Science and Religion are Not Compatible

Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, has recently published a book called Why Evolution is True, and started up a blog of the same name. He’s come out swinging in the science/religion debates, taking a hard line against “accomodationism” — the rhetorical strategy on the part of some pro-science people and organizations to paper over conflicts between science and religion so that religious believers can be more comfortable accepting the truth of evolution and other scientific ideas. Chris Mooney and others have taken up the other side, while Russell Blackford and others have supported Coyne, and since electrons are free there have been an awful lot of blog posts.

At some point I’d like to weigh in on the actual topic of accomodationism, and in particular on what to do about the Templeton Foundation. But there is a prior question, which some of the discussion has touched on: are science and religion actually compatible? Clearly one’s stance on that issue will affect one’s feelings about accomodationism. So I’d like to put my own feelings down in one place.

Science and religion are not compatible. But, before explaining what that means, we should first say what it doesn’t mean.

It doesn’t mean, first, that there is any necessary or logical or a priori incompatibility between science and religion. We shouldn’t declare them to be incompatible purely on the basis of what they are, which some people are tempted to do. Certainly, science works on the basis of reason and evidence, while religion often appeals to faith (although reason and evidence are by no means absent). But that just means they are different, not that they are incompatible. (Here I am deviating somewhat from Coyne’s take, as I understand it.) An airplane is different from a car, and indeed if you want to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco you would take either an airplane or a car, not both at once. But if you take a car and your friend takes a plane, as long as you both end up in San Francisco your journeys were perfectly compatible. Likewise, it’s not hard to imagine an alternative universe in which science and religion were compatible — one in which religious claims about the functioning of the world were regularly verified by scientific practice. We can easily conceive of a world in which the best scientific techniques of evidence-gathering and hypothesis-testing left us with an understanding of the workings of Nature which included the existence of God and/or other supernatural phenomena. (St. Thomas Aquinas, were he alive today, would undoubtedly agree, as would many religious people who actually are alive.) It’s just not the world we live in. (That’s where they would disagree.)

The incompatibility between science and religion also doesn’t mean that a person can’t be religious and be a good scientist. That would be a silly claim to make, and if someone pretends that it must be what is meant by “science and religion are incompatible” you can be sure they are setting up straw men. There is no problem at all with individual scientists holding all sorts of incorrect beliefs, including about science. There are scientists who believe in the Steady State model of cosmology, or that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, or that sunspots are the primary agent of climate change. The mere fact that such positions are held by some scientists doesn’t make them good scientific positions. We should be interested in what is correct and incorrect, and the arguments for either side, not the particular beliefs of certain individuals. (Likewise, if science and religion were compatible, the existence of thousands of irreligious scientists wouldn’t matter either.)

The reason why science and religion are actually incompatible is that, in the real world, they reach incompatible conclusions. It’s worth noting that this incompatibility is perfectly evident to any fair-minded person who cares to look. Different religions make very different claims, but they typically end up saying things like “God made the universe in six days” or “Jesus died and was resurrected” or “Moses parted the red sea” or “dead souls are reincarnated in accordance with their karmic burden.” And science says: none of that is true. So there you go, incompatibility.

But the superficial reasonableness of a claim isn’t enough to be confident that it is true. Science certainly teaches us that reality can be very surprising once we look at it more carefully, and it’s quite conceivable that a more nuanced understanding of the question could explain away what seems to be obviously laid out right in front of us. We should therefore be a little more careful about understanding how exactly a compatibilist would try to reconcile science and religion.

The problem is, unlike the non-intuitive claims of relativity or quantum mechanics or evolution, which are forced on us by a careful confrontation with data, the purported compatibility of “science” and “religion” is simply a claim about the meaning of those two words. The favored method of those who would claim that science and religion are compatible — really, the only method available — is to twist the definition of either “science” or “religion” well out of the form in which most people would recognize it. Often both.

Of course, it’s very difficult to agree on a single definition of “religion” (and not that much easier for “science”), so deciding when a particular definition has been twisted beyond usefulness is a tricky business. But these are human endeavors, and it makes sense to look at the actual practices and beliefs of people who define themselves as religious. And when we do, we find religion making all sorts of claims about the natural world, including those mentioned above — Jesus died and was resurrected, etc. Seriously, there are billions of people who actually believe things like this; I’m not making it up. Religions have always made claims about the natural world, from how it was created to the importance of supernatural interventions in it. And these claims are often very important to the religions who make them; ask Galileo or Giordano Bruno if you don’t believe me.

