- Ways of Knowing - (A chapter from a book which is being written.) Arthur J. D'Adamo P.O.

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1 - Ways of Knowing - (A chapter from a book which is being written.) Arthur J. D'Adamo P.O. Box 12950 Philadelphia PA 19108-0950 A Tale This chapter begins with a simple tale, an epistemological restatement of the story of the tortoise and the hare. In this story, Newton's theories and all the discoveries that flowed from them are given to followers of what I'll call the "revelational" method of knowing truth. The followers of the revealational method of knowing truth are the "religious physicists." There is another group, the "scientific alchemists," who use a different method of knowing truth, the scientific way. To the scientific alchemists are given Alchemy and all the nonsense and falsehood that it implies. Our tale opens in the thirteenth century. The religious physicists are followers of a genius who has discovered and recorded the calculus and the basic laws of physics. The religious physicists worship this genius as a god; they venerate his writings as divinely inspired and perfectly true. Following the theories in these holy scriptures, the religious physicists are beginning to understand the natural world. New discoveries in mathematics, mechanics, astronomy, and navigation are being made almost daily. The beliefs of the religious physicists are substantially correct and many centuries of progress await them. The other group, the scientific alchemists, following Aristotle's theory of the four basic elements of earth, water, fire, and air, endeavor to turn lead into gold. Into their crucibles, flasks, mortars, and pots, they put eggs, toads, snakes, herbs, urine, entrails, lead, mercury, sulfur, and saltpeter. These elements are ground, mixed, filtered, hammered, and heated. Using bizarre symbols, such as toads, dragons, birds, stars, crowns, keys and planets, the scientific alchemists record their methods. The beliefs of the scientific alchemists are wrong and their quest to turn lead into gold is doomed to failure. As time passes, however, the scientific alchemists slowly and independently discover some of laws of nature which the religious physicists believe to be divine truth. "You have uncovered," say the religious physicists, "but a tiny portion of our divine Truth; surely you'll never uncover all of our complete and perfect truth with your mortal, imperfect minds. Our revelation is true, of God, and far beyond what we can find alone and unaided. Why then do you not give up your slow, painful search for truth and embrace our Truth?" "Never," reply the scientific alchemists. "Truth is to be earned, to be understood. You are satisfied to follow blindly, without understanding. We are not. Even though today some of our truths match your beliefs, one day we may find other truths of which you are ignorant. As the centuries pass, the scientific alchemists independently uncover, test, and accept more and more of the truths held by the religious physicists. "For hundreds of years now," say the religious physicists, "our sacred writings have held the full and complete truth. Ignoring these writings, you have been winning, bit by bit, through much labor and suffering, what already was fully given to the fathers of the fathers of our fathers. Our way to truth, the way of divine revelation, is ancient and sure. Why then do you not cease your needless searching and accept out divine revelation?" "Never," reply the religious alchemists. "No book can hold the full and perfect turth. Our way of knowing is a never-ending process of observation, hypothesis, theory, and experiment. Even as knowledge is limitless, the search for knowledge must be unending too. This is our way of knowing. One day our knowledge shall surpass yours." By the end of the nineteenth century, the scientific alchemists have independently found and verified all the beliefs of the religious physicists. "For six hundred years now," say the religious physicists, "you have groped in the dark, while we, following the divine knowledge given in our holy scriptures by our god, have lived in the light. Now, after much error and effort, you have finally reached the Truth. Will you not now admit the inspired nature of our religion and join us in our worship?" "Never," respond the scientific alchemists. "Your way of blind acceptance is not our way. We are pledged to follow the truth; you to follow your holy books and god. We are free to go where the truth leads, you are bound to a limited knowledge now six hundred years old. One day we shall go beyond your knowledge." In the early twentieth century, the day comes. A thinker named Einstein proposes that the theories accepted by religious physicists and scientific alchemists alike are not actually true, but only a near approximation of the truth. He proposes radically different theories. The new theories are superior to the old only in that the orbit of the planet Mercury is explained slightly better. However, the new theories require a drastic, new view of space and time. "Blasphemy!" shout the religious physicists. "Heretical, perverse, mind-twisting ideas of an iconoclastic rebel. Surely our Holy Faith, the faith of our fathers, will prevail against such diseased drivel!" "It seems to be the truth!" reply the scientific alchemists. "We shall test it and, if true, we shall accept it. We are long accustomed to molding ourselves to the truth; not molding the truth to ourselves." Twenty years later, the theory of Quantum Mechanics is welcomed in much the same manner by the two camps. The religious physicists reject Quantum Mechanics as heretical nonsense. The scientific alchemists test and then accept it. Using the Theory of Relativity and, more significantly, Quantum Mechanics, the scientific alchemists begin to surpass the religious physicists in understanding and controlling the physical world. Using Quantum Mechanics they discover atomic energy, semiconductors, lasers, and computers. The religious physicists, bound as they are to a way of knowing that limits what they can know, refuse to accept or use the new discoveries. The world beyond their holy scriptures, the world of computers, lasers, nuclear energy, and of space-time, is a world that they, as believers, will never enter. The point of the tale is the importance of our epistemological method, our method of acquiring and testing knowledge. Epistemology is that branch of philosophy which deals with these questions: "How can I acquire knowledge? By what method can I come to know the truth? How can I be sure my knowledge is true?" In the above tale the scientific alchemists followed the scientific way of knowing; the religious physicists, on the other hand, followed the way of knowing usually employed by religion, the revealational method of knowing. As the story shows, our method of knowing truth is important, perhaps even more important than the ideas we initially accept as true. For if our method of acquiring and testing knowledge is sound then even if our initial beliefs are wrong, someday they'll be correct. On the other hand, even if our initial beliefs are correct, if our method of acquiring and testing knowledge is faulty, then someday our beliefs will be obsolete, and may even become an obstacle to finding the truth. The story also compares the scientific way of knowing to the revealational way of knowing, and shows the scientific way of knowing to be the superior method - at least, for understanding the natural world. In this chapter the two ways of knowing are examined and compared. The following questions are discussed: what is the revealational way of knowing, what claims are made for it, and how successful has it been in discovering and validating religious truth? Later, the same questions are discussed for the scientific way of knowing. The Revealational Way of Knowing The revealational way of knowing is often described in a religion's beliefs about its own scriptures. The Roman Catholic church, for example, ". . . holds that all the books of the Old and New Testaments in all their parts have been written under the active influence of the Holy Spirit. . . . considers these as sacred and genuine, handed on . . . by God who is their principal Author. ([28], 11-12) Also the church teaches that " . . . these books teach firmly, faithfully and without error all and only those truths which God wanted written down for man's salvation." ([28], 12). In addition, revealed writings are not merely helpful for salvation, they are necessary. "Revelation is that saving act by which God furnishes us