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Do We Need Another So-Called Holy War? Religion vs. Science

Balatarin

According to the teachings of Islam, God has sent us 124,000 prophets so far and none of them claimed to be a scientist.  Some of them, like Muhammad, were even utterly illiterate. He, Moses, or Jesus did not tell any believer who complained about a disease to seek medical treatment or go to see a doctor. Believers simply relied on the power of prayer and healing by faith. There are plenty of Hadiths in Islam recommending that followers seek faith-based healing. Even today, poll after poll shows that many people believe that faith and prayers help patients to recover from their illnesses, despite the fact that there has not been any convincing evidence proving their effectiveness. On the contrary, there are many documented cases of children suffering serious harm, even death, because of their parent’s refusal to seek medical treatment for them and chose instead to solely rely on prayer for healing. I am suspect of the accuracy of these polls because I think most people do not reveal their true opinion when it comes to religious beliefs. I think this is especially true in Islamic countries where there is such a heavy stigma attached to being labeled as a non-believer. Consequently, in these societies, believing or pretending to believe is hence a lifesaving necessity that bestows social and personal benefits, often at no cost. However, the cost of not believing is quite high.

 

Not one of the religious holy books, Quran included, claims to be a book of science or has made any significant predictions. Nonetheless, believers insist that every story and every claim within these books are timeless and scientifically cogent, and their validity is either already established or will soon be established by science.  The virtual world is inundated with video clips of these so-called Islamic religious experts and others making outrageous claims and trying to concoct proof that religious beliefs and rituals are indeed consistent with modern science. One of the most absurd claims of them all can be found here.

 

In the clip, an Islamic government spokeswoman claims that the more science advances, the more it discovers the logic behind religious practices. She uses science to justify these practices, implying that science is finally catching up to and onto what the religion of Islam has known for centuries. Examples given are praying five times a day as Muslims do meets our daily physical exercise requirement and repeatedly reciting particular pious Islamic phrases in Arabic  cures many diseases. Thankfully, this video clip is in Farsi so only a limited audience in this country will be exposed to this nonsense.

 

Religious spin doctors like this spokeswoman try to convince the rest of us that such claims are indeed logical and compatible with modern science. What baffles me is that some of the people doing this kind of spinning have earned terminal degrees from reputable universities. It is one thing for an illiterate person living in a rural area of a Timbuktu to believe, for example, that alcohol is unclean (najes), but it is quite mind boggling when an educated person, such as a medical doctor who should use alcohol every day to sanitize everything in his or her office, believes this is true.

 

Frankly, science and religion need not be compatible because they work in two unrelated domains and rely on divergent methodologies to prove their points. Indeed, they are not, in some cases, irreconcilable. Science relies on empirical means such as observations, commonsense, statistics, and laboratory experiments, whereas the religious domain is evocative. Religion relies on emotions, mysteries, superstitions, miracles, prophecies, revelations, Hadiths, resurrection, the supernatural, and a second coming, among other things. In addition, science is dynamic and its claims may be changed or modified depending on the realities being studied. Religions, on the other hand, are rigid because their claims are ingrained in archaic texts that are considered to be the words of God and one should not dare to change, challenge, or refute them. Although science is comparatively young, it has already solved many mysteries once believed to be the work of almighty God, or it has shed some instructive light on many still unresolved issues.

 

However, the fact that science is limited in scope and has not been able to unlock all the mysteries out there does not mean that religion or a supernatural system has a better explanation for them or can provide better insight into what may remain beyond the purview of science. Claims to the contrary have been made for many centuries; however, to this day, none of them have been scientifically validated.

 

Historically, we can find some distinctive eras in our history that have been known for collaboration between science and religion, mainly because the scientific discoveries sometimes were not in conflict with religious beliefs and thus they were not resisted or detested by religious scholars. Also, in the past, there was no separation between church and state as it exists now. However, scientific theories such as evolution and natural selection that directly challenge the foundations of some religions have been resolutely resisted by theologians or right-wing politicians, especially here in the U.S. Consequently, they have tried to keep these Darwinian theories out of school curricula, often successfully.

