Irreconcilable Differences: The Myth of Compatibility between Science and Religions

It is one of the great debates of our time, the ongoing argument between those who maintain that, ultimately, science and religions are compatible and those who claim they are not. There have been books, blogs, online debates, opinion columns, such as this demurral called “God and Science Don’t Mix” by Lawrence Krauss in a recent Wall Street Journal. Various foundations, such as the Templeton Foundation, which was created to promote the affirmative view, and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which seems favorably inclined to the affirmative view as well, have conducted symposia on the subject. For instance, the Pew Forum’s latest offering in the debate was titled “Religion and Science: Conflict or Harmony?” ((If you are interested in this subject and want to track the debate, two of the best sources of information are P.Z. Myers blog, Pharyngula, and Jerry Coyne’s blog, Why Evolution is True. Both could be characterized as anti-accommodationist, I suppose, but their reactions are informed by science, and they cite references, including those to whom they are reacting. Both blogs are well-written and informative, touching on many areas.))

There seems to be a great effort on the part of those who think they have a mission to not only describe but also shape our culture to dampen any signs of disagreement between the scientific and the religious perspectives that have often appeared, to this untrained eye, to suggest some antagonism in the very public battles between them. Thus, many reporters, social commentator’s, religionists and even scientists have held forth on the necessity to promote harmony between these “nonoverlapping magisteria,” to borrow the late Stephen Jay Gould’s phrasing. (See “The trouble with NOMA” for my view of Gould’s description.)

Thus, accommodation between the religious and the scientific is presented as something to be desired, if not at all costs, certainly in the overwhelming majority of cases. And those obstreperous individuals, of whom Richard Dawkins—unfairly, in my view—appears to have become the prototype, who dare to suggest the accommodation may mask a sellout of basic scientific values are just being rude. According to the mavens of accommodation, those who cannot say anything nice about religion should just shut up about it. Now they are not quite gutsy enough to come out and declare such a requirement openly, but it is implicit in their constant insistence that those who won’t “play nice” with religion are damaging our public discourse and doing a disservice to the many believers who are not fundamentalists and who do, for the most part, believe in science.

All of this noise obscures, in the public mind at least, an obvious and, for the religious, uncomfortable fact—the “elephant in the room” that everyone seems to be ignoring. Science and religions are not just different ways of looking at things, they are in fundamental disagreement about the nature of reality. They are, in a word, incompatible.

This does not mean that a scientist may not believe in a god or practice a religion and still be a good scientist. Human beings function at high levels in all walks of life and practically every one of them believes in contradictory and, at times, mutually exclusive ideas. For example, we are very good at compartmentalizing our minds so that our fantasies can coexist with our perceptions and understanding of the real world. As long as we don’t force the issue, the two may cohabit quite peacefully, neither one intruding on the other. People do this sort of thing all the time. However, saying that two ideas may coexist in the same mind, or the same culture, should not be taken as evidence those ideas are compatible with one another. That a scientist may believe in a god says nothing about whether or not his or her religious beliefs are compatible with science.

Science is based upon observation, experimentation and demonstration. In order to be acceptable, scientific evidence must be susceptible to independent verification. When evidence cannot be verified, when experiments cannot be repeated, any conclusions drawn from them are either held in abeyance, pending further study, or disregarded. Science is about asking questions and challenging the answers. As a consequence, science is always unfinished, always contingent upon what we know today and what we may learn tomorrow. Above all else, science is a reason-based process. It is inherently rational. Science is a method of learning about the universe and everything in it through the application of human cognition.

Those who advocate accommodation between science and religions are fond of declaring that science answers the “how” questions and religions answer the “why” questions. They are not, however, very clear about exactly what that means. Sometimes how and why are inextricably intertwined so that it is not possible to understand one without the other. For example, one cannot understand how the human genome works without understanding why it is put together the way it is. It is not possible to understand the “why” of nuclear fission without understanding the “how” of atomic theory.

