The nature of the science-religion conflict?

By Ken Perrott 20/01/2011 10


I think this cartoon really illustrates the differences.

Credit: atheistcartoons.com – where would we be?.


10 Responses to “The nature of the science-religion conflict?”

  • Rather good, Michael :) (Speaking of which, have you been over to Pharyngula & seen PZ’s post about the YEC creationist visiting Morris, Minnesota – or more specifically, about said individual’s speaking schedule???

  • haha! Doonesbury had a similar take on this, eons ago (it was while I was still working at Massey…). The professor had marked the student wrong for coming up with an answer that had pi = 3 & the student was basically accusing him of not respecting other ways of getting an answer. The concept ran through several strips (as Doonesbury’s cartoons do) & had the poor prof being hauled over the coals by the Dean of his university :(

  • I would like to reply to each of the cartoons as one of the only open creationists that visit here. At the very least I hope you enjoy the entertainment 😉

    “Where would we be without God” should be re-titled, “Where would we be without people who have crazy ideas about God”. Unfortunately for rational believers (go on, have a laugh at that one, I know you want to) there are many more irrational believers these days.

    Regarding the “Scientific Method versus Creationist Method”: we aren’t looking for evidence to support what God has said. It is enough for us that He has spoken (that doesn’t mean that we are not aware of “evidence” and rational arguments). However, if you take a look at much of the early “evidence” for an older earth and for biological evolution, it is clear that scientists can be just as guilty of searching for half-baked reasons and creative interpretations to support their theories and ideals. I know I’m going to get a lot of stick for saying this but I really think that old earth theories and evolution have only survived as well as they have is because there are enough people for whom stomachs turn at the thought of even admitting the possibility of the bible being right.

    Regarding “If math was taught like science”: It is conceivable that there are conditions where 1+1=3 is a true expression. Situations can arise that seem mathematically impossible, e.g. the interior angles of a triangle adding to more than 180 degrees, but we know that this can happen when considering curved surfaces. Maybe we just haven’t discovered the conditions where 1+1 can equal 3. I know this one doesn’t really get stuck into creationists, but it does show how it is easy to get trapped in linear thinking.

    And finally, regarding “Teaching both theories”: A few comments that are independent of each other:
    1. What about E=MC2 isn’t magic? Or wave/particle duality and other “mysteries” (I actually think that such mysteries are sort of higher dimensional phenomena beyond our current ability to properly observe)
    2. Kids can pick up what is rubbish and the ones that can’t are going to pick up rubbish anyway. Better to get it in a controlled environment where they can see that there is an opposing view point at least – even if they refuse to believe it.
    3. Teaching an alternative view is only ultimately bad if it is wrong AND if it teaches people to avoid the truth.

  • Sam,

    However, if you take a look at much of the early “evidence” for an older earth and for biological evolution, it is clear that scientists can be just as guilty of searching for half-baked reasons and creative interpretations to support their theories and ideals.

    Saying this doesn’t justify your taking things on faith.

    old earth theories and evolution have only survived as well as they have is because there are enough people for whom stomachs turn at the thought of even admitting the possibility of the bible being right.

    Leaving aside the straw man aspect, that the ages of the earth have been revised over time quite extensively demonstrates that people are following where the evidence leads, rather than some anti-religious sentiment.

    (I actually think that such mysteries are sort of higher dimensional phenomena beyond our current ability to properly observe)

    You don’t have to be able to directly observe something to be able to study it.

    Teaching an alternative view is only ultimately bad if it is wrong AND if it teaches people to avoid the truth.

    It is bad when the alternative view is presented as either something it’s not (e.g. as science, when it’s ideology or religion), or presented as valid when it’s not (under current best understanding, of course). You don’t teach homeopathy as medical science in medical school, for example.

  • Sam, you say that
    “It is enough for us that He has spoken (that doesn’t mean that we are not aware of “evidence” and rational arguments).”

    If this is true, then why do many creationists seem to feel the need to prove “His” existence by doing exactly what that cartoon suggests?
    As as scientist, I have no problem with religion philosophies being taught in schools in a “religious studies” course. (I did such a course at school, and found it very educational). However, when creationists try to sneak, unfounded scientific theories, I will object extremely vigorously, as it demeans science AND religion.
    With regards to “Kids can pick up what is rubbish and the ones that can’t are going to pick up rubbish anyway” I think that is completely untrue. The majority of students will not question what a teacher tells them, and unless “alternative theories” are taught carefully the student will become confused which is NOT the purpose of education. Even adults can’t be relied on to always filter the wheat from the chaff.

    “Teaching an alternative view is only ultimately bad if it is wrong AND if it teaches people to avoid the truth.”
    This would be a good reason for not teaching creationism in science class then.

  • 3. Teaching an alternative view is only ultimately bad if it is wrong AND if it teaches people to avoid the truth.

    Surely teaching an alternative view, unless it is as well supported by evidence as the main view, can also waste people’s time by preventing them from learning as much about a subject as they could have.

  • old earth theories and evolution have only survived as well as they have is because there are enough people for whom stomachs turn at the thought of even admitting the possibility of the bible being right
    As Grant says, leaving aside the straw man: could it be, instead, that they make evidence-based decisions & can find no data supporting your contention that the bible is correct about, say, the origins of humans?

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