I simply said it was beyond us to understand. That goes for science AND religion.
Except science chooses to keep exploring a possible answer, testing theories and evolving. Religion does not. Saying "We can't ever understand, so why try" is a pretty stupid thing to believe.
Sure. But here's the point that I think some people are failing to grasp. Religion isn't trying to be science. Religion and science don't serve the same purpose in society. Never have. Religion is almost exclusively a method of control of a population. While there are some side aspects to it like "Where do we come from?" and "Why is the sky blue", that's really not the purview of religion, and with some extremely rare exceptions, religions are more than happy to let science answer those questions when it can.
What religion does is get people to adopt a set of moral structures, and then uses those structures to impose order. Period. It's about getting the people in a society to follow "the rules", even when the big guy with the big stick isn't standing right in front of them. If you tell them that failing to follow the rules means their crops will die, or a flood will wash them away, or they'll go to some eternal **** when they die, you can get people to continue following the rules even when the rule makers and enforcers of society aren't right there. There's a reason why organized religion's appearance in human history coincides with the creation of "larger than a tribe" societies. There's a point in a growing society at which "follow my rules or I'll smash your head in with this rock" fails to work, and while secular rules and laws can work, religion generally has a vastly better track record at creating some sort of orderly rules for societies to follow and actually getting people to follow them.
It's why I always find the whole "science vs religion" debate a bit of a misstatement of the real conflict. It's not really about science versus religion. There aren't a whole lot of religious folks standing around in the design rooms at Boeing insisting on aircraft design dependent on "willful prayer to give us lift" or something. Doesn't happen. Also not a lot of people at Broadcom designing network interfaces that work via distance prayer or something. As a society we don't tend to have an issue confusing which of these things is used for which things in our society. I mean, even when we look at groups like the Amish, they aren't abandoning science at all, but choose to limit their personal exposure to the results. It's not like they abandon Pythagoras when they're building cabinets or anything, right?
The bigger conflict isn't about science, but about secular humanism (or some equivalent) as a replacement for religion as the source of ethics and morality within society. It's why Atheists like Smash really want religion (especially Christianity) eliminated from society. It's not really the somewhat esoteric ideas like "the earth was created in 6 days" that bugs them (cause why? I mean, it's not like that affects anyone's day to day life). It's the "thou shalt not kill/steal" stuff that does. It drives them nuts that so many people ultimately think killing is wrong, not because of some objective rational examination of the act itself, but because "it's a sin". The problem is that this is a hard argument for Atheists to make because quite frankly secular humanism (or any non-religious moral source) have pretty darn poor track records when it comes to creating healthy societies, much less ones with good (or even semi-decent) human rights track records.
Sad fact is that for the most part, if you take "it's a sin" out of the equation historically, you actually end out with a society where all rules are costs, not moral right/wrong questions. Death prices were common in most of western civilization prior to the adoption of Christianity. Rich people got away with things, not because they could hire better lawyers as we often lament today, but because the actual rules of society said that you could pay the cost of any harm you did to someone else and no one could legally dispute it. That's what happens when you have rules that derive from objective analysis of actions. Everything becomes a relative "cost" to everyone else. And if it's a cost, it can be paid.
Societies only develop ideas like "life has inherent value beyond a dollar cost" when they have some kind of religious source for that idea. Which is why Atheists have a hard time attacking religion on purely moral/ethical grounds (their alternative is generally worse). So they attack them because they aren't as good as science at doing what science does best. Um... Duh. But there you have it.
Edited, Feb 14th 2014 4:23pm by gbaji