Science Cafe, Science & Religion

The chair, Rob Raven, like Umi accentuated the &.

Professor Peter Belton – UEA http://www.uea.ac.uk/chemistry/people/profile/p-belton Quaker and scientist (chemist) gave an excellent introduction – no notes – starting with the conflict.

  1. Religion

Always conflict between science and religion. Classic case quoted is Gallileo and the Pope. But like most conflicts, it’s not a conflict between religion (belief) and science, but power, politics. eg Karen Armstrong view: It was these European wars, in the 16th and 17th centuries, that helped create what has been called “the myth of religious violence”. It was said that Protestants and Catholics were so inflamed by the theological passions of the Reformation that they butchered one another in senseless battles that killed 35% of the population of central Europe. Yet while there is no doubt that the participants certainly experienced these wars as a life-and-death religious struggle, this was also a conflict between two sets of state-builders: the princes of Germany and the other kings of Europe were battling against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and his ambition to establish a trans-European hegemony modelled after the Ottoman empire.Karen Armstrong Myth of Religious Violence

Who has the ‘epistemic privilege’ – one who owns the truth.

Science and religion, once conjoined. Now separated. Western separation of church and state and secularism.

Looking at the contemporary rise in fundamentalism – why? With the New Atheasim – both sides exhibit expressions of fundamentalism – arrogance and certainty,
eg AC Greyling – religion is toxic.
eg Sam Harris (book The End of Faith 2004 a critique of organized religion, appeared on New York Times best seller list) The atrocities of Isis would seem to prove that Sam Harris, one of the loudest voices of the “New Atheism”, was right to claim that “most Muslims are utterly deranged by their religious faith”, and to conclude that “religion itself produces a perverse solidarity that we must find some way to undercut”.
eg Dawkins, more supercillious. Akin to C19th talking down.

According to Karen Armstrong – fundamentalism is caused by fear of annihilation.

(Karen Armstrong: She first rose to prominence in 1993 with her book A history of God. Her work focuses on commonalities of the major religions, such as the importance of compassion and the Golden Rule. Myth of Religious Violence: The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple.

Fundamentalist ideas: Trump – climate change an invention of the Chinese.
Theory of evolution, that life started in a pit of hell.
Do not dismiss the creationists as talking rubbish. Their beliefs are sincere.

2. Science

Measurable phenonoma  (Popper – would try to disprove the hypothesis, (falsify it),  through evidence, and if he couldn’t, the hypothesis was sound until disproven.)

Anthropic principal: Our physical world is finely tuned if one element of a different physical property, there would be no life of earth. Eg gravity. Why is it that conditions were just right for our survival? Cosmologists often apply this question to life on Earth with the Goldilocks principle, which ponders why Earth is “just right” for life. The anthropic principle tackles an even greater question: Why is the universe itself just right for life? If certain conditions in our universe were just a little off, life would have never evolved.

Complexity not provable, often based on a series of assumptions, hypothesis, eg quantum.

3. Jonathan Sachs The Great Partnership

While Science’s natural language is mathematics, religions natural language is story
Both Religion and science are human constructs.
Science part of ziguist, the creators of Hysterical, phrenoology. But usually willows out

Discussion afterwards, on the panel chaired by Rob Raven, was  Malcolm Doney, Sole Bay Ministry Team, Bill Mahood, Halesworth Ministry Team, Michael Immison, representing the Humanist perspective, and Professor Chris Higgins (ex MRC) to balance out the Science. 

The discussion afterwards ranged from reasons for religious beliefs, to misapprehensions and different ways of looking at religion.
a. Religion was  a human need as an assurity of life after death, (But look at fungi, living off dead matter) All of us are made of the stuff of dead stars. Joni Mitchelle.
b. A member of the audience gave his view: we are hung up on dogma and not on practice – orthopraxi – a view echoed in the recent Reith lectures by Anthony.

c. What came up (for me anyhow) repeatedly was the same message of ANTHONY APPIAH, in the Reith lectures this year: to hold more uncertainty – like Keats and his negative capability: ‘when a man is capable of living with uncertaintly, without irritably reaching for fact or reason’.

 

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