Sunday, 14 August 2011

Science for religious fundamentalists

"It is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one's neighbor. … it is called the most grievous sin, for as much as it makes every sin more grievous.” ~ Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica
For this essay I will assume the existence of a god. For simplicity I will use the names and forms of address reserved to the Christian god (ie referring to this being by the name God or with a capitalised He), but as we will see I wont assume much more than that He created the universe.

Often it is suggested there is some conflict between science and religion. That being religious and scientific are incompatible. That religious people shouldn't have a duty to bow down to scientific truths. This seems to me a nonsense. If anything religious people, people who want and need to know about God, ought to be more interested in science than anyone else.

There is a God, He created everything, He is supremely powerful and awesome in every sense. It is obviously the duty of every sane person to find out more about this God. How then are we to find out about this God? Firstly through our hearts and minds, the private personal revelations that come to us in quiet moments. And secondly through our eyes and hands and the rest of our senses of the world around us.

The first question is which of these two forms of revelation is the most reliable? If you feel some little voice or inner conviction about some thing in the world, that a particular stone is red say, but you see with your eyes that is it not so, and all your friends and trusted neighbours say it is not so there must be something wrong. Clearly one of these senses is in error about what it is God has made in the world. Is it not the simpler and more likely explanation that you're misinterpreting your vague and quiet feeling, or that it is speaking to you in a metaphor or parable, or that it's the work of a sinister being and not of God?

When you see a truth plainly and clearly through the senses then it must be the work of God. God created everything, that stone that you see is His work, all of nature is His work. For you to reject any part of that work is a very strong kind of blasphemy. For you to say that you dont bow down to and accept a truth about the world is to reject at least in part the work of God. It is not for you to tell God what He can make. To do so is to claim a superiority over God, it is an appalling error, blasphemy of the highest rank.

To accept your place in the scheme of things, as beloved by God, but tiny and stupid and insignificant compared to him, is to be forced into a simple rule: "Do not tell God what to do". Dont ever dare to presume even for a second that you can second guess His work. Dont dare even for a second to say "this cannot be the will of God". Yes it is God's will, it must be, He created it, for you to disbelieve that because you wouldn't have made the world like that is to assert you know God's mind, you know His plans and schemes. It's wrong of you, staggeringly appallingly wrong of you to pretend to such grandeur.

Dont dare to pretend then when you see the evidence of a fact about the world that it cannot be true because you dont believe that God plays dice or creates Man from lesser beings or whatever prejudice your tiny stupid human mind can come up with. Dont dare to say that you know better than Him or know what He would do.

Dont dare pretend or allow others to pretend that other humans have this power. Dont let your minister of vicar pretend he knows the mind of God. The next time your priest tells you about the works of God and you look at the evidence and see that he is not telling the truth confront him. Tell this priest that to tell lies about the work of God is a very serious thing. Keep complaining and getting angry about his lies until he learns that it is God and not he that makes the decisions.

Dont dare to pretend that any human being, even the Pope or whoever the head of your Church is, has this power. When the Pope tells a lie about the work of God, when he says that God provides a cure for a disease in this way when He does not, or when he says that God created a part of the world in a way He did not, then the Pope is a false prophet. He must be condemned as all false prophets, you must rebuke him, show him the error of his ways, command him to stop telling God what to do.

And dont dare pretend either that the works of man are immune. Remember, even if God wrote and inspired the scriptures that humans copied them. If in scripture you find a lie about the works of God, if you find something that your senses tell you is untrue, then there has been an error somewhere, it is not the word of God. Dont allow the moderate and liberal churches to deceive you with their nonsense about metaphor and the word of God being meant for one time or place. A lie is a lie plain and simple, calling it a metaphor doesn't make it magically true. A word meant for one time and place is no good in another. If the book in your hand blasphemes against God and His works burn it, it can be of no use to anyone.

A book that contains many truths but also many lies is in many ways more vicious than a pure book of lies. The false statements are evil in themselves, the truth is evil because it lends support to blasphemy by being bound in one book with it. If you find a book claiming to be the word of God with many truths but some lies burn it, it can do nothing but deceive you.

Oh yeh and atheists? Substitute God throughout for "nature", then shut the fuck up about beauty in science and stop being a string theorist.

1 comment:

  1. I like your thesis, but I doubt it will be convincing. I see three problems:

    The first is that you're treating religion as a standard normal hypothesis. Cool if you're Descartes, less so once bits of dogma start being called into question. Alternatively, these are propositions being held with prior 1 (don't ask how they updated to there). Indeed, look at how doctrine has shifted from Descartes to now. Non overlapping magesteria would have been heresy for Descartes...

    Secondly, the inferential distances are long and the end results are known. The graph of the CMB spectrum with 400 sigma error bars moves me. I know what it means. That's non-trivial. If you disagree with standard cosmology, then that glorious data is just a wiggly line. Who cares? Not only that, but to begin to explain what it is and why you care is going to be essentially impossible; the conclusion of my explanation is known and unpalatable. You can be chased by "how do you know" from a spectrum to photon behavior to QM. Even then, all of the experimental evidence in the world is not moving. Why? Because the endpoint of the discussion is already known, and rejected.

    Thirdly and foundationally, you have a good argument for a deist to accept science. There aren't many deists. The moment you have doctrine, or dogmas, you're not convincing. You argue that rejecting science is properly considered blasphemous. That's coolm, if and only if you don't have an imperfect creation. When there is an (accurate) perception that science is taking away any basis for transubstantiation, or the creation of cosmology, or free will, or the special nature of H. Sapiens, or prayer, you have a problem; it seems that science it pushing God into being a deist, and her(/his) believers disapprove. That was not what they signed up for, cognitively. That is heresy.

    I feel the ire; I too would rather that people would take reality on the chin. Unfortunately not everyone does.


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