Is Science Just Another Religion?

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Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:37 am

Is it really?
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:52 am

Science is a system of logic where you test experience against theory.

Generally speaking it is based on falsifiable claims.

So it is not religion. Many claims in religions will be unfalsifiable.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:09 am

Huseng wrote:Many claims in religions will be unfalsifiable.

However, many claims in religion are falsifiable. This does not mean that religion is in any way based on scientific principles.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:58 am

A piece of advice, that you'll follow or not according to your wishes: you really should outgrow that fixation on the Science vs Religion debate.
It's not half as deep as some people think and it's mostly sterile.

Religions are very different and practiced in an heterogeneous way. The religion of the common folk is not the religion of the scholar and not the religion of the mystical. Under the label "Religion" you mix many different things. For instance, do you know that the metaphysical stances behind science and the Abrahamic religions share much deeper resemblances than any of them does with Buddhist metaphysics (if there's really such thing)? Yet you are grouping Buddhism and Christianity together, putting science apart. That's not very prudent. Both science and Christianity try to explain the Creation, something that exists out there, by its own. Buddhism, on the other hand, does nothing of the sort, at least at its core.

The best thing science produces is technology and that is available not mattering your beliefs. If you are on a quest for deep knowledge, you'll die before science answer any of the really important questions, if it ever will. It is, as it was and will be, useful to provide us material comfort, safety, better health, better entertainment, but little more. When scientists go out on a limb and ramble about metaphysics, philosophers laugh.

By the way, a better wording for your question would perhaps be "Is scientism a religion?"
Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. This system is not free of metaphysical assumptions.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Acchantika » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:41 am

dharmagoat wrote:Is it really?


Science as a general term refers to a methodology, a theory of knowledge and a metaphysic. The latter two at least can be religious in the sense that they depend on an unprovable set of assumptions. In my opinion, both religion and science, as predicated on a view of qualified existence, are equally useless with regards to liberation, whatever category we decide on.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Thrasymachus » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:31 am

Science is a collation of theories, a body of knowledge that has for its end goal the total dominion of man over the environment and over his fellow man. Science is the logic of domination in the mental sphere, its continuing progress in providing more nuanced explanations of natural phenomena leads to more refined methods of domination in the physical realm. Science is not some noble or value neutral pursuit, as Foucault pointed out knowledge always has a relation to social power, when a piece of knowledge is in the service of power a discourse is widespread, and when it is not it is ignored. Thomas Kuhn another philosopher, showed that science is centered upon attracting believers to an accepted paradigm. Holes or gaps in a given paradigm that do not provide enough explanations for events eventually become too big allowing a splinter group to attract new believers to a nascent paradigm that could become official scientific canon if it is accepted as explaining more.

Overall science is the most destructive belief system ever to be invented by man.
Dostoevsky wrote:When there is no God, everything is possible.

Fromm, Eric. The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology. p. 140.

In all other societies there were limits to what humans could do in their transgressions against that which we call nature, no there are no limits, no God. Even the people on this forum who pretend to be Buddhist fundamentalists if you examine how they live and think in real life are probably not such. For example, one thing most people falsely cheerlead in our society is the hope of finding cheap or clean energy like nuclear fusion to continue on in our ways after peak oil. This is a good litmus test, if you believe such nonsense you believe in science and the technological society more than anything else, and science is your religion.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:37 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:A piece of advice, that you'll follow or not according to your wishes: you really should outgrow that fixation on the Science vs Religion debate.
It's not half as deep as some people think and it's mostly sterile.

I appreciate your opinion, but accept it as just that.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Challenge23 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:42 am

dharmagoat wrote:Is it really?


Well, it can be if people take it Way Too Far.

However, also keep in mind that Star Trek can become a religion if it is taken Way Too Far. A lot of things can become something they weren't really made for if they are taken Way Too Far.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:49 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. This system is not free of metaphysical assumptions.

Brain function can certainly be classed as a natural phenomenon. If mental events are an expression of brain function, that makes them natural phenomena too. Does it not?

I agree that assumptions of any kind can lead to erroneous conclusions. It is my understanding that buddhism makes more metaphysical assumptions than science ever has.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:55 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:When scientists go out on a limb and ramble about metaphysics, philosophers laugh.

