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Of Projectiles and Parachutes 17 October 2012

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Memes, Ponderings, Technology, University.
Tags: , , , , , ,

I would expect my readership, as an erudite lot, to immediately understand the references in the title of this post (which could also have been stated as “Of Bullets and Balloons). In the light of these two world events though, my attention has been drawn to a pernicious little meme propagating around the twitterverse in the continual non-war that is the old science vs. religion debate. I call it a non-war because actually most folks will agree that science is very good at explaining the “how” and religion (or more correctly “faith”) is concerned far more with the “why”. They are most definitely over-lapping, but I sometimes wonder whether the discussions are better phrased in the light of the application, rather than the principle, in which case it could be argued that it is not science and religion that can be seen at odds, but applied science and religion (which is applied or, rather often, mis-applied faith). That, however, is unwieldy and more importantly, unlikely to gain any traction due to the established terminology.

However, once more, I am digressing. The pernicious paragraph that has come to my attention (thanks to Kalyr), runs as follows:

Dear Religion, This week I safely dropped a human from space; you shot a 14 yr old girl in the head for wanting education. Yours, Science.

How, I was asked, do you rebut that? In short, I’m not sure you can rebut it, simply because of the incredibly brief medium that is the Tweet. You can, however, counter it. You can’t debate, but you can challenge. (And in passing notice how the classic pattern of comparing “your” best with the “others” worst is clearly on display here).

How, then would you respond? Preferably with integrity and honesty.

This is what I’ve come up with, after a fair amount of thought. I can’t say it’s perfect, but it’s a start.

Dear Science, Your hand made the gun that did the deed. I point to the hand that made both the explorer and the explored. Yours, Religion.

I await responses with interest, but I’m maybe more concerned that nobody at the University seems to think I might even have something to offer….



1. Jane - 17 October 2012

I think that among other things, you make a very important distinction between “faith” and “religion”, here. It’s organised religion, a social structure that creates rigid rules and then tries to impose them on others, that potentially decides to kill little girls. That’s a bad thing, and while I’ve never felt the slightest temptation to take part in that sort of organisation myself, I suspect the small subset of those that do who also do the “impose on others” part have lost track of the “faith” side of things.

2. Chris - 18 October 2012

The more contained the American culture war is, the better. Your work and efforts will bear a return over time.

I listened to Analysis featuring Professor Manuel Castells and Paul Mason from Newsnight. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01n9yg1

It discusses Network Society, Identity politics and the rejection of mainstream organisations by the young and disenfranchised. Professor Castells notes a loss of faith in all institutions.Not just hierarchical organisations but political structures and academic bodies. Understand those forces in society and your chaplaincy will find new relevancy. Science vs Religion is a cover issue for political grievances. I believe the actual Science vs Religion debate is only of interest to a very small group of people.

Find a way to speak to people’s concerns and they will engage with you. Being of value and becoming part of a community can trump pithy couplets slapped on an image macro.

3. Thomas Zunder - 18 October 2012

People use all kinds of dogma to oppress each other. Even science.

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