Science and religion: harmony or contradiction ?
Scientific research Religious ceremonies
Science - art - religion -
these are the three basic components of human culture,
distinguishing the human race with abstract thinking from other
animal species in nature. There are many significant differences
between these three phenomena, but there are also a number of
parallels, common starting points and concepts. In this our
reasoning, we will try to reflect on the often-discussed
relationship between science (especially natural sciences) and
Note: We did not use the most commonly used phrase " science and faith " here because it can be somewhat misleading - sometimes there are misunderstandings (sometimes intentional) stemming from the fact that the word "faith" does not always mean religious faith. From a formal point of view, a believer is, for example, a person who decides to build a house: he believesthat he succeeds in this work (and he is almost always right ...) . Of course, we do not mean anything like that here!
The origin of the
phenomenon of religion
The first superstitions and simple "religious" ideas arose in the early development of the human species, in the pre-civilization period. People lived a natural way of life. Nature, on the one hand, provided them with livelihoods and basic living conditions, but on the other hand, they had to fight hard for survival. In addition to the beneficial effects, they encountered the cruelty of the elements and many other dangers and harmful phenomena that threatened their health and life. These phenomena came mainly from the "whims" of the surrounding nature, but also often from the bad behavior of other people.
People were afraid of these harmful phenomena, they tried to protect themselves from them, but they were often powerless against them. The decisive factor in the emergence of religion was the fact that most phenomena in nature could not be explained by humans and attributed to them a supernatural origin *). The mysterious and powerful forces behind these phenomena were personified by humans in supernatural beings , which later evolved into the mythological notion of the deity and later of God .
*) Superstitions stem from uncertainty . There are many things and events that we cannot influence or predict. Even now, many people believe in astrology, parapsychology, homeopathy and so on. In addition, we humans are " mythophilic " creatures and we love mysterious and incredible stories, even when they are made up. Dreams also played a role in shaping religious ideas which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from reality.
These dreams can intertwine with visions and delusions caused by disease or herbs with psychoptropic effects (the influence of electromagnetic fields from geomagnetic storms, which occur about once every 40 years when charged particles from solar flares interact with the Earth's magnetic field, is also considered) . In their imagination, people interpret these visions in the spirit of their culture. In the past, these were religious ideas - apparitions based on paintings hanging in temples (such as St. Mary in the traditional depiction). Now they are often UFOs and aliens according to various sci-fi on television. An old English proverb says, " The human head is the tower in which it haunts the most! ".
Thus, in fact, "man created God in his own image" (although some religions later claimed the opposite, " God created man in his own image ") *). And so, knowing from experience that a strong and powerful man can be reconciled and inclined by praise, gifts and services, they believed that supernatural beings, demons or deities can be favorably inclined and reconciled by worship , sacrifices, ceremonies, prayers, (god-) services - the phenomenon of cult arose .
*) The ancient Greeks had this question a healthy perspective when he said that "If oxen were gods, they would be gods horned"... Religious faith often makes God like a limited poor man with negative qualities such as man, his ego, self-centeredness, vanity.
In this sense, the deity or God was actually a kind of "institution of fulfilled desires". Fulfillment of human desires here can be begged, to force or "strike out" through certain incantations, magical formulas, ritual practices, sacrifices, austerities, self-torture, etc. The heavens or deities are thus allegedly "forced" to hear prayer and fulfill the demands made by the magician or priest (often on behalf of others and for money) ... But how does God deal with conflicting desires? Some theologians tend to think that " God has no other hands than ours !".
In the spiritual sense, religion or belief represents a relationship to what transcends us and is therefore unavailable to us . This does not satisfy most people and they replace God with an idol - whether physical (various statues, objects, relics) or symbolic (magical formulas, prescribed prayers, rituals, membership in churches or sects). This is already "disposable" and the idolaters are convinced that by appropriate manipulations with these "sacraments" they will achieve their goals, or at least favoring them of others ...
God cannot be seen or understood, it is not possible to talk to God, let alone "represent" him (as many fraudsters often claim). To claim that any faith is connected with God is foolish. From an objective point of view, religious faith is just a desperate attempt to overcome our problems and suffering with a naive belief in miracles that are only in fairy tales ...
The meaning of phenomena and events
Searching for and understanding the meaning of phenomena and events is a basic human characteristic and need. Where there are causal relationships and mechanisms, their discovery and understanding is very useful and interesting, it moves us forward in science and in the overall human perspective. However, some people are steadfastly looking for "meaning" even in what is a coincidence , what really makes no sense . Consistent with the adage "he who seeks, he finds, " often some explanation, though "pulled by the hair," is eventually found. Once, a second time, several times. And then he incorporates the psychic selection mechanism: unsuccessful cases of the given explanation are ignored and forgotten, (randomly) successful cases, on the contrary, favored and absolutized. The resulting superstition or dogma seems obvious - that " it is so ", that " it works " ...
People under the psychological influence of a certain faith or mystical mindset (similarly to the influence of some drugs ...) are convinced of their deeper insight into essence of the world . Even if it is just an illusion , it can sometimes bring them inner satisfaction. It is worse when they succumb too much to these illusions (sometimes to hallucinations and senseless thought processes) and begin to exalt themselves - as owners of a higher, absolute and unquestionable truth.above others, to impose their gaze on them and to provoke contradictions and hatred ..! .. (from a psychological point of view, cf. also the passage " Soul and body " in the work " Anthropic Principle or Cosmic God ") .
Especially urgent for us is the effort to understand the negative fateful events - misfortune, illness, death. Why did this happen to me, my child, to a certain good and just person? We are often not willing to accept a coincidence here. The religious explanation that this is (God's) punishment is commonfor some "sin" or transgression; in the lives of most people there is always something like this *). And if not, it is a punishment for the actions of his ancestors, or karma from his past lives. In addition, in Christianity there is the dogma of " inherited sin " and the saving role of suffering (by our own suffering we contribute to the saving suffering of Jesus Christ, who will rid us of sin) . And death is liberation from the earthly miserable life, God calls man to eternal "heavenly" life.
