Ways in which science is superior to religion.

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LucyAustralopithecus's picture
thank you and breezy! lets be

thank you and breezy! lets be thankful it is my 'pronoun' lol

in spain the theistic approach is quite strict and a lot of younger people such as myself are put off it, this will only increase.
this is due mostly because it is a barbaric medieval belief system that todays world doesn't really need, in my opinon.

the first time I saw a nebula I wept, that is when I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
I never thought feeling so insignificant on the grandest of scales would feel so wonderful, and yet it does.

Tin-Man's picture
Here's a pretty good reason

Here's a pretty good reason why science is superior.


Attach Image/Video?: 

LostLocke's picture
I'd like to add my own:

I'd like to add my own:

An elder British professor shouting "RELIGION!" in the middle of a Thomas Dolby video would be ridiculous. Science was the obvious winner here.

Tin-Man's picture
@Lost Re: Thomas Dolby

@Lost Re: Thomas Dolby

Of course, you know, the theists response to that would simply be that we have been blinded by science.

mickron88's picture
like ricky gervais said:

like ricky gervais said:

"if we take all of the holy book and destroyed it and a thousand years time that wouldn't come back just as it was.
but if we took every science book and every fact and destroy them all, and a thousand years they'll all be back, coz all the same test would be the same result."

Tin-Man's picture
Dang, Q, that's pretty cool.

Dang, Q, that's pretty cool. Never thought of it like that.

mickron88's picture
pretty neat right? ricky

pretty neat right? ricky gevais always amaze me, brilliant man

haven't seen his movie "the invention of lying" yet

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I'm not sure you understand

I'm not sure you understand what science and religion are, or even the difference between science and technology for that matter.

Could you explain that?

Sheldon's picture
Justify your claim first. As

Justify your claim first. As I have read enough of your posts to have precisely the same doubts about you. You throw in the odd scientific sounding phrase, but I don't think you have a basic grasp of how science works. You said yesterday that science correcting earlier errors was "problematic" for science, as if a human method for gaining knowledge and understanding ought to be right first time every time, or that being incorrect in the past casts everything science accepts as true into doubt. Would it be better never to accept being wrong then no matter what the evidence showed? Exactly as religions do for instance, and creationists in particular.

You deny scientific facts like species evolution, so you're in no position to lecture others on their understanding of how science works.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Ok, what if I ask what

Ok, what if I ask what mathematics has done in the past millennia to improve sanitation and cleanliness? It just doesn't make sense to ask that question, just like doesn't make sense to ask that of religion.

Technology is not science. It may make use of it if it so wishes. But science often can't progress until technology paves the way first, such as with the invention of the telescope, microscope, and all the rest of our imaging technology used in the medical field. Some of the examples you gave seem more technological than scientific contributions.

So I'll ask again, define those three terms: Science, Religion, Technology.

Sheldon's picture
"Ok, what if I ask what

"Ok, what if I ask what mathematics has done in the past millennia to improve sanitation and cleanliness? It just doesn't make sense to ask that question, "

You don't think maths is used in engineering? Or maybe you don't think engineering plays any part in improving sanitation?

"just like doesn't make sense to ask that of religion."

You don't think an omniscient deity endorsing slavery, and demonising gay people, indulging erroneous myths about life being magic'd into existence in it's current form might have spent a moment to explain the connection between better sanitation and avoiding epidemic disease, or maybe told bronze age humans how to create a flushing toilet, and why it would help avoid millennia of unimaginable suffering and death?

You seem to have very low expectations of an omniscient deity. Perhaps that's why you can remain credulous and not become disillusioned by it's inaction to stop suffering.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Simply put: science is a

Simply put: science is a method of investigation and religion isn't. Unless you can demonstrate that religion is another method of investigation, your OP makes a false equivalency.

Religion is a worldview, and science is a tool. You should have instead asked what Religious vs Atheist people contributed to those different categories, though I'm not sure why that would matter.

Sheldon's picture
A worldview that makes claims

A worldview that makes claims to absolute knowledge, and perfect morality. The comparison is how the pursuit of knowledge through science, as opposed to the claims to knowledge through the adoption of religion, have each benefited humanity. I'd also argue that religion is just a human creation used as a tool by organised systems of religion and government to manipulate the masses, in that sense of course it has at least been immensely successful.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
The most essential claim to

The most essential claim to absolute knowledge that religion makes is that there is a God or that we are created. As far as I can tell, making flushable toilets and improving sanitation, are all tasks left up to us to discover. Assuming God gave us brains for a reason, I don't see why you would want to be spoon-fed every bit of information.

