What it means to be a "scientific religionist"
Copyright May 2011, John Manimas Medeiros
[NOTE: It appears the phrase "Scientific Religionist" may be claimed as a domain name and is defined differently by others elsewhere on the Internet.]
I am a religionist:
I am a religionist and in my view of the world that means that I attach the greatest importance to religion. Through my claim that I am still a scientific person and that I use the scientific method to study religion I define myself as a scientific religionist. My way of understanding the relationship between religion and science is to propose that a scientific religionist is, or may be, more scientific than a scientist. A scientist studies science; a religionist studies religion. However, with rare exceptions, scientists are forced into the materialism of the American culture and the worship of technology. A scientific religionist claims and demands more freedom of thought than is allowed in a university or the larger technological and materialist culture.
A religionist can be more scientific than a scientist:
In the common, conforming culture, a scientist specializes and then proceeds to act and talk as though his or her field of expertise is unconnected to other knowledge or other realities of the real world. The chemist especially, whatever further incised field of specialization the chemist is devoted to, obtains patents and produces products that have many profound consequences, many "unintended" or accidental consequences that accompany the conscious purpose of the invented compound or process. Scientists are less than scientific because they disregard what a scientific religionist considers to be the first principle of science: There is no cause that has only a single effect. It is also reasonable to argue that this principle, There is no cause that has only a single effect, is actually the first principle of ecological science. In either case, being a scientific religionist means that I claim to understand the real, physical universe better than the technological scientists who persist in claiming that they are going to improve society and solve society's economic problems with new technology, while they continue to destroy life in the real world with unintended consequences.
As a scientific religionist I study religion scientifically. This is different from the scholar who specializes in "comparative religion" or the history of religion or of religions. The field of "comparative religion" tends to restrict the student or scholar to the collection phase of the scientific method, without proceeding to the formulation of scientific principles that govern the phenomenon -- the phenomenon of religion. I employed and propose consistent employment of "the seven pillars of religion" as the best means to understand religion scientifically: People, Calendar, Ritual, History, Teleology, Ethics, Institutions. The subject matter of interest and selected for focused study -- for a scientific religionist -- is the human identity and the reconciliation of science and religion, or if not the reconciliation thereof then the actual relationship between science and religion at a given time period.
The religion of scientific materialism:
Through my scientific approach, I concluded many years ago that the true religion of American society is "science." But later I perceived that viewpoint is probably optimistic or too complimentary of American culture. It is probably easier to defend the proposition that the true religion of American culture is materialism or materialist technology. Some people will immediately respond that this viewpoint is critical of American civilization and is declaring that America is "not Christian." But such a direct and instantaneous claim that materialism is the opposite of Christian morality betrays an ignorance of the Gospel message and the recorded behavior of Jesus Christ. The person claimed as the source of Christian ideas, Jesus, behaved in a most materialistic manner. He reduced the essence of morality to physical and economic realities. The materialism of morality was preached and practiced by Christ obviously in that he taught that one is not moral simply by empathizing with the poor, or simply by feeling regret for their lesser fortunes, but by actually giving the poor what one has to give, even all that one has to give. Jesus argued, and conducted his own life accordingly, that whatever one's abilities and talents may be, one's social and moral obligation is to contribute to society accordingly, to provide goods and benefits for others according to one's ability without making disparaging comparisons with those who have less to contribute. Jesus did not suggest that spirituality required permanent withdrawal from society, but rather active participation in society while exerting one's best effort to achieve the highest level of moral integrity. He said "render unto government the things that belong to government and render unto God that things that belong to God." He clearly never deviated from a strict adherence to non-violence, and therefore he took the position that is most protective of both people and property. The rejection of violence is usually attributed by cynics to cowardice, excessive passivity (hence "passivism") or to a childlike morality controlled by an unreasonable aspiration to innocence. However, a truly scientific examination of the issues around war and peace will reveal that the opposition to war is the opposition to destruction of lives and of property, on the grounds that human conflict can be resolved by methods that are far less destructive. This means that in the end those who oppose the violence of war are in a scientific sense more materialist than those who pursue war. The teachings of the Gospel message are not opposed to materialism; they do in fact argue that one's morality is embodied in what one does in the real, physical world, and not only in one's mind or in one's words or imagination. True Christian behavior, therefore, can be expressed only in the real, material world, and that means there is a close and necessary relationship between Christian doctrine and materialism. This too, is part of the viewpoint of the "scientific religionist," that one's religion is revealed by one's conduct, and that one's generosity is measured by what one keeps for oneself and not by the amount that is given -- as is told in the parable of the Widow's Mite.
