Texto: Ciência X Religião

Ciência X Religião

 

Warm-up

Com a evolução alcançada pela tecnologia neste início de século 21, religiosos e cientistas se confrontam com novas polêmicas. Células-tronco, clonagem e transgênicos são apenas alguns exemplos de questões que ainda geram muitas divergências.
 
[...] [P]or mais que as evoluções nas pesquisas possam, por exemplo, levar à cura de várias doenças, essas pesquisas devem ser desenvolvidas sobre princípios éticos. Um exemplo são os estudos sobre células-tronco. Na opinião do Prof. Dr. Rui Josgrilberg, reitor da Faculdade de Teologia da Igreja Metodista, a grande questão não é em relação à morte de embriões, e, sim, ao fato de que só pessoas com dinheiro têm acesso a esses avanços da medicina. [...]
 
Nesse aspecto ético, a religião tem uma função muito importante. É ela que, em conjunto com a sociedade, deve discutir os limites da ciência e toda a ética nela implicada. “O problema é que a Igreja perdeu muito sua capacidade de ação pública. A presença pública da Igreja foi progressivamente limitada a questões privadas”, disse.
 
Para Josgrilberg, a Igreja deve voltar a se preocupar com assuntos que estão sendo discutidos pela sociedade e com isso discutir também a ética, não só na ciência, como em toda a sociedade: “a religião é assunto público, envolve a humanidade como um todo e discute assuntos essenciais à sociedade e à vida humana e traz preocupações éticas das mais profundas, que precisam ser recuperadas”.
 
 
 
 

Reading Time

 
Science vs. Religion
December 4, 2013
 
Einstein’s Famous Quote about Science and Religion Didn’t Mean What You Were Taught
 
The scientist actually offers no solace to believers
 
BY JERRY A. COYNE
 
Albert Einstein was the most famous scientist of our time, and, because he was so smart, his opinions on non-scientific issues were often seen as incontrovertible. One of the most famous is a pronouncement much quoted by religious people and those claiming comity between science and faith. It comes from Einstein’s essay Science and religion, published in 1954.
 
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
 
This quote is often used to show both Einstein’s religiosity and his belief in the compatibility — indeed, the mutual interdependence — of science and religion.  But the quote is rarely used in context, and when you see the context you’ll find that the quote should give no solace to the faithful. But first let me show you how, in that same essay, Einstein proposes what is essentially Stephen Jay Gould’s version of NOMA (Non-overlapping Magisteria). Gould’s idea (which was clearly not original) was that science and religion were harmonious because they had distinct but complementary tasks: science helps us understand the physical structure of the universe, while religion deals with human values, morals, and meanings.  Here’s Einstein’s version (my emphasis):

It would not be difficult to come to an agreement as to what we understand by science. Science is the century-old endeavor to bring together by means of systematic thought the perceptible phenomena of this world into as thoroughgoing an association as possible. To put it boldly, it is the attempt at the posterior reconstruction of existence by the process of conceptualization […].
 
[…] Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts. According to this interpretation the well-known conflicts between religion and science in the past must all be ascribed to a misapprehension of the situation which has been described.
 
For example, a conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors.
 
Although nearly identical to Gould’s views in his 1999 book Rocks of Ages, Gould mentions neither Einstein nor this passage.  But both men were misguided in suggesting that this tactic can harmonize science and religion.
 
Why?  For one thing, because they ensconced human goals and values firmly within the magisterium of religion, completely neglecting two millennia of secular morality beginning with the ancient Greeks. Religion is surely not the only source, or even a good source, of how to behave or find meaning in our lives. Einstein also errs by arguing that religion deals “only with evaluations of human thought and action,” ignoring the palpable fact that many religions are also concerned with truth statements — statements about the existence of God, what kind of God he is and what he wants us to do, as well as about how we got here and where we go after we die. Indeed, in the third paragraph Einstein notes that religion does in fact involve truth statements, so his definition is clearly off.
 
Gould got around this ambiguity simply by claiming that religions that made truth statements — that intruded into the sphere of science — were not proper religions. But of course such a ploy disenfranchises most of the believers in the world, for most faiths, including the Abrahamanic ones, make claims about how the universe is arranged. It won’t do to define religion in a way that excludes most believers.
 
