Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Science-based research of world religions

One interesting thing that I have always considered, having grown up and traveled all over the world, was the lengths to which religious scientists go to scientifically prove the fundamental truths of their own religion. Since religion-based research bases its starting premises on articles of faith, the questions being asked may seem ludicrous, nonsensical, or meaningless to one that is “outside” that faith.

For example, would the average American scientist (who is heavily seated in a Christian social landscape) take seriously the work done in Japan to see if the movements of salamanders actually do cause earthquakes? What about looking for geological evidence of a stone bridge connecting India with Sri Lanka, created by the Monkey King Hanuman as it is written in the Mahabharata? What about Indian scientists conducting investigations to find the healing properties of the Ganges River? What about the intrinsic "memory" of water? I know the list stretches much longer than this, and makes me wonder a couple things:

1) Are sacred religious beliefs (of any religion) and mundane/material scientific understandings (of any branch of science) philosophically compatible?

2) Are scientists who pursue scientific research on doctrines of faith doing a service or disservice to others of their religion (since a scientific discovery disproving a religious certainty could not easily be met with objectivity)?

Based on my own understanding of the accuracy of scriveners in ancient times (poor); the great temptation of using turning translation to ideological ends (high); and the changing meaning of words through time (high), I wonder how scientifically useful it is to try and use any holy book as a reliable scientific compass against which to set future research goals. Similarly, I wonder how religiously valid the contention that any branch of science can fulfill the role of religion in humans while still remaining philosophically true to its scientific basis.

I could go on to discuss the different understandings of the material (mundane) world espoused by different branches of science, but that would be another, long-winded (and possibly very contentious) post, so I will not go down that road at this time.

2 comments:

Orcboy said...

Sounds like you need to google and start reading the "Pharyngula" blog :)

Umlud said...

Orcboy - I do read the Pharyngula blog, but only stumbled upon it recently. I have noticed that he and I share some points of personal philosophy, however, I think he's a bit of a nutter on other point. (And I'm sure I'm a bit of a nutter on some points in other people's opinions.)