Scientific thinking about the human identify:
Mainstream anthropologists and archeologists are in stark denial of the handful of rigid doctrines that restrict their practice and conclusions. First is the forward arrow of progress, and second is the ignorance of early human communities. The most irrational of all fixed doctrines is that the history of the human species did not involve contact with any superior or distinctly other human species. In fact, the simple observation that there are separate species of primates closely related to humans means that humans were certainly in contact with other species during the period of human development. It is just that we insist all other primates were inferior. Why not have one's mind open to the possibility that there could have been another primate species that was intellectually superior, but we killed them? Or, they died out from disease. We could have outlived an intellectually superior species because we were more violent, more selfish, or more willing to kill any serious competition. This is only one possible scenario where early humans could have benefited from a superior species. The argument that a superior species from another planet could have communicated with early humans has rational merit, but is not only rejected but totally ridiculed by anthropologists and archeologists who claim to be scientific. How do they sustain the claim to scientific method when a rational possibility is eliminated from consideration? No scientists has ever offered an even slightly convincing argument as to why an intelligent species should have evolved on only one planet in one of a hundred billion galaxies. The argument that travel between galaxies is not possible has no merit whatsoever, since, as of the year 1,500 travel in excess of the velocity of a horse is impossible.
The unscientific scientists:
When I was an undergraduate student, I remember sitting in the dining hall with fellow students and laughing at the anthropologists who identified practically everything they found as a "ritual object." It seemed that if they found a cannon they would label it as a "ritual object" used to summon the gods. If they found a fork, they would label it as a ritual object used to carve a tatoo of parallel lines on the arm of a person preparing to engage in a ritual dance. In the 1950s and 1960s, the anthropologists painted a picture of ancient humans as spending all their time engaged in "rituals." If an anthropologist dug up my home three thousand years from now, they would find a rack of ritual objects hanging on my walls: a large serving spoon, several spatulas, three ladles, three large serving forks, and tongs. Obviously, these are all being used for "rituals." Also, on the walls of other rooms, ritual photos of children, flowers and onions, barns, river stones, and trees. I am clearly a primitive person who worships flowers, children and trees, and in my particular tribe, possibly onions.
This voluntary blindness of archeologists and anthropologists has not changed. I see in the current issue of National Geographic, probably the most widely known magazine for dissemination of scientific information, there is an article about Gobleki Tepe. The authors insist, as they usually do, that carved stones weighing sixteen tons were moved without wheels or draft animals. I totally reject, as any scientific person would, their conclusion that the stones were moved without any technology or draft animals. First, it has been argued for many decades that the builders of Stonehenge, or the Great Pyramid, and of the equally astounding monuments of Central and South America, did not use wheels to move large stones. But the sphere is actually superior to the wheel as a tool to move large stones. A wheel requires an axle, a stone sphere does not require an axle. If the ancients used stone spheres on roads made of hardwood planks, they would in fact be using the tool that we call a "ball bearing" which is far superior to the wheel in reducing friction. That is why modern wheeled vehicles are actually not riding on wheels but are riding on ball bearings inside of wheels. Where are the stone bearings of ancient times? Large stone spheres have been found in Central America, but they are dismissed by the archeologists as a natural phenomena or an object beyond ancient technology. How would the ancients produce spherical stones? They would not have to produce spherical stones. They could mine them from the ocean shores, the oldest factory on Earth. I am convinced that early humans did not only invent technology but first they discovered it. After the discovery of fire they discovered that fire and water could cause flint, chert and other stones to be split into razor-edged tools. At about the same time they developed these powers of observation, they also observed that the pounding surf of ocean shores had the opposite effect on stone. Instead of creating sharp edges the action of the surf rounded off all surfaces. Also, the potholes found on the sides of waterfalls produce nearly perfect spherical stones. So, the ancients would not have to carve spheres, they would just have to search for them where they might be found: around waterfalls and the oceans shores. After use, they would be either worn to dust or discarded. Why are lots of spherical stones not found at archeological sites? First, is anyone looking for them, and second, they may have been brought back to the ocean shores or rivers, where they can no longer be identified as tools. That is a good way to protect the power of the technologist, by hiding the technology, a practice that is still advocated today, and supported by law. Our modern scientists have a right to protect their "industrial property" and "intellectual property." If the ancients used rounded stones to move heavy objects, and then returned them to rivers and seashores, their technology would have been effectively hidden from all those who did not see the useful quality in a stone sphere as a "ball bearing."
