Many times people discuss about philosophy. And “religion vs. atheism” issues are one of the favorite topics of all times. This article will present simple things one has to do in order to win the debate in favor of both religion and science!!! Because they are both needed in order to understand the cosmos and each one has its own very specific scope…
Even though reading this article will provide you with some insight on the subject, the philosophical basis behind these rules are more complicated and are analyzed in the religion-related articles in this portal:
These articles are in constant update and will be glad if you read them and provided your own comments.
How to win a Religion vs. Science debate
Most debates can be won if one pays attention to specific simple things. Most of the times a lack of knowledge on very basic stuff is what makes the difference between someone who knows and someone who thinks he knows…
The purpose of this article is to set the proper foundations for a discussion about religion and science and not to answer every possible question an atheist might have concerning religion. For this, please consider reading the “How to debate atheists” article.
So let us begin…
1. Religion? What religion?
Socrates said that every time we talk about something we must first define it! So when one talks about religion he must first define it. Religion can be the “faith in the existence of a white-bearded man sitting in the clouds” or the “faith in the existence of a purpose in life” or the “faith in the existence of a First Cause which is the cause for the cosmos”. Stating your definition (and making your “opponent” state his definition) from the beginning will make it easier to handle the flow of the debate.
Related article: Peer Review. As in “censorship”
Religion for most people is anything BUT the stupid thing Dawkins thinks of and this is something you must point out from the start! Religion is about rules of being good, is about love, it is about faith in other humans et cetera. It is certainly NOT about replacing exact sciences! You never go to church to learn at how many degrees the water boils. Do you? On the other hand Science is for formulating models for predicting the behavior of physical systems. Not for finding out WHY we exist in the cosmos… Right?
2. Science? Which science?
When we talk about science we typically talk about “exact sciences”, e.g. physics, chemistry et cetera. Not all sciences can be used in favor of atheism. Science is the “systematic analysis of a sector” and not just measuring in a lab! There are many humanities sciences which recognize things that scientism-lovers would hate to see under the label “science”. For example Young’s theories about the collective subconscious are a nice example of someone who is a scientist but does not believe that we are just lifeless set of atoms. Atheists will try to convince others that Young is not a scientist and that is when you have to remember that science is not only about exact sciences!
3. Exact science and religion have limits!
A first thing to remember is that science (remember to your debator that we are talking about “exact science” only) has limits! It has a specific scope and more than a few limitations! (see the Limits of Science article in the list above). Exact science only works with things which are measurable. However not all things are! Actually the most important things in life (like love) are not! Exact science works with things that can be replicated in a lab! Not all things can! And so on and so forth… Science is important and helps us understand things! But not everything…
Related article: Science describes. Nothing more
In the same way religion has limits on its own! It is more a philosophical system of ethics with the goal of helping people and not a system of analyzing how the solar system works or how whales travel under water…
4. Respect the scope!
Both religion and science can co-exist if they learn to respect their limits. This is a very good and valid argument and will certainly give you points against a hardcore atheist who claims that everything is science and nothing else is valid! Belief in absolutes is what makes someone dogmatic. Many great scientists can think scientifically and religiously at the same time. Even the Interacademy Panel (IAP – Global network of Science Academies) stated those limitations (see here).
5. Hidden Axioms are dangerous…
Atheist scientism-lovers are too much attached to the “truthness” of science that they cannot see a very simple but very annoying truth: Everything is based on AXIOMS! And BY DEFINITION, an axioms is something we take for granted even though it is not proved it is correct! Everything, from mathematical logic to modern quantum physics, is based on such axioms! You will be surpsised on how many things we take for granted! Mathematical Logic for example is based on the postulate that “a logical proposition is EITHER true or false”. Someone might say that this is evident. But it is not! Dialetheism uses another axiom, that “a logical proposition can be BOTH true and false at the same time”! And based on that axiom it has created a whole new WORKING mathematical logic! Russell tried so hard to set sound foundations for logic and he completely failed. Axioms change whenever we like them to! They are not based on anything (no matter what atheists might say to you – just tell them the definition of an “Axiom” again and again) like many people think! Non-Euclidian geometries were surely also “illogical” for their time… Read the related to “dogmatism” and “axioms” articles in this portal for a more in-depth insight on these matters (you would be surprised to know that “time”, the notion of “change” are also dogmas we believe in).
