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  • Kyle,

    I understand your point. However, I wasn't presenting a proof. I was interpreting the Christian understanding of the relationship of reason and faith. "If God is truth, and truth cannot contradict itself, then scientific truth and faith truth cannot contradict." Of course, this is based on the assumption that God exists and God is truth. I am trying to show, if you yield to the those two premises, then it follows that science and faith would not be able to contradict. I guess, I wasn't trying to make a proof, rather an explanation of their co-existence.

    I think you have very interesting words on faith and I agree with you that science cannot prove God and if it did it faith would not be necessary, which is why faith will not be necessary in heaven. As a Christian, even those that saw Jesus still had to make an assent or negation to faith. But that seems to make sense given that we are free persons and would need to be able to make a personal decision to accept it or not.

    You bring up Hume. From what I have read, Hume was a deist. I find it quite fascinating that a different proof for the existence of God can be held as to the reason a person believes in his existence. For Hume is appears he accepts it based on the order of the universe. Aquinas gives us plenty of proofs, some that Hume did not find enough. Granted these are philosophical and may not tell us who God is. This then becomes theology. Still, it is remarkable for example, that you have travelled, explored, etc., and I assume this has become your reasons for at least acknowledging God can exist, and I have travelled some what, etc. and it is some different that gets me on God's existence. I mean I know the philosophical proofs, and these are good, but it is something different, something deep inside me. Hard to write and explain.

    Anyways, let me know what you think when you have time.

    November 1, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.
  • @Hicktoria,

    Thanks for the link. I read it and I have gone over the various arguments for the existence and non-existence of a god many times from many different points of view since I can remember.

    I'll give you my two cents: I'm not an atheist and I'm not a Christian. I do not posit my theories on a creator as fact and I will always challenge those that do. I have spent my entire life involved to varying degrees with many religions, many philosophies and many cultures. I have taken what resonated with me as a possible truth but never accepted any one doctrine as "gospel". The more I learn about the world the less inclined I am to put all my eggs in one basket - there's too much at stake and too much to lose by cutting myself off from all but one of thousands of different life experiences.


    November 1, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.
  • KyleC - follow this link and tell me what you think.


    November 1, 2010 at 1:04 p.m.
  • @ Hick,

    Your premise is often described as the Ontological Argument for the existence of a god - basically that if we can conceive of a god or creator then there must, indeed, be such a thing.

    But as the philosopher, David Hume, states on a similar matter:

    "There is an evident absurdity in pretending to demonstrate a matter of fact, or to prove it by any arguments a priori. Nothing is demonstrable, unless the contrary implies a contradiction. Nothing, that is distinctly conceivable, implies a contradiction. Whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent. There is no being, therefore, whose non-existence implies a contradiction. Consequently there is no being, whose existence is demonstrable."

    The ontological Argument is one that is "A Priori" - an argument made without a logical basis.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
  • Wouldn't logic dictate beveling in a Supreme being knowing that there is a possibility there is one? At least to CYA... Just saying...

    November 1, 2010 at 11:38 a.m.
  • Jared,

    It's circular because your premise relies upon itself for proof: "For example, as Christians, all truth comes from the same source, Truth Himself; this means science will not conflict with Scripture and vice versa."

    Which reads, to me anyway, as basically an extension of saying:

    "All truth comes from God"

    How can you prove that?

    "Because God tells us it's true"

    How do you know it's the truth?

    "Because all truth comes from God" and repeat.

    Similar to this illustration: http://bit.ly/1GSUYJ

    The problem is that, logically, there is no method to prove conclusively that a god or creator exists therefore one cannot conclude, as you posited, that all scientific discoveries and thought are truth that "comes from the same source."

    A now a little light humor from Douglas Adams from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

    Regarding the wondrous translation abilities of the Babel Fish :

    "Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

    The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

    "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

    "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly disappears in a puff of logic"

    November 1, 2010 at 11:27 a.m.
  • @KyleC, Can you clarify the circular logic you mention. I am not seeing it. I know what circular logic is, I must be reading your statement incorrectly.

    What I am saying is that there ought not be any contradiction between reason and faith. If science proves something, it is true; there cannot be two trues that can be held in contradiction of one another. However, science has its own limitations, that being the natural world, the moment it seeks to make faith assumptions, it becomes pretend. I believe S. Hawking made the recent proposition that science can explain the creation of the world without a god. However, he still has to assume the theory of gravity to do so. This begs the question, where did the gravity come from? Science can only study what it can see, hear, touch, taste, smell, measure. Beyond this, philosophy and theology are needed to explain those things that cannot be witnessed by the senses. I don't think it is an either/or, I think it is a both.

    November 1, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.
  • "For example, as Christians, all truth comes from the same source, Truth Himself; this means science will not conflict with Scripture and vice versa."

    When you rely on circular logic, on a logical fallacy such as the above - which is to be found in all religions - then everything and anything can be attributed to a god. Reason trumps faith in the universe that we inhabit, because reason has to be proven in order to be valid - faith does not. How can we give religious belief the same standing when we rely on conjecture, words written by men and a human brain that interprets these words in an almost infinite variety of ways?

    Two sentences of the Fides et Ratio stand out to me: "Rather, it is the Magisterium's duty to respond clearly and strongly when controversial philosophical opinions threaten right understanding of what has been revealed, and when false and partial theories which sow the seed of serious error, confusing the pure and simple faith of the People of God, begin to spread more widely."


    "It is the task of the Magisterium in the first place to indicate which philosophical presuppositions and conclusions are incompatible with revealed truth, thus articulating the demands which faith's point of view makes of philosophy."