But the progress of science over the last few centuries has increasingly shown these claims to be straightforwardly incorrect. We know more about the natural world now than we did two millennia ago, and we know enough to say that people don’t come back from the dead. In response, one strategy to assert the compatibility between science and religion has been to take a carving knife to the conventional understanding of “religion,” attempting to remove from its purview all of its claims about the natural world.

That would be the strategy adopted, for example, by Stephen Jay Gould with his principle of Non-Overlapping Magisteria, the subject of yesterday’s allegory. It’s not until page 55 of his (short) book that Gould gets around to explaining what he means by the “magisterium of religion”:

These questions address moral issues about the value and meaning of life, both in human form and more widely construed. Their fruitful discussion must proceed under a different magisterium, far older than science (at least as a formalized inquiry) and dedicated to a quest for consensus, or at least a clarification of assumptions and criteria, about ethical “ought,” rather than a search for any factual “is” about the material construction of the natural world. This magisterium of ethical discussion and search for meaning includes several disciplines traditionally grouped under the humanities–much of philosophy, and part of literature and history, for example. But human societies have usually centered the discourse of this magisterium upon an institution called “religion”…

In other words, when Gould says “religion,” what he means is — ethics, or perhaps moral philosophy. And that is, indeed, non-overlapping with the understanding of the natural world bequeathed to us by science. But it’s utterly at variance with the meaning of the word “religion” as used throughout history, or as understood by the vast majority of religious believers today. Those people believe in a supernatural being called “God” who created the universe, is intensely interested in the behavior of human beings, and occasionally intervenes miraculously in the natural world. Again: I am not making this up.

Of course, nothing is to stop you, when you say the word “religion,” from having in mind something like “moral philosophy,” or perhaps “all of nature,” or “a sense of wonder at the universe.” You can use words to mean whatever you want; it’s just that you will consistently be misunderstood by the ordinary-language speakers with whom you are conversing. And what is the point? If you really mean “ethics” when you say “religion,” why not just say “ethics”? Why confuse the subject with all of the connotations that most people (quite understandably) attach to the term — God, miracles, the supernatural, etc.? If Stephen Jay Gould and the AAAS or anyone else wants to stake out a bold claim that ethics and moral philosophy are completely compatible with science, nobody would be arguing with them. The only reason to even think that would be an interesting claim to make is if one really did want to include the traditional supernatural baggage — in which case it’s a non-empty claim, but a wrong one.

If you hold some unambiguously non-supernatural position that you are tempted to refer to as “religion” — awe at the majesty of the universe, a conviction that people should be excellent to each other, whatever — resist the temptation! Be honest and clear about what you actually believe, rather than conveying unwanted supernatural overtones. Communication among human beings will be vastly improved, and the world will be a better place.

The other favorite move to make, perhaps not as common, is to mess with the meaning of “science.” Usually it consists of taking some particular religious claim that goes beyond harmless non-supernatural wordmongering — “God exists,” for example, or “Jesus rose from the dead” — and pointing out that science can’t prove it isn’t true. Strictly construed, that’s perfectly correct, but it’s a dramatic misrepresentation of how science works. Science never proves anything. Science doesn’t prove that spacetime is curved, or that species evolved according to natural selection, or that the observable universe is billions of years old. That’s simply not how science works. For some reason, people are willing to pretend that the question “Does God exist?” should be subject to completely different standards of scientific reasoning than any other question.

What science does is put forward hypotheses, and use them to make predictions, and test those predictions against empirical evidence. Then the scientists make judgments about which hypotheses are more likely, given the data. These judgments are notoriously hard to formalize, as Thomas Kuhn argued in great detail, and philosophers of science don’t have anything like a rigorous understanding of how such judgments are made. But that’s only a worry at the most severe levels of rigor; in rough outline, the procedure is pretty clear. Scientists like hypotheses that fit the data, of course, but they also like them to be consistent with other established ideas, to be unambiguous and well-defined, to be wide in scope, and most of all to be simple. The more things an hypothesis can explain on the basis of the fewer pieces of input, the happier scientists are. This kind of procedure never proves anything, but a sufficiently successful hypothesis can be judged so very much better than the alternatives that continued adherence to such an alternative (the Steady State cosmology, Lamarckian evolution, the phlogiston theory of combustion) is scientifically untenable.

