Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. What My Students Said About Religion and Science

 
Iqbal
Iqbal

Meet Allama Iqbal: British knight, national poet of Pakistan, author of poetry in two languages (Persian and Urdu), author of philosophy in two languages (Persian and English), and the only major philosopher I know of who has an airport named after him.

Iqbal is an empiricist. Like William James (one of the visible influences on his thought), he strives for a thorough and consistent empiricism. This effort leads him to a neat little analysis of both religious and scientific knowledge. Before moving on, let that point sink in for a moment: Here’s a major philosopher who thinks a proper understanding of experience justifies both religious and scientific … knowledge.

Sound weird? Well, it does go against a host of popular assumptions. But it’s not that weird – nor is the reality of both scientific and religious knowledge a very unusual idea among careful and consistent thinkers.

Iqbal gives us this idea in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, a very good book in which he attempts to integrate the insights of two intellectual traditions: modern science and religious mysticism — especially Sufism.

And Now It’s Time for a Story

The story will be told from my own fallible memories. But it’s a fairly accurate account of what happened.

So there I am in E-121 somewhere between 9 and 10 AM. I’ve just finished giving my students the gist of Iqbal’s argument for the legitimacy of both religious and scientific knowledge. I’d better review the argument for you. Knowledge, Iqbal says, is born of reflection based on experience. Two of the major varieties of knowledge are born of two major varieties of experience: scientific knowledge (born of reflection on sensory experience) and religious knowledge (born of reflection on religious experience). He says on these matters:

The facts of religious experience are facts among other facts of human experience and, in the capacity of yielding knowledge by interpretation, one fact is as good as another.

You can put this into an argument from the reality of scientific knowledge to the possibility of religious knowledge:

1. Science is a source of knowledge.

2. Science derives its warrant entirely from a combination of experience and reflection on experience.

3. So experience and reflection on experience is a source of knowledge.

4. There is such a thing as religious experience that can be reflected on.

5. So religious experience and reflection can also be a source of knowledge.

And Now, My Students Object!

Now my students begin to question Iqbal. Here are a few of the objections and replies (not word-for-word, but in words meant to capture the heart of the matter). My replies are, more or less, given on behalf of Iqbal because, today at least, I work for Iqbal – as on another day I work for Aquinas, Confucius, or Nietzsche.

Objection: But scientific knowledge can be subjected to tests, and religious beliefs can’t!

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Says who? I don’t think Iqbal says that. What makes you think there is no such thing as a religious hypothesis that can be tested? For example, you might be able to confirm someone else’s religious experience by having your own religious experience.

Objection: But religion is based on subjective experiences, and science isn’t!

Iqbal International
Iqbal International

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Science relies on the experiences of various individuals. Those experiences are relayed from an individual scientist to everyone else by testimony. In this respect religion is exactly the same as science.

Objection: But religious thought is much harder to verify than scientific theories!

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Maybe so. But so what? Iqbal’s analysis doesn’t depend on the ease of verification, or even the method of verification. Maybe it is harder to test a religious belief. Maybe not. (And maybe it varies by religion, and varies from belief to belief in both religion and science.) Maybe religious belief is less reliable than scientific belief, but that doesn’t affect Iqbal’s analysis either way.

Objection: But science is about matter, and religion and ethics are not. So they aren’t about anything real.

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Are you sure about that? Remember what I told you about Plato and Pythagoras! Since triangles are composed of perfectly straight line segments without width, they can’t be made of matter, and you can’t see them. But you’re pretty sure you know what they are, and since you don’t know what doesn’t exist triangles must exist, and they must be non-physical realities known through the mind rather than through sensory experience. So maybe non-physical reality is just as real as physical.

Objection: But scientific thought is concrete, and religion is abstract, and concrete reality is so much easier to know.

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Consider the X beliefs. Science depends on knowledge of them. But try explaining how we know them without being abstract. If you’re going to object to abstract knowledge, you’re probably going to have to object to science if you want to be consistent!

Objection: But what about the conflicts between the evidence of religious experience and the scientific evidence?

