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Truth & Reconciliation: Uniting Science and Religion

April 28, 2017


A very old problem is gaining momentum and attention these days: the conflict between religion and science. It relates to fake news and to modern religion and the alt-right.

It seems to come to a head in examples of scientists who are also religious creationists. They aren't common but they exist. You can google it. They get interviewed.

The scenario is people who work with science and who also believe the earth is only a few thousand years old. Heck, maybe even some geologists are in these ranks.

I've read one saying that he compartmentalizes. I can see how they would have to. ...They believe one thing at work and another thing after work.

This would seem to be the definition of schizophrenia.

But what's the harm, you say? If he gets his work done and he's happy, who cares?

I think the big social problem with schizophrenia is that such people are the most manipulatable. It is the best set-up for exploitation. Such people could do anything opposing their values by saying they were just following orders.

This situation showcases the need for unity, for integrity and integration of values.

One might think the resolution requires the abandonment of religion. One can't believe both science and anti-science.

Actually, the solution requires education. Science is part of society. It's a utility-based belief system itself. Also, philosophy, history, anthropology and psychology are sciences as well. Looking broadly we see that science is a big tent. This is obvious. But science also includes the study of metaphysics, the study of what is behind science. What is behind and above our ideas about science can help us see all that the different kinds of sciences can include.

Can we find a helpful and scientifically valid theory that lets science co-exist with religion? I think so. Thankfully, it's common and established. ...Science and religion deal with different aspects of the same thing, life.

Science is testable and repeatable; it's also theoretical.

Religion deals with values and myth.

Science is about facts, true facts.

Religion is about truth, about what is reliable even though it can't be repeatedly tested in a double-blind study. One is objective, the other subjective. Both can be studied! What does "I'll be true" mean? "True love" and "true friend"? True can mean factual. It can, more strongly for our own lives, mean loyal, reliable, trusty, steadfast. "You can count on me." Yes, past experience gives evidence that someone is true, but loyalty points to the future. "I trust that he will be true to his word." Trust relates to this kind of truth as well. It implies a gamble, a risk. Science is about what you can measure. The loyalty kind of truth is existential. It's part of philosophy. We can study it as well. What kind of ideas hold up or let us down?


What kind of living or value system can you *count on* to have a good life? That refers to a different kind of truth than just facts. It's based on facts IN PART. But it is MORE than that.

Myth is the story or set of ideas that a society is built on. Every society has it. Myth does not mean fake or a lie. Those who study myth know differently. Let's all learn from what scholars know. How can life be built on myth? Because stories have MEANINGS. The meanings of myths remind us of how and why we do things. Myth might always include paradox. Paradox also doesn't mean "something that's crazy." Life is full of paradox, where opposites are both true.

So...

One can be an astronomer, measuring the sun.

...And also believe in the biblical story of Joshua stopping the sun.

One involves facts and science; its evidence is numbers. The other involves myth and the science of life, our social lives; its evidence is in the quality of our lives.

It is wrong of evangelical creationists to do things like trying to prove how it might be possible that the sun physically stopped for a time some years ago.

It is wrong of anyone to try to prove that Santa is alive and flies around wedging himself down chimneys. It is true that the spirit of giving is alive.

Is spirit a ghost? Some thing we might be able to videotape?

No, spirit is a reality that is part of science. Spirit isn't a thing, it's a quality. ...I am spirited. My spirits are high. What gives me spirit? What inspires me?
Spirit is inspiration! Ghost relates to the German word Geist -- which also means Spirit. Zeitgeist: the spirit of the times. (Same word roots -- check your etymology.) Spirit is motivation, is energy, my gumption, my source of drive. What about the spirit of a group? What is firing them up? Or getting them down. It can help me to think of spirit as fuel. It can also help me to think of spirit as dark or light, good or bad. Sometimes it can help me to think of it as mixed -- how muddy or how clean? My motivations are mixed, they change. It can help me to pay attention to them. These aspects are each different. But they can be ways of looking at the same thing: life.

Seen in this way there is no reason for scientists to dismiss spirituality. ...It's the study of motivation.

A demon or angel don't have to be seen as things, but as forces improving or worsening a situation. A good or bad idea getting into someone's head and influencing them.

If a person thinks that the sun works by physics and also thinks that a desert dude once stopped physics then they are insane even if they can hold down a job ... and they are also dangerous.

If a person believes in physics and is also inspired by stories of heroism and trust in the unknown they can be safe and solid citizens.

There is a way for science and religion to co-exist. Each relates to life in a different way. Our own actual, intermingled lives are the root that ties it all together.

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