.) Of those in the physical sciences of the non-LDS faiths (Christian) only about 41% were strong believers, while over twice this percentage of the LDS physical scientists were strong believers. It was in the social sciences that the drop of LDS believers was noticed, where the larger portion considered themselves "Nominal." The percentages of all other Christians was still about half of that of the LDS in these categories.

What I found insightful was the fact that 89.9% of the LDS believers felt that religion and science could face each other. And also nearly three times as many non-LDS Christians as LDS said that they were "Intensely Troubled" by the conflict of science and religion.

So it's obvious that Mormonism has a distinguishing position in the world as a science-producing and supporting religion.

But do these scientists hold their "scientific" convictions? Absolutely. Of the 214 LDS scientists who participated in the recent Utah poll, "only three of them supported a young earth belief," (that the earth is only a few thousand years).

Compare this with nearly five times as many non-LDS scientists who believe in a young earth. And of the strong believers, only 10.6% of the LDS agreed with a non-evolutionary view of man's origin. Interestingly, some of the comments by LDS scientists who accepted organic evolution, demonstrated how small the conflict between science and religion really was. One LDS biologists said, "My religion is not biologically related." And another said, "There is no revelation specifically on how God created man; since religion does not explain it we are left to use what the evidence provides." Of the scientists who were "Strong Believers," only 15.5% of the LDS accepted the story of Noah and the flood literally. Twice as many non-LDS scientists ("Strong Believers") accepted the literal story. While most of the LDS believers felt that there was a literal flood, the details of the flood remained interpretive; only half as much of the non-LDS believers accepted this position, in spite of the conflict that such a rejection might hold scientifically.

Of an interesting note, in the 1955 study, less of the LDS scientists had strong agreement with scriptures being inspired and not inerrant (only a tentative agreement), where the recent study shows that a higher percentage (nearly five times more!) agree strongly with this.

The study also concluded that the LDS scientists had a higher percentage of conviction in their faith than before, as opposed to less for the non-LDS.

Ironically, both LDS and non-LDS, including non-believer scientists felt that religion has an important roll in the scientific community. Most of the Utah educated scientists, even the non-Mormons and Nominal Mormons, looked at the Church favorably as an institution for human welfare and support for the scientific community. None were antagonistic.

A clear 85 percent of the Mormon scientists believe in Jesus as the Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. *To me, this affirms the testimony of over fourteen hundred scientists about the truthfulness of Gospel;* and that Mormonism excels as a religion dedicated to science. The study left no doubt about this. Mormonism has distinctive doctrines which not only encourage mental development and service, but has produced a value system for family solidarity, healthy living, and a style which facilitates productive achievement. This, to me, is a corollary of spiritual aims, because such good fruit is not just the purpose, but comes as a side benefit of the spiritual nature of God's influence. At least that's how it seems to me.

J.A. Thomsom, _Science and Religion_, NY, 1877;
W.A. Whitehouse, _Christian Faith and Scientific Attitude_, NY, 1952;
Alfred North Whitehead, _Science and the Modern World_, NY, 1925;
Harvey C. Lehman, _Scientific Eminence and Church Membership_, NY, 1931;
_Encyclopedia of Mormonism_, "Science and Scientists," MacMillan, NY, 1992;
E.L. Thorndike, _Science_, "Men of Science," August 1940;
Richard T. Wootton, _Saints and Scientists_, Mesa, 1995;
_Historical Statistics of the U.S._, US Dept. of Commerce, part 1, pp 18-52.

---------------------- From a post on United-Order ----------------------

Conclusion – Science and Religion in Harmony
Psalms 19:1-4 – The heavens declare the glory of God:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."

Job 12:7-8 – And so do the animals, the fish, and the earth itself!

"But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee."


Pure religion is not 'pseudo-science' – It is 'non-science':
Such a religion does not claim to be science. It is something much bigger and more fundamental. In contrast, science is often used as a kind of religion, but it is not up to the task. It just becomes pseudo-science.

