The Relationship Between Science and Religion

giantrobot1

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#1
IMHO science deals with measurable, quantifiable material phenomena that can be examined under repeated experiments.

I believe there's a hell of a lot of stuff out there that can't actually be examined by such a system, since when you look at what restrictions there are in the scientific method, many things (such as one-off occurences and subjective phenomena) don't meet these restrictions of what can be examined.

One more thing - what's meant by 'religion'?
 

ENTIANONMULTI

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#2
Well having watched the Galileo program on bbc last night and heard about the Cardinals public meeting about the Da Vinci Code, i am inclined to think that the Catholic church is a little out of touch and reactionary
 

theredmeanie

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#3
GiantRobot said:
One more thing - what's meant by 'religion'?
I'm using 'religion' in it's broadest sense here, meaning authoritarian, institutional and personal definitions of spiritual experience.
 

theredmeanie

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#4
GiantRobot said:
IMHO science deals with measurable, quantifiable material phenomena that can be examined under repeated experiments.

I believe there's a hell of a lot of stuff out there that can't actually be examined by such a system, since when you look at what restrictions there are in the scientific method, many things (such as one-off occurences and subjective phenomena)
This is why I posted. One example is Buddhist Monks meditating and producing measurable, quantifiable material phenomena (delta waves showing on an EEG, usually only observable during dreamless sleep) but experiencing phenomena that is best described as 'spiritual/religious'.
 

sunsplash1

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#5
Hmmm. Using the broadest defintions of both 'Science' and 'Religion' I can only come up with the position of 'Inter-relatedness (ness)' Which was not an option.
Sorry.
:(
edit: I really,REALY love adding the suffix '-ness' to words.
 

Anome

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#6
I don't see Science and Religion as being mutually exclusive, or inclusive. Your view on one may influence your view on the other, but they can quite happily coexist.

Just because they don't doesn't mean they can't.
 
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krobone

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#7
Of all the world's major religions, Tibetan Bhuddism seems the most compatible with science. The Dalai Lama is also quite a science buff.

http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041206/ ... 0a_pf.html

B Gage says that what particularly impressed him was the Dalai Lama's empirical approach. "At one point I asked: 'What if neuroscience comes up with information that directly contradicts Buddhist philosophy?'," says Gage. "The answer was: 'Then we would have to change the philosophy to match the science'."
I can't see the Pope or Pat Robertson reaching that conclusion. :)
 

giantrobot1

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#8
Krobone said:
Of all the world's major religions, Tibetan Bhuddism seems the most compatible with science. The Dalai Lama is also quite a science buff.

http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041206/ ... 0a_pf.html

B Gage says that what particularly impressed him was the Dalai Lama's empirical approach. "At one point I asked: 'What if neuroscience comes up with information that directly contradicts Buddhist philosophy?'," says Gage. "The answer was: 'Then we would have to change the philosophy to match the science'."
I can't see the Pope or Pat Robertson reaching that conclusion. :)
There's a great book that's a transcript of a meeting between HHDL and some psychologists, neurologists and sleep researchers called "Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying". I recommend it.

There's a fascinating part where they discuss the different brain-states during sleep. Apparently there are four distinct brainwave states that are gone through to get to deep sleep.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are a set of esoteric practices called the 'Six Yogas of Naropa', named after one of the foundes of the Kagyu lineage. One of them is called Dream Yoga, and involves retaining consciousness throughout a night's sleep - and when a dream comes along, becoming lucid and doing certain practices in the dream.

The texts which teach you how to do this describe four increasingly subtle states of awareness during sleep - the 'clear-light' - which are normally below the perception of ordinary people. The description of these match the lengths measured by an EEG.

If that's not scinece and religion working well together, I don't know what is! Although I'm clearly biased, I think that Buddhist psychology and metaphyiscs has an awful lot to contribute to the western study of the mind and cosmology - such as in the famous book "The Tao of Physics".