Of course, religionists will complain what they mean is that religions supply the answers to the “really big” questions of human existence. “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of existence?” Those kinds of questions. There are, of course, perfectly good answers to those questions supplied by science. The first answer is that I am here because my parents engaged in sexual activity and I was the result. The second is that existence appears to supply its own meaning. Existence is an end in itself and requires nothing more than that to make it meaningful.

“No. No. That is not what we mean either,” the religionists will declare. They claim to be talking about ultimate meanings and that sort of thing. What religions answer are those ultimate questions that cannot be addressed by science. In other words, religions claim to be able to answer questions for which there are no satisfactory answers except by appeal to the irrational and the indefinable. But what sort of answers are supplied thereby?

Here is the rub. It is all well and good to ask “Why is there something rather than nothing?” as many people have. However, there is no way to get to a verifiable answer. Since we cannot see beyond the event, the “Big Bang,” which led to the development of this universe, we cannot know what conditions were before it came into existence. Maybe something always has existed. Maybe the universe is a unique event, a cosmic hiccup that will never be repeated. Maybe universes are as common as galaxies or solar systems. Maybe the universe we occupy was created as a bauble for the children of a species of cosmic overlords, something to keep the kiddies occupied whilst they were in their cribs. Maybe it is the accidental byproduct of extreme flatulence by the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Maybe the answer is simply “Why not?”

Obviously, some of those answers might deserve more consideration than others and one, or maybe two of them are intended only in jest. However, there is no method known to us to prove any of them false. But what sort of answer is “God?” It really is no answer at all. Positing a god as an answer to unanswerable questions tells us absolutely nothing about anything. It is simply a pietistic way of begging those questions.

So what exactly is it about religions that science must accommodate?

This is an important question, one to which I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer. As a method of finding out about what exists, science brings a lot to the table. Religions offer nothing that is helpful in that endeavor. Instead they offer verbal slight of hand, phrases like “the ground of all being” or “a god outside of space and time” or new age gobbledygook that sounds like “the ineffable essence at the core of an inexplicable reality.” That kind of thing. Such language may be appropriate for the ethereal meanderings of theologians who rarely offer anything useful in the real world, but they are scarcely helpful in finding out about what is going on in the universe we all occupy and why it appears to operate the way it does.

It is no virtue that the only territory religion can claim for its own is that which is outside the ken of rational inquiry. In that terrain anything is possible, and nothing can be verified. It is the realm of mystic visions, spiritual entities and things that go bump in the night. The gods who populate such regions may be the creators and destroyers of worlds or the ethereal panaceas and placebos who have fed the fantasies of all manner of delusional people. And while it may be impossible to demonstrate that such fanciful notions are false, there is not the slightest bit of verifiable evidence to suggest they are true. Attempting to shoehorn such notions into scientific theories does a disservice to the work of the scientific enterprise as a whole. It also goes a long way toward destroying the credibility of the scientists who make the attempt.

Consider the “fine-tuning” argument so beloved by theists. There is a set of physical properties that need to have the values they have in order for human beings, or any complex life forms, to have evolved. Thus, it is claimed, a divine agent must have set things up so that the universe we occupy would have those values. Ergo, “God”—or whatever you want to call the agent in question—must exist, or we could not be here. Now whether it is expressed as a probability or only a possibility, this argument has no place in science. (For more treatments of this subject and a variety of arguments on both sides of the issue, I refer you here.)

The late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and other works, once compared this notion to a mud puddle declaring that the hole it occupied must have been created for it because otherwise it could not have fit so well. (Here’s a youtube audio of Adams making the point.) Any universe occupied by complex life must be organized to accommodate that life. There’s no reason to suppose a divine agent had anything to do with it. It’s a bit like declaring that human legs are proof there must be a god because no matter how tall you are, they are exactly the right length for your feet to reach the ground.

