Does it always have to be Science versus Spirituality? PART I

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Too often the science vs. religion debate is framed within an either/or proposition.Two articles recently caught my eye dealing with the ongoing debate between religious (I prefer “spiritual“) belief and science. The first I found quite enlightening (pardon the obvious pun) centering on a UBC study whose results suggested that critical thinking inversely affects religious faith. The study put forth a dualistic model in which two fundamental thinking types exist: intuitive and analytical.

(The article was widely circulated but you can read the Chicago Tribune’s take on it here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/la-sci-religion-analytical-thinking-20120427,0,7996681.story)

Essentially, folks operating from an intuitive “gut-level” POV report a higher affinity towards religious belief whereas their analytical counterparts are more likely to eschew religious perspectives. I most definitely fall into the former camp and therefore my own spiritual convictions may add validity to the study in question.

Obviously, the tenor of the discussion falls well within secular confines and therefore precludes any substantial opportunity for spiritual redress. But hey, that’s why I’m here! And, yes, I know that quoting the Bible make people’s eyes glaze over but it remains my go-to source for making sense out of the world. On the upside, the Bible actually tends to support the study’s own findings. So that’s gotta be good right? Now, personally, I prefer the good ol’ King James Version of the Bible, but when blogging these things out sometimes a different version proves useful.

In this case, The New Living Translation published in 2007 should do the trick:

Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. (I Corinthians 1:21-23)

In other words, the Bible acknowledges that in light of rational or analytical thinking the Gospel or spiritual belief will appear as foolish, stupid, insipid—well you get the idea. Amazing how things haven’t changed much at all when it comes to spiritual understanding.

Humanist thinker, Michael Stone took note of the study as well, citing Mark Twain and Frederich Nietzsche amongst others in decrying the foolishness inherent within a faith driven paradigm:

“Faith: not wanting to know what is true.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.” – Mark Twain

(source: http://www.examiner.com/article/study-shows-thinking-diminishes-religious-faith)

Twain’s comment is tinged with that salt of the earth humor that has made him such a beloved character. And Nietzsche’s comment? Well, humor isn’t really what he’s remembered for. And yet, science and Christian belief are agreed that when examined under critical analysis faith comes out looking rather foolish.

We know the Bible is loaded with thoughts on faith. Nonetheless, its own definition of faith stands in marked contrast to the wry humor of Samuel Clemens and the biting criticism of Nietzsche.

 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 from the Living Translation again)

It’s interesting that Twain and Nietzsche both question the “truth” of Christianity and yet Christ is the self-proclaimed “Way, Truth and Life”. (the emphasis is mine).  So rather than avoiding or denying truth, Christianity avows, advances, exalts, and demands a fervent love of truth in all its adherents.

Simply put, as the Bible states:  …you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)

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2 Comments

Filed under Christianity

2 responses to “Does it always have to be Science versus Spirituality? PART I

  1. I think Dan Dennet said that even the leaders of religious organizations claim to know absolutely nothing of god’s ways – they certainly expect us to listen to them, but when squeezed, they say ‘Oh, no one can really know God – his ways are higher than ours’. Hard for a reflective person to buy into.

  2. Totally agree, but that’s pretty much the point in Part II of this discussion. Read on 🙂

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