Saturday, August 23, 2008

Passing the Impasse: Religion and Science Misunderstanding

All throughout my whole life I have been fascinated with two things: science and religion.

Most of my writings are about my own perceptions and thoughts regarding the interplay of science and religion. My ideas are likely resonate with both atheists and religionists in some areas as well as strike discord with both in other areas. The reason for this is that I agree with most atheists about the importance of critical thinking and I agree with most religionists about the importance of community. I also disagree with most atheists about the meaning of religion and I disagree with most religionists about the literalism of their beliefs.

I believe that religion and mythological traditions have been, for thousands of years, humankind's way of trying to explain existence and to provide a shared system of beliefs upon which to base communities. As modern science has explained more and more of the physical nature of the universe, many have come to believe that religion is outdated, useless, or unimportant.

However, I disagree with this. Instead, I believe that we can look past the literal interpretation of religious texts and seek instead to discern wisdom from their stories and parables. This does not mean we take what they say wholesale with no modification or criticism. It means that we must interpret them in the light of modern science and think about how they have and will continue to affect our culture.

I am a strong proponent of rational, critical thinking. Because of that, I think it is irrational and uncritical to suppose that the entire world can just stop paying attention to its religious traditions. Instead, we must leverage those traditions to increase the importance of critical thinking from the inside out. This does mean that traditional and literal interpretations must change. I know that many people do not want to change their views. However, I hope that my writings will help demonstrate the reasonableness of my view, and, at minimum, help my friends and family understand my position.

I do not practice any specific religious tradition, and working as a software engineer I probably spend more time than most people thinking about logical systems and the interconnectedness of parts. Due to this, I tend to view systems from multiple perspectives. I look at them from the inside, at the level of individual methods or properties. I look at them from the surface, at the level of classes, modules, or assemblies. I also look at them from a higher perspective, at the level of complete application. I could expand on this and discuss interconnecting systems across the internet, but I'll just leave it at that.

Similarly, I look at belief systems in the same light. I look at the individual practices and understandings of verses and how people interpret and apply these to their daily lives. I look at the way families and communities incorporate their shared traditions into their lives. And, I look at the way societies assemble themselves around these sub-units to form a larger whole.

Where I have the most to say, however, is about individual thought processes and interpretations. It is my hope, again, that my writings and recordings will help others to understand my perspective and see the reasonableness of my views.

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