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icehorse

Cognitive load of being religious and scientific

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Hi Guys,



I wasn't sure where to put this question - here or in the religion, sorry.



Full disclosure, I'm a big fan of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, basically I'm very concerned about how religion is affecting the world.



So here's the question: Given that religious discussion must be predicated on dogma, and that scientific discussion must be predicated on a lack of dogma, do people who are both religious and scientifically minded experience a sustained, cognitive load burden in day to day life as they switch back and forth from religious situations to "scientific" situations?



(In this context, we could call jobs like programmer or sys. admin. "scientific".)


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I don't think that a blanket answer to this is really possible. It would vary based on the extent of each person's beliefs.

As an example, I am very logical and scientific with everything. I can apply logic to any given situation. When it comes to my religious beliefs I consider myself to be Agnostic. I think that there is a higher power so to speak, however, I don't think it's possible to know what it is and feel that it would be arrogant to say otherwise. I haven't seen what there is beyond this world so as far as I truly know it might be nothing at all.

Due to this, I don't base my personal dogmatic beliefs on anything other than what I consider to be morally right or wrong.

Therefore, in my situation, it's not a burden at all. If I feel that something is morally wrong and I'm not ok with it I won't do it. If it feels like the right thing to do I will go against all logic and proof and do it.

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Hi Guys,

 

I wasn't sure where to put this question - here or in the religion, sorry.

 

Full disclosure, I'm a big fan of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, basically I'm very concerned about how religion is affecting the world.

 

So here's the question: Given that religious discussion must be predicated on dogma, and that scientific discussion must be predicated on a lack of dogma, do people who are both religious and scientifically minded experience a sustained, cognitive load burden in day to day life as they switch back and forth from religious situations to "scientific" situations?

 

(In this context, we could call jobs like programmer or sys. admin. "scientific".)

 

 

The problem would depend on different factors, which religion you follow, how strictly you follow it would seem to be two important parameters that would affect the "cognitive load" of belief vs science...

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Good point - it seems intuitive that an agnostic or moderate would experience less load than someone more devout. In general I'm interested in the whole idea of "devoutly religious scientists" and how they juggle those two competing domains.

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I was born into a fundamentalist Baptist family, but was abused and became agnostic, ignostic or a bit athestic, but have suffered because my family believes I am an agent of Satin, but I practice Buddhist philosophy to be kind.

 

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama believes in the scientific method, see quotes in my sig. below. I do not think he suffers from being both religious and scientific.

 

IMO, each person is different in this regard.

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Well I'm also a big fan of the Dalai Lama, but he's clearly an outlier, a wonderful outlier, but an outlier none the less.

 

In general, most religious thinking is based on that particular religion's large set of dogma. (Most not all.) While scientific thinking is mostly the attempt to look at problems with as little dogma as possible.

 

I would say that most people are "moderately religious" and in Western culture moderately scientific. What interests me for this particular thread is those people who would categorize themselves as "very religious" AND very scientific. Those people exist, and I'm wondering what their cognitive load is like as they switch back and forth between disciplines?

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Most of the religious fundamentalists I have come in contact with are quite sure science is wrong, some think it is a conspiracy headed by Satan, others just think they can't see the trees for the forest. Many moderates i know simply don't care and believe anyway assuming God will explain the discrepancies at some point or assume humans have distorted the word of god or that humans simply can't understand the mind of god....

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I do not accept that religion must be exclusive of science. Personally, for example, I believe Evolution to be one of God's cleverest inventions. I will admit that religious conservatives have a hard time with that one.

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There has been a study where right-handed people are wired upstairs for 'Religiousity" to a much greater extent than left-handed people. Some people accept scientific spiritualism without religious doctrine. Many people steer their lives based on comfort/safe zones, those who avoid understanding anything beyond this "material world" are as dogmatic as any doctrine.

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^ A much more likely explanation IMO is that there are simply a larger number of right-handed people in the population than left-handed people. The correlation you cite is probably spurious and better explained by flawed assumptions by the researchers. Of course, I could be mistaken, but we'll have to wait to see the actual study to which you're referring.

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Somebody once observed to me that a disproportionate fraction of botanists and related scientists seem to have emerged from Jesuit high schools and colleges.

 

There would appear to be no cognitive dissonance in that situation.

 

And with most religions there are levels of what one might call "sophistication" in the understanding of the beliefs. There are ways of believing in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the profound truths he promulgated that suffer no more cognitive dissonance from reading the mythical Biblical accounts of his birth etc than they do reading the "Morte de Arthur" while honestly subscribing to the knightly principles of honor and nobility and service, or the variosu legends of Robin O' th 'ood while subscribing to fairness and freedom and independence from tyranny.

 

Most scientific fields are completely compatible with these "sophisticated" modes of religious belief.

Edited by overtone

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How can you say that with such certainty? Clearly, there is compartmentalization and even dissonance involved. Perhaps you do experience a higher "cognitive load" than atheistic scientists and just don't realize it.

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How can you say that with such certainty? Clearly, there is compartmentalization and even dissonance involved. Perhaps you do experience a higher "cognitive load" than atheistic scientists and just don't realize it.

 

Because I have never had any trouble conducting my work. No more so than many of my atheistic peers, and many of them have sought my advice. Maybe they suffer under a cognitive load for being atheist? Maybe you suffer from such a cognitive load? Maybe my cognition is enhanced for my theism? I find the whole notion to be rather ridiculous frankly. It really doesn't require any dissonance, unless you make it an issue. The idea of such dissonance seems to exist more as an illusion in the mind of atheists I think. Nor, do I need to "compartmentalize". It has never been an issue for me to reconcile my views to each other. I really find this whole subject funny to tell the truth and think it speaks more towards the biases of some than to any reality.

Edited by chadn737

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