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: What about the conflicts between scientific evidence and scientific evidence? These conflicts come up all the time, and scientists manage them on a case-by-case basis, choosing one theory over another based on what evidence is more solid or what interpretation of the evidence is better. There are also conflicts between religious experience and religious experience, and religious believers have to deal with them in the same way. Well, it’s the same with conflicts between religious and sensory experience: If a scientific theory clashes with a religious view, you have to evaluate the experiences and the interpretation of them. In such a conflict, the best combination of solid evidence and good interpretation of the evidence wins! So, you see, this objection counts against science no less than against religion; rather, it counts against neither.

Objection: But moral beliefs are relative because in different cultures people have thought different things about morality.

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Your unstated premise is that whatever different cultures think differently about is not objectively true. Different cultures have thought different things about astronomy. Does that mean that there is no objective truth about whether the earth orbits the sun? If this is a criterion for truth, science is condemned as relative along with religion!

Objection: But scientific knowledge is so much more systematic than morality!

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Not necessarily. You may think this is necessarily so, but you are mistaken. It’s a good thing you’re taking this class, because later we’ll talk about Kant and Aristotle and Mill! Their analysis of morality is more systematic than science!

(By the way, I may have been mistaken in that last point. Is science, as a whole, less systematic than Aristotle and Mill? Maybe. I’m not sure. It’s definitely less systematic than Kant. Everything is less systematic than Kant.)

I suspect many of my students were all along motivated largely by the tension between evolution and traditional monotheisms — perhaps thinking incorrectly that evolution is a test for rationality. And now, with very little time left before class dismisses at 9:50, one of my students finally asks about evolution directly.

Objection: But what about evolution?????

Reply on behalf of Iqbal: In a clash between scientific and religious beliefs, you evaluate the evidence on which the beliefs are based, and you evaluate the interpretation of the evidence. In this particular case, Iqbal thinks the view that God created the earth in a manner inconsistent with evolution is based on a poor interpretation of the evidence from the Quran, which he happens to read non-literally in this case. So Iqbal is a theistic evolutionist.

And my final remarks, as time in class is running out, are something like this: I’m not saying that religious and scientific knowledge are entirely alike in degree of certainty or in method of verification. I’m not saying they are exactly the same kind or same quality of knowledge. And I’m not saying there aren’t good objections to Iqbal’s view of religious knowledge. But let’s be sure to offer good objections that don’t undermine science while we’re trying to promote it!

James
James

The End of This Essay At Last

Many of these objections were old territory for me, for I long ago put them into the mouth of the Grey Robot.

I do concur with Iqbal in this particular argument – though not necessarily in all the material related to the argument in his very good book.

But my goal was not to convince my students to agree with Iqbal. My main goals were to get them thinking, challenge a presupposition richly deserving to be challenged, and introduce them to a neat philosopher.

This was Intro to Philosophy; I’m sure my upper-level students would have given some better objections if they’d tried. For that matter, some of the lines of thinking in the Intro course, had they pressed on with them, might have led to a serious concern with Iqbal. (And I might well have not had any answers.)

Still, it’s amazing how often poor objections and double standards are used against the rationality or knowability of religious beliefs. Well spoken were those words of William James:

Of some things we feel that we are certain: we know, and we know that we do know. There is something that gives a click inside of us, a bell that strikes twelve, when the hands of our mental clock have swept the dial and meet over the meridian hour. The greatest empiricists among us are only empiricists on reflection: when left to their instincts, they dogmatize like infallible popes.

Now, I am gradually working towards devoting all of my Ricochet posts for an extended period of time to the topics of a couple of book projects I’ve been working on. I hope this is one of the very last before I get around to that. But here it is, whether or not it be one of the last.

And I plan to give you a sequel later, in which I’ll look at one aspect of this matter a bit more systematically. Specifically: How is religious belief to be verified or falsified?

Author’s notes:

  • Edited since initial posting. See comment 32 and comment 66, below.
  • The conversation below eventually led to an overview of the philosophy of science and a new presentation of the major issues I discussed with one of my primary interlocutors. See comment 229, below.

There are 440 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Zafar Member

    Wah Wah!

    • #1
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:01 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar:Wah Wah!

