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Self-Correcting Religion

An Idea in Progress
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(+1, -6)
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Science has self-correction mechanisms built into it, while Religion doesn't. That's because Science KNOWS it's imperfect, while Religion claims perfection. As a result, Science explores ideas and progresses toward genuine perfection, while Religions oppose independent thinking, and therefore stagnate (else they suffer schisms).

This Idea involves exploring the Question, "Is it possible to design a Religious Philosphy after the Scientific Model?" At once we see the key problem is that Science is TESTABLE. How can Religion match that? Well, what about "miracle working"? It seems to me that a miracle-worker is someone who has at least SOME bit of Religious Truth in his/her thinking. The goal of this Religion, then, would be to make all believers into miracle workers. The more correct and accurate the Philosophy, the more able the followers to apply those Truths to teleport, turn water to wine, raise the dead, etc.

So, to reach that goal, various aspects of the overall Philosophy would be debatable, allowing the most-Truthful things to be discovered, by practicing miracle working.

Let the suggestions begin!

Vernon, Feb 14 2006

Some evidence miracles are possible? http://members.aol.com/ccmail/page2.html
"Provide proof, and we will have faith" VS "Have faith, and you will get your proof" [Vernon, Feb 14 2006]

Jesus and the Centurion http://www.frmannin...Ch08/Matt8,5-13.htm
As mentioned in an annotation. There is an implication in the tale (depending on Version) that the Centurion was the one who healed the servant. On the other hand, faith in simple logic might be all that was going on. IF Jesus had the Authority, THEN it logically follows that a Command would yield results. Something the Centurion knew all about, and said so in the story. But on the gripping hand, this scenario still requires the Centurion to have faith that Jesus had the Authority.... [Vernon, Feb 14 2006]

Scientific pantheism http://www.pantheism.net/paul/
It doesn't have to be faith-based [nineteenthly, Feb 15 2006]

Buddhism http://www.buddhanet.net/
Here you are. Enjoy. [ashibaka, Feb 16 2006]


       A self-correcting religion will come to resemble science more and more. We already have science. We already have art. We already have plenty of admixture between science and art. Truth and Beauty rule.
ConsulFlaminicus, Feb 14 2006

       [ConsulFlaminicus], I'm not sure that works. Miracles, after all, are defined as VIOLATIONS of Natural Law. Well, Science cannot allow such a thing, while Religions do. They do this by claiming the Universe was Created, and therefore the Creator has power to overrule Natural Events. The extent that such a Creator can be "invoked" to make miracles happen can now be matched up against the notion that souls are created in the Creator's image, and so ALSO would have power to overrule Natural Law. See? Already this Idea has things worth Testing!
Vernon, Feb 14 2006

       Religion, pretty much by definition, takes up where science leaves off. It is about what we believe to be true, not what we know to be true.   

       If you get bogged down in trying to prove your religion by scientific means, it won't cover much of value to anybody.
DrCurry, Feb 14 2006

       I still don't understand how you plan to turn people into miracle workers... In fact, I really don't understand the whole idea. Is it just to turn religion into science? Because that would not be more popular than religion, given that part of the attraction of religion is that it claims to explain things we cannot understand. I reckon that if you were allowed, even encouraged, to actively question "various aspects of the overall Philosophy", your religion would fall apart within minutes.
Mr Phase, Feb 14 2006

       The secret is to come up with prophecies that fit all events, i.e. Nostradamus, or are too far in advance so that their failure doesnt interfere with the collection process
theircompetitor, Feb 14 2006

       [DrCurry], "scientific means" is not the same thing as the Scientific Method. I'm trying to say that the IDEA of the Method should be applicaple to more things than merely studying the physical world. "Scientific means" are precisely the physical techniques of studying the physical world. In using the Scientific Method upon the "metaphysical world", the "test equipment" won't necessarily all be physical. I recall an experiment I saw a few months ago on the Discovery channel, that involved telepathy between young twin girls (maybe age 10). One was hooked up to an EEG, and the other was taken some distance away to another room, and subjected to minor startlings/inconveniences like an ice cube down the back. The instant reactions of the wired-up twin were most interesting! Now, there is NO scientific/physical theory which can explain telepathy, and therefore that COULD weakly qualify as "miraculous". SOME religious tenets associate that kind of bonding (telepathic) with Love, and perhaps one of those rare long-married "ideal match" couples could be given the same test and show the same result. If so, then we would have evidence that Love is behind miracle-working, just as Jesus claimed (COMBINED with faith; see the tale of the Centurion's servant). So, if this overall Idea works out, we could start with that notion about Love, and proceed from there. Any competing notions would have to be associated with equally findable evidence! Not to mention that few will probably claim that a Religion that promotes Love is a bad thing.   

       [Mr Phase], Religions are often much more than mere explanations; they also dictate rules to live by. Well, a set of rules that leads to miracle-working might be considered superior to a set of rules that doesn't, eh?   

       [theircompetitor], I think your profit motive is in danger of abusing this Idea. Yes, I'm aware that L. Ron Hubbard specifically stated that one way to get rich was to found a religion (after which he founded Scientology), but that doesn't mean his idea is being promoted here. :)
Vernon, Feb 14 2006

       You're making a fundamental error in assuming religion requires the presence of miracles, and that the results of testing for them will somehow mean something to the religion.   

