Faithful to Science

blog on science and religion

Tag: goodness

A short positive post

Dear regular readers,

this is just to let you know that I realise I have been a bit intermittent posting recently. I have lots of ideas of things to post but have held back a bit while I consider them. The terrible events in Syria and Iraq, and their spill-over to other parts of the world, have been giving all of us pause. Today though I will share a good news story, and will follow this brief post with a light-hearted one in a few days.

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A short explanation of a short introduction to what may well be

The title to the previous post, “A short introduction to what may well be,” was chosen carefully. The sketch I gave there was a sketch of something that may be right, and also, and perhaps more importantly, it is a good possibility—something that may well be, in the sense that it would be well, good, if it were so. All manner of things would be well. And, of course, it might be right in the sense of actually true, too. Or it might not.

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A short introduction to what may well be

I have not posted for a couple of weeks because I was ruminating on what to say. There are a variety of issues I could write about, but I decided in the end to present, in an informal way, some general thoughts on theism, world-views, atheism, faith, science and religion.

What this blog advocates is a broadly positive stance on both science and that aspect of human life which is about refusing materialism and scientism, in favour of a richer notion of what may be said to be true and real. That lengthy expression refers, broadly, to what has often been called “religion”, but I have been cautious about the use of that word in this blog, because of all the obvious dangers and abuses that often accompany religion. I think that there is both good religion and bad religion, and in the end what I want to do in the blog is not about religion as such, but about encouraging one another to realize and live out the most complete expression of what human life is, whatever that may be.

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Talking about faith and science

This post is mainly to announce that I have now added a further talk to the resources section. You can find it here:

http://grievingturtle.com/resources/talks/faith-and-science-hbc-oxford-0915/

Here is an extract from the talk:

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gods

[image: Frederick William Hayes The Rivals from Llanddwyn (c.1884)]

 

This week I was looking at a few websites and I found various repetitions of a statement that seems to be doing the round in atheist circles, namely that all of us disbelieve in most gods and the happy atheist simply goes one further. You can download a poster of all the gods that people have written about or made offerings to, and thus bolster your own atheism.

All I want to do this week is explain, briefly, why this sort of polemic (for that is all it is) won’t wash.

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The basics of science and religion

This blog has a “science and religion” theme because it is helpful for a blog to be focused: you can’t take on every issue at once. Of course science and religion do touch on pretty much every issue, but when they are mentioned together this tends to focus on interest in rationality and the questioning of religion.

There are three types of issue that tend to come up in this area.

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What is the story of life on Earth?

Well, it is the evolutionary story, of course. The story of simple beginnings, and gradual development; the story of characteristics inherited through genes, with slight adjustments that accumulate over the generations. The story of finite lifespan in an environment offering limited resources, with the consequent filtering process known as natural selection. All this can be discovered by scientific research, and it has been so discovered by all the people who joined in with the mainstream scientific community.

But what is the story of this story? What kind of a narrative do we have here? Is it tragedy? Or a comedy of errors? Or a heroic epic? Or farce? Or is it a tale of boundless exploration? Or a triumph of the aggressive? Or a triumph of the adaptable? Is it the story of brute force? Or is it the story of courage in spite of brute force? A story of increasing depth of experience? Is it a good story? Is it a story of good? Is it good?

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Making something of the world

So far my posts in this blog have been concerned with treading carefully around the meaning of words like “religion”. I have pointed out the dangers of tribalism, and I have offered the term reconnection for anyone who has been taught to equate religion to superstition and tribalism. It is time to say something more about the good that is continuously finding expression in the world, and also continuously being thwarted, but responding with generosity and, in people who campaign for justice, creative anger. This good is what we embody when we are at our best. This is what we fail to live up to when we are at our worst. This is what makes demands, and can legitimately make demands on us, because to recognise the legitimacy of the call to make the world better is what being fully alive involves. Continue reading

Faithful to Science

In addition to photons and electrons, quarks and gluons, and things like that, there are other realities we have to reckon with, things like logic and mathematics, aesthetics, and also moral principles. For example, the principle that you shouldn’t squash, bribe, degrade, impoverish, do violence to or in any way objectify other people, but rather nourish, encourage, respect, feed, protect and pay attention to them. Continue reading

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