I wonder if scientists laugh at philosophers.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:59 am

Thrasymachus wrote:
Dostoevsky wrote:When there is no God, everything is possible.

Yes, like evolution. But we don't need to open that rather delicious can of worms.

Thrasymachus wrote:One thing most people falsely cheerlead in our society is the hope of finding cheap or clean energy like nuclear fusion to continue on in our ways after peak oil. This is a good litmus test, if you believe such nonsense you believe in science and the technological society more than anything else, and science is your religion.

Do you mean "cold fusion"? Agreed, that has been found to be a blind alley. However, you seem to be ignoring other forms of clean energy that might be able to take the place of fossil fuels if humanity can constrain its wasteful energy habits. These technologies already exist but are slow to be adopted.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:14 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:When scientists go out on a limb and ramble about metaphysics, philosophers laugh.

I wonder if scientists laugh at philosophers.

While scientists don't prove philosophers wrong, philosophers are constantly spoiling the fun of scientists, especially when they make grandiose claims about ontology and epistemology.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:17 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. This system is not free of metaphysical assumptions.

Brain function can certainly be classed as a natural phenomenon. If mental events are an expression of brain function, that makes them natural phenomena too. Does it not?

If I could have your operative definition of "natural", perhaps I could comment. I don't see anything unnatural about mental phenomena.

I agree that assumptions of any kind can lead to erroneous conclusions. It is my understanding that buddhism makes more metaphysical assumptions than science ever has.

Well, then your understanding is lacking information about Buddhadharma and science, what can I say?
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:24 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:I don't see anything unnatural about mental phenomena.

I am relieved to hear.

Dechen Norbu wrote:Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system.

So from your description of what science is, that makes mental phenomena a fair subject for scientific investigation.

Dechen Norbu wrote:
It is my understanding that buddhism makes more metaphysical assumptions than science ever has.

Well, then your understanding is lacking information about Buddhadharma and science, what can I say?

What is rebirth if not a metaphysical assumption?
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:26 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Philosophers are constantly spoiling the fun of scientists, especially when they make grandiose claims about ontology and epistemology.

I thought the latter is what philosophers are trained to do.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:32 am

Challenge23 wrote:A lot of things can become something they weren't really made for if they are taken Way Too Far.

Agreed. This is human fallibility. Neither science nor religion is immune.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:35 am

Acchantika wrote:In my opinion, both religion and science, as predicated on a view of qualified existence, are equally useless with regards to liberation, whatever category we decide on.

Unless one's path to liberation involves uncovering the truth behind appearances.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:45 am

dharmagoat wrote:I am relieved to hear. So from your description of what science is, that makes them a fair subject for scientific investigation.

Why then... were you uncomfortable? Yes, mental phenomena are an excellent subject for scientific investigation. I never said otherwise. This doesn't mean we need to assume they are their correlates.

Dechen Norbu wrote:What is rebirth if not a metaphysical assumption?

If a Physicist talks about dark matter, dark energy, multiverse, coiled dimensions, the big bang, the big freeze, curved space, quantum entanglement and so on and so forth you consider these hypothesis or theories.
If a Buddhist talks about rebirth, you call it an assumption.
Funny how you question Buddhism and not science, but that I had already noticed.

Listen, to practice Buddhism you need a certain degree of trust in what it is taught there, not immediate acceptance. So, Buddhists say there's rebirth. How about checking it? And how will you do that? You'll start with the only thing you can ever be sure about: your mental experience. This is a direct experience that you have, the most real thing you'll ever deal with. It is said that you investigate it enough, you gain insight about not only the mind, but the nature of all phenomena. So, you can start investigating without any assumptions: you observe your mind, refine attention, develop insight and see for yourself. Then you see if there is or there is not rebirth.

Now, think about dark matter. First, you start by assuming that there is something real out there. The only way you can assume there's an independent reality is through inference, because you never contact reality itself, but your mental experiences of it (those for which you don't need any assumptions to know they are real). So, in fact, if there is a reality out there- something you assume- you must also assume it is cognizable. You assume your mental constructs in fact correspond to it. More two assumptions. Then you have to assume mathematics represent reality accurately and will serve to create a model that represents reality, More assumptions, I already lost count. You don't start from scratch, so you need to assume the theory supporting your investigation is accurate. So you assume other scientists were competent and so were the journals that published their papers (if we look at the retraction rate in major scientific publications, that has been increasing, there's every reason to be prudent). Do I need to go on?