Non-science is Essential to Science:
Most of life's questions cannot yet be answered by science. So what does the scientist do? The best approach is to find a belief system that (at least):

Is consistent with science
Is shared by many people (to avoid subjective errors)
Is open to rational examination – e.g. it is fully developed and consistent. (This is a great advantage of Mormonism – it rejects the mysterious and unknowable – for example the "trinity" – in favour of what can be understood – e.g. a physical God)
In other words, religion is the most scientific approach to ALL of life. The "how" is science. The "why" is religion. Which of these two questions is the most important to know the answer to?

Contrasting Science and Non-science
For a definition of terms, see Science and Pseudo-Science.

Where Confusion Might Arise:

The Definition:
The word 'science' also has an older, broader definition, meaning just 'knowledge.' Hence we have the 'Christian Science' church, and 'The Science of Theology' (a nineteenth century book dealing with the Bible). This page uses the modern, more precise definition.

The Method, Not the Results:
Science refers to the method and not the results. Knowledge is not science. Science is the experimental method used to arrive at knowledge.

Religion is Not Entirely Unscientific:
Even though some concepts are not science, anything that can be examined is open to science. Hence, for example, 'The Word of Wisdom' (the Mormon rules on alcohol, tobacco, meat, etc.) claims to be revelation, and hence is not science. But science can make interesting observations regarding not smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, etc. Science is a useful tool that can be applied to many aspects of religion.

The Big Picture:
Science generally deals with small, well defined areas. It is wrong to assume, because a particular point is established, that this is the final word, or even the most important word. This is most obvious in the popular media. Every day a new scientific study is claimed to "prove" something, but the wise person knows that information out of context is of little value.

Is Prayer Scientific?
When we refer to experiments, we usually mean experiments that can be repeated by simple and disinterested steps, and can be seen by an outside observer. So, while getting answers to prayers is in one sense scientific (you can test it by praying), it generally is not considered to be scientific, because the results are personal and are open to interpretation. So, while I could refer to the process of personal revelation as being scientific, for the purposes of this page I will say that it is not.
The Test – Can an Idea Be Disproved?
The key to deciding whether an idea is scientific is to ask, "can it be disproved?" For example, the claim that "my car is faster than yours" is a scientific statement, because anybody can test it under controlled conditions. (In this case, the test would be fairly easy, as my car is rather old, and makes disturbing noises if driven at speeds of over 55 mph.) But the claim that "my car is more beautiful than yours" is not scientific, because it is difficult for anyone else to test.

Many aspects of the church – such as whether the Book of Mormon is a historical record of a people who actually lived where they said they did – are scientific, because they are open to being disproved. So far, while we can argue long and hard about proof, they have not been disproved (despite numerous "straw men"). Download the book about proof for a review of the evidence up to the year 1997.

The big issues, however, those that affect personal happiness, are open to personal interpretation. They are thus not open to being disproved. For more about what the church is and whether it can be disproved, click here.

The Value of Non-science
What Science Cannot Do:
Non-science is needed, because science, although almost universally applicable in some form or other, has severe limitations.

Science Cannot:

Not everyone is willing to examine everything. Most people just want an easy life. Even the greatest physicist will not study biology. The greatest biologist will not know much about physics. Neither will know much about the social sciences. What do you, as a scientific utopian, do about these people? Just criticise them? Ignore them? Control them? Or set up some authoritarian structure to tell them "thus saith the scientists – this is the truth from Mount Sinai!"
Get anything done:
It relies on non-science for this – see next section.
Answer questions where important information is missing:
E.g. most of them!
Prove anything:
It can only disprove things – any scientific conclusion could be disproved at any time, as new and unexpected information is discovered.
Be objective:
If person A is ten times as intelligent as person B, then person A will approach a problem, and interpret the results, in an entirely different way. Thus, the practice of science is always somewhat subjective.
Make hard decisions ("Paralysis by analysis"):
Nothing can ever be studied "enough." There is always more to learn. Even simple decisions rely on assumptions that (if we want to be purely scientific) need to be tested. But if we keep searching, we get nowhere. Science only works if someone has the authority to say "Enough! We must make a decision now!" Scientists discover information, but politicians and businessmen get things done – and pay for the scientists.
Simplify things:
Actually, scientists simplify things all the time. They summarise. They create models and analogies. But is this strictly scientific? No. Every simplification is misleading (or else it would not be a simplification).
Cope with complex human situations:
Although super-computers are getting closer and closer to accurately predicting the weather this is nothing compared with accurately predicting human behaviour. The "social sciences" are notoriously imprecise, and are likely to remain so for some time yet.
Deal with controversial issues:
If you deal with issues with outcomes that would affect your job, or your reputation, how impartial are you going to be? For example, a few years ago a British university was left a sum of money on condition that it went towards researching the paranormal. The university decided (dishonestly, I felt) to use the money to research why people are gullible enough to believe in it. Another example: what if a major company funded you to research its products. Would that not affect the exact questions you asked, and how you reported the results?
Study topics for which here is no funding:
Try and get funding for an investigation into, for example, where skin colour fits on the evolutionary tree. Or any question where there is powerful public opposition. Or anything deeply unfashionable. Who "sets the agenda?" For example, clean water saves lives, yet we study heart operations. Families prevent crime. Yet we study policing methods.
Objectively study feelings, or personal experiences:
These areas are important, but are simply off-limits. Science can only claim to study the clinical aspects of such things, in terms of quantitative data, but cannot define anything subjective or qualitative.
Examples of Non-science:
These are sources of information on which we base our most important decisions. They all provide "right" and "wrong" answers, but none of them are based on science, and they are generally not claimed to be.

Every experiment rests on assumptions. Nearly every assumption rests on other assumptions. Eventually, we get down to assumptions that cannot be proven. In mathematics, these are referred to as axioms. They are assumed to be true, even though they are not derived from anything else. They are non-science. Hence, science rests ultimately on non-science.

Philosophy is the study of knowledge. It draws conclusions about the nature of reality. But it is not based on science, nor does it claim to be. You or I may fool ourselves into believing that we do not believe in philosophy, but that just shows how ignorant and muddled is our own thinking. Everyone has their own philosophy, but most people choose not to examine it, perhaps out of fear of what they might find – inconsistency, change, and (shock) perhaps even blind faith in something.

Trusting Authority:
What are schools and universities, except authoritarian institutions? The teacher says "this is so," and the student writes it down. Sure, the student could, in theory, test out every fact for himself. But he won't. It is impossible – she has neither the time nor the resources. We all rely on trusting others in the vast majority of cases. Even when we do test something for ourselves, it is only to judge that the person who told us is trustworthy. Trust and authority are essential to science, but they are not science.

As the saying goes, 'lay a thousand economists end to end, and they still would not reach a conclusion." Or, "if you have three economists in a room, you have four different opinions." Economics is not driven by science. But it is an academic discipline, and it produces decisions, which implies a concept of "right" (buy this product) and "wrong" (do not invest in that market).

(And, by extension, democracy.) Everyone has opinions. But if they are imprecise, or if they concern issues that are difficult to prove, they are non-science. Often, opinions are extremely useful – for example, a great scientist may have a gut feeling based on years of experience – but even gut feelings are not the same as science.

The most important source of "right" and "wrong" is morality. Human rights, for example, are based on agreed standards of right and wrong, yet they have little or no scientific justification.

Fashions in science:
Scientists are susceptible to fashions just like everyone else. For example, for many years the theories of Sigmund Freud were assumed to be reliable. But they were not based on science. Some people would call them pseudo-science. The best we can say is perhaps they were non-science. Every branch of science is guilty of following fashion. For example, I was once reading in a science magazine about AIDS, and it was taken for granted that the simple solution (having one sexual partner for life) was not a realistic option. But there was no scientific evidence for this major assumption – it was just stated as a fact. It was based (I hope) on common beliefs. It was non-science.

Everyone filters their experience through their feelings. Indeed, feelings – happiness, desire, security, love, insecurity – are the facts hat explain and drive just about everything else. Without feelings, what significance is there in anything?

