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Trying to reconcile my love for science and religion


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I'm a logical person. I see huge flaws in every religious belief both logically and idealistically. I believe in the big bang as well as the possibility of string theory as well as other explain all theories. However I can't seem to get over the hump in terms of ruling out religion as a possibility for existence. I'm attempting to completely remove the part of my brain that says there perhaps is a god, and he allows these natural forces to do this work for him. Can anyone give me any tips or suggestions on how to move on from god? I never was overly religious ( church only a couple times a year ) but I would like to completely move on from the idea. I'm a current student majoring in physics so naturally I have a general disdain for religion due to the fact that it ceased scientific advancement. As for why I don't want to believe in god, it's because I believe down the road that if I were to give any credibility to a god that it could jeopardize my work or distract me from reality. Thank you.

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I wonder if you have really given this much thought.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with believing in God, so long as you don't base your scientific conclusions on that belief. My signature is applicable here: As long as you don't mix the two up,

There's no need to look at alien species to test the universality of specific religions; we have already observed on Earth that religion can't spread without human impetus. There were no Jews in ancie

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I'm a logical person.

An overused concept. "Logic" shouldn't be conflated with "this makes a lot of sense to me". Logic is a math tool. The word you're looking for is "reasoning". Critical thinking depends on reason.

 

I see huge flaws in every religious belief both logically and idealistically. I believe in the big bang as well as the possibility of string theory as well as other explain all theories. However I can't seem to get over the hump in terms of ruling out religion as a possibility for existence. I'm attempting to completely remove the part of my brain that says there perhaps is a god, and he allows these natural forces to do this work for him. Can anyone give me any tips or suggestions on how to move on from god? I never was overly religious ( church only a couple times a year ) but I would like to completely move on from the idea. I'm a current student majoring in physics so naturally I have a general disdain for religion due to the fact that it ceased scientific advancement. As for why I don't want to believe in god, it's because I believe down the road that if I were to give any credibility to a god that it could jeopardize my work or distract me from reality. Thank you.

It might help to look at how you believe in things. I break belief down to Faith, Hope, and Trust. Faith is strong belief with little or nothing to support it. Hope is more wishful thinking, not as strong as faith. Trust is how I believe in things I'm able to verify myself, and it's how I think of explanations derived using the scientific method.

 

There's no evidence that one or any of the tens of thousands of religions might be correct. So at the very least we can easily adopt a neutral attitude towards religion. We can't test for god(s), so we say we don't know, which is perfectly acceptable.

 

The claims some religions make, that's a different story. People claim their god cured Aunty's cancer, but can't explain why no god ever, ever grew a leg back for a devout amputee. As we gain knowledge, it forces god(s) out of the gaps of ignorance. There are fewer places for religion to claim higher knowledge, and that territory has been diminishing steadily ever since we came out of the Dark Ages and started replacing fear of the supernatural with natural knowledge.

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However I can't seem to get over the hump in terms of ruling out religion as a possibility for existence.

 

I'm not sure this can be ruled out.

 

 

Can anyone give me any tips or suggestions on how to move on from god?

 

I don't know. I have always assumed that if you believe in god then you believe in god (and if you don't then you don't). Rational arguments against the existence of god only make sense to those who, already, don't believe.

 

Is it possible to make a conscious decision to stop believing? I don't know.

 

I don't see that there has to be any conflict between science and belief in god(s). Many past and present scientists were/are religious.

 

The problem only arises if one thinks that a particular interpretation of a holy book trumps reality. Science says that reality always wins (which is why scientific theories are always conditional and subject to change).

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Personally I focus on what I know. What I understand. I don't know for sure about the Big Bang. Time before time and all that is too abstract for me. Too intangible. Focusing on such things inevitably leads to speculation. I don't have the education to work out the specifics of time, gravity, mass, speed, and all that. Doesn't mean perhaps it is god. Just means I don't know. No different than not knowing what a stranger is thinking when I pass them on the street.

What I do know and understand is evolution. I do know that women were not made from the rib of man. That humans were not created complete in there current form. Knowing that alone debunks 99% of most religions. I know why the sun rises and sets and where birds fly off to in the winter. The world can be entirely explained without a God. Viewing the start of time and the universe as a sticking point for the possibility of God is a zero sum game. There will always be "what came before that". You will never know everything. Setting the bar at everything is futile. I know enough and understand enough that adding a god into the equation does not help. The concept of a God in my opinion only complicates natural processes as I understand them because it adds motive and non random oversight to them that doesn't appear to exist.

In sort what I am saying is let questions exists without feeling the need to plug with conjecture. If you don't know something than that is what it is. Not knowing information doesn't lend itself to a specific outcome. A person should use what they do know and what they do understand as their guide.

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Is it possible to make a conscious decision to stop believing? I don't know.

I think the more one relies on faith or hope in their beliefs, the more difficult it would be to make such a decision. Faith fuels belief with emotion, and emotional stances are often impervious to reason.