We expect to hear this sort of pap coming from religionists. However, it is surprising to hear it put forth by any scientist, whether they have a background in astrophysics or not. Certainly, the constants exist. That’s not the point. The point is that their existence is evidence of nothing except that certain conditions may be necessary for life to evolve. Positing “God” as the source of those constants violates the most basic rules of science. It is not even a good hypothesis because there is absolutely no way to test it. Making declarations about what is necessary for a universe like ours to exist is an exercise in futility anyway. Ours is the only universe we know anything about. You simply cannot form valid conclusions about the conditions necessary for a phenomenon to exist when you have only one example of that phenomenon.

There are no concepts put forth by religions to which science must accommodate itself. However, science puts forth many ideas to which religions must accommodate their own beliefs if they wish to retain any semblance of intellectual respectability. Here in the United States, many religious people deplore evolution, dismiss modern cosmology and declare their preference for ignorance and superstition. Now, people have the right to believe such things. They have no right, however, to require anyone else to respect such nonsense. Religions that preach the world was created by a deity 6,000 years ago (or in any similar time frame) ought not be allowed to influence the way biology is taught in modern science classrooms in public schools because the theory of evolution offends their religious sensibilities. A person’s right to be an ignoramus does not translate into a right to impose ignorance on others.

Religions and science need not be in conflict. When they are, it is usually religions who pick the fight. They pick it because they see their dominance over the minds of humankind slowly being eaten away. For tens of thousands of years, supernaturalism dominated the human narrative and gave us thousands of gods and hundreds of thousands of religions. Religions, like all other human cultural artifacts, have evolved to meet the changing conditions in which they have found themselves. Today, however, modern science has evolved a new narrative that makes the hoary tales told by religions seem quaint and parochial and, at times, destructive. The story science tells us about who we are and how we came to be is far grander and far more inspiring than the puny myths peddled by modern religions.

So religions may well need to accommodate themselves to modern science if they are to have any prospect for survival in the coming centuries. But science has no need and no reason to accommodate itself to the beliefs of any religion. And unless religion can bring more to the party than wishful thinking and unverifiable observations, it would be a violation of its very nature for science to try.

George Ricker is an award-winning weekly newspaper reporter and editor, now retired. He is the author of Godless in America: conversations with an atheist. He can be reached at Read other articles by George, or visit George's website.

26 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. James Keye said on July 30th, 2009 at 8:51am #

    There is an important question largely unconsidered in this essay: why (or how if you wish) is it that people in so many forms and in such great numbers have and cling to “religious” structures? I consider this a science form question, therefore, am not at all proposing that the many tenets of the many religions are imparted reality through enumeration. I am suggesting that the depth and persistency (and madness) of religions in human experience needs to be addressed by more than the claim of religion’s incompatibility with measured truth.

    Further, religion is not monolithic (or monotropic). It is complex and runs from fully functional as a form of relationship to the universal to the completely mad. Religion as a function in human process and experience has a history that most likely predates our species. It will not so easily be put to rest.

  2. bozh said on July 30th, 2009 at 9:19am #

    it may be more useful to differentiate btwn ‘religion’ [an a priori ‘knowledege’] of the clergy and of the church goers.
    a church goer’s ‘religion’ is circular: s/he knows there is “god” and what their god thinks/wishes because he wrote the bible. And it is all in the bible. Nothing new can be said.
    and the circle is closed.
    priestly discourse is also circular; however, their discourse appears more eerie/airy, eristic and it is always about ‘knowledge’ of their god.

    scientific discourse is not circular. Scientific looking, touching, smelling, hearing, testing never ends, while theocratic never begins.

    and even theocrats run to science when sick. God is, as well as all the theology about god being almighty, quickly forgotten.

    after science cures them, they praise lord, nevertheless.
    go figure. tnx

  3. John S. Hatch said on July 30th, 2009 at 9:28am #

    Nietzsche described religion as ‘voluntary stupidity’. At the Catholic school of my youth, there were lists of forbidden religious questions, forbidden books, and we were told that even Protestants (never mind ‘the pagans’ couldn’t go to heaven.