Evolved ideas:
Every waking moment, we take in vast amounts of information, too much to process rationally. We make decisions about what is true or false, based on experience that we may not even be aware of accumulating. If it works, we are more likely to rely on it in the future. This process of "trial and error" is how most information is obtained. It is the basis for the whole concept of evolution – an approach that has applications everywhere. It is extraordinarily successful. But each discovery is not based on conscious or rational experimentation, and so it is not science.

Society relies on law. It has to say "this or that is right" and "this or that is wrong." Without law, we have reduced freedom, and reduced quality of life.

Put all these together, and we see that science – although a very powerful approach – is just a small and relatively weak part of experience. It is like a pen (or a keyboard) to a writer. A very useful and potentially powerful tool, but on its own pretty useless and even meaningless.

A Structured Approach to Non-science
What do we do with non-science? Pretend it is not there? Or try to understand it?

How do we understand it? It is, by its nature, horribly complicated. The very first step must be to define our position in each of these areas. Make it clear for other people to see. But most people, including scientists, do not (or cannot) make their position clear on all of these points. They do not even get past the starting line where truth is concerned.

The Mormon church has a clear, highly visible, and consistent approach to all of these areas:

Axioms: clearly set out in scripture.
Philosophy: is nature and origins are stated plainly.
Trusting authority: lines of authority, and credentials, are clearly defined.
Economics: numerous teachings on the subject.
Opinion: the role of (and limitations to) interpretation are clearly set out
Morality: defined in great detail
Fashions in science: avoided by respecting ancient and modern scripture
Emotion: given a clear and visible position in decision making
Evolved ideas: personal revelation encourages experimentation. The line of authority ensures that all such ideas are checked. Obedience to the prophet ensures that, when it is obvious a change is needed, people are willing to change (e.g. in 1978).
Law: church structures provide a model for running a perfect society
You may disagree with each of these points. You are of course free to do so. But criticising is easy.

Can you provide a viable – and visible – alternative?

Only the Church (or something like it) can even begin to claim a scientific approach to science. Because only something like the church has a clear, consistent, open and visible doctrine – one that can encompass the whole of non-science, and make the best use of each area. Church members, unlike many people who claim to promote science, are not 'in denial.'

The Academic View of Religion
The History of 'Science Versus Religion':
Most of what we see as 'science versus religion' is in fact:

'popular' science (e.g. not very scientific)
'traditional' Christianity (a system that rejected much of Jesus' teachings).
To make matters worse, each side usually has only a vague idea of what the other means.

For a detailed history of the main controversies, see A History Of The Warfare Of Science With Theology, by Andrew Dickson White. Note that the author sees the problem not as science versus religion, but as science versus dogma. I agree. The dogma in question was fixed teachings that tried to copy the Bible. But the Bible is in the language of the ancient Jews and deals with their particular needs. As the centuries go by, trying to copy that written history becomes more and more absurd. Instead, we need a church that is living and can adapt.

As can be seen from the pages on evolution, the church is in a position to accept new findings without threatening its literal beliefs in the Bible.

For details, see the pages on:

A History of Christianity
The Word of God
Do We Know What the Church is All About?
The Cultural Elite (Universities and the Media):
From Religion and the Cultural Elite ( by Cullen Murphy

"Garry Wills has observed in his book Under God... 'Clearly, in our society,' he writes, 'two large groups are talking past one another. One fails to see legitimacy in religious values. The other fails to see legitimacy in irreligion.' The fact that these two large groups are talking past one another is not a trivial matter. It has consequences–consequences for the nature of human inquiry and moral discourse; consequences, in practical terms, for the way in which we as a pluralistic polity deal with a host of pressing national concerns. ...

"The subject of the seminar [is]: 'The Alienation of Intellectuals From Religion Within American Culture' ... That alienation of the cultural elite on a vast scale has occurred can hardly be a matter of serious dispute. Doesn't the message come through many times every day in what we read and hear and watch on TV? In academe, survey data drawn from interviews with faculty have documented the estrangement from religion time and time again... voicing a religious perspective is just not intellectually respectable. In some circles, religiosity constitutes in addition an embarrassing lapse of taste.

"Survey data show that only about 8 percent of those in the elite media attend religious services with any regularity, and that 86 percent attend 'seldom or never.'