*) The concept of guilt, punishment or revenge , originating from the dark periods of the "struggle for survival" and the struggle for supremacy over each other, is deeply rooted in the human psyche. One is often subject to the notion that illness, injury, failure, poor harvest or weather, some gods or demons to whom this individual or someone around him has done something wrong - either really or supposedly in their eyes.
From a humanistic point of view, punishment should not be an act of revenge, but should be aimed at redressing the guilty person and at the consequences of his evil deeds; and where this is not possible, it should protect society from crime. In ancient mythologies, however, punishment is mostly conceived as revenge. The Old Testament applies the principle of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" - what's more, hostility and revenge are emphasized: even for small adversities, often the cruelest revenge, mostly murder, often including completely innocent people from the culprit-victim circle. In the New TestamentJesus Christ already partially denies this, it is closer to the humanistic concept. The foolish notion that guilt must always be reconciled or redeemed by punishment - in this case the cruel death of a perfectly innocent and noble man, Christ himself, is one of the central motives here as well ...
One of the sources of religion is therefore coping with anxiety and stress . It is a well-known comparison of religion to opiumis quite apt in this respect. With its analgesic effect, opium helps to better manage physical suffering and with its narcotic effect on the central nervous system, it also suppresses mental trauma. Religion helps to cope with psychological suffering, stemming from physical and mental stimuli, by supplying hope and offering its "meaning" from the point of view of the higher spiritual realms, superior to this world. It gives hope that " we will not die forever ." If we believe in these religious concepts and hopes (apart from their unfoundedness, illusory, absence of evidence) , can it help us to live a balanced life...?.. It can be said that religious faith is a purely psychological matter .
From this psychic fungus grow not only religion, but also various alternative subjective mystical directions collectively referred to as esoterics or esotericism (Greek esoterikos = internal, closed ) . This includes a great variety of " secret teachings " and occult practices (Latin occultus = hidden, secret ) , accessible only to "initiates", who will thus acquire "miraculous abilities". Esoterics believes in " invisible forces and energies " that can be used for personal spiritual or material benefit (from a philosophical point of view, cf. also the passage "Spiritual teachings and religion in the modern world" in work "Anthropic principle or cosmic God") .
No such esoteric or religious hidden forces and phenomena have ever been proven (probably because they do not exist ...) , but the psychological influence of these ideas on the minds of many people is undeniable .... And for many others culturally oriented people can be a source of literary inspiration , stimulate imagination and beautiful aesthetic experiences .
From the science perspective, some esoteric ideas critically discussed in the passage of " quackery versus science " in the book " Gravity, black holes and spacetime physics" .
Trying "to know everything and not to believe in anything" - to do without illusions, unfounded assumptions and untruths - is certainly morally honest and intellectually correct (to invoke God whenever we encounter difficult questions is intellectual laziness!). However, this is not an easy position! Howe to cope with despair , often stemming from a real and objective knowledge of reality - how not to be intiminated by the horrors of "looking directly into his eyes to the truth ?" Here would often be some "opium" quite suitable..?!..
Cf. also the passage " Astrophysics and cosmology - human hopelessness? " at work" Anthropic Principle , or cosmic God ".
A clear example of this approach is the heroic personality of S. Hawking , a prominent British physicist who has been confined to a wheelchair for several decades ("a genius human brain in a electronic wheelchair ") . Even in this situation, research in black hole physics and cosmology is intensively involved (see eg §3.8 " Hawking and Penrose theorems on singularities " and especially §4.7 " Quantum radiation and thermodynamics of black holes " in the book " Gravity, black holes and space - time physics " ) .
This person with a severe disability should have the full right to use " religious opium"and rave about God and the supernatural. However, he stood bravely and instead chose the opposite, psychologically courageous and intellectually honest approach to the negation of these ideas, in favor of objective scientific knowledge : consistent scientific atheism . In his research in cosmology, he showed that the Universe , neither life nor humans had to be created for God's sake. There is no need to invoke God to set things in motion. Thanks to the physical laws of gravity and quantum fields, the universe can be created spontaneously ...
All cultures in history had some mythologies. The original religions were local , ethnic, and limited by the territory, horizon, and perspective of their devotees, with many often bizarre gods, demons, spirits, and disparate thoughts and commands. Only later, with the growing outlook and level of human thinking, did the efforts for a universal conception of the supernatural, embodied by a single God , arise .
An important role in the development of religion was played by " eternal " or eschatological questions , which people asked themselves later, at a higher stage of their development :
" Where do we go when our hearts are silent forever? Will it be a complete and definitive end, or is there an afterlife? Is there a world from eternity to eternity, or was it once created - and will it disappear again? What is the essence of the world? Did our world originate 'by inself ', or was it created by God? ".
The humanly satisfactory answers to these questions at the level of knowledge at that time could not be other than religious; after all, even now, from a scientific point of view, it is not easy to answer these questions (see, for example, the " Anthropic Principle or the Cosmic God ") .
Monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity (above all) and Islam - have brought a new important dimension to religious thinking and feeling - it is the dimension of love: God is merciful and loving to people, and people are also obliged to love God with all their heart. This is a love not so emotional or sentimental (and not at all physical or erotic) , but inner - essential, existential. In Christianity, the idea of ??a mystical union of heaven and earth is embodied in the person of the "God-man" Jesus Christ. Various philosophical concepts of God are discussed from a philosophical point of view in the already mentioned work " Anthropic Principle or Cosmic God " , part 5 " Cosmic God ".
Monotheistic faith, especially Christian faith, offers man peace, the certainty of resting in trust in God- that God, as a loving father, knows best what is good for us and "will not make us perish forever." However, this "certainty" and rest is of a purely psychological nature , it is based only on faith, it has no objective support or evidence. It has a lot to do with the placebo effect in medicine, which can also have a positive effect. It very aptly characterizes Marx's statement "religion is the opium of humanity " ...