A lama I know of one said to a friend of mine "these scientists are alomost begining to understand what the Buddha taught about how reality works - but they still don't see physics isn't real." ;)
 

dreeness

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#9
and Science begat Scientists, who begat Scientism...

Scientism is a religion, with its own articles of faith, and heretics, and schisms, and the occasional auto da fe , and inquistors, and attacks on other religions, and evangelists...

link
 

Vardoger

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#10
So far scientism has been able to prove itself in most cases.

Religion still only exist in the minds of the people.
It can't be reproduced by tests.
So it's not right to compare scientism to religion.

Scientism is not religion. With the exception of the dogmatics in the scientific world, scientists always work on proving their work, finding proof for their theories and coming up with new theories and proofs to contradict earlier work.
 

dreeness

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#11
There are an infinite number of cases.

So far, scientism has demonstrated the same frailties that plague every other endeavour of an imperfect humanity, ignoring or suppressing what it dislikes, stumbling from catastrophe to catastrophe, careening up blind alleys, etc.

link


The Universe only exists in the minds of people --- at least according to Wheeler's "Participatory Anthropic Principle"

link

which I wish I had never heard of, because it gives me severe vertigo just thinking about it, probably best to just pretend it doesn't exist.

(So far, no one has managed to throw a butterfly net over an alien, or for that matter a deity. I suppose by definition a deity would be considered an alien, but I digress. Aliens might exist. Slightly superhuman aliens might exist, profoundly superhuman aliens might exist, aliens so utterly superhuman that they approach a working definition of godhood might exist. It is difficult to prove whether they exist or not before we have looked everywhere for them, and given the infinite nature of infinity, the search may prove daunting, an agnostic stance might be prudent for the time being.)
 

giantrobot1

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#12
dreeness said:
The Universe only exists in the minds of people --- at least according to Wheeler's "Participatory Anthropic Principle"
Or Hinduism as it's sometimes known as... ;)
 

Bannik

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#13
I would pick [science and religion are separate and can peacefully coexist] but that depends on which specific religion and, perhaps, which science you are referring to. Certain religions seem to be militantly opposed to science (fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam certainly appear that way).

On the other hand, it's my understanding that certain types of Hinduism and Buddhism are based not on faith or beliefs but on method (specifically the method of achieving a certain state of consciousness or awareness) so I can see a scientist belonging to one of those "religions."

I don't think all religions are of the mind unless they're based on beliefs.

As an animist I don't believe in Spirit, but I experience it; I feel it. It's no more "of the mind" than anything else I percieve, intuit, or in any way sense. If anything belief seems to interfere with my experience of it because then it's like I'm painting over it with some preconcieved idea rather then letting it speak for itself.

I enjoy reading about certain sciences like astronomy and physics but I don't see how they either prove or disprove Spirit. I don't even know (in any intellectual sense) what Spirit is in the first place.
 
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dreeness

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#14
GiantRobot, that link doesn't illustrate it very well, but basically if no one is paying attention to the universe, there is no universe... in principle...
:eek:

(and the first link should've been captioned "example of a scientific schism"; in fact just assume that it was, like scientism, I am always right and constantly correcting myself...)
:oops:
 

Timble2

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#15
dreeness said:
GiantRobot, that link doesn't illustrate it very well, but basically if no one is paying attention to the universe, there is no universe... in principle...
:eek:
That's more or less Berkley's position, however, he accepted spirits as potential observers.

Of 'the universe is only there when you watch it' concept it it has been said:

There once was a man who said God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If He Finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one around in the Quad


(Mgr Ronald Knox)


”Dear Sir, your astonishment’s odd
I am always about in the quad
That’s why the tree
Continues to be
Observed by Yours faithfully, God.


(Anon?)
 

giantrobot1

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#16
dreeness said:
GiantRobot, that link doesn't illustrate it very well, but basically if no one is paying attention to the universe, there is no universe... in principle...
:eek:
Indeed (and I reckon it's right). It's also closely linked to Buddhist teachings, although there's no Buddhist school that is completely Idealistic in the Berklian sense, although the Yogachara come close.

