ok, so for what it is worth, you by now (hopefully) know that i'm a scientist. if i were to speak what religion i belong to, which makes me a little sick, i'm a buddhist. i was raised luthern, and of course still am in a sense. what is written below is a lay person's account of religion and a scientists acount of science. of course they are my opinions, nothing more, and are of course, always subject to change upon hearing new information. it note it to make us (you and i) think about what religion... keep in mind this is a work in progress...

the last time i added to this was: 7/1/02

now, i'll start with my feelings about science. fundamentally, i am an empericist. i'm not necessarly saying that measurement IS the bottom line, we can always mess measurements up, and of course there is the post-modern view (which i tend to agree with) that would say that all measurements are subjective and relative to the observer; but without measurement, science is nothing. i.e. if there is a bottom line, it is in measurement, but measurement is not infalible. this is not to say that theories that are not measurable that the current time should not be developed, or that we shouldn't work on anolgies to the real world, but at the end of the day, those anogies need to be firmly connected to an emperical measurement. (if you happen to take offense to this, look carefully, i'm not telling anyone to not study, say, meta-physics, all i'm saying is, it is META until it is connected to a honest experiment.)

science, as far as i can tell, does not intend too (and probably can't) answer the questions of why. well... it can to a certain degree, like it can answer why when you flick the light switch on that light goes one, but it won't answer "why we are here," or "what is the purpose of my life." even if you belieive the big bang beginning of the universe theory, it doesn't answer where any of that crap came from... and i would argue that that isn't the goal anyway. science produces predictive MODELS, which present mechanisms for human interpretation. THAT IS ALL. there are lots of interesting deep questions, but they are not "why are we here," or "where did we come from," or even more horrible "does god exist." with science, we have achieved some amazing things, but at the end of they day, what we have are a set of models that present mechanisms, and we all know that understanding how a good old fashion clock works does not give us an insight into how time works, or why time is. (more on this later of course)

great, now that i have that out of the way; let us peck away at religion. i would first like to say that i see a definite need for religion in the world. i don't hate religion, or religious people; sometimes those who call themselves religious can be an infinite bin of disgust and annoyance, but that is beside the fact. religion, as far as i can tell from what i've studied, does not provide, in a scientific sense, any good, testible theories. religion does not give mechanisms or reasonable predictive models of phenomena in nature. of course this is not the point of religion, really (even though there are explainations for lightening and droughts and crap like that), the point is to answer questions like "why are we here," and "what is the point of it all." great, so appearently science and religion aren't competing at all. well...

there are tens (probably hunderds) of religions on this planet. actually, if you look toward the personal interpretations of religions, there are billions of religions. many of these religions claim they talk too, or hear from the one TRUE god, or whatever. sounds fishy. now, if one were to study folklore, the religions i've encountered and studied (native american, south african, west african, christian, jewish, islamic, buddhist) have a hell of a lot in common. the "folk" religions have many of the same stories "topologically," i.e. they contain the basic rules most humans seem to wish to live by. of course, there are a hell of a lot of differences. the point is, one being right and another being wrong is silly. that is the crux of the issue for most people, but it is silly none the less. for those who believe that their religion is the one true religion, i challenge you to honestly study 4 other religions, and then come back and say that the first one is the one and only true religion. the point of the former exercise is that literal and mindless interpretation of almost anything is a mistake. (especially in science for instance). the world is not simple; and absolute truth as far as i can tell, never exists. now, the literal interpretation (and note that there are MANY "literal" interpretations for most religions) of any religion is what gets religion into trouble with science. literists have to believe, and not question, anything in their book or books. so, the places where religion begins to intrude on scientific, mechanical turf, literal religionous people have to part with scientists. the darwin issue is the most obvious; many literalist reject the seemingly obvious evidence that the earth has been here for a few billion years and that there was, really, no "adam and eve." at anyrate, the point of this paragraph is to point note that religion is a complicated as human history and behavior, and that literal mindless, thoughtless interpreation of any bit of information is silly. that being said, literal interpreations that seek to explain mechanisms as well as "origins" will of course clash with science, and in a somewhat silly way.