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Brian Michael Howell (bmhowell@ARTSCI.WUSTL.EDU)
Sat, 7 Oct 1995 14:26:12 -0500

On Sat, 7 Oct 1995, Danny Yee wrote:

> > D. Read wrote:
> > "The distinguishing characteristic of science is...its insistence on
> > public scrutiny and verification of its claims by empirical obervations
> > that must be publically replicable."
> jrotholz@WSUNIX.WSU.EDU comments
> > It seems to me that religion comes very close to fulfilling these
> > criteria.
> You have to be joking. This is a troll, isn't it?
I think it is a little offensive to accuse someone who has posted a
thoughtful reply (whether or not you agree) as joking.
> What about the large number of religions where participation by outsiders
> is either impossible or discouraged?
I don't know what religions you are referring to (probably traditional,
localized religions?) but all major world religions, with the exception
of Judaism (and not even every form of it) is evangelistic. Clearly,
they expect or would like "outsiders" to participate.
> >
> Most mainstream Christian groups (at least in Australia) do no such
> thing (and indeed I don't think most would claim their beliefs were
> "testable". Those who actually make potentially testable claims about
> reality (like the creationists) will generally go to any lengths to
> avoid direct confrontation with people who know anything about the
> subject and are capable of testing their claims.

First of all, I don't know what kind of creationists you have in
Australia, but over here they (and I refer to official creationist
organizations) are VERY willing (almost annoyingly so in my opinion) to
engage evolutionists at every turn. Secondly, mainstream Christian
theology (particularly mission theology) is fundamentally based on a
notion that the historical claims of Christianity and the subjective
Christian experience are communicable between individuals and cultures
and that these historical and theological claims can be "tested" on the
individual, subjective level to which D. Read clearly referred.
> Really? Name one "experience of God" that has been "verified" in the
> sense that (say) General Relativity has been verified. And what about
> all those religious and quasi-religious movements claiming palpably
> ridiculous things but still thriving... The success or failure of
> religions has very little to do with their intellectual aspects.

Read did not say that religion and science were the SAME in terms of how
verification is carried out, only that verification, "testability" and
other "scientific concepts" are also employed in religion in analogous
ways. Your statement regarding religions claiming "palpably ridiculous
things" and the general disassociation of religion from "intellectual
aspects" betrays your obvious belief that religion is unintellectual. I
think the intellectual depth and richness of the most "successful" religions
(in terms of adherents) flatly contradicts your statement. Your contempt
for religion (and, I would say, religious people) is thinnly veiled and
prevents you from seeing the "faith" you exercise in holding to the
fundamental value of scientism/materialism over spirituality.

Brian Howell