Another dead giveaway in the article about Gobleki Tepe (National Geographic, June 2011) is the statement of puzzlement over the fact that the construction of temples show a decrease in quality over time. This is puzzling to the anthropologist because it is not consistent with the fixed doctrine that human technology can only improve over time. So, how and why does the technological skill of the temple builders decrease? Note that there is a similar situation with the pyramids in Egypt. There are conflicting data on the age of the various pyramids, and some have concluded that the best pyramids in terms of technological precision and size are older than the mediocre or mud-brick pyramids. That would make two examples where the technological prowess of a civilization declined over time. Two possible explanations are available: 1) the earliest builders had help from a superior species or group; and 2) the later builders declined in intelligence and technological skills due to disease and genetic drift. Inbreeding alone could explain this process. Although we have reason to believe that the incest taboo is found throughout the world, and in ancient societies, we have no way of knowing how well the incest taboo was enforced or observed. A more orderly tribal society could rise to higher levels of technological ability, then decline in every intellectual skill over several generations of careless inbreeding. But the fields of anthropology and archeology are simply not scientifically free. Fixed doctrines make open discussion impossible in these fields; they are impounded like a river channeled through concrete walls.
Another issue that illustrates the meaning of being a "scientific religionist" appears beautifully in this National Geographic of June 2011. There is an advertisement, on page 20, from the Aspen Institute. It states essentially the following:
"Aspen Environment Forum: In 2011, 7 billion people will populate the Earth. Resources are finite. Solutions are infinite. Join business leaders, scientists, policymakers, and concerned citizens as we come together for conversation and inspiration on how to address today's environmental challenges. May 30 Jun 2, 2011. Attendance limited to 400."
While I have no basis to either praise or criticize the Aspen Institute, I can only say that my limited knowledge is that it has a good reputation that is probably warranted. It also follows logically that the Aspen Institute itself is not responsible for the content of "conversations" that occur there. However, my purpose is to offer my perception that this attitude, found in many places today, that "resources are limited but solutions are infinite" is in fact sufficient in itself to destroy human civilization. This is so because the key word left out of the advertisement is "technological." It is technological solutions that people believe in, because technological materialism is the prevailing religion of the West. This attitude is in fact destroying the human species as I type and as you read. Solutions are not infinite and every solution generates two or more new problems. Chemical technology invariably produces unintended consequences and we have had so much of unintended chemical consequences over the past century that it is no longer morally or ethically valid to label such bio-chemical consequences as "unintended." We should at least acknowledge, as scientists, that such consequences are now expected, although not necessarily intended. Today, the human bloodstream in newborn babies includes chemical compounds, possibly more than a hundred, that did not even exist before 1800. They are "manufactured" compounds. They are made by human hands and would not exist in nature if not made by human hands. Many of these compounds are organic and many of those are hydrocarbons and many of those are hormone disruptors. We have reason to suspect that these compounds are now causing and will in the future cause genetic damage to humans and other plants and animals. There is not going to be a simple or quick technological solution to this problem. We are addicted not only to oil but to modern chemistry. We are addicted to technological solutions and just as vigorously as we claim that every problem can be solved with a technological solution we also reject any and all possible social solutions for human problems without even giving social solutions serious consideration.
