Monday, October 3, 2011

Is Science Compatible with Religion?

Quick side note: I am fully embarassed about how much time has passed since the last time I updated this thing. I know that no one reads it anyway but still, mea culpa.

Anyway to the question at hand. While spending my lunch breaks reading science/atheist blogs this question seems to come up a lot in debates between religious scientists, skeptics, atheists and the like. Of course the general tone of the authors of the blogs I read is a hearty and emphatic


I have a slightly different opinion:

What the hell does it matter?!

If I have learnt anything from religion and religious people it is this: people will believe whatever the hell they want, no pun intended. Pointing out that the Bible is incompatible with numerous facts of life will just make them shrug and call it allegory, or open to interpretation, or say "well I'm a spiritual person, I believe in a higher power, a purpose to life on earth, not in a big man with a beard sitting on a cloud and zapping people to Hell for not believing in him". So honestly, of all the things there are to discuss in this world, I find this debate to rank on the bottom of my list.

DON'T get me wrong. There are fundamentalist weirdos who make up facts in culus and peddle them as real science which supports their warped beliefs. They fully deserve to have their ridiculous claims intellectually torn limb from demented limb, if for no other reason than to teach their listeners who are ignorant of the facts not to believe everything you hear or read, but to look things up and think for yourselves. However, when I hear about these lofty debates about whether or not a scientist should or could ever really be religious, or how a Catholic teacher reconciles their religion with the teaching of science in their classroom, I think who cares.

The mere fact that there are over 10,000 denominations of Christianity alone in this world should be all you need to hear to realize that people will warp and mould and shape their beliefs to fit their own sense of logic and morality.

Can science be compatible with religion? In some people's heads: absolutely. In others: not a chance. Objectively speaking: there is no objective answer, because there is no such thing as an objective religion. All religion is something that is modified by each user to fit him or herself, so the answer to this debate is just as subjective and personal. Is science compatible with the literal word of the Bible, is science compatible with the belief held by a certain Christian cult that states that homosexuality is a choice, these are actual concrete questions with actual concrete facts to use in a debate. The rest is just philosophical ponderings.

That's what I think anyhow, would love to hear from anyone who has thoughts on the matter, and I will try to update this blog much more often, or delete it entirely.


  1. I honestly wonder why almost nobody comments you blogs..
    Is Science Compatible with Religion? Bloody hell.

    Is there any way you can sway the 50% of mankind with below average IQ to critical thinking?
    In communism era we had a guy come up with this educational system that meant to educate (up to and including high school level) all alike: mathematicians, linguists, carpenters, electricians etc.. So together with their chosen career path respective skills and required knowledge, all would get basic faculties for making informed and well weighed decisions that concerned society in general (both in election and what we'd call public opinion on important matters). Guess what happened..

    1. Well, let me thank you for picking up the slack of others in the comments department :)

      With regards to critical thinking, I find it to be less of an IQ issue and more of a "its just now starting to become socially acceptable to do" issue. If there is one thing that religion has as the antithesis of science is its shitting all over critical thinking as the worst thing you could possibly do, cause critical thinking is the devil and faith is god. Incidentally, that ideology is also prominent in dictatorships, hello USSR. Once our society gets over that idea, who knows what might be possible

    2. 1. Sorry - this IQ business sounds condescending much to often, yet I can't get past it. As imperfect as the IQ tests are, and bearing in mind the failed attempt (in USA, I believe) by some companies to test the potential employees - which was deemed discriminatory or something (quite rightfully, I admit), it IS an issue.

      I really don't know where and when did you find out critical thinking became socially acceptable. In Italy? Certainly not in USA, with this creationist thing being taught in schools and such..
      You want me to mention astrology in newspapers, tarot and psychic readers all over TV? You can't ban them by law, because the same law that would ban these guys, would apply to the Church just the same. And you cannot ban the Church on the grounds there are so many of followers around. So you have laws based on what majority thinks, and when was that a good basis for justice, or reason? And if that is what majority thinks, then that is socially acceptable.

      Not that I admired USSR in many ways, dictators normally chew you up and spit you out :), but communism had a case against religion at least, and was all pro critical thinking. What it failed to recognize, however, is that communism itself might be subjected to the same kind of thinking, and it didn't like it. So it was like, "critical thinking" thumbs up, as long as you don't critically overthink it.. :)))

      These posts are always getting tooo long for my taste - I honestly don't mean to overdo it.

      I agree, it's actually beyond discussion; waste of time and resources.. Once you find that, if Bible is God's word, it states that the world began 5-6000 years ago, the game is over. And than it turns out the game isn't over. You explain that how exactly?!? Education, IQ, brainwashing? You tell a guy, listen, here we have carbon dating, and Turin shroud is a hoax, fuck it.. And he still gets an orgasm when the Pope raises his hand, or a statue cries somewhere in Mexico, or whatever.. How do you change that? Fuck fuck fuck. I don't want to play anymore, really.