    Again, at its heart we have the logical fallacy of the "revealed truth" and it's clear to me that the Pope essentially gives faith equal tenure to reason, equal weight to logic. My opinion is that, given enough time, reason and logic through science and the resulting enlightenment should whittle down the extensive creeds and dogma of religion leaving the essential core questions that make us human - that of the existence of a creator and the possibility of life after death. At that point faith will have come full circle and returned back to it's true value - a constant ache in hearts of men who yearn to know the unknowable but live in an ordered universe where the laws and constants of nature give me ample evidence for a lack of a theistic, personal deity but still leave open the possibility for a creating force - be it the concept of a god who set this perfect machine in motion and does not interfere or a god that is simply the laws of the universe. Who knows?

    What I do know is that because I cannot say with any certainty if there is a creator or not that simple fact puts faith in its rightful place.

    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

    October 28, 2010 at 3:46 p.m.
  • @thewaywardwind, Let me explain a few points (with charity, not a combative tone) Faith and Reason, Christianly speaking, are two sides of the same coin. Faith does not go against reason, nor reason Faith. For example, as Christians, all truth comes from the same source, Truth Himself; this means science will not conflict with Scripture and vice versa. Let me mention a few of the points you considered.

    Scripture. Scripture is a compilation of many books written over hundreds of years. The books contain different human authors and styles. Some styles are historical, some figurative, some psalm, some prophetic, etc. Genesis says the world was created in 6 days. Science is showing that evolution is likely fact. Do these contradict? Not really. The Book of Genesis may not have been written as a historical fact book, but rather speaks on a different level. In theology, we call this senses of Scripture. There is a literal sense and a couple of spiritual senses. The literal sense gives meaning although it may not be written in a historical textbook fashion. So in this case, what is the meaning of Genesis? Science does not answer this, nor should it. Science has a place, interpretting the physical sciences.

    As science has a place, so too does philosophy. How we know something is a philosophical question. As science, philosophy has certain truths that also are not rejected. Theology, once considered the Queen of the Sciences, is the science of God. It also follows truth. In Christianity, none of these truths conflict. Take the Galileo controversy. Was is a theological problem? No, Copernicus (d. 1543) taught heliocentricity before Galileo was even born. Copernicus, a Catholic priest, did not have the same problems as Galileo with his teaching. Why? Besides all the name calling between the historical Pope and Galileo, Galileo was claiming as fact only something that could (at that time) be a theory. There were competing theories by different scientific schools of thought on the issue. However, Galileo's problem was that he made a claim as fact when in reality it was still a theory. The whole issue reads also as entertaining as a drama today.

    The interesting question today is "Was Galileo right?" It is kind of a trick question. Remember he was a proponent of heliocentricity.

    October 28, 2010 at 3:10 p.m.
  • Jared...I have to disagree somewhat. It was reason that led me AWAY from religion. To me it was UNreasonable that a human was turned into a pillar of salt. It was unreasonable to believe that a human was eaten by a whale and survived the experience. It was unreasonable to believe that anyone had a meaningful conversation with a burning bush. It was unreasonable to believe that the world was created in six days. It was unreasonable to believe that man was created from dirt and even more unreasonable to believe that woman was created from a man's RIB bone.

    I was taught that EVERY word in the Bible was the absolute, literal truth, from "In the beginning..." all the way through to "The End." Once I realized that there were things in the Bible I couldn't bring myself to believe as true because REASON told me it could not be so, I began to wonder what ELSE was not true.

    I don't trash religion for trying to teach people to live their lives in a moral and honorable manner, but I can't buy into the living after death and eternal life in Heaven. This in one of those things that can never be KNOWN until it happens, but I just can't believe all that. For me, reason trumps faith.

    October 28, 2010 at 12:19 p.m.
  • "Fides et ratio" was recent Catholic Church letter. Reason leads to faith. The fact that we even consider reason so important is based on a belief that it should be important. In a sense, we put faith that reason can explain many things in the natural world and rightly so. However, some things cannot proved by reason alone.

    Superstition is a very specific meaning, it can be considered similar to magic. Magic in the traditional sense, is the attempt to rule over nature or to control others or nature for your own power. So the root of superstition would be pride. Irreligion practices to little religion and superstition practices too much, it worships beings that are not God. Traditionally speaking, "religion" is a virtue and irreligion and superstition are the two polar opposite vices.

    Kyle brings up an interesting point regarding myth. Myth tells a story, a story that brings to mind something in the deep recesses of the human spirit. Tolkien has some very interesting thoughts on myth.

    A particular note on the article. "Knock on wood" is not a superstition historically. Although perceived today by many and perhaps used as such, its historic meaning is quite different. "Knock on wood" comes from a religious practice of "Knock on the wood of the Cross." Superstition places the power in the wood itself, as if wood can bring about some change. Religion says that the power comes from he that hung on that wood.

    October 28, 2010 at 8:17 a.m.
  • Excellent article!

    Superstition is defined as "...a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge." Atheists and agnostics would argue that ALL religion is superstition while religious adherents of a particular creed would argue that it's the OTHER religions that are superstitions.

    What is always interesting to me is the anthropological aspects of religion/myth/superstition - the history and psychology of the human condition that allows us to take the risk of putting all our eggs in one unprovable basket in order to seek balance when all is chaotic. Perhaps it is based on some genetic vestigial remnant from our ancestors who faced death everyday and turned to the invisible and unknowable for hope?

    Very thought provoking.

    October 28, 2010 at 1:03 a.m.