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Religion or Science?


I think there's a low-level incompatibility between science and religion.

There's folks that try to "bridge" science and their religion of choice. It generally just turns into a series of special pleadings, though.

Science is a self-acknowledged work in process that is constantly finding more accurate explanations for how our universe works. Finding out that a long-held explanation might be wrong is an exciting event, as it can lead to huge advances in a given field

Religion already has all the answers. Finding out that a long-held answer is wrong can get you excommunicated. Or executed, depending on how much power the religion has over the government. It's already perfect, right? Ideas from millenia ago are above reproach.

Because of this, I usually claim my first amendment right not to believe a religion and take a live and let live approach to life. Increasingly, though, it's starting to feel as though this isn't allowed.

I mean, there's all the hullabaloo about gay marriage, abortion, even birth control. The rationale for these issues is usually religious at its root. At the point when people start making laws on nothing more than a religious position, I feel the need to complain.

I never try to argue on the point of theology, because that always becomes an ever-increasing tower of anger and “righteous” rage. Instead, I encourage the person I'm talking to to look at it from a scientific point of view. Find scientific reasons for these rules, rather than simply demand I blindly follow the religion they're inspired by.

Sometimes I find someone willing to make the attempt. It's actually kind of refreshing to have the conversation without the other party quoting scripture over and over again.

But they just about always get the “science” wrong. If you try and explain to them WHERE they got it wrong, they start quoting scripture over and over again. As if talking will make them more correct.

I'm thinking that maybe it's just a lack of education. Maybe folks who came from a religious perspective just didn't know what was meant by “The Scientific Method.” Maybe this was why they refused to apply it to their religious beliefs.

So... since I have nothing else going on tonight, I thought I'd go over it for everyone. :P

So... We'll say “Jimmy” does the following stuff.

Step 1: “Define a question.”

“Hey, why did my ice cream melt?”

Step 2: “Gather information.”

Do research. Find out how ice cream is made. That kind of thing.

“Ice cream is stored in a freezer.”

Step 3: Form a hypothesis.

It's that if/then statement.

“If I take my ice cream out of the freezer, then it will melt.”

Step 4: Test the hypothesis in a controlled/reproducible way.

“I'll get two ice cream bars. I'll leave one in the freezer, that's my control. I'll take the other one out and leave it on the counter.”

Step 5: Analyze the data.

“The ice cream on the counter melted. The ice cream in the freezer is still frozen.”

Step 6: Interpret the data and draw preliminary conclusions.

This goes to step 7: “Taking the ice cream out of the freezer causes it to melt.” Take this back to step 3: “If I take my ice cream out of the freezer, it will melt.”

Step 7: Publish results.

“I'm going to set up a booth at the science fair!”

Step 8: Other scientists perform the same test you outlined.

Jaimie finds out about Jimmy's booth, and does steps 3-6 on her own.

Their results: “I took the ice cream out of the freezer, and it stayed frozen. WTF? What didn't I control for?”

She repeats steps 3-6 on their own a few times: “If I take the ice cream out of the freezer, and it's over 0 degrees Celsius, the ice cream will melt!”

Jaimie posts her results in a blog, which Jimmy reads, and starts doing more experimentation, finds out that results change when the freezer is off... publishes data...


The takeaway should be that Jimmy first conclusion was wrong. The folks who penned the first editions of these holy books were very likely wrong, as well. The rule of law shouldn't be based on those.


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