Churches, sects, messages, deformations
The systematic development of ideas about supernatural phenomena and beings creates religions with their cults, written texts and dogmas. The organizational structures are then churches , or. sects . An important positive contribution of a religion understood in this way is his moral message - composure, hope, love, humility, doing good. The hopes of overcoming death in salvation or reincarnation can also have a psychological benefit.
Unfortunately, the negative effects of intolerance and bigotry in religion are also well known ; especially when religious sentiment is abused for the greedy and egoistic goals of individuals or groups. This was especially the case in the Middle Ages, when Christianity became the state religion throughout Europe and the Catholic Church took over the role of ideological patronage of the feudal domination . It was accompanied by bad conduct and distortions of the Christian faith, a decline in the morale of the Catholic clergy, greed, dogmatism , intolerance and cruel crimes against free-thinking people.
For many dogmatic preachers and propagandists of religion, the driving force was pride, arrogance, resentment, leading to the persecution of others - under the guise of "pious" zeal with which they sought to "sanctify" shameful conduct. Organized religions have always been an obstacle to the development of science and the knowledge of the truth.
Religious developments in Eastern countries - India, China and Japan - took other paths . From the conglomerate of a large number of mythological trends in Hinduism in India, an extremely important spiritual-philosophical direction Buddhism was born (founder of Siddharthama Gautama - Buddha, lived in the years 623-560 BC). Buddhism gradually penetrated into China, a number of countries in Southeast Asia, and in the 7th century then to Japan, where in coexistence with the original Shintoism it developed into the well - known Zen Buddhism . In addition, China was the spiritual-philosophical direction of Taoism (founder Lao-c´, "old master", lived in the 6th century. BC) and socio-philosophical direction Confucianism (founder Kchung-fu-c' , "mister Kchung" - Latin Confucius, lived in the years 551-479 BC). The common feature of these Eastern spiritual directions is the absence of dogmatic religion , unity, compassion and love for all creatures - the basic law is " non-harm", philosophical attitude to life and the world. Therefore, they were not abused for the greedy interests of the rich and powerful. In some respects, these Eastern spiritual directions exceed the level of Western monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) - see eg "Eastern philosophy and religion" at work "Anthropic principle or cosmic God" .
The oldest and most typical religious manifestation that accompanies the entire history of mankind is magic : the effort to control the invisible powerful forces , to penetrate the internal laws of the world *), to "saddle" them and "harness" them into human intentions. In earlier times, people were completely betrayed by the whims of nature and the unpredictable course of history. Therefore, they tried to interfere in some way, to be able to influence the "cards" that fate deals. In the Eastern sense, then, magic can also represent the treatment of secret forces dormant in our subconscious .
*) From the point of view of magic, the world is a huge "machine", a perfectly tuned gear, over which the magic expert can gain control - "pull the strings" of this machine, not to leave things to chance, but to actively enter into this "gear", which is our world. He can thus control the whims of nature, gain power over other people.
Magic, otherwise also conjuring or wizardry, is divided according to a number of criteria. The most famous is the division of ethics :
J White magic ,
which tries to help people, love, righteousness, good things, through magical practices .
N Black Magic ,
who wants to harm others, whether for the undeserved selfish benefit of individuals or groups, or for the confession of evil as such.
Another division is according to the method and positional relationships of magically influenced subjects :
¨ Touch magic
is based on the idea of the causal effect of what touches each other. By placing his hand, the magician "heals" man, gives him "energy", "enlightenment", "holy spirit", etc.
¨ Distance magic
is based on the idea of a causal link - a kind of "thread" of connection - between similar things and phenomena. We can influence someone "from a distance", for example, by having his image, a statue, his hair or some other thing of his and performing appropriate ritual manipulations with them.
According to the person and the way in which the magical action takes place, we can distinguish two ways :
¨ Religious magic ,
when the mage is in close contact with certain deities or demons who will perform the appropriate miraculous actions at his intercession.
¨ Direct magic (personal),
where the mage himself personally has the appropriate "powers" or "abilities" - or at least claims to do so - to perform miraculous actions. He acquired these supposed abilities either by his own merits (practice, study of magical texts), or they were entrusted to him by a deity or another magician.
A peculiar variety of magic is shamanism (Eveneck shamam = knowing ) in natural nations. It is a summary of ritual ceremonies and practices of ecstasy, combined with religious and spiritual ideas. Shamans have a chosen function of mediators between humans and the world of spirits, gods or demons in their community, they often act as healers, sorcerers, oracles. They use ritual clothing and simple musical instruments (such as a drum and various rattles) to help the shaman get into ecstasy.
Magic and monotheism
With monotheistic religions, magic, at least in its original form, is partially at odds . Magic does not need and does not want a sovereign the "lord of the world" and his course, which is unpredictable, decides according to his will and does not allow himself to be "just from someone" influenced by some magical practices. And monotheistic religions, on the other hand, cannot tolerate any "mortal" violating the sovereignty of a single God. According to religious legends, magic was allowed only to the "elect," in Christianity Jesus Christ, the apostles, the "saints."
In the Church, a mage is replaced by a priest who is officially "initiated" (or "consecrated") by the superiors of the Church, who entrusts him with the "Holy Spirit" and the power to "represent God" on earth (in the Catholic Church this power is officially hierarchically divided - Pope - bishops - priests).
Magic and science
From a superfical point of wiev, magic is sometimes likened to the science, who try to know the forces that control the world, to control them and use them for human benefit. In science, however, objective knowledge comes first , science works systematically and on proven foundations, its knowledge is universally valid *), it works independently of some "miraculous abilities" of certain people. Science seeks to realize and influence what is possible. Magic, on the other hand, claims that it can do the impossible ...
*) Some limitations of science are mentioned below.
