Then there's the God v Science question.

Moving right along.

Looking for lively discussion.

Knowledge of God is the ultimate in personal intimate relationship, your experience can not be transferred to, or replicated for, others.

Religions are human constructs for enabling people to reconcile themselves with the seasons and hardships of their lives and to enable human societies to function in a civil organized manner

A God if there be one is All Things to All People, well beyond all human* understanding as the Holy Books warn us (* read petty, fearful, greedy,self-serving humans) individuals.
If you are fortunate enough to be touched by God, that is your gift alone, something for you in your unique life. It is not a recipe for your neighbors or the world.

Science on the other hand is humanity’s recipe for learning about the physical world and its processes as honestly as possible.


Science is

Learning is the goal.
Fidelity to physical facts is the gold standard.
Free Speech doesn’t mean it’s okay to lie and slander with malicious intent.
Informed constructive skepticism is the rule.
Mistakes are for learning.
Dishonest bluster and bullying is a crime.

I’ve been trying to get this across to a friend of mine. She posts astrology and other magical thinking stuff on facebook. A few times, not often, I’ve complained that she is claiming special knowledge and special abilities. The first time that really bothered me was when she was sliding into paternal vs maternal stuff, basically putting down men. She sort of understands what my problem with her is, actually she understands better than just about any “spiritual” person I’ve ever talked to, I’ll give her that, but, I don’t think it’s possible to think that way without thinking that you have a special connection to the universe that is only available to some elite group. She keeps saying it’s available to anyone, but you have to “open your mind”, or “let go”, or “allow your awareness to flow up” or whatever. She acknowledges I know more about science, but sometimes hints that is a block to these paths of hers. The best I’ve been able to do is convince her that I’m open to any possibility, that I love the universe, that feelings are important, stuff like that. But she insists there is some “higher” something that I could attain.

I know of very few who hear a calling from a specific supernatural force and accept that others hear their own. Even fewer that see the wonders of nature as an equal to such a calling.


1 Like

Does anyone here think that it’s possible to be a scientist and a theist?

You can water-down theism to almost nothing, but you’ll always have this ‘thing’ that did something before there was anything, or does stuff without using natural forces.

So, my personal opinion is that science and god can never co-exist, without the theist playing some mind-games on themselves.

I think that there would have to be some amount of adulteration of their intellectual integrity, but being human, a scientist is certainly capable of such. So, yes there are some scientists who are also theists.

Yes, there are certainly scientists, even in the natural sciences, that are theists. But all of them have to somehow believe in the supernatural while studying the natural- and to me that’s irrational and illogical.

I guess I should have said that people can hold opposing views at the same time and still function just fine, but they will always have to somehow ignore one set of beliefs while focusing on the other.

So the impossible part is to have both views fully reconciled (allowing someone to study a natural phenomenon, believing their measurements and observations are valid, even though any influence from the supernatural would make them invalid.

Maybe it’s just my lack of imagination that won’t allow me to see how that does occur.


Yes, it’s very possible. It all depends on how autistic the scientist is.

I’m joking — but only a little.



Humans are naturally capable of learning and believing narratives by faith (just deciding to believe something). Some develop the ability to believe based on facts and reason. One human could do both and compartmentalize the belief systems. Or if they are really intelligent, as scientists tend to be, they might come up with their own grand unifying hypothesis that could jury-rig some kind of compatibility of their two belief systems (at least if not too closely examined).

I just finished listening to 5 hours of lectures on Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic monk who was also a paleontologist. He spent his life trying to reconcile his faith and science, and he came up with some pretty far out woo-woo. The Church didn’t let him publish, so most of it came out posthumously in 1958 and has been incorporated into new age spiritualism, i.e. “We are not physical beings with spirits, we are spiritual beings living in the physical”, or pretty close to that.

Anyway, that led me to looking up something I’ve heard of, a critique of his work. It’s pretty fun.

To answer 3point, yes, but, and it depends. The “but” is, a scientist knows that 100% certainty is not possible. So, if they want to speculate on gods or alternate universes, they are free to do that. The “depends” is, what do you call a “theist”. If they are making claims that they have experienced a supernatural force and they are telling other people to repeat some ritual so they’ll get the same experience, then no, that’s not science and in fact it can be shown to be almost certainly not true. If however, they have read mythology and sung songs communally and had experiences of wholeness or oneness that are difficult to explain and difficult to recreate in any other way, then fine. There is data on that and evolutionary explanations for why that happens. There isn’t solid data, but there’s enough to say it’s something worth pursuing, as long as you keep in mind that the same actions can be used to inspire people to act in evil ways, and when encouraging people to do these things, you aren’t making unsubstantiated claims about outcomes for them, or blaming them when they don’t feel like you do.

So, if you define theism as being sure about something that you can’t know, then no, you can’t be a that and a scientist. But if you define it as doing something that works for you without being sure why it works, then definitely, do it, have fun with it, explore it.

<p style=“padding-left: 40px;”>I think that you are saying that a scientist cannot be a scientist if he actually believes for sure that there is a God. But if he does not absolutely believe in God, would he really be a theist?</p>
<p style=“padding-left: 40px;”>Also if a scientist’s hypothesis of God relies on the uncertainties inherent in science, i.e., those things not yet revealed by science, is he not just making the mistake of creating a god-of-the-gaps?</p>

I don’t know how that excess stuff happened on the last post, and I con’t know how to edit an existing post.

I am a simple cave man poster. This new format frightens and confuses me.