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with believing in God, so long as you don't base your scientific conclusions on that belief.
My signature is applicable here:

Religion is about belief regardless of the facts and science is about the facts regardless of belief.


As long as you don't mix the two up, you're fine.

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Hi AoT - What a good question.

 

I'd say this. First, hang on to your logical approach. Logical analysis would be vital in religion. Without it we might end up believing any old nonsense, as any survey of religion will show.

 

If one approaches religion as a matter of logic one is bound to end up in metaphysics. Then sooner or later we will stumble across people like Kant, Bradley and Nagarjuna, who show that logic leads us to the conclusion that the ontological structure of Reality extends beyond the categories of thought.

 

Accordingly, in Nagarjuna's logical proof of Buddhism's Middle Way philosophy God does not appear and is in fact refuted. So here we have a religion without theism that is perfectly consistent with logical analysis and science.

 

If you really are a logical thinker this is where you are bound to end up when investigating religion or metaphysics. It is the only view that solves the logical conundrums that arise for metaphysics, and it will leave you free to be an atheist.

 

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There are many apparent paradoxes in life, and as our understanding develops, they tend to fall away, e.g., light as a wave length and a particle, nature vs nurture, five different string theories which all seemed contradictory until M-Theory came along and many others. Some consider a paradox a sign that there is a bigger picture out there for us to discover which our minuscule minds (when you consider the size of the universe) are having difficulty coming to grips with. Either way the ability of our minds to hold seemingly contradictory propositions is something we should should be proud of not avoid by thinking we have to take a particular side.

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I don't think it's possible to consciously stop believing in god (I've tried it the other way lots of times), but I also don't think there's a whole lot of reason you ought to. If you're wondering how time and matter started happening (i.e. before the Bang), I think a theistic approach is plausible enough. Personally, I don't believe in gods because I don't see any rational evidence, and I think that, for me, thinking only in terms of things that actually definitely exist helps me to feel better about my understanding of the world and also to make better choices, but for some people the reverse is true. People should never believe things that are demonstrably false, and I don't think there's much of a logical argument that can be made to convince other people to believe in god, but if that's your inclination I don't see any reason to push yourself. Think whatever you want until reason insists otherwise.

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Is there a God or are there gods; I do not know.

 

IMO if there is/are, then they created the Universe with some 100 Billion galaxies, similar to the Milky Way, which has around 200 Billion stars and perhaps 20 Billion more or less Earth like planets with liquid water possible on their surface. That would make 2000 Billion Billion Earth like planets in the Universe. With so many chances for life, it seems likely there are or have been other civilizations of aliens who also have a concept of god or gods. It seems unlikely any of these alien civilizations would have developed Islam, Christianity or any other Earth religion. Thus, if God/gods exist, all our concepts of them must be less than accurate and complete, because the chances of an Earth religion replicated throughout the Universe seems improbable. On the other hand, if we find Jesus, Mohammuid, Zeus, etc., being worshipped on other worlds, we might have evidence for a God.

 

Thus, I think we are ignorant about god/gods and all religions are the creation of men.

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With so many chances for life, it seems likely there are or have been other civilizations of aliens who also have a concept of god or gods. It seems unlikely any of these alien civilizations would have developed Islam, Christianity or any other Earth religion. Thus, if God/gods exist, all our concepts of them must be less than accurate and complete, because the chances of an Earth religion replicated throughout the Universe seems improbable. On the other hand, if we find Jesus, Mohammuid, Zeus, etc., being worshipped on other worlds, we might have evidence for a God.

There's no need to look at alien species to test the universality of specific religions; we have already observed on Earth that religion can't spread without human impetus. There were no Jews in ancient America. However, the concept of god is universal, at least on Earth, so there would be some philosophical implications if there were intelligent aliens who never in their history believed in gods. If they do believe in gods, it's not proof that god exists any more than different peoples on Earth believing in god is proof.

 

Also, I'm not an agnostic theist, but I think there are at least a couple reasonable theories in that range. First, who says that god has to be one we've specifically discovered? Not one religion is as old as the human race; many religions have died out, and are lost to history; others are going to exist, but don't yet; and maybe it's just not possible to land on the right answer. A rational follower of a specific religion might see it this way: That there is divinity, and that their religion is just one way to access that divinity (like the virtuous pagan, but less condescending). Alternatively, a person can believe in divinity without assigning it labels, and this clearly doesn't require backing from aliens or anything else.

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Nice post Jake.

 

Two other things. Religion is not always theism, and while there were no Jews in ancient America there were natives whose religion was not unlike Jewish mysticism. I'm told they laughed when the Christians arrived with their Holy Book and argued over it like lawyers.

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I'm attempting to completely remove the part of my brain that says there perhaps is a god, and he allows these natural forces to do this work for him. Can anyone give me any tips or suggestions on how to move on from god? I never was overly religious ( church only a couple times a year ) but I would like to completely move on from the idea.

