Scientific-Gnosticism Memetic-Shamanism

Religion and Science

Published by under Uncategorized on March 1, 2010

Religion and Science have been at war for centuries and they both need to admit thier flaws and see the strengths and values of the other. Whether it’s witch trials slaughtering alchemists and astrologers, or gattling guns literally killing the samurai culture (religion) there have been heavy hits from both sides and an understanding must be arrived at so that the two can exist in harmony.

Religion was the first memetic child of nature. Superstition grew out of searching for a pattern of success. Simple reward pathways grew by associating events by simple time correlation alone. Go to a casino and watch the old ladies tap out little tunes or rub the screen in circles. Wearing their “lucky” shoes they are using the oldest prediction device: If it happened like this before then it will again.

All animals have religion. It is how everything works to them. It is the way that experience can cause a species to adapt to environmental change the maximum amount in the shortest time. It is how experience can still shape a species outside of pure genetics. Perhaps even as a trial period before inegration into instinct. It is a form of shared memory. The story of the “one-hundreth monkey effect” is a good example of religious exchange of information. A few of the monkeys on a certain island they were being studied on began to wash the sweet potatoes they were being given as food before eating them. Though the behavior likely started with a single monkey, there was a threshold at which the behavior suddenly became ubiquitous in not only the island groups but those on nearby landmasses as well. This shows a predeliction in the animals to absorb behaviors from others and repeat them without previous personal correlation between events setting up a dopamine pathway. Instead it is simply known that something must be done.

Religion is the first method of sharing experience between organisms and therefore allowing a more complex picture of reality to begin to be built. Most religious beliefs are simply codes of conduct that may have granted some survival advantage such as not eating pork, but in the process of building these correlations there were hits and misses. Vestigial organs perhaps? Some things were simply the equivelent of an old lady noticing that a few times she wore her blue shoes, the slot machine payed out, so obviously the universe wants her to wear blue shoes because she’s been rewarded for it. And she never wins when she brings her black purse so obviously that purse offended god. Regardless of its flaws, religion has helped animals and continues to help humans in a variety of ways.

By being able to simply believe what others believe, a single subject can draw upon the experiences of thousands or even millions of other individuals. And not just the individuals currently alive, but ones that had experiences thousands of years ago. The wealth of trial-and-error-built knowledge passed down in a religious manner is absolutely ciritical to humans now. Whether it is to “bundle up or catch your death of cold” or “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, we need to be able to trust and integrate information we have never experienced. Imagine if you questioned every experiment. Doubted every single fossil finding and biological discovery. Disbelieved every map. Eventually you could disbelieve every single human experience other than you own and therefore never have enough time in your life to make a new discovery because you’d be too busy working out what’s already been explored to ever build upon the older knowledge. You could hardly accomplish anything at all.

Religious belief comes from an area of the mind that deals in complexity and probability. The emotional mind. It collects information and grows knowledge, but just as pruning and predation are necessary to keep a species strong, so too must useless behaviors be eliminated lest they waste precious resources of time and effort. So the yin of emotion must have the yang of logic as a balancing partner. Logic is, at it’s core, the ability to recognize paradox. Because there are certain truths about reality which can be used to find useless data, logic can always perform the first step in elimination of waste: finding it. Two opposing things cannot be true simultaneously. With the yin/yang concept we know of duality, shared aspects, and alternation of context based truths but there is still a large difference between this and paradoxical information. Unfortunately this check can only be made on very simple data. Simple data is often temporary data.

Out of logic came Science; the unexpected/unwanted love child of belief and logic it therefore had something to prove. It was born rebellious and contrary. (that was the core of its nature, to find flaw) It sought to tear down all that its parents had created and built it anew. It was disrespectful and unappreciative of the good work done for countless centures before. All it did was harp on the failures and point out the embarassing errors. All the while not realizing how much it was just like its parent.. in good ways and in bad ones.

Yes it made sweeping positive seeming changes but without enough respect for its forbears it acted in hubris and the arrogance led to overestimation of its ability and has now led to the suffering and near extinction of its charges. It may have even brought itself and its parents total destruction in its haste. The suffering it thought could banished with its inventions and technology only became new ways of suffering.

It is only when both the growth of belief and the strength of logic are in balance that we are granted understanding which is the goal of science. Science is not only knowledge but knowlege which can fit with all other knowledge. It is the desire to hold it all in one place and check it against itself. No new probable inferences can be made with pure logic. Only what is perfectly known without doubt can be dealt with. But nothing is truly without doubt so the probability handling of emotions must give logic something to work with. But without the pruning of logic there are endless possibilites and therefore endless “probable” leaps of faith which can grow branches that cannot bear fruit.

As science begins to mature and gain confidence, it will no longer need to immediately throw away all old knowledge before it has even explored it. It will see its reliance upon flawed human perceptions, fashions, pride and popularity contests. It will recognize its ability to make large errors and take it in stride because it will know its own strength: Self-examination. It is finally beginning to see the remarkable ways in which religion had truly banished suffering. From herbal remedies to meditation and acupuncture, science has been eating the crow of its foolish arrogance. Unfortunately religion uses failures as a way to try to discredit science as a retaliation for past affronts. Both sides have got to take some hits to pride and stop the fight.

Neuroscience is a path of reconciliation, through respect, that science has embarked upon. Perhaps by recognizing the many valuable things brought to the table by religion and by also recognizing its own failings science will now lay the groundwork for both entities to see the strengths and weaknesses in themselves.

When the two trust eachother enough to become one entity because they understand their unity of purpose, mankind will find a new kind of peace and power to overcome suffering and devision.

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