    3. 2. I have anal personality, and I forgot about #2.

    4. I said its just starting, and while it may be a little farther along in Europe than in the USA it is starting there too. Even looking at television, the fact that shows like Bullshit were made and were popular, the number of Skepticon and Atheist conventions that are growing and attracting more and more people especially young ones, the popularity of freethoughtblogs, all of it is indicative of progress. Progress is always slow and tiring and the anti-progress people will always get louder to try to cover up for the fact that theyre losing, but the important thing is that the trend is pointing towards getting better.

      History tells us that education is key and banning never works. Look at sex education, they took that away and brought abstinence only into schools, STDs and teen pregnancy skyrocketed. When they started showing 16 and pregnant in certain states showing teens what it was like, pregnancies went down. Smoking went down with educating the public on how harmful it is, not with the banning of cigarettes. There will always be crazies and there will always be stupid people, there is no changing that, but the brainwashed and the uneducated should not be dismissed as idiots, thats not fair and not true

    5. I would never peg you down as an optimist :).

      Yeah, Bullshit is great, but tell me how many anti-gay, Bible belt, PETA and all sorts of other freaks commented on Youtube: "Oh, really, I didn't know that! I am certainly going to dig deeper in the literature now, ask my preacher a couple of things, and be careful what I tell my kids.."
      Look at sex education. They took it away! That's the way we're going. 16 and pregnant is there to make middle aged horny bastards glued to the screen. Smoking went down when companies became serious about banning smoking in the workplace. Smoking kills was there a long time and nobody cared.
      I mentioned this great social experiment in education.. There were (this is from the top of my head) 80% of atheists in 1981 census. In 2001 census there were 80% of Catholics. Great achievement of education - and bear in mind, average person was significantly better educated in Croatia than US (believe it or not).
      Wise man said "People are bastard coated bastards with a bastard filling."
      Another wise man said "The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it."

      And please, high IQ and education do not necessarily overlap. Not even frequently.

    6. There was 80% atheists in what census of what country? That is something I would need to look a whole lot into.

      Honestly I only ever got one comment of the "Oh, really, I didn't know that! I am certainly going to dig deeper in the literature now, ask my preacher a couple of things, and be careful what I tell my kids.." variety directed at me personally, but that doesnt surprise me. The road to enlightenment (for want of a less douchey way to say it) is oftentimes a long one, its not something that you get to from 20 minutes on youtube. If you want to look at something far less depressing than creationist trolls that occasionally spam my videos, go check out PZ Myers' "Why I am an Atheist" series on his blog pharyngula, you'll see 90% of the entries are a slow discovery that starts from a doubt brought on by new information, and at least 50% mention Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers and Dennett.

      Dont spit on the value of the era of information. There are very loud, very bitter people in power that are desperately trying to bring society back into their comfortable dark ages and theyre foaming at the mouth. And yes, zooming into a micro trend of a few years will occaionally bring out some backwards movements, but the overall trend is on the up and up. and thats why the opponents are getting exponentially louder, because theyre LOSING. Just look at the trend over the last couple hundred years, you think people were more enlightented, less ignorant, more freethinking in 1810? 1910? 1950?

      Last correction: smoking started going down in the 70s and 80s (check out gallup and continuted to go down even when smoking bans started to come into place, but the downward trend started much sooner. What else happened in the 70s? 1. No more pro-smoking ads on tv or radio (1971)
      2. Anti-smoking ads began to appear on tv from early 70s with increasing frequency and graphic nature
      3. Doctors were all on board by this time: it is definitely bad for you

      Of course this is about a trend, people didnt all stop suddenly as soon as they saw their first anti-smoking ad, and there will be people that will smoke no matter how educated they are. But this does not mean that really hitting home the message that smoking kills was not how the trend began to go down in the first place.

  2. "There was 80% atheists in what census of what country? That is something I would need to look a whole lot into."

    Yugoslavia/Croatia. Now, it is from the top of my head. Something I remembered "from before", but I couldn't find a quick quote. Good luck, and I apologize if I was wrong.

    "Just look at the trend over the last couple hundred years, you think people were more enlightented, less ignorant, more freethinking in 1810? 1910? 1950?"
    Har! When and where is more appropriate question, I think. And if you want an answer - 17th-18th century, France/UK. Age of Enlightenment.

    Now, what I thought, OK, great, we came to certain viable conclusions on society, religion etc 300 years ago. We must be light years ahead now!
    Alas, knowledge is not cumulative. Each one of us has to do it all over again. As Terry Pratchett (or one of the co-authors, more probably) wrote: the biology taught in schools today is 30 , and math is 150 years old. And not many can digest it.

    "Last correction: smoking started going down in the 70s and 80s".
    OK, I grant you this one. Though it is US survey.
    My personal experience in workplace - 2004, probably 70% smoking. Today - 10-15%. 100% male environment, BTW :(.