    Yeah, Iqbal seems like he might be your homeboy. Or, at any rate, someone sharing a good bit of your heritage. Glad you noticed the post. If you hadn’t, I might have needed to email you but lacked the presence of mind.

    • #2
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Augustine, this is mere wordplay, and while I know that some here reflexively dispose of that criticism by saying that such critics simply do not understand, that is itself a begged question at least twice — first in the obvious sense, and second, that there is in fact something to understand. But there is nothing.

    By wordplay, I mean that this depends upon syllogisms which themselves depend upon homophones and faulty equivalences. You equate beliefs and knowledge handily substituting one for the other. Of course you do, for you are equating religion and science. You refute claims of dubious reliability for religion ( not per se, to be sure, but as a source of knowledge equal in rigor to science) by simply declaring that it ain’t so, and then by denying that it would matter anyway. Finally, your third narfblarian entry states that “therefore experience is a source of knowledge” and then you complete the faulty parallel, exporting the words which convey one meaning in a rigorous context into a non-rigorous context and insisting that they retain their every connotation. Rather than simply declaring that it ain’t so, allow me to point out that Emily Rosa figured it out and challenged the religious belief not to a test of veracity in the mouths and minds of individuals, but to reliability across a sampling of claimants.

    Reproducibility is the cornerstone of operational science and falsifiability the bedrock of theoretical. Happy is the church-free corner where they meet.

    Sorry, bud.

    • #3
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:04 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Still, you write well, and I adored your opening paragraph.

    • #4
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:07 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Ball Diamond Ball:Augustine, this is mere wordplay, and while I know that some here reflexively dispose of that criticism by saying that such critics simply do not understand, . . . .

    You leave me no choice but to say (though not reflexively) that you do not understand. For you misrepresent me in various ways.

    You equate beliefs and knowledge handily substituting one for the other.

    First, I do no such thing.

    Of course you do, for you are equating religion and science.

    Second, I don’t do this either. Nor does Iqbal.

    Nor have I said that they are “equal in rigor.”

    Finally, your third narfblarian entry states that “therefore experience is a source of knowledge” and then you complete the faulty parallel, exporting the words which convey one meaning in a rigorous context into a non-rigorous context and insisting that they retain their every connotation.

    Third, I don’t insist that religious and sensory experience (or the respective investigations or interpretations of them) retain every connotation. This argument from Iqbal only retains one connotation: that both sources of experience (and the interpretations thereof) can possibly lead to knowledge.

    • #5
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    If I understand you, you give two original (and important) objections. What they are supposed to show is unclear. I’ll do my best to reply in much the same way as I might if I heard the objections in class.

    Objection: Religion, unlike science, does not allow for reproducibility.

    Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Why not? There’s a huge tradition of religious mysticism, such as the Sufism Iqbal is considering. The mystic traditions give plenty of opportunities to reproduce religious experience. That’s one of the reasons the traditions are there: to teach us how to perceive the divine.

    Anyway, even if this were true, what is it supposed to prove? That religion is different from science? But no one is disputing that.

    Or is it supposed to prove that religion can’t be knowledge? That would presume that only reproducible experiences lead to knowledge, which would mean that I can’t know anything about history because I can’t reproduce historical events. But I know that Socrates died in Athens. So that premise isn’t true.

    Or is it supposed to prove that religious knowledge would necessarily be a lower quality reflection on experience than scientific knowledge? Like I said, maybe so, but that doesn’t affect Iqbal’s analysis either way.

    Continued:

    • #6
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    (Continued)

    Objection: Religion, unlike science, does not allow for falsifiability.

    Reply on behalf of Iqbal: Are no religious beliefs falsifiable? Some almost certainly are. Like I said, in a conflict of interpretations of experience, you consider the data and consider the interpretation of the data, and in many cases some religious beliefs will be rejected on the basis of better evidence. Is that any different from falsifiability?

    Anyway, what is the objection meant to prove? That religion is different from science? No one is disputing that.

    Or is it supposed to prove that religion can’t be knowledge? But that would presume that only falsifiable theories lead to knowledge, which would mean that I can’t know anything about historical events that can’t be falsified. But I know that Socrates died in Athens. So that premise isn’t true.