 

There's no reason you have to move on from the belief of a god. Who says he doesn't work through these natural forces. I believe he does and I am an evolutionist. I believe that god just didn't make things appear like a magician, ie: man evolved. I too am struggling with the irrationalities of religion (and there are many). I am also going to say I believe in stem cell research because I believe a 100 cell mass should not take priority over for example a forty year old spinal cord victim. I also believe that you can believe in god without going to church. Church is manmade and so is religion. I believe god isn't. A walk through the woods may be just a cleansing. Trying to mumble out a hymn does nothing for me. Pherhaps by studying these natural phenomena you are getting close to him in your own way. But to each his own. But then again you have got to keep things into perspecitive and not let your beliefs influence your logic and I agree with what was said in this thread:

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with believing in God, so long as you don't base your scientific conclusions on that belief.

As long as you don't mix the two up, you're fine.

 

There's nothing wrong with believing or having faith. It is something you should be proud of. Don't be so quick to dismiss it.

Edited by GPS
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There's nothing wrong with believing or having faith. It is something you should be proud of. Don't be so quick to dismiss it.

 

I re-read what Greg H. said, and he didn't say believing or having faith was wrong. "So long as you don't base your scientific conclusions on that belief", is what he said.

 

To be as objective as possible, science needs to be as rational as possible. Faith is strong belief with no rational support. You just believe, and you believe hard, but without evidence to support that belief and make it trustworthy. If you start looking for proof, is it still faith you're using?

 

Faith is useful, just not in science. Trusting in an explanation because you can take it apart and understand it on a deep level, and verify how the explanation developed, that's what you need for science.

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I re-read what Greg H. said, and he didn't say believing or having faith was wrong. "So long as you don't base your scientific conclusions on that belief", is what he said.

 

 

Yes, this is true, and I agree with what Greg H. said. However, it has been my experience that students feel a need to confrom and model the beliefs expressed by their professors and mentors, which is way I felt Afraid of Time may be reacting in following quote (the key word being naturally) and thus my response.

 

I'm a current student majoring in physics so naturally I have a general disdain for religion due to the fact that it ceased scientific advan

 

 

There's nothing wrong with believing or having faith. It is something you should be proud of. Don't be so quick to dismiss it.

 

 

Also, has religion ceased scientific advancement? That's similar to an always or never statement. This also points out that Afraid of Time may not have thought out this situation for himself (all the possiblities) and may be listening to an influential indivdual's views.

Edited by GPS
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IMO religion only goes awry by telling us what's beyond rather than embracing the unpredictable as unknowable.

As a layman metaethicist I've reasoned that actions are more immediately important than beliefs, and that a belief's subjective emotional effects are relevant.


Is there a God or are there gods; I do not know.

 

IMO if there is/are, then they created the Universe with some 100 Billion galaxies, similar to the Milky Way, which has around 200 Billion stars and perhaps 20 Billion more or less Earth like planets with liquid water possible on their surface. That would make 2000 Billion Billion Earth like planets in the Universe. With so many chances for life, it seems likely there are or have been other civilizations of aliens who also have a concept of god or gods. It seems unlikely any of these alien civilizations would have developed Islam, Christianity or any other Earth religion. Thus, if God/gods exist, all our concepts of them must be less than accurate and complete, because the chances of an Earth religion replicated throughout the Universe seems improbable. On the other hand, if we find Jesus, Mohammuid, Zeus, etc., being worshipped on other worlds, we might have evidence for a God.

 

Thus, I think we are ignorant about god/gods and all religions are the creation of men.

 

Certainly less than accurate, but not necessarily completely wrong. By what method do you quantify religious variation for probabilistic analysis?

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Does religion need to bring science to a complete halt for it to be an impediment?

 

Perhaps a better question is whether religion has ever helped science.

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Would that depend on what you define religion as?

 

"Religion" includes all belief systems which are considered religions. I think we can agree on that.

Edited by MonDie
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"Religion" includes all belief systems which are considered religions. I think we can agree on that.

Well then if you believe that you should study science (as a gnostic, somehow knowing God), science will (could at least) benefit from religion.

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Perhaps a better question is whether religion has ever helped science.

 

Most of the help comes in the form of finally, after decades or centuries of fighting it and preaching against it, admitting that science was right about a particular theory. Evolution and the Catholic Church come to mind.

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Most of the help comes in the form of finally, after decades or centuries of fighting it and preaching against it, admitting that science was right about a particular theory. Evolution and the Catholic Church come to mind.

But with the upsurge in Muslim fundamentalism, what is the Muslim view on the same subject? I could imagine they are not impressed by the Catholic Church supporting evolution.

All regions don't take the same stance on the same topic.

Edited by Robittybob1
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But with the upsurge in Muslim fundamentalism, what is the Muslim view on the same subject? I could imagine they are not impressed by the Catholic Church supporting evolution.

 

According to the wiki article, Muslims recognize that evolution is real. They have more of a problem with not being able to claim Adam as the first human. It seems many Muslims are willing to attribute processes science knows to exist to their god. And apparently, they have no young Earth creationists, so they've got that going for them. Which is nice.

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