Re: The scientific status of PCP

David Sims (
Mon, 17 Jun 1996 09:35:18 BST

On Sat, 15 Jun 1996 21:31:05 -0400 (EDT) Rahel Meshoulam wrote:

> The construct religion vs. science is intriguing. What makes a question
> we ask scientific (vs. religious)? Examining the way we conventionally
> use these terms, I believe that the answer is _not_ in the question's
> content. Neither science nor religion owns the question "how was the
> universe created," or "is there God?"

I too think that the answer is not in the question's content; much of the
debate seems to be about the style in which constructs are held. The labels
'science', 'religion' (and for that matter 'socialism', 'free-market') are
sometimes but not necessarily used to cut off debate and to save time. This
creation of impermeability around a construct system is not inherent to
science, religion or anything else; within my construct system, it is
labelled 'fundamentalism', which can be a feature of any system of thought,
scientific or religious.

> We refer to a question as "religious" when we regard the answers we hold
> as fixed and unchanged. The answer becomes Truth, which is not to be
> accommodated or compromised.
I do not think this is a reasonable definition of 'religious'; I also think
that such a statement does not explain why religions have changed so much
over time. Science and religion are both attempts by people to understand
themselves and their world. Arguments that there are different requirements
for 'truth' or accpetability under the two categories seem to ignore the
massive differences of practice in both traditions. Perhaps there is more
difference in the questions that people pose under the two headings, and it
would be sad if criticisms of charicatured, fundamentalist religion were to
discourage any of us from asking some of the more challenging questions
about life, death, meaning and relationship (which for me are the ones that
'religion' suggests), or from respecting some of the very high quality,
cricical debate taking place in many religious communities.

All the best,

David Sims
Professor of Management Studies
Brunel University
Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
Tel: 01895 203147 ext. 2458. Fax: 01895 203149