It's very, very intersting to meditate on the fact that even though you think you're seeing a completely objective world, all you ever experience is just a subjective mental representation of things that might be out there.
 

dreeness

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#17
Delayed Choice Experiment:

link
Link is dead. The MIA webpage can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:


https://web.archive.org/web/2004121...content2.asp?c=ktJ2J9MMIsE&b=194993&ct=320725

Don't Look Now:

link

does the universe exist if we're not looking?

TIM FOLGER
Discover v23, n6 (June, 2002):44.
John Archibald Wheeler, high priest of quantum mysteries, suspects that reality exists not because of physical particles but rather because of the act of observing the universe. "Information may not be just what we learnabout the world," he says. "It may be what makes the world." ...
 
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rynner2

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#18
For Christmas week, we asked some eminent scientists if it's possible to reconcile reason with religious faith
By Jonathan Margolis
Last updated at 3:22 AM on 20th December 2008

....

Believing in God seemed, to a Sixties child like me, as childish as believing in Santa Claus. Astronauts were test pilots, scientists at heart. How could they, of all people, believe in unproven, superstitious fairy tales about God?
I wasn't to know then that a lot of the astronauts were religious men, and plenty who weren't before they went to the Moon quietly became so after.

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, secretly took Communion there using a kit given to him by the pastor at his Presbyterian Church. He admitted the fact only several years later.

And in the 40 years since Christmas Day 1968, I've learned that a significant number of scientists are also deeply religious.
It seems supremely paradoxical that people trained to accept nothing without the strictest evidence can believe in God without any proof apart from a few old writings to go on. But believe they do.

In the past, the physicist Isaac Newton, the electricity pioneer Michael Faraday and the mathematician Baron Kelvin were among many religious men of science. Indeed, it was faith in God that drove the rise of science in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Albert Einstein didn't quite believe in God, but didn't denigrate those who do. 'What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos,' he wrote.

Yet, at the same time as many scientists have quietly maintained a belief in God, atheism has continued to be in fashion for educated people around the world.
Militant atheists such as Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, author of the influential book The God Delusion, have brought, ironically, a religious fervour and wrath to their 'preaching'.

So how, I've always wondered, do religious scientists explain their beliefs?
Perhaps it is the tough times we live through, perhaps just the inevitable questions you ask as you get older, but in the run-up to this Christmas and the anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, I asked a variety of scientists how they square their work with their faith.

What united these men and women was a certainty that there is more to life than meets the eye, or even the electron microscope. All saw their role as scientists as one of exploring and experimenting with the natural world but, at the same time, always knowing that this world was the creation of a higher intelligence.
Surprisingly, I found them, like Einstein, more openminded and humble than the majority of their arguably more blinkered, hyper-rationalist, atheist colleagues.

For example, there is Professor Sir John Polkinghorne of Cambridge University, one of the world's most renowned particle physicists, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who became an Anglican minister when he retired from academia. 'Faith isn't a question of shutting your eyes, gritting your teeth and believing six impossible things before break-fast because some unquestionable authority has told you to. It's a search for truth,' he said.
'Science is great, but it's not the whole story. It deals with repeatable experience, but we all know that in our personal lives, experiences aren't repeatable. And you simply couldn't demonstrate how someone is your friend, or what music is.'

Moreover, he insists that there is no lack of evidence of God. 'I believe God reveals his nature in many ways. They're not demonstrations that knock you down, but they are very striking things about the world that are best understood as the work of God.
'The wonderful order of the world, which we scientists investigate, is a sign that there is a divine mind behind that order.'

Similarly, Oxford mathematics professor John Lennox argues: 'This misapprehension that faith is a religious thing not involved in science is simply false. I see the two as belonging together.'
The softly-spoken Ulsterman added: 'But science is limited. That's no insult to science, but as I recently told Richard Dawkins, I could dissect him, run his brain through a scanner, reduce him to chemicals and tell a great deal about him. 'But I'd never get to know him as a person. For that, he must reveal himself to me.'