Magic is not an objective knowledge (at least not in the first place), it is important its own action, respectively. convince others that this action is successful. Magical thinking survives even in modern times, only the terminology and props have changed. They are no longer the names of deities, demons, devils, mysterious "consecrated" objects, poisonous plants, bones, sacred remains, etc. Magic borrows (without proper understanding) some terms from physics - energy, vibrations, force fields, invisible particles, quantum physics etc. - and claims that the laws of nature ingeniously revealed by them will cause what was previously impossible ...
In general, magic - whether it is religious magic or charlatan pseudo-scientific directions - does not work ; trying to control what cannot be controlled, or at least not by the methods used, often erroneous and contradictory. The apparent success of magic in some people is of psychological origin , caused by chance enhanced by a selective effect , favoring random success cases and ignoring unsuccessful cases. There is also an analogy of the placebo effect in medicine; the same is true with religion as such ....
Author's note: Magical phenomena and various mysterious events have their legitimate place in literature - in fairy tales, legends, mysterious stories (see, for example, the ancient Japanese stories Kaidan ). They are a source of aesthetic experiences , a subject to think about, they can also carry a suitable literary representation ethical message . Personally, I like them very much and I have a decent collection of them. However, as a physicist, I am far from considering them a reality and giving them a meaning other than just metaphorical .
The origin and
development of science
The first origin of science at the beginning of human civilization arose from entirely pragmatic motives: to systematically and correctly solve the problems that life brought. Such specific problems were, for example, the construction of cult buildings and the construction of irrigation systems, the rational management and cultivation of land, the distribution of food or other objects and their exchange, and so on. To solve such tasks, it was necessary to learn to determine distances, height differences and areas, to study and predict the weather, to count and distribute goods in terms of quality and quantity. The knowledge gained in this way was very valuable for its time, but it was more or less random and unsorted - they lacked systematic knowledge in real science, knowledge of the interrelationships and drawing general conclusions. However, they already formed an empirical basis for the later building of natural science .
Already in prehistoric times, people have observed that not only day and night but also seasons recur periodically, and there is a close connection between these seasons and seasons and the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets across the sky. The need to determine and predict the time of day and season, ie the natural conditions for agricultural and other work, therefore naturally led to astronomical observations .
The close connection between natural processes and the motion of celestial bodies, the causes of which ancient observers did not know, gave rise to the idea that the positions and movements of celestial bodies are related to other phenomena on Earth - various catastrophes, wars and even human destinies. From this false notion developed astrology , which until the end of the Middle Ages was the main motive for astronomical observations.
Closely related to astrology was another false way of exploring nature - alchemy*), which, on the basis of some metaphysical principles and philosophical ideas, sought to achieve the transmutation of the elements and to find a universal "sage stone". But alchemists in their attempts (in terms of time required objectives inevitably unsuccessful) amassed a large amount of empirical evidence that later, after leaving false alchemical ideas, have become an important basis for understanding the true nature of chemical substances consolidation, the basis for building chemistry .
*) Note: This critical appraisal only applies to the scientific side of alchemy and astrology! Some spiritual and philosophical aspects, especially the effort for a unified conception of being or for spiritual improvement, were at a high level for their time and can still appeal to us today. For current proponents of alchemy and astrology, we often encounter misunderstandings related to confusing and merging the misguided scientific ideas of the past with valuable spiritual and philosophical ideas of enduring validity.
Cf. "Quackery versus science" in monograph "Gravitation, black holes and physics of space-time".
The development of real science can be traced back to the 16th century, when indefinite contemplation and non-binding "philosophizing" gradually led to systematic observation using the first instruments and to perform experiments.
as crucial tools for knowledge. This was thanks to M. Kopernik, J.Kepler and G. Galilei, followed by I. Newton, who with his experimentally discovered and mathematically formulated mechanics actually founded physics as a fundamental natural science. For the development and structure of physics, see the section " Physics - fundamental natural science " in the monograph Nuclear physics and physics of ionizing radiation .
Science - the true SCRIPTURE of the world
Physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology and other related natural sciences is the true " scripture " of our world - how nature, the universe and life work, including us humans. "Scripture" based on objective knowledge , without unfounded conjectures and legends, which is essentially non-dogmatic , by research is constantly evolving towards a better knowledge of reality.
Real science is systematic, critical and responsible thinking, based on objectively established facts. With its analytical and synthetic approach, it gives us a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of reality; allows you to see even where we do not directly see and where sometimes our imagination and intuition do not reach ...
Scientific knowledge "has disenchanted the world", gradually refuted the various misconceptions and superstitions, or at least stood very unlikely. Science by its very nature tends to reveal the true nature of the world . It shows that the world is in principle knowable and explicable by human reason. But with some limitations given by the quantum uncertainty relations (" Quantum nature of the microworld ") , or event horizons in the general theory of relativity ( " Quantum radiation and thermodynamics of black holes ") and mainly the phenomenon of randomness in the interactions of large sets of particles and objects (see " Determinism - chance - chaos ") .
our brains ..? ..
Refute or prove the falsity of some superstitions, religious legends, sharlatan claim or illegality of certain political beliefs, but not easy. You can prove to a person who wants to believe something like this, even 100 times, that the statement is based on a mistake or fraud - but he will still tell you that it does not prove that it will apply in the 101st case (theoretically, of course, the truth ...) . And when he runs out of all the arguments, he will say: "What You will tell me, far greater and more famous personalities than You claimed and believed in, is written in learned and sacred texts. Those books and personalities cannot be wrong. ! .. ". It is largely a psychological matter: A lie repeated or "parroted" 100 times becomes true in the minds of many people.
The rationality of human brains has numerous "cracks". Experience and psychological studies show that when religiously believed or politically determined people encounter serious evidence against their beliefs, they often do not accept it and, on the contrary, sometimes become even harder. We can present historical and contemporary facts, figures, graphs, argue with common sense and personal experience or testimony - and it is often "like playing peas on a wall" ...
