Argue.

Carefully read the following passage by me. Then write an essay in which you support, refute or qualify my claim that science and religion are similar. Use appropriate evidence to develop your argument.

I was in Chem class the other day when I heard a cry of distress. Someone needed a pen to use. I hastily pulled out my ziploc filled with “AMPLIFY” pens and tossed one to her. The teacher happened to notice my big bag, and asked them what they were for. “Church,” I replied. She laughed, walking away, saying, “Yeah, like that’ll do me any good.”

I turned and asked my friend (if we can really be called friends) what she meant. I had my ideas, but I wasn’t sure–I had to clarify one way or another. My friend half-smiled and said, “Uh… that church and science are different?”

I disagreed with her, saying that they were similar in that they were both based on unconfirmed truths. The theory of plate tectonics, of evolution, of the atom… they could all be disproved with a snap of the fingers. And so could The Bible.

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One thought on “Argue.

  1. When debating the similarity of two concepts, one must make sure the two concepts are accurately defined. “Science” has a strict definition (“knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena”), while “religion” does not. As you make the claim of “unconfirmed truths”, I will posit that a “religion”, for the sake of this argument, is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause and nature of the universe”; this is a slight modification on the Dictionary.com definition, and it serves this discussion well, as it leaves out the muddying concepts of deities.

    Science, using these two definitions, is exactly like a religion; “a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena” is synonymous to “a set of beliefs concerning the […] nature of the universe”.

    “This, however, is because the parts he is referring to are not the real parts, but the parts as they arise out of the model of them that he himself has constructed. This man, this scientist, has somehow managed to forget that science in its theories never actually deals with real things, because it is forever incapable of grasping them; indeed at the most microscopic level one simply ends up creating the event that one observes — this is one of the fundamental lessons of quantum mechanics. Scientific theories, therefore, such as those of psychology, biology or chemistry, are mere models which, however closely they may correspond to this ever-elusive “objective reality” that is science’s Holy Grail, never actually mirror it. If one could create a perfect model, then the properties of the whole would indeed correspond to those of the sum of its parts […] — but such a model is impossible, for it would not then be a model but a double of the world, which would be a logical contradiction, since it would imply that the world was something that could contain itself. — Every scientific model of reality, therefore — at every level: micro-molecular, chemical, biological, psychological, cosmological, and so on — is necessarily false, and when we attempt to calculate the properties of a higher level by adding up those of a lower one we always miscalculate. […] The parts that we have in our possession, […] to say it again; the parts that we fully understand and know inside and out, are not the real parts — they are approximate, ultimately fictitious ones — and once summed over will quite naturally yield approximate, ultimately fictitious results. If the disparity between these and reality is great, […] it only means that our model is too crude to adequately account for the subtlety and complexity of the real processes which we are using it in order to predict, and will either have to be revised or altogether scrapped and replaced with a better one.” (Kierkegaard 2009).

    Here is the fundamental difference between the religion of theists and the religion of scientists. Scientists (well, at least the good ones) understand that they are ALWAYS wrong, and thus take action to lessen this wrongness. Theistic religion claims that it is ALWAYS right, that the word of God is infallible, and therefore will NEVER be right, or even anywhere close to right. Kierkegaard shows how no theory can ever encompass the entirety of existence; the religion of science can at least approach entirety.

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