 

There is no question about the contributions religion has made to science historically, but attributing scientific advances to religion, as some Islamic scholars do, is unfair and utterly counterproductive. Scientific discoveries would have been made with or without the sanction of religion. Scientists do not undertake research projects because they feel obligated or motivated by their religious convictions, but because they are human beings who wish to contribute to their field of study. Religion may have served as the source of inspiration for the scientists and artists who have created celebrated works of art, or have created magnificent religious structures. However, these accomplishments are testaments to human ingenuity and not the marvels of God as some religious people tell us. God has nothing to do with buildings or works of art. Quite the reverse, one can argue that religion has often been an obstacle to intellectual progress by its opposition to scientific discoveries, its persecution of scientists, and the wars and crusades it instigated in the past and continues to instigate in the present.

 

Strangely, anytime religious supporters hit the epistemological hurdle, they do not give up or do not respond peacefully. As has been done in numerous cases, they offer vague arguments. For example, when the theory of evolution discredited religion’s version of the origin of life on earth, they claimed that even though Darwin might be right, the evolution of life was guided by God and, and hence they made up the creation by design argument. Often, when it comes to reacting to scientific discoveries that threaten long-held beliefs, religion’s defense mechanisms, especially in Muslim societies, have consisted of either resorting to medieval texts or Hadiths to repute them, or resorting to force, violence, and intimidation to suppress them.

 

The ruling Mullahs in Islamic countries like Iran must be thinking that that such reactions will draw more and more people toward Islam and strengthen their position and power. However, observations and reliable information show that more and more people are becoming disenchanted and some even disgusted by these reactions and are instead deserting religion because of them. Theocratic countries like Iran can control the bodies but not the minds of its people. Many Iranians have turned into staunch religious critics and/or have abandoned Islam altogether following the establishment of religious autocracy in Iran and witnessing what is being done in the name of religion in Middle East in general and in Iraq in particular. These naive Mullahs and Sheikhs have done more damage to Islam than atheists.

 

It is, no doubt, your prerogative to believe in what you want to believe; however, accepting something in faith simply indicates that whatever you believe cannot be accepted on its own worth, or through scientific investigation and critical thinking. It would be farcical to assume that if science cannot as yet explain something, that there is a supernatural explanation for it. Well, this may not be the case.

 

Just as there is no reason to accept scientific phenomenon based on mere faith, there is also no reason to believe that religious stories are scientific fact. We should not emasculate proven scientific theories simply because they are at odds with religious theology, nor should we aggrandize religious establishments simply because they have power, the financial backing of some organizations, or have a large adherent base.

 

Just as we espouse the separation of church and state, we should also espouse the separation of science and religion so we can acknowledge their different spheres of influence and better delineate these.

Balatarin

varjavand @varjavand

Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

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varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

A comments I received from a reader via email,

We don't have to fly to the Middle East to observe the havoc that mixing religion with science can cause. SCOTUS' ruling in the Hobby Lobby case ignores scientific truth to achieve a desired outcome. Ignoring science (pillaring its merits) has been on-going of the global warming debate. About 95 percent of scientists say global warming is real. Yet, almost of a man members of the Republican party think global warming is a hoax. They deniers (although this latter is driven largely by business, oil, interest and profits) more clout and prevent legislation from addressing global warming concerns. The tension between science and religion needn't exists because they operate in different milieus. Unfortunately, faith is stubborn and resists change; science is flexible and seeks change in the quest for truth.

Ir

Parthian

Abrahamic religions:
One psychopath tried to chop his son's head to please his imaginary god. Next in the line, parted the red sea (ha ha) and one after that walked on the water (ha ha ha). The last one consumed wild mushroom in the cave and talked with Jen & Pari (ha ha ha ha).

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Unlike religious believers atheist have no claim on epistemological superiority, or a claim to total knowledge. Science is all about approximation, relativity and evolution.
Nazis lost because they chewed more than they could handle.
Mullahs in Islamic Republic of Hell are also losing due to same reasons; over reaching has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with an objective assessment of balance of power.
As far as claims of superiority is concerned it's always the "believers" feeling "superior" based on a mandate from an "all knowing, omnipresence being."
Any epistemology by definition is rational, relative and finite.
The religious mode of thought is based on absolutism, since it lacks any epistemology, all based on a claim that they just "know."