with the truths which are necessary for our salvation." ([58], 213). Finally since not merely some, but all, truths which God wanted written down for man's salvation are in the Bible, "Christians . . . now await no new public revelation from God." ([28], 4). For Christians, God's public revelation is completed. However, private revelations to individuals are still considered possible. Thus the Roman Catholic Church's way of knowing religious truth is based on scriptures for which it makes these four claims: (1) an inspired or divine author ("God who is their principle Author"), (2) consistency and truthfulness ("without error"), (3) completeness and finality ("all and only those truths . . . no new public revelation"), (4) necessity for salvation, enlightenment, or liberation ("necessary for our salvation"). As I mentioned, these claims are generally found in religious ways of knowing. The Seventh-day Adventist, for instance, similarly believe that "The Bible's authority for faith and practice rises from it origin . . . The Bible writers claimed they did not originate their messages but received them from divine sources." ([88], 7) and "How far did God safeguard the transmission of the text beyond assuring that its message is valid and true? It is clear that while the ancient manuscripts vary, the essential truths have been preserved." ([88], 11) and finally "Judging the Word of God by finite human standards is like trying to measure the stars with a yardstick. The Bible must not be subjected to human norms." ([88], 13). I'll discuss the four claims of the revealational way of knowing in order. The Claim of Divine Authorship Note that the claim of inspired or divine authorship is intimately related to another belief, the belief that the human mind is unable to discover divine truths. These two ideas, in turn, imply that scripture is not subject to human validation, correction, or revision. The reasoning which implies the inability of the human mind to discover divine truths may be stated in a question and answer form. Question: "Can I, a fallible, limited human being, ever attain divine truth, salvation, or enlightenment without supernatural aid? After all, I'm just a mortal, human being. At times I err and am mistaken. My senses are limited and sometimes entirely inaccurate, as in the case of an optical illusion. My powers of reasoning and understanding are limited; there are many things I cannot fully, or even partially, understand. These limitations, which are an inherent part of being human, cause me to err in merely mundane opinions and judgements; why then should I trust my own powers in matters of highest religious, spiritual or metaphysical truth?" Answer: "I should not trust my own powers in matters of religious, spiritual, or metaphysical truth, or in matters of salvation, deliverance, or enlightenment. Human limitation necessitates that the divine reach out to me and reveal Itself. Even if that divine revelation exceeds my powers of comprehension, even if it appears to my finite, limited mind as foolishness, as it well might, I'll accept it and thus cooperate with the divine in my deliverance." Justin Martyr, a early Christian, seemed to embrace such a belief, for when he " . . . recognized the great difference between the human mind and God, he abandoned Plato and became a Christian philosolpher. . . . (since he had) realized that the human mind could not find God within itself and needed instead to be enlightened by divine revelation - by means of the Scriptures and the faith proclaimed in the church." ([111], 146) Evidently, Justin considered religious truths to be so far above the ability of the human mind to find and understand them that God found it necessary to inspire special authors to write these truths in scripture. Only thus could the human race come to know these truths. Thus the belief of the inadquacy of the human mind in relation to divine truth establishes the need for divine revelation. This need, coupled with belief in an all-Good God, motivates a reaching out by God to the human race. Revelation is believed to embody this outreach. Thus some religious believers hold revelation to be a statement from the divine. From this and the mind's inadquacy, it naturally follows that God's statement may be beyond our understanding. As such, it is not meant to be critically examined, but to be accepted without reservation; it's a matter of faith, not understanding. So revelation is not subject to human validation, correction or revision, and needs no independent proof of its truth. If independent proof is found, all well and good. If not, or if facts are found which seem to contradict scripture's authority, then the believer must believe anyway. Yet there exist in the world today many revelations, revelations which are sometimes incompatible with each other, and sometimes inconsistent with themselves. Can all of these conflicting revelations be perfectly true? Is any one of the perfectly true? I can not answer such questions directly. However, I shall show how belief in divine authorship has lead to an acceptance of falsehood as truth, implying that a way of knowing which supposes the divine authority of any set of writings is an unreliable way of knowing. Let's first consider an incident in early Christianity where an entire group of writings was accepted not because of their content, but because of their supposed authorship. The senate of Athens was called the "Areopagus"; the biblical book of Acts records that St. Paul spoke these words before the Areopagus. "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." ([39], Acts 17:28). Acts also records that Paul made believers of certain Athenians, including a man whose name was Dionysius. This man was a member of the Areopagus, and so is known to history as "Dionysius the Areopagite." The conversion of an Areopagite of Greece may have given a welcome prestige and exposure to the young Christian religion, just as the conversion of a senator or congressman today might do the same for a young religion. Some four hundred years later, the Christian religion had all the prestige and exposure it could desire; it was the state religion. It used its power to destroy any competing religious or philosophic system. In 527 C.E., for example, the Christian church banned (refer [46], 78) Neoplatonism, a system derived, as its name suggests, from the teachings of Plato. About the same time, someone, probably a Syrian monk, wrote (refer [27]) The Divine Names, The Mystical Theology, and other works under the pseudonym "Dionysius the Areopagite," that is, under the name of St. Paul's ancient Athenian convert. These works are filled with Neoplatonic teachings. Yet because they were believed to be the writings of St. Paul's convert they ". . . had an immense influence on subsequent Christian thought. The medieval mystics are deeply indebted to him, and St. Thomas Aquinas used him as authority." ([27], back cover). A curious situation: teachings once banned by the Christian church are later embraced; Neoplatonism is wrong, but Neoplatonic teachings with a Christian veneer are not. A few churchmen may have had their doubts, but "So long as his traditional identification with the disciple of St. Paul was maintained, and he was credited with being, by apostolic appointment, first Bishop of Athens, these distinctions made suspicion of his orthodoxy seem irreverent and incredible. But when the identification was questioned by the historical critics of the seventeenth century, and the tradition completely dispelled, then the term Pseudo-Dionysius began to be heard and to prevail, and criticism upon its orthodoxy arose . . ." ([27], 212-3). For over a millennium teachings are accepted, not because they pass any objective, verifiable test of truth, but because they are believed to be the work of an authority. Yet when their authorship is questioned, the teachings themselves also come under question. Thus the foremost test of truth in revealed religion - the principle that something must be true simply because its supposed author is considered inspired or a deity - forced a religion to accept as true essentially the same ideas it had previously declared false. Another incident concerns the gospel of Mark. In the New American Bible ([64]) at the end of the gospel of Mark, we find a "longer ending," a "shorter ending," and a "freer logion." In the longer ending, the ending accepted in the King James version, Jesus says "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." ([39], MK 16:17,18). Believing these verses to have been written by God, members of some religious