Being scientific, the scientific religionist warns prophetically and absolutely that the greatest of all human problems is the persistent rejection of social solutions, rejection of any means to re-design or re-structure human organizations and human relationships, formulate and enforce a scientific population policy, formulate and enforce real environmental protection, formulate and enforce economic justice. The "intellectuals" become enthralled by their own poetry and worship of the technical intellect itself. We can produce "infinite" energy from the sea, for example, also appearing in the National Geographic of June 2011 ( page 28). So what? Maybe we could obtain a great quantity of energy from the tides, as well as from the Sun and the wind, but why is that inherently good? Why don't we ask ourselves why we feel the need for infinite energy? Why don't we take a look at what we do with electrical energy when we have it? And ask further, Do we waste energy? Do we waste time? Do we waste our potential by perpetually creating technologies that produce new problems? Could we make the environment safer for all of life by restraining ourselves for a change, accepting limits to what we can do on Earth, a territory with physical boundaries and physical limitations in terms of the cycles of life that occur on this beautiful blue pearl of great price?
A) The "scientific religionist" from online websites:
The notes here immediately below (A) are abbreviated text taken from the website at(Science Religion Conflict). If you go to that website, you may have to use the BACK arrow to return to the website you are at now.
Popular Science Monthly [Modern Mechanix], October 1927 OCTOBER 1927 [1927 is "old"!]
The Conflict Between Science and Religion [or no conflict]
A Discussion by Leaders in American Life, with an Introduction
by Barton, Bruce, Author of "The Man Nobody Knows" and "The Book Nobody Knows"
--Jesus had no conflict with scientists. His conflict was with theologians who by their usurpation and their formalism shut people off from direct intercourse with God.
Durant, Will, Ph. D. :
-- Religion is reverence for, and cooperation with, all the forces of growth, within ourselves and without. … if science takes its lead from biology … it may be possible to reconcile science with a sane, natural religion.
The story of Genesis is beautiful, and profoundly significant as symbolism; but there is no good reason to torture it into conformity with modern theory.
Rev. William T. Manning, Episcopal Bishop of New York:
-- GOD is truth, and if we are to be faithful to Him we must place loyalty to the truth first and above all else. We must be ready to accept, and rejoice in, the truth from whatever source it may come.
For my own part I can say, and I know many scientists will say as I do, that there is no fact of science, there is no discovery of modern knowledge, there is no valid claim of truth or reason, which debars any sincere man or woman from full and humble faith in Jesus Christ [as God and Savior].
Similar to my maxim: The truth is the same no matter whence it came, and the Unitarian-Universalist principle: To follow the path of the truth wherever it may lead.
Vernon Kellogg, zoologist, Secretary of National Research Council:
-- Regarding the two accounts in Genesis: They are both great poetic pictures and should be so viewed by scientist and religionist alike. The harmony between the Biblical and the evolutionary account of the creation of the universe, world and animate Nature is the harmony between great poetry and great science.
James J. Davis, U. S. Secretary of Labor:
-- In my opinion, there is no conflict between science and religion. I firmly bleive that in the heart of every scientist, the deeper he delves into the mysteries of this world, the more respect and admiration he has for the God who created it.
Religion is man's expression of reverence for the Creator, but science is interested only in observation, experiment, and the discovery of the laws that govern the universe.
Rev. Stephen S. Wise, Ph. D. Rabbi, Free Synagogue, New York:
-- The Biblical account of creation does not purport to be a scientific statement; for one reason, because there was no such thing as the possibility of a scientific statement when the Biblical account of creation was written; in the next place, because the Biblical account of creation, whatever its origin, is a poetic interpretation, not a statement of scientific investigation. … Science no more invalidates religion that religion invalidates science.
Commodore Herbert Hartley, Commander, S. S. Leviathan:
-- There is no conflict between science and religion. The trouble, if any, lies at the foundation of hasty conclusions of prejudiced or biased minds. Evolution as a theory can certainly be harmonized with the Biblical account of creation.
M. Heber D. Curtis, Ph. D., Astronomer, Director Allegheny Observatory, Pittsburgh:
-- The Book of Genesis omits all explicit reference to radio, popular government, the steam engine, or evolution. I have always regarded attempts to "reconcile" such omission or differences as not only unscientific, but, in a sense, irreligious, nor can I admit any "conflict" between modern science and true religion, in its higher sense.
… Could one formulate the credd of a reverent scientist … it would perhaps read: "I believe that God created, and is still creating, the heavens and the earth and all that in them is, by process of evolution."