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Talking about superiority, sometimes, we, Muslims, resort to ridiculous claims to prove our specialness. Below is how many times Gabriel appeared before prominent prophets (copied from a book written by a Shia mullah)
Abraham: 50 times
Moses: 400 times
Jesus: 10 times
Mohammad: 124,000 times!

Poor Jesus! Aren’t we, Muslims, so special?

P_J..

P_J..

And they "pride" themselves in being honest!! Let's NOT forget that it was Abraham who started all this nonsense, yet he was visited the 2nd worst or least!

All this has created a great living for a bunch of free loading, good for nothing characters who would have otherwise starved, for the past 4000 to may be 5000 years.

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

the greatest mistake of atheists is their assumption of their own superiority.

the failure of Germany in the Nazi era was a scientific one. they took the logic of science to its disastrous conclusion.

Today, the two sides of this debate are moving into extreme positions.

this is worrying and unintelligent.

Let us acknowledge the unknowns as real. it is not a weakness to be agnostic or unsure of one's position. it is wise and intelligent actually.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

I found this post on کانون آگنوستیک ها و آتئیست های ایران Iranian Atheists & Agnostics
very interesting observation that support the underlying theme of this article and the hypocritical nature of the people who try to defend an ideology that is severely flawed.
در کشور دینی و سرشار از آیین‌های مذهبی، عرفان‌های نوظهور و قدیمی؛ آیت‌الله مهدوی کنی رئیس مجلس خبرگان به شدت بیمار می‌شود و به کما می‌رود. در این گیر و دار نه کسی از فقها و متولیان دینی برای سلامتی ایشان فتوای دعا و نذر و نیاز می‌دهد، نه کسی به جایی متوسل و دخیل می‌شود و نه بازکردن چاکرا و بستن حلقه کیهانی مطرح می‌شود. هیچ کس ایشان را به دهها مکانی که با قطعیت ادعا می کنند لاعلاج ترین بیماریها را شفا می دهد نمی برد همراهان و نزدیکانش او را به جایی می‌برند که جوابش را پس داده است؛ علم پزشکی!

آیت‌الله مهدوی کنی به همت علم زنده است، به همت ترکیب زیبا و لذت‌بخش از علوم مختلف با مرگی دست و پنجه نرم می‌کند که آیت‌الله و شاطر نانوا نمی‌شناسد. او به کمک دستان توانمند تکنولوژی به صورت آنلاین برای دیگران قابل مشاهده و رصد است. مخلوطی از انواع علوم به او فرصت داده تا مرگ را عقب براند.

علم نجیب است، مدعی نیست و هیچگاه منتی بر کسی نمی‌گذارد، اما نکته‌ای باقی‌ست که اگر فردا ایشان به زندگی بازگردد از «دعای خیر مردم و مراجع» بوده و اگر چهره در نقاب خاک کشد «پس از سالها جهد و تلاش شتابان به دیار حق شتافته». علمی که همواره همه ما را با آغوش باز پذیرفته و به همه ما فرصتی دوباره داده همیشه گمنام است.

نویسنده: مجید

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

They say human mind is pattern-seeking and agent-assigning. We instinctually invoke God or a supernatural source to explain the events we don’t understand. There are lots of miraculous events/coincidences we see happening may be every day. They are inevitable outcomes of large number and extensive amount of time. The more frequently you repeat something through time, the closer it gets to the expected value. It is like a lottery that the chance of winning may be 1 in millions, however, somebody is going to win.

I think such coincidences can be explained by science.
For example, the fact that probability off life originating on earth by chance, evolution, and natural selection is small does not preclude it from happening just as the low probability of winning a lotto does not prevent somebody to win. There is a life, in its current form, on earth because of certain fine- tuning/parameters that just happen to exist on earth and perhaps in no other planet. Undoubtedly, there was no life on earth without these conditions or the form of life would if some of these preconditions did not exist.

