Open Science Repository Religion and Theology

doi: 10.7392/Theology.70081949


Unified Theory of Science and Religion


Francisco Oliveira


Abstract

This theory demonstrates the compatibility between science and religion and scientifically explains the existence of God.

Keywords: science, religion, god existence explained, scientific method, truth set.



Citation: Oliveira, F. (2013). Unified Theory of Science and Religion. Open Science Repository Religion and Theology, Online(open-access), e70081949. doi:10.7392/Theology.70081949

Published: March 31, 2013 (Easter day)

Copyright: © 2013 Francisco Oliveira. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Contact: research@open-science-repository.com



The epistemological part of this theory is based on the philosophy of science of Karl Popper. Although it is not impossible that many other people have already thought along these lines, the theological part is as far as known original and created by the author.

Authors whose works have directly contributed to this development are listed in references.


Science and religion are compatible and complementary

The set of all sentences that correspond to the facts within, behind (or before) and beyond the universe and reality we can call truth. Truth itself is objective, external to us and, since it is likely to contain several facts outside the universe, it is even external to it. Most part of the truth set is still unknown to us.

Each suggestion of knowledge about the facts contained in the truth set may represent an enlargement of our vision of reality and an increase in freedom from our present condition. Getting closer (or less distant) to the truth is, thus, a way to achieve transcendence, and the search for truth can be regarded as a main goal of humankind.

Such transcendence is also sought by religion. Religion is a legitimate attempt to transport people to the truth, for them to achieve immediate transcendence. Science stands beside religion; however, science introduces a different, complementary approach: instead of immediate transcendence, it pursues step by step transcendence.

While religion is immediate transcendence, science is step by step transcendence. Both are legitimate and complementary, not opposed to each other. Religion founders and great scientists are driven by the same intellectual desire of achieving transcendence for humankind, the same truth-seeking goal.

Religion and mythology depict truth metaphorically, science depicts truth conjecturally. Religion metaphors anticipate the transcendental effects science is intended to provide as its conjectures get less distant to the truth. Participating in both religion and scientific activities is therefore a respectful truth-seeking behavior.

The objective truth set

There is an objective truth set. This truth set contains all true sentences about all facts of the universe, within it, beyond it and before it.

Since the negation of a false sentence is a true sentence and since language can potentially state infinite sentences, we can consider the truth set as an infinite set (though not all its sentences are interesting).

The truth set is not subjective; it does not depend on us. It is objective, separate and independent from us. It is not human; it lies beyond humans and even beyond the universe, for it contains statements that explain the universe and all its contents.

One of the main consequences of realizing the objectivity of the truth set is to vanish with relativism. The truth set is not relative, it is absolute and more than universal.

To discover parts or the entire content of the truth set is a main task of the intellect. Through such discovery we can transcend our present knowledge and conditions and attain new ones.

Language, the knowledge set and the truth set

Some animals share the lower functions of language with humans: pure expression of feelings and even communication and primitive description, like bee dance, dog barking, bird singing for mating and many other examples. However, the human is currently the only species able to produce infinite tentative descriptions of things through objective methods like spoken language, pictorial and writing language, and so on, and it is also currently the only species able to argue whether a description is likely to be true or false. These two characteristics differentiate humans from the other living beings in this planet.

Language descriptions and critical arguments about such descriptions comprise the tools necessary for exploration of the truth set step by step. These tools build up what we can call our knowledge set, a set that contains tentative descriptions of the truth set.

At this point it is rather important to emphasize that our knowledge set and the truth set are distinct separate sets. The truth set contains all true statements that exist in the universe, beyond and before it, and, in spite of also describing human facts, it is not human-made. The knowledge set contains statements produced by beings that attempt to guess, or discover, the content of the truth set; although it tries to be a mirror of it, it is not the truth set; here in this planet it is currently made by us, humans.

Building up the knowledge set that mirrors the truth set is what humans have been doing for millennia. Theoretical progress in the human knowledge set and technical achievements derived from it have been produced since pre-historical ages and nowadays can be seen almost everywhere.

The conjectural status of the knowledge set

The inhuman truth set is beyond our reach. We can only use the knowledge set as an attempt to create a mirror of the truth set. Since the mirror is not the truth set itself, errors can always be present and, for this reason, the knowledge set is entirely made of conjectural sentences.

Technically, the main logical component of the knowledge set are universal laws. Universal laws are descriptions about the structure of reality. From universal laws one state of things can turn into other state of things, thus explanations, predictions and technology are derived from them. Even if our knowledge set does contain sentences exactly as sentences in the truth set, we can never be certain of it. As Xenophanes (DK, B18; 35, 34) said: 'But as for certain truth no man has known it... and even if by chance he were to utter the final truth, he would himself not know it, for all is but a woven web of guesses'.

