Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Today I have been avoiding work. This annoys Krista, because I do have to do work, which usually means I end up working in the evening, when she wants to watch a movie or something, since I've procrastinated through the morning. The fact that I'm writing in this blog right now shows that I may just be in trouble when she comes home this evening. But I've still got time... right? I've always still got time...

I have a HUGE list of things I can do to procrastinate. I'm not one of those lamorz procrastinators who use email, twitter, and Facebook for all of their procrastination. I'm diverse. First come the web comics. As a non-comprehensive list, I follow xkcd, Dr. Mcninja, Penny Arcade, Ctrl-Alt-Del, Questionable Content, Evil Inc., PVP Online, Looking For Group, Sore Thumbs, Nerf This (pause here to check Nerf This, which I forgot to check earlier... HA HA, that's funny... OK back to blogging) and so on. After the web comics, I must keep myself appraised on the daily news. I try to pull some news out of the liberal slant on CNN (no offense to my liberales out there -- I've stopped trying to pull news out of Fox's conservative slant entirely). After checking the real news, it's time to check the fake news. Onion News Network, the stuff of genii (that's the plural of genius... just like cacti). Can't pass up a bit of wiki-wandering. Thanks to some direction from Curtis, I now know that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo." is a legitimate English phrase. And so on and so forth, I fall further down the rabbit hole that is the entirety of man's collective recorded knowledge, useful or otherwise, leaving curing cancer until tomorrow and ensuring myself a smack on the head when my wife returns home.

Today as I procrastinated, I was checking out 'mah woots,' when I came across a post by Ken Jennings - famous Mormon and jeopardy whiz - on random knowledge. Ken Jennings points out what I had actually already learned at an earlier time - that according to conclusive scientific studies, sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Hear that mom? (Insert here mom saying "Taylor, I didn't think you were crazy because of sugar. I knew you were crazy because of all the crazy in you. You got it from your father.")

Here I found an opportunity for an interesting search. What other myths has science cleared up for us? Beautiful science, free me of the wicked traditions of my fathers! I ask Google, wise wizard of the entire intranets, 'What has science disproven?' but unfortunately even Google is dependent on the whims of the masses and nearly every link carried a variation of the same inquiry: "Has science disproven religion?" This thought never made much sense to me, and I've encountered it quite a bit lately, so I thought I'd share a thought or two on the matter.

Science cannot disprove religion, nor can religion disprove - or disapprove - science, mainly because they are the same thing. That's right people. Science is religion. Religion is science. Religionology, yo.

Of course, there is a caveat -- there always is. It should be said that good religion is science, and good science is religion. There is such thing as bad religion, and there is definitely such thing as bad science. We all know bad religion. Bad religion is the man who chooses his religion based on his parents' religion, or does not question his own beliefs, or does not consider many variations on religion until finding one he believe is 'true.' Of course, bad science has the same basic problems. Bad science is the scientist who accepts facts without proof, or denies theories without substantial proof against said theory, or slants evidence in order to support a theory he likes more.

Good science consists of the observation, cataloguing, and testing of the world around one's self in order to better understand what truly exists -- what is real. Good religion consists of the observation, cataloguing, and testing of the spiritual world around one's self in order to better understand what truly exists -- what is real.

In good science, we develop theories of how the world works, and then we develop experiments to test this theory. Using the 'scientific method,' we repeat our tests and we gain wisdom and information from the results which help form an accurate perception of the universe. In good religion, we do the same thing. I would instruct people to employ the scientific method every day when I was a missionary. Of course, I didn't call it that, because I didn't know the word for scientific method in Armenian. I would give people a copy of the Book of Mormon. I would invite them to read from it, paying close attention to their feelings. I would instruct them to pray afterwards to God and ask Him if this book was truly scripture which He approved of, and then to observe their feelings. I would invite them to repeat this pattern daily, and pay careful attention to what occurred, and what they felt, and whether that would show us what is true.

Boom. Scientific method, for the win.

Of course, this scientific method is used for the gaining of any real knowledge, whether it's locating the exact genetic cause of therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia, or knowing whether or not God's there, and whether or not He loves you, and if there's a Church He wants you to go to. It doesn't have to be hokey, or silly, and it never really has been for the good scientists and good religious people out there. It just makes sense. It's logical. Good religion, and good science, always has and always will follow the basic rules of logic. If there's a force of gravity, and it is caused by masses in space, then if you get far away enough from a mass gravity will diminish greatly, nearly disappearing. And it does. If there is a God, and He is omnipotent and communicates with His children whom He loves, then He can hear you and will communicate with you somehow if you want to reach out Him. And He does.

Some religious people don't like this idea, because they don't like science. They think science, and scientific discoveries are out there to cheapen God or disprove his actuality. This couldn't be more wrong. Stars viewed through the telescope and cells viewed through the microscope only broaden our understanding of the universe and, in at least one scientist, inspire greater awe and admiration for the near infinite complexity of life.

Some scientists don't like this idea, because they don't like religion. They think religion, and religious beliefs, serve to coddle man and put stock in emotions that don't reflect reality. This couldn't be more wrong. As a neuroscientist and geneticist, I've learned how weak the 'reliable' sense are. What we see is rarely what's there. What we hear isn't really what's happening. What we physically feel isn't actually accurate. What we feel in our 'heart,' emotions such as love and faith and concern and fear and attachment are at least equally, if not more, real. And so, to quote a favorite scripture, when you try something, reading scriptures or going to church or praying, and you feel something good, so you keep it up, and that good feeling inside of you grows - "oh then, is this not real?"

To look at examples of delusional people and claim that this discredits sane peoples' religious experiences is just bad science. We had may as well tell people that what they see with their eyes isn't valid because so many people suffer from macular degeneration.

Why then do lovers of science and followers of religion fight so much? History, I do believe. Medieval catholic church this, Galileo that, etc. If history is constantly repeating itself, then our duty is certainly to try and stop the pattern by understanding the truth behind things.

And as for understanding the truth behind things, you can do it with science or you can do it with religion, because, as I've mentioned, they're the same thing.