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Sustaining myths & necessary illusions are also contributing factors to maintenance of religious subjectivity & irrationality.
Many evolutionary biologists have pointed out if earth had not been hit by that gigantic asteroid 65 million years ago, which resulted in extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, evolution of mammals might have never occurred, since they would've been nothing but dino-hors d'oeuvres'!
A religious mind by definition is simplistic, binary & absolutist. There's no room for relativity, approximation or critical investigation in religious mode of thought. It's "faith" based. You just "believe!"

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

very good point, for life to commence and sustain on earth certain conditions must exist including the one you described in your comment, they just happen to exist on earth by chance not by design as religious people believe.

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

isn't there a degree of faith involved in believing that the speed of light cannot be exceeded?

or to strongly believe that god does not exist?

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Atheism is not a faith. Faith is something that you believe in without convincing evidence or proof, atheism is a reality and its claims are backed by scientific discoveries. Plus, atheists don not make any claim about existence of God and there is no need to demonstrate a lack of claim. If I apply apple for a job and claim that I am a master’s degree in computer science, it is my job to back my claim with empirical evidence. I don’t have to prove anything if I don’t make such a claim.

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

I'm an atheist, but the scientist in me tells me that because you cannot prove a negative, a rational person can at best be agnostic rather than a convinced atheist. does that make the point clearer?

I don't think that a truly scientific mind can be 100% convinced of atheism other than through faith in that unprovable position

Einstein was not an atheist

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Einstein was a pacifist, who believed in the creator...That got him in hot waters when he devised a cosmological constant that when applied would prove the stability, and NOT expansion of Universe. When Hubble and Father Lemaitre discovered that Universe was expanding, Einstein apologized and said that he should not have allowed his religious believes to cloud and interfere with his scientific findings!

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

Interesting point PJ. I'm not familiar with the issue.

The problem with an expanding universe (the idea of it I mean) is that it negates the idea of space having a limit. I cannot get my head to grasp the complexities of space and time, and the relation between them. At some level, the idea of a constant rather than an expanding universe makes logical sense.

Let me put it this way: if the universe is expanding, what 'space' would it be expanding into? How did that space come to exist? And if that space is 'outside' of the universe, then what do we mean by our 'universe'? what do we call that 'space' outside of it?

I don't even buy into the idea of a big bang, as it makes little sense. It implies a beginning and an end, which in itself is illogical. At best, a big bang would need to be perpetually repeated for the theory to make sense: an explosion leading to a period of expansion, followed by a period of contraction back to the original 'nothing' (which again makes no sense) followed by another big bang. And why would there be only one single big bang, rather than several simultaneous or sequential (separate) ones leading to several universes?

I've been meaning to write on the topic of 'time' for the longest time! I suspect time does not exist. This is the only way I can make logical sense of the problem of 'creation'. If there is no time (like there is no 'distance' other than what we invented to help us measure things, just like with time), then there was no beginning, and therefore, there was no need for a creator.

Perhaps the only 'time' that exists is 'now', and this 'now' has always been, and always will be. No beginning, and no end. This sounds a little crazy to most people, and is hard to 'believe'. Yet people happily imagine 'god' to be this way with no problem whatsoever! I would rather 'believe' it about the universe rather than god. Either way, some form of 'belief' is required, with or without god.

Does any of the above make any logical sense?! :)

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Dear NP,

You made perfect sense, but your opinion, unfortunately, contradicts the KNOWN scientific facts and findings! Einstein, like yourself, also thought that space was constant and limited...since he was a believer and could not accept that creator would want to have chaos rather than discipline for his/hers creation. But, he was wrong and Hubble proved that our universe is infinite and expanding rapidly...Einstein later on corrected himself and apologized. He also proved that space and time were malleable and not constant, and that belief remains and is strengthened according to physicists as we speak, even today and NOW, and those who believe in quantum mechanics.

Big bang is not a new phenomenon but it has and is happening as we speak and may have happened billions of times before and in the future. In other words there are no beginnings or ends!

Time does exist, it always moves forward, but has no constant/solid duration. It's duration dilates or expands according to proven Einstein's relativity and depends on the speed we travel...at the speed of light time stops! According to quantum mechanic you can be in millions of places at the same time, making time as a yard stick irrelevant and speaking of the existence of parallel universes. So the constancy of space and time that Newton was so hooked on, was challenged and corrected by Einstein and most of Newtonian laws were either rejected or updated. The only formula of Newton that has survived is his formula that states gravitation or attraction between two masses!

