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SUNDAY REVELATIONS: RECONCILING RELIGION AND SCIENCE

Tim Hunkapiller Sorry Tim you need to do more reading. Your image of religions is …. oops Christian.  That said, you are in good company, Voltaire, Bertrand Russell and even Thomas Jefferson bakmed the Jews for the bad deeds done by Christian insistence that there is only ine true god. 

My friend Tim Hunkapiller, a scientist and an atheist, demeans all religions.  He gets angry with me when I try to say that he is unfair and biased because he  is culturally Christian and defines all religions in Christian terms.  I see this as especially unfair because it takes the horrors done int he name of monotheism and blames all of that on my people, The Jews.

Tim should do more reading.  Judaism, at least since Maimonides and Spinoza, has equated science with Torah. Maimonides wrote that when there is a conflict, science is direct revelation and so the written Torah needs to be reinterpreted.
 
Spinoza … accepted by many Jews as a sort of prophet .. went a step further, explaining that there can not be any miracles unless we do not believe in a causal world.
 
Before either of these Jewish thinkers, The Emperor Julian taught something very similar based n a polytheistic/Greco Roman concept. …Julian tried tom overturn the role of Christianity in the empire  by teaching that the Gods were not physical beings but constructs to help our reasoning. That was around 380 CE but about 800 years earlier the Buddha taught similar things, I even know Mormons who treat their somewhat dubious myths as stpries that structure the Mormon culture.
 
Closer to today, it seems to me the Simon LaPlace also taught a similar idea to Julian. The great mathematician reasoned that the causal world must have had a non causal beginning. He said that since the first event, creation, did to follow the rules of causation then it must not have been due to a first cause. Of course LePlace had no hard evidence for this, rather he worked form faith in the consistency of logic in a Bayesian regression.
 
Back to the Jews, in the 1900s great rabbi, Soleveitchik. offered a reconciliation https://www.amazon.com/Halakhic-Mind-Joseph-B-Soloveitchik/dp/0684863723 much like that offered later by the Dalai Lama. Soleveitchik taught that science and Torah study are both processes. He said that when science proved a fact, the Torah needed to be interpreted to accept that a fact but that the interpretation of Torah itself was a process compatible to scientific discovery. The Dali Lama taught the same thing about the Buddhist cosmology .. that is was the discipline of their worship rather than their reality that was important. 
 
Why not respect these processes? I think they are very human.  My reading suggests that all religious beliefs began about 70k years ago when homo sapiens evolved language. With words and grammar came a need to share hypotheses as to how the world worked. That sharing was pretty successful and is why …AFIK .. all human societies had religions until the 1800s when science began to be able to explain most things.
 

Science does not say that the religious process is not useful.   Skinner taught that Freud’s Ego, Id, and Superego were never defined entities. Skinner pointed out that these three deities had not been found by neuroanatomy or objective tools of neurobiology. As a devout student of Skinner, I agree with him that Freudian analysis is based on false constructs. Does the nonexistence of a physical Id make the concept useless?


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  1. Mark Adams #
    1

    The truth is if any religion were actually true we would all know it and follow it. We would all know the word of the God or Dog as if we were ants sniffing the chemicals in the air controlling our behavior. Some Greek philosophers come close to a truth when they say we humans are social political animals. After all even by that point we had had a million years on the plains of Africa and many many varieties of religion.
    No religion gave man the scientific principal. Most human beings do not understand the scientific principal, and sometimes that is religions interference, or that most religions do not really want their followers thinking for themselves. And there is that bugaboo that science can prove their god actually exists, though unfortunately like big foot science cannot disprove a thing that does not exist. The truth likely is there is no god or gods. That the Christian god died during the enlightenment is an open secret, though we have not a way of thinking within this brave new godless world of homo sapiens.

    Religion is at the heart of the conflict in Kashmir. While it is unlikely the conflict could lead to both sides unleashing the full range of their arsenals against each other, their religious hubris makes it ominously possible. Perhaps the demonstration of a hundred or more atomic fires might get us to grow up, or we will find out if nuclear winter can start with a couple of hundred nukes…it is a scientific theory that can be proved or disproved though it would be unpleasant for the rest of us, and no religion has any theory about nuclear winter though a few are fascinated with the end of days, something that does not exist with science. Though it does make predictions on when Earth would become uninhabitable by creatures like us in the future unless we use science to continue on. Man will at some point suffer the fate all of Earth’s species have come to and that is an end. Extinction. Perhaps we are intelligent enough to surpass the dinosaurs record of survival but we have millions of years to go.



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