    Stupid indeed. And that was before Pope Gucci.

  4. Michael Kenny said on July 30th, 2009 at 10:59am #

    “There are no concepts put forth by religions to which science must accommodate itself. However, science puts forth many ideas to which religions must accommodate their own beliefs if they wish to retain any semblance of intellectual respectability.”

    That’s exactly what I was taught in Catholic school 40 years ago! So much for Mr Riker’s supposed “irreconcilaible differences” between religion and science! I get the impression that what Mr Riker is calling “science” is in fact materialism and what he is calling “religion” is American Bible-literalist fundamentalism, which is almost non-existant outside the US. Perhaps Mr Riker should adopt a more empirical, scientific approach!

  5. kalidas said on July 30th, 2009 at 11:13am #

    If one desires answers, one asks of those who know.

  6. Tim Stroud said on July 30th, 2009 at 12:00pm #

    “A person’s right to be an ignoramus does not translate into a right to impose ignorance on others.” – Of course it does. Parents have a right to teach their children what they believe. And then a group of like-minded parents have a right to form a community to teach what they believe to their children. And, if they want to, they can form a church, employing the ultimate authority, to teach what they believe to all those children. And generation after generation impose “ignorance” on children, who may or may not ever learn anything different. This notion of “rights” gives them the right to perpetuate ignorance. In some cases the ignorance goes so deep as to keep parents from saving sick or injured children from death. Is this the price of Freedom? *sigh*

  7. Darrell Barker said on July 30th, 2009 at 12:17pm #

    George, your treatise above is as close as I’ve come to enjoying a written “secular sermon” in a long time and one that I might not have the privilege to enjoy reading again if religion would be successful in amalgamating and then marginalizing science as the source of acquired knowledge.

    It’s not likely they will be triumphant in our life time as the likes of thinking men like you speak out for concise separation.

    I have become increasingly dismayed at modern (as in “of late”) Christians that keep adapting to the discoveries of science as if they thought of the observations of science first.

    I come from a time back in the 20th Century that within the church you never heard preachers or apologists say: “God created evolution to function the way we observe it.” Today, I hear it all the time. Science is forcing the church to adapt.

    I almost said “Amen brother” when you said: “religions may well need to accommodate themselves to modern science if they are to have any prospect for survival in the coming centuries.”

    Christianity has been adapting from it’s inception by adopting, and some say, stealing, the popular customs and thinking of the pagans to then incorporate them as if they thought of it first, hence, making the church a prime example that things do evolve for survival.

  8. Jason Mierek said on July 30th, 2009 at 1:27pm #

    As a professor of comparative religion, I wrangle with these sorts of issues all the time, both in terms of student questions and in my own spiritual life.

    “Religions and science need not be in conflict. When they are, it is usually religions who pick the fight…So religions may well need to accommodate themselves to modern science if they are to have any prospect for survival in the coming centuries.”

    I think the author is 100% correct here, and the best of all religions do seek to reinterpret themselves in order to balance existential concerns (i.e., what it means to have a fulfilling human existence, how am I to live, etc.) with the changing factual understanding of the world that arises from the scientific method. Learning about the factual nature of the cosmos is what science does well; addressing existential concerns and steering us toward experiences of transcendence is what religions (at their best) do well.

    This comment, however, “The story science tells us about who we are and how we came to be is far grander and far more inspiring than the puny myths peddled by modern religions,” is 100% debatable. While I find the Hubble photographs to be more impressive symbols of cosmic awesomeness and grandeur than the famous image of Shiva Nataraja, the notion that human being are nothing more than biological machines whose purpose is the passing along of their genes to subsequent generations is not an inspiring vision, at least not to me. (And, for what it is worth, the talk of selfish genes isn’t science either, but a worldview; philosophy at best, dogma at worst. For a non-religious critique of Dawkins’ fallacious dogma, and its pernicious implications for humanity, check out The Gadfly at “Unweaving the rainbow” may not diminish its beauty for some, but it does for others, and we on the left need to appreciate both of those perspectives and make room for both without insisting that facts be made malleable.