This " entanglement " of our brains undoubtedly has an evolutionary origin. In our heads, in essence, we are still "haunted" by Stone Age brains that developed in a cruel atmosphere of struggle, hostility, and despotic rule of the "stronger" (or the bad). For success and survival, it was more advantageous to cling "in principle" to established schemes than to think, doubt and seek the truth - it was dangerous! Thus, some behavioral algorithms are implicitly programmed in the brain (computer electronics would say "wired ") that are able to darken the eyes, constipated the ears, supprese the mind, and trigger emotions, especially the negative ones. Neurological studies show that this pattern of behavior appears to be due to increased activity in the cerebral limbic system in areas called the amygdala and insular cortex ; this activity can completely suppress rational judgment in some people.
Cf. also with the observation "The deformation and boarding-up of our brains " in the article " Socialism: Totality or Humanity? " .
Religious texts, which are canonized by the churches as binding "articles of faith", contain, among other things, some claims about nature, the Earth and the universe (including descriptions of the "creation of the world"), based, of course on the level of knowledge at the time of creation of these texts. It is therefore natural that in the course of the development of society and the development of scientific knowledge, many of these statements come into conflict with recent knowledge of science - geography, astronomy and later physics, chemistry, biology.
The conflict of this kind between science and the church escalated most in the 15th and 16th centuries, when the first significant astronomical discoveries and observations were made G. Galilei, M.Kopernik, J.Bruno, J.Kepler and others. The discovery that the Earth revolves around the axis and orbits the Sun like one of the other planets was not only at odds with the then common Ptolemy system, but the Church saw the Earth being no longer the center of the Universe as a threat to dogmatic religious teachings. Therefore, the Church was mostly hostile to all these new findings, as well as to their discoverers and those who recognized and defended them . She often acted very cruelly and indiscriminately - for example, J. Bruno was burned, Galileo was forced to withdraw his claims, many people were persecuted, scientific writings were censored.
Later, under the pressure of evidence and other irrefutable knowledge, the Church eventually had to acknowledge and accept all these astronomical and scientific facts ; and voila! - proved to be not contrary to the spirit of Christian teaching, but only to the dogmatic approach and literal interpretation of "articles of faith" by boarded-up religious activists.
Another (and still ongoing!) controversial point between science and the Christian religion or the church is the evolutionary theory of the origin and development of life. Dogmatically oriented theologians and church leaders (as well as many believers) see in evolutionary theory a direct threat to God's belief in the creation of life and man, and therefore promote creationist ideas. However, more enlightened theologians do not see such a sharp contradiction here, they leave the question in the competent hands of naturalists (biologists, chemists, physicists, paleontologists) and in case of definitive confirmation and verification of evolutionary theory are willing to recognize evolution as "God's method of creating life" *) fully compatible with a more advanced understanding of Scripture. However, a certain problem remains human consciousness, mental activity, "soul". While modern science is increasingly convincingly showing that consciousness is a product of physical and chemical phenomena between neurons and originated as a result of biological evolution , theology insists on the divine origin of the "soul" which God inserts directly into the body.
*) However, even this is not entirely convincing. Life on Earth existed hundreds of millions of years before man and his inventions of gods, spirits, "transcendent". Undoubtedly, it arose without the influence of these man-made " creators " ...
The questions of the origin of life are discussed in more detail in the work " Anthropic Principle or Cosmic God ", the passage " Origin and Evolution of Life ".
It is natural that these indiscriminate and unjustified attacks by religious leaders and many dogmatically oriented believers on the knowledge of science and on scientists themselves have inevitably caused a backlash in the circles of the natural sciences. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the distribution of political power in Europe gradually, but significantly, changed - feudal and ecclesiastical domination ceased to have decisive power, the foundations of real democracy and human rights and freedoms were laid. At the same time, the natural sciences have enjoyed enormous success in elucidating an increasing number of previously incomprehensible natural phenomena, leaving less and less room for the traditionally (theistically) understood God as the creator of all things, who directly controls the course of events in nature and human life *).
*) Moreover, this traditional theistic understanding of God is logically inherently contradictory . If this God is omnipotent and controls the world, then every event, every human thought and deed, is also his work ( "not a single hair will fall out of man without God's will" ). How, then, can such a God judge, reward, or punish people for their deeds and thoughts, when these are, after all, also the work of himself? For at least a partial solution to this contradiction, theologians claim that "God gave man free will to decide whether to abide by God's laws or to violate them rudely" ...?...
Until recently, mysterious phenomena such as lightning, earthquakes, astronomical phenomena (comets, meteorites, eclipses, etc.) no longer had to be attributed to the hands of God. "Miracles" and "divine interventions" in human affairs have lost credibility . The rise of scientific knowledge in the 19th century thus called into question many of the teachings of traditional religion. Thoughts like "We no longer need the hypothesis of God", "God is nothing but the product of human imagination", "God is dead", "Religion is the opium of humanity", "Religion belongs to the museum" were increasingly spread from the mouths and writing pens of scholars. Modern science and philosophy have thus laid the foundation for scientific atheism , created as a counter-reaction to the former religious darkness and hostile attacks of the Church against scientific knowledge.
Some negative phenomena in science
Some people's confidence in science is sometimes diminished by some negative phenomena that do not escape this area of human activity either. Science is done only by humans, with a whole range of known human qualities. So we can meet here not only nobility, wisdom, generosity, modesty, tolerance, but also, as in everyday life, with qualities and opposite phenomena - lowness, pettiness, selfishness, pride and arrogance, hatred, "competitive" struggle. Especially the pride and promotion of some "scientists" over "ordinary mortals" is very poorly tolerated by people and can then easily succumb to anti-scientific tendencies .
Formalization and bureaucratization of science :
scientists often become "persecuted" of competition and prestige, formal criteria (citation indexes, "publish, or perish!", etc.) Ş loss of perspective and synthetic thinking, reluctance to open dialogue with coleguaes and others (with "lay people").
Gray is theory, the green tree of life!
