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Thread: Scientific Study of Religion doesn't exist

  1. #1 Scientific Study of Religion doesn't exist 
    Forum Ph.D. verzen's Avatar
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    And technically it's an oxymoron. In order for something to be deemed as true, it must go threw a process of scientific explanation. However what is the meaning of scientific?

    1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
    2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
    3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
    4. systematized knowledge in general.
    5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
    6. a particular branch of knowledge.
    7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.

    According to science, something must be observable. Yet religion is not observable, nor test about. SInce this forum is dealing with the scientific study of religion, how can we scientifically study it? We would come to the same conclusions with religion as if we had done the scientific study of unicorns or the scientific study of dragon's or even the scientific study of religion which teaches that some all powerful sentient being created us so that 1/5th of the population can be their chosen. Neither of these actually exists. So how can we actually do a scientific study on something that has no possibility of existing in the first place?

    We know things exist by testing them and then coming to a conclusion - The scientific way.

    The religious way is by coming to a conclusion - sayings it a reality - and then scavenging for evidence for their belief.

    How can we seriously take religion seriously?


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  3. #2  
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    One can certainly do a scientific study of religion. Psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. are all branches that use scientific method.

    Scientific study of 'god' or 'gods', etc.

    I'll do one right now

    Evidence: zero

    No evidence any matter or energy in the Univers that doesn't confirm to the physical properties of the Universe.

    Conclusion: no god or gods


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  4. #3 Re: Scientific Study of Religion doesn't exist 
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen

    According to science, something must be observable. Yet religion is not observable, nor test about. SInce this forum is dealing with the scientific study of religion, how can we scientifically study it?
    Theists will argue their explanations are indeed based on observations. They observe the universe and conclude only a god could have created it, they observe the complexity of nature and conclude only a god could have created such complexity.

    How can we seriously take religion seriously?
    Unfortunately, religion is a very serious issue as it serves only to bind mankind into intellectual slavery with medieval myths and superstitions. Of course, we don't take theists seriously who make the above conclusions from their observations, but we must take seriously the cult that holds them to these conclusions.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    Religion must definitely be taken seriously and it does exist. Moreover, there are several disciplines which *do* study it with scientific standards such as anthropology, psychology, neurology, sociology, etc.

    I'm really not sure what you're getting at and I think you've clearly missed the mark when it comes to formulating your arguments. I'd refer you back to my post on the subject as well as the references that accompanied it for more information, but let me address a few of your premises.

    According to science, something must be observable. Yet religion is not observable
    In this first argument, your first premise is okay but your second is flawed. Religion is most definitely observable. We can measure adherence, degree of adherence, sect of adherence, etc. We find cult items that can be seriated in the archaeological record. We can measure the quantity and quality of cult centers. We can observe the tenants of individual cult beliefs and the affects these tenant have on human behavior. ... and so on.

    What, specifically, were you suggesting isn't observable about religion? For that you seem to be relying on the non-existence of components of religion, such as deities and magical beings. For instance, you say:
    We would come to the same conclusions with religion as if we had done the scientific study of unicorns or the scientific study of dragon's or even the scientific study of religion which teaches that some all powerful sentient being created us so that 1/5th of the population can be their chosen. Neither of these actually exists. So how can we actually do a scientific study on something that has no possibility of existing in the first place?
    But I respond with we're not observing the non-existent deities but, rather, the followers and the behavior of the followers. The observable portions of religion are scientifically quantifiable. And anthropology has been applying scientific method with varying degrees of success to human behavior for over a hundred years. Sahlins was able to give an elaborate ethnography of the relationship of Captain Cook to the beliefs and cult practices of the natives of Hawaii, elucidating the nature of his death at the hands of the Hawaiian king. None of the deities and few of the beliefs these Hawaiians shared had any bases in reality, yet they had great affect on the British explorers who visited them.

    If the belief in unicorns and dragons had measurable affect on humanity, we could very well study it regardless of the non-existence of unicorns and dragons. In a manner of speaking, the belief in these things evokes their existence if only as concepts and institutions of human behavior.

    We know things exist by testing them and then coming to a conclusion - The scientific way.
    Indeed. And by evaluating the adherents of Christianity, Polynesian polytheism, the Maya underworld, etc., I'm able to get a sense of what commonalities people share, where these beliefs originated, how these beliefs evolved, what common ancestors they may have shared in the transmissions of the memes they call religion, and perhaps even a sense of the culture's origins as a whole.