Scientifically speaking, the existence of God is an untenable hypothesis. It’s not well-defined, it’s completely unnecessary to fit the data, and it adds unhelpful layers of complexity without any corresponding increase in understanding. Again, this is not an a priori result; the God hypothesis could have fit the data better than the alternatives, and indeed there are still respected religious people who argue that it does. Those people are just wrong, in precisely analogous ways to how people who cling to the Steady State theory are wrong. Fifty years ago, the Steady State model was a reasonable hypothesis; likewise, a couple of millennia ago God was a reasonable hypothesis. But our understanding (and our data) has improved greatly since then, and these are no longer viable models. The same kind of reasoning would hold for belief in miracles, various creation stories, and so on.

I have huge respect for many thoughtful religious people, several of whom I count among the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. I just think they’re incorrect, in precisely the same sense in which I think certain of my thoughtful and intelligent physicist friends are wrong about the arrow of time or the interpretation of quantum mechanics. That doesn’t mean we can’t agree about those issues on which we’re in agreement, or that we can’t go out for drinks after arguing passionately with each other in the context of a civil discussion. But these issues matter; they affect people’s lives, from women who are forced to wear head coverings to gay couples who can’t get married to people in Minnesota who can’t buy cars on Sundays. Religion can never be a purely personal matter; how you think about the fundamental nature of reality necessarily impacts how you behave, and those behaviors are going to affect other people. That’s why it’s important to get it right.

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184 Responses to Science and Religion are Not Compatible

  1. Drew says:

    “Communication among human beings will be vastly improved, and the world will be a better place.”

    Indeed! I believe the widespread inability to effectively communicate one’s views is responsible for some of the most pernicious disagreements of today’s society, from politics to religion. I’m with you 100% Sean: while everyone is free to use any word as they see fit, they should understand that they may well be misunderstood and recognize the unfortunate consequences of such a cavalier attitude toward language.

  2. thales says:

    I was thinking the other day how those who don’t believe in God are called athiests, not adeists. It seems like whenever I’ve cornered a theist, suddenly they become a deist – at least until the conversation is over, at which point they’re theist once again. This is why the idea of NOMA is so insidious. From a purely theoretical point of view, a deist-only religion is compatible with science. Ree ree’s comment above alludes to this. Theism, however, is mostly what we see in the real-world. So I’m happy to be an athiest, and agnostic with respect to deism.

  3. boreds says:

    You know, I just thought about my previous comment for five minutes in the shower, and I think I put my finger on why I instinctively yawned. Even though I agree with the post.

    In a way, it’s a great post. It (again) confirms you as the physics-PZ, and definitely a go-to guy if you’re organizing a panel debate on science and religion. And it gives people who agree with the title of the post someone to point to, someone to articulate their views coherently.

    But people who already disagree with you don’t ever seem to change their minds with this kind of post. You just don’t speak to them. I would find this frustrating, but maybe that’s not the reason you’re posting this.

    Am I wrong? Are there people out there who’ve found something new in the post, and changed their mind, but just not commented?

  4. smijer says:

    Deism is a red herring that comes up because people talk past one another. Theist makes points that imply compatibility with science but incompatibility with scientism or metaphysical naturalism. Atheist assumes that compatibility with science implies compatibility with scientism or metaphysical naturalism (whichever they personally hold), and assumes theists’ comments are, on that basis, deistic.

  5. joel rice says:

    the real question is whether science will eventually find that the world
    is weirder than even religion imagines.

  6. Sean says:

    boreds, I think it’s important to be clear and comprehensive, so that a good-faith discussion can take place. Sure, there are plenty of potential readers who will find such a post uninteresting — happily, the internet has developed technologies by which they can go look at other web pages. And sure, there will be many die-hards on one side or the other who are more interested in tossing mud than in engaging in dialogue. But I remain convinced that there are sincere people on either side who would like to understand exactly how the other one is thinking. If someone thinks “I’m very religious, by which I mean that I belong to a community of like-minded people, and I don’t see what’s so incompatible with science about that,” I want them to understand my response. Likewise, if someone thinks “I don’t believe that the face of Jesus appears on toast with any regularity, but I do believe in a loving God who created the universe, and science has nothing to say about that,” I also want them to know what I’m thinking. Even if people don’t change their mind, it’s important to be clear and lay things out, because sometimes (like yesterday) it’s more fun to be snarky, but only being snarky is highly non-productive.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says:

    When are Sean Carroll and Sean Carroll going to get together and write a book about science and religion?

