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What Do Scientists Really Think About Religion?


minsocal
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"A majority of scientists say religion and science don't always conflict, according to new survey results released by Rice University.

 

The study, conducted over five years through in-depth interviews with scientists at universities whose fields range from biology and chemistry to social sciences like political science and economics, dispels the widely held notion that religion and science are incompatible.

 

“When it comes to questions about the meaning of life, ways of understanding reality, origins of Earth and how life developed on it, many have seen religion and science as being at odds and even in irreconcilable conflict,” said Rice sociologist Elaine Ecklund. Yet, a majority of the scientists Ecklund and her colleagues interviewed saw both religion and science as “valid avenues of knowledge” she said.

 

Ecklund and her team interviewed 275 tenured and tenure-track faculty members from 21 research universities in the United States. Only 15 percent of respondents said religion and science were always in conflict, while 15 percent said the two were never in conflict. The majority, 70 percent, said religion and science are only sometimes in conflict."

 

http://www.huffingto...eligion-science

 

This seems to run counter to the more strident voices out there today. As for myself, I like the research because it allows scientists (plural) to speak openly on the subject.

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Myron,

 

Thanks, that is interesting.

 

I think the better question would have been, "Do you think religion and science are inherently in conflict." Clearly, there are forms of religion that are in conflict with science (see creationism). But, there are others (dare I say PC?) that are not.

 

I thought this quote from the article was interesting: "Scientists didn't like the impact Dawkins is having on the broader public world of how people understand scientists. Scientists are very concerned about how the public views them because of how budgets toward science are being cut," Ecklund said."

 

I wish that their issue with Dawkins was not, at least partly, motivated by financial concerns, but intellectual rigor.

 

George

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Honestly, I'm not the least bit surprised by this. I have always questioned how one could look in a petri dish or wrangle with the laws of physic and be oblivious to the wonder. Even if, as some physisits claim, the universe didn't start with a big bang, the question of when and how whatever came first started still would, imo, instill wonder and awe.

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Honestly, I'm not the least bit surprised by this. I have always questioned how one could look in a petri dish or wrangle with the laws of physic and be oblivious to the wonder. Even if, as some physisits claim, the universe didn't start with a big bang, the question of when and how whatever came first started still would, imo, instill wonder and awe.

 

Yvonne,

 

Same here.

 

Another thing that grabbed my attention is the statement about science and religion as "valid avenues of knowledge". This, I like.

 

Myron

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George,

 

The comment about Dawkins caught my attention also. Dawkins recently backed off a bit ... I'll try to find the article and post a link.

 

Myron

 

George, here's that link on Dawkins. He now says that there is "a 6.9 in 7" probability that there is no creator G-d.

 

"

LONDON (RNS) A controversial Oxford University professor billed by many as the world's "most famous atheist" now says he is not 100 percent sure that God doesn't exist -- but just barely.

 

In a 100-minute debate with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins surprised his online and theater audiences by conceding a personal chink of doubt about his conviction that there is no such thing as a creator.

But, to the amusement of the archbishop and others, the evolutionary biologist swiftly added that he was "6.9 out of seven" certain of his long-standing atheist beliefs.

 

Replying to moderator Anthony Kenny, a noted English philosopher, Dawkins said, "I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing (is) very, very low."

 

http://www.huffingto..._n_1299752.html

 

P.S.

 

This link contains a weatlh of views on the subject.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/religion-science/

Edited by minsocal
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George, here's that link on Dawkins he now says that there is "a 6.9 in 7" probability that there is no creator G-d.

 

Oh my goodness, poor ole Richard; he is on that slippery slope. Before we know it he will be out ringing door bells asking people if they have been saved! :)

 

He really needs to hold onto something or he will lose the limelight. His 'selfish-gene' theory is on the run as well.

 

George

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Encouraging, I feel science and religion are reconciling and starting to be tolerant of each other, living with understanding and not divorcing.

Science by making a Hypothesis, an inference and then trying to prove it or disapprove it with an experiment makes scientists open to all possibilities. They are looking at the Truth of the experiment without personal reasons to close off other possibilities if they are not invested financially in the outcome, which would make them rigid proving a point. Science is constantly changing whereas religion is pretty much in the same spot.

Religion as an institution has been the same for thousands of years except for a few minor changes. I like the combination of science and religion so as we evolve spiritually we see religion as an opened ended truth that is constant, but changes with our realization. We need a spiritual science that will reveal or explain our insights into key principles of our consciousness and allow us to have an individual experience related to the challenges we face in life. May it help us understand what we are experiencing in the moment transforming our life to one aligned with the Divinity within.

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Encouraging, I feel science and religion are reconciling and starting to be tolerant of each other, living with understanding and not divorcing.

