Philosophy The Second Coming Relations Between Science

Philosophy The Second Coming (Relations Between Science And Religion) Essay, Research Paper

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

W. B. Yeats

Etching a grotesque rendition of civilizations cyclical unfolding, W. B. Yeats poem The Second Coming alludes to a future where the controls that bind humanity together loose their force and a new impulse is required. Likewise amidst strange days, omens of the new millennium, the historically established dominions of both science and religion seem to fall victim to the very corruption of time Yeats was referring to. Thus, as mankind battles forward, neoteric interpretations of antiquated beliefs are imminent; but prior to reforming these social restraints, a considerable measure of thought must be allocated to the associations between science and religion.

Ordinarily, science and religion are assigned to hostile countries where they are disconnected from each other resulting in what initially appears to be battle. Both textbook science and booklet religion, rarely present accurate accounts of themselves, facilitating uninformed versions of reality, and interpretations that gravitate towards misrepresentation and an over generalization of the associations between the two. But this is simply the public conception that is neither the absolute or final word on the matter.

While it seems almost justifiably correct that a subject of conventional scientific and religious education would have an inaccurate notion of the medium between science and religion, it would be negligent to seek no further possibilities. Reasonably, one should now ask if there is in fact any conflict at all between the two Reasonably, one will receive a legion of unusual and unconventional replies as we are delving into strange fruit in squarely strange time. But among these replies s three common lines of argument appear time and again affirming religion into science and vice versa.

The Second Coming

Part I

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Spiking inwards from the outposts, undertaking to find proof of dissent within a country called science and religion , where the two cultures are left to their own devices of autonomy, all is in keeping with the aftermath of a bitter battle. It seems that praetorian renegades and puritanical fakirs have annulled the truth in motions of ignorance and bigotry but no, this is merely the evidence of unfounded militant groups that have occasioned bad reviews across the board. Consequently our first encounter with a native sets the tone for the rest of our quest

Obliged by the humbuggery circumfusing the correlation between science and religion, Margaret Wertheim leads a pertinent recount of what eventuated into typically, misinformed public opinion. Entitled Faith and Reason , Wertheim s documentary, aired lately on PBS underscores and accentuates the impact of historical markers shifting from Darwin s Origin of Species to twentieth century voices from within the Vatican that equate the two together. Arranged into four quarters that confront questions of genetics, cosmology, technology and the future she designates The Origin of Species as a principal decisive factor in the debate. Questioned on her intentions, with respect to the documentary she speaks:

A major impetus in making this film was to show people that the idea that science and religion have been enemies through a long history simply isn t true The second thing I wanted to do in the film was to show people that today there are religious believers who are pro-science that one can be a first rate scientist and still be a person of faith .I wanted to show people of faith that they needed to be involved in helping to guide technology in good ways. Being ignorant is not the way to go In fact 12 centers for the study of religion and science have grown up around the world in the past few years to facilitate the growing dialogue between scientists and theologians.

In addition to these 12 unifying bodies, a commentary by Jane Lampman, also surfaced in The Christian Science Monitor. In her critique the fear, which customarily besets the integration of science and religion, is displaced with a bridge. An advancing platform instituted by a steadily growing community advocating the union of science and religion . Whether Lampman was influenced by the magnitude of assent concerning religion in the last ten years, or whether she was as her article s namesake suggests, In Search of One Reality , it remains to be seen, according to Eric Convey of The Boston Herald that Religion and Science Dovetail. In his section, which affirms Lampmans assertions, Convey quotes two considerable personalities. Owen Gingreich, an astrophysician at the Harvard Smithsonian Center in Cambridge remarks that It does seem to me there s been a great surge of interests in these sorts of things in the last ten years It seems to me that science and religion are the two largest entities in the country and therefor they ought to talk to each other . Comparably, Dr. Francis Collins, chief of the human genome project remarks, I don t believe God is threatened by scientific investigation. On the contrary, I presume that God is gratified by our curiosity. . While both men represent the scientific community, voices from the church are just as incisive as their lab coat counterparts.

But some scientists are now realizing that there is something beyond science. The Pope, presenting the prevailing attitude in the Vatican, seems to say that at inevitably a God of some sort is behind science, but does not determine the structure or the state that such revelations might take. So, presently there seems to be an atmosphere of temperance and reconciliation between science and religion . Taking this line of reasoning further, Ritterbush quoted in The Los Angeles Times states that What religion provides is a way for scientists to approach studies: with awe, reverence and humility In return, science provides us with answers about the best ways to protect the planet. The remainder of the clipping argues that without science, religion leads to broad oversights, thus some may feel as though they should pick a side to defend. For Ritterbush, The bottom line is that We learn a lot by struggling with the paradoxes, though we prefer things to be neater.