       Either there is a God or there isn't: how do you test that? Either there is an afterlife or there isn't: how do you test that?   

       You can test the results of prayer, and it does appear to work. But what does it prove that sick people tend to get better more and faster when prayed for? It might mean that there is a God that is answering the prayers, or it might mean that the patients' immune systems were boosted by having friends around them, concerned about their health.
DrCurry, Feb 14 2006

       [DrCurry], it remains true that many religions got started/boosted because of claims of miracles. And depending on the Religion, you probably can find some that simply cater to the egos of their flocks. (Tell them what they want to hear, and be rewarded thereby. A "racket", that category.) Anyway, in today's world of Scientific Fact, miracles by-definition would constitute evidence for something OUTSIDE of Scientific Fact. Like stuff pertaining to Religion. And the more repeatable the miracle, the better the evidence, right? Next, regarding testing for God, this isn't so directly necessary as you think. (Although in a prior annotation is the notion that if miracles can be done by Invoking God, then obviously God must exist for those miracles to occur.) See, one key tenet of most religions is stuff about "souls", which are typically described as being immortal like God. Is it not reasonable that if souls could be proved to exist, it becomes logical to think that God's existence becomes a real possilbility? And we have lots and lots of access to humans-assumed-to-have-souls, to test that assumption.... Regarding testing prayer, there are ways to take initial results such as you described, and devise more thorough tests. First, you need a category of sick person who is not too sick, let's say has a bad cold (but not the flu). Ordinary efforts (cold medications) seem not to cut down the duration of the illness. Trying prayer can't hurt (and because you are avoiding other curative methods, that's why you need people who are not-too-sick). Now you can line up different numbers of pray-ers, unknown to each sick person, and measure the time-to-wellness. Most bad colds are over in a week or so, right? How much can that be improved? Next, the thing described in the other annotation can ALSO be tested. That is, praying to invoke God is one way that might work to speed wellness. Another might be for the pray-ers to simply to mentally project "well-being", "good vibes", "healing energies", "loving thoughts", and equivalents thereof, at the designated sick person. Try the do-it-yourself miracle-working thing. It can't hurt. It might work. Certainly it's an experiment worth doing to find out!
Vernon, Feb 14 2006

       Both science and religion have their shortcomings, and neither is perfect.
MikeOxbig, Feb 15 2006

       Which reminds me of a snippet on the Daily Show where Steven Colbert showed how to practice Christian Science CPR. Or maybe it was the Christian Science Heimlich. Either way, it involved praying over the gasping victim.
DrCurry, Feb 15 2006

       There is a movement called something like Scientific Pantheism, which treats the Universe as worthy of respect and in a sense worship without believing in a separate ontological category than the physical world.
Just as it's somewhat feasible to test prayer, there is the possibility of testing the fruits of religious faith. There is substantial agreement between religions and between religion and secular belief systems on what constitutes a good life. There is also massive disagreement, for instance on such issues as abortion or homosexuality, but these could be ignored for the purposes of the experiment. If a set of agreed principles can be established, and i think it can, this could be used to compare religious and secular organisations on a less subjective basis than usual. If it then turns out that, say, a secular world development charity and a Christian one, or a church-based housing association and a secular one, are substantially different, it would be a relatively firm argument one way or the other. In particular, if it turned out that religious groups tended to be less moral than secular ones with a similar purpose, this would be an important result, and not completely unscientific. This would raise the issue of whether, for example, "letting the Lord into your life" really does make you a better person. If not, then why bother? Saving yourself from damnation is a selfish thing, ultimately.
Having said all that, i think we need to remember that religion doesn't mean exclusively Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and i think a lot of the comments here, including mine, tend to assume that.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2006

       But surely, chasing the ability to work miracles is just looking for power for the here and now? Christians believe that Satan can give miracle-working power. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to serve Satan, even though this idea would suggest that it was, if Satan was to give you miracle-working power (compare Dr Faustus). What he can't give you is eternal life.
david_scothern, Feb 15 2006

       Following a faith simply because it gives you personally eternal life is ultimately selfish. The only justification is if it makes you a better person.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2006

       Based on past readings from Vernon, I'd hate to sit through one of the sermons at HIS church.
zigness, Feb 15 2006

       [davis scothern], you have a point, but in a way the power you are talking about would be just a consequence of knowledge. That is, if the religion gathers up correct knowledge about things beyond the merely physical, then, because "knowledge is power".... Also, since all those in this religion would supposedly have access to that same knowledge/power, there is not a lot of one-upmanship possible. Except, of course between those inside and outside the religion. Yet nothing is preventing outsiders from becoming insiders....   

       [jutta], wouldn't you say that tales of Jesus healing more than one sick person indicates a reproduced miracle? Also, it is my understanding that the definition of a miracle (something not allowed per Physical Science) in no way precludes replication. And what about that first link I posted, about dead bodies (more than one!) that haven't decayed? What is your take on that?
Vernon, Feb 16 2006

       hmm, is it a miracle when god performs miracles? I mean it's expected, isn't it?
theircompetitor, Feb 16 2006


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