Professor Lennox said that God has revealed himself at several levels, in the universe and creation.
'Science gives us pointers towards God, but you don't get proofs; you get evidence. And faith is evidence-based - not based on lack of evidence, as Dawkins says.'

So what, I asked, is the evidence? 'The evidence is cumulative and of two sorts - objective evidence that comes from science, and what I see in Jesus Christ who, as Christmas reminds us, is the Word become flesh, God encoded in humanity. 'The subjective side is my experience of God through Christ in my daily life.'

London and Oxford-trained biologist Professor Pauline Rudd, based at University College Dublin, is another Christian who successfully balances religious belief with scientific rigour.

'Science is a good system for understanding materials and material things, but there are plenty of things in life that don't fall into that category,' she said.
'Poetry, music, art, the love I have for my grandchild. Even if I could, I wouldn't want to weigh and measure that, or my relationship with my friends, or with the sunset.

'But equally, I do want the ideas I formulate about God to be consistent with my knowledge of science. So I've never needed to believe in impossible things. With miracles, for example, I would say most have a perfectly natural explanation.
'So if you took the Feeding of the 5,000, I'm sure there was enough food, but people just weren't generous enough to share it until someone started. Things like that moved people, and in those days they might have called it "miraculous".' So who or what, I wondered, was Jesus?
'I think he was a person in whom our highest ideals and values somehow emanate,' said Professor Rudd.
'What is opaque in most of us, in him was transparent. So love and power and courage and all the highest human values were expressed in him.
'To that extent, he was the expression of God in a way that almost nobody else has ever really been. But I think the idea of him being God was superimposed later and that's not what I believe. It's too simplistic.'

It was notable how these religious scientists balked at the more simple-minded 'creationist' views (the belief that the world was created in six days) that have been exploited by Professor Dawkins and his supporters.
'The creationists mistake the first chapter of Genesis for a divinely dictated piece of science,' said Sir John Polkinghorne. 'It's deeper than that. Its purpose is to say that nothing exists except through the will of God.
'The irony is that while seeking to be respectful to scripture, these people abuse it.'

Miracles, simplistic propaganda fodder as they may be to some sceptics, are less of a problem to Stuart Burgess, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Bristol University.
'I'm not ashamed to believe in miracles,' he said. 'It is actually the claim that miracles are impossible which is anti-science because science should always be openminded. It is not just religious people who have faith without proof.
'Despite expensive equipment and the promise of the most famous Nobel Prize in history, no scientist has reproduced the spontaneous generation of life in the lab.
'As things stand, atheists must have faith the size of a mountain to believe that life arose without an intelligent designer.
'The mix of faith and evidence that a Christian has can be seen in the Christmas story.

'The miraculous bright star which appeared over Bethlehem was an evidence of a special birth. But the Wise Men had to have enough faith to take the risk of following the star all the way to Bethlehem.
'The most moving evidence for Christianity I have seen is when a person with a broken life puts their trust in the Lord Jesus and finds healing, peace and purpose.'
According to Professor Burgess, a spacecraft specialist who designed the solar panels of a £1.4 billion satellite: 'This is what the Christmas message is really about.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/artic ... faith.html
 

dr wu

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#19
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dr wu

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#21
Are these things necessarily separate?
Well...yes and no....at least in the way INT 21 was alluding to.
I think he was saying that he preferred Newton's explanations to that of eastern mystics..but regarding what exactly? Certainly science can build us a microwave and a car but will it tell us or help/guide us to be spiritual and live peaceful lives with one another? In what manner?
Even scientists themselves, many famous ones, over the years have said the two are separate in that science doesn't concern itself with religion and God and metaphysical issues.
btw..I'n referring to everyday science....because some scientists over the years have become interested in 'mysticism' and eastern ideology.
 