By discovery and elimination of errors, however, we can improve our conjectures or find better ones, but we can never make them lose their conjectural status. Despite being conjectural, contents of the knowledge set work well for many purposes, due to the fact that these contents may closely resemble the respective part of the truth set that they try to describe.

The method of science

We call science the tradition of gradual discovery and elimination of errors from our conjectural knowledge set through critical evaluation of theories.

Known pioneers of such tradition are the ancient Greeks, especially Thales and his disciples. The scientific tradition begun with them, when they introduced the idea that theories from their own school could be wrong and encouraged intellectual self-criticism and the search for better theories.

The tradition of open and critical evaluation of theories is all science is about. Such criticism is mainly done through logical appraisal and, whenever possible, empirical tests. Science uses logic inconsistencies and reality incompatibilities for the discovery of errors in our conjectural knowledge set. Logical and reality clashes are tests that theories must resist to be kept within the current accepted contents of the knowledge set.

The aim of science is getting our knowledge set less dissimilar to the truth set by the discovery and elimination of errors

Science improves our knowledge set making it less dissimilar to the truth set by the elimination of errors. Error identification, however, has also a hypothetical status and remains forever open to future corrections. Although we can hypothesize that, if we discovered an error, we are less distant from the truth, we can never be certain about how close to the truth set our provisional knowledge set is.

Descriptions corrected by critical arguments have eliminated many errors within our knowledge set but we can also expect that an almost infinite number of errors still remains and new errors derived from newly accepted theories will always emerge.

The target of science: interesting knowledge problems explained by unified theories

Although science could help the knowledge set to mirror any part of the truth set, it should select interesting targets. The most interesting targets are those with great potential of error identification, especially those errors that logically unchain the identification of other important errors.

Different theories explaining different things that could be explained by one same theory are potentially the theories which hide the most interesting errors to be discovered. This explains why the discovery of a new unified theory is an enormous advance for science: the unified theory helps identify and eliminate a lot of errors previously unknown and difficulties of the previous separate solutions.

Unified theories are a powerful way to make the knowledge set less dissimilar to the truth set. Unfortunately, the current ultra-specialization of science works against the creation and research of unified theories.

Science is also the search for God

Back to the beginning of the paper, we are now able to make science and religion entire compatible.

What religions call God is a personification of the complete absolute truth set. What in science we call the truth set is the rationalization of God. Science is an attempt of reaching such truth set, God, through the development of our knowledge set, step by step (gradually transcendental), by the Popperian process of conjectures and refutations, that is, creation of new theories and discovery of errors. Religion is an attempt of reaching God, the truth set, through metaphorical (immediately transcendental) holy descriptions, teachings and practices. Both paths are legitimate and result almost logically and naturally from the existence of the truth set, that is, of God.

God, the truth set, does exist independently of our success in doing science or religion.

The aim of intellectual beings that are part of the universe or reality

Despite of obvious aims shared by other beings of this planet, like staying alive and homeostatically stable, and the moral aims of avoiding violence, cruelty and suffering, humans also share with all other intellectual beings that possibly emerged in the universe this fundamental aim: transcendence (or as Kant said, emancipation) through knowledge. This is done by the creation of the conjectural knowledge set that Karl Popper called world 3, that tries to mirror the more interesting and fruitful portions of the truth set. 

If we imagine that other civilizations may exist in the universe, they have their own world 3, their own hypothetical knowledge set, with which they try to mirror selected portions of the truth set. If we are fortunate enough, in the future we can compare ours with theirs and possibly achieve sudden great improvement of our knowledge. However, our main task, as the current isolated beings that we are, is to develop our own conjectural knowledge set pushing it as far and deep and to the more interesting subjects as we can.

This is the intellectual aim of any intelligent civilization in the universe.

The omnipotence of the truth set and, by consequence, of God

Karl Popper divided reality in what he called 3 worlds: the world 1 of physical objects, the world 2 of mental processes and the world 3 of intellectual problems, theories and arguments. He affirmed the reality of world 3 describing how deeply our scientific theories have created new physical situations, like, for example, engines of many kinds. The contents of the conjectural knowledge set, thus, can change the physical world.

As tiny as still is the human conjectural knowledge set, it has already changed most of the surface of Earth and even of its close surroundings, with satellites and space vehicles. The power of world 3 is an actual power.

Now, one can imagine how powerful the conjectural knowledge set becomes as it is further and further developed towards interesting regions of reality, eliminating errors and reducing its dissimilarity to the truth set. Greater and currently unimaginable interventions could be accomplished upon the physical world. If the conjectural knowledge set reaches a state of very close similarity to the truth set, its power would be immense.