    Applying scientific methodologies to the questions of religious adherence guides us to understanding the evolution of hunter-gathering ancestor worshipers like the Natufians at Neolithic Jericho into modern Southern Baptists of Alabama.

    The religious way is by coming to a conclusion - sayings it a reality - and then scavenging for evidence for their belief.
    This may be how the religious evaluate their tenants and doctrines, but for researchers evaluating religion, the perspective is necessarily an etic one rather than the emic view you suggest. The conclusions and assertions of religion aren't accepted at face value, but nor are they discounted. These conclusions are recognized as having value to the religious adherent and the effects of these conclusions and assertions of religious doctrine are observed. To return to the Hawaiian example, the Cook's crew wrote that native girls frequently swam to the ships to have sex with the crew. The conclusion for some was that native girls were easy, horny, etc. The conclusion of Sahlins was, after careful, scientific evaluation, was that the natives viewed Cook and his crew as gods on earth. A child born of a god would be part god and this presented a method by which a common native family could rise in status in a society where one is born into status. Thus, the girls weren't simply easy and horny, but encouraged, often by their husbands, to mate with the gods so as to produce god-like offspring which would instantly elevate their status to royalty.

    Religion, as we can see, can be scientifically evaluated, examined, and studied.

    How can we seriously take religion seriously?
    , said one anthropologist to the other while waiting for their pot to boil.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Man is a religious animal. He quite often insists on believing things when there is no evidence to support it and even when all the evidence is against it.

    Take for example these fundamentalist atheists whom I have repeatly observed ignoring all the evidence and insist on these irrational beliefs.

    1. The only religious people are those who have been indoctrinated into religion as children.
    2. There are no religious people who are also scientists.
    3. Religious people are all delusional and suffering from a mental illness.
    4. The disease of religion will be cured and religion will soon cease to exist.

    The first two are just examples of irrational beliefs that the defy the evidence, while the last two fall quite easily into categories of religious belief that are typical of fundamentalist religionists.

    3. This is an expression of exclusivism: People cannot be moral or good (or rational) without their beliefs.
    4. This includes all sorts of apocalyptic and messianic visions quite common in relgion.

    This tendency of man to defy the evidence can be so extreme that he refuses to see what is right in front of him. This explains why someone can carry the above irrational beliefs to such an extreme that they would claim that there is no religion or religious people for a scientist to study. The reality is that they do not really understand science. They have been pretending that science is a prop for their atheist-religious beliefs for so long that they have no comprehension of the nature of scientific objectivity which does not support their beliefs at all.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    As a scientist who studies religion in the ancient world with an intent to compare and contrast it with modern religious thought, my first impression was that the OP was suggesting I don't exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Man is a religious animal. He quite often insists on believing things when there is no evidence to support it and even when all the evidence is against it.
    Man was a religious animal. Insisting to believe in that which flies in the face of evidence describes indoctrinated theists whose opportunity to acquire critical thinking skills was left decimated in favor of accepting myth and superstition without question.

    Take for example these fundamentalist atheists whom I have repeatly observed ignoring all the evidence and insist on these irrational beliefs.

    1. The only religious people are those who have been indoctrinated into religion as children.
    2. There are no religious people who are also scientists.
    3. Religious people are all delusional and suffering from a mental illness.
    4. The disease of religion will be cured and religion will soon cease to exist.

    The first two are just examples of irrational beliefs that the defy the evidence...

    This tendency of man to defy the evidence...
    What evidence, Mitch? What evidence do you suggest would refute those claims? Although, I don't recall anyone claiming NO religious people who are also scientists.

    The reality is that they do not really understand science. They have been pretending that science is a prop for their atheist-religious beliefs for so long that they have no comprehension of the nature of scientific objectivity which does not support their beliefs at all.
    That's your explanation? You attempt to prop up one set of beliefs with another?
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  9. #8  
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    "Yet religion is not observable"
    This is a gooda point, but it is a matter of symantics: Religion vs Religions

    You cannot study "religion" you can only study "religions" and make conclusions about what "religion" is.

    'Religion' is the commonality that we observe, indirectly, by studying "religions"

    Religion is what you get when you remove religions from their context. Since you cannot remove religions from their context, the idea of "religion" having it's own objective form is rediculous.


