SCIENCE AND RELIGION,
SCIENCE VERSUS RELIGION --
The Tetraheed Approach
At some point in the near future, I'm going to expand the comments on this page, to set forth some ideas about the unhappy balance/tension, between science and religion.
For various reasons, I intend to wait a bit, and focus on politics, and on the need to try to get The Two-Party Party up and running, and to try my best to help make it functional, effective, and respected. In complete sincerity, I think The Two-Party Party may be the single best hope we have, here in the US, for turning "democracy" back into a functional and workable form of government, before it collapses into bankruptcy and chaos. As an environmental engineer, as a lawyer, and as someone who studies history (and who realizes, all too well, that NO great civilization has ever lasted forever, no matter how powerful it was during its prime) I do indeed regard the collapse of democracy, as a form of government on this planet, as a genuine and serious possibility, and threat. The four factors (there's that number 4, yet again) which seem to be the most threatening to our way of life include:
1. a national debt which is headed for more than $20 trillion, which we simply cannot pay off, and which has already crippled our federal government's ability to govern intelligently;
2. angry, divisive, hyper-polarized non-leaders who no longer know how to lead, and who have instead become masters of getting re-elected, not by serving the public, but by turning honest disagreements into boiling hot, angry, divisive, never-ending battles, which never get solved, because politicians don't WANT to solve them (they want to milk and exploit them, instead);
3. the hurricanes, forest fires, melting arctic regions, rising sea levels, and other disasters that will continue to grow in both frequency and severity, as climate change and global warming wreak havoc on what used to be an extraordinarily beautiful, wondrous and generous planet which had everything we needed, to be happy; and,
4. the financial, economic, and political factors which have undercut, eroded, and eaten away the American middle class to a point where it can no longer be relied upon to support a form of government which, like an aging car, is giving off so many warning sounds, and rattling so badly, that it can no longer be driven at the speed (or in the manner) we became accustomed to.
Now, returning to the balance between science versus religion, I will only try to include, in this early draft, an advance indication of how I tend to think and see things, when it comes to religion, faith, and spirituality, and what I intend to write about, on those subjects, when I can.
Starting points for analysis:
1. I have reached a point of thinking that the only way the human species has a realistic chance of surviving the next century without massive, MASSIVE die-offs of marine life, higher mammals, and humanity, is if people of science, and people of faith, can begin working together again. For right or wrong, better or worse, humanity needs both science AND faith.
2. Although I've spent my entire career focusing on science and technology, I tend to have higher levels of respect, admiration, affection, and other good things, for people who are somehow guided, strengthened, or otherwise benefited by having some type of "faith" which manages to be both active, and abiding, at the same time. I think there are strong and heavy connections between "faith" and "trust", and in my opinion, people who act chronically distrusting of anyone and everyone just plain become unpleasant to be around.
3. I sincerely believe that connections can indeed be made, between people of science, and people of faith, if they are properly guided, and coached. As just one example, both sides need to grasp and understand a huge and critical difference, between how they see and interpret things. People of faith will actively believe something, BECAUSE it makes them feel better. For them, that is a true -- and a truly valid, reasonable, appropriate, and fair -- test and measure of what "faith" actually means, and does, to them, and for them.
By contrast, people of science are specifically and deliberately coached, and trained, to add an additional layer and level of distrust and skepticism, to anything they think they have seen, IF IT MAKES THEM "FEEL BETTER". To them, that is good and responsible science. A good scientist cannot and must not be seduced into thinking that he has discovered something new which is truly important, because "it made him FEEL better, to think that".
Neither way is "right", and neither way is "wrong". Instead, each approach evolved and emerged in the way it did, because THAT is the way which works better, for people on THAT side. If BOTH sides can be helped to understand and accept that huge difference, in how they see and interpret whatever they regard as "the truth", then a HUGE barrier to good communication, between the two sides, could be, if not overcome, then at least turned into a structure that can be climbed over, and passed over, by people who want to do that.
4. As a final analogy, to help explain (briefly, for now) why I believe that BOTH science AND faith must be accepted and encouraged, as a team and a partnership with each other, is this . . .
and this is, by the way, what I believe to be the single biggest and most important contributing factor which led to the formation and location of humankind's earliest civilizations, which was overlooked and totally missed in the otherwise masterful book, Guns, Germs, and Steel (by Jared Diamond) . . .
The earliest human civilizations arose around rivers that flowed through deserts, in the Middle East and Africa, such as the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates.
Why in that particular type of location, again and again?
Because someone figured out a truly clever trick, arising from a basic fact of life, physics, and weather, concerning those rivers.
In the coastal area around a river in a desert, the wind will pretty much always blow inward, and inland, from the coast. Why? Because the land surface in a desert heats up faster than the sea. That causes the air over the land to rise; and, that draws in replacement air from over the sea, in the form of winds and breezes that reliably blow inland.
However, the water current in any river will always and reliably flow toward the sea, because of simple basic gravity.
The fact that the wind and the water move reliably and consistently in opposite directions, in a river that passes through a desert, enables people with sailboats to travel -- reliably and controllably -- in EITHER direction. If they want to go inland, they raise the sail, and are driven by the wind. If they want to go back toward the sea, they simply lower the sail, and are carried by the current.