Science by making a Hypothesis, an inference and then trying to prove it or disapprove it with an experiment makes scientists open to all possibilities. They are looking at the Truth of the experiment without personal reasons to close off other possibilities if they are not invested financially in the outcome, which would make them rigid proving a point. Science is constantly changing whereas religion is pretty much in the same spot.

Religion as an institution has been the same for thousands of years except for a few minor changes. I like the combination of science and religion so as we evolve spiritually we see religion as an opened ended truth that is constant, but changes with our realization. We need a spiritual science that will reveal or explain our insights into key principles of our consciousness and allow us to have an individual experience related to the challenges we face in life. May it help us understand what we are experiencing in the moment transforming our life to one aligned with the Divinity within.

 

Soma,

 

I agree. I'm going to use a term here that might sound a bit odd. My firm belief is that the term "progressive" applies to science as well as religion, and in this there is a common ground. In recent years I have talked to young grad students who are being trained with a progressive perspective and, if I am not mistaken, have sections in prominent journals to report their work.

 

If there is a difference with these students, allowing for translation of terms, they are taught to always respect the Divinity within.

 

Myron

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An example of the term "progressive" in science:

 

" Social representations theory: a progressive research programme for social psychology

Abstract

 

The study "Psychoanalysis—its image and its public" intimates that common sense is increasingly informed by science. But common sense asserts its autonomy and, in turn, may affect the trajectory of science. This is a process that leads to many differentiations—in common sense, in scientific innovation and in political and regulatory structures. Bauer and Gaskell's toblerone model of triangles of mediation provided a distillation of their reading of "La Psychanalyse." Here it was argued that representations are multi-modal phenomena necessitating the use of multiple methodologies (comparative and longitudinal; qualitative and quantitative). In this paper we briefly summarise these arguments and elaborate ways in which social representation theory can be considered a progressive research programme. "Progressive" because as the theory has developed it has extended the range and depth of its conceptual basis; it provides a new synthesis for the social scientific understanding of the phenomena of common sense and of representation; it acts as an antidote to the reductionism of public opinion and, finally, it is a stimulus to depart from disciplinary silos. However, there remain unresolved issues: how to segment the relevant social milieus and how to close the feedback loop from common sense to science? "

The key is in the acceptance and unification of all forms of knowledge, not in territorial in-fighting.

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I have yet to see a survey whose results are not heavily influenced by methodology and language. In a short time, I could not find enough about this study to relieve me of my sekpticism. For the 15% who think that science and religion always conflict their view of religion is creationism. The damage that this survey can mitigate is that many of us just want to avoid the fight.

 

This rising cacophony of antagonistic voices leaves many sincere observers confused and disheartened. Reasonable people conclude that they are forced to choose between these two unappetizing extremes, neither of which offers much comfort. Disillusioned by the stridency of both perspectives, many choose to reject both the trustworthiness of scientific conclusions and the value of organized religion, slipping instead into various forms of antiscientific thinking, shallow spirituality, or simple apathy.

The Language of God, Francis Collins

http://abcnews.go.co...=3#.T67ro1LRqIQ

 

Just as negative political advertising reduces voter turnout this controversy causes people to turn away and stop thinking. But I think that as useful as publicizing this survey is, it should be the topic of Sunday School Classes and subject of sermons. It is not enough to say many scientists are religious; I think we have to find specific language to link science and religious themes. Furthermore it should speak to the concerns of the spiritual but atheist people, who often are given no support in churches that always put forward a theistic God.

 

Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual." One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists -- religious or not -- would recognize.

http://www.washingto...0052801856.html

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Dutch,

 

The study was conducted over a period five years and included in-depth interviews. It is the analysis of those interviews after coding that I would be most interested in seeing. I'm assuming that a project of this size and cost used structured interviews and is much more sophisticated than simple surveys.

 

One of the reasons the results the results might be other than expected is that it includes researchers in all of the "sciences", including the social sciences. I think what we see in the media is skewed by the more strident voices.

 

Myron

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Myron,

 

I suspect you are right. The media loves a good story; the more salacious or counter-intuitive the better. Lots of good science gets distorted when exposed to the popular press.

 

George

 

George,

 

One of the things I would like to achieve on this issue is a sense of knowing who our friends are so we can join with them.

 

Altering my search in that direction I find this:

 

"

NEW YORK (RNS) The Dalai Lama is best known for his commitment to Tibetan autonomy from China and his message of spirituality, nonviolence and peace that has made him a best-selling author and a speaker who can pack entire arenas.

 

But somewhat under the radar screen, the Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Prize laureate has also had an abiding interest in the intersection of science and religion.

 

That interest won Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the 2012 Templeton Prize on Thursday (March 29), a $1.7 million award that is often described as the most prestigious award in religion.

 

The Dalai Lama is the highest-profile winner of an award that in recent years had been given to physicists and theologians not well known to the general public, but earlier had been given to the likes of evangelist Billy Graham and the late Mother Teresa."

