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Bulletins Bulletin : Published and Discussed
Date: Saturday, March 02, 2002
From: kuashaa
Haay Dhormo Haay Biggan, Porechho Orbacheener Haatey: Kisti Tin

Jeney Raakha Bhaalo

Many years ago, humans looked to religion for their factual information. But, as Western science rose into its own currently exalted status, we gradually began to shift our focus to the scientific arena whenever we desired factual insight. A hundred years ago, fifty years, even twenty-five years ago, if we wanted to know how something really was, we looked to experimental science for the answer. Replication implied verification. We learned to trust an idea by developing a method to test it and then repeating it; if we consistently got the same results, it was True. Capital “T.”

Today we know better. Today we know that science is value-laden, not value-free. Religion impacts those values and, as a consequence, it impacts the nature and outcome of scientific endeavor. In short, that is the first reason I offer for why religion is a scientific issue. Science is value-laden rather than value-free and since our religious perspectives greatly shape our values, religion inevitably, although sometimes very subtly, helps to shape our science.
On an individual level, scientific beliefs, like religious beliefs, are subject to the prior knowledge and values one holds, many of which have been shaped by the witness of others. Interestingly, both scientific and religious doctrines seem to persist even in the face of contrary evidence. When this happens in religion, we call it faith. When it happens in science, we think of it as pathological (Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue. W. Mark Richardson and Wesley J. Wildman eds., Routledge, 1996).

Sometimes it's hard to envision just exactly how religion can impact scientific outcome. Let me give you several examples. Several hundred years ago, when Western science was making its strongest debut, its development was influenced by natural theology, the theological position that divine wisdom can be discerned in nature or, alternatively, that all of nature is designed by a divine creator.

The English chemist Joseph Priestly was a strong proponent of this belief. Priestly likely discovered the existence of “dephologisticated air” (later renamed oxygen) in part because of his theology. His conviction that God worked uniformly through powers associated with the material world predisposed him to look for the material mechanism whereby this happened. To Priestly, God’s work in the natural world meant that the conception of matter had to change. No longer was it the inert stuff of impenetrable atoms. Rather, physical material had to be vested with active powers formerly thought to belong to immaterial reality. According to John Brooke, this is one example of the regulatory work of natural theology in the formation of science (Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, 177, 214).

Similarly, we can detect the effect of eighteenth century religious thought in the development of human anatomy. The theory that the human body consists of intricate machinery fashioned by an incomparable designer was a concept consistent with the idea of a divine creator working through nature. However, many long-held cultural taboos against dissection inhibited emergence of the theory until, early in the 1700s, certain clever German scientists began to dissect their corpses in a publicized effort to “more fully reveal” the divine craftsmanship involved. This theological argument worked to overcome the taboos, and paved the way for the a whole new science of the human body. Thus, physico-theology, as it was called, affected not only the content of this science, but also its promotion (Brooke, p. 214).

A third example found in roughly the same historical period is the cutting rejection of Lamarck’s secular model for the origins of living systems. How could culture transform organic life when religion knew it to be created by the careful design of God? Yet, paradoxically, the same excessive zeal that helped to squelch Lamarkianism may have backfired with the rise of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. For example, Alfred Russel Wallace, cofounder of the theory, rebutted what he felt to be an inane religious claim about the scar on a coconut by suggesting that it imputed to the Supreme Being “a degree of intelligence only equal to that of the stupidest human beings” (Brooke, p. 219).

More recently, and more familiarly, we find that the nature and extent of fetal research are dictated in part by religious considerations. Modern embryologists, for instance, sometimes describe the capacities of the thirty- to forty-day fetus in virtually the same words as those used by Dante to identify the stage at which it was ready to receive its “soul” (Brooke, p. 339).

People Discussion
(Saturday, March 02, 2002)

A “13 inches = 1 feet” ruler will consistently give you the same measurement which is wrong! If you have to deal with research design, I would suggest you do some more studying! Currently there is a debate going on whether researchers should be value-laden or value-free (it used to value-laden but it is no longer like that) – no conclusion has been made yet! Scientific doctrines don’t persist in the face of contradictory evidence! Had it been true, the earth still would have been flat and the sun still would have circled around the earth! Fountains inspired hydraulics, telephone switchboards inspired to look for connections among theories, human brain inspired neural network – people take inspiration from the things around them. It’s very natural but it does not automatically make something valid nor do we call a fountain science!

(Sunday, March 03, 2002)

what did you accept of religion in your life? as you are a person of logic not emotion. or you didn't find any science in it!!

(Sunday, March 03, 2002)

I have stated a long time ago that like everything, religion itself is not good or bad. It depends on how the people (who created it) use it. There are some good lessons you can take out from any religion – I try to do that whenever I come across any religious information.

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