The dehumanization of science
and its detachment from life Ş a certain loss of public confidence in science. The question often arises: " Has science made us happier? " - and is usually followed by a negative response and expressions of disappointment from scientific development, documented by examples of the misuse of science , for example in the service of crime and war. However, when we think more deeply , we realize the bias of these courts, it is often an incorrect answer to incorrectly asked questions.. The basic question should rather be: "In what way can science contribute to the development of man and human society, to the knowledge of oneself and nature?"; from this knowledge can then grow the cultivation of relationships between people and to living and inanimate nature: it can then be a real contribution to people's happiness ! And we leave this aside millions of lives saved thanks to scientific methods of medicine, or the possible rescue of human civilization in the future in the event of a threat, such as the fall of an asteroid ...
Coexistence of science
For a clear and sober understanding of the relationship between religion and science, it is necessary to start from the basic fact :
originated as a product of "conserved"
ignorance, dependent on the supernatural world.
Science originated as a product of an effort to overcome this ignorance and replace it with natural explanation, understanding or knowledge.
Those who do not acknowledge this generic
fact will be deprived of "ground under their
feet" and will grope between a mixture of subjective,
contradictory and often purposefully promoted views on the
relationship between religion and science. On the contrary, an
objective reflection on the relationship between religion and
science can lead to an appreciation of the real values
that complement these two categories , to
finding the possibility of the coexistence of science and
" All religions belong to the museum "
Believers are usually very outraged by this statement. However, when we think more deeply, we can rather reflect its positive content in two ways :
1. In order to protect human society from the negative influence of dogmas , which divide people and incite intolerance and hatred, which can result in crimes. So that stupid people no longer hate or even murder, for illusory differences in religious faith, suggested by priests and other false interpreters.
2. That the positive ethical and cultural message of the respective religions is preserved before being liquidated by a secularized consumer society.
Let us begin with the question of the compatibility of religious concepts and claims with the principles and knowledge of science. We can point out that there is only one religious direction that is straightforward and fully compatible with science: pantheism, which contains no myths and legends about miracles, nor any unlikely claims about the origin or creation of the world. The concept of a universal God, who is the hidden inner essence of all things and the driving force of all events, even evokes the idea that scientific research seeking to reveal the structure of things and explain the course of events is actually a religious act !
Also Buddhism and Taoism, which are more philosophical directions than religions, are quite coherent with contemporary unitarization conceptions of science in their pursuit of a unified conception; of course, with the exception of some accompanying teachings such as astrology or traditional Chinese medicine (but these are not an organic part of spiritual teaching, but are the product of insufficient scientific knowledge in ancient times, when the relevant spiritual currents formed).
The divine personification of natural forces and laws was quite common in ancient times, when people did not know the nature and mechanism of most natural phenomena. The theistic idea of an almighty God who " does everything everywhere and constantly " with his hands" has been at the heart of most religions in Euro-American territory for centuries. Even now, we know far from everything. But we know enough to make it clear that advances in science are increasingly" displacing "fantastic and supernatural explanations of phenomena and replacing them. actual proven knowledge and natural explanation , revealing the mutual connection of phenomena . Theistic idea is now completely useless, unreliable even absurd. Religious "knowledge" of this kind is only apparent , empty and often false, actually explains nothing , only "patching" our ignorance.
Apology to the initial image: Some enlightened believers may be to protest against the right side "The religious ceremonies" of the opening image - that their faith is not so fanatical, is more soulful and inner. If they are right, I should honor them. Those less enlightened will shout that science comes from the devil, only their faith is true and who does not profess, it deserves death or damnation. No need to comment... In this introductory picture, I tried to capture the difference between honest scientific research to spread knowledge about the world and our better life, and a fanatical confession of absurd dogmas ...
Three kinds of religious messages
From the point of view of rationality scientific analyzes can be found in religious texts in three types of communication :
¨ True or credible descriptions of historical events, people's actions, their life and moral experiences. These aspects are largely similar in different religions, reflecting the diversity of human nature and behavior.
¨ False ideas and unbelievable myths and legends about miracles and supernatural phenomena, mostly due to certain dogmas, often logically inconsistent and contradictory, described differently in different religious directions.
¨ Untestable assumptions and hypotheses, the truthfulness or erroneousness of which cannot be objectively verified.
The symbolic or allegorical meaning of religious claims, including controversial and unlikely ones, is mentioned below.
Methodological differences :
A significant difference between science and religion is in logic and methodology of approach to ideas, concepts, theories and hypotheses. Science is based on doubts and constant critical verification and testing of hypotheses . He keeps asking, "How is it really? Are our ideas correct, or should they be supplemented, modified, or abandoned?". Advances in science are based on procedure: Let's test! - and depending on how it turns out, we will go a little further in one way or another.
Religion, on the other hand, is based on belief in previously "revealed truths" (which are not discussed) and usually leaves no room for doubt . Articles and claims of faith are therefore untestable by the scientific method of verifying or refuting hypotheses (A certain exception may be the comparison of some events described in religious texts with the results of historical research). Thinking in a different direction is considered inadmissible - heresy. Therefore, religion cannot bring any gnoseological progress.
Religion is based on authority . Either on the authority of old "sacred" texts (Qur'an, Bible), or consecrated or "sanctified" interpreters - priests, bishops, imanas, rabbis, popes. Even in science, outstanding experts, discoverers and pioneers in their fields, as well as their works, have deserved authority. But completely different than in religion. Einstein certainly knew much more about gravity, space, and time than Newton, an equally important pioneer of his time. However, no one in contemporary science will literally take what these researchers were wrong about - knowledge has moved forward in the meantime. The truth is important in science , not dogma !