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

Hi PJ,

Thanks for the response.

Is it just time that is relative? Can't space be relative too? If the answer is 'yes', then our perception of an expanding universe could be subject to relativity too. I remember once reading something to the effect that mass and gravity shape (bend) space.

I'm not qualified to question the fundamentals of physics. I'm only pointing out on a very general level that a) there are no constants, as the trajectory of scientific knowledge itself shows, and b) when our telescopes 'observe' an expanding universe, they are doing so from within our universe and relative to our position within it.

This is not a defence of the existence of god, btw. Please don't misunderstand. I couldn't care less whether god exists or not, and it would give my life no added 'meaning' if god existed. I'm just asking: what is that space that the universe is supposed to be expanding into?

P_J..

P_J..

Niloufar, those were great questions! Einstein proved that gravity was the result of the curvature of the fabric of Space and Time that are interwoven.

Best way to explain that is to observe the indentation caused by a bowling ball that is put on the top of a trampoline. That indentation or curvature, he explained, was gravity...in other words if we drop a whole bunch of marbles around that bowling ball they start rotating around the curvature or indentation until they fall or drop down. The reason they fall or drop is because of the friction...in space friction does not exists or it is infinitesimal in comparison to the mass of these planets and the stars, i.e. our Sun.

The universal expansion was discovered by Hubble and was the result of the phenomenon called the "red shift", he noticed that, when observing far away galaxies. White Light has an specific wave length, when we are stationary and close to it, but as it recedes with high velocity, the wave length stretches and changes into the color of red and white becomes red, since they are two completely different wave lengths and frequencies...that phenomenon is called the "RED SHIFT"

Scientists have been able to create Amino acid, life's MOST fundamental element, by using lightning and other natural phenomenons that may have happened early on, and responsible for the emergence of life! In other words they prove that the whole thing was just an accident and not anyone's, i.e. God's, work.

Have a great one!

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

From my personal experience, most members of the intelligentsia, i.e. university professors and other educated segments of society, are. These folks are smart enough to put greater stress and value on human beings, and not the material and aware of the fact that no democracy could survive in the absence of just and fair economic distribution of wealth and the equilibrium it creates...

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

but the problem with that is, who should determine what is the just distribution of income/wealth, the concept of fairness is normative at best. In the US, the distribution of income is left to the operation of the market itself, that often leads to the outcome that is not acceptable to all.

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Existence of such wide gaps between rich and the poor, in the richest country in the world, should tell us that either "markets" are not free or may not always be the place to go to for economic calibration or inspiration and some logical government control(s) is of an essence...especially when markets are under the control of a small group of people or corporations.

The crash of market, just a few years ago, proves that unevenness that exists and we are dealing with. When average American lost his/hers pants, millionaires became billionaires...stock markets lost over 15 trillion dollars and the top richest 400 gained billions as the result. I am in agreement with a true "FREE" market idea and strongly believe that it would do more good than harm, but government oversight is also a necessity and Laissez Faire style economics does more harm than good!

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

It's simple rationality: a more just society is a more peaceful one. You don't need education to understand that.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

It seems in the US, the growth of the economy is more important when it come to economic policy than the just distribution of income. there is no empirical evidence to suggest that the growth rate of an economy is positively correlated with equitable distribution of income.

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Piketty in his book "Capital in 21 century" has put together an incredibly massive amount of data proving how wealth has been overwhelmingly accumulated in the hands of a few, despite all the economic growth & labor productivity.
If we take Piketty's data as an example, it positively proves that the post World War II growth correlates with a highly unjust distribution of wealth. But such an observation, in and of itself, really doesn't explain that much. The main reason behind equitable distribution of wealth in the US in 30's & 40's were the strong social movements pushing the government.
In absence of these social movements there's little chance of any reform.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

I have ordered a copy of his book, anxious to read it, I have read a number of good reviews about this book, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz published a very informative book on this topic last year: Price Of Inequality, Inequality is one of those problems in the US that everyone is concerned with but no one knows how to alleviate it.

