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Monday, August 30, 2010

Rel-ience

It occurs to me that if there is a war between religion and science then science cannot win. Why? Because science ultimately aids religion.

"Wait," I hear you cry, "how does that make any sense?" Well, think about it historically for a moment. For most of human history, religion was regional. The reason you didn't find temples to Zeus in China or mead halls dedicated to Odin in South Africa was because there was no way to transmit the information of one belief system to another location other than perhaps word of mouth or on tablets or scrolls. But BECAUSE religion was regional, anyone who did that would likely be either laughed out of town for holding such ridiculous beliefs or (more likely) would be killed as a heretic. Everybody loves their own brand, it seems.

No, the only way religion spread traditionally was through conquest. Go somewhere with an army, burn down the local temples and smash the local statuary to prove your God is mightier. But conquest is not a simple matter, over time people grow weary, memories fade and religions gradually die off (Zeus?! Like anyone still believes in THAT guy!). So in order to simplify things a way had to be found to do things faster and better. Thus, war became the laboratory it remains to this day, advancing technology by necessity and then spinning off into more peaceful applications later.

See the inherent irony there? Technological advancement, research, experiment and theoretical development... that's the cycle of science. Science made spreading religion easier. And it wasn't always by the sword, either. Enter Guetenberg and the printing press... and what does he print? The Bible! Naturally it doesn't stop there of course but the point is the same: science makes it easier for religion to spread. You can lump in radio, TV, audio recording technology and ultimately computers and the internet too.

Every single advance in science has been co-opted by religion as a spreading device, only to be used later by religious fanatics to shout down the further advancement of science! It's enough to test your faith. Good thing I don't have any.

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