In this context, we can mention one of Murphy's aphorisms : " To believe is to be convinced of something that is not true ". Many events, authoritatively described in religious texts, either did not happen or did otherwise . And so it is with predictions for the future - various oracles and prophecies ...
aspects of the complementarity of science and religion
In order to objectively assess the compatibility of a particular religious direction with scientific knowledge, it is useful to divide the religious teaching into two parts :
Part 1 is usually (with appropriate formulation and interpretation) quite well compatible with the findings of science, it can be complementary and even inspiring for it . Part 2 , myths and legends (often distorted and garbled by word of mouth, translations, etc.) , if taken literally , are usually in complete contradiction with the findings of modern science, often also in conflict with experience and "common sense". However, it is not possible to conclude unequivocally and uncompromisingly about the incompatibility of a given religious direction with science and reason. Enlightened theologians and religious thinkers propose to conceive of these myths and legends not literally and dogmatically, butsymbolically as certain allegories , metaphors or parables , the task of which is to show and explain to people, by means of certain real or fictional events and actions of people and deities, the meaning of a deep abstract message of spiritual and ethical character . And on the level of human knowledge and realities of that time when the relevant religious myths and legends arose - to make them understandable to people. In this context, the understood mythological part of religion does not need to be put into sharp conflict and confrontation with science, similarly as it is not necessary for poems and other literary writings. Many details (even the unlikely ones) often serve only as "backdrops", illustrating a certain main idea on the basis of contemporary ideas. The religious category "God" speaks of man, not of the physical essence of nature.
knowledge in science and religion
Science works with facts , which appears in the outside world and in ourselves, studying their mutual relationships and dependencies. It finds out general rules - natural laws , if possible universal validity , which determine the mutual relations of objects and events in space and time. The main goal of science is to reveal phenomena and rules (laws) that allow them to be related and predict other phenomena and facts. Another task of science is unitarization - to try to reduce the discovered connections to the smallest number of mutually independent laws and thus achieve a rational unification phenomenal versatility and diversity.
Philosophy and religion then discusses the " meaning " of these discovered facts and contexts - ie their inclusion in the context of our psyche . Science can only determine " what is " (or theoretically "what could be"), not what, according to our psycho-ethical criteria, " should be ". The latter circumstance is the domain of philosophy and religion, which deal primarily with the evaluation of human deeds and ideas; however, he can not speak competently about the facts in nature and the relationships between them. If they ever do so, it is a fundamental error and misunderstanding that will inevitably end in failure , often with serious negative consequences.
The oft-cited opinion that " science assists man in his material needs while religion satisfies his spiritual and moral needs " cannot be quite accepted. Scientific knowledge of new, often previously unsuspected phenomena and the beauty of the architecture of their interrelationships expressed in the laws of nature, gives the thoughtful person the infinite joy of knowing "how our world works", what is the essence of things and events. This inner feeling is spiritual in nature, not unlike "religious ecstasy" or samadhi in meditation. It leads us to a deep respect for the grandeur of the hidden order and the "reason" that is immanently embodied in being.
|Through internally understood scientific knowledge, we can attain liberation from the shackles of pettiness and selfishness, attaining the spiritualization of our understanding of the world, and at enriching our interrelationships with ourselves and with living and inanimate nature.|
And this is a religious benefit
in the deepest sense of the word !
As for the second part of the above statement, the "true" religion should really help people in spiritual and moral demands - and certainly does so often. However, not all religions are "true". Those who are disfigured by fundamentalism and dogmatism are basically only used to satisfy material needs - selfish material, power or prestigious demands of "leaders" and narrow groups they serve, abusing the religious feelings of manipulated people ...
Thoughtful people will hopefully agree with the following idea :
|Careful reading in the amazing book of nature is a better "religion" than constantly parroting "sacred texts" from old religious books.|
a "new religion" ?
When discussing the relationship between science and religion, we can often come across two other views :
¨ Science originated from religion ,
the foundations of logic and scientific methodology were founded in religious scholastics (eg in Thomas Aquinas) . In fact, it was rather that with the progress of the human perspective, educated people began to rationally reflect on events in nature and society and deal with issues of logic and gnoseology. And in the Middle Ages, when the church was totally ruled, educated people could only be recruited from the ranks of Christian thinkers.
¨ Science is a new religion ,
replaces people's former religious needs. This statement is not very objective, it can be interpreted differently. To some extent, science can replace or complement religious ideas for about two groups of people :
1. For those who have seen the illusory and unreliable of religious dogmas and legends based on a lack of knowledge in the distant past. And he tries to know how this world really "works" and how to reflect it. For them, science is a source of reliable and truthful knowledge on which to base their worldview .
2. For believers people open to different concepts and opinions - people seekingwho try to reflect philosophical and spiritual questions objectively: to support them or to correct them with real and verified knowledge.
If the statement " science is a new religion " is understood pejoratively in the sense of " religious dogmas have been replaced by scientific dogmas ", it is an unfair critique that may be directed at certain persons in charge of science (see " Negative phenomena in science " above) , not however, on science as such. It's the opposite! Science is inherently antidogmatic in nature .
How can science help religion?
Although modern science can convincingly refute and show the untruthfulness of most religious claims, believers are usually reluctant to acknowledge it - such scientific "enlightenment" is proving to be ineffective and counterproductive. However, science can, to some extent, at least mitigate and relativize the worst irrational and harmful aspects of religious fundamentalism. To show how foolish it is to hate your neighbors in the name of false thoughts , just because they do not share them. This can certainly enrich the faith, make it better and more tolerant - for the benefit of believers and other societies.
And also to think and differentiate the moral values of religion and its ability to provide serenity and comfort, from the (in)truth of religious claims ...
Very important, in the past completely dominant, was the role of mythology in culture and art. Many religious texts themselves are literary works of art, carrying an ethical and aesthetic message, often independent of their own religious or superstitious content. Above all, however, religious ideas became the subject and inspiration of many works of art in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music (for sacred music, see " Spiritual Music of Christians of Western and Central Europe " or " Orthodox Music of Eastern Christians ") .