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Dear NP,

Religion is in more ways than one, a mythological belief, rather than reality. Authors of Bible took most of what Socrates had said, who was NOT an astrophysicist but a philosopher, in regard to Universe, and put them all in the Bible, verbatim. Assumptions that were all wrong! But, Universal speed limit or speed of light, on the other hand, is a proven phenomenon, where walking on water or bringing dead to life is an absolutely unproven BS, and the figment of imagination of the Hezbollahi Christians.

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

Let's not confuse the issue here PJ.

Science does not believe in absolute truths. That is its strength. In fact science advances more on the basis of theorems being proven to be wrong.

Being a total atheist is therefore not scientific. It is faith based.

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Einstein was a socialist. He also opposed theocracies in all shapes and forms, that's why he refused the offer to become Israel's first president.
Read his article titled "Why Socialism?" published in the inaugural, first issue of Monthly Review in 1949, and see why he always remained a committed socialist.

Liberated

Liberated

There in no need for faith to be an atheist. Atheism is the rational deduction one makes. The mind educated in the workings of the universe arrives at the fact that there is no one creator that controls all. It takes simplicity and ignorance to believe in any of the religions. Most all atheist were raised in an environment were they were exposed to religion. The notions are simple and meant for a childlike mind to absorb. It takes education and understanding of the natural world to reject these very simple ideas. So it is not "faith" it is an educated and a searching mind that arrives at the concept of Atheism.
There is a reason why Mike Tyson is very religious and Neil deGrasse Tyson is an atheist. Atheism is a difficult concept for stupid people to understand.

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

a logical - rather than an educated one - would normally tend towards atheism. still, the greatest scientific minds in history have tended to believe in god. am not sure why that is, but your Tyson example is poorly chosen.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Claims made by religions are not only beyond the scope of science but many of them are in conflict with it: traveling to space on the back of a steed (meraj), virgin birth, occultation of Emam Zaman, resurrection, walking on water, revelations are just a few examples of such claims.

Many researches conducted by scientist who try to connect science to religion are funded by interest groups especially Templeton Foundation that is the sponsor of most of them.

NiloufarParsi

Niloufar Parsi

stories and myths have their own functions in society. I don't think that religious myths are meant to be taken literally, other than by their most simpleminded followers. They are supposed to be lessons and guidelines.

nationalism is also largely based on mythology.

Here's s superb dig at the Bible and its creation story:

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Rational thinking is challenging for some, but lack of a proper rational thought process is only one part of the story about religion. There's also the emotional, dispositional aspect of it. The constant need for a "savior" & "higher authority" as a protector. All of which might be summed up as a failure to have confidence in one's own resources & abilities, always looking for "divine intervention" to fill personal insecurities & shortcomings.
As Reza's quote from that Iranian Agnostic society also points out, it is interesting to see the utter hypocrisy of religious folks when in times of real emergencies & trouble they go straight to a hospital for benefits of the latest and most advanced medical science, whereas if they're really true to their "faith" instead of a hospital they should seek treatment in a church, synagogue, temple or a mosque. But none of them do, and we know why.

BehrouzBahmani

Behrouz Bahmani if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.

That's not faith, that's faith.

BehrouzBahmani

Behrouz Bahmani if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.

The claim of Namaz being equated to Yoga is more telling than you'd think. Mohammad was a traveller and likely he went East and saw the Yogis and took the Namaz exercises from Yoga. Unfortunately this makes Namaz less legit, and Yoga more original.

The real answer is that if you are a reasonable person, you probably should believe in God. Until someone explains how the Big Bang occurred and what was there before, God and the "Let there be light (Big Bang)" is the reasonable explanation for the origin of the Universe. Until someone offers proof otherwise. Which so far they haven't.

I'm not saying there is or isn't a God, I'm hedging by saying maybe.

But better people than us, actual professional philosophers who thought about this full time, as their day-job, a long time ago, that modern Islamic scholars and Mollahs always want to marginalize by ignoring, have already debated all of this for decades. And the results were already in on this entire issue in the 18th century when Pascal lost his argument for religion to Voltaire.