So in the first case you start with a few working hypothesis and zero assumptions. In the second you also have a few working hypothesis, but need numerous assumptions for your investigation to take off.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:54 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Listen, to practice Buddhism you need a certain degree of trust in what it is taught there, not immediate acceptance. So, Buddhists say there's rebirth. How about checking it? And how will you do that? You'll start with the only thing you can ever be sure about: your mental experience. This is a direct experience that you have, the most real thing you'll ever deal with. It is said that you investigate it enough, you gain insight about not only the mind, but the nature of all phenomena. So, you can start investigating without any assumptions: you observe your mind, refine attention, develop insight and see for yourself. Then you see if there is or there is not rebirth.

Now, think about dark matter. First, you start by assuming that there is something real out there. The only way you can assume there's an independent reality is through inference, because you never contact reality itself, but your mental experiences of it (those for which you don't need any assumptions to know they are real). So, in fact, if there is a reality out there- something you assume- you must also assume it is cognizable. You assume your mental constructs in fact correspond to it. More two assumptions. Then you have to assume mathematics represent reality accurately and will serve to create a model that represents reality, More assumptions, I already lost count. You don't start from scratch, so you need to assume the theory supporting your investigation is accurate. So you assume other scientists were competent and so were the journals that published their papers (if we look at the retraction rate in major scientific publications, that has been increasing, there's every reason to be prudent). Do I need to go on?


Good sensible stuff. I can only add that science, unlike religion, takes special care to constantly test its assumptions.

Actually, what you describe in the first paragraph does not sound like religion at all. It is an approach that is unique to buddhism, and is the reason that I persist with the Buddhadharma despite my rationalistic concerns.
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Re: Is Science Just Another Religion?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:03 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Listen, to practice Buddhism you need a certain degree of trust in what it is taught there, not immediate acceptance. So, Buddhists say there's rebirth. How about checking it? And how will you do that? You'll start with the only thing you can ever be sure about: your mental experience. This is a direct experience that you have, the most real thing you'll ever deal with. It is said that you investigate it enough, you gain insight about not only the mind, but the nature of all phenomena. So, you can start investigating without any assumptions: you observe your mind, refine attention, develop insight and see for yourself. Then you see if there is or there is not rebirth.

Now, think about dark matter. First, you start by assuming that there is something real out there. The only way you can assume there's an independent reality is through inference, because you never contact reality itself, but your mental experiences of it (those for which you don't need any assumptions to know they are real). So, in fact, if there is a reality out there- something you assume- you must also assume it is cognizable. You assume your mental constructs in fact correspond to it. More two assumptions. Then you have to assume mathematics represent reality accurately and will serve to create a model that represents reality, More assumptions, I already lost count. You don't start from scratch, so you need to assume the theory supporting your investigation is accurate. So you assume other scientists were competent and so were the journals that published their papers (if we look at the retraction rate in major scientific publications, that has been increasing, there's every reason to be prudent). Do I need to go on?


Good sensible stuff. I can only add that science, unlike religion, takes special care to constantly test its assumptions.

I've added a little to my previous post, but it's fine.

Now answering you. And we don't? So, we go to our teachers and they tell us: it's like this and like that. We pack our bags, go home and do nothing, simply accepting what we were told. I mean, really?
No, we spend a lifetime investigating it, checking firsthand if what we were told is accurate. We do it with such a minute precision that we need to improve our own abilities. A scientist doesn't refine himself that much. Of course he trains concentration and some other cognitive abilities, but a meditator develops his abilities to degrees that science- although has already measured some- can't even explain to pursue his research. That's how noncritical we are. If we keep finding the same conclusions, we're not to blame. Perhaps Buddha got it right and in fact there's rebirth.
There's a catch though. You want to be sure? You need to do it yourself because this can't be demonstrated to a third party. This is why many people doubt. It takes a long time to check it out and needs a lifetime of dedication. But we have our experts and they have their own language, mind you. If they talk among themselves, they know very well who is attained and who isn't. However, Buddhism (not Buddhadharma) is also a group of institutions. As such, deviations occur and then a lot of factors cloud the perception of the uninitiated public of what is really going on.
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