    Or is it supposed to prove that religious knowledge would necessarily be a lower quality reflection on experience than scientific knowledge? Again: Maybe so, but that doesn’t affect Iqbal’s analysis either way.

    • #7
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Ball Diamond Ball:Still, you write well, and I adored your opening paragraph.

    Thank you. I appreciate that.

    The falsifiability link didn’t work. I’ll presume, at least for now, that it leads in a Popperish direction. I consider that very respectable thinking. Yay Popper!

    • #8
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ball Diamond Ball:Still, you write well, and I adored your opening paragraph.

    Agreed. Despite the early hour at which I read it, I found it a very interesting exchange to follow and a lot of food for thought. You had me wishing I’d had the time to add another philosophy class, in college.

    As for the opening paragraph, I’d only quibble with one point: You must not be aware of the Will Rogers International Airport, in Tulsa.

    But then again, perhaps Will only ranks as a major philosopher in the minds of us Okies. ;)

    • #9
    • October 5, 2015, at 4:45 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    kelsurprise:

    Ball Diamond Ball:Still, you write well, and I adored your opening paragraph.

    Agreed. Despite the early hour at which I read it, I found it a very interesting exchange to follow and a lot of food for thought. You had me wishing I’d had the time to add another philosophy class, in college.

    As for the opening paragraph, I’d only quibble with one point: You must not be aware of the Will Rogers International Airport, in Tulsa.

    But then again, perhaps Will only ranks as a major philosopher in the minds of us Okies. ;)

    A point on which I’d be delighted to be corrected.

    You’d think the Indians would have named an airport after Ghandi. That would probably count. (The internet suggests they have not yet, but may rename Indira Ghandi International as Mahatma Ghandi International in the future.)

    • #10
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Augustine:

    Ball Diamond Ball:Still, you write well, and I adored your opening paragraph.

    Thank you. I appreciate that.

    The falsifiability link didn’t work.

    Of course it didn’t.

    • #11
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Augustine, from the first objection to the second reply on behalf of Iqbal you morph knowledge into beliefs. The implicit assertion made is that things which cannot be distinguished cannot be said to differ. You use them interchangeably, constituting a claim that they do not differ.

    • #12
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    I’m not going to labor the point. I won’t convince you, and you won’t convince me. We’ve run around this stuff before. Just wanted to register my objections.

    Like two ships that exchange fire in the night.

    • #13
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:24 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    BDB, the key point he’s making is that religion may be a legitimate source of knowledge. Try going with the definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” and see if Iqbal’s argument works better for you. Bet it will.

    • #14
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:26 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Manny Member

    I found this fascinating. Thanks Augustine.

    • #15
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:28 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Merina Smith Inactive

    Love your conversation. I enjoyed reading James’ Varieties of Religious Experience back in the day and have always thought that science is a less certain field than people think and religion more certain than people think. Look at the global warming debate. So scientists deal only in facts and knowledge? Uh-huh. For a whole lot of scientists, that is a matter of faith. On the other hand, can science explain the beginnings and mystery of life? They try, but not very convincingly. Or can they tell us how to live ethical lives based on science? Nope. Science has its purview, certainly, but so does religion.

    • #16
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:38 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:BDB, the key point he’s making is that religion may be a legitimate source of knowledge. Try going with the definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” and see if Iqbal’s argument works better for you. Bet it will.

    Interestingly, I tried substituting “astrological rigor”, “Phlogiston theory”, and “homeopathically sound” with no trouble. My guess is you could substitute “corned beef” without damaging the argument.

    The claim may very well be true. I don’t feel that he has supported it.

    Do you feel that the syllogism in the five lemma (those are lemmas, right?) is A) well-constructed, or B) populated with independently rigorous propositions? If not, then what are we doing here?

    In particular, 2 is true but hardly comprehensive, 3 is possible but is stated as proven, and 5 is unsupported, but is stated as possible.

    Using the forms of logic is a claim to rigor, or why bother? Filling that form with corned beef is also less than rigorous, and I’ll just stop right there.