  8. Thirteenfingers says:

    Has anyone thought that maybe a “day” to God might be different than a day to us? Religion isn’t about facts, it’s about blind faith. Something caused the Big Bang, and the events that came before. Sometimes I wonder if the reasons we can’t answer these questions might be because it’s “knocking on God’s door”. That said, both science and religion fascinate me.

  9. Elliot says:

    I think the fundamental problem with this argument is that it confuses the primary function of religion to be it’s traditional creedal doctrines. Religion fulfills a greater role in society than just one of doctrine (it’s fundamental purpose is community, and humans are a social animal). This argument actually is against religious creed rather than religion itself.

    That being said, I don’t think that science and religious creed are necessarily incompatible either. As long as one is flexible enough to have a creed that fits with current scientific understand then it is no different than accepting that we do not have a full understanding of, like the big bang. If a creed were, for example, to focus mainly on qualia or moral judgement than by nature it is regarding a non-scientific area and can be accepted on faith with no incompatibility with science.

  10. Meredith says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, Sean, but your argument seems to stem from the following issue: religion claims certain facts (e.g., within Christianity: God created the universe in six days, Jesus died and was resurrected, etc.) that disagree with our modern understanding of science. Yes?

    Well, I completely agree. The universe is clearly some 13.7 billion years old and people do not come back from the dead. Yet, I consider myself a Christian. How? Not by dismissing these facts, nor by some contrived “God is testing us” scenario. Instead, I choose to interpret biblical texts in a non-literal way. After all, Jesus nearly always spoke in parables. The multitude of authors of the bible lived many, many years after the events they describe took place. Surely they got some details wrong. Surely there are many translations in many languages with many interpretations. Besides, if the bible is taken as 100% literal fact, it contradicts _itself_ in many places!

    My particular faith tradition sits on a “three-legged stool” of scripture, tradition, and reason. Yes, reason. (I am an Episcopalian, if you are curious.)

    I am not convinced that my particular interpretation of religion is the only true and correct one. To the contrary – I love hearing what others have to say on the matter and adapting my views to better fit the evidence I encounter. Much like science. However, I also believe there are many paths to religious truth and that mine is no more correct than the next person’s. This is where the science analog breaks down.

    I never hope to capture an ideal, all-pervasive religion that fully explains the nature of God and works for everybody. Science, on the other hand, does strive to explain everything through the laws of nature, albeit one small piece at a time. Thus, the goals of science and religion are very different.

    So perhaps you should revise your premise: fundamentalist religion, that is, the kind that believes in absolutes and literalism, is not compatible with science. I think you’d be surprised to find how many people are willing to flex the rules of their religious traditions and practices to reach an integration mindset with science.

    If I have managed to twist the definition of religion “well out of the form in which most people would recognize it,” as you warn, then I despair for “most people.” We Christians are supposed to be all about love, after all, and you don’t see folks arguing that science is incompatible with love.

  11. boreds says:

    Sean, you are probably right—that there are sincere people out there who will listen to your arguments, even if they initially disagree with the title of your post. I hope so.

  12. daisyrose says:

    Science – was at one time a search for wisdom and enlightenment – for example Alchemy was an humble search for knowledge and truth based on intuition until it became taken over by frauds who sought to persuade that base medals could be turned into gold ( I guess they can ) Before *science* fell into the hands of the traders who used it to make money it was a storehouse of knowledge watched over by thinkers who trusted one another completely – Like religion it was a secret society that to join one was tested not only on intelligence but other qualities such as ones ability to think in the fifth dimension.

  13. Jason says:


    My only disagreement is with the claim that ethics or moral philosophy are “non-overlapping with the understanding of the natural world bequeathed to us by science.”

    I think the basis for this claim is something like, “Well, science can never tell us what we should do – given any set of facts, we always need to decide for ourselves based on prior principles what normative import they should have.”

    But this is a caricature: we don’t have some set of pristine prior principles which we apply through rationality to arrive at decisions about how we should act. Our ethical reasoning is a messy combination of intuitions handed down by evolutionary biology, social norms, and rational consistency checks.

