Re: Science and Religion

Martin Ottenheimer (omar@KSU.KSU.EDU)
Wed, 11 Oct 1995 16:42:14 -0600

Read wrote (I like this juxtaposition):>
>... if it could be demonstrated that no "natural rules" succeeed in providing an
> adequate accounting for the nature of the observable and observed world,...

How could it be demonstrated?

>... as a religious person (or at least as I understand religion from my
> Protestant heritage) I would exclude testing the foundation of my beliefs
> as part of my belief system: "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief."

Many agnostics didn't start that way but questioned what they
had been told and may even tried an experiment or two (prayed, got
shafted anyway) and junked the major assumptions. In numerous religions
around the world, furthermore, we witness rituals being
performed that help people overcome their "unbelief." Sometimes they
fail. While what you are describing is true of certain individuals in organized (and sometimes
not too well organized) religions we should recognize there are
people in churches who question the assumptions they have been handed
and seek answers to their doubts. At the same time, there have been people in
white coats in laboratories who have ignored, destroyed or discarded data that
disproves favored hypotheses in order to overcome unbelief. My point
is simply that there are people who question assumptions, search for proof,
and do empirical investigations regardless of whether the assumptions
are of some natural order in the empirical world or an animistic
being driving phenomena.
> Axioms in science are assertions held to be self-evident; the very nature of
> religous belief requires acceptance of assertions that are not held to be
> self-evident. I would suggest that both are similar in using certain
> assertions as "primitives", but differ in terms of the status of these
> primitives with respect to observation and ordinary experience.
I have no problem with this. My way of putting it would be that
science as endeavor stresses the questioning, testing, and revising
of assertions while religion as endeavor stresses the acceptance of
assertions. It seems to me an adequate life requires both.


Martin Ottenheimer
Kansas State University
Voice: 913/532-6866
Fax: 913/532-6978