Revealed Religion, Science, and Truth
by David Sims
SCIENCE STUDIES the accessible part of the physical world. It examines predictions and proposed truths by experiment, which try to falsify the prediction or the proposition. Science doesn’t seek truth directly, but by the process of elimination, such that, as time goes by, the shape of theory (a scientific idea of what truth is) gets knocked into an ever-closer approximation to truth.
Religion began as an effort to control men. In order to do that, the creators of religion decided how to explain life, the universe, and everything — and they mostly got it all wrong. The laity didn’t know that the theology of the priesthood was a bunch of made-up fantasy, however, and so they gave their trust to men who told them what to think, how to behave, and promised them rewards if they were obedient. Rewards that they could collect only after they died.
Some members of this or that tribe smelled a rat in that bargain, and these were the atheists who have appeared through the ages. To protect their business model, the priesthood persecuted the atheists.
There is social utility in religion. That social utility isn’t that there is any truth in it, though. Rather, it comes from the idea that some members of Homo sapiens aren’t really human in the full sense. They’re limited to linear thinking and can’t comprehend the significance of the exponential function, such that they can appreciate when an apparently small problem presents a grave danger, or when a small investment can pay off big over time. They don’t see the wisdom of moral circumspection, how it makes living better for all, with dividends for each. For these people, a little help is required, and a fear of hell fire might be salutary. Religion, targeted at them, and they, encouraged to believe, may serve to keep them out of trouble and might prevent them from causing an inordinate amount of mischief.
But that’s about it. I see no utility in religion whatsoever in regard to seeking truth. Because useful truths are a subset of all truths, and because humans are interested in what is of use to them, any valid method for seeking truth will discover useful truths over time, and the powers of men will be increased thereby. Conversely, if a purported method for seeking truth does not regularly discover useful truths that can increase the powers of men, then it is reasonable to think that the method is invalid.
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