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/dalai-lama-templeton-prize_n_1388190.html

 

Myron

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I have a couple of comments

 

When one is talking about conflict between science and religion you have to make a distinction between progressive's and fundi's

 

Science has a very big fundamental problem problem with conservative religious thought. There is no room in science for "belief"! Belief is the bastard child of prejudice.

 

When a researcher is looking into an issue 1st a question is posed ... then observations lead the researcher to possible solutions based only on the observations . If the researcher has a bias (belief) then the solution is always flawed. It is no an accident that a very large percentage of sea-changing discoveries are made by very young scientists before the inevitably bias sets in. Einstein was in his early 20's when he began thinking of relativity.

 

Any religious thought that has belief as it's basis is going to be a problem for science .

 

Example: the statement "I believe God answers prayers." There is no statistical difference in the health, wealth, age span or success on the football field ... between those who believe that God will answer their prayers and atheists. What does the evidence tell you? These are the kinds of things that science struggles with.

 

On the other hand Science has no problem with concepts that just are. example, the laws of thermodynamics just are ......, who set the laws of thermodynamic?? God? Where did all the energy that makes up the universe come from? It just is. GOD just is( for some of us anyway) and science is OK with that as long as if evidence come to light that suggests a different conclusion we have an open mind. The past is littered with concepts that were once considered as being correct that have been dis-proven and replaced by another thought that more closely fits observations.

 

The big problem between Funi religion and science lies in the fundi's unwillingness to consider other possibilities when the evidence points away from their beliefs. Progressive's of all faith traditions have walked hand in hand with science. Always looking for truth even when it contradicts the past. What the fundi's look at as blasphemous, progressives look at as progress in understanding.

 

The issues science has with religion is because they view everyone who follows Jesus as a fundamentalist. Crackpots who refuse to look at the evidence and revise their thought patterns. True followers walk hand in hand with science along the same path of enlightenment.

 

steve

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Steve well said.

 

Some theologians might scoff at that remark, yet there has been a resurgence in recent years of "natural theology"--the attempt to justify religious teachings not through faith and scripture but through rational argument, astronomical observations and even experiments on the healing effects of prayer.

Scientific American Magazine » October 2006, Scientists on Religion

Theist and materialist ponder the place of humanity in the universe

By George Johnson | September 18, 2006

 

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Science has a very big fundamental problem problem with conservative religious thought.

Steve has pointed out a key obstacle to getting good results in any study: this vocal and public polarization between the creationism and ID people and scientists and school teachers over textbooks.

 

John Polkinghorne, mathematician and theologian, has been very involved in the struggle to block creationism and Intelligent Design efforts to change learning the scientific method. Followers of Polkinghorne are insulted if I say that he believes in intelligent design - but he says the pure beauty of mathematics is witness to a divine intelligence. He would be a scientist who would say there is no conflict between religion and science and, at the same time, has been on the front lines, fighting off the efforts of Religious fundamentalists who would return us scientifically to the Dark Ages.

 

Dutch

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Steve has pointed out a key obstacle to getting good results in any study: this vocal and public polarization between the creationism and ID people and scientists and school teachers over textbooks.

 

John Polkinghorne, mathematician and theologian, has been very involved in the struggle to block creationism and Intelligent Design efforts to change learning the scientific method. Followers of Polkinghorne are insulted if I say that he believes in intelligent design - but he says the pure beauty of mathematics is witness to a divine intelligence. He would be a scientist who would say there is no conflict between religion and science and, at the same time, has been on the front lines, fighting off the efforts of Religious fundamentalists who would return us scientifically to the Dark Ages.

 

Dutch

 

I didn't intend this to be a debate on intelligent design or creationism.

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Quite a few years ago I read a book "The Creator and the Cosmos" but I forget the author's name. What I do recall is that he was a scientists though I can't speak to his field or his reputation. I loved two things about it: 1) that the author was convinced that there is/was a Creator, and 2)that the book was written so anybody with a 8th grade education could understand it. I'm not too sure if I would be quite so enamored of it if I read it now for these same 2 reasons. However, after this discussion, I'm going to see if I can unearth a copy and reread it. It might be interesting to see if it still resonates with me.

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A couple more comments

 

My Dad ,who is a chemist and is who I based most of my remarks on, listened to a Milt Rosenberg radio program on "Historical Jesus" and was shocked at their open mindedness. This is inspite of our many conversations about my views. My point is he, and I think most people of science ,view all people of faith as fundamentalists. This is due to having lived their lives being actively viewed and spoken to as if they were the devil himself. The answer to the original question

What Do Scientists Really Think About Religion?
...... They view us as fundamentalist, closeminded, non-thinking, territorial, nuts and quite frankly avoid conversations at all costs.

 

I remember and interview/debate between Carl Sagan and Jerry Falwell in the late 70's. The two couldn't converse ... they were speaking different languages.

 

steve

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