groups handle snakes and drink poisons as acts of faith. Sometimes that faith has cost them their lives. Yet the longer ending is not found in some early manuscripts of Mark, manuscripts which a footnote describes as "less important." I do not know how the importance of an ancient biblical manuscript is estimated, however the fact remains that the longer ending does not appear in some very old biblical manuscripts. Is God the author of the longer ending? Does it represent the actual words of Jesus or merely the beliefs of a latter-day redactor to Mark's gospel? Should these verses be in the bible at all? The answer to this question is not known. So there is a danger in relying on the supposed inspiration or divinity of an author to guarantee the truth of writings. For there is no certain way, no independent test, to show that such writings are actually inspired or divine. If beliefs are accepted on the basis of their supposely inspired or divine authorship, then false, or at least doubtful, beliefs may be accepted. I've given an example where people risked, and sometimes lost, their lives motivated by words accepted through belief and not proof - words which Jesus may, or may not, have spoken. The Claim of Consistency and Truthfulness - I Now let's examine the second claim of the revealational way of knowing, consistency and truthfulness. Notice that the test for consistency is the stronger of the two. For in a disagreement between scripture and some exterior truth or fact, it may always be claimed that the "truth" or "fact" is wrong. But if the exterior fact is another scripture, then one of the two scriptures clearly must be in error and therefore untruthful. And if the fact is not external to the scripture, but in another part of the same scripture, then the scripture disagrees with itself, and is clearly inconsistent and therefore untruthful. Let's first consider the disagreements of one scripture with another. I'll consider the three major revelations of Western religion: the earliest writings are contained in the Jewish Torah which is also part of the Christian Old Testament; later the Christian New Testament was written, and later still the Koran (Quran) of Islam. Are the Old and New Testaments true? According to the Koran, the revelation of Islam, "The Jews say the Christians are misguided, and the Christians say it is the Jews who are misguided." (Sura 2:13, [49], 344). Yet, according to the Koran, both are misguided for "And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah . . . How perverse are they!" (Sura 9:30, [57], 148). So the Koran advises that one should ". . . admonish those who say that Allah has begotten a son." (Sura 18:4, [49], 91). Islam's believes that Jewish scripture deviates from the true word of God and that Christians imperfectly understand the message that God had tried to communicate to them. "The doctrine of monotheism, established by Abraham, never again quite lapsed. . . . The first step, thus, was taken . . . but other steps remained. . . . (Moses' followers) recognized God's oneness, and also God's law. . . . (but) in course of time they allowed their copies of the text . . . to become corrupted. . . . In due course, to correct this desperate error, God sent another messenger, Jesus. . . . (but his followers erred in that they) focussed their attention on Christ to the partial neglect . . . of God, whose transcendence they thus compromise . . . (and erred also in regards to) . . . the full moral order, since they have cultivated personal piety but allowed social justice to slide . . . (so God decided to make yet another revelation, the Quran, and) . . . This time there was to be no error, no distortion, no neglect." ([90], 12-14). So Islamic scripture states both Jewish and Christian scripture is in error. One thing is certain, at least one of these scriptures is incorrect, untruthful. For when one revealed writing faults another, then one thing is certain - either the faulted revelation truly is imperfect, or the fault-finding revelation is mistaken. These external and internal disagreements among scriptures force us to use our own flawed, human powers of reason to decide "Which revelation is correct?" and "Which parts of that revelation is correct?" Revelation, which was to relieve us of our dependency on our own powers, has failed; for it is we who must decide which revelation to believe. Even if there were only one religion, this situation might still exist. Suppose for a moment that all the world was Christian. I once heard a preacher claim that a person not baptized by immersion was going to hell. Many Christian groups do not practice baptism by immersion. Was the preacher telling the truth? I have only my own reasoning powers to answer. So even if all the world recognized the Bible as the single, authentic, perfect revelation of God, preachers would still give varying interpretations of what the Bible teaches, and I would still have to decide, using my own limited and imperfect powers of reasoning, which interpretation was correct. If, however, all the world was one religion and ruled by one religious hierarchy, and if those who openly disagreed with the religious hierarchy were in some way eliminated, then we would be relieved of our responsibility to decide the truth for ourselves. Such totalitarian societies, both past and present, engaging as they have in persecutions, inquisitions, and the like, have hardly been models of ideal societies. The responsibility to decide the truth for ourselves, although burdensome at times, seems infinitely more desirable than the alternatives. Revealed writings not only disagree with each other, however, they disagree with themselves as well. The Claim of Consistency and Truthfulness - II Belief in biblical inerrancy has been held throughout the ages by many leading religious figures. In Inerrancy And The Church, for example, we read that "Clement of Rome claimed that the Scriptures were errorless." ([110], 23) and "Tertullian was swift to argue . . . that the Scriptures contained no contradictory material nor error." ([110], 24) and that Origen " . . . perceived the Scriptures as perfect and noncontradictory . . ." ([110], 25) and, finally, "For Augustine, it was an article of faith that there is no real discrepancy or contradiction in all of Scripture." ([110], 49). Augustine's definition of error was strict. "When Augustine declared the Bible to be free from error, he explicitly rejected the presence of inadvertent mistakes as well as conscious deception." ([110], 53). Yet Augustine was aware that Matthew 27:9 attributes a quote to Jeremiah which is actually Zechariah 11:13. If not a conscious deception, was this not, at least, an inadvertent mistake? Could Augustine avoid seeing it as one or the other? He could. Augustine's solution (refer [110], 44) was as follows. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the name "Jeremiah" first came to Matthew's mind. Matthew then realized that the quote was actually Zechariah's but decided that the Holy Spirit had allowed "Jeremiah" to come to mind to indicate "the essential unity of the words of the prophets." So Matthew bowed "to the authority of the Holy Spirit" and wrote "Jeremiah" instead of the correct reference, Zechariah. Augustine's explaination illustrates the extreme ingenuity religious believers sometimes employ to defend the innerrancy of their scriptures, and to "harmonize" their inconsistencies. Moreover, in the face of a plain discrepancy and contradiction, Augustine maintains there is no discrepancy or contradiction, not necessarily because he is dishonest, but because he is compelled to do so by the axioms of his way of knowing. This incident illustrates a failing of the revealational way of knowing itself, as opposed to a failing of a single individual. The distinction is an important one. To elaborate, suppose some untruthful, even sadistic or murderous, people happen to follow a certain idealogy or belong to a certain group. Their actions do not necessarily reflect badly on their idealogy or group. (If a few members of a knitting club decide to poison their spouses, that doesn't necessarily reflect badly on knitting.) On the other hand, suppose following an idealogy or joining a group turns otherwise truthful, sane people into untruthful, sadistic, or murderous people. Then this clearly indicates that something is wrong with their idealogy or group. (Racism, for example, can have an evil effect on those whom it influences.) Like Augustine, John Calvin also believed in the inerrancy of the bible. "To Calvin the theologian an error in Scripture