Science, Religion & Truth

Ian Goddard (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 16:36:11 -0400

At 08:51 AM 4/25/98 -0700, Yak Wax wrote:

>I recently said there was one thing in _Contact_ that's been on my
>mind recently, now thanks to the flurry of responses there's another.
>At the end of the film the overall message seems to be that science
>and religion don't have to be opponents because they both seek to
>attain the same goal - truth. I think this is wrong and is a
>fundamental reason for the religious opposition to science. Science
>does not seek "truth" that is the sole aim of religious groups.

IAN: What? You think Religions are seeking truth?
I'd say that that pretty much defines what they
are NOT doing and what science IS doing. Almost
without except, religions consider their definition
of truth to be defined, like, case closed. On the
other hand, in science the supreme truth, which
might be the "Unified Field Theory," is yet to
be found, and admittedly so. So what is actively
being sought in science is absolute knowledge of
truth (that's why people are still researching).
The "religious seeker" may be looking for truth,
but virtually any given religion has "found it."

Religions have truths generally in spite of them-
selves. Because they had some wise observers at
their roots, or along the way. Yet in the broad
definition that Erik applies to ExI, we could
even define science as a religion, since it
has principles and de facto rituals. But a
scientific ritual of investigation seeks to
gain new information, whereas most religious
rituals seek to simply repeat old information.

There is a difference between science and religion,
but that difference is not that religion => truth.

>Instead science seeks to develop theory, these theories are judged by
>their applications in the real world. For instance, it doesn't matter
>if quantum mechanic's is true or false as long as I can build a
>working quantum computer.

IAN: That's the principle I see people here
applying to my holistic theory: "Ya, OK, so
it's true, but so what? Does it get a better
mouse trap, a faster car?" Utility over truth.

I think that principle, "utility over truth,"
is actually pretty religious. Religions serve
a utilitarian purpose to those therein. It gets
them feeling better, it gives them stability,
it gives them fraternity, hope, and so forth.
Show them that the underlying claims of truth
their religion stands on are false and that
doesn't really matter to them, since truth
is NOT the real goal they are after. So I
see your definition of the goal of science
as more fitting to the goal of religion.

I think it falls apart totally in that I
believe that the degree to which science
yields material outcomes is the degree
to which science has discovered truths.
And future benefits from science will
come from future discoveries of truth.

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