2005-12-25

Religion and Science

We all know that Christmas is more than presents (tell that to a 5 year old, bombarded since October by TV ads)... I know that it is a Christian holiday, but I believe that in many cases it's more a time to spend together with family than anything else. (Also in Mexico we don't have Thanksgiving, and New Year is celebrated sometimes more with friends than with family).

OK, I don't have a religion, and many countries in theory don't have an official one either. (e.g. Mexico is a laic state, but December 25th is one of the five official holidays of the year) But I don't think that even if religions change, Christmas would be declared useless... Well, the same goes for religions. Scientific evidence against many strongly held religious beliefs demands a change in them: shape of the Earth, origin of life, origin of human species... (read Christian De Duve's "Life Evolving" (he's a catholic)). But the moral function of religions is not provided by any other institution, so that should be somehow kept, or provided by an alternative institution.

In the early days of religions (and philosophies), the way of convincing people was saying that their word was the absolute truth, unquestionable, and unequivocal (and then burning those who weren't convinced enough). But then came Science, questioning its own beliefs (at least in theory). It turns out that nowadays, with all the diversity of ideas we have access to, holding to absolute truths is simply blinding oneself. Religions need to admit changes within their beliefs, if they are to adapt to our current world. I respect religions, and I am not saying that people shouldn't believe. I am saying that absolute truths lead to intolerance to other people's beliefs. And we had enough holy wars in history, I feel...

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