Many people in our culture and throughout the world believe there is a war between religion/spirituality and science/logic.
Intellectuals can often be dismissive of religion. And whether it's conservative Christians on the right or new age idealists on the left, many religious people view intellectualism and academia with fear and distrust. They belief that science attempts to disprove the existence of God. And people like Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss,contend that it already has.
I know there are a lot of people in the Western world who don't fully buy into the conclusions of either side. But I haven't found many examples of the divide being bridged. Maybe people are avoiding the cognitive dissonance of engaging the two sides simultaneously, or maybe those that have figured it out are getting stifled out of the conversation by the polarization.
I agree with all premises and arguments made by the intellectual side of the debate. But despite those positions, I don't agree with the conclusions that God's nonexistence is proven (or imminently will be) nor that spiritual practice is a useless delusion.
You've probably read about primitive people who believed that thunder and lightning were evidence of angry gods. Today, even staunch religious believers find this idea quaint because we know lightning is caused by static energy in the atmosphere. Nonetheless even liberal religious people today continue to use the same process of reasoning. For example, they assume that life could not have spontaneously arose without God, because they can't imagine another explanation.
And right there is the biggest piece of the problem. Religious fundamentalists and hardcore atheists actually agree on one fundamental premise. They share the belief that a (or even the) primary function of religion is to explain the phenomena of the world I won't be the first to argue against the premise, but no one in the public debate is challenging it.
God of the gaps.
Scientists ask how things work, not why. "Why" is about purpose and value, and that's the realm of religion. Virtually everyone agrees that science should never even attempt to answer"why" questions. So why is it so difficult to think that religion should stop answering "how" questions? If it does stop, the conflict between religion and science pretty well evaporates.
myths can reveal things that are spiritually or psychologically valid, even if they are empirically false.
I've heard people of various religious backgrounds say, 'we are all children of God.' Do they mean that God actually gave birth to each of us or that God literally inseminated our respective mothers? The question is absurd. We all intuitively understand that they are speaking of spiritual truth, not empirical truth. Even a hardcore atheist who disputes the validity of the statement understands that it speaks to a non-empirical realm.
So I've learned to expand that perspective to all religious texts. When reading religion or spirituality, I don't ask "does this seem empirically true?" Rather I ask, "is it useful, or does it offer insight?"
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