Pascal's famous wager was that if you were a reasonable person, you had to be to believe in religion who argued that if god exists, and you did not believe in him, you would not get into heaven and that could cost you everything. But even if God did not exist it was the better bet to believe in God than to not believe in god. Just in case he did. If he didn't, you lived a good and just life and it costs you nothing.

Voltaire argued how can you know which religion is the one true religion that God really wants us to practice? Therefore the safest bet of all was to believe in God, but not to practice ANY specific religion.

This was argued in the 1700s. it is a done argument. The modernist Islamics arguing now is yet another in a long line of many insults to civilization, and the philosophical accomplishments of mankind. Although I am sure a lot of Arabs and assorted new-literate moslems think this is a new topic, it isn't. It is an old discussion, had by far better people than exist now, and the discussion is moot.

As Voltaire said,

"(the theist) believes that religion consists neither in the opinions of an unintelligible metaphysics, nor in vain apparatus, but in worship and in justice. To do good, that is his prayer; to be submitted to God, that is his doctrine. The Mohammedan calls to him 'Beware if you do not make your pilgrimage to Mecca!' 'Woe on you, says a recoller to him, if you do not make a journey to Notre-Dame de Lorette!' He laughs at Lorette and at Mecca, but he helps the poor and defends the oppressed."

This is the standard as set in the 18th century. Why are we having the same discussion now? Because the sales department of Religion Inc. has to sell to survive.

Religion is exactly like Coca Cola. It certainly tastes great when you are thirsty. But a simple glass of free water from any faucet is statistically much better for you.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Pascal wager is based on a wrong assumption that if there is no God, you are not going to lose anything, not true, being pious in modern world is quite costly, materially and otherwise. Findings of many researches support the proposition that the degree to which people practice a religion varies indirectly with their level of income. In advanced nations, like the U.S., the percentage of people believing in core ideas of religion like belief in God is high. Believing in God has no cost, but instead has a lot of benefits. However, when it comes to fulfilling the stringent requirements of belief, the percentage of followers shrinks to about 50% as the monetary and the opportunity costs rise. Such analyses suggest that there is a high cost attached to devoutness.

It is, however, the threat of excruciating punishment in this world and especially in the next the draws people to religion. Overcome by fear of punishment and enticed by heavenly amenities in the next world, individuals have been manipulated by the promise of eternal salvation.
Religious aggravators, such as Mullahs, have told them that only they know what it takes to attain heavenly bliss. For some, the expectation of egotistical rewards for piety has changed Islam into a self-serving belief system and self-interest has become the central impetus behind religiosity. Such a blinkered way of thinking has, indeed, undermined the power of the moral imagination and the worldview of ordinary Muslims. Consequently, Muslims have been typically transformed into a group of people (Umma) who are obsessed with their “specialness” and engrossed in zero-sum-

BehrouzBahmani

Behrouz Bahmani if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.

That's not the cost being debated in the wager. The wager is whether or not there is a god. The cost is your soul or whether there is an ultimate reward by god for believing in him, not the cost of joining any religion. The Pascal wager is not about religion.

Of course you are absolutely right about the inherent costs financial and otherwise of being part of ANY religion. And Pascal was trying to mathematically argue in favor of his religion, Christianity, as a result of proving his wager theory.

But Voltaire was a Deist. Or someone who believes only in God but does not believe in any of the religions. Or Theists. I like Voltaire's argument.

If there is a God, I think he would be more grateful that we believed in him alone, rather than if we followed one of his religions.

Maybe religion is a way for God to test our belief. With anyone who follows a religion not getting the greater point and therefore failing the test.

Because if every religion claims to be the one true one, then at some point, everyone who believes in one religion over another, is going to hell for not believing in the other.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Even if you happen to find the only right religion, how can you be sure that you fulfill its requirements correctly? Based on my calculation, even though I am not a statistician, given the number of religion existed today the probability of finding the right one is infinitesimal and the chance of going to heaven is 0.000000000000124. Sorry couldn’t be more encouraging!

Ashianeh

Ashianeh Raise your words, not your voice It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. Rumi

No one buys anymore what these ignorant Mullahs try to inject into people's minds. TV programs such as the one in this blog have become comedy shows, which are watched to be entertained rather than informed.

G.Rahmanian

G. Rahmanian


"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo." Karl Marx