    “It is no virtue that the only territory religion can claim for its own is that which is outside the ken of rational inquiry. In that terrain anything is possible, and nothing can be verified.” Religion, at its best, is about inculcating experiences of beauty, hope, love, awe, forgiveness, and kindness in human beings. (That it has far too often failed at this isn’t proof that religion as a whole is a failure, any more than the ideal of democracy is a failure simply because people often elect bad leaders.) Examining the neurobiology of why I prefer one musician to another, or one poet to another, or one lover to another isn’t beyond the ken of rational inquiry, but science isn’t in the business of trying to lead people to experience love, beauty, awe, etc. That is the non-rational (in the sense that appreciation of music, poetry, art, etc. is non-rational) function of religion.

  9. James Keye said on July 30th, 2009 at 6:02pm #

    This essay and many of the comments are treating religion as something other than a human behavior. There is absolutely no reason to think that it is more. Religion as we use and understand it (not including the exuberant howling of coyotes or the social behavior of elephants) begins with humans. It is not a rational idea that religion was already there waiting for humans to evolve. Until we deal with this reality all discussions of religion will just be nutty.

  10. bozh said on July 31st, 2009 at 6:49am #

    james keye,
    if one looks at any panhuman behavior from the established fact that everything that happens on our planet is interconnected; then, obviously, piousness is an integral part of a whole.

    however, if one starts musing ab. ‘religion’ from a premise that the ‘soul’, ‘spirits’, ‘angels’, ‘gods’ have a separate and eternal existence,
    all further talk with such guessers is forever closed.

    we can only gather knowledge thru five senses; thus, to experience/know ‘gods’ ‘angels’ ‘spirits’ one must posses a sixth or even a seventh sense.

  11. Bryan Enders said on July 31st, 2009 at 7:19am #

    I am of the mind that (A) bias is irremovable and (B) it is far more honest to acknowledge bias than to act as though one is a purely rational being fully capable of knowing and interpreting the sense data one receives to assemble a complete objective understanding.

    Science has historically been a method, not an ontology. The confusion comes though, out of a correlation in movements. With the Enlightenment came a rejection of what were seen as ontologies of superstition that gave way to endless tautology. This naturalism (an ontology that assumes only empirically observed and confirmed objects/phenomena exist) proved to…….

    Jumping back, many historic, scientific findings have been at the hands of the religious (as education has, at various times, been the domain of religion), whether the Muslim, Christian, or otherwise. So one could not say that only the scientist freed from religion may use science, only that perhaps the methods of science worked in spite of the religious person’s metaphysics.

    I find it helpful to think of science as “controlled experience,” as “experience” and “experiment” share an etymology. Through experience, bundles of sense data are gathered. The good scientist attempts to focus and control his experience through limitation of variables. It is important to keep in mind that the control of variables is fiction. This does not mean that it is never real nor effective, only that it may be neither and it is man-made. The scientist must make limiting assumptions in order to focus his results—assumptions such as “the universe is rational, the laws of science are constant, inductive and deductive reasoning will not cease to be effective, there is only material force acting upon my research subject, I am capable of perceiving all relevant factors,” ad infinitum. The good scientist, however, knows that his results will likely confirm his assumptions (whatever they may be) and so should not be considered as relevant parts of the result. The practicer of the religion of scientism will, on the other hand, consider his experiments as proof of his assumptions, recreating the endless tautologies of the superstitious person; and he will do this while claiming to have no significant bias and no obscuring assumptions.

    One of the original virtues of science is its embracement of uncertainty. To say, “I don’t know” or even “I cannot know” does not imply a rejection of the absolute—only a rejection of absolute certainty. The good scientist has always said, “Assuming X, Y appears to be the best possible explanation for Z at the moment.” The practicer of the religion of scientism says, “Y is the rational explanation for Z. All detractors from this view are ignorant.”