6. The Logical arguments
If the person you are talking with is too much “stuck” with Logic, then you must tell him that the FOUNDER of Logic, Aristotle, had logical arguments in favor of the existence of a “First Cause” for the cosmos. This argument has its opponents of course. But which argument doesn’t?!?!? EVERY argument has people who do not believe it is logically sound. However REMIND your opponent that Logic is based on axioms. Depending on the axioms you choose, another “logic” appears! Who is more “valid”? Mine? Yours?
For example we see about a dozen parameters of the Universe have a specific value to make it able to sustain life. One “solution” is to consider that by design. Another “solution” would be to consider that pure “luck”! Which one sounds more logical? Please… Atheists will claim that “the universe may exist just… because!” but this is hypocrisy. Science continually searches for the cause of everything. How can it be that when it comes to the cosmos it stops searching? [See Religion and Science Unification article for more on that] Accept the thinking of the other person if you want him to accept yours!
7. Science does not deal with the “important things”
The most important things in life are your relationship with other people. And modern science is too materialistic and agnostic to see that. It only deals with lifeless things. Why then have it so much in estimation when it does not help you at all with the things that matter? On the other hand good religion practitioners will try and help you with your personal problems, will try and provide you guidance with your problems. Will support you when in need. In the 2011 crisis in Greece, it was the Church which provided food for free to the homeless, not “science”…
8. The dark side of technology
Many times your friend might argue “but we have cd-players and Internet!” Isn’t that “progress”?!? Yes and No is the answer. The technology we have today helps us in many everyday things but again it does not deal with the IMPORTANT THINGS! I would prefer not to have a GPS and have love! What about you? Human problems are problems of trust, problems of personal communication. Sadly enough they are not solved through e.g. the Internet, as we now know… And what is more, it is important to remember that technology inventions are something different than science! Science is there to provide “models for prediction” not inventions! Most inventors were not even scientists at all! We may not have a complete quantum theory but the CD-player is working! And guess what! When the current theories will change, it will still continue to work no matter what!
9. Fighting back the “Medicine argument”
Atheists will try to claim that modern Medicine is a great progress of man and that science is the one to thank for! But this is more false than you can imagine! See Why Medicine is NOT a pro-science argument. Religion is much closer to medicine than science!
10. The importance of intuition
Scientism addicts cannot stand any mention to “intuition”. They think everything is based on “logic” (which as we saw above is based on axioms) and evidence. However we have intuition as well. And intuition is much more fundamental than any other thing! It is intuition we rely upon in order to formulate the initial axioms we use in science! Both scientists and religious people use intuition. And we would be hypocrits if we denied its very existence…
11. The Arts argument
People like arts. In a way this is one of the few things which defines us as humans. How can science understand that? How can it understand why you may cry when you hear a loved song or why you could be thrilled when you see a painting? Being human is more about painting and poetry than it is about making microchips…
Related article: Why does life exist? A very scientific (and theological) response… (science still believes)
12. Overall – The burden of proof
All in all, people who believe that everything exists for no reason, that random mutation generate new useful information, that consciousness stems from the brain (remember the TV analogy! – read Harmonia Philosophica!), that love is only hormones, that we are just flesh and bones etc, must prove their case. Do not accept anything just because “science says so”. You must listen to the specific arguments. Most of the times people just repeat things they have heard somewhere without knowing any real argument in favor of what they support. Examine everything. Spare no one. Most of the times a simple innocent “Why?” will make the other guy stop being so arrogant and start searching on his own for answers.
Science and religion are two sides of the same coin, both seeking for the truth but from different perspectives. (Read Religion and Science unification for more on this) I could add much more arguments but I trust you will read them in the articles in this portal. For example many think science is good because it helps us gain “control” and I will be glad if you read Control-mania and Scientism… to see why this is wrong…
See the Harmonia Philosophica Articles for a full list of them.
In a sense all it takes to win such a debate is to remember that you are human and remind your co-debator that even though science is a useful and important tool in searching for some aspects of the cosmos, anything important that makes us humans has nothing to do with science per se… As simple as that.