Posts Tagged‘Religion’

The Science of the Human Condition.

I’m not usually one to newsbot¹ but this article got me thinking in a direction that I wanted to share:

People with strong religious beliefs appear to want doctors to do everything they can to keep them alive as death approaches, a US study suggests.

Researchers followed 345 patients with terminal cancer up until their deaths.

Those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.

The team’s report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It suggests that such care, including resuscitation, may make death more uncomfortable.

Just over 30% of those asked agreed with the statement that religion was “the most important thing that keeps you going”.

Let it be known first that I like religion, it does a lot of good things for otherwise lost and direction-less people. It is very interesting to note this funny little bit of science and it does give rise to some interesting philosophical points.

It would seem that believers in religion would at the time of their deaths be more comfortable with the idea of passing onto the next plane of existence. Since they are guaranteed by their faith that there is something waiting for them on the other side that should put their mind at ease.

Or does it?

The time leading up to your death really becomes the ultimate test of your faith. You start thinking about your legacy, how you led your life and what will become of the world when you depart it. Then if that isn’t enough you will then start to think about whether or not you’ve lived your life close enough to the rules that were set out by your religion, and more likely then not all the things you’ve done wrong in that time. Needless to say this would lead to desperation more then acceptance, since you would want more time to reconcile your faults before passing on and receiving your final judgement.

Atheists on the other hand believe that there is nothing after death just as there was nothing for them before birth. If you’re truly in touch with that kind of belief (Atheists have faith to you know) then you know there’s nothing you can do to change it. Although I would postulate that before  the point of no return, I.E. before the doctors have tried everything to save you and haven’t said “x days/hours to live”, they would behave much the same as the religious attempting every possible avenue to extend their mortal existence.

It may just be that the religious have more reason to continue living, since they have more work to do before they pass on.

After reading some discussion on this topic someone posted a quote that I’ve believed in most of my life, ever since I left Christianity as my religion:

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Marcus Aurelius

It is interesting to note however the one flaw in this line of thinking. That the Gods and us share a similar line of thought, and our definitions of just and unjust are similar. Therefore, we can only assume (take in faith) that should the Gods be just and you live a good life that Marcus is correct.

¹Since I can’t find a definition for this word, I shall coin it now. Newsbot, when used as a noun, refers to a person/blog/entity that takes a story directly from the news and then takes some or all of the content and posts it on their site/medium with a small amount of additional detail, usually an opinion or drivel. When used as an adjective it refers to the process of hunting down news to regurgitate somewhere else in order to appear that you’re actually producing content, when really you’re just repeating someone else’s hard work and trying to add a bit of flavour. If you can’t guess already I think people who produce newsbot blogs don’t add any value, but that’s another post for another day 😉

Science and Religion.

I was brought up in your typical “Protestant” Christian family. Although we weren’t strictly religious we still went to church on Christmas and Easter and I did scripture studies all the way through primary school. I even ended going to Radford College here in Canberra, which is Anglican but I don’t think my parents really cared as long as the basis was Christian. I didn’t last long there and I’ll tell you why.

It’s around that time in a boy’s life when he starts to question the world around him. I became increasingly disdainful towards my parents and of course started the usual teenage rebellion. Although this started with just plain disobedience there was one significant turning point that I still remember very clearly to this day.

Sitting in Science class my teacher proclaimed that science and religion didn’t disagree with each other. Whilst at the time I found this to be confusing (and did outright disagree with it) the notion did send me down a path of self discovery. I found the more I read into the teachings of the bible the more I didn’t believe in it as faith. When it came time to do this like my confirmation I couldn’t go through with it, because there was always a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I didn’t agree with this practice.

However, now being many years wiser I can see where my science teacher back then was going. Science is the how and when of what happened. Religion is the why. Now science can’t explain why we came into existence, that’s not the point of scientific study. On the other side, religion has a tough time describing how we came into existence without falling back on scripture. It is this distinction that I fail to see from many hard core Atheists like Richard Dawkins, who seems more content to show the baseless nature of faith instead of seeing its application as an explanation of that which can not (currently) be explained by science.

The reason behaviour irks me is that science and religion are constantly fooling around with each other and they’re not doing each other any good. It’s like a classic destructive relationship were both partners blame each other for their misery yet neither one of them is willing to break it off. The problem is that both of them have a tendency to bring out the holy crusader hiding in everyone, ensuring that both sides of the debate have defenders who go to any lengths to disprove their opponent.

So what can be done about this? I personally believe that religion has no place in real world matters, and as such should be separated. This is the classic separation of Church and the State, which appears to have a blurred distinction of late. It seems more and more that religion plays a big part in international affairs and this is what concerns me. Areas of great scientific research, such as cloning and stem cell research, have hit major roadblocks due to people’s beliefs. Now this is where religion should keep out. Sure, I believe that religion can and should weigh in on the ethics side of things but after that, they should step back. Any block on science that comes directly from religious teachings is in my view unacceptable.

My solution to this problem? I don’t think I could say it any better than the Simpsons did in the episode “Lisa the Skeptic”:

   Judge Snider: Lisa Simpson, you are charged with destruction
                 of an historic curiosity. A mis-demener. By the
                 larger sum, this trial will settle the age old
                 question of Science vs. Religion. Let the opening
                 statements commence.
Religion Lawyer: Your honour over the coming weeks and months we will
                 prove that Lisa Simpson willingly destroyed...
                 [Lisa notices the angel on a nearby grassy hill through
                 a window]
          Lenny: There's the angle!
                 [they all run out to see the angel]
   Judge Snider: I find the defendant not guilty. As for science vs.
                 religion I'm issuing a refraining order. Science should
                 stay 500 yards from religion at all times.

That’s right you two, stay away from each other.