 
So I take issue with Einstein’s (and Gould’s) accommodationism. The man was a great physicist, but he wasn’t infallible, and it baffles me to see people quoting his non-scientific pronouncements as if they are unimpeachable.  An expert in physics is not necessarily a doyen of philosophy.
 
As for the famous quotation at the top, here it is in context (my emphasis):
 
Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up.  But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion.  To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
 
I have no quarrel with the claimed contribution of science to religion: helping test ways to achieve one’s goals. Einstein, however, neglects another contribution of science to religion: disproving its truth statements. Darwin did a good job of that!
 
But Einstein errs again by claiming that “the aspiration toward truth and understanding […] springs from the sphere of religion.” Perhaps he conceives “religion” here as a form of profound curiosity about the universe beyond oneself. But he’s certainly not seeing religion as most people understand it.  Why couldn’t he simply say that some people are insatiably curious to find out stuff? Why did he have to see that curiosity as a form of “religion”? It’s that conflation that has caused persistent confusion about Einstein’s beliefs. Was he so eager to placate the faithful that he had to redefine “religion” as a godless awe? Or was he truly a pantheist who worshipped Nature as his god? It’s not clear.
 

What is clear from Einstein’s writings on science and religion, though, is that he didn’t believe in a personal god, and saw theistic religion as a man-made fiction. In a letter written in 1954, he made no bones about this (translated from the original German):
 
The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can change this for me.
 
Indeed, the last paragraph of the 1954 essay shows his faith not in the numinous, but in rationality:

The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. In this sense I believe that the priest must become a teacher if he wishes to do justice to his lofty educational mission.
 
Finally, I take issue with Einstein’s statement that the value of reason in understanding the world is a form of “profound faith”. As I wrote in Slate, this is confusing because the religious meaning of faith is “firm belief without substantial evidence”, while the scientist’s “faith” in the laws of physics is simply shorthand for “strong confidence, based on replicated evidence and experience, about how things are”.  Further, we don’t have faith in reason: we use reason because it helps us find out things. It is in fact the only way we’ve made progress in understanding the universe. If other ways had proven valuable, like personal revelation or Ouiji boards, we’d use those, too.
 
Although Einstein didn’t believe in a conventional god, his explanation of the harmony between science and faith has been widely misunderstood, and some of that is his own fault. What he should have done is abandon the world “faith” in favor of “confidence born of experience,” and not tried to argue that curiosity and wonder before nature was a form of religion. It is that confusion (or perhaps that imprecision of language) that has led to prolonged debate about and misrepresentation of what Einstein believed about God and religion.
 
So let me simply recast Einstein’s famous statement in terms of what I think he meant:

Science without profound curiosity won’t go anywhere, and religion without science is doubly crippled.
 
Doubly crippled, of course, because theistic religions are based on a supernatural but fictitious being, and are further crippled when they reject the findings of science.
 
In the end, Einstein’s famous quotation should provide no solace — or ammunition — to theists, for Einstein did not see “religion” as theistic. But I wish he would have written a bit more clearly, thought a bit more clearly or, perhaps, completely avoided discussing the relationship of religion and science. On that issue he is less cogent than many philosophers or, indeed, many scientists. He was Einstein, but he wasn’t God.
 
 
 

Reading Analysis

Top 10 Vocabulary

1 - solace = a feeling of emotional comfort at a time of great sadness or disappointment.
2 - lame = unable to walk well because your leg or foot is injured or weak.
3 - indeed = when adding more information to emphasize what you have just said.
4 - loftiness = (noun) the state or quality of being lofty (arrogant, elevated in character).
5 - be ensconced = to be in a comfortable or safe place, usually with no intention of moving or being moved.
6 - placate = (formal) to make someone stop feeling angry.
7 - conflation = (formal) combination of two or more things forming a single new thing.
8 - striving = (formal) making a great effort to achieve something.
9 - shorthand = a fast method of writing that uses special signs or shorter forms to represent letters, words, and phrases; a shorter but sometimes less clear way of saying something.
10 - cogent = (formal) something such as an argument that is cogent is reasonable, so that people are persuaded that it is correct.
 

False Friends (Be careful!)

quote = quotation = words from a book, poem, etc., that you repeat in your own speech or piece of writing; the act of quoting something that someone else has written or said.
 

