This study, analyzed by Tom Rees at Epiphenom, illustrates the value of comparative studies vs. science. On my blog I emphasize the insights I have gathered by studying more than one faith, more than one form of medicine and more than one form of government. I was a science major but it was comparative experiences that influenced me more than science.
All of us partition our minds to keep irrational areas, some more than others. Scientists do this too. If you don’t leave your safe circles, it is easy to be a rational scientist and keep your religious mind sectioned off and secure. But exposure to different social values can help break down these walls. Here is a quote from Tom’s article:
… humanities and social sciences, much more than biological and mathematical sciences, challenge you to imagine the world through the eyes of others. And this exercise in imagination undercuts religious dogma far more effectively than any science lesson can.
My undoing was Hinduism (see here), not science. However, Hinduism was only this icing on the cake. My undoing was due to jumping around many different cultures (both home and abroad) and comparing different worlds. I jumped from a secular large university (Cornell) where I was a Jesus freak and charismatic Christian, to a small evangelical Christian College (Wheaton). As I compared and contrasted these forms of Christianity, I started to think. But it was not the philosophical doctrines I was comparing, it was the hearts of the believers I respected. I then hitch-hike from Europe to India and mingled with people of many faiths. Meeting Hindus in India was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but all the folks and all the worlds on the way proceeded that last straw.
It was not science, that cured my Christianity. It was not philosophical arguments or the contradictions or short-comings of Christian scriptures that changed me. It was people.