I think that you are saying that a scientist cannot be a scientist if he actually believes for sure that there is a God. But if he does not absolutely believe in God, would he really be a theist?
Well, yes, certainty is unscientific. I think most people have doubts about there religious belief though. Scriptures address it. So, I'm being somewhat loose with the definition if you use a definition of theist from 200 years ago, but I'm also being pretty mainstream in today's world. Most theists don't fit the mold of someone professing their belief on a daily basis.
Also if a scientist’s hypothesis of God relies on the uncertainties inherent in science, i.e., those things not yet revealed by science, is he not just making the mistake of creating a god-of-the-gaps?
Only if a god is created. I'm not requiring them to choose a specific god and believe in them fully to qualify as a theist. Talk to anyone who went to church last Easter, ask if they believe Jesus either rose from the dead bodily or was born of the virgin. Just on those two counts, many of them will be disqualified as firm believers.

So, you seem to be suggesting that a scientist can be a theist, if he sort of (but not for sure) believes there is some sort of non-specific divine deity.

I can buy that, but I also think that there are professional scientists who would also claim that they believe firmly in some relatively specific concept of the divine.

“So, my personal opinion is that science and god can never co-exist, without the theist playing some mind-games on themselves.”


Your personal opinion has ben expressed as a claim. Be fascinated to see you prove your claim.

The claim about mind games is a logical fallacy; argument from ignorance; IE you can’t imagine how, therefore their thinking is flawed. That is not a claim which can reasonably be made as a principle. Unless of course you are the world’s first mind reader.

Pretty sure there are scientists who call themselves all kinds of believer. Because I can’t prove otherwise, without a one-on-one discussion with each individual, I accept such claims on face value

"Your personal opinion has ben expressed as a claim. Be fascinated to see you prove your claim."
My writing isn't the best, so I guess I didn't state my idea well enough. I tried to say that I have an opinion, then say what that opinion is. If it somehow came across as a statement of fact, sorry for the confusion. It wasn't an argument from ignorance, it was a question and opinion from ignorance.

I also admit that theistic scientists exist, but I’m just curious to know how they mentally separate the natural and supernatural in their world-view.

Science only looks for answers in nature, while a god exists and is able to act outside of nature, and is therefore undefinable and unexplainable by science. It’s the sheer polarity of the two ideas that I can’t understand existing in the same brain, especially when the brain is studying science as a career.

I know there are as many ways of being a theist as there are theists, and lots try to reconcile what they have learned about science with what they believe about their god. It’s their ability to do it that puzzles me… it’s just so bizarre.

"The claim about mind games is a logical fallacy; argument from ignorance"
What I mean is that that if someone holds supernatural beliefs, yet studies natural laws, processes, or phenomenon, they have to somehow believe something is true that, if true, is the antitheses of something else they hold to be true.

Isn’t that illogical?


Even if I am completely wrong in my thinking on this topic, I enjoy having to explain myself and answer questions that show my how crappy my explanations are. There’s no better way of understanding my own thoughts and ideas than having to explain them to someone else. Thanks Patrick D.

You’re not the first to make that claim Sherlock, but I wonder if you can back it up. I’m sure we agree on some things, but I’m not so sure there are “masses” of evidence. If there are, you shouldn’t have any trouble giving a couple examples. The scientists you listed were born into a different culture and were part of what created the scientific culture we now know, so they aren’t good examples. Galileo was under house arrest from the church at the end of his life. Copernicus’ theory of a heliocentric solar system was published the year he died. Newton followed on the heels of the Peace of Westphalia that weakened the Church. I verified those with basic searches.

No other culture than one permeated with religion would have given rise to science, because there were no other cultures. Religion has only recently separated from national identity, and it wasn’t because they asked us to. You can look at technology and methods of inquiry in the late Roman centuries and see how they died out just as Christianity was on the rise. I don’t think the causation is there, but on the other hand, I don’t think the Christian rulers cared much about literature or the study of nature except as it related to their god.

Sherlock- I call your post BS. Please tell us all what is the reasoned and rational understanding of the universe that religion provides

Sherlock; Player is not the best for conversation, but since I’ve been following him for as long as he has been here, I’ll say he has more behind what he says than you have, as yet, revealed. If you think you can throw out tired old tropes about who was a Christian and a scientist and expect a full blown discussion, you’re wrong. Most of us have experienced the short timer poster who claims to have a thesis, but it never develops. What I would need from you is not some list of Christians, but actual documents that show how something from within the religion promoted a scientific idea, not just funded some guy who happened to be a priest and had a degree in physics, but actually contributed something to science that could be traced to a holy book or dogma.

I agree China is a conundrum, but their history is also a bit murky, so I’m not going to do any more research than I already have or go looking for links for you. I find the story of Greek philosophy more telling and more traceable. It developed along side Zoroastrianism and other eastern influenced religions, then was squashed as the early attempts at democracy failed. It traveled to Baghdad and found men who were interested in it, and even a few who funded actual research, but again failed as fundamentalists like Al Ghazali captured the minds and Caliphs talked of conquering the world for Allah. It traveled back to Europe where people like Aquinas attempted to integrate it into the Roman Catholic empire, but that was condemned.

What the eventual triumph of science proves, is not that religion is some kind of source of it or even that the two are compatible, it proves that rational thinking is our more natural form of thinking. When you are hunting witches, you come up with logical reasons, like, I saw a cat wailing in the backyard and I nicked its leg with a bottle, then I saw the old lady next door walking with a limp. She’s a witch who can turn into a cat!