    The forum should be changed to "The Scientific Study of Religions"
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Man is a religious animal. He quite often insists on believing things when there is no evidence to support it and even when all the evidence is against it.
    Man was a religious animal. Insisting to believe in that which flies in the face of evidence describes indoctrinated theists whose opportunity to acquire critical thinking skills was left decimated in favor of accepting myth and superstition without question.
    I hate to say it, but you're wrong. Humans are religious animals. This is evidenced by the plethora of religious doctrines, artifacts, and cult centers in both the ancient and modern worlds. Nor is there a reason to expect that the human propensity to believe or adhere to religious thought is somehow a phenotype that has evolved away since we're more or less anatomically the same as humans 160,000 years or more ago. A casual drive through any neighborhood of the U.S. reveals the religious nature of man as you observe the variety and quantity of churches and other cult centers scattered among human society.

    Take for example these fundamentalist atheists whom I have repeatly observed ignoring all the evidence and insist on these irrational beliefs.

    1. The only religious people are those who have been indoctrinated into religion as children.
    2. There are no religious people who are also scientists.
    3. Religious people are all delusional and suffering from a mental illness.
    4. The disease of religion will be cured and religion will soon cease to exist.

    The first two are just examples of irrational beliefs that the defy the evidence...

    This tendency of man to defy the evidence...
    What evidence, Mitch? What evidence do you suggest would refute those claims? Although, I don't recall anyone claiming NO religious people who are also scientists.
    So, are you saying that, with the exception of #2 above, these are accurate claims? While I would agree that many of the beliefs held within religious doctrine lead to delusion, it cannot be said that being religious is necessarily a delusion in of itself because there are logical arguments to support it (though I personally don't see these arguments as sound or cogent).
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "Yet religion is not observable"
    This is a gooda point, but it is a matter of symantics: Religion vs Religions

    You cannot study "religion" you can only study "religions" and make conclusions about what "religion" is.

    'Religion' is the commonality that we observe, indirectly, by studying "religions"

    Religion is what you get when you remove religions from their context. Since you cannot remove religions from their context, the idea of "religion" having it's own objective form is rediculous.


    The forum should be changed to "The Scientific Study of Religions"
    I fail to see why simply changing from plural to singular in form validates or invalidates the ability to study either a single religion (i.e. the Maya underworld) or the concept of Religion (i.e. one or more social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought), or many individual religions (i.e. Polynesian religion compared and contrasted with Andean).
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    They are not just plural/singular forms of the same concept, they are different concepts.

    Religion is an idea that all religions are the same at some level which might be true, but there is nonetheless a literal difference between how you would use "religion" and "a religion" in a statement.

    For example

    "I am studying religion" is not the same as " I am studying a religion" or "I am studying multiple religions"

    Sorry if I didn't make that clear enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    I hate to say it, but you're wrong. Humans are religious animals. This is evidenced by the plethora of religious doctrines, artifacts, and cult centers in both the ancient and modern worlds. Nor is there a reason to expect that the human propensity to believe or adhere to religious thought is somehow a phenotype that has evolved away since we're more or less anatomically the same as humans 160,000 years or more ago. A casual drive through any neighborhood of the U.S. reveals the religious nature of man as you observe the variety and quantity of churches and other cult centers scattered among human society.
    Fair enough. But mankind is changing, and that's what I refer to, that we are no longer just believing in the myths and superstitions of the past and are beginning to criticize these beliefs as such. Mankind is shedding those ancient beliefs, which can be observed even with theists today in the way they change their own doctrines to meet the challenges put forth by critical thinking and science.
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    Many (most?) religions make at least some claims that are amenable to empirical testing. If your religion teaches that the Earth is 10000 years old, for example, we can scientifically investigate that claim.
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    But if the claim involves God manipulating things so as to trick scientific analysis, this part of religion is unfalsifiable, and thus not scientific.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    But if the claim involves God manipulating things so as to trick scientific analysis, this part of religion is unfalsifiable, and thus not scientific.
    Well, then it simply belongs in the philosophy section.

    I don't see any problem with that.
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    Yes it does and science wins by a knockout. Ha ha.

    In todays advanced knowledge base, those ancient minds are no match to todays Science.
    The most obvious is the age of the Universe?
    The Old Testament age of 6000 years old for the universe is a ha ha ha.

    Maybe Karl Marx was aware of that and todays Israelis are also since they have adopted the 'gun and cannon' as the Roman Catholics and the Protestant Christians have done to spread their religious doctrines throughout the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    But if the claim involves God manipulating things so as to trick scientific analysis, this part of religion is unfalsifiable, and thus not scientific.
    With the exception of a few of the most "out there" fundamentalist christians, I don't think many people are claiming that.
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    I agree the title "Scientific Study of Religion" is quite a stretch, you might as well have scientific study of racketteering, of human gulibility, of mythology, of art, of astrology, of tea-leaf reading, etc. They all exists, and you can use a scientific- like methodology to study them but using the word scientific is somewhat playing with words.