INT21

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#22
Dr wu.

I think that the problem with Eastern Mysticism and science is that Eastern philosophy does not need scientific facts.

To paraphrase (someone or other) 'Why let a few facts get in the way of a good story ?'.

It's similar to mainstream religion in that respect, and in a way similar to the whole ufo/Fortean view.

Things happen but we don't know why.

And generally the 'why' of things can be ignored. if you are reaching out to the 'eight fold way'.

'Eight fold way' has a very different meaning in physics. And you definitely need to know the 'why' if studying it.

Going back to Newton.

He was a very religious man. But he still knew there must be a reason for the way the planets moved.

And it wasn't simply because God made it so.
 
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markrkingston1

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#23
Well...yes and no....at least in the way INT 21 was alluding to.
I think he was saying that he preferred Newton's explanations to that of eastern mystics..but regarding what exactly?
I can't speak for INT21 but it seems to me that the answer to your question is: The nature of reality.

will it tell us or help/guide us to be spiritual and live peaceful lives with one another? In what manner?
It seems to me that better knowing the nature of reality should be of immense help in this. However, I think it is also important to recognise that better understanding the nature of reality may cause one to become dissatisfied with it, and that is an entirely acceptable response. Peaceful acceptance is not necessarily always the right thing for every individual in every circumstance.

Even scientists themselves, many famous ones, over the years have said the two are separate in that science doesn't concern itself with religion and God and metaphysical issues.
They are entitled to their opinions of course but surely science can and should concern itself with religion and god since these things are allegedly real and thus are (or should be, if real at all) amenable to objective investigation and understanding. I think that rationally proving or disproving the existence of god (or gods) is a valid and important scientific endeavour.

I will only believe in a god that I can objectively prove exists. Any other claimed or alleged god or gods are just bullshit and ultimately meaningless self-delusion.

To my mind, true spirituality is derived from rational, experimentally disprovable, understanding of the universe. Knowledge trumps belief; knowledge provides fulfilment.
 
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dr wu

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#24
I can't speak for INT21 but it seems to me that the answer to your question is: The nature of reality.



It seems to me that better knowing the nature of reality should be of immense help in this. However, I think it is also important to recognise that better understanding the nature of reality may cause one to become dissatisfied with it, and that is an entirely acceptable response. Peaceful acceptance is not necessarily always the right thing for every individual in every circumstance.



They are entitled to their opinions of course but surely science can and should concern itself with religion and god since these things are allegedly real and thus are (or should be, if real at all) amenable to objective investigation and understanding. I think that rationally proving or disproving the existence of god (or gods) is a valid and important scientific endeavour.

I will only believe in a god that I can objectively prove exists. Any other claimed or alleged god or gods are just bullshit and ultimately meaningless self-delusion.

To my mind, true spirituality is derived from rational, experimentally disprovable, understanding of the universe. Knowledge trumps belief; knowledge provides fulfilment.
You won't find many (if any) scientists trying to solve metaphysical or spiritual issues using objective science...if you know of one I'd love to read his ideas. As far as I know no one is trying to 'disprove' God...not sure how one would even do that, but at any rate this has nothing to do with what I was talking about regarding using eastern ideas to be at 'one with 'reality'.
You need to discuss the God issue with one of the Christians on the forum. God as a monotheist concept has nothing to do with Taoism, Vedanta, or Buddhism.

btw....if you haven't you might try reading The Tao Of Physics by Capra or The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Zukav....two interesting books that try to blend or compare eastern spiritual thinking with western physics concepts.
 

dr wu

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#25
...............

I will only believe in a god that I can objectively prove exists. Any other claimed or alleged god or gods are just bullshit and ultimately meaningless self-delusion.