So far, the convictions of both scientists and religiously inclined dignitaries tilt towards an amalgamation of science and religion which is one form of evidence that denies friction between the two. Now, what would indisputably improve relations between the two would be a scientist who is also a theologian or vice versa. But, stock beliefs usher in the conclusion that this is merely an ivory-towered illusion.

Most people seem to feel, if only vaguely, that scientists, by and large, are reasoning folk, and to make proper use of that reasoning a large dollop of logical consistency is needed. Hard-nosed, no nonsense notions about quarks, mitochondria, and chaos theory ought to (so we surmise) go hand in hand with hard-nosed, no nonsense notions about divinity and life eternal. That would be consistent and consistency is the hallmark of a scientififc mind. Or so we conclude. Alas.

This is what Ralph Estling writes in response to the highly debated study featured in Nature magazine on scientists and their beliefs. Estling claims that studies of this sort are important as they prove that scientists are very much like the rest of us in that they compartmentalize . Various theories from either discipline are stored in different areas of the mind where they exist side by side, if not together. What this proposes is that there is an especial agreement in the way most people accept differing views on science and religion that is not conflict but as Estling says The name of the game with scientists, as with non-scientists, is not, never was, consistency, but coexistence The best and wisest among them will admit this . His words support the understanding that what is invariably perceived, as a state of opposition is really a state of coexistence.

The increasing number of channels open to the public regarding the alleged conflict between science and religion, is a symptom of a growing need for some sort of reconciliation between the two. C. Stephen Evans the dean of philosophy at Calvin College believes that What we re really witnessing is perhaps the growth of a new field of study a lot of people are realising that common prejudice that religion and csience are at war is really a gross simplification. There are lot of interesting ways they are compatible .

One man, whose introspections are burgeoning within this synergy, is John Polkinghorne who writes with wisdom secured on both sides of the presumed battle lines. A theoretical physicist and a clergyman, Polkinghorne compares the customary reaction to his duality to the notion of a vegetarian butcher. Not feeling compelled to choose any particular side; Polkinghorne goes on to indicate the idealistic similitudes of what he refers to as intellectual cousins under the skin . Concluding that both are concerned with interpreted facts, where science asks how? and religion asks why?, Polkinghorne is one of many that stand with one foot in either encampment . Polkinghorne has over the last few years, written quite a count of books, one of which was recently reviewed by Edward B. Davis. In the title essay, Polkinghorne states that the belief in God means that there is a mind and a purpose behind the history of the universe and that the One whose veiled presence is intimated in this way is worthy of worship and the ground of hope. Forging friendships between the works of Polkinghorne, and those such as Ian Barbour and William Pollard who fostered the theory that God may be able to function within the uncanny regions of quantum mechanics Davis balances Polkinghorne s views with those of Chet Raymo. Raymo, also having just published a book calls for a creation spirituality . Alluding to, and questioning the very authority of Raymo s sources, Davis concludes by wondering what further parley between the two would lead to. Raymo is quoted as saying in which science as a way of knowing is subsumed by religion, so that the world revealed by science is perceived with an abiding sense of the sacred, celebrated liturgically and lovingly cherished. It seems rather apparent in his treatment of Raymo s text that Davis is partial to the well thought moderation s of Polkinghorne as are a great deal of others.

In fact the large collection of books belonging to the grey areas between science and religion has grown unwaveringly over the last decade. One of this coterie is Carl Sagan s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark , though Sagan never addresses the issue directly he makes a decided debate for improved public understanding of the nature of two. This ratifies the supposition that most people are mislead to believe that science and religion are in eternal battle, when the truth is actually very different. In an interview following the publication of his work, Sagan told Stephen Budiansky,

What I m concerned about is that the consequences of these attitudes are much more dangerous today than in the past. We have a civilization with immense technological powers. The lives of most of us on Earth are dependent on agricultural technology. The lives of many of us are dependent on medical technology If we were to back off from science and technology, we would in fact be condemning most of the human population of Earth to death.

