20 Oct

Religion, Philosophy and Science

Religion, Philosophy and Science

Religion, philosophy and science all try to tackle the same problem: To give us a model of how things are arranged.

Religion uses faith to explain things.  Faith is a product of feeling.  ‘Feelers’ love to claim that feelings come from the heart.  People of religion primarily depend on how they ‘feel in their heart’ to tell us how things are arranged.  Unfortunately, they don’t have a mechanism in place to resolve internal inconsistencies in what they claim.  Whenever they hit up on a dead end or a conflict, they draw a new path.  As a result, religion has million different ways to describe and explain things.  Everything that religion tells us is right and wrong based on who is looking.

Philosophy try to a better model than the religions.  It tries to resolve inconsistencies between ideas using tools of logic.  Unfortunately, philosophy doesn’t have an ‘outside’ way of verifying its proposals.  So, it often went up the wrong tree.  For example, Aristotle thought that the brain is an organ used to cool the body.  And the idea persisted for centuries.

Science takes off where philosophy leaves and uses mathematical modelling and experimental verification for ironing out the bugs in the ideas.  That way, science can’t have more than one explanation for a given situation.  If it does, then the theory is incomplete.

This is how I see Religion, Philosophy and Science:

  • Religion is a sloppy speculative exercise of how things work.  Taking life lessons from religious teachings is like worshiping the false god.
  • Philosophy is an exercise in disciplined speculation.  But almost everything that has been addressed by philosophy has since been scrutinized by science.
  • Science takes an educated speculation and makes a theory out of it.  Of course, there are still many things that science can’t explain.  May be there are many things that science can never explain.

Unlike a philosopher or a religious teacher, a scientist can’t make a claim without doing substantial ground work in first place.  So, science can be painfully flow.  But it has a few advantages:

  • Science is painfully aware of what it doesn’t know
  • It has a process wherein more and more people can be trained to become competent scientists
  • Science can have only one solution for a given situation
  • So, millions of people around the world can work on various aspects of it simultaneously

For these reasons, I use science as my first too to explain the cosmos around me.  If the answers are not available with science, only then do I look elsewhere.  In other words, I don’t hesitate to look at mysticism to give me the answers.  But I do it with utmost caution.

One thought on “Religion, Philosophy and Science

  1. Very original and thought provoking, I wud like to add two points for digestion....Stephen jay Gould, social biologist, proposed a theory of NOMA, or non overlapping magisterial, a non aggression pact of sorts, between religion and science. Wonderful compromise. I am a scientist, swearing by the molecule. But equally I am a believer, enjoying the mysteries of the Upanishads, the Bible, and the Koran.Lets not forget, one of the most fundamental scientific tenets is the uncertainty principle of Heisenberg, read ..we aren't sure of anything....I would choose to believe. And let the nonbeliever non believe.only time will tell......cheers! Raj

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