The purpose of this blog is to formulate ideas - and as ideas can be molded and refined please feel free to comment with agreement or disagreement, as long as it is thoughtful.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Religion and Science - Different Paradigms

"Science adapts to changes in expectations"
"Religion adapts around changes in expectations"

When science encounters problems in the prediction from a theory, or in the application of a theory to observations, it is the theory that must adapt (e.g. identify conditions in which the existing theory is useful and conditions where it is violated).  If and when a more suitable explanation can be found for the observations and predictions, the new theory supplants the old.

  • note, this mechanism is not perfect.  Often there is a attachment to a theory, which takes unusual amounts of conflicting observations to dispel, when, in theory, it would only take a single (verifiable and repeatable) observation to undo a theory

Religion, though, is much more flexible and there does not seem to be any single observations or violations that would kill it.  In the middle of the 1600's there were theories of celestial movement.  All, of course, circumscribed perfect circles, as God is perfect, and the Earth, God's creation was the centre of all celestial motion.  As observations grew to dispel both the centricity of Earth and the lack of "perfection" in orbits, the scientific theories moved on.  However, religion suddenly didn't seem to think these arguments, once so persuasive that the church had Gallieo imprisoned for similar thoughts, were important anymore.  The "perfection" of circles and the centrality of the Earth in the cosmos were no longer relevant - no "change" to religion resulted (e.g. the "perfection" argument still exists when discussing unknowns involving God, there was no change in theological thought that maybe we had no basis on which to judge "perfection" from God's perspective - maybe he loves parabolas and ellipses and they are perfect in a Godly realm).

Thus, science adapted to the new observations - it updated the models of the cosmos to accommodate.  Religion just adapted "around" the issue by stating that these arguments which were strong before being refuted are now irrelevant.

The key difference it that the scientific change results in movement in a direction toward further understanding, the Religion change does not - it is neutral with respect to direction because the underlying "thoughts" are unchanged.