    On this more realistic view, a careful study of the physical processes in our brain which underlie our ethical judgments could do a great deal to inform us about which are worth holding on to and what the implications are of doing so. Far from being non-overlapping, I expect that future scientific advances in our understanding of the brain and consciousness will revolutionize our understanding of ethics.

  14. e.pierce says:

    I’m an ex-bahai (currently integralist), so tend to be accomodationist, but not where religion tries to impose on science, especially in maintaining the scientific integrity of evolution. (yes, the Tao of Physics is bunk.)

    On the other hand, please consider that the materialistic version of rationalism/modernism is usually “hostile” to the various near universal expressions of transcendance and so forth that are usually defined as “spirituality”. Habermas formulation was “systems colonize lifeworld”.

    Ironically, the worst fundamentalists are frequently engineers/scientists: they want to read scriptural metaphors as an “instruction manual”, and suffer from overly-linear anti-patterns when defining meanings.

    Don’t ask a scientist to explain religion “correctly”, ask a poet.

    Science should not be fear-based, it should interface with holism, and stop trying to beat-down the valid aspects of spirit.

    Polemic: the civil rights movement in the USA used such “religious” metaphors as “I have been to the mountain top” to liberate slaves. In an purely “scientific” culture, presumably devoid of the “emotions” of religion, spirituality and transcendance, how are the “political” problems of dominance and inequity addressed? How does “science” explain the human need for things like “freedom”, and the long struggle that has gone on for thousands of years, for liberty and democracy?

    Would anyone really want to live in a world in which rationality limits all other forms of experience and consciousness?

    If so, you have just established the basis for scientific totalitarianism.

    Human beings need something more “holistic” than “pure science”.

    The mysticism/spirit traditions contain subcomponent memes that I think of as “spiritual technologies”. The historical disciplines that were associated with the mysticism traditions are rich sources for study.

    Mark Turner’s work on literature and metaphor is illuminating, see some similar commentary by George Lakoff (linguistics) on the limits of modernist “science” culture to correctly define a full range of “human meaning”.

  15. I would be happier if I had the feeling you had some working familiarity with the history of religions, including Eastern and ancient religions. Too closely equating “religion” with “believing in God” is just not going to fly with a scholar of religions, or with many theologians or philosophers.

    Even when it comes to God, I would be happier if you did not identify “God” with, more or less, the evangelical Protestant understanding of God. What about the God of Aristotle, the God of ‘ibn Arabi, or the God of Plotinus?

    In short, I have the uneasy feeling that you are setting up something that I quite agree with you is an inadequate understanding of reality – the aforesaid more or less evangelical Protestant theology – as a straw man in place of “religion,” which would have to include things like neo-Platonism, not to mention Buddhism, which after all is a major religion that pays no attention to God beyond a few introductory statements to the effect that “God is irrelevant to religion.”

    It doesn’t matter what “most people” think religion is, any more than it matters what “most people” think physics is.

    Mike Gogins

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  17. Brian says:

    The title of this post is “Science and Religion are Not Compatible.”

    However, given the content of your post it could easily be confused with “Science and God are Not Compatible.”

    While I don’t believe in God, that would be a terrible mistake to allow your readers to make. Your argument simply doesn’t apply to the latter case as it just involves some of the silliest of arguments that religions make.

    The best of the arguments for the existence of a god simply aren’t taken up by any religious people I have ever met. Furthermore you have not made it clear that you are aware of the best of those arguments and that you understand them. Simply linking to an article on why Cosmologists are Atheists is not sufficient. There may well be fundamental limits to the explanatory power of science as Earthlings can practice it. We do not and can not have access to all of the evidence. You must take that into account as well when declaring science to be superior to the best of the theories for the existence of god.

  18. Chaz says:

    Sean, I agree with the post, but you’re fighting an uphill battle. It’s clear that people *like* to call themselves “religious” even if they don’t believe in the supernatural (indeed Einstein was in this camp). And I think that reserving the word for only its most accurate meaning offends people’s sense of tolerance, at least in the US. People don’t like hearing that you’re only really “Christian” if you believe A and B, or really “Jewish” if you believe X and Y. If you ceded the word “religion” and were generous enough to get in the habit of saying things like “Science is incompatible with beliefs based on faith and the supernatural” (or something more eloquent), you could avoid tedious semantic arguments. You might also reach people who would otherwise perceive you as intolerant and tune you out. What can I say… I’m a pragmatist.

