Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Don't Ask

Given that the United States is primarily Christian, when people speak of a conflict between science and religion, they typically mean between science and Christianity (often Evangelical or otherwise Fundamentalist Christianity). Understanding that other religious traditions may see things differently, the Pew Research Center of Religion and Public Life asked a small group of Moslems, Hindus and Buddhists to speak with them about their understanding of the intersection (or lack thereof) between science than their individual religion.

It's a long-form read, and fairly in-depth. But, of course, it doesn't go into detail about every topic that it raises, and an area in which it left me wanting more was this:

A few interviewees thought one other topic should be off limits to scientific exploration: research aimed at core beliefs such as the existence of God, the heavens or holy scripture.

I admit that I find this curious; it wouldn't have occurred to me that this would be the case, and I wonder why it is. Frustratingly, the article doesn't say which religions the people who noted this belonged to. Personally, I'm guessing that the Moslems were in the group, but guess is all that I can do.

I find this to be something of an interesting divergence from stereotypical Christianity, at least as practiced in the "Western World," where the idea that "Science says" is used as something of a trump card in arguments, and so a scientific case for the truth of religious teaching concerning God, scripture, miracles et cetera is seen as a checkmate to non-believers. (In this sense, the conflict between science and Christianity is perhaps better viewed as a conflict between Christianity and the idea that certain scriptures and/or dogma are not based in objective facts.) The idea that scientific inquiry is off-limits strikes me as something that a lot of people would find odd.

I'd like to have a conversation for myself with someone who understands the world this way, in order to learn their thinking.

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