"From a journalistic point of view, the fact that 120 million Americans may have attended a religious service on a particular weekend will never be news, even though it is a defining feature of American life; it's not news because the same thing happened last weekend and will happen again next weekend. What tends to get reported on instead–accounts, indeed, for some 60 percent of all news about the Catholic Church, for example... is abortion, dissent, homosexuality, pedophilia, and the church's role in American politics. The coverage of other denominations follows the same pattern. ...

"A few years ago I had occasion to measure the amount of space in the New York Times index devoted to the category 'Religion and Churches' and found it to be equivalent in size to the category 'Teeth and Dentistry.'

"The assumption in political science was that as societies modernized, became more developed, they would also become more secular. But as Huntington pointed out, one cannot survey the last decades of the twentieth century and find a ringing endorsement of that assumption. In many places, perhaps most, the idea that religion should have nothing to do with the running of a polity is simply incomprehensible. And so, Huntington asks, Is it possible to understand the world while maintaining a view of religion as a purely private matter, as we so often do in the West? And his answer is: No, we cannot."

Scientific Progress and Postmodernism
Science has made great progress within its limited remit. But has this led to any progress in answering the bigger questions? Perhaps it might one day, but history suggests this is highly unlikely.

Unless stated otherwise, the quotations following are from The Tower of Babel: Modernity built the tower, from the Premise web site.

Progress through intellectual thought. At present, this usually means technological progress.

"Technology is a friend. It makes life easier, cleaner, and longer. Can anyone ask more of a friend? Second, because of its lengthy, intimate, and inevitable relationship with culture, technology does not invite a close examination of its own consequences. It is the kind of friend that asks for trust and obedience, which most people are inclined to give because its gifts are truly bountiful. But, of course, there is a dark side to this friend. Its gifts are not without a heavy cost... It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living. Technology, in sum, is both friend and enemy."

The Enlightenment (Rejecting the Catholic Church):

"Modernity arose with the triumph of the Enlightenment. The Renaissance and the Reformation had previously unleashed powerful forces toward liberty, civil rights, the freedom of the secular spheres to operate independently of the church, and had given birth to the rise of modern science, education, and universal literacy. However, the Protestant Reformers were just as insistent as the Roman Church on the importance of authority [the Bible]. .. Individualism was not tolerated, as the Reformers criticized the many sects of their day for their disregard of the institutional church."

Rationalism (Rejecting Any External Authority):

"Much changed when Rene Descartes (1596-1650) put forward his famous formula, Cogito ergo sum–'I think. Therefore, I am.' ... Devoted to rationalism, Descartes insisted upon absolute philosophical certainty. There must be a way of knowing things beyond any doubt, Descartes insisted, and therefore he sought a foundation for grounding all human knowledge. That foundation was universal reason. Like Plato, Descartes believed that instead of the world shaping the mind, the mind shaped the world."

Hume went further. Since he had never seen any miracles, then miracles could not happen. Therefore all of Christianity must be false.

This is pretty much the common view today. "If I cannot see it (or work it out for myself) then it does not exist."

In earlier times, it was accepted that ancient peoples often knew more than we do. One of the best ways too discover something was to learn what the ancients knew: so we studied the ancient Hebrews, or the ancient Greeks. But now that has all changed. If mankind has a foundation in certainty, then we can work things out for ourselves. Each generation can discover even more things than the previous generation. Hence, life can get better and better. Technological change is seen as the ultimate proof of this. Each generation can make better machines than the last, and these machines enable us to do everything bigger, better, and faster.
Actually, this is not such a new idea. This is really "New Age" thinking in a new package. The basic idea is that we, as a people, have grown out of the old ways into a new and better world. It was Joachim's medieval heresy again, that we no longer need external authority because we live in "the age of the holy Spirit".

Problems With Modernism:

It is Based on a Bogus Dilemma:
It is assumed that authority and reason progress cannot go together. They can. It is only faulty authority that needs to be rejected, just as we need to reject faulty reason.