Pronunciation Analysis

  • incontrovertible = “incontrovêribol”
  • thoroughgoing = “thorgôin” (very thorough and careful; a thoroughgoing action or quality is complete or total.)
  • disenfranchise = “disinfrêntchaiz” (to have no rights, especially the right to vote, and not to feel part of society.)
  • awe = “óo”
  • thoroughly = “thórli” (completely)
  • honorable = “ônorbol”
  • accommodationism = “acomodêixionism”
 

Words Often Confused

whether = se (if)
weather = tempo (clima)
wood = madeira (incontável)
woods = bosque (sempre plural)
 
 

Spelling Analysis

O prefixo MIS- (prefixo pejorativo), quando acrescentado a verbos e particípios, significa que a ação é realizada, porém de maneira errônea.
 
  • MIScalculate (calcular mal)
  • MISundertood (interpretar mal)
  • MISjudge (julgar mal)
  • MIStranslate (traduzir de forma incorreta)
  • MISinform (passar informação errada)

 

O prefixo MIS- também é acrescentado a substantivos abstratos formados a partir dos verbos correspondentes.

 
  • Disbelief (descrença)
  • MISbelief (crença falsa, desconfiança)
 

Grammar Analysis

Adjetivos de Quantidade (Quantifiers)

 
 
  • Estude os exemplos e faça as devidas associações:
→ She doesn’t drink MUCH coffee. (Ela não bebe muito café.)
→ She drinks LITTLE coffee. (Ela bebe pouco café.)
→ She drinks LESS coffee than John. (Ela bebe menos café do que John.)
→ She doesn’t have MANY friends. (Ela não tem muitos amigos.)
→ She has FEW friends. (Ela tem poucos amigos.)
→ She has FEWER friends than John. (Ela tem menos amigos do que John.)
 
 
  • Estude as notas abaixo:
→ MUCH e MANY são preferencialmente usados em orações interrogativas e negativas.
→ MANY tem concordância verbal de plural:
→ Many students ARE waiting outside.
→ Pode-se substituir “many + plural” por “many a + singular:
→ MANY A student IS waiting outside.
→ Em orações afirmativas usa-se, preferencialmente, “a lot of, lots of, a great deal of, a good deal of” no lugar de “many” e “much”.
→ A LOT sem OF não deve ser usado antes de substantivo:
→ She works A LOT. / A LOT was done by him.
→ As formas A LOT OF e LOTS OF têm concordância verbal dependente do elemento que as seguir:
→ There is A LOT OF dust here.
→ There are A LOT OF books here.
→ PLENTY OF significa “mais do que suficiente”:
→ There’s no need to hurry; we’ve got PLENTY OF time.
→ MUCH pode ser usado também antes de comparativo:
→ Jane is MUCH taller than John.
→ VERY (=muito) é usado antes de adjetivos e advérbios no grau normal:
→ Her daughter is VERY intelligent (adjetivo).
→ A LITTLE e A FEW são ideias positivas e significam “uma pequena quantidade de” ou “um pequeno número de” e equivalem a SOME, em inglês:
→ I still have A LITTLE money in the bank. (Eu ainda tenho algum dinheiro no banco.)
→ The exam was extremely difficult but A FEW students passed it. (A prova foi extremamente difícil, mas alguns alunos passaram.)
→ LITTLE e FEW são ideias negativas:
→ I have LITTLE money in the bank (quase nenhum dinheiro).
→ The exam was extremely difficult and FEW students passed it (quase nenhum aluno).
→ SO, TOO e VERY podem ser usados antes de MUCH, MANY, LITTLE e FEW para ampliar, enfatizar ou restringir o sentido dos quantificadores:
→ I can’t bear SO MUCH noise. (Eu não consigo suportar tanto barulho.)
→ There are SO MANY jobs to do today. [Tem tanto trabalho (trabalho demais) pra fazer hoje.]
→ TOO MUCH noise drives me crazy. (Barulho demais me deixa louco.)
→ There are TOO MANY people in the restaurant. (Tem gente demais no restaurante.)
→ I’ve got VERY LITTLE money. (Eu tenho muito pouco dinheiro.)
→ VERY FEW students passed the examination. ( Muito poucos alunos passaram na prova.)
→ LITTLE também é usado para indicar o diminutivo de substantivos:
→ LITTLE dog = cachorrinho
→ LITTLE John = Joãozinho
 
 

 

 
 

Did You Know That?

Algumas palavras em inglês são incontáveis quando comparamos com o português, como “pão/bread”.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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