If a Christian can be a scientist, then your OP makes a false equivalency.

Sheldon's picture
You donlt see why a deity

"The most essential claim to absolute knowledge that religion makes is that there is a God or that we are created. "

Neither claim they can demonstrate any evidence for, and again a way science is superior to religion.

You don't see why a deity claimed to be perfectly merciful might be more preoccupied with avoiding necessary and unimaginable suffering than with demonising gay people, and endorsing slavery?

Science can help us ease suffering, religion just excuses it, or ignores it as irrelevant to their chosen deity's plan, as you have done here. Another way in which science then is superior to religion. As to spoon feeding, your deity needed 4 of ten commandments to demand it be worshipped correctly, and religion is endlessly obsessed with what consenting adults do with their penises and vaginas and their anus, and to whom, and in what position. How utterly bizarre then that you should find nothing strange in that, but find the idea a deity would help avoid the suffering and deaths of countless humans, and the resulting and incalculable emotional suffering with some simple truths and facts in place of the myriad erroneous myths, and moral diktat that seems to not care whether we suffer or not. Indeed seems intent on producing suffering based on the bigotries and prejudices of archaic patriarchal societies.

"If a Christian can be a scientist, then your OP makes a false equivalency."

No it doesn't, since science is not a product of superstitious beliefs, at best it is independent of them, at worst it is anathema to them.

Sheldon's picture
"You should have instead

"You should have instead asked what Religious vs Atheist people contributed to those different categories, though I'm not sure why that would matter."

I should ask something that doesn't matter, why? Besides that such an obviously loaded question given the vats majority of people for the vast majority of human history have been theists of some sort.

No thanks I'll stick with my OP.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
"the vats majority of people

So if most of the scientific contributions your OP mentions, were made by religious people, then isn't your OP the one asking a loaded question?

Sheldon's picture
No. It is obvious to anyone

No. It is obvious to anyone remotely objective that their contributions to science is credited to science precisely because they used science, and science has scrutinised their work and shown it to be correct, not because they were religious. I don't credit Newton's theories on gravity to his superstitious beliefs in alchemy or astronomy, why then would I attach any credit to his superstitious religious beliefs. His science marks him as a genius precisely because it has withstood scientific scrutiny, his superstitious beliefs just show even a genius can be fallible, and a method is needed to validate what they claim, that method is science, and it works remarkably well.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "define

@John 61X Breezy: "define those three terms: Science, Religion, Technology."

Science and religion are worldviews. Science says that everything that exists is natural and can be understood in terms of natural laws through the application of logic. Religion says that existence is divided between natural and supernatural, that understanding can only be achieved through faith, and that some aspects of reality will forever remain beyond our understanding.

Technology is applied science. For example, you apply the science of optics to create a telescope or microscope. Technology then becomes a stepping stone for further advances in science. Religion also uses technology, from Tibetan prayer wheels to the Vatican website. But although both science and technology have happened in religious environments (e.g., Gregor Mendel), I don't think religion has ever contributed directly to technology.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I don't agree with that

I don't agree with that distinction, at least that's not a distinction made by religion. To the contrary, religion treats deities as very real and tangible entities. I don't agree with the supernatural demarcation, since its just a synonym for nonexistent when it comes down to it. Perhaps some aspects of reality are beyond our understanding, and those we must accept on faith, but faith itself isn't a method of achieving understanding.

I don't think you apply the science of optics to create a telescope, to the contrary, the science of optics would study the way telescopes work. From the looks of it, the telescope was invented by a non-scientist, mostly accidentally, from his job as a spectacle maker. Keep in mind that only after that invention could Galileo use it in his scientific studies.

I don't think religion should directly contribute to technology, at least no more than sports, art, or philosophy should. Perhaps if science is generalized and interpreted to mean "knowledge" overall, it may have a relationship to technology. But science is a method of observation, not a method of applying those observations.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "I don't

@John 61X Breezy: "I don't think you apply the science of optics to create a telescope"

The person who invented the telescope most definitely used the science of optics, albeit in a trial-and-error way. But then trial-and-error is the essence of the scientific method, isn't it? The science of optics studies the way light behaves in various media, especially glass. Isaac Newton even studied optics by poking a stick in his eye.

Are you saying that religious people don't think of god as supernatural? All that talk of immortal souls and life after death sounds pretty supernatural to me. I've heard lots of religious people arguing that god is beyond the understanding of science or logic, outside of time and the universe.