    There are some sciences, which, in upholding the values of uncertainty and honesty have positioned themselves, not to provide universal explanation, but only perspective…a lens with which we would hope all human experience would be viewed. In anthropology we have the role of the participant-observer. The participant-observer does not (as modernism would urge) seek to hide her role in the results, nor to make universal declarations backed by force. Instead she provides narrative without unnecessary explication. She does not codify any body of thought, but instead contributes to its dynamic consensus. There are similar values in phenomenology, as well as other sciences.

    Another flaw in naturalism is its ethnocentric declaration that the naturist has rationality and all else have “culture.” Here culture, or a body of symbols and relationships that interplay and play a role in the formation of social and individual identity, is reserved for the primitive, the unEnlightened individual. Never mind the way in which this “progress” reflects that of much of religion, where enlightenment is reserved for the few—where many were simply unfortunate enough to not have lived in the right place or time to obtain this enlightenment. To say we do not have culture is simply to hide it, not to make it not so, just as when we say, “There is no oppression in capitalism or the state” or “Gender discrimination is no longer an issue in America.”

    It is also necessary to point out the difference between reason and rationality. Reason is possessed by all human beings; it is the ability to make meaning and meaningful connections out of the human experience. Rationality on the other hand is only possessed by the person who assumes that when he cuts apart his subject to examine its parts he has understood the subject, as though it is merely the sum of its material parts. I’d argue very strongly that neither man nor the universe bares any semblance of rationality.

    Science, as a method, has much to offer. The findings of science can have meaning for all people, religious and non-religious. The rejection of the validity of a finding of science (without the use of force to back up this rejection) is to embrace the scientist’s and philosopher’s drive: “I am not satisfied with the current explanation, let me see if there is another.”

    There is more I could say on the subject, but instead I’ll leave to other’s who have said it better. I recommend a read of the ethnographic and sociopolitical literature written by David Graeber, particularly on the nature of magic and the social contract, for even the non-religious person submits to “magic” arbitration. I’d also recommend familiarizing yourself with the criticisms of Cartesian dualism, for you may find that Alfie Kohn’s notion: “It is inaccurate…to speak of an ‘I’ over here and an ‘environment’ over there and then say they interact. There is a sense in which the whole that includes them is more real than either by itself” speaks to your condition.

    I consider myself a Christian existentialist and anarchist, rejecting conventional Christendom for its dogmatism and use of force to back up its assumptions. But to each his own. I could be wrong about everything, and I accept that.

  12. Bryan Enders said on July 31st, 2009 at 7:40am #

    I’d also like to add that I don’t believe an individual can mold or actively change her ontology. She can put herself in a position to have her ontology changed by exposing herself to new and different experiences, but she cannot know ahead of time what those changes will look like.

    This renders the forceful assertion that one should change one’s ontology from this to that (e.g. “Why do you insist on believing the universe exists within the mind of God? Get it right, there is no God.”) futile.

  13. Don Griffith said on July 31st, 2009 at 10:27am #

    The definition of science and religion is imperative to make this discussion relevant and consequently useful. Few people comprehend either clearly. Therefore, arguments pro or con revisit the same issues and cover the same ground. The basic flaw in these types of discussions is that there is a supposed difference between science and theology. Both sides agree that there is and then attempt to resolve the differences or to keep them distinctly separated through each side’s logic. My proposition is that there is no difference between the two. I aver that science and theology are one or at least two branches on the same tree, thereby giving something for both opponents to rally around and unit as allies against me. Contemporary views about science and theology (religion), are at war with each other and not the fundamentals of these two. As mankind grows in his understanding of these magnificent concepts combining as one, he will find peace on this issue, and a previously invisible world will open to him–a very practical and useful one at that. For the time being, he is much like the caveman trying to comprehend and explain his new discovery of fire.

  14. earthling said on July 31st, 2009 at 3:06pm #

    Why do you call yourself a Christian at all??