Dr. Frank Crane, Clergyman, Journalist, Author:
-- There never has been trouble between the religious feeling and the scientific mind. The difficulty has been between the scientific method and the church. Religion I simply a man's [or woman's] attitude toward the always present unknown. … God builds a tree by making an oak grow out of an acorn. …
John Dewey, LL.D, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University:
-- In my judgment the whole enterprise of reconciling science and religion is a mistaken one. … Dewey essentially sees science as free inquiry and religion as not science.
Daniel C. Beard, National Scout Commissioner, Boy Scouts of America:
-- I do not see where there can possibly be a conflict between religion and science … dogmas and creeds must not be mistaken for divine institutions; nor must everything that science declares be accepted as infallible, …
Arthur Capper, U.S. Senator from Kansas:
-- The truths of science and religion belong to different realms and come through different faculties. … Lord Kelvin said: "If you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to believe in God." Appreciation of the logical limitations of science induces belief in God. … Science and religion are not in conflict; science and creeds may be.
* IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of these men, or most, imply that the reason science and religion are not in conflict is because they each belong to their own separate realm. And my argument is that maintaining these two separate realms, as though there are two separate realities, one superior to the other, is the most dangerous idea and condition for the human species, and is sufficient in itself to cause the self-destruction of the human species or human civilization.
Samuel Hopkins Adams, Novelist:
-- The scientific and religions position are irreconcilable. This is not the fault of religion, but of the religionists.
George Palmer Putnam, Publisher, Author, Explorer:
-- It is my belief that people who cannot reconcile science and religion are too stupid or too uneducated to understand either or both. … Science is Christianity's greatest chance to understand God. [Consistent with my position on "learning about religion"] And every step upward in science accentuates the supreme artisanship of the Almighty. [Science is employed to understand the creation; greater understanding of the creation provides greater understanding of the creator, whomever or whatever that may be.]
Royal S. Copeland, M.D. LL.D., U.S. Senator from New York:
- "Why not follow both?" science and religion. … Assuming the correctness of the scientific theory of evolution, what is thre in this to shock the religionist? A scientist can be a true religionist; a clergyman a follower of science.
Huffpost Religion, posted 06/22/10: [18 months after my book published]
It's time to use the power of the Internet to confront the two great strands of the modern world, the strands that novelist C. P. Snow called the "two cultures"; the scientific, and the humanistic. Must these two cultures run on separate tracks? Must they be at war with each other? Or could conflict shift to comprehension?
We are not talking about making science into a religion, or religion into a science. We are talking about finding the unity in diversity that's basic for a healthy community.
… Conflict between religion and science is dangerous, for it rends asunder the fabric of society and can degenerate into violence. … naively recommends "discussion" but does not agree with my view: "that maintaining these two separate realms, as though there are two separate realities, one superior to the other, is the most dangerous idea and condition for the human species, and is sufficient in itself to cause the self-destruction of the human species or human civilization." Lazlo evokes reasoned discussion to ease the risk of violent conflict. I say that no amount of reasoned discussion will remove the extreme likelihood of self-destruction unless we all recognize one reality, not two separate realms or "cultures." The two separate realities destroy the human capacity for rational choices and rational behavior. This schizophrenia is absolutely toxic poison without any antidote other than rejection and replacement with one reality. - JMM
B) Six books about science and religion (read in order of interest):
(The equivalent of a course on science and religion.)
1) Graeme Taylor, Evolution's Edge. New Society Publishers, 2008.
2) Mark Lynas, Six Degrees to a Hotter Planet. [Kindle] Harper Collins e-books, 2011.
3) Rob Bell: Love Wins. Harper One, 2011.
4) Francis Collins, The Language of God. Free Press, 2006.
5) Elaine Ecklund, Science vs. Religion. Oxford University Press, 2010.
6) John Manimas, The Primacy of Stewardship. J Manimas Publishing, 2008.
A seventh book, for those who want to be more informed as to how the Roman Catholic Church has developed its theology in response to scientific challenges:
Catherine A. Cory and David T. Landry, Editors. The Christian Theological Tradition (Prentice Hall, 2000) Copyright 2000, University of St. Thomas, Theology Department.
An eighth book, for those who want to be more informed as to how we can use better science (good stewardship) to replace the bad science (bad stewardship) that has caused environmental damage over the past three hundred years:
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine Benyus, Harper-Collins, 1997. And search for "biomimicry" and "biomimicry institute" online.
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