It Rejects its Origins:
It is assumed that modernism arose by rejecting Christianity (or to be precise, Judeo-Christianity). In fact, it was only because of Christianity that modernism could exist. Most other major faiths teach a cyclical view of history – that we are going though the same cycles again and again (e.g. in reincarnation). But Christianity teaches a linear view of history – that we are genuinely going somewhere. It also teaches that we are all individuals, rather than just part of some greater whole. It was only in this tradition that the enlightenment and the idea of "progress" were possible.

It is Illogical:
If we want to act rationally, the first thing we need to realise is that our individual ration of intelligence is limited. The most rational thing to do at the outset is to find someone who knows more than we do. Certainly we should question authority, but we should not expect that sometimes its conclusions will be different from our own.

The early Protestant reformers understood this. They did not reject Catholicism immediately, but spent many years trying to understand it and reform it first – in case they had missed something. When they rejected it, they still kept its structure. They were less likely to be wrong than those modern intellectuals who make far bolder claims (rejecting all religion) based on far weaker understanding (e.g. superficial problems.)

It Does Not Seem to Work:
Modernism took its biggest hits with the world wars. If the world is getting better, why are we destroying each other – and the planet – faster than ever before?
In reaction to all this "progress," postmodernism gives up any claim to progress, but teaches that diversity, pragmatism, and sophistication are the things that really matter. If modernism is summed up by 1960s tower blocks (an attempt at a planned, perfect society), postmodernism is summed up by 1980s shopping malls (which make any grand claims, but go with whatever the people want).

"Postmodernism knows no commitments: it [says] 'no code is inherently better than any other.' ... 'We live in the age of feelings. Today there is no more truth or falsehood, no stereotype or innovation, no beauty or ugliness, but only an infinite array of pleasures, all different and all equal.' ... the test of a truth is 'its cash-value in experiential terms.'"

Postmodernism and Modern Protestantism:

"But before we get too high-and-mighty, we must realize that this is the prevailing sentiment in the churches, whether conservative evangelical or liberal Protestant. The charismatic movement is not founded on a revolutionary exegesis of relevant biblical passages; it is simply in step with modernity and postmodern intensification of pragmatic sentimentalism. Even in conservative circles one gets the impression that churches are "all different and all equal." Whether one is a Roman Catholic 'evangelical' or a Baptist or Pentecostal 'evangelical,' all that matters is the feeling, the experience, of being 'born again.' This is not a new Age of the Spirit; it is the Spirit of the Age."

Most Protestants are like modernists – they believe in a sure foundation of truth (e.g. the Bible) but have been unable to turn it into reality (e.g. a unified church). Evangelicals are like post-modernists. They do not bother themselves with church structures (they claim that the true church is invisible) but judge their success in terms of popular movements (church growth, TV evangelists, the Vineyard, the Promise Keepers, etc.) In this respect, Protestant Evangelicals are just a cross between the liberal theologians (who dislike physical interpretations of scripture) and the modern consumer economy.

The Bottom Line
Where do you go when you pass beyond the scope of science?
Religion has always been the answer.
And some religions make more sense than others.

fides quaerens intellectum

We shall not cease from our exploration, and at the end of all our exploring, we shall arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T.S. Elliot
fides quaerens intellectum
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2002, 23:33:58 »

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James S
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2002, 00:22:18 »

Going for another one of your record breaking posts again PW ?" border=0>

I feel the separation between christianity and metaphysics, or religion and science is as much to do with attitude as belief.

There are a number of people on this forum who are christians, and at the same time fully accepting of all things metaphysical. Their attitudes are ones of open minded curiosity, and that allows them to fit things into their beliefs.

The same goes for science and religion. After all, if you believe in god should you not also believe that he created the laws of physics that we and our technology all work by? If you are an open minded scientist you will see evidence that there is a "controlling force" behind many natural laws and events. Hence some years ago Chaos theory gave way to Complexity theory.

The rifts occur when people on one side close their minds, and don't allow any any room for the possibilities presented by the other. This is an attitude thing - a bad attitude thing.



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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2002, 06:32:01 »

I noticed, with most people it is either or. Not both. Same with Science. When there is a connection to them all if you look hard enough. What do you think?

To many stars, not enough sky.

This thing you call lover, she smiles way to much.

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