  15. billrowe said on July 31st, 2009 at 3:31pm #

    Succinctly, all religion is “crap”…

  16. bozh said on July 31st, 2009 at 4:27pm #

    i am making now simplicity out of enormous complexities, usually called ”religions” [ i prefer the labels “cults”, or “eterne quarrelings”].

    there either is or isn’t god.
    if god exists, s/he/it needs no followers let alone priests. If god exists, it can put its advice/commands into our brains directly and not employ agents for that purpose. {agents with soft and good living}
    if god exists, it wld accept uncoditionally every human being. He wld not need vain priests to that for it.

    let us remember the fact that churches were built and priests wore brillliant apparel in order to impress and enserf the peasants and not to impress god.

    and what if god does not exist? Well, it seems, one can use the above analyses for that, too!

    by this, i am proving there are no yahweh, allah, baal, ashur, god. And i am not even using the facts that i haven’t as of yet seen, felt, smelled, heard, tasted ‘gods’.
    now, wldn’t one one want to at least tweak its beard?

  17. Annie Ladysmith said on July 31st, 2009 at 11:53pm #

    This is just the kind of stupid discussion that goes around in the most nauseating circles. Here it is: a person may believe in God, or not, it is their choice. Science at best, a limited and singular pursuit of knowledge, has nothing to do with it one way or the other. People who are looking for proofs for one or the other by use of the one or the other (told you it was a vicious circle) are insane.
    I just love that academic concept, ‘comparitive religions’, what is that??
    It is so stupid. Believe in God or not, that is reality not religion.
    So, I pooh-pooh all the stupid religions and there ‘traditions’ of men, and i pooh-pooh all the stupid sciences that people are brainwashed into believeing are awesome. The religions are not awesome and the sciences are not awesome. They are all limited views of reality put forth as dogma.
    God is AWESOME!

  18. B99 said on August 1st, 2009 at 10:02am #

    But Annie, there is no god. That’s your brainwashing at work. I think if you had been drilled from birth that there are banshees in your closet, you’d be on here shouting, ‘Banshees are awesome.’ Instead, they got you with the god stuff. And you think you made a choice.

    But seriously, you just love the academic concept of ‘comparative religions’? But you admit you don’t know what it is. Did you not go to college? I’m not sure you are in a position to pooh-pooh anything.

  19. George Jelliss said on August 2nd, 2009 at 3:20pm #

    One of the commenters (Jason Mierek) writes: “Religion, at its best, is about inculcating experiences of beauty, hope, love, awe, forgiveness, and kindness in human beings.” I thought that was Humanism!

  20. kalidas said on August 2nd, 2009 at 3:35pm #

    Well wait a second, B99..
    Weren’t you, like pretty much all of us, drilled from the first?
    How did you escape, wise up, whatever you choose to call it?
    Why can’t Annie escape, if she so chooses? Or not.
    Does it require a college degree?

    Unlearning is a messy affair, at times.

    Hasn’t there been a previous discussion of “college education” and it’s relative worth? Wasn’t it in fact pooh-poohed by many?
    Not a good example.
    Rather elitist, isn’t it?

    Not to mention Annie’s remark as to compararive religions was sarcasm.
    Did you miss that?

  21. Don Hawkins said on August 2nd, 2009 at 4:10pm #

    Hubble’s observations suggested that there was a time, called the big bang, when the universe was infinitesimally small and infinitely dense. Under such conditions all the laws of science, and therefore all ability to predict the future, would break down. If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time. Their existence can be ignored because it would have no onservational consequences. One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply would not be defined. It should be emphasized that this beginning in time is very different from those that had been considered previously. In an unchanging universe a beginning in time is something that has to be imposed by some being outside the universe; there is no physical necessity for a beginning. One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job! Stephen Hawking

  22. Annie Ladysmith said on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:24am #

    Dear Beer 99, in YOUR world there is no God. YOUR world is so large and infinite and with the intellect you have who needs a God???
    Sorry i’m so small and finite i just can’t fit your partical physic ideas into my puny little walnut brain. But keep on thinking those lofty thoughts and guzzle a few more down while your at it.