is unthinkable. Hence the endless harmonizing, the explaining and the interpreting of passages that seem to contradict or to be inaccurate." ([110], 178) Yet, like Augustine, Calvin also knew of instances that might be called "error" but refused to call them such. For example, Calvin decided that " . . . in Acts 7:14 (the seventy-five souls) and Hebrews 11:21 (Jacob's staff) the writer may have chosen to echo the Septuagint's mistranslation of the Hebrew of Genesis 46:27 and 47:31 rather than correct it, lest he disconcert his readers and so distract them from the point he was making, which was not affected by the mistranslation one way or the other." ([110], 182) It might be maintained that the above errors crept in over the many years the books of the bible were copied and recopied by hand. Thus it might be supposed that the original biblical texts were free from error, and that the bible would be free from error if only the original text were known and accurately translated. Yet here is an example where the original text is known, but is intentionally mistranslated to this day. About the Virgin Birth, Matthew writes "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." ([39], Matt 1:22-23). In another Bible, a curious footnote to this verse appears. "1, 22f: this is a prophetic reinterpretation of Is 7, 14 in the light of the facts Matthew has outlined: the virginal conception of Jesus, his Davidic messianic role in a spiritual sense, Joseph's legal paternity, and the unique presence of God in Jesus, which the Church of the evangelist's time had to come to understand in his divinity. All these things about Jesus that were faintly traced in Is 7, 14 are now seen by Matthew to be fully brought to light as God's plan." ([64], NT, 6). What "prophetic reinterpretation" and "faintly traced" might mean will soon become apparent. Turning to Isaiah 7:14, we read "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." ([39], Is 7:14). Again in the other bible, we find a curious footnote. "7,14: The sign proposed by Isaiah was concerned with the preservation of Judah in the midst of distress (cf Is 7, 15. 17), but more especially with the fulfillment of God's earlier promise to David (2 Sm 7, 12-16) in the coming of Immanuel (meaning 'With us is God') as the ideal king (cf Is 9, 5-6; 11, 1-15). The church has always followed St. Matthew in seeing the transcendent fulfillment of this verse in Christ and his Virgin Mother. The prophet need not have known the full force latent in his own words; and some Catholic writers have sought a preliminary and partial fulfillment in the conception and birth of the future King Hezekiah, whose mother, at the time Isaiah spoke, would have been a young, unmarried woman (Hebrew, almah). The Holy Spirit was preparing, however, for another Nativity which alone could fulfill the divinely given terms of Immanuel's mission, and in which the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God was to fulfill also the words of this prophecy in the integral sense intended by the divine Wisdom." ([64], OT, 832). What "transcendent fulfillment" might mean; why the church would have to choose to follow St. Matthew (who never identified the prophet he was quoting) or Isaiah; why some Catholic writers sought a "preliminary and partial fulfillment" in King Hezekiah; and how a prophet could fail to know the "full force latent in his own words" - are all certainly not very clear from the above footnote. It's easy to feel that the writers of both footnotes are trying to tell us something but not doing a very good job. A much clearer explanation is to be found in a book critical of the bible in particular, and of religion in general. ". . . falsely translated by the false pen of the pious translators, runs thus in the English: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.' (Isa. VII, 14.) The Hebrew words ha-almah mean simply the young woman; and harah is the Hebrew past or perfect tense, 'conceived,' which in Hebrew, as in English, represents past and completed action. Honestly translated, the verse reads: 'Behold, the young woman has conceived - (is with child) - and beareth a son and calleth his name Immanuel.' Almah means simply a young woman, of marriageable age, whether married or not, or a virgin or not; in a broad general sense exactly like girl or maid in English, when we say shop-girl, parlor-maid, bar-maid, without reference to or vouching for her technical virginity, which, in Hebrew, is always expressed by the word bethulah." ([4], 68). Thus the words of Isaiah are to this day falsely translated, and Matthew quotes no known prophet. For those interested in a contempory discussion of biblical inerrancy there is 136 Biblical Contradictions ([72]) and 136 Bible "Contradictions"...Answered ([59]). I have found contradictions in other scriptures, but do not know of any similar references for non-biblical scriptures, although they may well exist. The Claim of Completeness and Finality - I Now let's turn to the third claim of revealational way of knowing, its completeness and finality. First, let's examine how scripture attains to that state. Obviously, for any scripture there was once a time when it had not yet been written, and another time when it was in the process of being written. At neither of these times was the scripture complete or final. (Of course, some believers might insist that "written" be replaced by "recorded," claiming their scriptures were complete and final in God's mind from the beginning of time. This is another claim that can neither be proven or disproven.) The writing of scripture has taken varying amounts of time. The Old Testament, for example, was written over a time span close to a thousand years. The writing of the New Testament, however, was accomplished in a few hundred years; the Koran was written within the lifetime of Muhammad. While being written, scripture was susceptible to influence by contemporary beliefs, both foreign and local. When Judaism was young, for example, its scriptures were influenced by the older religion of Zoroastrianism, which especially in its ". . . demonology, angelology, and eschatology, influenced Judaism from the time of the exile onward. This is particularly evident in the changed conception of Satan. Before the exile - for example, in the prologue to Job (1:6-12) and in the mouth of Zechariah (3:1-2) - Satan was no more than the servant of God, acting on his orders as prosecutor; after the exile he is portrayed as God's adversary. This is clearly shown in two versions of the same story, II Sam. 24:1 and I Chron. 21:1. In the first, the preexilic version, the Lord incites David to wickedness so that he may wreak vengeance on the Israelites; in the second it is Satan, not God, who is responsible for the calamity." ([65], vol 23, 1013). (This quote shows yet another example of scriptural inconsistency.) Listed in The Ethical Religion of Zoroaster ([25], xxi-xxiv) are other similarities in Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian scripture, doctrine and practice. The list is four pages long. In its youth, Christianity also felt the influence of other religious beliefs. Mr. A. Powell Davies noted the ". . . extensive debt of Christianity to Pagan religion during the first centuries of its development in the Mediterranean area." ([24], 84), Mr. Davies writes "Mithras was a Redeemer of mankind; so were Tammuz, Adonis and Osiris. The view eventually taken of Jesus as a Redeemer was not a Judaic concept; nor was it held by the first Christians in Palestine . . . It was when Christianity spread out into the Pagan world that the idea of Jesus as a Savior God emerged. This idea was patterned on those already existing, especially upon Mithras. It was the birthday of Mithras, the 25th of December (the winter solstice), that was taken over by the Pagan Christians to be the birthday of Jesus. Even the Sabbath, the Jewish seventh day appointed by God in the Mosaic Law and hallowed by his own resting on this day after the work of Creation, had to be abandoned in favor of the Mithraic first day, the Day of the Conquering Sun. In the Mediterranean area during the time of Christian expansion, nowhere was there absent the image of the Virgin Mother and her Dying Son. . . ." ([24], 90) Even after they've been written but before reaching their final state, scriptures may undergo editing and revision (the technical term used is "redaction") by other than their original author. "How much . . . in the Gospels was drawn from pre- existing sources and likewise adapted to the aims, first of the original composers, then of the