The ability to travel, reliably and controllably, on any day, in EITHER of TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, became a huge, HUGE advance, which laid a crucial foundation for trade, commerce, and civilization. If you can travel down a road or river in only one direction . . . well, what are you going to do, once you reach the end of that road, or the start of that river? The real and true value came to (and from) those who figured out how to travel, in controlled and reliable ways, in BOTH directions.
I use that as an analogy, a lesson, and an example. In life, the people with the most wisdom, insight, and ability to add true and genuine value, are those who have learned how to travel, reliably and controllably, in BOTH directions, when it comes to both:
(i) matters of science and technology, which point consistently in one direction, like the wind blowing inland, ready to be harvested and used by people, but only if they could figure out how to put sails on boats; and,
(ii) matters of faith and values, which flow in a different direction, like a current toward the sea.
I'm an environmental engineer, who became a patent attorney. Just as I am both an engineer AND an attorney, I am also a person of both science AND faith. I have come to see, and I believe I have come to understand, how BOTH of those aspects of life (and of reality, and of relationships) can add enormous value, meaning, and happiness, to life, and to relationships.
Beyond that, I have also come to believe that having an active and dynamic combination of both (i) a genuine and abiding respect for science, technology, and reality, and (ii) a genuine and abiding respect for people who use faith as a shield and a support, rather than as a weapon to use against others, is -- by far -- the best and happiest way to live that I've been able to figure out, so far, in my journeys, encounters, and experiences.
For me, this is entirely consistent with both (1) the concepts of Tetraheed perspectives, which says that a building will indeed look different, depending on which angle you view it from; and, (2) the "One-Two-Sigma-Delta" realization that if you have two things, you actually have four things, which is better than having just the two. The SIGMA (= SUM) of the two can be an extraordinarily valuable and powerful thing; and, the DELTA (= DIFFERENCE) between the two is what can help them both work together, productively, with each one supplying those things which the other one does not or cannot do, or cannot do well.
I tend to regard science, engineering, and technology as being comparable, in various ways, to a powerful (but sometimes aggressive, domineering, egotistical, and self-centered) male personality and ego, with all the problems of those types of people.
And, I tend to regard faith -- when done right -- as being comparable, in various ways, to a loving mother who is imperfect and sometimes makes bad mistakes, but who nevertheless truly wants and hopes to somehow give and share happiness, good character, kindness, and compassion, to and with her children.
In complete sincerity, I grew up with parents who -- both of them -- had serious and even severe problems, which made both of them very unhappy, with life in general, and with each other. And yet, they stayed married, and they both did the best they could, to raise and teach their children.
So, I do not choose, or try, to love either one of them, more than the other. Instead, I consciously and deliberately tried to learn how to accept, understand, love, and help BOTH of them, rather than just one of them. They BOTH had things to offer, and they BOTH taught me things I wanted and needed to learn.
So -- I choose to love both science, and faith, in much the same way that I chose to love (and continue to love, even though they both passed away, years ago) both of my parents -- even though they both had problems, and even though they were very different from each other. And that's not going to change, no matter who might try to criticize either of them, while I'm listening. Did they both make mistakes? Yes. Absolutely. Sadly, yes. But instead of making me believe or conclude that I should love only one of my parents, my realization that they BOTH had made mistakes, ended up making it even MORE important for me to learn how to see, study, and try to understand what EACH of them could do, better than the other, and of how and why I would be much, much better off -- more balanced, more stable, and better able to weather the storms -- if I could find ways to get along with both of them, instead of just choosing one over the other.
As I grew up and gradually learned to understand each of them better, I also came to realize that I could not and should not simply follow either one of them; instead, if I could learn how to incorporate and balance what EACH and BOTH of them had taught me, into an ongoing, dynamic balance, then that type of effort to sustain an ongoing balance (like the biological process called "homeostasis", which is the ongoing adaptive process which sustains the organs, digestion, and muscles within tolerable limits, within an animal body) becomes a source of strength, rather than struggle.
With my parents, rather than choosing or preferring or loving one over the other, I chose to focus on (and learn from) how they tried to fit together, and work together, despite the problems that plagued both of them. And, I do much the same thing, when it comes to the strengths, weaknesses, and conflicts of science, and faith.
As stated elsewhere in this website, if you have two things, you have four things -- the one, the other, the sigma, and the delta. That concept does indeed apply to science and religion. Each one is its own thing. And, there a huge, critical and severely problematic "delta" between them -- a set of major, severe, and undeniable differences between them.
But there is also a "sigma". A sum. A different entity, different from each and both of them. That different entity -- that team, that partnership -- will become obvious, and can become both a source, and an object, of respect, affection, stability, and meaning, for anyone who can learn to respect, understand, live with, and hopefully even love, BOTH of them, and their efforts and struggles to create and sustain a partnership and marriage, in the hope that it can somehow endure, and do good things, despite its problems and difficulties. It's a relationship where each one can, and should at least try to, bring to the table, things which the other one does not have, or cannot do, or cannot do well.