Posts Tagged faith

SOUL SEARCH COMES UP EMPTY

Posted by on Saturday, 28 December, 2013
Cute cartoon about the search for a soul.

SOUL? WHAT SOUL?

IS THERE A HUMAN SOUL?

Dr. Duncan MacDougall weighed his patients just before they died. After they died, he did it again.

If the soul had slipped quietly away, there would have been a very slight difference. Which is exactly what he found. A few grams . The average weight of the human soul. The soul was the spiritual heart of “man”. Everyone had one. Everyone knew it was there. Even now in the 21st century, most people believe there is a soul. The body dies. The soul doesn’t.

Why don’t surgeons ever see souls during an abdominal operation?

Well MacDougall was wrong apparently. When others tried to get the same results, they couldn’t . MacDougall got fooled by the fact that his equipment simply wasn’t accurate enough to measure such a small difference in weight.

Still.

MacDougall took an idea that lots of people believed and then he tried, scientifically, to prove it. That’s a good thing.

Silly?

Maybe it sounds that way to you, okay? But he was trying to use the best tools he had to collect evidence about something that was poorly understood.

We like that.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad has talked about faith in the past.

Faith is faith. It isn’t scientific. But it means so much to so many that MISTER ScienceAintSoBad keeps his head down. Most people manage to have room for discordant ideas about religion and science. Maybe it’s crazy. But we’re the planet’s humans, right? We get to do things our way. We’re inconsistent but that’s who we are.

It’s hard to say what people mean when they talk about the soul. On what level do they believe in this elusive unfleshy thing? Are they being metaphorical? Are they being completely literal? Do they think it’s in there under the spleen? Could trauma, like  a crushing injury to the abdomen in a car accident, do something bad to the soul?

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad has come to appreciate the exquisite and beautiful contradictions in our world. We don’t necessarily shed all of our old ideas; we just add a layer of new stuff. Most Americans believe in the existence of a “Higher Being”. And pray at least occasionally. And believe there’s a “better place” to pass on to. But most also believe the evidence of their own eyes and respect scientific achievements.

Is this bad?

In this country where approximately 85% of the people believe in “something or other”, rapid developments in science and technology are the norm and – you know what? – us poor bloggers can’t even keep up with the flow of new stuff.

If this is how religion impedes science, I would hate to see the unimpeded version.

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The drawing is mine.

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How Science Learned To Love Religion

Posted by on Thursday, 29 August, 2013
Just being respectful

KEEPING IT RESPECTFUL

I received a  letter from a reader.

Dear MisterScienceAintSoBad,

My sister’s mad at me because she says I pick pick pick. Can’t help it though. She’s like my grandmother. God this and God that. God?  Don’t I have a right to challenge her dopey ideas? A-Boy

Dopey ideas? A-boy,  (I’m hoping the A stands for atheist and not a certain orifice) believers aren’t idiots (exceptions exist). They just believe in God.

It’s not a sin.

Doesn’t mean they DENY reality. They just have an extra one.

Most educated believers aren’t trying to prove Darwin wrong. Mostly, they know about fossils and other stuff that show how life evolved. Maybe they even know how the earth was formed out of cosmic dust over millions of years.

What about God? What about Genesis?

That too.

But you said..

Believe it or not, it is perfectly possible for an educated person to “get” the Big Bang – even string theory – and still open a bible once in a while. The interior of the human brain isn’t made for consistency.

Prayer and plain geometry. They can get along. Ask Isaac Newton – Hey –  Ask his spirit. Most people believe in God or something like. Even in Europe where religion’s less popular. Why is that hard? People believe. They want to. It feels good. It’s comforting. If I were you, I wouldn’t mess with it.

This makes me MISTER Science IS So Bad? I don’t think so. I’m just saying that it’s possible to be too literal minded. The human brain CAN have two different ideas at the same time. Most minds do. This is what we are and I’m sorry it’s messy.

This isn’t an apologia. There ARE plenty of zealots who say that the bible’s got all the wisdom we need and science just gets in the way; and there are uber-rationalists who wanna smack bibles out of the hands of the misguided.

A curse on BOTH their houses.

Or whatever.

Discussion about religion vs science  can be exasperating but it’s a chance for “worlds to collide”. Which isn’t such a bad thing if it’s done with respect. Science-minded folks need to have some respect for the very evolutionary processes that they defend. As human intellect evolved, there was a strong need to make sense of the world on a personal level. Science didn’t show up to add understanding until very late in the game. In the meantime, we needed something to make sense of the world. Religion did that for us. Today our religious heritage coexists in a delicate but, often sweet, tension with rational scientific thought.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad says that’s okay.

Note to regular readers. Yup. This article has been recycled with a fresh drawing (which is also a little recycled).  For technical reasons, I had to reformat it so it could be found.  Look at it this way: It’s not like the subject matter is suddenly out of date. 

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Credit for above drawing to myself.