editors and compilers? The earliest manuscripts we have, it must be remembered, are no earlier than the fourth Christian century, and by then indeed, considerably before - there had been time for the church fathers to make many redactions in accordance with the outcome of theological controversy." ([24], 88). Or, to be precise, by other than their original, human author, since the case could be made that God wrote it, and later God changed or "redacted" it. Yet it certainly seems strange that God would not get it right on the first try, and need to edit His own work! Similarly, of the Jewish scriptures, the Torah, we find "The early rabbis were the direct heirs of the literature incorporating the beliefs of ancient Hebrew religion. During the several centuries which intervened between the writing of the latest portions of the Pentateuch and the rise of rabbinic Judaism, however, profound changes in religious practice and belief had occurred among the people in both Palestine and Babylonia. While many differences at first existed among the rabbis as to the actual meaning of the various contradictory stories of the revelation, the overriding belief of the spiritual legislators that all of the five books of Moses were divinely inspired and thus incapable of self-contradiction finally gave rise to the consensus that every verse of those books had been revealed by God to Moses on Sinai . . . An attempt was made to explain the seeming contradictions among the various versions of the revelation - as also among individual laws - through the utilization of certain hermeneutic principles." ([65], vol 22, 87). Hermeneutic principles are principles by which a writing is interpreted and its inconsistencies "harmonized." The Claim of Completeness and Finality - II Eventually scriptures are consider final and completed. Being final and completed means the scripture is closed, frozen. Certainly no new additions to the Torah, Bible, or Koran are possible; these scriptures are closed. As we'll see, the state of being closed has its advantageous and disadvantageous aspects. An advantageous aspect of being closed is that the scripture may serve as a constant beacon, an unchanging yardstick to measure passing fads and temporary lunacies. A disadvantageous aspect is that closed scripture is unadaptable. What first may appear as a granite mountain of truth to its believers, is, like all mountains, eventually eroded by time and the change time brings. Sooner or later, in a hundred years or ten thousand years, some scriptural wisdom is no longer wisdom but merely tradition or, worse still, foolishness. Yet because it has been frozen in scripture, believers still feel obligated to observe it. In addition, scripture remains forever unable to respond to completely new problems and situations, problems and situations undreamt of when the scripture was original written. Obsolete scriptural "wisdom" seems to fall into three classes: the indecipherable, the unneeded but harmless, and the harmful. I'll present examples of all three cases. Here are two examples of indecipherable teachings. Of the Jewish scriptures which are also a part of the Christian canon, Mr. Nigosian Solomon wrote "The biblical injunctions against eating certain birds, or flying insects, are difficult to apply since the species are not always identifiable from the biblical name or description." ([71], 178). Here we see scriptural injunctions that believers are technically bound to observe, but how can a scriptural injunction be observed if it can not be understood? What could be the meaning of such useless prohibitions? Or of a useless groups of letters? "Here a word should also be said about the cryptic Arabic letters which head certain chapters of the Koran. Various theories have been put forward by Muslim and Western scholars to explain their meaning, but none of them is satisfactory. The fact is that no one knows what they stand for." ([49], 11). The closed, frozen nature of scripture insures that these indecipherable phrases and prohibitions will remain forever in scripture even though no believer can possibly derive any meaning from them or observe them. Most scriptural injunctions, however, can be observed and are observed by believers - even if there is no longer any reason for observance except that the injunction has been frozen into scripture. In short, the scriptural prohibitions have become sacred cows, where the term "sacred cow" means ". . . a person or thing so well established in and venerated by a society that it seems unreasonably immune from ordinary criticism even of the honest or justified kind." ([103], 1996) The first example of a scriptural injunction which has become unneeded but whose observance causes no harm to the believer concerns the origin of the term "sacred cow." In India, killing a cow is considered a great sin, a greater sin than killing many other animals. Why is this so? In the past (I once heard), cows were used to plow the fields. In time of famine, hungry people would naturally be tempted to slaughter and eat their cows. Yet if the cows were eaten, when the famine was over there would be no way to plow the fields and plant a new crop. A temporary famine would become a permanent famine. Thus the survival of the cows was important to society. So (if the explaination is true) what once was a prohibition important for the welfare of society eventually became a religious prohibition independent of society's welfare. Eventually the Vedas, one of India's ancient scriptures, referred to the cow as a goddess (refer [68], vol 3, 206), and identified the cow with the mother of the gods. Thus an observant Hindu may not eat beef even today due to a religious prohibition which is, and ever shall remain, frozen in scripture. Another example of a scriptural injunction which has become unneeded but whose observance causes no harm to the believer arose (I once heard) in the following way. At the time when Judaic scripture was being written, the Israeli heat quickly spoiled meat and dairy products mixed in the same dish, making them a potentially unhealthy combination. So a prohibition against eating meat and dairy products together once may have made good sense. "The regulations about forbidden, treyfah, and permissible, kosher, foods may well have originated in association with taboos of antiquity. Whether or not health or hygiene determined the rules in the first place is little more than speculation, and is irrelevant to pious Jews who refuse to rationalize kosher laws. They accept them as part of a total system ordained by God." ([71], 178). So to this day, observant Jews may not eat a cheeseburger due to an ancient prohibition frozen in scripture. What may have been merely a contemporary taboo has become forever binding, the invention of refrigeration notwithstanding. Due to the closed nature of scripture, it will never be lawful for some religious believers to eat certain, perfectly healthy foods. Today if a scripture were written, daily exercise and a high fiber, low cholesterol diet might be enshrined. Yet the above beliefs do not harm the believers. Even if Jewish people can't eat cheeseburgers, their health need not suffer. There are certainly many healthful diets that do not include meat/dairy combinations, or even meat of any kind. In fact, the avoidance of cheeseburgers may be healthy. Some people, indeed, believe that there are very good health, ethical, and moral reasons for avoiding cheeseburgers (avoidance of cholesterol, for one), and avoiding meat in general. One obvious reason to avoid meat is out of a reverence for life, a wish to avoid unnecessary killing. Another reason (Refer [54], 9) is that meat production is inefficient; it takes about 16 pounds of grain and soy - grain and soy that could be feeding starving humans - to produce 1 pound of meat. So some people have dietary beliefs based on solid health and humanitarian reasons that may closely match religious dietary beliefs. Yet even though they have diets similar to religious diets, how and why something is believed may be as important, or more important, than the belief itself, as the tale in the beginning of this chapter illustrated. The third catagory of frozen scriptural beliefs is harmful ones. One of these harmful beliefs, for example, is found in the Koran's Sura 4:34 which states "Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other . . ." ([49], 370). Another, found in the Christian bible, is "Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling . . ." ([35], 188, Eph 6:5) In the United States in the 19th century, those in favor of slavery used that