Faith most definitely isn't a way of achieving understanding. It's a surrender to non-understanding by saying "Perhaps some aspects of reality are beyond our understanding."

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Well one account says the

Well one account says the inventor overheard some children playing with lenses, that they could see things up close, not very scientific.

No, trial-and-error isn't the essence of the scientific method, the testing of a hypothesis is. Trial-and-error requires having a desired result and attempting to reach it, for example, the medical field might use trial-and-error when it comes to improving CPR. But a scientific researcher isn't trying to reach an expected result normally, they're trying to see what the answer to their research question is. Positive and negative results, are both equally insightful in science.

That's why its important to define science first. Either you give it a lose definition, such as trial-and-error or knowledge, at which point farming is a science. Or, your definition is strict and specific, and nothing previous to the Scientific Revolution deserves the name, at which point farming isn't scientific.

Just so we're clear, "perhaps" means I neither agree nor disagree with the claim. I don't see why there would be things we don't understand, but at the same time, there are plenty of things a child can't understand (conservation). So there might be things a God would understand but a human can't.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "Positive

@John 61X Breezy: "Positive and negative results, are both equally insightful in science."

That sounds like another way of saying "trial-and-error" to me.

The scientific method might have been formalized in relatively modern times. I think Ignaz Semmelweis was one of the pioneers, wasn't he? But that doesn't mean the method didn't exist before that. The first caveman to create fire through friction or sparks was a scientist on some level.

I disagree. The willingness to accept new ideas and input, even from children, is very scientific. Inspiration often comes from unexpected sources.

You say: "So there might be things a God would understand but a human can't."

Define "a god" with or without a capital 'G'.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Right, so you define science

Right, so you define science very loosely, which I guess is fine. I define it very strictly, so I wouldn't call the first caveman to spark fire a scientist. His methods weren't scientific, his reasoning wasn't scientific, for all we know it could have been an accidental discovery. Not to mention it probably had religious underpinnings or consequences.

I don't understand why people ask me for a definition of God. You know I'm a Christian, where do you think I get my definition (or description) from?

algebe's picture


I asked for your definition of god so I could understand where you draw the line in your statement about things a god could understand but humans couldn't. What are the defining characteristics of a god?

Lots of scientific discoveries are accidental. The scientific method is used to test those discoveries. If rubbing two sticks together makes fire, how about two bones or two rocks? You don't know that the caveman's reasoning wasn't scientific. Our brainpower hasn't changed all that much since the emergence of our species, has it?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
"For as the heavens are

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth... so are my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9).

That's an example of a description. Our understanding is restricted to our neuroanatomy, you can notice this in the presence of malady. There are thoughts we cannot think because our brains are not wired to think them. God being distinct from us would imply He understands differently than us. Not to mention we are also limited by our senses, so if there are things which "no eye has seen, and no ear has heard" that implies there are things we cannot understand. That's part of the reason Jesus spoke in parables, translating the Heavenly into the Earthly.

I don't consider accidental discoveries to have been discovered scientifically. Just like you probably don't attribute a person's unpredicted recovery from cancer to God. The person that first discovered neurotransmitters did so because he saw it in a dream, and I doubt scientists are currently being trained how to interpret dreams.

Given your views on science, would you consider alchemy to be a science?

Sapporo's picture
The scientific process is

The scientific process is guided by doubt. How individuals come to doubt our current understanding is not in itself important. Science makes observations about the natural world, which certainly includes accidental discoveries.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
All these terms (doubt, trial

All these terms (doubt, trial-and-error) overlap in some ways with each other, and with science; or at least science isn't opposed to them, but they are not in themselves descriptive of science.

I would argue that doubt is more foundational to atheism and certain schools of philosophy than science. When science makes observations about the natural world, it does so out of curiosity and interest, not doubt. What would a scientist studying how neurons spread their tentacles across the nervous system be doubting?

Sapporo's picture
If you have certainty about

If you have certainty about your worldview, there is no impetus to observe and make testable hypotheses.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Why wouldn't there be.

Why wouldn't there be?

To the contrary, if you doubt your worldview (paradigm), you're bound to repeat the experiments that created it in the first place. Part of the reason you're required to conduct a literature review and present it in the introduction of your research paper, is to inform other scientists where your research fits in, and make sure your experiment wasn't already done by someone else.

We don't want people repeating Koch's experiments, just because they doubt the link between the anthrax and its corresponding bacteria. They'll need to defend their doubts convincingly enough before any institution funds it.


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