To my mind, true spirituality is derived from rational, experimentally disprovable, understanding of the universe. Knowledge trumps belief; knowledge provides fulfilment.
To me that sounds like scientific materialism and/or objectivism and not 'true spirituality' . Of course that's just my opinion......as is everything said in this thread.
;)
 

markrkingston1

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#26
To me that sounds like scientific materialism and/or objectivism and not 'true spirituality' . Of course that's just my opinion......as is everything said in this thread.
;)
Yes, each to our own. :)

As with "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist", it would seem that one man's spirituality is another man's superstition or irrelevance.

(Yes I know, that was gender-imperialist. Sorry.).
 

markrkingston1

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#27
You won't find many (if any) scientists trying to solve metaphysical or spiritual issues using objective science...
If you take a religionist view of things, it seems to me that all scientific endeavour must also be the investigation of the nature of alleged god or gods. Why? Because discovering the true nature of reality must include the nature of (alleged) god or gods that must be part of reality if they exist. The more we discover about the nature of reality, the more we find out about god or gods (or, to be more precise, the more we find that they don't seem to exist at all).

at any rate this has nothing to do with what I was talking about regarding using eastern ideas to be at 'one with 'reality'.
It surely has everything do with it. If you want to be "at one with reality" then it is surely necessary to understand what it is that you are attempting to be at one with. Science is the only way that humans have of verifiably improving this knowledge. It seems to me to be futile to be at one with a reality that is a delusion or is false; let's try to be at one with what (as far as possible) we know to be the real nature of reality.

You need to discuss the God issue with one of the Christians on the forum. God as a monotheist concept has nothing to do with Taoism, Vedanta, or Buddhism.
Ok, I'm not sure where god/gods came into it then. However, my comments seem to me to apply to spirituality and gods.

btw....if you haven't you might try reading The Tao Of Physics by Capra or The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Zukav....two interesting books that try to blend or compare eastern spiritual thinking with western physics concepts.
Thanks for the recommendations.
 
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INT21

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#28
Dr wu,

..The Tao Of Physics by Capra or The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Zukav. ..

I read them years ago. May be time for a revisit.

Mark',

Maybe one difference is that Christianity requires an almost physical God figure. The Old Guy with the long beard etc.
But a spirit search can bypass this and move to an all-pervading spiritualism of the Universe.
Really it appears to be what science would consider a multi dimensional view.
Not in the same sense that Tegmark would have it. I.e an infinite number of Maxs' each slightly different from the other.
Evrn science, as it drills deeper into what we consider to be reality, reaches a point, down below the quarks, where they are guessing.

Theology just shrugs and says ' well, it's God; innit ?'.

No answer to that one.

It is interesting that Judaism, while holding a belief in God, does not require there to be a Heaven or an afterlife.

INT21
 

markrkingston1

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#29
Maybe one difference is that Christianity requires an almost physical God figure. The Old Guy with the long beard etc.
But a spirit search can bypass this and move to an all-pervading spiritualism of the Universe.
This is a very interesting point but I would still regard it as a 'get out' for the spirit search. ;)

If there is an "all-pervading spiritualism of the Universe" then it must still exist in some form, somewhere. And if it exists then it is amenable to scientific investigation (one day, even if not today).

Evrn science, as it drills deeper into what we consider to be reality, reaches a point, down below the quarks, where they are guessing.
Guessing is the formation of hypotheses. Eventually, as the scientific process continues, these will be formed into testable theories and subsequently either disproven through observation/experimentation or accepted as a step further towards knowing the true nature of reality (unless and until later disproven or refined).

Theology just shrugs and says ' well, it's God; innit ?'.
Quite so. Religion and theology stop thinking at the point of faith or presumption, as does spiritualism. In comparison science does not stop at the point of its guesses or hypotheses -- instead these are (eventually) tested and accepted pro tem or disproven.
 

INT21

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#30
At the level of cosmological physics, science is at the point where experimentation has reached a limit. At least for the time being.

...If there is an "all-pervading spiritualism of the Universe" then it must still exist in some form, somewhere. And if it exists then it is amenable to scientific investigation (one day, even if not today)...

One could say the same about ghosts.


INT21
 
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