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Relative age? Science vs Religion

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6/11/2015 7:51:21 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Which is the earliest endeavor of mankind?

We will say there are two aspects to each.
Rudimentary, and formalized.
Formalized means an institution, with structure.
Rudimentary means no structure, only activity.

There is of course that nebulas middle ground of transitional activity, which is a non-issue for my question.
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6/11/2015 1:10:53 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Well..I don't know about all that. This is a tough subject and it kinda makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

But I will offer this pithy little phrase which I have always found amusing:

The absolute worst fear a man of science can have......

He arduously and painstakingly climbs and climbs and climbs for years to get to the top of The Mountain of All Knowledge and Truth.

And when he gets there..................

He finds a Theologian sitting up there waiting for him.
Science Flies Us to the Moon. Religion Flies us Into Skyscrapers.
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6/14/2015 10:46:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
WW, you'll surely get other answers, but I think that what characterises the earliest endeavours in science is experiment, while what characterises the earliest religious thought is the mobilisation of collective imagination.

Unpacking this: experiment can be individual trial and error: is that dangerous? Is this good to eat? What does that do? It requires curiosity and some sort of method, but doesn't even need language to perform. Viewed this way, science is just the systematisation and enhancement of experiment through reflection, abstraction, formalisation and innovation. The systematisation came largely from the 17th century onwards, but our earliest experiments are likely older than language, since primates and other animals experiment too.

By contrast, collective imagination needs a representative language in order to be mobilised. That mobilisation is largely artistic in nature -- so the language can be visual, musical, performative, architectural, spoken or written. Thus, religion has always had a close association with these arts. Nowadays I think what distinguishes religion from secular arts is emphasis: religion strives to produce lasting community cohesion, while the secular arts either challenge cohesion, seek transient effects, or focus on the individual.

So if we look at their earliest roots, I think science may have deeper roots than religion. However, religion got systematised long before science was, simply because you need a critical concentration of tools and methods before the insights flow reliably, whereas religion only needs a willing community, some kind of language, and a compelling idea.

I'm not sure why you asked the question, but hope that may be useful.