[Marxism] Re: Wilson: science and religion are incompatible

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Wed Nov 16 10:52:57 MST 2005

On Wed, 16 Nov 2005 08:48:32 -0800 (PST) Marla Vijaya kumar
<marlavk at yahoo.com> writes:
>  AC Pollack refers Wilsons paper:    "Many  who accept the fact of 
> evolution can not, however, on religious  grounds, accept the 
> operation of blind chance and the absence of divine  purpose 
> implicit in natural selection."
>           "Today  we live in a less barbaric age, but an other-wise 
> comparable  disjunction between science and religion, the one born 
> of Darwinism,  still roils the public mind."
>       After my PG in  Electrical engineering, I joined BHEL (Indian 
> Government owned Electrical Equipment  Manufacturing Company) in 
> 1977 and, I was asked to report to one Mr Murthy, my  senior in 
> college by 4 years. He is a specialist in design of large electrical 
>  machines. A devout and extremely oerthodx Brahmin, he used to keep 
> the  photographs of Hindu gods on this table and never started the 
> day’s work  without an elaborate prayer.  But  surprisingly, he was 
> a firm believer in the scientific method and used to insist  that 
> scientific method has to be adhered to strictly. He used to say that 
> “you  can not design a machine and say that you got the dimensions 
> dictated to you by  God in your last night’s dream. You have to 
> substantiate your choice of  dimensions by set of physical laws…..’. 
>   In  one of his good moods, I ventured to ask him, “Sir, you follow 
> scientific method  for 8 hours in a day and follow unscientific  
> beliefs for the rest of the day. Don’t you see  the contradiction.”. 
> He did not give a direct answer, but evaded by saying that  being a 
> communist and a non-believer, I am are trying to corner him with my 
> arguments.  He refused to accept the contradiction between the 
> scientific method and religious  dogma. In fact, it is the case with 
> may men of science.

Immanuel Kant in his *Critique of Practical Reason* and in his
*Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason* offered what has
probably the most influential philosophical basis for
reconciling religion with science. Kant rejected virtually
all of the traditional proofs of the existence of God
(i.e. the ontological, cosmological, and the argument
from design) as being either invalid or inconclusive.
However, while rejecting the traditional rationalistic
demonstrations of God's existence, he nevertheless
held that belief in God's existence was still
rationally justifiable. He made his case
by arguing that existence is characterized by
a dualism between what he called the
phenomenal realm and what he called the
noumenal realm.  The phenomenal realm is
the world as perceived through our sense
organs. It's the world of sights, sounds, taste,
smell etc.  It is this realm that is dealt with
by the natural sciences.  The natural sciences
posit that this world is governed by natural
laws, over which presides the principle of
causality.  However, Kant following in the
footsteps of David Hume argued that there
is no proof on the basis of either experience
or pure reason for the ultimate truth of the
principle of causality. Instead, he argued
that causality was a category which is
imposed by the mind (along with the
categories of space and time) on
our perceptual experiences.  There
is no reason, in Kant's view for thinking
that what he called things-in-themselves
necessarily follow any of these categories.

For Kant, the thing-in-itself is reality
as it exists in itself, beyond our
perceptions of it. In fact, it is
intrinsically unknowable by us,
since we can know external reality
only through our sensory perceptions.
Now if the phenomenal realm comprised
the whole of reality then there would
be no room in Kant's universe for
God, immortality or free will. But for
Kant, the phenomenal realm is not
the whole of reality. There is also
the noumenal realm of things in
themselves. Kant held that when
we reflect upon the moral life, it
becomes rational for us to posit the
existence of God, of immortality,
and of free will as necessary postulates
for morality.  As I have already pointed
out, Kant held that science was based
on certain postulates that cannot be
demonstrated by the methods of
science or reason.  We accept them
as valid because science allows
us to organize our experiences in such
a manner as to enable us to predict
and control phenomena.  Likewise,
morality constitutes another way in
which we organize our experiences
and if morality presupposes certain
postulates then are rationally justified
in accepting them as true simply
on the basis that they make the
moral life rationally possible.

For Kant, the moral life requires
that we accept the reality of
free will because the moral
'ought' implies that we freely
'can.'  The moral life requires
that happiness be allocated to
rational beings in accordance
with their virtue. Since it is
obvious that in this world,
happiness is not necessarily
proportional to virtue, Kant held
that there had to be a next life
in which any of the disparities
between virtue and happiness
that exist in this life are made
up in the next. And since
for Kant, morality presupposes
the possibility of us achieving
perfection, then eternal life
is required to make this possible.
And likewise, a God is required
to ensure that all this is possible.

>     Vijaya Kumar Marla

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