    I postulate that people of the Sign Virgo have a one in 6 chance of getting a 6 on a 6 sided dice. After much testing under controled conditions I find its true. Make way for me, Im a now scientist. Oops, omg, 666, I postulate that the incidence of having 3 six in the same sentence geometrically increases the level of perceived evilness associated with it for people that have been told 666 is the number of the beast and believe this statement to be true because its in a old book.

    oh boy
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    Many of you are horribly misinformed. There are many practical sciences revolving around the studies of religion.

    For example, a neurological experiment testing the parts of the brain used most in various religious rituals and comparing them is very scientific.

    Looking at religion from a perspective of a sociologist or psychologist and seeing how a combination of various beliefs, rituals and other influences can shape people as individuals and as a culture, this is somewhat scientific.

    Religions are a part of the world we live in. Just because the premise is doubtful doesn't mean they are not useful in some way. Whether or not religions are useful either way, doesn't mean they are not worth studying, for the sake of understanding the world better, as a whole, not just the parts we like or are interested in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    I agree the title "Scientific Study of Religion" is quite a stretch, you might as well have scientific study of racketteering, of human gulibility, of mythology, of art, of astrology, of tea-leaf reading, etc. They all exists, and you can use a scientific- like methodology to study them but using the word scientific is somewhat playing with words.
    No more or less so than the human mind and all other human activities. So psychology is indeed one of the softest sciences but it is a science.

    The real reason there is no named science dedicated to the study of religion is because there hasn't yet been a scientific reason seeing any special significance of religion apart from human activities in general. But all the sciences of psychology, anthropology and sociology have studied religion from their perspectives.
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    The Old Testament is the source of promoting the evils of religion that gives it a bad image.

    In summation, it teaches the existance of an evil spirit (YHWH) that demands absolute obedience with the first 3 commandments and uses 'mass killings' as a cleansing ritual that I renamed Jewicides because the OT is the source of these mass killings that the communists and Islam also use to promote their 'one god concept'.

    The OT also teaches discrimination with sexism and racism by portraying the eating of fruit from a tree as a SIN? WOW! This is ludicrous!

    The Roman church has restored the dignity of women with the 'Mother and Child' concept and the Latin education system teaches Nature as its subject for study.

    So I consider Nature as a good substitute for the GOD concept that teaches a multiple god concept. My version is here on one of the forum pages.

    I do not endorse the RC's version of Christianity though.

    Nuff Said

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    The Romans worship the Virgin Mary equally as much as they worship her son.
    It's nothing more than a reboot of the Vestal Virgins that preceded her.
    And where do we find it? In the exact same culture, what a soooprise.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Man is a religious animal... .... ....
    Religion is basic need of human like food and shelter, it comes under the quest for knowledge, man wanted to know his whereabouts. But the basic his questions 1. Where did he come from? 2. The purpose of his life on earth? 3. What is after life? will ever forever remain un answered because of his capability limitations!
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    Quote Originally Posted by sak
    Religion is basic need of human like food and shelter,
    This is an opinion and the argument is easily disproved. Put a human in a box without any food or water and they will eventually die. Yet people without religious beliefs can live long lives.

    Quote Originally Posted by sak
    it comes under the quest for knowledge, man wanted to know his whereabouts. But the basic his questions 1. Where did he come from? 2. The purpose of his life on earth? 3. What is after life? will ever forever remain un answered because of his capability limitations!
    Again, patently false. We already have the answer to the first question, many people recognize that the second question is based on false premises, and similarly, quite a few are willing to accept that there is no afterlife either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sak
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Man is a religious animal... .... ....
    Religion is basic need of human like food and shelter, it comes under the quest for knowledge, man wanted to know his whereabouts. But the basic his questions 1. Where did he come from? 2. The purpose of his life on earth? 3. What is after life? will ever forever remain un answered because of his capability limitations!
    Wouldn't the limitations be placed on the method of inquiries and not the person themselves? In this case, the method of inquiry is based on religion, hence the limitations are placed on religions capacity to inquire and it's capacity to reveal answers.
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    If you proceed from the false assumption that there is a god and he is therefore unknowable; since humans are "so fallible".

    The ones that are much more fallible are the ones who don't use science to get answers.
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