Monday, August 23, 2010

Religion and It's Role

I am religious, yes, a religious science geek, thus the "mad scientist" jokes I make. But what is religion? Many people claim atheism ins't a religion, many claim their particular religion is the only true one, many think all religions have some fragment of truth, others say religion is the root of all that is evil in our society, and many say that religion and science are polar opposites. The strange thing is that they can all be right.

The concepts of religion are generally unprovable, this is why there is such a huge animosity between the religious fanatics and science followers, but does unprovable make it impossible? No, unprovable just means we have not gotten to that level yet. Many things are considered magic until we understand them, medicine is full of such instances. The animosity does not come from this though, really it comes from the binary thinking (there's that concept again) that's been plaguing humanity for too long. This wasn't something humans have had through all of history, it's relatively new since about the time of the beginning of the Roman calendar strangely, year zero. Before then there were many religious groups who not only accepted science but spearheaded many advances in it. Look at the Ancient Egyptian religions for a prime example of such.

The only part of religion that is not really compatible with science is the mythology, because as we know the more we learn of the past the more we learn it's not real. Ancient cultures dealt with this sanely, they just changed their myths to match their findings, but today people break into arguments or worse over such inconsistencies. But let's look at why the myths are important to better understand how we can all learn to get along. Myths in religion are not suppose to validate the religion itself, validation is suppose to be something "spiritual" not factual, since the religion itself is unprovable external validation is pointless anyway.

So why do religions have myths and legends? To teach morals. Very simple really. Science teaches us how, religion gives us why, so the myths were never intended to be logical or even factual to begin with. Myths written today for such reasons are called "science fiction" or "fantasy" yet they are really the same thing as religious myths. They have an underlying lesson to teach, whether it be that we should be more aware of the world around us or even something as simple as treating other lives with the same respect we want. So even atheism can be considered a religion in it's own right, just the myths are a little more modern and tend to include aliens or robots. A good one to check out is I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, great book and an excellent lesson on how we should be viewing technology and life itself.

So then we fall back into why science and religion should mix instead of being at each other's throats as they are. For one thing, again, science is the how and religion is the why. It's a very simple concept and though seems binary isn't really. It's more like symbiosis. A dream cannot exist without the dreamer, science is the dream, religion theorizes about the dreamer, the two cannot be complete without the other. But what is the problem if the two cannot get along? Not much really, the two could continue to be against each other until the end of time and not much would change. But what if they do get along one day, and people stop trying to force each other to see things their way? Just, what if.

As for what religion I am? That's for me to know, and you to figure out ... maybe.

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