This is the last of the introductory posts in this series.  So far, we’ve talked about why to even talk about science and religion, how to find scientific truth, how to find religious truth (kind of), and an Inside Out paradigm.

As briefly talked about in the last post, the Inside-Out paradigm consists of reading a religious text, determining what it means scientifically, and making science fit.  This was used for thousands of years when most texts were religious, but it has proven to not be a very robust method for addressing science and religion.

For the rest of the series, I propose instead using an Outside-In paradigm.  According to this, for each topic from here on out, I’ll follow this format:

  • Introduce a topic
  • Tell what we know about it from a scientific point-of-view
  • Tell what we know about it from a religious point-of-view
  • See how these may or may not reconcile

So, why is this a “better” paradigm than Inside-Out.  There are several reasons:

1) Religious texts were written for religious reasons. They weren’t necessarily meant to teach science.  Using a religious text to determine what someone “should” find in the world around them can be problematic.  At times, it requires increasingly complex add-ons to maintain the original theory when perhaps Occam’s razor should be applied.

2) Prophets, not scientists.  Like our prophets today, ancient prophets were necessarily influenced by the culture in which they lived.  They incorporated their then-current views of the world.  If Brigham Young’s statements about the inhabitants of the moon were incorporated into scripture, would someone 2000 years from his time be obligated to accept them?

3) Nature of “truth”. As we discussed a few posts ago, scientific information is more concrete while religious “truth” is more open to interpretation.  Even within the Mormon family of Churches, there are wide interpretations of things.  But this can be an asset for our purpose.  It is easier to find an interpretation of religious truth that fits more concrete scientific facts than to try to fit scientific facts into a one particular interpretation of a religious document.

4) Babies and bath water. There are inevitably going to be conflicts between what was once accepted and what new evidence points towards.  For example, people clung to a static continent idea for years until the evidence for continental drift became overwhelming.  Since the idea for static continents came from the scientific world, this represented a change in theory, but it didn’t affect anyone’s religious beliefs.  Conversely, if the idea for a static continent came from someone’s interpretation of what HAD to be from a religious text, when it was shown to be wrong, it could cause people to cast out the entire text.

Therefore, we’ll follow an Outside-In paradigm for all of the remaining posts in this series.  Once the post is done, the fun begins – discussion.  There are vast quantities of information on these subjects, in books, scientific articles, religious commentaries, online sites, etc.  There is going to be A LOT that I don’t cover.  There are going to be things I hadn’t thought of, or that I had thought off but my way of thinking was flawed.  Make corrections, suggestions, comments, etc.  I hope to introduce new topics to some of you and perhaps to introduce new ways of thinking about old topics to others.  I also look forward to being introduced to new ways of thinking from you as well.  It stretches my brain in a good way.

Be forewarned, some of the ideas will be pretty “out there” and fairly speculative.  There will be things upon which we never agree.  There will be things which people may feel just “can’t be”.  You may think I’m out in left field.  That’s fine.  I only ask that if you disagree that you explain WHY you disagree, and perhaps suggest a better explanation.  We all learn from that.

So, that’s where we’re going.  Next week’s post, appropriately enough, is about “In The Beginning…”

Questions:

  • Is the Outside-In paradigm better or worse than the Inside-Out paradigm?
  • Why is it better or worse?
  • I have a list of about 30-40 posts in various levels of development, but are there any specific topics that you might find interesting to discuss?
  • As science progresses and perhaps conflicts with what a previous prophet or apostle taught on that subject, how do you resolve that?  And how does the claim that what a prophet says on any subject should be considered as the truth fit into that?
  • Thread-jack: UofU, BYU or Who-Cares?