biblical verse to show slavery was not against the will of God. (As we saw above, scriptures do not always agree. The King James version has "servants" rather than "slaves", a crucial difference. A believing Christian might well be puzzled; which word represents the true word of God?) Like slavery, the caste system of India is rooted in scripture, and is regarded as harmful to the society which tolerates it. Yet the caste system has existed in India for millenia. In the past, some caste rules were extremely brutal and oppressive; a lower caste man might lose a hand or foot by striking, or threatening to strike, a higher caste man. ([66], vol 16, 858). Recognizing the evils of the caste system, social reformers have worked to abolish the near slavery of the lower castes. They were opposed by those who referred to scripture to show that God himself supports the caste system. In the Indian scripture Bhagavad-Gita, for example, God himself in the form of Krishna declares "I established the four castes . . ." ([91], 51). The above examples show how indecipherable, unneeded but harmless, or even harmful teachings are frozen in scripture. Frozen scriptures have another shortcoming for, as I mentioned above, closed scriptures are unable to address new problems. Today, for example, genetic engineering, nuclear power, and the powers and problems they bring, pose questions that the scripture doesn't address. In the past, too, new and novel problems arose which had no solution in scripture. The Spanish, for example, once considered the construction of a Panama canal. What did the Bible have to say about such a project? "After consulting with his religious advisers (who reminded him of the scriptural warning: 'What God has joined together let no man put asunder'), King Philip declared that 'to seek or make known any better route than the one from Porto Bello to Panama (is) forbidden under penalty of death.'" ([16], 220). This example may be amusing to us today but remember that the best minds of the Spanish empire, with God's eternal revelation to guide them, came to the above conclusion. Over the past few centuries, the bible, once thought to be completely and perfectly true, has been shown to contain less and less truth. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, now teaches that ". . . the Bible is free from error in what pertains to religious truth revealed for our salvation. It is not necessarily free from error in other matters (e.g. natural science)." ([28], 12). During the Inquisition, however, when it thought the bible reliable and true even in matters of natural science, the church condemned to execution many who dared to disagree with the bible in matters of natural science. Galileo, the famous scientist who believed that the earth revolved around the sun, narrowly avoided such a fate. Only through the martyrdom of many men and women was belief in total biblical accruacy shaken. Another who was misled by scripture was Martin Luther who claimed that "We know, on the authority of Moses, that longer ago than six thousand years the world did not exist" ([16], 3). There are people today, "Creationists," who still believe this. They and Seventh-day Adventists as well also believe that "Evolution in whatever form or shape contradicts the basic foundations of Christianity . . . Christianity and evolution are diametrically opposed." ([88], 92). A final point to consider regarding the completeness and finality of scripture is this: the existence of any subsequent scripture implicitly denies the completeness and finality of any earlier scripture. For certainly if the Old Testament had been complete and final, there would have been no need for the New Testament. Consequently basic Christian belief almost of necessity should hold that the Old Testament is "temporary and incomplete." It does. According to Roman Catholicism, for example, "The plan of the Old Testament was to prepare men for Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Prophecies were made and certain persons and events typified greater persons and events yet to come. (1 Cor 10:11). The knowledge of God, as being just and merciful in His dealings with men was, therefore taught to them little by little, in keeping with their developing religious understanding. There is in evidence a divine teaching method namely, God revealing His truth slowly and piecemeal and patiently through the ages. As a result, the doctrine in some parts of the Old Testament is more developed than in other parts dating from an earlier period. At times, temporary and incomplete things are found which give way later to fulfillment and completion." ([28], 15). Similarly if the New Testament had been complete and final, there would have been no need for the Koran. We saw above, however, how Islamic scripture teaches that the Jewish and Christian revelations are not complete and final, but incomplete and incorrect as well. Thus, belief in the completeness and finality of any one of these revelations implicitly denies the completeness and finality of the others. Yet if God had indeed revealed His truth "slowly and piecemeal and patiently through the ages" in keeping with "developing religious understanding," it might be expected that revelation should still be going on. For had religious understanding developed to such a level 2,000 years ago or 1,500 years ago (indeed, is it now developed to such a level?) that the truth could be revealed once, totally, and for all time? It might seem logical to expect periodic revelations, more and more divine truth revealed slowly and patiently through the ages, until the entire human race had been raised to intimate union with God. The Claim of Necessity for Salvation, Enlightenment The last claim of scripture I'll consider is its necessity for salvation, enlightenment, liberation. Logically, if divine truths are necessary, and not merely helpful, for salvation then salvation can not be achieved without them - a sad situation for those who either have never heard of them or do not believe them. But if divine revelation was so essential and necessary to the achievement of life's greatest good, would not God have made it universally available? Certainly millions of human beings have lived and died with no opportunity to read the Torah, the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, or the Buddhist scriptures. A person living four thousand years ago in what is now Peru, for example, had no possibility of reading any of those writings. Note further that if only one of the above scriptures is actually the full and complete Word of God, then many more millions (the past and present followers of the other religions) are added to the group of those who had no access to the perfect, complete Word of God. But could God, the Father and Mother of all, have neglected to provide the vast majority of His and Her past and present children with a complete, perfect revelation if it was so necessary for their attaining life's purpose? The Scientific Way of Knowing In our discussion of the revealational way of knowing, we saw four claims commonly made for it, and saw how it is hindered in its pursuit of truth by: 1. a reliance on authority rather than verifiable fact that has lead to the acceptance of falsehood, 2. inability to recognize inconsistency and untruthfulness, 3. a finality that makes it unable to directly address new issues and problems. Now let's discuss the scientific way of knowing: how it originated, what it is today, what claims are made for it, and its success or failure in discovering and validating scientific truth. The roots of the scientific way of knowing lie in the ancient Greek arrangement of geometry as a logical system consisting of axioms, theorems, and, most importantly, proof. Previously, geometric truths had been known, to the Egyptians, for example, but the truths rested on no logical foundation. Something was true simply because someone had declared it to be so. The Greeks replaced blind acceptance with reasoned proof. Geometric reasoning was, and still is, a model of scientific reasoning. However, the Greeks distained experiment and exact observation. It remained for medieval Europeans, Harvey and Galileo, for example, to wed scientific reasoning with scientific experimentation and thereby create the scientific way of knowing as we know it today. The scientific way of knowing involves the interplay of the following three elements: observation or experiment, hypothesis or law, and theory. Observation and experiment establish the facts, pure and simple, with no "prophetic reinterpretation" allowed. Sometimes, freshly