Believing that science and religion are mutually self supportive, Sagan remonstrates those who hand down knowledge without giving an idea of how such results were acquired, or the encompassing issues that may have shaped such notions to begin with. This leaves us open to the ruins of pseudo science according to Sagan, which he says would sound the same without the necessary supplementary information. He also alludes to the fact that science is a self corrective process, where scientists are biased, but only towards what works better.

The Second Coming

Part II

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly those words are out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight:

Carl Sagan, in his arguments for science over superstition, indicates that science needs to be taught within a proper context, out of which it seems bequeathed from Mt.Sinai, as does a great deal of religious teaching. Feasibly, Sagan s views are troubling to some schools of thought, but, bracing his convictions are several others who seem, like Sagan to believe that the conflict between science and religion has been mispercieved in favour of science.

Charles Colson feel that The scientific establishment portrays dissenters as backwood rubes trying to inject religion into the science classroom. Colson is disturbed that theories such as Darwinism are taught, not as an alternative view of the workings of the world, or as one possibility, but as the possibility. There is no mention that current developments in science and especially molecular biology are creating headaches for Darwinists. Thus a large portion of school going children are misled into thinking that there is some sort of conflict between science and religion, and science is the persecuted angel.

Recently, in Phoenix Arizona, there has been a lot of commotion regarding the problem of evolution. Despite a vast range of evidence against the teaching of Darwinism as the only perspective of evolution, it was decided that they would go ahead with Darwinism and to quell any further problems several open ended topics for discusion would be provided. Surrounding this issue there was a storm of dissagreement regarding the theory of evolution. Most were against Darwinism being taught. There were some decidedly strong statements infact in the days surrounding the discussion. Evolution is a religion and should be taught in a religion calls-not a science class where everything should be fact . . Walt Brown had a different view but nonetheless he said Evolution is a theory without mechanism, a theory in crisis. In an article remonstrating the lack of information available, he cites this as the reason that accounts for the perception that science and religion are struggling for control over humanity. .

The Second Coming

Part III

somewhere in the sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The domain in which there looks to be an immense room for religion, is paradoxically, science itself. As the number of pro-religious scientists expands, so does the amount of scientific data that points towards the existence of some Deus, not away from it. Really, the configurations these signals are taking are the most absorbing indications of superior life. Traversing the limits of evolution, physics and genetics, proof, or articles that are heading in that direction are constantly making themselves know. Thus, if science itself is offering proof for religion, and religious inquiry is the impetus for such proof to begin with, science and religion are not in conflict at all.

Through out history there has been a dream that mankind would one day come to know the reason for the existence of the universe In the modern era, science has been seen as the natural route to this compelling goal . Lately an increasing number of scientists have questioned the feasibility of an ultimate explanation that will explain away the cosmic mysteries and what form such an answer might take.

Some have no doubt that our religious inclinations stem from evoltuion, in accrodance with the laws of the jungle. If this is so then, the deciding outcome that follows is in some fundamental to our existence. . Steve Connor, a defender of evolutionary theory, believes that the proceedings of evolution have had great lasting effects on society, those which he says, lead to the formation of religious beliefs. If art has it s roots in evolution, can religious belief also be the product of natural selection? Some evolutionists have seriously proposed that religiosity is the need to believe in order to survive. . Without basis for discussion such as these, the argument for conflict between science and religion is much more clean cut, however, with evidence that members of the scientific community are trying to reconcile religion into science without a great deal of dispute from religious counterparts, it seems unlikely that such a conflict could exists.

Most talk of evolution terminates in some speculation on genetic influences, while the actual connection between evolution and genes has yet to be undisputedly established some have made a preliminary attemtpt to explain the situation. Rebuking Richard Dawkins for his declaration that religion was like a virus to the human mind, Brian Josephson maintained that

Any scientific study of religion should take account of the fact that a central theme of religion (pathological variants excluded) is the attempt to maximise human goodness (a quantity I shall not attempt to define precisely). I speculate that religious practices have in part a genetic basis, involving geneslinked to the potential for goodness. Societies in which this potential is actualised in a sizeable portion of it s members will tend to fuction more harmoniously and efficiently, so that natural selection will tend to favour the prescence of human societies of genes of this type .

This statement sparked a volley of contemptuous replications, which intimated examples of war in Bosnia and exhumed the Crusades to name a few. But in this altercation the prescence of goodness was complimentary to survival in terms of natural selection. As goodness is, ideally a part of religion, such a conclusion can be drawn.