From an objective point of view, all these works are an expression of human imagination and a move towards beauty, love and good. Religious thoughts and ideas are actually just a means of expressing aboutuniversal issues , about common aspects of the human psyche. Mythological names, places and events - mainly from Greek ancient mythology, but also from the Old and New Testaments or from Hindu and Buddhist legends - are often used as impressive comparisons in literature, even in the present.
The world of faith and religion is very diverse, there are hundreds of different religions, sects, churches. If we think about this fact objectively and without prejudices, it naturally leads us to religious relativism *).
*) Only mentally limited people can believe in the self- salvation of a particular church or sect - that membership in it and the precise performance of certain prescribed rites will lead to "salvation", while all others will be "damned." Expressions such as "pagans," "unbelieving dogs," "heretics," "antichrists," as these fundamentalists and dogmatists refer to all otherwise believers, have many times become a pretext for murder and religious war.
Temples, ceremonies, rituals, ancient traditions, etc., can really play a positive rolle - they detach the mind from everyday influences and mentally evoke states of consciousness that are more open to spiritual inspiration .
|An allegorical comparison of the phenomenon of religion to a "spiritual tree" with many branches.|
Faith or religion is like a tree with
many branches . The trunk of this tree - a universal
spiritual principle - is rooted deep in the human
psyche. From this universal spiritual principle grow individual churches
, sects , denominations - tree
branches, which are basically equal . "All
paths are justified !" declared the well-known Indian
guru Saji Baba.
However, we know that in the case of a tree, in addition to healthy, vital, fruiting branches, some branches are dry, diseased or infested with pests; such branches not only do not bear fruit, but can jeopardize the successful growth of the whole tree. These dry or infested branches are similar to some churches and sects, in which dogmatism, insincerity, fundamentalism and the abuse of religious sentiment for the material and power goals of individuals or groups (to the detriment of other people) prevailed ...
From a philosophical point of view, questions of "true" or of the "best" religion briefly discussed in the passage " True Religion? " of the work " Anthropic Principle or Cosmic God ".
There are no true authentic religious texts!
All religious claims in the Bible, the Koran or Judaism throughout history have passed through the minds and lips of many people - interpreters more or less enlightened, often false and purposeful. The original content (whether correct or incorrect) was thus very distorted . In particular, some dogmatic and intolerant thoughts of killing nations and non- believers at "God's command" are at the heart of a criminal religious ideology , in the name of which some stupid blind believers are able to kill their neighbors ! But what remains authentic is the ethical messagegoodness, love, honesty. Although these values are not directly related to religion, for many believers they are a source of cultivating relationships with others - this must certainly be acknowledged positively ...
Religion as a Source of
Ethics and Aesthetics
Religious writings and spiritual traditions contain a number of instructive stories, parables and beautiful legends, which are a manifestation of the universal Divine " compass " within us, leading us to goodness, nobility and beauty. Let us protect these legends and follow their ethical message. Let us not deform their true (ie, symbolic and allegorical) content and meaning by dogmatism and the pursuit of a "literal interpretation," let us not abuse the differences in their content or interpretation for disputes and hatred of our neighbors. Otherwise they will turn against us!
The authenticity of religious faith ?
Apart from the factual inner unfoundedness and untruthfulness of all religious superstitions and prejudices, we can religiously believe people in terms of sincerity and fairness divided into two groups :
True believers ,
who, according to the principles of his faith, trying to live and do and for whom this faith helps upgrading relations with their neighbors regardless of whether they are believers or unbelievers.
Idolaters - " devotionals "
who outwardly very ostentatiously profess all articles of faith (often without proper understanding), but internally it is only a cover for bad character and exaltation over "unbelievers" or otherwise believers.
The divine "compass" of ethics, humanism, and love is encoded in our hearts rather than in old religious legends, often distorted in translations and transcripts, or purposefully distorted by false interpreters.
Note: Already in the 18th century the French naturalist and philosopher P.H.D.Holbach (1723-1789) argued that " In order for people to know the true principles of morality, they need neither theology, nor revelation, nor God, but only common sense ." And also the "good heart" ...
Believers often do not understand in their superficiality what they profess and especially why they profess it. They understand faith as familiarity with certain "facts", statements, or practices that they do not doubt and blindly accept. Or as a membership in some "self-saving" church or sect. God-fearing people often believe that God is on their side and is against "others" professing faith in another God, or just another way of believing in the same God. This foolosh idea, abused by the rich and powerful, has already cost many millions of human lives in religious wars ... Christians themselves claim that there will be many priests and theologians in hell, even those "orthodox".
Deeper people understand faith as an inner relationship, inner identification with the essence, aligning a lifestyle with an ethical message, helping and serving their neighbors ...
Finally, I would like to present the following idea for reflection :
|Faith brings true spiritual exaltation above all to one who rises above religion.|
Current scientific knowledge is compatible only with
abstract philosophical concept of GOD ,
not with the historically fabricated Gods of the existing traditional churches and denominations .
However, even for scientists and rationally oriented people, the message of traditional religious texts can be a source of
moral and aesthetic inspiration
- directly or in cultural representation in literature, painting, music -
I present the presented theses and thoughts for kind reflection to the readers - as educated and thoughtful people ..!.
While writing the concept of this reflection on the relationship between science and religion, I often listened to Gregorian chant, Orthodox liturgies, Indian ragas and mantras, and the music of Zen Buddhist monks. To anyone who ponders similar questions, I can recommend music of this or a similar kind as a beautiful source of hidden inspiration.
At the same time, depending on your focus, you can reflect or meditate on spiritual issues, the course of time and life. From the field of science, for example, the theory of relativity, the structure and evolution of the Universe, elementary particles, unitary field theory, hidden dimensions. However, it is good to get rid of technical and mathematical details for a while, but rather to intuitively reflect their meaning and relationship to the basic laws of the world and its course - to the beauties and mysteries of nature, the universe and our soul.
|Anthropic principle or cosmic God||Christianity and communism|
|AstroNuclPhysics ® Nuclear Physics - Astrophysics - Cosmology - Philosophy|
RNDr. Vojtech Ullmann