If a conjectural knowledge set can potentially be so powerful, we can easily realize that the truth set itself is infinitely powerful, for it contains all true statements about the reality and thus all solutions for any kind of physical problem. The truth set is so omnipotent. Since God is a religious term for the truth set, God is omnipotent as well.

By pursuing truth, we search for the releasing power of the truth set

Be it by religion (through metaphorical transport) or science (through conjectural knowledge), when we pursue truth we look for the releasing power derived from the truth set (or God). Believers and scientists are motivated by the same attraction that the truth set exerts on everyone. Although actually part of it, we feel apart from the truth set (God) and its power. So it is naturally to search for it either using religion, science or both.

The truth set (God) probably tries to help us actively

This is a further metaphysical development of this theory.

Since the truth set is omnipotent, it is also omniscient, that is, it knows what is happening everywhere. Being omnipotent it is also perfect. Being perfect it is extremely likely that it tries to use its infinite power to put in place everywhere measures against violence, cruelty, sufferings and even against death.

So, our own will to reach the truth set by either religion, science or both might be helped by the truth set. In some religious doctrines this help is called help from the Holy Spirit.

If the truth set is perfect, why does imperfection exist?

This theory also tries to explain this that is one of the most intriguing problems of Theology.

Our world is imperfect and the reality of our lives is limited by many constraints. If the truth set (God) is perfect, why can’t it (He/She) act to eliminate all imperfection?

The answer might be that omnipotence is restricting perfection. Omnipotence comes first, perfection is a by-product of it. If the truth set is omnipotent, each small part of it is also omnipotent and can simply decide not to create perfection, that is, not use its omnipotence to make things perfect. Imperfection, however, hides omnipotence and the contents of the truth set that would lead to perfection. This is possibly the reason why our imperfect reality emerged and why we need to search for the truth set again.

The reversal of such imperfection-making journey is through the immediate transcendence provided by religion, the step by step transcendence pursued by science or both. If we are aware of it, the situation is not so desperate. However, if we forget the need for such reversal, we may get lost in this imperfect world.

Brief conclusion

There is a truth set that contains all possible true statements about the entire reality. As it contains all true statements, the truth set is omnipotent. In religious terms it is called God.

Obtaining part of or the entire truth set represents to us transcendence from our present condition towards a freer one. Religion tries to transport us immediately to the transcendental effects of experiencing such truth set by means of metaphorical descriptions. Science tries to lead us step by step to the transcendental effects of such truth set by developing a mirror set of conjectural descriptions, the knowledge set, which in Popper’s terms is called world 3.

The gradual development of the scientific knowledge set is accomplished through conjectures and refutations, that is, advancement of new theories and discovery of errors, new problems, in them. The most interesting theories to be discovered are those that unify previously separated theories; for example, this own theory that tries to unify religion and science.

This theory explains that the existence of God is entirely compatible with epistemology and science and, indeed, demonstrates that God is equal to the important epistemological concept of an absolute and complete truth set.

References

1. Popper, K. R. (1963). Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge.

2. Popper, K. R. (1979). Objective Knowledge (revised edition).

3, Popper, K. R. (1934). The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

4. Descartes, R. Discourse on Method and the Meditations. ePenguin (1968)..

5. Ortega y Gasset, J. (1932). The Revolt of the Masses.

6. Campbell, Joseph, and Bill Moyers. (1988). The Power of Myth.

7. Taniguchi, M. Truth of Life. Seicho-No-Ie Truth of Life Movement (1979).

Cite this paper

APA

Oliveira, F. (2013). Unified Theory of Science and Religion. Open Science Repository Religion and Theology, Online(open-access), e70081949. doi:10.7392/Theology.70081949

MLA

Oliveira, Francisco. “Unified Theory of Science and Religion.” Open Science Repository Religion and Theology Online.open-access (2013): e70081949.

Chicago

Oliveira, Francisco. “Unified Theory of Science and Religion.” Open Science Repository Religion and Theology Online, no. open-access (March 31, 2013): e70081949. http://www.open-science-repository.com/unified-theory-of-science-and-religion.html.

Harvard

Oliveira, F., 2013. Unified Theory of Science and Religion. Open Science Repository Religion and Theology, Online(open-access), p.e70081949. Available at: http://www.open-science-repository.com/unified-theory-of-science-and-religion.html.

Science

1. F. Oliveira, Unified Theory of Science and Religion, Open Science Repository Religion and Theology Online, e70081949 (2013).

Nature

1. Oliveira, F. Unified Theory of Science and Religion. Open Science Repository Religion and Theology Online, e70081949 (2013).


doi

Research registered in the DOI resolution system as: 10.7392/Theology.70081949.


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