Seeking A Worthy Substitute For Dogma

This post is about using the scientific method to replace religious dogma. Those who disavow dogma have their reasons: blindly embracing religious edicts can lead to human strife and conflict. Unfortunately, things are not so simple.

Replacing religious dogma with knowledge based on the scientific method is an “apples and oranges” replacement. Scientific knowledge does not provide the answers to questions addressed by religion. What of the “dogma” of human dignity and worth, which is at the foundation of many religions? The scientific method provides little guidance here.

Conflicting religious dogmas are definitely a source of strife. Your religion may hand down truths that conflict with my religion. These conflicts cannot be resolved by logical debate, and thus may persist for a very long time.

Yet, eliminating human conflict using the beautiful evidence inherent in science cannot succeed. Attempts to replace dogma are often based on “self-evident” moral codes: it is “obvious” that harming others is bad. Why can’t all moral codes simply be based on the golden rule: treat others as you would yourself? Well, that rule is also dogma, albeit a positive one it seems. It is certainly not derivable based on evidence of a scientific sort. The application of this rule in real life is not always straightforward and unambiguous.

The inability to fully escape dogma is not an invitation to throw reason to the winds, or to embrace irrationality in its ugliest aspects. We simply must have realistic expectations, and work steadfastly for what we believe in.

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About Anthony Mannucci

A physicist (yours truly) turns his attention to many subjects...

Posted on July 12, 2012, in Book Related, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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