  23. Don Hawkins said on August 3rd, 2009 at 4:12am #

    But keep on thinking those lofty thoughts and guzzle a few more down while your at it.

    Annie that was an interesting thought. Just maybe without a more simple way of thinking a new way of thinking then what. Do we see lofty thoughts from leaders you know the people who tell us how to think? I watch them as best I can and lofty is not exactly what I see. The system we made for ourselves is no longer run by us human’s but the system run’s us. The movie the Matrix was a look into that World and granted taken to the limit. Is that the World we now live in well sort of and here is where you need to read between the lines and ask is it working out well. Some say yes some say no. One example for me is it a good idea to eat all the fish in the ocean because that’s what we are doing and not only that but the fish we eat have by products of what we use to make our energy. Is that a lofty thought no we are eating all the fish and the Matrix will make it all better? Remember in the movie where the matrix made it seem as the World was ok but if you took the red pill you saw the real World a ruined Earth. The matrix want’s you to take the blue pill and unlike the movie the World we are now making for ourselves will be anything but easy. Still time and to make things as simple as possible but not simpler is one way.

  24. Don Hawkins said on August 3rd, 2009 at 6:59am #

    Here’s one of the confusing issues regarding global warming: after all the data we’ve collected so far how can we still have such wide variety in outlooks for our future?

    Well Mark Maslin, director of the Environment Institute at the University College London and his colleague John Adams proposed one theory.

    They believe that human opinion can be explained by how we respond to risk and uncertainty.
    In reference to global warming beliefs, they combine four possible myths of nature with four myths of human nature. Myth is their term – you can also think of them as belief or opinion.
    Here they are:
    1) Nature is benign: earth is predictable and robust, able to withstand or bounce back from any damage. This view corresponds with what they call individualists, entrepreneurial types who don’t necessarily believe in control or intervention from others. Maslin uses the example of self-made oil barons.
    2) Nature is ephemeral: earth is fragile and it is in danger of collapse. And this view is held by egalitarians, people who have strong democratic group loyalties but do not respect externally imposed rules. Radical environmentalists might fall into this category.
    3) Nature is tolerant: earth can handle some changes, but major excesses will send it reeling. This is a view held by hierarchists, people who know their place, and adhere to strong social structures. Scientists or soldiers might be examples.
    4) Nature is capricious: earth’s reactions are so unpredictable that we cannot predict nor accurately plan our future. This is the view of fatalists, those who feel they have little control over their lives.
    From this framework, Maslin says we can tell which person is likely to believe which view of nature. And this is one way to look at why there are so many responses to the threat of global warming, despite us all having access to the same information.
    —Christie Nicholson

    The evil is not that you cannot change human nature. The evil is that human nature cannot change you. Dunham

  25. Annie Ladysmith said on August 3rd, 2009 at 8:37am #

    What planet are you freaks on?? Can i just have my freaking opinion without a crew of pseudo-intellect professor wannabes analizing every word i write. i’m very complimented but am resigned to getting the last word, so shut your stupid maws now and realize things are not as complicated as you would like them to be. What was the subject??
    Yeah, God. i still think it’s legal in this country to believe in God. If you don’t like that wait awhile, i’m pretty sure we’ll be the first to get reeducated. But until then you will just have to deal with it, it is so open-minded, so universal of you, to deny something you have no knowledge of, i’d say it is you who sound a bit brainwashed. Don’t you have soemthing else to do besides writing these boring paragraphs and paragraphs…i quarentee you no-one reads it.

  26. Annie Ladysmith said on August 3rd, 2009 at 8:45am #

    Spelling errors (because i don’t have an editor) are not allowed as subjects to critique or verbally abuse as a form of immature blog-sport.
    I don’t have time to read what a write a few hundred times like you ‘professors’ do.