uncovered facts force a revision of existing laws and theories. Hypothesis and law describe the facts, and often suggest new experiments. Theories explain the facts and laws, often suggesting new experiments and hypothesis as well. For example, we observe that a vibrating guitar, violin, or piano string gives off a sound. Through further experimentation and observation we realize that the faster the vibration, the higher the tone. We form the hypothesis that sound is vibration, and that faster vibration yields higher tone. The hypothesis suggests the question: does all vibration create sound? The question suggests an experiment: swift shake a stick back and forth. No sound is heard. This new fact leads to an amended hypothesis: only vibration above a certain minimum rate emits sound. (True. The minimun rate is nominally 20 cycles a second - 20 Hertz.) The amended hypothesis suggest a new question: is there a maximum rate above which no apparent sound is given off? (There is. For humans, the rate is nominally 20,000 Hertz.) But why is vibration percieved as sound? A good theory would answer this question, and might also suggest fresh experiments and hypothesis. Thus a continuous round of experiment, hypothesis, and theory bring us ever closer to the truth. Its Problems Today, scientific knowledge is pursued by full-time, career scientist often supported by government grants. Limited grant monies foster intense competition, a "Publish or Perish" envionment where published papers establish the recognition so necessary for winning government support. An intense desire for recognition and success have sometimes resulted in dishonest practices ranging from non-disclousure of raw data (refer [108], 76,78), to slight 'improvement' of raw data (refer [108], 30-31), to unfair denial of credit to associates (refer [108], ch. 8), to outright theft of other scientist's work (refer [108], ch. 3), to even wholesale fraud (refer [108], Ch. 4,5,&11), the invention of data and description of expermients never performed. Nor is this strictly a recent problem; Betrayers of the Truth gives instances of falsification and misrepresentations (refer [108], 22-3) by such scientific notables as Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Dalton, Mendel and Millikan. Scientific abuses are a cause for concern. Eventually, will money and prestige seriously injure the scientific enterprise even as they have injured Christianity and other religions in the past? When monastism flowered in Europe during 11th & 12th centuries in Europe, religion was the leading and most influential ideology of the day. Yet religion's full-time practioners, the religious and monastics, often succumbed to the allurements of money and prestige. As a result, religion eventually ceased to be Europe's predominate ideology. If not corrected, scientific abuses may eventually so erode public confidence and support that science ceases to be the leading and most influential ideology of the day. Sadly, the erosion may be unstoppable. For if medieval men and women sworn before God to poverty, chasity, and obiedance could not resist, what chance of resistance have modern scientist, men and women whose personal morality is often no higher than average? However, when we turn from the failings of individuals to the flaws inherent in the scientific way of knowing, the picture is much brighter. I know of no instance where the scientific way of knowing itself forces, or even promotes, untruth, the non- recognition of contradiction and falsehood, that is comparable to the instance where the revealational way of knowing forced Augustine to ignore a clear contradiction. True, scientist have their share of human failings, but human failings do not invalidate the scientific way of knowing or science in general, even as the failings of religious men and women over the ages did not invalidate the revealational way of knowing or religion in general. I do not believe that the scientific way of knowing is flawless. It seems to have some inherient limitations that I'll discuss in a later chapter. However, I do believe that the scientific way of knowing is a better way than the revelational way of knowing, for in its reliance on objective, verifiable tests of truth, it has proven to be a better way of finding and testing truth than the revealational way. While religious truth has remained stagnant for centuries, science has provided an ever-increasing insight into and control of the natural world. Application to Other Fields Today, many fields, including physics, mathematics, chemistry, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and many others, accept the scientific method of knowing as their epistomological method. Previously some of these fields had followed a way of knowing much like the revealational way of knowing used by religion today; that is, they relied on authority to decide truth. In physics, for example, the teachings of Aristotle were believed simply because they were the teachings of Aristotle. "Aristotle greatly hampered physics and astronomy by building a system on two assumptions which he omitted to check by experiment. . . . the speed of fall of a body was (1) proportional to its weight, (2) inversely proportional to the resistance of the medium. . . . Consequently mechanics had to wait nearly two thousand years to make a start." ([112], 31-2) Finally, physics abandoned this way of knowing and adopted the scientific way of knowing. I can only speculate how much more advanced the human race would be today if physics had changed its way of knowing earlier. It is suggestive, for example, that "Aristarchus of Samos, about 270 B.C., proposed a system identical with the Copernican . . . it attracted few, if any, followers, however, and there was talk of a charge of impiety being brought against him." ([112], 30) Nor can we say with certainty how many people suffered needless pain and premature death when medicine adopted the revealational way of knowing. The bubonic plague, what was to become the horror of the 14th century, erupted in the ancient Roman world during the reign of Justinian. It raged from 540 to 590 C.E. At its height the plague claim over 10,000 victims a day; its total toll is estimated at one hundred million. Since contempory physicians were powerless, many people turned to Christianity. "The effect of the plague of Justinian on the field of medicine is unarguable, and was unfortunate. The Christian Church rushed in to fill the medical void, becoming doctor to the soul and the body. Progressive Greek and Roman physicians had taught that disease was caused by pathogenic agents; they were slowly, but correctly, creating the discipline of medical science. The church, however, in its new role as healer, equated disease with vice and sin, the punishment for leading an errant life . . . The brilliant ideas of Galen and Hippocrates became heresies. This repressive attitude lasted until the fourteenth century and vastly altered what would have been a very different course of medicine had it not fallen under the domination of dogma and miracles." ([113], 225) Thus medicine was turned to a revealational way of understanding and treating disease. No more did humanity have to grop in the dark for the cause of disease. For divine and unerring scripture provided the answer. For over 1,000 years, this change in medicine's way of knowing directly affected the lives of untold millions. Eventually - and fortunately - medicine returned to the "heresies" of Galen and Hippocrates, replacing its revealational way of knowing and understaning disease with a more scientific way of knowing. An increase in general health and life expectancy have followed. (Unfortunately, fraud is a problem in the fields of food, drug, and pesticide testing too. Refer [108], 81) Today only a few fields still use the revealational way on knowing. For example, the basis of Astrology's claims that a Cancer is sensitive and reserved, a Gemini communicative and witty, etc. is merely that some person or group of persons declared it so. Thus Astrology does not accept the scientific way of knowing, and therefore is not a science. If Astrology were to adopt the scientific way of knowing, then its claims would have to be experimentally shown before they were accepted. If the claims withstood this test (I do not believe they would) then Astrology would deserve to be called a science. In contrast, geometry, as we've already seen, had abandoned the revealational way of knowing millenia ago, and accepted a method of knowing which eventually evolved into scientific way of knowing. Euclid may have declared something to be true, but its truth was accepted because of the proof he furnished, not simply because he had declared it. Moreover, Euclid's geometric truths were not beyond question, criticism, and refinement. Even though Euclidian geometry was the only geometry for over a thousand years, the nineteenth century discovers of the Non-Euclidian geometries were not declared heretics and burned at the stake. (Granted some may have questioned the usefulness of the new geometries - that is, until Einstein based his theory of Relativity on one of them.) Relation to the Four Claims Now that we've seen what the scientific way of knowing is, and a few of its faults, let's evaluate it in relation to the four claims of the revealational way of knowing. First, science claims no divine authorship for it's beliefs. Truth is acquired and tested through natural, human processes, processes which are usually, but not necessarily, rational processes; flashes of intuition and insight are included too. The existence of the prodigy and genius is not denied, but the supernatural origin of prodigy and genius is denied. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for example, was a musical genius, but still a man fathered by another man - not an incarnation of Music. As another example, when Carl Friedrich Gauss was about six years old, he devised a clever method to quickly calculate 1+2+3+...+99+100 (the answer is 5050) - yet Gauss' body suffered the usual fate and did not ascend into higher numerical realms upon his death. Scientific truths have been found and refined by human beings through an endless cycle of experiment, hypothesis, and theory. These truths can be proved; anyone with sufficient time, equipment, and education may verify them. Thus the scientific way of knowing's reliance on verifiable fact is superior to the reliance on authority of the revealational way of knowing. Note, too, that the scientific way of knowing is the more mature way of knowing, since it demands judgement and discernment. In contrast, the revealational way of knowing allows one to remain childlike; "It's true because Daddy said so" and "It's true because Mommy said so" are simply replaced by "It's true because God said so." Second, science's theories are self-consistent, truthful to the known facts, and open to revision in the light of new facts. In contrast to the "sacred cows" of religion, science is open to challenge and criticism, an openness which greatly contributes to its consistency and truthfulness. Moreover, the science acknowledges the false to be false, no matter how long or by whom it had previously been thought true. Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity presents an excellent example of this. By 1900, the theories of Newton and his successors had provided the Western world with an unparalleled understanding and mastery of the natural world. Yet the observed orbit of the planet Mercury disagreed with Newton's theories. Slightly. Yet the orbit disagreed. Had Newton been considered a saint or divine Incarnation, had his theories been considered eternal law, then Einstein might have been ignored, banned, perhaps even tortured and put to death. Instead, Einstein's theories were eventually acknowledged to be true. A small disagreement with the orbit of mercury and Newton's Truth, led, not to "prophetic reinterpretation" of Mercury's orbit, but to a revision of scientific theory. A simple regard for the truth led to a superior truth. And the superior Truth led to undreamt of power, the power of atomic energy. For Einstein's theories provided the key to the atom and its power. The story of Quantum Mechanics, although not as familiar as Relativity, also shows science at its best. Scientists, groping to see a truth they could not fully understand (and do not fully understand to this day), refused to bend the truth to their belief, but bent their belief to conform to the truth. Bending the truth to belief is a common human trait. The devotion of science to the truth, although flawed as are all human endeavors, is, in some cases, higher than the devotion of religion to the truth. It seems that religion in its expression of the "Truth," sometimes does violence to the simple and humble truth. Third, scientific theories lay no claim to completeness and finality. They are the best approximation to truth so far, but are always open to improvement and revision. Science sees itself as an ongoing, imperfect, human approach to truth. In this way, science avoids the closed, frozen nature of revelation. In contrast to the finality of religious revelation, science is open to, and indeed eager for, new discoveries and truths. In this, the scientific way of knowing is superior to the revealational way of knowing. Fourth and last, science does not see itself as necessary to salvation, enlightenment, or liberation. In fact, science ignores these questions entirely. In this it is infinitely inferior to the revealational way of knowing. For surely questions such as "Who are we?", "Why are we here?", "Is there a proper way to live my life?", "Where am I going?", "What is my place in the universe?", "Does God exist?", and many others are too important to leave uninvestigated. Application to Religion's Domain For physics and other fields which once accepted the revealational way of knowing, the adoption of the scientific way of knowing was a step forward. In field after field the revealational way of knowing has been abandoned for a superior way of knowing, the scientific way. And in field after field, this change has lead to great progress. So even though the revealational way of knowing has been used by religions for millenia, the question might still be asked: could any religion adopt the scientific way of knowing as its way of knowing religious truth? A crucial element of the scientific way of knowing is the importance of understanding and its rejection of blind faith. So a religion believing its truth or revelation to be beyond the power of the human mind to discover, understand, and test could never adopt the scientific way of knowing. So far as I know, this includes most world religions; only some Buddhism sects make no claims to revealed truths. To these sects, the Buddha was a man who discovered certain important truths in a natural, human way, just as Euclid, Einstein, or Gauss made their discoveries. Yet if a religion did adopt the scientific way of knowing then its teachings would constitute both science and religion - science, since they would have been found and tested using the scientific way of knowing; religion, since they would deal with questions traditionally in the domain of religion. Such a religion would satisfy the opening quote of this book. And such a religion might be arrived at in another way. For if science extended its domain to include religious questions then the resultant answers would also constitute both science and religion, for the same reasons as above. To understand how science might so extend its domain, we must first investigate the domain of science and the domain of religion, how the two domains differ, and, more importantly, what the two domains have in common. - Bibliography - [4] - Arsenal For Skeptics, Ed. by Richard W. Hinton, (A. S. Barnes and Company, New York, 1961; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1934) {Includes excerpts from Paine, Gibbon, and Nietzsche} [16] - Cerf, Christopher and Victor S. Navasky. The Experts Speak, The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, (Pantheon Books, New York, 1984) {Highly entertaining; scary too - "Nuclear weapons are so terrible and destructive that war has been rendered impossible" was essentially said of dynamite, machine guns, submarines, and airplanes too. refer 254-5} [24] - Davies, A. Powell. 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Hannah, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1984) {Part of a series published by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy} [111] - Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels, (Vintage Books, New York, 1981) {Winner of the National Book Critics Circle award} [112] - Taylor, F. Sherwood, PhD. A Short History of Science and Scientific Thought, (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1949) {Published in England as Science Past and Present; Mr. Sherwood was curator of the Museum of history of science at Oxford} [113] - Panati, Charles. Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Parctically Everything and Everybody, (Harper & Row, New York, 1989)


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