  19. Stephen Friberg says:

    Hi Sean:

    Yes, I happen to be a physicist. And I understand religion too, something which I’ve found many scientists don’t. (Hi e.pierce, ex-Baha’i).

    You write:

    “The reason why science and religion are actually incompatible is that, in the real world, they reach incompatible conclusions. It’s worth noting that this incompatibility is perfectly evident to any fair-minded person who cares to look.”


    “Different religions make very different claims, but they typically end up saying things like “God made the universe in six days” or “Jesus died and was resurrected” or “Moses parted the red sea” or “dead souls are reincarnated in accordance with their karmic burden.” And science says: none of that is true. So there you go, incompatibility.”

    I like to think I’m a fair-minded person, and as U of R trained physics Ph.D., I would like to think that I’ve got a reasonably good scientific education. So, do I think your claim makes any sense? To the analysis.

    Point 1. Your claims about fact statements.

    You are taking allegorical statements like “God made the universe in six days,” “Jesus died and was resurrected,” and “Moses parted the red sea” and conflating them with scientific fact statements.

    I grade this as a D-, not quite an F. I don’t give you an F because I know that many religionists do as you just did, so I want to give you a little credit.

    Another type of truth claim you discuss is “dead souls are reincarnated in accordance with their karmic burden”.

    Given that neither you nor I have died, I’m not quite sure where you get your data on this. But still, I give you a C-. Here, you seem to inch in the direction of recognizing that religion might make truth claims that are different than scientific facts.


    Overall, as a “fair-minded person who cares to look”, I conclude that the incompatibility you suggest is not at all evident from the examples you present. Rather, they suggest you are claiming apples (allegories about spiritual truths) to be oranges (scientific fact statements) and skirting the real issues.

    Point 2. Oh forget it. If you don’t get point 1, you are not going to get point 2.

  20. Socr8s says:

    The debate over Science vs Religion misses the point of both. Science and religion do not have to be incompatible you just have to be willing to see the issues from both the physical and spiritual. As a Christian and someone who believes in scientific principles, I have to ask myself two questions when an apparent conflict between the two exists. The first is what does the physical evidence say? The second is what lesson is my religion trying to teach me? Take the creation story as an example. The evidence shows the earth was formed over billions of years. But my religion is trying to tell me that all things belong to God, so I should humble myself and admit that I do not know everything and I should be a good steward of that which God has entrusted to me. It doesn’t matter how we reconcile the fact that the bible says it took six days and science says billions of years. We might as well argue that a tortoise would never race a hare in nature. We miss the moral of the story.

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  22. JP says:

    Wow… great comments all. Science is a wonderful thing, but even if we were to leave the discussion of religion out of it, as some have done, a 100% science-based approach to life is frightening. The awe and emotion inspired by music is not just a bunch of waveforms colliding with each other in rational synchronicity. Love, as someone earlier mentions, reduced to regions of the brain and dopamine-enhanced feelings. This may all be true, but WHY? Ultimately, that is the question that science can never answer. If you follow the same chain of questioning that children pursue… why does the sun rise, why is there a sun, why are we here… when you ladder up to the existential questions, science cannot answer them. The scientific method was not designed to answer “Why” but rather what and how. Why are we here on earth? Oh, that? Just a random confluence of factors that cascade forth from chemical reactions set into motion when the universe began (never mind, what was there before that?)

    Humans long for material as well as spiritual fulfillment. Love, emotions, awe, inspiration, creativity. Religious or spiritual beliefs are not only natural, but mostly unique to humankind. To simply discard things because they are not replicable in a double-blind study does not mean that they are worthless. Blind adherence to any dogma (fundamentalism, religion and, yes, science) is dangerous.

  23. steve says:

    I really enjoyed this post Sean.

  24. Big Vlad says:

    Socr8s: “It doesn’t matter how we reconcile the fact that the bible says it took six days and science says billions of years.”

    I think it does matter! One is wrong and the other is right, do you think asking which is which is not important? And don’t tell me the bible’s claim isn’t to be taken literally, for if not then it is essentially meaningless.

  25. Neal J. King says:

    The issues that are properly dealt with by religion and spirituality are those questions that cannot be dealt with scientifically, such as:

    – How do I deal with the death of my father?

    – How do I deal with betrayal?

    – Where do I make the trade-off between benefit to myself and harm to another?

    You could know every scientific fact and have the answer to every scientific theory and you would still have no advantage over anyone else for these questions.