Science & Religion #6: Outside In ParadigmBy: Mike S
As briefly talked about in the last post, the Inside-Out paradigm consists of reading a religious text, determining what it means scientifically, and making science fit. Â This was used for thousands of years when most texts were religious, but it has proven to not be a very robust method for addressing science and religion.
For the rest of the series, I propose instead using an Outside-In paradigm. Â According to this, for each topic from here on out, Iâ€™ll follow this format:
- Introduce a topic
- Tell what we know about it from a scientific point-of-view
- Tell what we know about it from a religious point-of-view
- See how these may or may not reconcile
So, why is this a â€śbetterâ€ť paradigm than Inside-Out. Â There are several reasons:
1) Religious texts were written for religious reasons. They werenâ€™t necessarily meant to teach science. Â Using a religious text to determine what someone â€śshouldâ€ť find in the world around them can be problematic. Â At times, it requires increasingly complex add-ons to maintain the original theory when perhaps Occamâ€™s razor should be applied.
2) Prophets, not scientists. Â Like our prophets today, ancient prophets were necessarily influenced by the culture in which they lived. Â They incorporated their then-current views of the world. Â If Brigham Youngâ€™s statements about the inhabitants of the moon were incorporated into scripture, would someone 2000 years from his time be obligated to accept them?
3) Nature of â€śtruthâ€ť. As we discussed a few posts ago, scientific information is more concrete while religious â€śtruthâ€ť is more open to interpretation. Â Even within the Mormon family of Churches, there are wide interpretations of things. Â But this can be an asset for our purpose. Â It is easier to find an interpretation of religious truth that fits more concrete scientific facts than to try to fit scientific facts into a one particular interpretation of a religious document.
4) Babies and bath water. There are inevitably going to be conflicts between what was once accepted and what new evidence points towards. Â For example, people clung to a static continent idea for years until the evidence for continental drift became overwhelming. Â Since the idea for static continents came from the scientific world, this represented a change in theory, but it didnâ€™t affect anyoneâ€™s religious beliefs. Â Conversely, if the idea for a static continent came from someoneâ€™s interpretation of what HAD to be from a religious text, when it was shown to be wrong, it could cause people to cast out the entire text.
Therefore, weâ€™ll follow an Outside-In paradigm for all of the remaining posts in this series. Â Once the post is done, the fun begins – discussion. Â There are vast quantities of information on these subjects, in books, scientific articles, religious commentaries, online sites, etc. Â There is going to be A LOT that I donâ€™t cover. Â There are going to be things I hadnâ€™t thought of, or that I had thought off but my way of thinking was flawed. Â Make corrections, suggestions, comments, etc. Â I hope to introduce new topics to some of you and perhaps to introduce new ways of thinking about old topics to others. Â I also look forward to being introduced to new ways of thinking from you as well. Â It stretches my brain in a good way.
Be forewarned, some of the ideas will be pretty â€śout thereâ€ť and fairly speculative. Â There will be things upon which we never agree. Â There will be things which people may feel just â€ścanâ€™t beâ€ť. Â You may think Iâ€™m out in left field. Â Thatâ€™s fine. Â I only ask that if you disagree that you explain WHY you disagree, and perhaps suggest a better explanation. Â We all learn from that.
So, thatâ€™s where weâ€™re going. Â Next weekâ€™s post, appropriately enough, is about â€śIn The Beginning…â€ť
- Is the Outside-In paradigm better or worse than the Inside-Out paradigm?
- Why is it better or worse?
- I have a list of about 30-40 posts in various levels of development, but are there any specific topics that you might find interesting to discuss?
- As science progresses and perhaps conflicts with what a previous prophet or apostle taught on that subject, how do you resolve that? Â And how does the claim that what a prophet says on any subject should be considered as the truth fit into that?
- Thread-jack: UofU, BYU or Who-Cares?