    • #17
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Interesting. I’ll concede that “religious experience can also be a source of knowledge” but I’m not quite sure how meaningful a claim that really is. After all, all experiences can be sources of knowledge, yes? If so, it’s sort of a tautology.

    Also, I feel a discussion based around the idea that science and religion are less dissimilar than are commonly thought would benefit from clear definitions for each.

    • #18
    • October 5, 2015, at 5:56 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Larry3435 Member

    Auggie, I’ve refuted your argument ad nauseum on other threads, so there is no point in doing so again. And even if I hadn’t, BDB did it here. Your response to him was the same as your prior responses to me: “I didn’t say that (yes, you did) and you don’t understand me (yes, he does).”

    So I’ll just say this: I experience your argument as false, and since experience is a source of knowledge, I therefore know that your argument is false.

    • #19
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. Melissa O'Sullivan Member

    Your students are very lucky! A very enjoyable and thought provoking read! Thank you!

    • #20
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:07 AM PDT
    • Like
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Ball Diamond Ball: Augustine, from the first objection to the second reply on behalf of Iqbal you morph knowledge into beliefs.

    Do you mean I treat all knowledge as belief? Of course. That’s what knowledge is: a subset of belief. Everything I know I also believe. Knowledge is true belief that it is also warranted (and, if you wanna get technical, lacks the bad fortune of being a Gettier case).

    Do I do it in reverse, saying that all belief is knowledge? Of course not. If that’s what you think I’m doing, please stop thinking it.

    The implicit assertion made is that things which cannot be distinguished cannot be said to differ.

    You probably aren’t talking about the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, which states that whenever X and Y have all and only the same properties X = Y. I support this principle, but so what? It doesn’t apply here.

    You seem to me to be talking about an assumption that knowledge and belief are the same thing given that they agree in one respect. I make no such assumption.

    • #21
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Ball Diamond Ball:I’m not going to labor the point. I won’t convince you, and you won’t convince me. We’ve run around this stuff before. Just wanted to register my objections.

    Like two ships that exchange fire in the night.

    Correct on the latter point, no doubt. I’m happy to have objections registered. But I have no memory of running over this before with you, and I really don’t know what the objections actually are, unless they consist simply of these misinterpretations of my writing.

    • #22
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Augustine: You must not be aware of the Will Rogers International Airport, in Tulsa. But then again, perhaps Will only ranks as a major philosopher in the minds of us Okies. ;) A point on which I’d be delighted to be corrected. You’d think the Indians would have named an airport after Ghandi. That would probably count. (The internet suggests they have not yet, but may rename Indira Ghandi International as Mahatma Ghandi International in the future.)

    Actually, I realize now I misspoke/(typed) – – though plenty of places near the Tulsa Airport are named for Will, the Will Rogers Airport is actually closer to OKC – – which also has an airport named for Wiley Post.

    Yes, oddly enough, both Oklahoma and Alaska chose to name airports after men who’d perished a plane crash. I guess when it comes to death, they both lean more philosophical than brooding on the subject.

    • #23
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:BDB, the key point he’s making is that religion may be a legitimate source of knowledge. Try going with the definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” and see if Iqbal’s argument works better for you. Bet it will.

    Indeed.

    To be precise, I prefer “warranted true belief,” because “justified” has a stronger connotation of being based on evidence. If all knowledge is JTB (and keeping the connotation in place), then some X beliefs (as I’ve resorted to calling them) and anything else known without evidence would be excluded from the definition of “knowledge.”

    My understanding of knowledge, for anyone interested, should be clearer from an article or two I wrote on the subject. (Eventually I should probably just do a post on it here.)

    • #24
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:34 AM PDT
    • Like
  25. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Merina Smith:Love your conversation. I enjoyed reading James’ Varieties of Religious Experience back in the day and have always thought that science is a less certain field than people think and religion more certain than people think. Look at the global warming debate. So scientists deal only in facts and knowledge? Uh-huh. For a whole lot of scientists, that is a matter of faith. On the other hand, can science explain the beginnings and mystery of life? They try, but not very convincingly. Or can they tell us how to live ethical lives based on science? Nope. Science has its purview, certainly, but so does religion.