Among these genetic discussions is the observation made by P.K.Wilson on children, whom he says are genetically predispositioned to ask questions that seem so very suited to the scientific method. Though he cites no major evidence for such an inclusive statement, nor does he make any definite conclusions, Wilson s argument is accentuated by a desire to reconcile our genes to science, and religion too. But even if we are genetically programmed to have these religious inclinations, are we genetically destined to believe?

Undertaking to exuviate some light on this question, John Burn, a geneticist himself, claims that some collective belief system may be requisite for our survival. If this is so, then not only are science and religion interconnected they are genetic relatives. Quoting the World Health Organisation which has declared that health is not merely the absence of illness. It is the achievement of physical, psychological and social well being. Burns begins his case for a inherited religious bsae. Using evidence from instances where a genetic deficiency has caused defective behaviour, Burns argues that it is viable for a gene to have an effect on personality and behaviour. The study he alludes to was based on girls with Turners Syndrome, who were disposed towards violent response. Similiarly he states that there is an intuition gene and that it lies within the X chromosone. Amidst the 50 000 gene types that are available for genetice formulations, Burns seems if not to be demonstrate that religion is definetly genetically based, then that the possibility that it could be should not be ruled out . After all, such a revelation would perhaps put quite a hold on thos who argue that science and religion are directly opposed. For if religion is genetic, science might be too.

Of the arguments for genetics, those from Eugene D Aquill seem the most, well founded. D Aquill s theories of biogenetic structuralism suggest that we are predestined to religion as we are towards learning a language. In an article by Andrew Brown who argues for the Spookist theory of personality over that of chemical influences and the like, Brown says

The way this is usually understood, there are two sorts of stuff in this world, matter and spirits, or ghosts and machines. The machine operates according to their own inexorable laws and the ghosts which vary in power from mere phantasms to the Holy spirit do their stuff in the interstices In a world where ideas matter partly because they are arrangements of matter then it becomes possible for religions to become scientifically important too, not just as delusions but as important ways of understanding the world and of conserving and transmitting these understandings.

So, conforming to such a view, most procedures to prove that religion has some sort of genetic basis are also exercises to proove that religion and science attest each other. In fact, that we can sense either of the two points to something real, something that our senses are responding to within the outside world. This line of thought is perhaps something that Paul Davies would agree with. The fact that we can come to know the laws suggests to me that our existence in the universe is not just merely an incidental quirk of fate, but is fundamental to the workings of nature . Davies, one who is an advocate of the possibility of eventually finding a unified theory which will serve to explain the whole of our existence is also an advocate of religion being fundamental to our existence.

But the more the universe is reduced to laws, numbers and statistics, the less room for god, or so we may be led to believe. For Newsweek, Sharon Begley writes that physicists have stumbled upon signs that the cosmos is custom made for life and conciousness . Both John Polkinghorne and Charles Townes, who is accredited with the discovery of the laser, affirm this with the latter saying that there are many who feel that intelligence must have been involved at some point in the creation of the universe. Figures such as Pi, have appeared in areas that have nothing to do with circles or geometry and Polkinghorne interprets this as pointing to a very deep fact about the nature of the universe , more so the human mind in it s ability to comprehend these notions.

Polkinghorne, whose work in particle physics has led him into the Lilliputian areas of the world, says that in the realm of quantum mechanics there is latitude for a force of some design, to determine what will happen to particles that have a half life . It is here, that assumptions are being made on partciles being able to be waves as well as particles, though there is little concrete proof to support such a notion, some interpretations lead to the assumption that Jesus Christ might have been able to be both wave and particle at once.

Such bizarre claims about particles and parts of the world that one never quite sees in ordinary life may at first seem to be part of a jargon file, cloaked in a mysterious language, but the implications are simple. The workings of science are able to proove religious claims, and religion is able to instigate scientific exploration. Thus in an area where religion and science are seen as war horses, movements that we have not noticed before are taking place.

These notions about the nature of science and that more and more attempts are being made to accommodate the two point to the fact that there is little conflict between science and religion although the two may often seem to be struggling for common ground on which to stand.

Science and religion are entering into a new phase of an old relationship that has not, does not and never will depend upon the by products of vicious conflict for their survival. If it is lack of information that has led us to believe that the two are pitted against each other by their eternal default settings then we should make time to realise their true relationship. If it is the general spirit between the two, that touches the imagination, the we should turn our attention to the benefits of such a union. If we are captivated by a God that exists in the supernatural zone of quantum mechanics then we should try to see the big picture; But we should always, as both science and religion entreat, seek the truth. And the truth is that science and religion are not at war.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats


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