    Jolly good. Inspires me to toss a maniacal laugh at overconfident believers in anthropogenic global warming.

    (Not at the more cautious believers or the undecided, such as Ricochet’s Mona Charen.)

    • #25
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  26. I Walton Member

    I knew this was going to be fun when you started it. I should know better than to say anything but ignorance seldom inhibits me as it ought. It’s not science. It’s not provable, it’s evolved knowledge/wisdom of what gives rise to successful civilizations passed along by our religions and other cultural institutions. It’s wisdom but some of those religions are syncretic impositions for specific reasons, as in Mohammad’s conquests and subjugation and those haven’t given rise to human flourishing. Ok they flourished for a while because they were trading people that crossed borders in stagnant places to open up trade, then they stagnated as the religion settled in and the world moved on to industrialization which needed new rules. We can call those evolved notions Natural Law and it’s real and benefits from wrapping its admonitions and recommendations as coming from God, and maybe they do, but rejecting them because we can’t prove them is the Fatal Conceit.

    • #26
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:36 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Ball Diamond Ball: Do you feel that the syllogism in the five lemma (those are lemmas, right?) is A) well-constructed,

    No, I think you need a few suppressed premises to make it work; as represented, it’s not well-constructed. But let’s work with him, not against him.

    We don’t need the first two lemmatas. Chuck them. Replace them with just one:

    1) Knowledge is justified, true belief.

    So S knows that p iff

    1. p is true;
    2. S believes that p;
    3. S is justified in believing that p.

    3. Certain experiences offer justification of propositions such as “P.”

    (Now let’s quickly run through the whole distinction between propositional and doxastic justification, where Iqbal got a little lost. But let’s help him. The whole business of “justification” is philosophically pretty complex; and damned if it’s not too hard for me to solve. But let’s say that science often appeals to justification in the form of perception, introspection, memory, reason, and testimony.

    4. Religion, too, often appeals to justification in the form of perception, introspection, memory, reason, and testimony.

    5. So our religious beliefs do seem to be justified in many of the ways our scientific beliefs are.

    6. Therefore, if our religious beliefs are true — and who knows — they are knowledge.

    • #27
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:36 AM PDT
    • Like
  28. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Larry3435:Auggie, I’ve refuted your argument ad nauseum on other threads, so there is no point in doing so again.

    In fact you have not. (The reader may examine these threads for himself or herself, of course.)

    Now did you mean to say “arguments?” I’ve certainly never given Iqbal’s argument before on any thread.

    • #28
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:39 AM PDT
    • Like
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Interesting. I’ll concede that “religious experience can also be a source of knowledge” but I’m not quite sure how meaningful a claim that really is. After all, all experiences can be sources of knowledge, yes? If so, it’s sort of a tautology.

    Perhaps. Determining exactly how one confirmed form of knowledge from experience differs from another possible form of knowledge from experience is a pretty important business, and I haven’t even tried to do it here. (In the next post, I hope to at least start looking at that sort of thing.)

    Also, I feel a discussion based around the idea that science and religion are less dissimilar than are commonly thought would benefit from clear definitions for each.

    No doubt. One problem is that I’m not sure how to define science myself! Between verifiability as a criterion for science, Popper’s falsifiability, and Kuhn, I am a bit undecided.

    • #29
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  30. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Generally agreed, but “religion” or “religious knowledge” might not be the best categorization as a counterpart to science. Where would one order the arts and history? Are they equal counterparts to religion and science? Or are they subsets of religion? Augustine seems here to equate religion with non-empirical knowledge.

    Might science versus “the liberal arts” be a better distinction? One studies regular events and mathematical relationships. The other studies irreplaceable events and personal relationships. Both pursue data and meaning, knowledge and wisdom.

    Does your mother love you? Is her love a fact? Or is it some other kind of knowledge? How is it observed or expressed? How can it be studied?

    Perhaps the problem is equating facts of observation with conclusions of logic (though observation must always pass through logic before becoming perception). Is it appropriate to call a philosophical conclusion a fact, even if it is irrefutable? Perhaps the problem is that “fact” is a term usually reserved for repeatable and quantifiable data.

    • #30
    • October 5, 2015, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.